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The Silver Hook Gambling House Chapter 6

Chapter 6 – Ice Country, Strange Talk

The place they were heading was not on the horizon at all, it was on the Songhua River. And Songhua River was not on the horizon. It was in between Baishan [lit. white mountain, a prefecture level city in Jilin province] and Heishui [lit. black water, a county on northwest Sichuan].

Rahasu was south of Songhua River. This word means ‘the Old House’ [orig. Lau Wu]. Although the name itself carried the connotation of a happy and cozy place, it was actually a desolate and cold place. When the Chongyang Festival [ninth day of the ninth month] comes around, the river freezes, and it would not thaw until the Qingming [early April, the tomb-sweeping day] of the next year. So the river was frozen more or less seven months out of a year.

But these seven months were not distressing at all.

As a matter of fact, Lau Wu’s residents were looking forward to these seven months of frozen river, because it was a period when their days would have more variations, would be richer with interesting activities.

“Where is exactly Rahasu?”

“On the Songhua River.”

“How can there be a small town on the river?”

“Strictly speaking, the town is not on the river at all, but on the ice.”

“On the ice?” Lu Xiaofeng laughed. Although he had seen many strange occurrences, he had never seen a small town on the ice.

People who had never been to Rahasu would indeed have a very difficult time believing this, but Rahasu was indeed on the ice.

That section of the river’s surface was not very wide, only about twenty, thirty zhang. But the ice was more than ten chi deep [1 chi is approximately 1 foot or 1/3 of a meter].

Long time residents of Lao Wu always had some kind of extraordinary premonition on when the river was going to freeze. Perhaps they could smell it from the wind, or hear the news from the breeze, or see it from the wave that the river was about to freeze.

Therefore, a few days before the river was about to freeze, they tossed the pre-assembled wooden frame into the river and tied it firmly with the rope to the bank of the river, much like the migrating people of the ancient times staking out their territory on the wilderness.

Once the river froze, this section of the river surface turned into a long and wide crystal main street, dazzling to the eyes.

By this time, the wooden frame on the surface of the river had been frozen like they were rooted inside the ice. By adding beams and rafters, laying out bricks and tiles, with sandy soil mixed with water as the bonding agent, in just one night the walls would be frozen solid as rocks.

Thereupon one by one, all kinds and sizes of houses and buildings appeared on the river, built on ice, so that in just three to five days this place had turned into a bustling little town, so much so that even a large carriage pulled by eight horses would be able to travel on the crystal main street.

All kinds of stores of various trades were also open for business. Although outside a drop of water would freeze into ice, inside the buildings the air was as warm as the springtime.

Listening to all this, Lu Xiaofeng felt like he was listening to a fairy tale.

“In a place where water turns into ice, where even your nose can freeze and fall off, how can the air be as warm as the springtime inside the buildings?”

“Because we can build fire inside the house, we can even build fire underneath the kang [a heatable brick bed].”

“Build fire on the ice?”

“That’s right.”

“What about the ice?”

“The ice stays as ice, it won’t change the least bit.”

The ice stayed right up to the Qingming season of the next year before it started to melt. By that time, the people had already moved their ‘homes’ ashore, leaving empty wooden skeleton and waste, which would be washed out, along with the ice chunks, by the surging river.

Therefore, this bustling small town on the ice would vanish into the thin air, probably like a dream in the spring time.

Right now, it was the time when the river freezes, as a matter of fact, it was the coldest time of the year.

And this was the time Lu Xiaofeng arrived at Rahasu.

Naturally he did not arrive alone, because his status was different now, even his appearance was not the same. Other than the original moustache, which looked exactly like his eyebrows, he now grew a clump of beard on his chin. It would not be such a big deal if this change happened to other people; but to him, it was a big difference because originally he was known as the four-eyebrowed man, and now this special characteristic was lost with the addition of a beard.

This change had made him look like a different person, perhaps he would look like the number one millionaire of Jiangnan, the Jia Leshan.

His style was not small, to begin with; now that he was leading a large entourage, wearing thousands of taels worth sable-fur coat, riding on a large carriage heated by a stove, he did indeed look like an insufferably arrogant multi-millionaire.

Chuchu, wearing silver-fox fur-coat, nestled by his side like a little pigeon.

This girl was wild and unpredictable; sometimes she was weird to the point of very annoying, some other times she seemed to be ready to go to bed with you any time. But as soon as you actually made your move, you would not be able to even touch her.

Lu Xiaofeng was no exception; therefore, in the past several days his mood was no good at all.

He was a normal and healthy man; would you say his mood was supposed to be good if he was entangled with such a girl all day long, yet when the night came he was left to stare blankly at the ceiling alone?

Sui Han San You were still following him from a distance; they did not interfere with whatever he was doing.

Their only objective was for Lu Xiaofeng to find the Luocha Tablet for them, so for them, it does not matter whether Lu Xiaofeng turned into Jia Leshan or Zhen Leshan [Translator’s note: a play of words. ‘Jia’ sounds like ‘fake’ (different character), ‘Zhen’ means ‘real’]. They did not care, they took a completely ‘did not hear, did not ask’ policy.

From the window of the carriage looking ahead to the distance, they were able to see the dazzling bright, jade-white crystal main street.

Chuchu sighed softly, “Finally we are through with this stage of the journey.”

Lu Xiaofeng also sighed. He knew that all endless arduous journeys would eventually come to an end; however, his heart was still feeling very happy seeing that the destination was in sight.

The spirit of the driver of the carriage also rose, he lashed his whip to make the horses ran faster. White mist spurted out from the horses’ nostrils, while dense white foam flowed down from the corner of their mouths. Looking into the distance, they now could see the outline of the houses in the little town on the ice.

And then the night came.

In bitter cold, on the extreme north, places like this, night always comes quickly. Clearly it was not even dusk just a moment ago, and now suddenly the night had covered the earth. The brilliance of the crystal main street was also dimmed. One lantern after another was lit, and very soon the small town that had vanished in the dark was suddenly brightened by glorious lantern lights.

The light illuminated the ice, and the ice reflected the light; the town looked like a cluster of crystal palaces, standing on a piece of colored glaze world. Whoever saw this scene for the first time would certainly be dazzled in awe; it was very relaxing.

Lu Xiaofeng was no exception.

Along the way he had suffered countless hardship, so much so that several times he almost lost his puny life.

But in this moment, he suddenly felt everything was worth it. If time could go back to the past and brought him back to the Silver Hook Casino, and let him choose again, he would still agree to come here one more time.

