Chapter 380: An unexpected occurrence
Little Xiang Ning had been 'ostracised’ as even her ‘ally’, Xu Tingsheng, had 'cruelly bitten the hand that fed him, knowing not human benevolence’.
“I wouldn't even have come if it wasn't for the fact that I was afraid of you being bullied,” Little Xiang Ning felt aggrieved as she angrily exited the private room.
Watching the door as it was closed from the outside, Mr Xiang next turned and looked at Xu Tingsheng, smiling as he said, “Look at the girl...Little Ning, she's still young, huh.”
This sentence contained double layers of meaning as it finally brought them to the main topic.
“You can rest assured, Uncle. I’m aware of that,” Xu Tingsheng said.
As she was still young, there were many things that could not be done as Xu Tingsheng would have to control himself. As she was still young, she could often be insensible as Xu Tingsheng would have to be understanding. As she was still young, she still had to study and go to university as Xu Tingsheng should be cognisant of what could and could not be done. As she was still young, Xu Tingsheng would first have to ask himself whether he really was willing to wait for her…
“For the next three to five years, at least, you’d have to be more like Little Ning's older brother…” Mr Xiang trailed off, feeling awkward and some heartache too.
“Relax, Uncle. Actually, I’d already be very satisfied, being able to watch Xiang Ning as she slowly grows up and doing a bit of something for her as is within my capabilities, just like how it was before.”
These words were a bit on the 'politically correct’ side. While not insincere and fake per se, it would be obvious to anyone that however much Xu Tingsheng wished to be resolute and sincere here, it was actually pretty much impossible to fully achieve this in reality.
Still, as Xu Tingsheng had basically still acted with propriety earlier, Mr and Mrs Xiang were generally still able to set their hearts at ease somewhat.
Mrs Xiang was rather more open with her feelings as compared to Mr Xiang's furtive attempts at hiding his awkwardness as looking down at the table rather than at Xu Tingsheng, she said with a rather disgruntled tone, “I’m just afraid that one day, Little Ning might be crying after returning home from school.”
It was only inevitable for a mother to worry like this. This was especially so from Mrs Xiang’s perspective. Little Xiang Ning was still little. Even if she was a little prettier, there were many good-looking girls out there as she was not exceptionally outstanding amongst them overall. Meanwhile, the Xiang family was also perfectly ordinary.
Yet, Xu Tingsheng was not ordinary, was five years older than Little Xiang Ning and also had many positive traits to attract girls with. Little Xiang Ning would very easily be hurt as a result.
Li Meng was a living example of this…
Xu Tingsheng had simply ignored Li Meng as the blame should not technically lie with him. If someone were to blame for this, Mrs Xiang was really more responsible for it. Still, this same principle still applied. What if there came someone more outstanding than Li Meng, who was talented and beautiful and whose family had a reputable standing in society? What if one of these days, Xu Tingsheng himself changed his mind and no longer loved Little Xiang Ning?
Mrs Xiang worried greatly about this.
Also, she who was just a mere, ordinary citizen felt that the lives of rich people would surely not be so simple and reliable.
Mother-in-laws are always harder to deal with than father-in-laws. Xu Tingsheng could only converse and clarify things to Mrs Xiang with great difficulty.
The trio conversed amidst a mood of immense awkwardness for a while. Finally, they arrived at the topic that Mr and Mrs Xiang were the most perplexed about, which was how exactly Xu Tingsheng had come to like Little Xiang Ning.
Such a question would definitely create a somewhat awkward atmosphere, if asked. Still, Mr and Mrs Xiang just had to ask it. Unable to wrap their heads about it however much they tried, they would be unable to set their hearts at ease if they could not hear Xu Tingsheng personally explaining this.
Xu Tingsheng had actually already expected this as he had put together a rather mystical tale the night before. Despite the heavy awkwardness and guilt that was threatening to overwhelm him, he opened his mouth to speak…
A racket resounded from the corridor outside.
The fire had started in the kitchen on the first storey. It had not been huge at first, nor should it have been very hard to control. When cooking inside a restaurant, that some tiny sparks would be flying about was really an inevitable thing.
