Chapter 635: The world, one’s heart
The plane landed in Yanjing.
Xu Tingsheng immediately went to Qingbei University with gifts he had bought in Paris. His little sister, Xu Qiuyi, had been despondent for some time because he had not gone to see her when she had started school.
Gifts that filled up an entire piece of luggage finally managed to obtain smiles and a meal at the school cafeteria.
He thought that he would have seen Wu Yuewei for sure originally. In the end, though, he didn’t.
Since his sister had not mentioned this matter, Xu Tingsheng would naturally also not bring it up on his own…
After dinner, Xu Tingsheng arrived at the site of the seminar.
There was no discussion scheduled for that night. Professor Yan appeared a bit solitary among the many experts there. After settling down his belongings, Xu Tingsheng invited him for a walk and listened to the old man reminisce on the time when he had studied in Yanjing.
At 9pm, Xu Tingsheng sent Professor Yan back to his room and bid him farewell, preparing to leave.
“Please hold on a moment, Little Friend Xu,” Professor Yan said.
Standing at the doorway, Xu Tingsheng turned back and waited for him.
Soon, Professor Yan removed his neatly folded clothes from his luggage, placing them all on the bed in an orderly manner. Finally, he removed something from the very bottom. Unwrapping that cloth that covered it, a circular object was revealed.
“A gift for you, little friend,” Yan Zhengyu said.
“Huh? Thank you, Professor Yan.”
The object Yan Zhengyu was holding was actually not big, with a diameter of around seven to eight centimetres. Xu Tingsheng received it from him and took a good look at it.
The small dark metallic plate shone faintly, carvings on its back. The inner circle depicted the four mythical divine beasts, their bodies warped and facing one another. On the outer circle were ropelike patterns of distinct levels. Their handiwork was intricate and fine throughout.
The front of the plate was clear as a mirror as one could see their reflection within.
“This is a copper mirror from warring times?” Xu Tingsheng asked.
Yan Zhengyu smiled, “Well, looks like you do know some stuff. You could say that.”
“...It’s not a genuine artifact, right?”
Professor Yan smiled again, “What do you think?”
While Xu Tingsheng could not judge this with his limited knowledge, he could vaguely sense a heavy, rustic feeling from the copper plate...along with the handiwork...especially considering that it had come from Yan Zhengyu…
“It’s really an antique?” Xu Tingsheng was rather taken aback and lost for words, “This, this really is too precious. I can’t accept it.”
Yan Zhengyu burst into laughter before shaking his head and smiling wryly, saying, “You, your brain has all been used on business. If it were the genuine thing, it would be a national treasure. How would I be able to take it out and give it to you?”
“”That’s true,” Xu Tingsheng said awkwardly, “Still, just looking at it, it really looks a lot like the real deal.”
The confidence and pride of an expert could be revealed on Yan Zhengyu’s face as he said, “Well, you can’t be blamed for that. In my early years, I was inspired and made three warring state copper mirrors, even turning them old. I was pretty proud of these playthings. Afterwards, one was buried with my deceased wife’s ashes while another was gifted to my good friend at the time.”
“A few years later, I went to give a lecture in Hong Kong once. I was invited by a collector to view his collection...amongst them, I saw a copper mirror whose source I asked him about. According to him, he spent 1.2 million buying it from a specialist. I actually recognised the copper mirror as the one I had gifted my good friend.”
These words basically showed how high the quality of this imitation was and how disappointed Yan Zhengyu had been in his good friend. Still, he had yet to finish speaking.
“Afterwards, in the years that my son’s business failed,” Yan Zhengyu hesitated for a bit before saying, “You know about how I helped him to raise funds by randomly making up genealogies and articles. I’ll not speak about that. In truth, there was a day when I took out this remaining copper mirror.”
Xu Tingsheng knew that he was talking about this last one that he was holding.
“You should know what I was thinking then. I thought of selling it, selling it as the genuine article. I struggled a lot that day. Finally, I steeled my resolve. To prevent myself from regretting it in the future, being led astray...I immediately got my tools and added some words to the copper mirror. With that, it’d be impossible to mistake it for the genuine.”
Words? Xu Tingsheng flipped the copper mirror but did not find anything.
