Fangzheng instantly understood the gravity of the issue. This wasnt just some panicked request because of a family squabble. The daughter was clearly ignoring the possibility of the man freezing to death!
Fangzheng asked, Can you give some details?
Honest Liu paused in hesitation, but he eventually said, How should I put it Its not my place to mention matters regarding their family. Im afraid others will say Im speaking badly behind their backs if I say too much. Master, everyone in our village knows about their familial matters already. If you have the time, go over and take a look. My father-in-law is rather pitiful.
Fangzheng nodded slightly. Alright. This Penniless Monk shall go down the mountain with you. By the way, have you reported this to the police?
Honest Liu said helplessly, I didnt, but Old Jin who saved my father-in-law did. However, my father-in-law refused to speak the truth after the police came. He claimed that he was running away from home and that it had nothing to do with his eldest daughter. With him saying that, what else could the police do? In his rage, Old Jin told me, and he brought my father-in-law to my place.
And where is your father-in-law now?
Still at my place. I dont mind him staying at my place. I can take him in too, but you know my family circumstances. I still have children to feed, and its already difficult enough for me. Besides Sigh, its a really long story, Honest Liu said.
Fangzheng knew Honest Lius character. He wouldnt even say a word when slapped three times, so hoping to hear anything from his mouth would probably require him to wait until the apocalypse arrived. Compared to wasting his time on him, he might as well head for the village and hear what the gossipy people had to say. He would immediately be able to gather information rather close to the truth.
Hence, Fangzheng informed his disciples and followed Honest Liu down the mountain with Red Boy in tow.
Honest Lius village was called Five Rivers Village, and it was situated more than twenty kilometers from One Finger Village. After descending the mountain, they hitched a ride and arrived half an hour later.
Five Rivers Village was situated at the intersection of five tiny rivers. The local villagers had once joked that this was northeast Chinas Jiangnan Water town. However, it was only a joke. After all, the northeastern houses lacked the beauty of the houses in Jiangnan and were a lot cruder.
However, Five Rivers Village was the best place to catch sight of rime ice in the area. From afar, there would be willow trees lining the five rivers as the rivers produced mist that soared into the sky and hung on the willow trees, instantly turning the willow trees white. The trees would then look furry and sparkling! As for Five Rivers Village, it was hidden beneath these willow trees. One could see its white rooftops and red yard walls reflected in the water from afar. It was quite a picturesque scene.
Fangzheng watched from afar and couldnt help but sigh in amazement. As expected of a water village in the northeast. Its really beautiful.
Honest Liu scratched his head. Its beautiful, but beauty doesnt convert to cash. Its not of much use.
Fangzheng could only smile helplessly towards his thoughts.
Red Boy saw Honest Liu take large strides ahead as he whispered to Fangzheng. Master, this guy is also a money-minded person.
Fangzheng ruffled his head and whispered. To be able to enjoy beauty certain conditions need to be met. No matter how beautiful a scene is, it can get bland after some time. Besides, when people arent able to maintain their basic standard of living, many of them lack the mood to live. Materialism isnt absolute, but it can definitely affect ones thoughts. Humans can only chase after their dreams when they dont need to worry about survival.
Red Boy didnt fully comprehend as he whispered. Master, is this why you have greed for money?
Fangzheng didnt say a word as he swept his gaze around. Realizing that no one was watching him, he raised his hand and slapped Red Boy in the back of the head!Darn kid. Why must you speak the truth so openly?
He was right, though. The reason why Fangzheng was obsessed with money was because he had a trauma from being poor since a young age. He didnt wish to lead the life of occasionally having to miss meals and frequently not eating his fill. He also didnt want the people closest to him to starve just to allow him to eat his fill. Fangzheng cherished the beautiful memories when he was poor, but he knew very well just what kind of life he looked forward to.
Perhaps others might say that Fangzheng was materialistic in this aspect, but Fangzheng wished to say that anyone who said that was definitely not lacking in money! At the very least, they werent starving.
Shaking his head, he dispersed those thoughts and quickly caught up with Honest Liu as he stepped into Five Rivers Village.
As the village with the biggest number of rivers, Five Rivers Village naturally had the biggest number of bridges. However, Five Rivers Village realized that although there were many bridges, the ones that could really be considered a proper bridge were few in number. Most of them were simple hanging bridges made of wooden planks and metal chains. They were fine for walking, but they couldnt bear the weight of vehicles. Some of the other bridges were soldered with iron and very narrow. They also only allowed passage for humans and not vehicles.
As Red Boy looked at these tiny bridges, he mumbled. Master, do the villagers here not drive?
When Honest Liu heard that, he turned back and said, We cant even afford to mend the bridges, so who would have the money to buy cars?
Then what do you do about farming? Red Boy asked.
Honest Liu said, We have oxen which we use to cross the river. The rivers have rather shallow spots. As long as theres no heavy storm or rise in water levels, we can basically cross the rivers.
Red Boy looked down at the river below them and due to the cold weather, the rivers surface was basically frozen. He also saw children playing on the frozen surface. Red Boy asked, Arent these children afraid of falling into the river?
Honest Liu thought nothing of it as he said, The ice layer here is as thick as a human. You could let a sports car race over it, so what can a few kids do? However, you cant head to the spots where the rivers are sealed off. The ice there could crack at any time.
Red Boy looked at the children who were scraping ice and playing with sleighs, and a look of excitement appeared in his eyes.
Wanna play? Fangzheng asked.
Red Boy immediately looked up, giving a look that said As if someone a few thousand years old would play something so blas, and he replied, Its boring!
Fangzheng smiled and didnt expose the little guys thoughts as he followed Honest Liu into the village.
Due to the extreme cold, even the typical northeastern men who liked to chat on the streets were gone. A house with a stores signboard had its window open as thick smoke billowed out of it. Clearly, the men were tobacco addicts but had hidden inside to smoke.
Fangzheng wasnt in a rush to head to Honest Lius place. Instead, he patted Honest Liu on the shoulder, indicating that he planned to head to the store.
Honest Liu was quite a slow man. He scratched his head and said, Alright then. Ill head back first. I havent finished feeding my poultry. Master, once you are done, come to my place. My father-in-law is still there.
Fangzheng pressed his palms together, nodded, and agreed.
As for Red Boy, he rolled his eyes after Honest Liu left. He chuckled and said, Master, dont tell me your standing isnt even comparable to poultry?