Yet, on this very afternoon, business in the restaurant had not been all that good as the dishes had basically all been served too. The old, experienced cooks had snuck off to rest earlier on, leaving the new apprentice there alone to cook the two remaining dishes which consisted of some shoots and vegetables.
The oil pan suddenly caught ablaze in its entirety, flames shooting skywards as some grease on the wall was quickly ignited too.
It was a pretty intimidating scene.
In truth, had there been an experienced cook here, they would have been able to take care of it simply by covering the pan with its lid and beating at the embers on the wall with a wet towel.
Yet, this new apprentice did not not know all these. Startled by the sudden occurrence, he immediately threw some water inside the pan. Next, discovering that the fire had instead intensified, he was overwhelmed completely by panic.
He yelled, but no one answered. Maybe he was afraid of losing his job or maybe he really had a great sense of responsibility, for he actually...reached out and, bearing the immense pain, grabbed and raised the entire burning pan, intending to bring it out to dispose of it…
Yet, the intense pain surpassed his tolerable limits, forcing him to give up partway through and let go as the hot, burning oil splattered everywhere, a portion dripping onto the warehouse for miscellaneous goods where the solid fuel for hotpot was usually kept. The solid fuel that was stacked up into a small mountain was hence ignited…
A great fire blazed rampantly just like that.
The old building was unable to bear the intensity of the roaring flames as it instantly spread to the second storey, then the third storey…
The room that Xu Tingsheng and Mr and Mrs Xiang were in was quieter as there were fewer of them inside. Also not having consumed much alcohol, they were amongst the earliest ones who heard the warning shouts. The three of them immediately ran out of the building along with the rest. As the fire had still yet to spread greatly, the three managed to escape from the building without injury.
“Wah, how did we end up running into something like this,” Mr Xiang said rather awkwardly, being the one who had booked the restaurant.
“It’s good that nobody’s hurt,” Mrs Xiang replied, feeling rather fearful of what might have happened.
“Right, most important’s that we’re safe. It’s good that nobody’s hurt,” Xu Tingsheng agreed.
Aware that someone had already notified the fire department, the three stood in the crowd outside the restaurant along with a whole bunch of spectators who had quickly gathered. As they talked and watched those fiery flames, they heard the boss of the restaurant crying as he stood with his employees and yelled towards the building upstairs, “Fire, fire! Hurry up and run! Is anyone still up there?”
A loss for the restaurant itself was already an unavoidable thing. Rather than that, what the boss was most afraid of now...was a human life being lost as well.
If, by any chance, this really did happen, he would be completely done for.
Fortunately, the first twenty, thirty over people who emerged from the site of the fire, Mr and Mrs Xiang as well as Xu Tingsheng included, were basically all unharmed. Instead, the one who was most injured was that cooking apprentice who had been carrying the blazing pan with his hands, thus having led to that fire. His arms and chest were already burnt tragically beyond recognition.
He should really be sent to the hospital at once. However, he was already in shock at the events that had transpired whereas his boss was just scolding him furiously upon seeing him...unable to stand the sight of this any longer, Xu Tingsheng helped him to dial 120 for the ambulance.
Over the next few minutes, a few people ran out of the building. Perhaps because they had been too caught up in their drinking games and had realised the danger late, or perhaps because of some other reason, they had exited later, being relatively more injured too.
In these mere few extra minutes that had elapsed, the fire had grown more and more intense.
The boss was on tenterhooks as he grabbed a woman who had just dashed out from inside and asked her panickedly, “Hey, did you see anybody else still up there? There’s nobody else, right? There’s no one, right?”
“I don’t know!” That woman exclaimed, still half in shock, “Right, there was a young girl who ran down from the fourth storey like me. But I think she was frightened, because she ran onto the corridor on the third storey right away. I don’t know if she’s come out...has anyone seen her?”
The woman now tiptoed and raised her head, looking around in all directions.
Xu Tingsheng’s heart abruptly tensed.
“Uncle, Auntie, hurry up and call Little Ning’s phone,” He said.
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