Isn’t it true that hardship would make one’s life richer, more abundant? To obtain true happiness, won’t one have to pay the price of hardship first?

Lu Xiaofeng could not restrain from sighing softly. “Perhaps this place would not look as beautiful as this if it is right across the street from your home and you can visit it anytime.”

Chuchu also sighed softly, “You are right.”

Night, night market. The little town on the ice, glorious lantern lights. The light from the buildings and the reflection of the light from the ice enhanced each other’s beauty. One lantern became two; two lanterns became four, as if the whole universe was full with glittering stars. Even Beijing’s most busy street could not compare with this place.

The street was not narrow at all; all kinds of shops lined up on either side of it, the street was busy with carriages, horses and pedestrians, sounds of people talking and laughing were heard from the teahouses and wine shops.
Looking at these people, and then looking at this crystal glass world, Lu Xiaofeng practically could not tell whether this place was earthly or heavenly.

As they entered the street, he knew that the first building he saw was a small wine shop, because there was a sign board which said, ‘Tai Bai Yi Feng’ [Tai Bai legacy. Tai Bai refers to the ‘Great Li Bai’, a poet of Tang Dynasty]; under the board stood a woman wearing a leather coat lined with purple satin, looking at him with smiling eyes.

The woman was not too pretty, but her smile was very charming, very warm. When she smiled her round face revealed two deep dimples. Her pair of eyes, which seemed to be always smiling although she was not smiling, was fixed on Lu Xiaofeng’s face.

Chuchu snorted a cold laugh from her nose: “She seems to be very interested in you.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I don’t even know her.”

Chuchu: “Of course you don’t know her, but I do.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Oh?”

Chuchu: “Her surname is Tang, she is called Tang Keqing. Everybody thinks it is so easy to get close to her; looks like you are no exception.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. “You seem to know her a lot?”

Chuchu: “Of course.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “But she does not seem to know you.”

Chuchu winked. “Guess, how do I know her?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I can’t guess, and I do not want to guess.”

Chuchu: “Jia Leshan always handled matters meticulously. Before he came here, he had already investigated those four women carefully; he even had someone drew pictures of them.”

Lu Xiaofeng frowned. “Are you saying that she is one of the four women the Blue Beard sent away?”

Chuchu: “She is precisely the Lao San [lit. ‘ol three, the third in rank], that is, the Blue Beard’s second mistress.”

Lu Xiaofeng could not help from turning around his head to give her another look, only to see another woman.

The woman came out from a drug store, specialized in herbal medicine used specifically for the treatment of external injury, across the street, and entered Tang Keqing’s small wine shop. She was draped in black clothing, her stature was thin and small, her face always wore cold and apathetic expression, as if everybody else in the world owed her a couple hundred taels of silver and nobody had paid her back.

No matter how you look at it, you won’t say that she was an attractive woman, but she would definitely catch your attention. She was totally of a different type from Tang Keqing, but contrary to expectation, it looked like they were friends; not only just regular friends, but good friends.

Chuchu: “You are very interested in this woman, are you not?”

With a forced laugh Lu Xiaofeng said, “Do I know her?”

Chuchu: “I do know her.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Are you saying she is also …”

Chuchu: “Her surname is Leng, called Hong’er. She was Blue Beard’s third mistress.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed. “Blue Beard is indeed a very strange character. After he got that sweet and cute second mistress, why would he take this cold and unfriendly Lau Si [lit. ‘ol four; the fourth in rank]?”

Chuchu said matter-of-factly, “A cold and unfriendly woman also has her good points. If you have a chance, you can try it yourself.”

Lu Xiaofeng could not bear not to look back again, only to see two men carrying someone who had broken his leg toward the drugstore’s door. “Is Doctor Leng in?” they shouted, “Please come over.”

Turned out this Leng Hong’er still had some skill in treating external injury, other than being the boss of this herbal medicine store.

Lu Xiaofeng laughed: “What do you know? She still possesses some skills!”

As soon as he closed his mouth, Lu Xiaofeng realized that in this world, there might be some women who do not eat rice, but woman who do not eat vinegar [meaning, jealous], he had never seen any.

Yet Chuchu only laughed and winked. “Actually, among Blue Beard’s four women, the prettiest is the first mistress, Chen Jingjing.”

Chen Jingjing?

Lu Xiaofeng had heard this name before.

” … the people of Rahasu are usually narrow-minded, often show hostility towards foreigners and newcomers. Other than two people, it is best if you do not believe whatever anybody else is saying … One is called Lao Shanyang [lit. old mountain goat]; he was my father’s former business partner. The other is Chen Jingjing …”

Immediately he recalled Ding Xiangyi’s warning, but he had never guessed that Chen Jingjing was also one of Blue Beard’s women.

Chuchu cast him a sidelong glance with the corner of her eye, she lightly said, “If you want to see her, I might be able to help you find her.”

Lu Xiaofeng could not restrain from asking: “Do you know where she is?”

Chuchu: “She is Li Xia’s right hand woman, chances are she is at the casino, helping Li Xia running her business.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Casino? What casino?”

Chuchu: “Silver Hook Casino.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “There is a Silver Hook Casino in here?”

Chuchu nodded. “We have an appointment with Li Xia to meet at the Silver Hook Casino.

Lu Xiaofeng did not ask further, because he had already seen a shiny silver hook swaying in the wind.

The door was not wide, the silver hook glittered under the lantern light.

Lu Xiaofeng pushed the door open, he went from the bone-chilling cold of outside to the as-warm-as-spring room. He took off his sable fur coat and casually tossed it to a chair behind the door, and then he took a deep breath.

The air was filled with men’s tobacco and alcohol smell, mixed with women’s cosmetics and perfumes, plus the smell of fresh wood shavings and paint …

It was not a suitable air for someone to take a deep breath, but Lu Xiaofeng was very familiar with this kind of smell.

Sikong Zhaixing was right, Lu Xiaofeng belonged to this kind of place.

He loved luxury, he loved excitement, he liked to indulge. It was his weakness, but he had never denied this fact — Everybody must have some kind of weaknesses, right?

Although the scale of this gambling establishment could not be compared with that of Blue Beard’s, the gamblers were also not as orderly, but mahjong, dice, and all kinds of gambling tables were also available in this place.

Lu Xiaofeng did not wait for Chuchu to lead the way; with stuck-out chest and big strides he walked straight in.

He was perfectly aware that everybody’s attention was at him; they were looking at his clothes, his style. No matter who, those who looked at him saw a grand guest, a tycoon.

