Dog Song looked at the young man and the other young men that were busying themselves to the side. He shook his head and said, "It's a noble deed, but our village doesn't need it. You can keep it for yourself. Excuse me, I need to sweep the streets."
With that said, Dog Song left.
The young man was puzzled as he hurriedly asked, "My good man, what do you mean? Why is there no need for couplets? Has everyone bought their couplets already? Don't worry, we are doing it for free. It won't cost a thing."
Dog Song looked at the young man and said, "Young lad, didn't you read the recent news? We have a calligraphy master here. Everyone has already decided on scaling the mountain today to ask for couplets. That's why all of you came here for nothing today. If you ask me, I think it's best you return. We appreciate your kindness."
"Calligraphy master? Here?" The young man was taken aback.
Another young man who heard it smiled and came over. He said, "My good man, we are students on vacation. Is what you just said true?"
Dog Song answered, "That explains it. It's normal that you do not know. About that, people from your Calligraphy Association have previously come here for a competition. They ended up losing."
"For real?" The two young men were not angry. Instead, they asked in curiosity.
"Of course it's real. It's up to you to believe. Sigh, from the looks of it, you guys must be new. You must have been tricked to come here. Those calligraphers from the county... Hehe, none of them have the guts to come to our village," Dog Song raised his head up when he said that. It was as if he had won the competition himself.
When the young men heard that, they were amazed. Was it true that a master was residing in this village?
While they were still reeling in shock, a car halted. Following that, an elder alighted. When Dog Song saw this, he twitched his lips and left immediately.
The person who came was the president of the Songwu Calligraphy Association, Sun Guanying. Behind him was a beautiful young lady. She was no stranger. She was Ouyang Huazai's daughter, Ouyang Fenghua.
Upon seeing Sun Guanying, the young men immediately ran over and recounted what Dog Song had said. A pimpled-face student said with a smile, "Elder Sun, is there really a master living in this village? Can such a poor and dilapidated village really retain a master?"
When Sun Guanying heard that, he glared and rebuked him, "Don't ever say that again! It is not your place to assume where a master should live."
"Huh? Elder Sun, is there really a master here?" asked the pimpled-face student.
"Yes, and he's an incredible master! Alright, since the villagers have their arrangements, pack up your things. Return first if you have something to attend. Or you can head to another village if you would prefer that," said Sun Guanying.
When everyone heard that, they immediately cheered. Although volunteer work was good, it was deep in winter. No one wished to stay outside to suffer the cold. They quickly packed up.
However, there was a smart person who came forward to ask, "Elder Sun, what about you?"
"We are obviously here to visit the master for his works. None of you understand. That master's works... Hmm, how should I describe it? If I had to describe it, I would use the word shocking! Seeing it once isn't enough!" cried Ouyang Fenghua.
The group was even more surprised. Who was Ouyang Fenghua? She was the daughter of the master calligrapher Ouyang Huazai. The fact that she complimented the master made everyone wonder how good he was. As a result, everyone had their curiosity piqued.
Almost at the same time, a convoy of cars drove over. Dozens of people alighted from the cars.
When they alighted, all of the volunteers were stunned. All the famous and unknown calligraphers in Songwu County were here! Were they here to stir trouble? Had they organized a trip to wreak havoc or to take in the scenery?
Sun Guanying was surprised as well. He turned his head and asked, "What brings all of you here? Don't tell me you still hold a grudge for the competition! If this is the case, I want you all gone! No one is to disturb the master!"
"Hey, Elder Sun. Don't say that. We were frogs in a well and thought lowly of him. We came here to sincerely request the master for his calligraphy," a man with a square face stepped up and said with a wry smile.
"So you are also here to ask for Master's calligraphy," Ouyang Fenghua blurted in surprise.
"What? You too?" The group was astonished. Ouyang Fenghua had a master calligrapher as her father. Yet, here she was seeking another person's calligraphy?
When Ouyang Fenghua nodded, everyone immediately fell silent.
Liu Qingshu was a member of the Songwu Calligraphy Association. However, he was perennially overseas and had returned to spend the new year. He had been pulled along to seek the master's calligraphy. In the beginning, he was very confused and suspicious. Was there a need to come all the way into the mountains? Was the young monk really capable of producing works like the accomplished ancient calligrapher, Yan Zhenqing? He firmly believed that it was making a mountain out of a molehill. It was likely just fake sensational news!
Although he had seen Ouyang Fenghua and Sun Guanying, Liu Qingshu was ultimately convinced that it was a planned act. They were likely attempting to sensationalize the existence of a master to uplift the fame of Songwu County. After all, he had seen similar tricks being pulled before.
Thus, he did not think a big deal of it. He thought of this as a simple day which he could spend hanging out with friends and enjoying his time.
"So in that case, let's go together then. Remember this, when you are there, behave yourself! Don't act like last time. Adhere to the rules and follow the villagers. We can join in the fun too," said Sun Guanying.
When Sun Guanying came to Wang Yougui, the latter thought that they were here to cause trouble again. However, he was relieved when he heard Sun Guanying's explanation. Hence, everyone joined the villagers to scale the mountain.
"Amitabha. Patrons, what are you here for?" Fangzheng was stunned when he saw the scene in front of him, and he went forward.
Fangzheng had first defeated the calligraphers. Next was the Laba Congee. The temple's Bodhisattva was also effective, so he was gradually establishing himself in the village. In addition, Tan Juguo and Wang Yougui did not stop brainstorming with everyone. Now, everyone had officially acknowledged Fangzheng as the abbot. People were also accustomed to his addressing of them as patrons.
Wang Yougui said with a smile, "Fang-" Wang Yougui's demeanor cracked again.
Wang Yougui always found it difficult to properly address Fangzheng. He knew that it did not matter if he addressed Fangzheng abbot. However, everyone believed deep down that such a title was reserved for an elderly monk. It was odd to use it on a young monk.
As for using Fangzheng's name? That was a Dharma name, so it wasn't wrong calling him that. The problem was that everyone felt that calling him by that name showed him disrespect. It was more apparent when there were outsiders around.
After quite some thought, Wang Yougui said, "Master Fangzheng, we-"
"Amitabha. Patron, This Penniless Monk can't afford the title of master. Please don't call me that," Fangzheng meant it. Not everybody could be called 'master.' He would respond ambiguously when others called him that, but 'master' was not something any ordinary person deserved. Zen Master One Finger once said to him that the title of master spoke volumes. No one dared to accept it without sufficient experience.
Fangzheng didn't think much of it in the past, but he had recently learned more about Buddhist manners. He was enlightened as a result. He became more cautious when other people addressed him as master.
Wang Yougui got a little bit frustrated, "This isn't right, and that isn't right. How should I address you?"
Fangzheng said softly, "Patron, you can address This Penniless Monk as Venerable Fangzheng on account of me upholding the precepts while still not treating This Penniless Monk as a master."