Although more than three hundred people had scaled the mountain, many of them came from the same family. Therefore, all Fangzheng needed to write was slightly more than a hundred couplets.
While Fangzheng wrote, Wang Yougui was responsible for flipping the pages. But soon, Wang Yougui realized that he could not keep up with Fangzheng's speed! Ouyang Fenghua quickly came to their aid. One person flipped the pages quickly, while the other prepared the red paper for the couplets, placing them in a spot for Fangzheng's convenience. Fangzheng wrote from one corner to the other, and he was having the time of his life.
Soon, he finished more than a hundred couplets!
The villagers and the members of the Calligraphy Association looked at the couplets they received while beaming with joy. Such excellent calligraphy was rare. They felt that they had made a killing!
Fangzheng also felt refreshed and comfortable after all the writing. He sighed inwardly, "Indeed, calligraphy requires brushes, ink, mortar, and paper." Writing on snow was ultimately lacking.
After he finished writing the couplets, the crowd bade him farewell in high spirits. As it was close to noon, everyone needed to return to prepare lunch.
Fangzheng sent the crowd off, but when he turned around, he discovered that someone was still there!
By the entrance, Ouyang Fenghua was standing there, looking at him.
Fangzheng went forward and asked, "Amitabha. Patron, do you have something?"
"Venerable One, it's this. My father would like me to inform you that if the temple requires any renovations, my family is willing to help," said Ouyang Fenghua.
Fangzheng was taken aback. He was pleasantly surprised! However, Fangzheng continued maintaining his smile. He held his palms together and said, "Patron, thank you for your kind offer!"
"Alright, I've passed my father's message. Now, let's talk about matters pertaining to myself," Ouyang Fenghua's eyes seemed to have a glint as she said with a smile.
Fangzheng was puzzled. What was this lass up to?
Ouyang Fenghua said, "Venerable One, I would like to learn calligraphy from you. Would that... be possible?"
Fangzheng was rendered completely speechless. Indeed, there was no free lunch in the world. The renovation of the temple came with conditions... Although it was not an excessive one.
However, Fangzheng rejected her, "Patron, This Penniless Monk is a monk, so how can he teach you? Furthermore, it's inappropriate for a man and a woman to have too much interaction in a Buddhist land of worship. Patron, if there's nothing else. Please leave."
Was Ouyang Fenghua pretty? Fangzheng's answer would have been "definitely!" She was smart and lively, as well as beautiful. However, the more beautiful she was, the more Fangzheng had to reject her! If all he could do was watch without acting, that would be torturous! He did not wish to bring harm on himself. Furthermore, the temple was indeed not suitable for a woman to stay there. The entire temple only had him alone. It would be troublesome if a man and a woman stayed there together.
Ouyang Fenghua never expected Fangzheng to reject her so incisively. He walked away without even turning his head back. She immediately turned anxious as she shouted, "Venerable One, I can stay at the foot of the mountain! Can't I scale the mountain every day to learn from you? I guarantee you that I will not disturb your meditation!"
Fangzheng waved his hand. He was completely unmoved. What a joke. Her explanation failed to hit the nail on the head, so how could he accept her?
The door closed shut as Ouyang Fenghua stood petulantly at the entrance. After waiting all day, she was certain that Fangzheng had steeled his heart and was unwilling to take her in as a disciple. With a stamp of her feet, she descended the mountain.
However, she did not know that Fangzheng had never left. He was squatting by the door and listening to the commotion outside.
When he heard the fading footsteps, Fangzheng sprawled onto the wall and showed his bald head. He looked at Ouyang Fenghua's slender back and shook his head slightly. He gave a Buddhist proclamation, "Amitabha, very good indeed. This Penniless Monk's willpower is not bad after all."
With that said, Fangzheng chuckled before going about his business. As for Ouyang Fenghua's matter, Fangzheng was unfazed. Relationships? Fangzheng did not want to think about it at all.
The calligraphers did not return home immediately. Instead, they first went to a mounting company to mount Fangzheng's couplets. Then, they hung it on the door inside their houses.
"Old Man, where did you get that antique? Were you scammed?" Sun Guanying's wife, Luo Ping asked jokingly when she saw Sun Guanying busying himself over the couplets after he came back.
"What antique? It's a piece of calligraphy I requested today. It's really good calligraphy. One will never get sick looking at it." Sun Guanying marveled at the calligraphy on his door.
"You requested for it today? You even had to make a request? Heh, that's rare. Don't you always think highly of yourself and believe that your calligraphy is the best? What? Have you changed your surname or something?" When Luo Ping said that, she walked into the study and saw the calligraphy.
"Oh my! Old Man, why is this calligraphy so beautiful! Just a look at it and all my chaotic thoughts have calmed down. It's as though Buddha is in it. Did you seek it from that temple?" exclaimed Luo Ping.
Sun Guanying replied with a laugh, "Not bad! You could tell at a glance that it was the work of that esteemed monk from the temple. You are a lot more cultured now. Heh heh!" Sun Guanying laughed, but he was secretly astounded. It was common to be able to obtain some information about the calligrapher from a piece of calligraphy. However, it was extraordinary for a layperson to understand its charms!
With this thought in mind, Sun Guanying began making plans. Perhaps next year...
Such a similar scene played out in the other calligraphers' homes. All of them hung up the piece of calligraphy like it was a treasure. The couplet was naturally eye-catching. Any guest that came, be they friends or relatives, would praise it. All of them felt very proud. At the same time, they also had deep respect for Fangzheng. He was not even twenty, but he already had such skill. If there came a day...
"Our Songwu County has produced an expert!" This was the conclusion everyone had! Simultaneously, they were ashamed of their previous impetuous actions.
When everyone showed off their couplets, it caused quite a stir in the various WeChat groups. Countless people began discussing Fangzheng's couplets. No one talked about what was written and instead, they were focused on the characters themself!
The calligraphers did not conceal the matter. They publicized Fangzheng and One Finger Temple. Instantly, One Finger Temple's reputation soared!
On the second day, it even appeared on the local news! Unfortunately, local news had poor viewership. However, the temple's reputation did increase.
And at that moment, Fangzheng was squatting on the ground as he made his ice lanterns seriously. Since he had nothing better to do, he decided to make more ice lanterns. He made lighting up the entire temple his primary mission.
In the following days, Fangzheng made several large ice lanterns. He finished a few a day and from the temple's entrance, he would make a huge snowman at periodic distances. He would place a huge ice lantern on each snowman's head, all the way to the foot of the mountain. He planned on using them as street lights.
With the new year approaching, Village Chief Wang Yougui paid him a visit. When he saw Fangzheng making so many ice lanterns, he sent Yang Ping the next day with a bundle of candles. It was more than enough for Fangzheng.
This delighted Fangzheng greatly. He made several more ice lanterns and set up an ice lantern formation in an empty plot of land.
The new year quickly came as firecrackers that happened once a year were heard. Fangzheng finally lit all the candles inside the ice lanterns. The lanterns illuminated the mountain and from afar, it was as though Mt. One Finger was coruscating with Buddhist light. It appeared especially beautiful.
A sharp sound was heard.
A firework bloomed in the sky. It represented midnight.
Fangzheng watched the fireworks in the sky as he took out his cell phone to take a selfie! He felt his back tighten. The little squirrel had climbed up his back before baring his teeth at the camera, trying to put on a fierce facade.