Fangzheng said with a wry smile, "This Penniless Monk did not know that you would be coming and only cooked a share for one person. How should it be split?"
Wang Yougui, Yang Ping, and Tan Juguo were immediately dismayed. They ran to look at the pot and indeed, there was only enough for one! At most, it would be one big bowl of rice!
When he heard that there was only enough for one, Wang Yougui wanted to suggest cooking more. However, when he saw the rice under the steam, he immediately swallowed his words. He could not help but salivate as he asked, "What rice is this? Why is it so pretty?"
Yang Ping praised it as well, "Heavens, is this made of crystal?"
Tan Juguo said, with a look of shock, "I have been eating rice all my life but I have never seen such good-looking rice or rice with such fragrance! Fangzheng, do you still have the seeds for this rice? Can you give me some?"
Wang Yougui and Yang Ping spontaneously looked at Fangzheng.
Fangzheng smiled wryly. He only had one seed for the rice, and he did not even know when his next meal would be. How could he give Tan Juguo seeds? Therefore, Fangzheng shook his head and replied, "Sorry, Grandpa Tan, This Penniless Monk does not have any excess. To be honest, This Penniless Monk still isn't sure where food for the rest of the year will come from. The planting of this rice is extremely particular. Even the slightest mistake will render all the hard work of planting moot. Furthermore, it seems this rice can only grow on Mt. One Finger. It won't work elsewhere."
Yang Ping's eyes lit up and said, "Fangzheng, your rice looks so appetizing and delicious. If you were to sell it, you would definitely make a huge sum of money! Would you need to worry about your meals if you had money? You might even be able to expand the temple. With a bigger temple, the village chief and the secretary can help you promote. People would be pouring in to give their incense offerings. If that were to happen, wouldn't you stop worrying about not having visitors?"
Wang Yougui nodded as well before saying, "Yang Ping is indeed an accountant. Well said."
However, Fangzheng shook his head and said, "This Penniless Monk is only a monk, so what use is there for so much money? The size of the temple doesn't matter. All that matters is that one has a big and warm heart. As for the seeds, This Penniless Monk really doesn't have any excess."
Yang Ping was left helpless when he saw how inflexible Fangzheng was. All he could do was glare and feel agitated.
Tan Juguo was the one that understood Fangzheng the most, as he helped resolve the situation. "Alright, that's enough. The temple is Fangzheng's. What he plans to do with it is up to him. Stop giving him all these random ideas. Fangzheng, although there's not much rice, let's just have a taste of it. Everyone will eat a tiny bit just so that we can know how it tastes."
Yang Ping shook his head slightly when he heard that. He was unhappy, as he said with ill intentions, "It might smell fragrant but it might not be delicious! It's probably just ordinary rice..."
However, Fangzheng did not know what Yang Ping was thinking. According to Grandpa Tan's method of splitting, each person would get a small bowl. More importantly, each person would only get about three mouthfuls. It did not matter if they went out of the kitchen.
However, Yang Ping could not accept this as he exclaimed, "Fangzheng, there's only rice? Are there no vegetables?"
Fangzheng pointed to the wild vegetables that were boiling on the stove. "There's some here. Do you want some?"
Yang Ping glanced at it and shook his head disparagingly. "Forget it, I'll just have the rice. It smells pretty good but I just do not know how it tastes... Eh, Secretary Tan, Village Chief Wang, why are you so silent? Did you choke?"
Before Yang Ping finished his sentence, he saw Secretary Tan crazily stuff the rice into his mouth after taking the first mouthful. His face flushed red as tears streamed down.
Wang Yougui was not much better. The way he ate was as though he had starved for a decade.
Despite hearing Yang Ping's question, the duo ignored him.
Fangzheng was afraid that the duo would choke so he asked, "Do you want some water?"
The two shook their heads and even rolled their eyes at Fangzheng, leaving him confused. Why did they belittle his good intentions? Seeing their flushed faces actually made Fangzheng quite worried. However, he couldn't do anything to help as they refused to drink any water.
Yang Ping looked suspiciously at the rice in his bowl. Under the sunlight, the bowl of rice truly looked like crystal. Each grain shimmered with a crystalline luster so intense, that it seemed like a layer of sunshine had been embedded in it. It was gorgeous.
As Yang Ping admired it, he heard Wang Yougui say, "Little Yang, if you aren't going to eat it, give it to me. Don't just look at it."
Tan Juguo said as well, "Give it to me instead."
The duo's faces were twisted into expressions that resembled starving wolves. Upon seeing that, Yang Ping hurriedly ate his, for he was afraid that it would be snatched away if he took too long.
The moment a mouthful of rice entered his mouth, Yang Ping's eyes clearly brightened. His pupils had dilated! The grain was ample and smooth. Biting at it, the soft outer crust of the grain broke apart and the rich aroma compressed within spewed out. There was sweetness amid the fragrance! What filled his mouth wasn't rice, but the taste of happiness!
Then, Yang Ping could not help but wolf down his remaining rice. In a few seconds, he had finished the bowl! Then, he was depressed to realize that he had choked as well!
"Do you want some water?" Fangzheng handed him some water.
Yang Ping rolled his eyes at Fangzheng as he shook his head with all his might.
Fangzheng was puzzled. What was wrong with the trio? Why were they refusing water despite suffering from such a serious choke?
At that moment, Fangzheng noticed the trio's gazes all train on him! To be precise, they were cast onto the bowl in his hands!
Fangzheng immediately felt like he had been targeted by starving wolves. He hurriedly shook his head and said, "No way! This is mine! I haven't even eaten breakfast. Forget it!"
After saying that, Fangzheng sat to the side, picked up his chopsticks, and took some wild vegetables. After everything was ready, he began digging in slowly.
However, the moment he raised a mouthful of rice, he heard three gulping sounds before he even placed it into his mouth. It was the sound coming from swallowing saliva.
Fangzheng looked over and saw the trio looking wistful. Their expressions were as if their own children had died!
Fangzheng said, "What's wrong with you?"
Close to tears, Yang Ping said, "I shouldn't look anymore. Village Head, Secretary, I'll be leaving first. I can't bear to watch anymore. I can't stand it."
With that said, Yang Ping left.
Wang Yougui and Tan Juguo exchanged gazes and immediately bade farewell. However, before he left, Tan Juguo asked gravely, "Fangzheng, will you still have more of this rice in the future?"
Fangzheng was confused as he said, "That depends on how many incense offerings the temple gets. If there are lots of offerings, I'll have more motivation as well. If the temple isn't busy, then what's the point of planting so much? It's not like I can eat that much."
Wang Yougui immediately said, "It's best you increase production. I'll help promote the temple when I return. I won't dare to speak of anything else but the villagers will, at the very least, come here to pay their respects. Also, I heard that the country is recently helping construct temples. If you obtain a grant from them, your temple can be expanded sooner rather than later."
Fangzheng got up quickly and held his hands together. He said with a bow, "Thank you, Uncle Wang."
Wang Yougui said with a smile, "Don't thank me. I'm doing it all to have another mouthful of your rice."
Fangzheng smiled but took the promise with a grain of salt. Expanding a temple wasn't a trivial matter. How could he want to expand the temple just for a mouthful of rice? That would be ridiculous.
After Wang Yougui and Tan Juguo left, One Finger Temple turned quiet once again.
Finally, Fangzheng could eat his meal in peace. However, when he picked up the bowl, he noticed a pair of bright eyes staring at him intently! He immediately lost his appetite and looked down. It was Lone Wolf.