Tycoons’ eyes are usually looking up, above everybody’s head. Therefore, Lu Xiaofeng also held his head high. But he could still see someone was walking over to him with smile on his face.

He did not pay attention to any particular person, but this man’s manner was too strange; his attire was even weirder that even Lu Xiaofeng had seldom seen this kind of eccentric person.

This man was wearing a red satin loose robe, the robe was embroidered with all kinds of flowers; there were yellow flowers, blue flowers, green flowers.

The weirdest of all, he also wore a very, very tall pointed hat; the hat was also embroidered with six large scarlet characters, ‘Number One Child Prodigy in the World’ [orig. tian xia di yi shen tong’ – 6 characters].

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. Of course he recognized this person. This must be Li Xia’s precious younger brother, Li Shentong [‘shentong’ means child prodigy].

Seeing Lu Xiaofeng laughed, Li Shentong also laughed. His laugh was half silly, half stupid, half insane, half wild. He walked with a sway like a woman, cupped his fists to greet Lu Xiaofeng, saying, “How are you?”

Suppressing his laughter, Lu Xiaofeng replied, “Good.”

Li Shentong: “Your honorable surname?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Jia.”

Li Shentong looked at him from top to bottom, sizing him up. “Jia Xiong [brother Jia] came from different part of the country?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Hmm.”

Li Shentong: “I wonder how would Jia Xiong like to gamble? ‘Tian Jiu’? ‘Chan Shuang’? Dice?” [My apology, I am not familiar with gambling. The original were 天九 and 单双, respectively.]

Although his manner seemed silly and half insane, his speech was surprisingly quite clear and normal.

Lu Xiaofeng had not replied when someone else behind him answered on his behalf, “This Master Jia is not here to gamble, but to see someone.”

The voice was gentle, tender and silvery, it was a woman’s voice, but it was not Chuchu’s voice. The woman’s manner was very refined, her look was also very good. Chuchu was standing behind her, busily signaling Lu Xiaofeng with her eyes.

Could this woman be Chen Jingjing?

Lu Xiaofeng face did not show any emotion. “Since you know that I am here to see someone, I am sure you also know who I am looking for.”

Chen Jingjing nodded. “Please follow me.”

There was a small cottage behind the casino, unexpectedly the decoration was very exquisite, but there was nobody in there. Lu Xiaofeng sat down on a large bamboo chair draped in fox fur. “Where is Li Xia?”

Chen Jingjing: “She is not here.”

Lu Xiaofeng’s face sank. “I traveled over thousands of li to see her, and she is not here?”

Chen Jingjing laughed. Her laughter was also gentle and soft. With a soft voice she said, “It is exactly because she knew Master Jia is coming that she left.”

Lu Xiaofeng angrily said, “What do you mean ‘she left’?”

Chen Jingjing: “Because she cannot see Master Jia for the time being.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Why?”

Chen Jingjing: “She has left, but she may come back, because she does not wish to offend you, and when she comes back, she will bring the Luocha Tablet along.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “What did she say?”

Chen Jingjing: “She said she would like Master Jia to render the payment to me. After I deliver the money to her, she will come back promptly.”

Lu Xiaofeng deliberately slapped the table: “What kind of business practice is this? I haven’t seen the goods, yet you want my money first?”

Chen Jingjing was still smiling very tenderly: “She also wants me to pass this message to you: if Master Jia does not agree to this condition, the deal is off.”

Lu Xiaofeng sprang up from the chair, but then he slowly sat back down.

Chen Jingjing smiled: “If you asked me, I think it would be better if Master Jia agree to this condition, because she has hidden the Luocha Tablet in a very secret location, a very secure place. Other than her, nobody else knows where it is. If she is unwilling to take it out, nobody will be able to find it.”

Lu Xiaofeng’s eyes glimmered: “She is afraid I was going to force her to hand the Luocha Tablet over, therefore, she went into hiding as soon as I arrived.”

Chen Jingjing did not deny at all.

With a cold laugh Lu Xiaofeng said, “She is not afraid I am going to find her?”

Chen Jingjing laughed: “You won’t find her. If she doesn’t want to be found, nobody can find her.”

Although she was laughing tenderly, her eyes showed her determination; apparently she was also a strong-willed woman, and had a complete confidence that nobody could find Li Xia’s hiding place.

Lu Xiaofeng stared at her. He said coldly, “Even if I can’t find her, I will have a way to make you to take me there.”

Chen Jingjing smiled while shaking her head. “Of course I know that the way Master Jia handles matters must be extraordinary; it’s a pity that I do not know where the Luocha Tablet is being hidden, I also do not know where Li Dajie [eldest sister Li] has gone. Otherwise, why would she leave me here?”

Her manner was very calm, her voice was also completely under control; anybody would know that she was telling the truth.

Lu Xiaofeng sighed. “If that’s the case, if I want the Luocha Tablet, I won’t have any other choice but to agree to her condition, will I?”

Chen Jingjing also sighed. “That Li Dajie of ours is indeed a very astute and cautious woman; we are also …”

She did not continue. There was no need for her to continue. Just from her sigh anybody could tell that they had suffered more than just a few hardships from Li Xia.

Lu Xiaofeng muttered, “What if after I pay her she is still unwilling to give me the goods?”

Chen Jingjing: “I also do not have any way of guaranteeing you over that matter; therefore, there is no harm in Master Jia giving it further consideration. We have already prepared a place for Master Jia to rest.”

Lu Xiaofeng stood up suddenly. With a cold voice he said, “No need. I will find one myself.”

Chen Jingjing: “Master Jia has just arrived here, you do not have any acquaintance yet; how would you find a place?”

In big strides Lu Xiaofeng walked out; with head held high he said, “I don’t have any acquaintances, but I have money.”

Naturally Chuchu always stayed by his side. As soon as they left the Silver Hook Casino, Chuchu laughed and clapped her hands. “Good! Very good!”

Lu Xiaofeng: “What do you mean ‘very good’?”

Chuchu: “Your acting was very good. You truly acted like a millionaire who is covered in money from head to toe.”

Lu Xiaofeng smiled ruefully, “Actually I know that Jia leshan’s conduct was extremely shady, he would never act like a newly rich person. I just could not think of acting any other way.”

Chuchu laughed. “But your act was very convincing. If I did not know Jia leshan, I would have been fooled myself.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “But apparently Chen Jingjing was not a simple woman at all, Li Xia must be even more astute and fierce. I don’t know if I will be able to fool her.”

