In the hospital, the elderly Professor Lin lay on the bed and looked at the mango tree outside listlessly. The sun shone brightly, and some golden light spilled through the gaps in the leaves. The housekeeper, Xiao Ying, just said that the kid Junyue is back. He nodded to himself, but the loss in his eyes remained. It has been nearly half a month since Junyue had fallen off the cliff, and there was no news at all. Even the search and rescue firefighters had said that his chances of surviving were slim.
Xiao Ying's lies were too unconvincing. She'd said that Junyue had been saved by a filmmaker and returned in an ancient costume. She'd even stated that he was completely fine. Grandpa Lin knew that Xiao Ying was worried about him and was afraid that he couldn't pull through. Thus, she had surely come up with this white lie to comfort him.
He sighed, his eyes fixated on the mango tree. The sour feeling in his heart made him feel as though his whole body were becoming lifeless. Many years ago, two young kids had climbed onto a tall mango tree in the southern countryside. The young girl shouted in a crisp voice, "Grandpa, quickly look. I picked a big and ripe mango for you!" The young boy on the branch had shouted, "Xiao'hai, mine is bigger. It probably weighs a pound! Teacher, I'll come down and give it to you!" He had been full of smiles, and the sun had shone through the gaps in the leaves, landing on the blissful older man's face.
Now, he could still hear their voices, but they were no longer around. Xiao'hai, Junyue, my children, how are you doing? I really want to hear you calling out to me, one last time!
"Teacher!" A familiar voice cried from outside the door. Professor Lin did not dare to move; neither did he dare to turn to the direction of the voice. Tears trickled down from the corners of his eyes. He had gone through too much recently; he couldn't help but be on his guard now.
"Teacher, I'm back!" Li Junyue rushed forward and knelt at the elderly man's bed. He burst into tears. It had only been half a month, but his teacher had aged a lot.
Professor Lin turned to look as his tears kept falling. His trembling hand reached out to caress Li Junyue's short hair, but quickly retracted upon brief contact.
The two people standing behind slowly retreated out of the room to give the teacher and student pair some personal space. There was too much that they had to say to each other, too much they had to discuss, and too many emotions that needed to be released.
Li Junyue looked up. Looking at his aged teacher, he recounted his transmigration experience in detail. Professor Lin's eyes glimmered, and he grabbed Li Junyue's hand, his voice trembling in excitement. "Is everything you said true? Does Xiao'hai really live in another time and space?"
Li Junyue looked at Professor Lin and nodded profusely. "Yes, we live there together. The first reason I returned was to report our safety. The second reason was to buy some medicine, as there is really a scarcity of medicine in that era. Profiteers have raised the price of Chinese herbal medicine, and a huge number of the poor can't afford to see the doctor. We've opened a plantation, but there will still be a long while before we can harvest the herbs. We have to substitute with western medicine in the meantime!"
"A plantation?" The old man's eyes were full of gratification and yearning. He had been researching the medicinal properties and growth characteristics of Chinese herbal medicine for half a century. There were many valuable herbs that could be cultivated, and some of these medicines could even be grafted to improve the medicinal qualities. He had also been trying to cultivate rare Chinese medicine with high medicinal value, and had even dreamed of having a large-scale plantation to cultivate them. This had been his lifelong dream, and Xiao'hai had accomplished it for him.
"Yeah, we have invested much manpower and resources, and even hired specialized technical personnel, one of whom is the empress of the dynasty!" Li Junyue proclaimed proudly.
Professor Lin responded, filled with delight. He imagined a scene in his head — a large group of people was working hard on a large plantation field, situated in the mountains. Medicinal fragrance spread wide in a hundred mile radius. During the harvesting season, everyone was happy and excited, especially the lady spearheading the entire operation; she was grinning from ear to ear.
“Teacher, don't worry. I'll definitely take good care of Xiao'hai. I'll only think of returning after everything works out for her," Li Junyue said sincerely.
"It's been hard on you, kid." Professor Lin nodded. Ever since Li Junyue was a child, he would always warm the hearts of others.
Li Junyue looked at Professor Lin and replied in a gentle voice, "She's always been like my little sister."
"Yes, you are all my good grandchildren. Child, have you gone back to see your parents?"
"Not yet. I was planning to see them after visiting you."
"Quickly return and let them know of your wellbeing. Your family is worried sick over your disappearance," Professor Lin said.
"Yes, I'll go now!" Li Junyue really missed his family as well. Previously, when he had joined the Doctors Without Borders organization, it had been normal for him to be away from his family for a few years. This time around, it hadn't even been half a month, but he felt as though a lifetime had passed. He had never missed his family this much before.
When Li Junyue arrived home, it was another heartwarming reunion scene. Auntie Li was so happy that she fainted. Li Junyue really cherished the lost family affection, and his heart filled up.
While a heartwarming reunion was playing out on one side, Lin Haihai found herself caught up in a tragic play on the other side.
Early in the morning, Yang Hanlun came knocking and stopped Lin Haihai from leaving the residence. "Why are you looking for me?" Lin Haihai asked in confusion. Why did the nobles of the past get up so early?!
"It's Imperial Mother's birthday the day after tomorrow. Are you done with the preparations for your performance?" Yang Hanlun asked despite already knowing the answer. Lin Haihai has been busying herself in the mountains all day long. Forget about the preparations, she had probably already forgotten entirely about this matter.
