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    The Black Horse

    Chapter 13


    The Unreliable Old Man Huang

    Translated by Wook
    Edited by Wook


     


    Chapter 13 : The Unreliable Old Man Huang


     

    Zhao Ziheng’s one foot was hanging mid-air outside of the ship while the other foot was sticking tenaciously on the ship railings. He put his arms around Bai Shiqi and refused to go down, he was practically crying: “Shiqi, you are really doing this to me? We are brothers. When there was wine, food, or woman, didn’t I always bring you together? Now you heartlessly want to push me out to the river?” From his attitude, it did not look like he was going down the river to learn to swim, but more like Bai Shiqi was forcing him to jump into the river to die.

     

    The corners of Bai Shiqi’s mouth twitched and she carefully swept a glance behind, only to find Zhao Wujiu’s strict and iron face did not fluctuate in the slightest. Towards this esteemed cousin, she was already convinced, she knew that he was resolute and could not be swayed, so she could only twist and turn her brain to comfort her good brother: “Ziheng ah, think about it like this. With one more skill, comes one more way to escape. In case we get into a fight with others when we play at a pleasure boat, if we cannot win, we can just jump into the river to escape, right?”

     

    Zhao Wujiu had been living in a harsh environment and had been constantly fighting all these years. His awareness of danger was pretty high. This was a rare moment where he agreed with the glib-tongued Bai Shiqi: “What Shiqi said is not wrong. Jiangnan is filled with rivers and lakes, you cannot count on others to save yourself. Sometimes the guards may not be present, if you have the ability to save yourself, isn’t that good?”

     

    Bai Shiqi nodded wildly: “What Cousin Brother said is right!” Simultaneously she tried to pry the arms of the person whose face was stained with tears and mucus to throw him down the river. “Be good! I’ll call some people to keep you safe, you won’t drown.”

     

    The two boatmen on the side who were called to help snickered—They grew up near the river, which one of them did not swallow at least a few mouthfuls of river water?

     

    This young master is too frail!

     

    The frail Zhao Ziheng spoke in a tearful voice and accused: “Shiqi you are too heartless! The day before yesterday I went down the river, ended up with a bellyful of water, and nearly drowned. How much animosity do you have for me? You want to push me into the river again!”

     

    “Me? Isn’t it Cousin Brother?” Bai Shiqi could see through his feelings of being bullied. Since he could not criticize the black-faced Zhao Wujiu, he put all the blame on her instead. She could not help but gritted her teeth and threatened him: “It is still not too late to go down slowly by yourself, but once Cousin Brother gets angry and calls his people to throw you down… I will not care about you as well!”

     

    At home, Zhao Ziheng was a little overlord, his parents spoiled him. With this old ancestor, his heart was hurting and it was hard to go straight, especially at this moment. His body was crooked beyond recognition, the entire person was glued to Bai Shiqi’s body. His pitiful eyes kept glaring at Zhao Wujiu at the back as if he wanted to melt the cousin brother’s heart with his eyes.

     

    Zhao Wujiu’s face was almost lost by him: “A man should be able to support both Heaven and Earth, stand upright!”

     

    A group of guards around him warmed up one after another, they used the rope ladder and went down the river. Bai Shiqi assigned two boatmen who were familiar with water to each of them. Yu Jinsheng was the first one to go down, he passed through Zhao Ziheng and encouraged him: “Thirteenth lang, do not be afraid. There are people around to keep you safe.” Then he jumped down, making a big splash in the canal. The two boatmen who were assigned to him went down simultaneously. They grabbed his arms from both sides and fished the person out of the canal. Half of his body was exposed above the water, he spitted out a mouthful of water and laughed.

     

    Zhao Wujiu’s guards were all northerners. They had followed him galloping through the battlefield on horses. They were all outstanding and courageous youths, but they could not swim. Seeing the looks of Bai Shiqi and the numerous boatmen who were like fishes in the water, they were very eager to give it a try since earlier times. Following Yu Jinsheng who had spitted out a mouthful of water and climbed on the boatmen to beckon them to come over, the rest of the guards went down one after another.

     

    Shu Changfeng had changed into a skintight attire. When all the guards on the ship had gone into the river, he was still not at ease. He was akin to a mother hen who was protective over its chicks, and kept warning Zhao Wujiu repeatedly, for example, “Master, do not go near the ship railings” or “do not extend your head to look, there is no one behind to protect your esteemed self, if you were to fall, it is no laughing matter” and so on. He talked endlessly without getting to the point like an old wife.

     

    Zhao Wujiu’s ears almost developed calluses from being rubbed by him like this, he hated that he could not just slap him into the river, his brows were knitted tightly: “You are so wordy!”

     

    Shu Changfeng did not dare to talk more to his family’s master, so now he shifted his eyes that were asking for help towards Bai Shiqi: “Young Leader Bai…”

     

    Bai Shiqi waved her hands: “Alright, alright, quickly go down. I can look over Cousin Brother.” She tore Zhao Ziheng who was glued to her body off and tossed him to Shu Changfeng.

     

    The pitiful Shu Changfeng, a guard who could not swim, under his master’s gaze, still had to drag the thirteenth lang who was howling like a pig that was about to get butchered. On the way, Zhao Ziheng struggled and wanted to climb up the ship from the rope ladder. Because he exerted force, it resulted in the two of them falling into the canal together, hitting Yun Jinsheng and the two boatmen below.