Chuchu: “Actually, it doesn’t matter if you can fool her or not. She only recognizes the money and not the person anyway.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed, but did not say anything. He was thinking in his heart that now he had seen Chen Jingjing. Under the circumstances, he definitely could not reveal his true identity; introducing himself as Ding Xiangyi’s friend was even more out of question.

What about the Old Goat?

Just when he was thinking about the Old Goat, someone was being kicked out of a nearby restaurant. ‘Wham!’ he landed on the ice, and slid seven, eight more feet, and incidentally stopped in front of Lu Xiaofeng.

The man was wearing an inside-out sheepskin coat and a sheepskin cap. Surprisingly, there were two goat horns on his cap. Additionally, his face looked dry, thin, yellowish and old, with sparse goatee on his chin. He indeed looked like an old goat.

Lu Xiaofeng looked at him without showing any emotion on his face, so much so that his eyes did not even blink.

With gasping breath the Old Goat struggled to stand up, while mumbling, “Damn those barbarians. Even if Laoye [master, referring to self] do not have money to drink wine, you, those bastard lambs, did not have to kick me out.” Cursing and swearing, he limped away.

Lowering his voice, Lu Xiaofeng instructed Chuchu: “Have Xin Lao’er [‘ol two, the second in rank] follow him.”

Xin Lao’er was the man expert in qinggong and secret projectile, formerly a direct descendant and disciple of ‘Flower Rain’ Xin Shi Niang [Tenth Madame Xin].

The one with the ancient sword and dressed in black was surnamed Bai, he was the Lao San [the third]; together with the Huashan disciple, the white-haired old man, they were sworn brothers. Just because many years ago they committed a mistake, Jia Leshan blackmailed them so that they had no other choice but becoming his lackeys. It had been seven, eight years they served Jia Leshan without any opportunity to leave.

This story was told by them, Lu Xiaofeng only listened. Did he truly believe their story? Nobody knows.

‘Eternal Heaven Restaurant’ actually did not have any second story [Translator’s note: the word translated as ‘restaurant’ was actually ‘jiu lou’, jiu – wine, lou – building with more than one floor level]; but without a doubt it was the biggest restaurant in the area, with the most luxurious interior.

Right now the building had become Lu Xiaofeng’s. He only needed a few sentences to close this business deal.

“How much do you make in a day?”

“When business is good, at least three to five taels of silver.”

“Here is a thousand taels of silver, give this building to me. When I am gone, the building is still yours. Will you or will you not agree?”

Of course the restaurant proprietor agreed, moreover, he agreed so quickly. Consequently, the signboard above the door was taken down promptly, and the business was closed immediately. About an hour later, even the bed was ready to be used. Isn’t it true that people with money always handle matters rather conveniently?

The most convenient of all was that wine and food were readily available in this place, complete with a very able chef.

Sitting next to a blazing hot furnace, after several cups of warm wine entered his stomach, Lu Xiaofeng had almost forgotten the bitter cold outside, the cold which would freeze someone’s nose and made it fall off.

When he was drinking his third pot of wine, Xin Lao’er came back. Although he was shivering in cold, he could only stand far away at the door, he did not dare to come close to the stove. He knew that if right now he came close to the fire, he might melt away like a popsicle in a hot summer day. If he put his hands into hot water, when he took them out, only bones might remain.

Lu Xiaofeng waited until he caught his breath before asking, “Well?”

Xin Lao’er hatefully said, “That old bastard shouldn’t be called the Old Goat, he is more an old fox.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Did you fall into his trick?”

Xin Lao’er: “He knew all along that I was following him, so he deliberately took me circling around the ice several times before he finally turned around and asked if it was you who sent me to see him.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “And what did you say?”

Xin Lao’er: “Since he’s already known everything, what else can I say?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Where is he now?”

Xin Lao’er: “He is outside, waiting for you. He also said that no matter who, and no matter why you want to see him, since it is you who want him, then you should go and find him yourself.”

Lu Xiaofeng sighed. With a bitter smile he said, “I don’t care if he is an old bastard, an old goat or an old fox; one thing I do know is that his bones must be quite hard.”

With his chest puffed out, the Old Goat walked in the front while Lu Xiaofeng followed behind him. It seemed that not only his bones were hard, his skin was also rather thick, because he did not seem to be afraid of the cold at all.

Beyond this strip of main street was a world of ice and snow. The silvery white expanse of ice stretched out ahead as far as eyes could see, with dark waves of snow on either sides. Nothing else was visible amidst the gray and hazy night.

Anybody would feel awful coming from the place with a million lantern lights to this very cold and very dark world. At first Lu Xiaofeng intended to suppress his feelings and simply see what kind of medicine he was going to sell from his bottle of gourd. But finally he could not restrain from asking, “Where are you taking me?”

The Old Goat did not even turn his head, “To my home.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Why must we go to your home?”

The Old Goat: “Because you are the one looking for me, I did not look for you.”

Lu Xiaofeng could only concede. With a bitter smile he said, “Where is your home?”

The Old Goat: “Inside the giant water barrel.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “What kind of place is the giant water barrel?”

The Old Goat: “Giant water barrel is a giant water barrel.”

The giant water barrel was indeed a giant water barrel, it was real water barrel to store water.

Lu Xiaofeng had lived for twenty, thirty years, but he had never seen a water barrel this big.

In reality, if he did not come to this place, even if he had lived two, three hundred more years, he would have never seen a water barrel this big.

This water barrel was at least two zhang [about 20 feet or 6 m] tall. It looked just like a house with a circular ridge roof, or a round canopy. However, it was indeed a water barrel, because it had neither door nor windows. The only opening was at the top, with a piece of rope dangling down from top to bottom.

The Old Goat pulled the rope and climbed up. When he got to the top he beckoned and called out, “Are you coming up or not?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Why must I go up? I am not Sima Guang. Even if I want to drink water, I don’t need to go into a water barrel like this.”

Although he muttered, he climbed up the water barrel anyway.

There was no water inside the water barrel, not even a drop of water.

There was only wine in the water barrel, inside a very large sheepskin bag, wine so strong that if you drink only a mouthful your eyes would water with the burning sensation.

The Old Goat took a mouthful and his eyes brightened.

The water barrel was full of animal skin, piled up randomly everywhere. Hugging a large wineskin he sat comfortably on one of them. After letting out a deep breath he asked, “Have you ever seen such a giant water barrel before?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “No.”

The Old Goat: “Have you seen me before?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Also no.”

The Old Goat: “But it seems like I have seen you before?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Mmm.”

