Chapter 150: Time like the flowing of a gentle stream
Xiang Ning asked Xu Tingsheng, “Uncle, you seem very scared.”
As Xiang Ning sat by the table, the green silk hairpin without a knot or flowers that she was wearing revealed her beautiful forehead and her brows that mischievously leapt when she smiled. Right, she was smiling, a sly smile hanging by her lips as she seemed set on putting on a deep, meaningful look at her age, seeming as if she was waiting to see a joke from Uncle.
Being subject to her gaze, Xu Tingsheng suddenly felt blissful as an inexplicable sense of joy and release also descended.
He had just experienced a long ‘battle’ in a contest of wits, foundations and methods. At the end of it, his sense of accomplishment from his victory had not been strong at all, because that was a life that he hadn’t been used to, maybe even hadn’t been willing to adapt to all along.
He might currently be on the way to becoming a scheming person who had methods of all kinds up his sleeve. There might eventually come a day when he turned cold or ruthless.
At this moment, however, Xu Tingsheng suddenly felt that all of it wasn’t really all that terrifying. All marks of combat and changes in mentality would return to calmness before the bright smile and clear eyes of this girl before him, turning warm once more.
Meanwhile, ‘battling’ itself seemed to have finally found its meaning as well: Dearest one, I will prepare everything, and await your growth. I will give you a great building that can shield you from the winds and the rains, where you can frolic about in safety and happiness.
“And if I am lost amidst the darkness of the night, you are the brightest star in the night sky, guiding me forward, also guiding me back.”
“You’re still smiling…aren’t you scared? You’ve been exposed…you know that?” Not seeing the joke that she had been expecting, that of the helpless, panicked Uncle, a disappointed Xiang Ning asked rather dissatisfiedly.
“I’ve been exposed?” Xu Tingsheng played along, “I’m actually very scared then.”
Xu Tingsheng understood Xiang Ning. This wouldn’t be the expression on her face if things really were serious. She was bad at hiding what she was feeling as all her emotions were usually written on her face. Thus, while he wasn’t really clear on what was going on, Xu Tingsheng still relaxed greatly.
“You really dug up the tomb of Cao Cao of the Three Kingdoms?” Xiang Ning suddenly asked.
“It hasn’t been dug yet, and even if it really is dug, it also won’t be me going to dig it. I just told them where they should dig for it…then, that tomb, it’s actually called the Gaoling Mausoleum of Anyang,” Xu Tingsheng resisted the urge to smile as he explained patiently.
“So it’s like this! You’re really stupid. You should have gone to dig it up yourself, because there may be a lot of gold and silver and valuable things there! Right, what did you do for that Award of Bravery?” Xiang Ning guided Uncle along the path of a graverobber before casually asking.
With <Ghost Blows Out The Light> and <Grave Robbers’ Chronicles> both not out yet, there was no way for Xu Tingsheng to scare the girl with stories of ‘dumplings’ that could bite people. If he were to start on that, the home tutoring lesson would have become a storytelling session.
Thus, Xu Tingsheng let Xiang Ning go on this one.
“I knocked someone unconscious with a brick,” While he had received two Awards of Bravery, Xu Tingsheng only replied on that incident back from senior high, because he felt that the other incident was too terrifying and wasn’t willing to tell Xiang Ning about it.
“He was a bad person?”
“He can’t be considered a bad person, just that he had to be knocked unconscious at the time.”
“Alright. My friends and classmates all say that you are a brave and civic-minded hero, having already sacrificed yourself in a blaze of glory,” When Xiang Ning arrived at the sacrificing part, she knocked on Xu Tingsheng’s arm, as if confirming that he was still alive.
If one were to go by the textbooks, it actually did seem this way. Heroes were often associated with the idea of sacrifice.
Xu Tingsheng smiled, “Then, how about we start our lesson now, when I’ve still yet to be sacrificed?”
“Wait, I’ve still got a question….that platform that’s used to find home tutors on the internet was actually built by you? My classmates all hate you to death, you know? Many of our parents hadn’t even considered looking for a home tutor originally. After you came, all of them suddenly wanted to, and then it became terrible for us,” Xiang Ning continued.
“You could say that. That’s an entrepreneurship thing that my friends and I did,” Xu Tingsheng replied.
