Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
“This is bad. I… I did not finish my essay.”
“The classical Chinese comprehension this year is so difficult. I just scribbled the answers.”
“Don’t bring it up. I am having a headache from the exams.”
When it was time to hand in the papers, all the students who were in the same exam hall as Qiao Nan groaned. The Chinese exam today was difficult. All the students looked awful.
While everyone was busy tallying their answers, Qiao Nan stood out from the rest. She kept her stationery and walked toward the exit of the hall.
“Zhu Baoguo!” She ran in the direction of Zhu Baoguo’s exam hall and saw the ghastly look on Zhu Baoguo. His clothes were all wrinkled up. Qiao Nan frowned. “What happened this morning?”
It was such a close shave. There were only five minutes left. If Zhu Baoguo was late by even a few seconds, he would be barred from entering the exam hall.
“Wait for me. Let me go to the washroom to have a wash.” Zhu Baoguo looked awful. He ran to the gents and splashed his face with cold water, his collar wet from the wash.
Zhu Baoguo walked out of the gents, his face dripping wet. “I owed you for a second time. I have to thank you for what happened today. Qiao Nan, you have helped me time and again; I am indebted to you. There is no way I can repay you.” Zhu Baoguo mocked at himself, a look of dejection on his face.
“You did not do well?”
“How is that possible!” Zhu Baoguo puffed out his chest. “Just like what you said, I may not believe in myself, but I should have trust in you, my young tutor. I am not sure how well I fared in this Chinese exam, but at least I would not do too badly.”
“Then that’s it. Middle school exams are your topmost priority now. As for other matters, leave them aside first. Have you heard of a saying that goes ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’?” Qiao Nan did not probe. It was by no coincidence that Zhu Baoguo looked so disheveled and was almost late for the exams.
“You are right. I will focus on the exams first. As for the rest, I will deal with it later when I have the time. Let’s go, there are exams in the afternoon. Let me treat you to a meal. We will have some meat for lunch!” Zhu Baoguo wiped off the water droplets on his face and head with his sleeves and went for a meal with Qiao Nan.
According to the schedule, there were two exams a day. Whenever Qiao Nan came back home from the exams, Qiao Dongliang would not ask about her performance. He would always remind her to have more rest instead. Since the exams for the related subjects were over, there was no point in thinking about it. One should have a good rest in order to work hard for the coming exams.
During the three days when Qiao Nan had her exams, Qiao Dongliang shared a room with Ding Jiayi.
By the time she finished the three days of exams, Qiao Dongliang went back to the small study room to sleep again.
“Uncle Qiao.” Zhu Baoguo came over to Qiao family’s residence to look for Qiao Nan. He ran into Qiao Dongliang who was about to go to work.
“Baoguo, why are you here? Is it to look for Nan Nan?”
“Yes.” Zhu Baoguo nodded. “Is Xiao Qiao at home?”
“Yes.” Qiao Dongliang turned and shouted, “Nan Nan, Baoguo is looking for you.”
“Oh.” Qiao Nan, who was used to spending her free time at Zhai family’s residence, did not know what to do with her free time now that the middle school exams were over. “Is anything the matter?”
“Nan Nan, since exams are over, you should take a break and have some fun with Baoguo.” Qiao Dongliang took out five yuan from his pocket and handed it to Qiao Nan. “You do not have to come back for lunch in the afternoon. It is tiring to prepare lunch by yourself.”
“Uncle Qiao, are you going off to work? Goodbye, Uncle Qiao.” Zhu Baoguo grinned at Qiao Dongliang. He was so earnest and sincere when he addressed Qiao Dongliang. With his good looks, everyone would have the impression that Zhu Baoguo was a well-behaved child. No one could tell that he used to be a bully.
“Yes, I am going off to work.” Qiao Dongliang smiled in response and rode his bicycle to work.
“Baoguo is here.” Ding Jiayi heard some sounds and came out. “Baoguo, come in and have a seat. Have you had breakfast? Nan Nan, you are so insensible! You should learn from your sister. You should also invite the guest into the house; it is so rude to keep him standing as if he is being punished to stand.”
“No need. Xiao Qiao, Uncle Qiao has agreed to let you go out with me. Let’s go.” Unlike how he addressed Qiao Dongliang just now, Zhu Baoguo could not be bothered to address Ding Jiayi as ‘Aunt’. He just went off with Qiao Nan.
“Mom, I am off.” Zhu Baoguo could disregard Ding Jiayi, but Qiao Nan could not.
After addressing Ding Jiayi with a poker face, Qiao Nan followed after Zhu Baoguo and left the house. “Where are we going?”
“Zhu family’s residence.”
“Grandpa Zhu.” When Qiao Nan reached the Zhu family’s residence, she noticed that everyone was at home, including Wang Yang whom she had met once before.
“Qiao Nan is here.” Elder Zhu had a forced smile on his face when he saw Qiao Nan. He turned to give Zhu Baoguo a reproving look. What was it that they could not settle within the family and had to bring an outsider to watch them make a fool of themselves?
“Dad.” Zhu Qin pulled a face. She was way more displeased than Elder Zhu. “What does Baoguo mean by this? He has no mother since a young age, and my brother always spends his days in the army. Even though I am his aunt, I practically brought him up from young. When I had Yang Yang, Baoguo was not in good health. Regardless, I fed Baoguo first and neglected Yang Yang. But now Bao Guo was not thankful for all the years that I spent bringing him up and malign our Yang Yang. How could he do this?” Most importantly, Baoguo dared to bring an outsider here!
“Don’t be so agitated. We are one family. We just have to clear up the misunderstanding. No one would spread this rumor outside and hurt Yang Yang, right, Qiao Nan?” Elder Zhu looked at Qiao Nan.
“…” Qiao Nan twitched the corner of her lips. No wonder Zhu Baoguo used to have such a nasty temper. He must have inherited it from the Zhu family. Grandpa Lee was more amiable after all. “That is right. It would be good to clear up the misunderstanding.”
“Have a seat, Xiao Qiao.” Zhu Baoguo did not care that Elder Zhu and Zhu Qin were displeased. He found a comfortable seat for Qiao Nan. “We have to make it clear. We definitely have to make it clear. You have to give me an explanation. Why is it that I slept like a log on the first day of middle school exams? There were so many people at the Zhu family’s residence, why didn’t anyone wake me up?”
He used to have bad results. Not to mention missing the exams for one or two subjects, even if he sat for all the six subjects, he might not be able to make it into high school.
If he did not sit for one or two subjects and was able to get into high school, it must have been due to the Zhu family’s background.
“Did I not say just now Yang Yang mistook someone else for you that day? Yang Yang already apologized to you, what more do you want? Do you intend to harp on his one small mistake and smear his reputation? Yang Yang is your cousin, is it right of you to bully him? Do not think that just because Yang Yang is good-tempered, thus you can bully him.”
Zhu Qin was really displeased. She had always treated this nephew of hers very well as if he was her own.