Chapter 418: The feeling of discussing marriage
The doors of Home-Cooked Food were still closed despite the fact that the lights were on. Pasted on the door outside was a piece of paper which read: Resuming business tomorrow, eighty percent discount. Below that row of words was written the time as they also expressed their apologies to their customers both regular and new.
This piece of calligraphy had been done by Xu Tingsheng, being simply of average standard.
Speaking of calligraphy, Xiang Ning had been much more skilled in it than Xu Tingsheng during her fourth year of university in his previous life. According to her, as she had not been in a relationship during those earlier three years and had had nothing better to do, she had painstakingly trained specifically in it.
She had joined a calligraphy club in her first year of university. Half a year later, the chairman of the calligraphy club had written a ‘thousand character script’ and hung it from a classroom building in his confession to her. That had encompassed the surface of an entire wall.
She had drawn an ‘X’ beneath it and quit the club.
Afterwards, she had simply self-learnt calligraphy.
Xu Tingsheng hadn’t believed her at the time, thinking that Xiang Ning was really not the kind of person who could quieten down and practise calligraphy in the first place. An angry Miss Xiang had taken brush to paper and demonstrated her abilities to him right there and then.
She had employed the ‘Slender Gold’ style of calligraphy that had been created by Emperor Huizong of Song, Zhao Ji, that possessed a very high level of difficulty. While Miss Xiang’s calligraphy was not at the level of an expert’s, she had indeed attained a certain level of proficiency in it.
This was why single girls were usually more likely to be more on the talented side. There was no other reason for this but that they just had too much free time.
Xu Tingsheng naturally still remembered what Miss Xiang had reproduced at the time had been <> that had been penned by Lu You for his ex-wife. This piece of calligraphy had later remained with him, accompanying him over the next three destitute years of solitude.
A cupful of melancholy, several years of separation; Our oath to each other remains, yet I can no longer profess my love. These two sentences of ominous prophecy had sadly been fulfilled.
They had dinner that night not in one of the compartmented private rooms but in the hall of the restaurant itself. As there was too much food, four whole square tables were needed to contain all of it, though there were clearly only five of them.
Xu Tingsheng had actually received the notification in the afternoon. Still, being just too nervous, it had not even been 5pm when he had arrived at the restaurant.
Since there had already been more than enough wine and food there at the time, Mrs Xiang and Mrs Niu had continued with their work in the kitchen while Xu Tingsheng had helped with that bit of calligraphy before sitting down with Mr Xiang and Old Niu. There, they had consumed alcohol as they waited.
This meal was actually more troubling for Xu Tingsheng than all the previous ones. Little Xiang Ning was not by his side this time. Although she was just a young girl, when she was absent and he had to face Mr and Mrs Xiang all by himself, the discrepancy really was quite great.
The feeling of a sole soldier striving bravely in battle…
He even had to undergo his alcohol battles all alone.
The friendly Old Niu patted Xu Tingsheng’s shoulder, saying, “You should call me Uncle Niu like Little Ning does.”
Then, he laughed heartily, unceasingly downing wine with Xu Tingsheng having no choice but to follow suit.
Mr Xiang also seemed very prepared to get drunk that day.
Speaking of wine, if this had been anywhere else, Xu Tingsheng might not be willing to drink excessively even if it was one of Yanzhou City’s top government officials who had raised their wineglasses. Yet, whenever either of the two raised their glasses, he dared not but drink along with them…
53 degree white wine, swallowing at least close to half a glass each time…
When Mrs Xiang and Mrs Xiu came and got seated, the three men at the table were all already somewhat inebriated.
Xu Tingsheng and Old Niu had an arm around each other’s shoulders, chatting enthusiastically and addressing each other as bros.
Actually, he was already more or less talking uninhibitedly with Mr Xiang now. Xu Tingsheng was fortunately still sober enough, though, that he was not calling him 'bro’. Otherwise, their seniority would have become completely messed up as Little Xiang Ning’s Uncle Liar would literally be of ‘Uncle’ seniority in relation to her.
Most of the food on the table was destined to be wasted. Soon after sitting down, Mrs Xiang picked some dishes that were laid out relatively further away with her chopsticks and placed these in Xu Tingsheng’s bowl, saying, “Don’t keep on drinking with them like that, Tingsheng. Have some food first.”