As for the fury of the kids, he could only ignore it. At the very least, things didn’t seem so serious from how Xiang Ning was speaking.
“You’re actually very rich then? Sigh, liar.”
“You…now, you mean?”
“If we’re talking about now, my partners and I still owe other people a lot of money.”
“So you’re very poor then?”
“…it’s hard to say. You could say that. I was originally much poorer, actually. I was once so, so poor to the point that I felt that I would drag other people down.”
This was actually something that even Xu Tingsheng himself was really hard pressed to define. At the current time, be it for his family or for himself, the businesses that he had helped to establish seemed to be moving smoothly and successfully. However…he seemed to be getting increasingly ‘poorer’, owing a great amount of debt.
“Fine then. Last question-did you only come to teach me as an experiment? It was an experiment for when that competition system of your platform was just implemented. Then, you only taught me in order to grasp the user experience. Is that right? Xiang Ning asked.
“Wherever did you hear that from?”
Xu Tingsheng was rather bemused by Xiang Ning’s question. While this was how he had explained it to other people, he didn’t remember having mentioned it to Xiang Ning before. Also, the terms that she had used, ‘competition system’, ‘user experience’ and the like, were too professional, not seeming like she had thought of them herself.
“It’s what Sis Teacher told my Mum and Dad! They talked for a long time…alright, anyway, you don’t have to be scared anymore. It’s already fine with my Mum and Dad. They’re even rather happy. You’re too awesome; so many of our relatives even envy our family.”
Xiang Ning smiled, a smile with pride concealed within. Thus, Xu Tingsheng smiled as well. Men were generally all like this. In order to become her pride one day, they were always willing to silently grit their teeth in persistence where they could not be seen by her.
“I helped as well!” Xiang Ning bragged.
“So that’s how it was,” Xu Tingsheng felt that if Old Wai didn’t mind it, he would really have to hug Li Linlin and whirl her around when he got back, for it would otherwise be hard to express the full extent of his gratitude. As for this girl over here who had helped as well, forget it. He had scared her tragically enough the last time already.
“Then, do you require an explanation?” Xu Tingsheng asked Xiang Ning, feeling that she should logically be feeling somewhat doubtful and dissatisfied.
“No need,” Xiang Ning confidently patted her chest, “We’re on the same side, you and me.”
“Yeah,” Xu Tingsheng happily responded before continuing, “Then, can you explain one thing to me?”
“Why is it that the female teacher is Sis Teacher while the male teacher is Uncle? I’m clearly the same age as her, alright? Why aren’t I Bro Teacher?”
“Mr Xu, it’s time for lessons. You said it yourself. When tutoring, you’re only the strictest teacher. We can’t even be considered friends! So wherever can this whatever Uncle or Bro come from?”
Xiang Ning opened her textbook, blinking in triumph.
Beneath the windowsill, he narrated gently, she listened focusedly. It seemed to have diverged from Xu Tingsheng’s initial goal and wish. Would these interactions ultimately culminate in love or kinship? Once in a while, this problem would cause him to feel afraid.
However, it was still blissful, at least. It was like the tip of a pen drawing across a piece of paper. The straight line might extend into an arc, yet however many arcs there were, it was actually still a continuation, as it extended, progressed.
After the afternoon lesson, with the consent of Mr and Mrs Xu, dinner was cooked by Xu Tingsheng.
Mr and Mrs Xiang had very similar palates to Xiang Ning. Thus, they also greatly appreciated Xu Tingsheng’s cooking.
From the middle of the month onwards, Xiang Ning’s ultra male home tutor finally no longer applied for leave, arriving on time and leaving as scheduled every week, helping to make dinner from time to time. Every once in a while, he would misspeak a verb, which would promptly be noted by an unforgiving Xiang Ning who always kept count.
Most of the time, Xu Tingsheng was just a strict home tutor, even having caused Xiang Ning to cry a couple of times. Afterwards, the two would be aggrieved with each other, make up, play pranks…
Such times flowed like a stream, audible yet quiet, with ripples spreading yet no turbulent tides surging or dangerous rapids flowing as it was quiet yet blissful.
These were the quietest, most blissful times of Xu Tingsheng’s life ever since his rebirth.