Suddenly the Old Goat laughed, he shook his head and squinting his eyes he said, “No, you are not.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I am not Jia Leshan?”

The Old Goat: “Definitely not.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Then who am I?”

The Old Goat: “I don’t care if you are Zhang San or Li Si [Zhang the third or Li the fourth; this is the same as ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’], I know you are not Jia Leshan; because I have seen that old bastard lamb once before.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. He did not want to laugh, but he could not help laughing, because he suddenly felt this old fellow was an interesting person.

The Old Goat looked at him from top to bottom, sizing him up. It seemed like he also felt Lu Xiaofeng was an interesting person. People who had seen Lu Xiaofeng usually would feel that he was an interesting person.

Lu Xiaofeng: “I wish to ask …”

But the Old Goat suddenly cut him off, “Li Xia is a strange woman, Ding Lao Da [ol’ Ding] was even stranger; just because he loved to drink pure water, he has not hesitated to sell his house and spent more than two years to build these two water barrels, so that he could drink pure water during the summer.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Was Ding Lao Da Li Xia’s former husband?”

The Old Goat nodded. “Right now Li Xia went missing, but I am sure she has not left this area. I guarantee you she is hiding somewhere in the town. But if you want to ask me where she is, I don’t know.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “How do you know I am looking for you over this matter?”

The Old Goat: “Don’t tell me you are not?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Do you know who I am?”

The Old Goat: “I don’t need to know, I don’t even want to know. I don’t care who you are, you have nothing to do with me at all.”

He looked at Lu Xiaofeng with squinted eyes, with a sly laugh he continued, “I feel that you are not an annoying person, that’s why I took you to this place and told you all this. If you want to inquire other matters, you’d better find other people.”

But Lu Xiaofeng still asked him, “Did you say that there were originally two water barrels like this?”

The Old Goat: “Uh huh.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Where is the other one?”

The Old Goat: “I don’t know.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “So other matters you don’t know?”

The Old Goat sighed. “I am getting old. So old that I have already forgotten even my own surname and given name. There are a lot of younger men in town, there are also a lot of younger women there. Whatever information you want to inquire, you should go and ask them.”

He closed his eyes and took another swig of wine then he laid down comfortably as if he had decided not to give Lu Xiaofeng another look or say another word to him.

Lu Xiaofeng laughed again, “You know I am not Jia Leshan, you know that I know your Ding Lao Da’s daughter, that’s why you were not the least bit surprised when I mentioned her name. You know for sure that Li Xia has not left, but you kept saying that you did not know anything.

He shook his head, and then laughed again. “Looks like Xin Lao’er is right, you shouldn’t be called The Old Goat, actually, you are an old fox.”

The Old Goat also laughed. Suddenly he winked at Lu Xiaofeng: “It’s all right for you to meet an old fox like me. I do wish you will not meet a fox spirit [or vixen, female fox demon].”

The small wine shop owned by Tang Keqing was called ‘Not-going-home-before-drunk Restaurant’.

Although the sky had turned dark for a long time, the night was not too deep yet. By the time Lu Xiaofeng returned, the street was still bright with glorious lantern lights, the ‘Not-going-home-before-drunk Restaurant’ was still open.

This small wine shop did not look too bad, the lady boss also did not look bad at all, but for some reason the shop was cold and quiet, with no guest inside.

Therefore, the first thing Lu Xiaofeng saw was still this lady whose look was not too pretty, but whose smile was very fascinating. She was still standing below that ‘Tai Bai Yi Feng’ wooden signboard; she was still smiling sweetly at Lu Xiaofeng, as if she was intentionally waiting for him. Her smile was not only alluring, it was inviting as well.

Lu Xiaofeng had never refused this kind of invitation, furthermore he always believes that girls who loved to smile would also love to talk, and it would be easier for girls who loved to talk to also leak somebody else’s secret.

Thereupon Lu Xiaofeng also revealed a smile while slowly walking toward her. He was not sure how to strike a conversation, but contrary to his expectations, Tang Keqing opened her mouth first. “I heard you have bought the Eternal Heaven Restaurant.”

Lu Xiaofeng was genuinely amused: “News travel really fast in this place!”

Tang Keqing: “It is a little town, such a big character like you is not commonly seen.”

Her smile was indeed too sweet, she might be a real fox-spirit.

Lu Xiaofeng coughed lightly twice. “Not-going-home-before-drunk, does that mean whoever come here to drink must be drunk?”

“That’s right,” Tang Keqing sweetly replied, “Whoever comes here and does not get drunk must be a turtle.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “And if they are drunk?”

Tang Keqing: “Then they must be bastards.”

Lu Xiaofeng roared in laughter. “That being the case, whoever comes here to drink must be either a turtle or a bastard. I am afraid nobody would dare to step his foot on your door.”

Tang Keqing: “You have clearly bought a restaurant, yet you still come here to drink. You are not afraid being either a turtle or a bastard; I wonder what is the reason …?”

Her smile was even sweeter, she looked even more like a fox-spirit.

Lu Xiaofeng suddenly discovered that his heart had been moved, he could not stop himself from pulling her hand, “Can you guess why?”

Tang Keqing looked at him with the corner of her eye, “Could it be because of me?”

Lu Xiaofeng did not deny; in fact, he could not deny, because he had already gripped her hand. He gripped her hand really tight.

Her hand was beautiful and soft, but it was icy-cold.

Lu Xiaofeng: “As long as you are willing to accompany me drinking, I don’t care if you want me to be drunk or not drunk, I will follow your wish.”

Tang Keqing laughed charmingly, “That means, you agree to be either a turtle or a bastard.”

Squinting his eyes, Lu Xiaofeng said, “It depends whether you agree or not.”

Tang Keqing’s face blushed. “You must let my hand go first, so that I can get the wine for you.”

Lu Xiaofeng’s heart was already beating faster. He was a very healthy man, and recently he had suppressed his desire a bit too long. Moreover, this time he had a very good excuse for his behavior. “I wasn’t really a lecherous man, it’s just that to gain information, I have no other choice but to use this ‘handsome man tactic’.”

When he let her hand go, his mind had already started having some fantasy. In the deep of the night, when everything was quiet, two people under the influence of alcohol.

Nobody would have guessed that right this moment, suddenly Tang Keqing raised her hand and gave Lu Xiaofeng a really good slap on his face.

The slap did not land squarely on his face, but naturally Lu Xiaofeng was extremely shocked.

“What are you doing?”