“Heh, it’s still the mother-in-law who knows to dote on her son-in-law…” Mrs Niu said without thinking, not holding back at all.
Mrs Xiang and Mrs Niu then began bickering in dialect. Not knowing how he should react, Xu Tingsheng ended up lowering his head and shovelling food into his mouth.
Mrs Xiang chuckled as she looked at him, exclaiming, “Slow down, slow down! Really, just like Little Ning…”
She could not have been any more overt in her words.
“Good, this is a good kid!” Old Niu said emotionally, “Cultured, capable, all that aside. Even with his identity, he’s able to drink and chat like this with a coarse person like me, not being any fake at all. This shows that this kid’s personality and character are also very good. Your Xiang family is fortunate! Come, Old Xiang. Let me toast you.”
Mr Xiang raised his wineglass without any hesitation whatsoever and clinked glasses with Old Niu before saying emotionally from the bottom of his heart, “Yes, our Xiang family is fortunate.”
Soon, Mr Xiang poured another glass of wine and raised it, telling Xu Tingsheng, “Tingsheng, Uncle’s not going to say ‘thank you’ to you regarding this matter then. We’re family, after all.”
We’re family. Finally hearing these words from the mouths of Xiang Ning’s parents for the first time, Xu Tingsheng felt exceptionally comfortable within.
“Thank you, Uncle. If there’s anything you guys need help with in the future, whether it’s big or small, you can just yell for me. It’s fine even if it’s that you’re too busy in the kitchen. I can help here too. I’m a pro at peeling potatoes, and also slicing fish…” Xu Tingsheng said shamelessly.
Amidst the ensuing laughter, Xu Tingsheng and Mr Xiang downed a glass of wine.
Mrs Xiang rubbed the back of her husband who had consecutively drunk two glasses of wine, exclaiming, “Look at you! It’s still early. Go easy on the wine now, or you’ll get drunk real fast…”
Mr Xiang stubbornly waved a hand in refusal, pouring himself another glass and pouring some wine for her too as he indicated for her to raise it with him.
Then, he said quite awkwardly, “This glass, Tingsheng, is on account of how Uncle and Auntie treated you unfairly before…”
“Right, Little Ning said that you ended up vomiting blood that time, and I even...did you have a checkup at the hospital afterwards? What did they say?” Mrs Xiang asked concernedly.
“I did. It was nothing major. Don’t worry about it, Auntie,” Xu Tingsheng replied.
The three downed another glass.
By this time, Mr Xiang was already starting to lean back against his chair, muttering repeatedly, “Let me take a break, a break…”
Xu Tingsheng’s head was getting heavy too. Still, he stabilised it with all his might.
There was only Mrs Xiang who was getting increasingly enthusiastic and talkative. Now that that final bit of awkwardness between them had been eliminated, Mrs Xiang was just an ordinary housewife. How could there be nothing that she was concerned and curious about at all?
“I heard from Little Ning that your Mum was the first to spot her Fuxi bone on her forehead?” She asked.
“Ah, right. It happened by coincidence,” Xu Tingsheng answered rather nervously.
“How was it when they met Little Ning afterwards? That girl wasn’t disliked, right?” Mrs Xiang enquired interestedly.
She was already starting to be concerned about the attitudes of her future in-laws. In the eyes of parents, this was a matter that was secondary only to their son-in-law himself. Moreover, with the Xu family’s vast fortune, they were naturally concerned that his parents might be rather difficult to get along with due to wealth and such.
While Xu Tingsheng had never actually asked his parents about this before, he still said unhesitatingly now, “No, Mum and Dad really liked Little Ning. When she often came to accompany me at the time, Mum and Dad said they felt pained too seeing her like this.”
Mrs Xiang exhaled in relief, pondering aloud, “That’s good then. If Little Ning weren’t so young…”
Now, Mrs Niu laughed and interjected, “Heh, isn’t this...the feeling of discussing marriage?”
Only now did Mr and Mrs Xiang suddenly feel self-conscious as they appeared awkward. Wine was a great thing which could break through many barriers. The words that Mr and Mrs Xiang had said today after having rid themselves of their inhibitions with wine virtually entailed that unless Xu Tingsheng committed any major mistake...this thing was virtually already settled.
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