     

    Zhao Ziheng screamed as soon as he fell into the canal, he got flustered and scared. He had not finished the sentence “save me” before his mouth was filled with water. However, a boatman who was by Yu Jinsheng’s side held him up.

     

    Bai Shiqi was sitting on the ship railings, laughing with her legs swaying back and forth. With teeth as white as jade, a smile that surged like wine, the canal water rippling under her feet, and the wide deck behind her body, one might get the feeling that if she laughed once more, she might plunge into the canal below. Zhao Wujiu who saw this was endlessly frightened. He moved his wheelchair to her back and grasped her wrist. He was afraid that if she was not careful, she would fall down.

     

    Under his grip, he paused a little and felt that the arm in his grip was unexpectedly slender. It was very different from the northerner young men in the barracks, whose arms were as thick and solid as an ox. Sure enough, the bodies of the people from Jiangnan were weaker. Don’t look at Bai Shiqi’s tall stature, the bones were actually delicate.

     

    Bai Shiqi who was puzzled turned around: “Cousin Brother?”

     

    Zhao Wujiu did not let go of her arm: “Be careful not to fall down.”

     

    The corners of Bai Shiqi’s eyes and brows were smiling, she bragged: “I can’t hide this from Cousin Brother. Before I could walk, I already liked to soak in the water, and as soon as I started walking, I started climbing up and down the ship. My father said I must be a fish in my past life because I like being near water since I was young, whenever he got me out of the water I would cry, hating that I could not spend 24 hours in the water. When I was 3 years old, I swam faster in the water than I ran on the ground. It is very different from Ziheng who is afraid of water.”

     

    The way she spoke was relaxed, her finger pointing at the frightened Zhao Ziheng and she looked like she was rejoicing in his misfortune: “I should prepare a bowl of tranquilizing soup for Ziheng tonight. Look at how scared he is.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu slowly released her hand, and he seemed like he could still feel the delicate wrist under the thin fabric. He glanced at her waist involuntarily and was slightly surprised—in the barracks there were also some youths whose arms were like cranes but had waists like bees. And one could still see the difference in size between the shoulders and the waists of the thick and ox-like men. However, Bai Shiqi was a bit odd. It felt like the size was even from the top to bottom, like being cut in two with a scissor. Everything was even.

     

    But just after another thought, Bai Shiqi had taken out a pouch from her sleeve and fished out a handful of red dates in her hand: “Cousin Brother, eat some dates.”

     

    Zhao Wujiu: “… …” He had never met someone who dared to offer him snacks so openly.

     

    Bai Shiqi said: “Cousin Brother, taste it. My friend who is a traveling merchant in the capital sent this to me. There are two baskets in total, if you like it, I’ll send two plates to your room.”

     

    He might have been bewildered by her enthusiasm, but Zhao Wujiu involuntarily took a bit. He said: “It’s very sweet.” He thought to himself, in the end, what kind of existence is Bai Shiqi ah?

     

    This youngster, from the owner of a prince’s mansion to the people from lower class like peddlers and carriers, and in every town wherever the ship anchored to restock supplies, could find several friendly acquaintances in the local area. On the ship, there is also the infamous book writer Mister Qiu Yunping. He practically got friends all over the world.

     

    The two people were extremely close. Bai Shiqi bit the red dates while paying attention to the bunch of non-swimmers floating up and down in the canal below. The majority of the guards in the water were calm, they choked on water and spitted it out. At the moment they were learning the doggy-style earnestly. Only Zhao Ziheng seemed like he had fallen into a psychological shadow. He did not even dare to let go of his hands and feet in the water. He was hugging a boatman’s neck, his legs were clamped between the boatman’s waist and he refused to come down. The boatman’s face was very red, looking very embarrassed.

     

    Zhao Wujiu’s gaze swept across Zhao Ziheng’s sorry figure in the canal, his heart moved slightly and he blurted out: “Shiqi, do you know the divine physician Huang Youbi from Jiangnan?”

     

    Bai Shiqi who was gnawing at the dates rose, said without thinking: “Old man Huang? He is very bad!”

     

    Zhao Wujiu would not move even if Mount Tai collapsed in front of his eyes, but hearing some information about the divine physician from Jiangnan, his heartbeat increased inevitably: “… You know him?”

     

    Bai Shiqi turned her head and leaned closer, looking extremely angry: “Say no more. When I was a kid, every time I fell sick, aside from giving me acupuncture, he would let me drink bitter medicines. This old fart likes to double the dosage of yellow lotus inside my meds. Luckily my body is healthy, these few years I have not had any serious problems.” She suddenly noticed Zhao Wujiu’s slightly moved face: “Oh, Cousin Brother wants to see him to treat your legs?”

     

    She finally remembered the reason why Zhao Wujiu went to Jiangnan. She said: “Although that old man is unreliable, his medical skill is good.”

     

    The divine physician of Jiangnan in the Minister of Revenue’s mouth turned into an unreliable old man in Bai Shiqi’s mouth?

     

    Zhao Wujiu in his heart: Speaking of being unreliable, can anyone compare to you?

     

    Perhaps it was because they had been interacting for quite some time, but now he found this slippery youngster a lot more pleasing to the eyes.

     


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    Wook

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