“What am I doing?” Tang Keqing’s face grew ashen; with a cold laugh she said, “I just want to ask you: What in the hell are you doing? What kind of woman do you think I am? Just because you have a bit of stinky money, you think you can bully women anytime you wish? Let me tell you: in this place I only sell wine, I don’t sell anything else.”

The more she talked, the angrier she got, until finally she stomped her feet and roared, “Go away! Just roll out of here! If next time you dare to step into my door, let’s see if I won’t break your dog legs with a stick.”

To suddenly receive a curse like that, Lu Xiaofeng was greatly startled. But in his heart he also understood why not even a ghost dares to visit this place.

Turned out although this woman looked as sweet as honey, she was actually hotter than chili pepper. Moreover, she also had another shortcoming, i.e. she was abusive toward men; she must see a man suffer before she could be happy.

Therefore, she was always standing on the door, seducing the male passer-by; and then when a man was hooked, she would pinch the man half-dead in the palm of her hand, just like one pinches a mosquito.

Evidently the number of men in this place who had received troubles from her, who had been beaten by her, was not just a few. Lu Xiaofeng could be considered lucky that he was able to get out from that place in one piece.

Fortunately, nobody else was outside. In a place where dripping water would turn into ice instantly, not many people would be strolling leisurely on the street.

When Lu Xiaofeng walked in, he looked like a horny tycoon; when he walked out, he looked like a fool.

“Women …” he sighed inwardly, “Why would there be so many aggravating women in this world?”

He had not thought of what would the world turn into if there were no women in it when suddenly he heard a miserable cry.

The cry came from inside the drugstore across the street. It was a man’s voice.

Lu Xiaofeng rushed toward the store. The thin and small, cold and indifferent Leng Hong’er was pinning down a big man on a chair, with one hand pinching on his shoulder blade and the other hand twisting the man’s arm behind his back, while coldly asked, “Where exactly is your sprained muscle? Where is the dislodged joint? Tell me!”

The man gritted his teeth; he could barely open his mouth, “I … I don’t …”

Leng Hong’er: “Then why did you come? You wanted to massage me? To loosen my bones?”

The man could only nod; he could not deny, yet he did not dare to admit.

Leng Hong’er let out a cold laugh, then she raised her hand, and just like a small rubber ball, this big man was thrown outside the door. ‘Bang!’ he fell on the cold, hard and slippery ice outside.

This time he truly sprained his muscle and dislodge his joint from the fall, and could only go home and probably vent his anger to his wife.

Lu Xiaofeng smiled ruefully inside; this time he wondered whether it was the man who was at fault? Or was it the woman who had the shortcoming?

Leng Hong’er stood on the other side of the street, looking at him with cold eyes. “Are you here to have me to treat your illness as well?”

With a forced smile Lu Xiaofeng shook his head, and then simply turned around to leave.

‘Within the thirty-sixth stratagems, running away was the most important.’ Suddenly he discovered that the women of this place must not be provoked.

Who would have thought that he did not want to provoke others, others wanted to provoke him instead.

Suddenly Leng Hong’er blocked his way. “What is it that you actually want by coming here? Why are you unwilling to speak?”

Forcing a smile Lu Xiaofeng replied, “Why would I want to speak?”

Leng Hong’er bit her lips and stared at him. “Even if you don’t speak, I know what’s in your heart; you must think that I am cold and ferocious, that I am also a problematic woman.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “I do not have such thoughts.”

This time he was obviously lying, because he indeed had those thoughts in his heart.

Leng Hong’er was still biting her lips, she was also still staring at him, but from her pair of cold eyes two drops of tears like pearls rolled down her cheeks.

A woman like her could also cry? Lu Xiaofeng was taken aback, “What is it?”

Leng Hong’er lowered her head with tears streaming down her face. “Nothing, I … I just don’t feel well.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Don’t feel well?” – You beat others until they are rolling in pain on the ground? You don’t feel well? What about the people you have beaten?

Obviously Leng Hong’er could not hear what he said in his heart, she continued, “You came from a different part of the country, you did not know what kind of men live in this place. They saw me, a single woman, live here, they always find ways to bully me, humiliate me.”

When she cried, she looked even more petite, even weaker; her cruel and cold look vanished without a trace that she looked like a little girl who had suffered injustice.

She continued, “If they succeed in bullying me just one time, I would forever not able to live a respectable life, because not only other people would not blame them, they would say that I am a flower beckoning to the bees and drawing butterflies near. Therefore, I can only put on a façade of cold and indifferent manner. But in the dead of the night, I … I also …”

She could not continue; she did not need to continue.

When the night was deep and quiet, she was alone in an empty room, she did not need to explain that kind of desolate, lonely and dark feeling because Lu Xiaofeng understood it well.

He suddenly felt that that the frail little girl standing in front of him not only should not be feared, but also very pitiful.

Quietly Leng Hong’er wiped her tears, she seemed to force a smile when she said, “We have just met; actually, I shouldn’t say this kind of words in front of a stranger.”

“It’s all right,” Lu Xiaofeng immediately said, “I also have too many concerns. Sometimes I also want to unload my burdens to a total stranger.”

Leng Hong’er lifted up her head to look at him, with a tender voice she asked, “Can you unload your burdens to me?”

The tears on her eyes had not dried up; standing in front of him, she looked even smaller and feebler.

If Lu Xiaofeng was thinking of leaving then, he could not leave now – Why is it that invitation that comes with tears is always more difficult to refuse than invitation that comes with a smile?

Steaming hot pickled Chinese cabbage, plain boiled pork, and a dish of intestine hotpot, and some Green Bamboo Leaf wine, warmed at just the right temperature.

“I brought this wine from the inland, and so far I always drink it sparingly.”

The tears on Leng Hong’er’s face had dried up. Right now she was setting the table, arranging the food and wine; she looked as busy as a little sparrow.

“Every night I would drink a bit of wine alone. My drinking capacity has always been low, but I can sleep only after I get drunk.”

And then she also made a confession to Lu Xiaofeng, “Sometimes sleep would still elude me even when I am drunk. On those nights I would go out and sat on the ice of the frozen river, waiting for dawn. There was one night I saw a bear. At least I thought it was a bear, its body was covered in thick and stiff black hair.”

Her drinking capacity was indeed not good. Only after two cups of wine, her face turned as red as sunset clouds.

Looking at her, Lu Xiaofeng sighed inwardly. Such a little girl unexpectedly must sit on the ice looking at a black bear; it was truly a pitiful matter.

Just when he started to feel her pain, by a strange coincidence her hand was moving in front of him. Thereupon he grabbed her hand.