Professor Yan took it and pointed towards its side.
Along the edge of the narrow mirror were the words: Beauty is appreciated everywhere, I alone prefer rustic.
Yan Zhengyu had engraved the words in a tall and straight fashion, this only having originated during the time of the Eastern Han Dynasty. So, it would naturally not appear on a mirror that came from the warring state era. Yan Zhengyu had done so deliberately.
As for these eight words, they were from the famous specialist in cultural relics, Wang Shixiang. Regarding their meaning, it was probably that Yan Zhengyu and his son sought different things in life, perhaps also carrying an unfortunate sigh.
“I have lived a simple life. Even in the chaotic times of war, up mountains and down villages, and during the years of the Cultural Revolution, I never felt it to be very bitter. The sole bitter, difficult time of my life was when my son was saddled with debt and being pestered to repay it.”
“During that time, I sold my name, my reputation, my principles...there was only one thing, one object alone where I stayed true to my conscience. In giving this to you today, I hope yours will be a world of immeasurable beauty, your heart having a simple, basic place to return to.”
Be in a world of immeasurable beauty, having a simple, basic place to return to. Xu Tingsheng couldn’t remember this having been spoken by anyone else. So, they should be the old man’s original words. Wishing him a smooth life, where everything was smooth-sailing...also wishing that when he was up there on the clouds, his heart would have a harbour.
Hearing this, Xu Tingsheng knew that the old man must have researched and learnt thoroughly of the events that had befallen him some time back. That was why he was currently sharing his emotions and reminding him of things.
He looked into the old man’s eyes and saw concern for him as if for one’s own descendant.
Fate was really a profound thing. Their teacher-student relationship of a previous life was being resumed now.
Not saying anything else, Xu Tingsheng went inside and got some water, taking the ‘before Qingming’ special Longjing Tea that he had prepared for Yan Zhengyu and brewing it.
Then, he offered it with both hands, “Have some tea, teacher.”
Yan Zhengyu’s brows relaxed but then furrowed, “What a dastardly waste of a heavenly brew.”
Xu Tingsheng knew that he felt drinking this tea was a waste.
Still, Yan Zhengyu still smiled and drank it before licking his lips, asking as he recalled its flavour, “How did you know that I like Longjing?”
Actually, it was Pu’er that was the most popular now. Still, Xu Tingsheng had spent four years under Yan Zhengyu’s wing in his previous life, having been treated akin to his final disciple. In that case, how could he not know the taste of his teacher who he owed so much to?
“I guessed it,” Xu Tingsheng smiled and said, “It’s good that teacher likes it. Next time, I’ll get you 50 grams of ‘Imperial Eight Trees’.”
Xihu’s Longjing Imperial Eight Trees saw only a hundred grams produced every year. It was priceless.
Yan Zhengyu had clearly heard of it before as he immediately put on a stern face and said, “If you really dare to send it over, I’ll dare to break off all ties with you.”
Xu Tingsheng knew how his teacher was like as he was definitely capable of that. He hurriedly assured him that he dared not do so.
The two discussed Cao Cao’s mausoleum for a while more before Xu Tingsheng got up and bade farewell.
He wrapped up the warring states copper mirror and put it in the inner pocket of his jacket, smiling as he said, “I can even use this as a ‘heart-guarding mirror’.”
Seeing his youthful disposition, Yang Zhengyu could only shake his head helplessly and smile.
“When I go back, I’ll tell my future wife that our family finally has a heirloom,” Xu Tingsheng walked to the door and looked back, “Right, teacher, I still have something to ask of you.”
“Since you’ve already drank this tea and given me a present, you have to be there as a witness when I get married,” This was actually something that the two had agreed on in his previous life, yet had ultimately not come to pass.
“That’s fine,” Yan Zhengyu did not feel awkward over Xu Tingsheng’s wealth and status as he smilingly agreed, “Still, you’ve got to say when it will be. You know about my age and health…”
“That is your problem, teacher. Anyway, since you’ve agreed, you’ve got to do it. As for how many years it will take, calculate it yourself, teacher. My future wife’s seventeen this year, in eleventh grade.”
Xu Tingsheng smiled as he left, wishing his teacher a long life.Previous Chapter Next Chapter