Lin Haihai gave the woman a disapproving look before saying softly to the old woman, “Please be honest with me. Are you feeling unwell, ma’am?” She took the old woman’s pulse gently and checked her lungs with a stethoscope. Her breathing was muddled and wheezing sounds could be heard. No wonder the imperial physician would have her stay in the hospital. Lin Haihai was pleasantly surprised. The physician had made the right diagnosis.
“Your mother must stay here for a couple of days. Then you may take her back,” she said to the burly man. “Go to the front desk to make the necessary arrangements and pay the fee. Then you’re free to leave with your pet hen!”
Lin Haihai wasn’t usually someone with a sharp tongue. This was far from the first time she met someone who didn’t care about their parents. Normally, she would’ve dealt with the matter with a smile, but she couldn’t contain her anger today no matter how hard she tried.
The woman flew into a rage and rushed to Lin Haihai with an accusing finger. Wangchen stepped in and slapped her in the face. The sheer force put into the slap made her dizzy.
Stunned, the burly man hurriedly caught his wife, who stomped and snarled at him, “Are you my husband or not? I was bullied! Why aren’t you striking back? I want you to teach her a good lesson until she cries for mercy! Go!”
The man got angry when he noticed her swollen face. Without hesitation, he made a move against Wangchen. Wangchen hadn’t expected him to be a martial artist as well, and a good one at that. They exchanged a few blows and came to a standstill. The patients waiting in the hospital put some distance between them and the fighting pair, worried that they would get caught in the conflict.
Lin Haihai didn’t want innocent people to be hurt, either. She raised her voice and said, “Retreat, Wangchen!”
Wangchen disengaged from the fight and returned to Lin Haihai. Lin Haihai told the imperial physicians, “Go back to seeing the patients. I’ll deal with this matter!”
The imperial physicians nodded. “We understand, Master!”
Then Lin Haihai gave the man a cool glance, “The Linhai Hospital isn’t a place for you to throw tantrums. Your mother will stay. The two of you should leave!”
The woman scoffed. “Someone at the Linhai Hospital hit me today. Many good people of the capital bore witness to the crime. If you don’t pay for what I’ve suffered, I’ll press charges against you!”
Lin Haihai smiled. “Oh? Did we hit anyone?” She raised her voice and asked the patients, “Any of you see our staff hit someone?”
The patients looked at Lin Haihai and said with feigned confusion, “We saw nothing!”
Lin Haihai chuckled, shifting her piercing gaze back to the woman.
The woman shot daggers at the crowd with her eyes, unable to come up with a comeback. She pushed her husband and snapped, “Are you deaf? Go teach her a lesson!”
However, the man didn’t move at all. The air of nobility about Lin Haihai intimidated him. The faint half-smile on her face, especially, instilled fear and respect in him. It was as if he would be defiling a deity if he made a move against her.
“This is your mother. Do you want her to be treated or not?” Lin Haihai said to the man. “Judging from your clothes, you may not be rich, but you have enough income to lead a stable life. If you have money to spare, why won’t you pay to have your mother treated? Do you really see her as your mother?”
Lin Haihai turned to the woman and continued, “I didn’t want to talk to you, but as a woman, I have a piece of advice for you: Think about what karma your actions will bring. You’re a mother yourself. What will you think if your children treat you like this in the future?”
“Well said!” a voice said cheerily from outside the door, and a handsome man entered while clapping. The woman immediately lowered her head in panic when she saw the newcomer. Why is Young Master Zhou here?
Lin Haihai recognized the man. He was the young owner of Yu Tai Money Exchange, where she had deposited tens of thousands of silver.
“Recognize me, Physician Lin?” Zhou Junpeng asked with a smile.
Lin Haihai returned the gesture and said, “I can’t possibly not recognize Young Master Zhou even if I couldn’t recognize His Majesty the Emperor!”
Zhou Junpeng was shocked and delighted. He had never thought that Lin Haihai would remember him, but it turned out she recognized him at first glance. His face turned a little flushed. He was used to the company of women, but it was the first time a woman was able to affect him like this. “Physician Lin has a good memory. I couldn’t be more pleasantly surprised!”
“Young Master!” the woman called out weakly.
“Steward Zhong, have you come with your mother-in-law to get her treated?” Zhou Junpeng asked with steel in his voice, his expression tinged with annoyance.
“Yes, Young Master!” the woman hurried out nervously.
“How caring you are of your elders, Steward Zhong!” His voice was practically dripping with sarcasm.
“No, no. This servant is merely doing what I should do!” Bead-like sweat popped out of her forehead, but she didn’t dare wipe it clean. Young Master Zhou hated those who disregarded their parents the most. If he had witnessed the scene earlier, she would be stripped of her position as their steward!
“Then take her to the physician. Don’t delay her treatment!”
“Of course, of course!” Steward Zhong nodded hurriedly and took the old woman to pay for her fee.
Lin Haihai watched the steward’s change in act and gave Zhou Junpeng a thumbs up. Zhou Junpeng chuckled at her mischievous expression.
“Are you here to seek treatment?” Lin Haihai asked with a smile. She didn’t think of it as an inappropriate question. It wasn’t intended as a bad omen. She simply couldn’t think of another reason that someone would visit a hospital.