Her hand was small and delicate, but also burning hot.

The room was as warm as springtime, the bottle on the table still contained some preserved plum, outside the cold wind was screaming, but the window was tightly closed.

Her heart was beating faster.

Lu Xiaofeng was not clear how it happened, but suddenly he felt she had fallen into his bosom. Her petite and delicate body was as hot as a clump of fire, but her lips were icy cold. She was cold, and fragrant, and tender.

Until a very long time afterwards, Lu Xiaofeng was still unable to figure out how this happened.

“Actually, what happened that day?” someone would ask him.

“Technically, nothing really happened,” Lu Xiaofeng would reply, he could not but admit, “It was not because I was a gentleman, but rather because …” Because when something was about to happen; they suddenly heard somebody clapping and cheering.

“So someone applauded you at that kind of moment?” Whoever heard this story in the future would always think that it was extremely hilarious. “Obviously it was because the two of you had displayed such a brilliant performance.”

Yet Lu Xiaofeng had to admit that this applause did indeed scare them; as a matter of fact, both of them did indeed spring up in fright so that they crashed into the table and tumbled the hotpot over.

“Who applauded?”

“It was the big bastard, the one wearing red gown, the big bastard who wore green cap [meaning: a man whose wife cheated on him].”

Li Shentong was standing at the door, looking at them and giggled: “Gentleman and Lady must not stop; it was such a splendid performance, which I have not seen for many years. If you are willing to continue and let me watch for a while, I am going to invite you for some soup dinner tomorrow.”

All in all, he did not speak even one obscene word, but to Lu Xiaofeng’s ears, it was the most nauseating words he had ever heard for as long as he had lived.

He almost could not stop himself from pouncing over and give this half-real, half-fake lunatic a good slap on the face. He did not have to pounce over because Leng Hong’er had preceded him in pouncing over. This petite and delicate, tender and frail woman had suddenly turned into a mother wolf, her actions were malicious and vicious.

Lu Xiaofeng knew she knew martial arts, but he had never thought that her martial art skills were very good. Her movements were swift and ruthless. Within the seventy-two ways of grappling technique, she had mastered some skills in spraining muscle and dislocating bones. If any part of Li Shentong’s body was grabbed by her, two kinds of sound would definitely be heard – the noise of shattering bones and the painful scream of a pig being slaughtered.

Yet Li Shentong did not give her any opportunity to touch even the corner of his clothes.

His painting might be awful, his attire might be very funny, but his martial art skill was not funny at all.

Even Lu Xiaofeng had no choice but to admit that compared to people anywhere, anyplace, his martial art skill could be considered first class.

Such an able individual, why did he act like an idiot, hiding under his own older sister’s skirt and let himself ran over by other people everywhere? Why didn’t he get out to the world on his own? Could it be that his Jiejie’s [older sister] martial art skill was stronger than his?

Lu Xiaofeng looked up and happened to see Li Shentong’s hand had just moved away from Leng Hong’er’s breasts. Followed by Leng Hong’er dashed to the door. It was not until she was out of the door did he hear her crying.

Lu Xiaofeng felt anger rising in his breast. With his hands tightly curled into fists, he determined to give this man a really good lesson.

Unexpectedly, Li Shentong laughed. He waved his hand and laughed: “You must not come over. I know I cannot beat you, I also know who you are.”

With a maintained composure Lu Xiaofeng said, “You know?”

Li Shentong laughed: “You can hide the truth from others, but you cannot hide it from me. It will still be useless even if you add more beards. I know you are that Four-eyebrowed Lu Xiaofeng.”

Lu Xiaofeng halted his steps with a start.

He arrived in this place less than four hours ago, and had met with only five people, but all these five people had astonished him tremendously. It seemed like the people of this place were not simple at all. If he wanted to bring the Luocha Tablet back, it might not be an easy task after all.

Li Shentong’s smile was getting wider: “But you need not worry, I will definitely not reveal this secret, because we are on the same side. I have been waiting for you for a long time.”

Lu Xiaofeng was even more astonished: “You knew I was coming?”

Li Shentong: “Blue Beard has said that he would certainly send you over, and I very much believe his words.”

Finally Lu Xiaofeng understood; he also recalled what Blue Beard had said, “… even if you cannot find her, there will be someone who will lead you to her … when you get there, someone will make a contact with you.”

Li Shentong laughed, “I am sure you did not think that I would betray my Jiejie and be Blue Beard’s spy.”

Lu Xiaofeng coldly said, “But I am not too surprised. Someone like you, is there any kind of job you can’t do?”

Unexpectedly, Li Shentong sighed and said, “When you see that precious Jiejie of mine, you will understand why I am doing this.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “What can I do to be able to see her?”

Li Shentong: “Only one way.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “What way?”

Li Shentong: “Quickly deliver those boxes you brought with you?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “You don’t know where she is hiding?”

Li Shentong: “I don’t.”

He sighed again then with a bit a rueful smile he said, “Other than shiny white silver and bright yellow gold, she doesn’t know anything else, not even her own family.”

Lu Xiaofeng stared hard at him for a long time, enough to drink a cup of tea. Suddenly he asked, “Do you want to take a beating?”

Of course Li Shentong did not want to.

Lu Xiaofeng: “Then you’d better eat everything spilled on the floor. If I find out that you leave even one piece of food, I will make sure that you’d regret it for the rest of your life.”

The hotpot was knocked over, pickled Chinese cabbage, plain boiled pork, black pudding, were scattered on the floor, which quickly became a layer of white oil.

Li Shentong bitterly bent his waist and went down on his knees. Lu Xiaofeng slowly walked out. When he got to the door he heard Li Shentong throwing up.

The night was very deep; the brilliant lantern lights were getting sparse, the magnificent little town was shrouded in cold darkness.

The cold wind was blowing from the frozen river, from a distance came the howling of a pack of wolves, a cold and desolate howl, making the hearts of those who heard it also turn cold.

Where did Leng Hong’er go? Did she go to sit on the frozen river, waiting for the black bear to pass by?

In her mind, what did the black bear symbolize? Did it symbolize mankind’s primitive desire?

Lu Xiaofeng did not feel well. Not only he did not feel good about her, but also he did not feel good about himself. Why does mankind always suffer by his own desire?

The lanterns at the Eternal Heaven Restaurant were still shining. The light leaked out from the crack on the door. The cold wind also carried an intermittent whiff of warm aroma.

Lu Xiaofeng’s forehead creased into a frown. He knew waiting for him inside were pickled Chinese cabbage, plain boiled pork, and black pudding hotpot, plus one weird girl.