Lin Haihai smacked her palm against her forehead. "Oh no, I forgot about it! It's fine; there are still two days. I'll practice a song and sing it for the Empress Dowager."
"Wouldn't singing be kind of lackluster?" Yang Hanlun was displeased.
"Is it a must for every princess consort to put up a performance?" Lin Haihai asked helplessly.
"Yes, this is a rule set by our ancestors. On the Imperial Mother's birthday, every princess consort and concubines in the imperial harem has to present a performance to the empress dowager. Imperial Mother then awards them points, and the one with the highest score receives an award of a thousand gold!" Yang Hanlun said solemnly. They couldn't break the rules set down by their ancestors.
"What?" Lin Haihai exclaimed. A thousand gold?
Yang Hanlun knew it would happen, but he was still shocked. She's been consistent in her reaction when it comes to money.
"Why didn't you tell me about this earlier? Now that there are only two days left, how am I going to cook up a performance? A thousand gold... Oh right, how much silver is that worth?" Lin Haihai started getting anxious as she mentally calculated the exchange rate between gold and silver in her mind.
"Didn't I tell you that right from the start? You didn't take it to heart, and now you're blaming me?" Yang Hanlun raised his voice.
"But you didn't tell me there would be a reward of a thousand gold!" Lin Haihai held her head in her hands. She really lacked money right now!
"What's the point of being so anxious now? Why don't you just think of a solution? Or you can look for the empress. She's been performing for a few years now, and also won the title a few times. She has a lot of experience!" Yang Hanlun started getting anxious too. In truth, he hated how Lin Haihai was so obsessed with money. However, he couldn't stand to see her upset.
“Oh, right, the empress! She's a veteran. I'll go to the mountains to look for her right now!" Yang Hanlun's words had snapped Lin Haihai out of her thoughts.
She jumped and ran off like a gust of wind as Yang Hanlun chased after her. "Wait for me; wait for me!" Yang Hanlun cried.
Empress Chen had arrived at the mountains in the wee hours of the morning. Ever since she'd left that imperial cage of a palace and spent time with these herbs and medicines, she'd gradually started to resent heading back and being grounded in that cage. However, as the empress and the mother of the nation, she couldn't act rashly. She could only leave and return early, bringing Chuting along with her.
Chuting was naturally thrilled. It was natural for a child to be very playful. Being trapped in the palace every day, she naturally yearned to be outside. Now, she could leave the palace with Empress Chen every day and play in the mountains and plains. Also, most of her playmates were kids of the same age. Chuting was even more reluctant to leave than her mother.
"Empress Chen, come, come, let's have a meeting!" Lin Haihai ran towards Empress Chen, not panting at all. Yang Hanlun trailed behind her; he couldn't help but marvel at her fitness. He felt slightly tired after running up the mountain at such a fast speed, but to think that Lin Haihai didn't seem breathless at all! Yang Hanlun looked at Lin Haihai with complicated feelings in his gaze; his mind suddenly recalled her having been held hostage previously. Could she be hiding her martial arts expertise?
"What is it? Why are you running so anxiously?" Empress Chen asked in a gentle tone.
"Have you prepared your performance piece?" Lin Haihai fired away.
"Are you talking about the performance on Imperial Mother's birthday?"
"Yes, are you prepared for it?"
"There aren't many preparations to be done; I play the zither every year." Empress Chen chuckled.
"The sound of Imperial Sister-In-Law's zither is like the running clouds and flowing water. The melody is like the song of the spring water, allowing one to forget their sorrows. I look forward to it this year!" Yang Hanlun did not conceal the praise in his tone.
"Is that true? Then wouldn't I lose for sure?" Lin Haihai immediately felt discouraged.
"If you lose, you lose. Why do you care so much about such a bubble of reputation?" Empress Chen tried to comfort her.
"She's feeling upset about the one thousand gold!" Yang Hanlun remarked coldly. She'll never change!
"Why do you need so much money? Your hospital seems huge enough, and there are so many patients. With the allowance from the Prince's Residence, money should be the least of your issues!" Empress Chen asked, perplexed.
Lin Haihai looked at the two of them. Sigh, this is hard to explain! And it was especially so with Yang Hanlun; with his black belly and poisonous tongue, she would definitely get ridiculed by him if he found out that the hospital had been losing money!
"Not only is she not lacking any money, she actually has a lot of money. Look at how many disciples she has. If each disciple paid a school fee of two silver taels, she could easily earn two hundred silver taels in a month. How could she be lacking in money?" Lin Haihai felt really guilty upon hearing Yang Hanlun's analysis. She couldn't help but lower her head, a tinge of red crept up her face, but she couldn't justify herself.
"Then why are you wasting so much effort? Just work hard on taking care of your cordyceps!" Empress Chen said with a smile before she turned and headed towards the medicinal field.
Lin Haihai also left without saying a word. Yang Hanlun stared at her, slightly infuriated. But he couldn't stand seeing her disappointed expression. He let out a sigh and headed down the mountain.
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Note: In Chinese, it doesn't say whether it's gold coin or gold pieces or what. What do you think Lin Haihai is going to do?