“That’s not the only reason someone might visit this hospital,” Zhou Junpeng said with amusement. “I’m here to seek you out!”
“Me?” Lin Haihai put away her stethoscope and gave him a nervous look. “Did something wrong happen to my deposit?”
“Nothing of that sort. I simply have a few questions to ask you.” Zhou Junpeng smiled. “Let us talk elsewhere. Would you be able to make some time for me?”
Lin Haihai frowned at the patients who occupied the hospital. “How about we meet up later? I can’t leave right now. A few of our physicians have left for medical visits. As you can see, we have a room full of patients whose treatment must not be delayed!”
“Alright, how about we meet at the River View Tavern at noon?” Zhou Junpeng asked tentatively with a heated gaze. “You have to eat no matter how busy you are. Why don’t we talk as we have lunch?”
Lin Haihai sat down by the working desk and threw a smile at Zhou Junpeng. “Alright. Whoever arrives first will wait for the other. Now I have to get back to work. Don’t stay on my account.”
Zhou Junpeng tamped down the joy in his heart and said calmly, “Then I’ll return to Yu Tai to get some work done. Whoever arrives first will wait for the other.” He didn’t want to seem too eager, or she might look down on him.
Lin Haihai nodded at him as she took the next patient’s pulse. She told the patient to stick his tongue out before waving a hand at Zhou Junpeng. Seeing how busy she was, he took his leave with a smile.
Morning was when the hospital saw the most patients. They had wasted enough time dealing with Steward Zhong, and the patients awaiting their turn had filled the room. Moreover, there weren’t many physicians on shift today. Li Junyue and three imperial physicians had left for medical visits. Lin Haihai barely had time to take a deep breath as she worked through the day. Finally, she was finished with morning’s work.
She told the imperial physicians to cleanse Yang Shaolun’s wound while she watched them from the door. She dared not enter the ward. Yang Shaolun had noticed her hiding outside. He gazed at her quietly, calmly. It was the first time he truly realized the great distance between them. She was so far away from him!
Lin Haihai’s lone figure turned away. The clouds looming in the sky seemed heavy with water. There was no room for her by his side. There wasn’t a dark hell nor a bright heaven between them, and they weren’t separated by time and space. However, the distance between them was far greater than anything. Let this be the end of their story. She had lost him, but she hadn’t lost her love for him. Her love would stay fresh for a long, long time through the years!
When she made her way to the River View Tavern, she felt like a different person, but just as burdened by concerns. The first time she came, she was burdened by an uncertain future. This time, it was her relationship that was uncertain.
A clerk went up to her and greeted, “You must be Physician Lin. Young Master Zhou is waiting for you in a booth upstairs!”
Lin Haihai put on a polite smile and followed the clerk upstairs. The booths on the second floor weren’t as extravagant as those on the first floor, but a touch more elegant and proper. A few landscape paintings were hung on the wall. The ethereal scenery surrounded by mist was depicted with sharp and precise strokes.
What wonderful paintings! Lin Haihai was surprised that artwork by such masterful artists had been hung so casually in a small room. She felt the urge to befriend the straightforward and magnanimous person who was responsible for this.
“Do you really know the paintings?” asked a cool voice, the tone tinged with disrespect.
Lin Haihai turned to see a wild-looking man. His hair was loosely tied, and a few strands ran down his shoulders. His silk robe was all white, free of any decorations or patterns. Not even a golden thread had been used. It was made with nothing but snow white fabric. He looked to be about twenty-seven, and his handsome face wore a derisive smile. It seemed like he was mocking her.
“Young Master!” The clerk hurriedly bowed to the man.
“You may leave,” said the man.
Appreciation flashed through the man’s eyes as they settled on Lin Haihai, but it was soon replaced by derision. Nowadays, too many people faked appreciation for fine art just for the sake of it. Countless young women from prestigious families had visited the tavern and showered the paintings with praises to attract his attention. It was a shame that the elegant-looking woman was acting like those fools.
“What do you think about the paintings?” He would like to know what she would say.
Lin Haihai smiled, oblivious to the mockery in his eyes. “They’re great!”
“Great?” The man raised an eyebrow. He had never heard such simplistic praises before. The others were at least able to come up with flowery words to praise the artwork.
“They’re great!” repeated Lin Haihai. She was a medical student who didn’t know much about art. It was Yu Qing who loved landscape paintings, and Lin Haihai had come to appreciate them due to her influence. However, Lin Haihai knew too little to say anything constructive about the paintings.
“What do you mean by that?” The man looked at her with interest, finding her lack of knowledge amusing.
“I mean they’re great.” Lin Haihai turned to him. What’s so hard to understand about it?
The man crossed his arms before his chest, his posture relaxed and his slanted eyes derisive. “Do you like them?”
“Do they cost a lot?” Price was the most practical measure for art for Lin Haihai.
“They cost a fortune. Enough to buy every block along this street!” The man huffed out a laugh and noted the greedy look in Lin Haihai’s eyes.
Wouldn’t it be great if I can get the money? It’s too early to have such nonsensical dreams, though. Lin Haihai shrugged and said to the man, “Ah, that valuable?”
The man was surprised by her sudden calmness. The woman was cunning to have covered up her thoughts in an instant. However, he hadn’t missed her greedy look earlier.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
It's always a bit amusing how much fictional characters are able to read in each other's eyes :P