In that instant he really wished he could simply run to the frozen river, waiting for the black bear to pass by.

Also, right that instant he saw a shadow dash out from the back of the Eternal Heaven Restaurant. The shadow immediately disappeared in the darkness.

The shadow’s qinggong was really not below Lu Xiaofeng’s. Was there a qinggong master of this caliber in this kind of place?

Lu Xiaofeng frowned, again. The door opened. A pair of laughing eyes was looking at him from the threshold. With a giggle she said, “Finally you remembered to go back. I thought you have died on that woman’s tummy.”

Steaming hot hotpot and some Green Bamboo Leaf wine, warmed at just the right temperature, Chuchu’s smile was truly very sweet: “I brought this wine from the inland …”

Lu Xiaofeng just wanted to run away; he could not take it anymore, the same dishes, the same wine, the same woman. Even more unbearable, they talked the same.

Whatever she was going to say next, he did not want to listen – the same idle talk, the same boring people …

He sprang up suddenly: “Hurry up, tell your men to deliver it quickly.”

Chuchu was startled, “Deliver what? Deliver to where?”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Quickly deliver those boxes to the Silver Hook Casino.”

The seven, eight zhang wide room had been divided by wooden boards into seven, eight smaller rooms. In the biggest room the biggest bed was prepared, with the thickest bed quilt spread over it.

Lu Xiaofeng was lying on this bed, blanketed by the thick quilt, yet the cold was still unbearable.

Everybody must have had a time when they were feeling downcast. He was also a man. This time he only felt that he had thrown the business into a total mess. He wished he could simply give himself three thousand eight hundred slaps on the face, and then punish himself by kneeling to the Heaven three hundred eighty times, and finally buy a block of tofu and smash his own head to death.

People were moving the boxes outside, amidst the noises of their yawns and sneezes.

It was the third hour of the night [between 3 – 5am], to drag people out of their warm beds and order them to move boxes was probably not their idea of having a good life. Why haven’t these people died? But why must they die?

To stay alive was not only one’s right, it was also one’s duty. Nobody has neither the power nor the authority to destroy others, just like nobody has any right to destroy oneself.

Lu Xiaofeng tossed and turned in his bed, wishing that sleep would come earlier. It’s a pity that waiting for sleep was just like waiting for a woman. The more anxious you are for her to come a bit earlier, the later she would come to you. Why are there so many matters in life just like that?

Suddenly he heard a crashing noise outside, followed by people shouting in shock.

Lu Xiaofeng sprang up from his bed and grabbed his coat, without having any time to put on his shoes. With bare feet he dashed outside, only to see several big men, who were carrying the boxes, standing around, looking at a box as if they had lost their minds.

The box had fallen to the floor that its lid was opened and the all its contents were scattered around. Shockingly, the contents were neither gold nor silver, but blocks of bricks.

Lu Xiaofeng was shocked.

Tonight, it was the sixth time he was startled. This time not only he was shocked, he was angered as well, because he felt he had been cheated, and naturally the feeling of being cheated was not a pleasant one.

Chuchu, however, did not even bat her eye, she said unenthusiastically, “Why are you standing around looking like fools? The fall did not hurt the bricks the least bit. Quickly put them back and deliver them.”

“Deliver them?” Lu Xiaofeng coldly asked, “Deliver to where?”

Chuchu: “Of course deliver them to the Silver Hook Casino.”

With a cold laugh Lu Xiaofeng said, “You want to trade other people’s Luocha Tablet with bricks? Do you think other people are that stupid?”

Chuchu: “It is exactly because that Miss Chen is not stupid that I can simply deliver these boxes just like this. If she really knows how to judge the quality of goods, once she look at these boxes, she won’t say anything.”

Lu Xiaofeng: “Are those other boxes also filled with bricks?”

Chuchu: “Exactly the same bricks, but …”

Lu Xiaofeng: “But what?”

Chuchu smiled, “Although the boxes are filled with bricks, but the boxes are made of pure gold. We are taking this much gold, travelling over such a long distance, there is no harm in being a bit more cautious.”

Lu Xiaofeng was dumbfounded. He suddenly discovered that the only fool around was probably himself.

The rest of the boxes were quickly loaded and delivered. Lu Xiaofeng was still standing barefooted, with a baffled look on his face.

Chuchu looked at him then sweetly said, “I know you are really mad at me. I know.”

She knew under his coat Lu Xiaofeng did not wear anything else. She walked over, untied his robe, and leaned her head against his naked chest. With her arms tight around his waist, she whispered tenderly, “But tonight I won’t make you angry. I certainly won’t.”

Lu Xiaofeng looked down at the top of her long-hair covering head. He looked at her for a long time before he suddenly asked, “What made you change your mind?”

In a gentle voice Chuchu said, “I always do things I am happy about. Before, I was not happy that I had to accompany you, but now …”

Lu Xiaofeng: “But now you are happy to be with me?”

Chuchu: “Mmm.”

Lu Xiaofeng laughed. Suddenly he picked her up and carried to his bedroom, and threw her on the bed as hard as he could, then turned around and left.

Chuchu leaped up from the bed and shouted, “What do you mean by this?”

Without even looking back Lu Xiaofeng indifferently said, “I don’t have any other meaning except to tell you one thing: this kind of matter takes two people to be both happy. Although right now you are happy, I am not.”

That night, Lu Xiaofeng still slept alone, but his sleep was sweet. At long last he managed to vent off his frustration. When he woke up the next day, he felt his appetite was extremely good, he felt as if he could swallow an entire whale.

Although it was already high noon, Chuchu was still hiding inside her bedroom. It was not clear whether she was still asleep or she was still angry.

Surprisingly, he also had not heard anything from the Silver Hook Casino.

Lu Xiaofeng wolfed down his breakfast and lunch. The meal made his face glow with health, his spirit rose; therefore, he made a special effort to visit the kitchen and give his compliments to the chef.

When his heart was happy, he always hoped that others can also be similarly happy.

Just before leaving, he patted the chef’s shoulder and said with a laugh, “If you move inland and open up a restaurant, I guarantee you will get rich. Those who are accustomed to eat fish nuggets and deep-fried potato chips would happily climb the wall just so that they can eat your big chunks of roast mutton.”

The chef looked at him walking out the door with heart brimming with gratitude; in his heart he wished Lu Xiaofeng to have good luck in whatever endeavor he might have to do today.

Lu Xiaofeng also believed that he would definitely have the good luck today.

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