Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Lu Rong took two steps back and looked at the statue of the god wrapped in red cloth on the far side. The next three were the three gods, so what is this one?
Master Hong saw what he was thinking and said, “Our temple isn’t bound to those, regardless of the Buddha or God, the village people want to worship whatever they invite. And if I serve the gods alone, won’t he be lonely? The gods must also like to be lively. But this god, ah, there is no need for you little child to worship him.”
Grandpa Cai laughed and beckoned to Lu Rong, “Come on, let’s go home.”
Shen Jize became curious instead and asked, “Master Hong, who is this idol?”
Master Hong showed a meaningful smile: “Child, you can come back in a few years to worship. This is the Moon Elder. When you want to find a wife or start a relationship, come back to worship him then.”
Shen Jize didn’t know the Moon Elder, but he knew what a wife was. Facing the derisive stares of the adults, he pretended to be calm and went to look at the other idols, but his ears were secretly red.
Lu Rong saw his abnormality and kept staring curiously. Shen Jize reached out his hand and unobtrusively twisted his head to the side.
After the three of them left the temple and went down the hill, Lu Rong began to pester Grandpa Cai about the doubts in his mind, “Grandpa, what is that Moon Elder? Why does Grandpa Hong want brother to worship when he wants to find a wife? Can’t you worship if you don’t find a wife?”
Grandpa Cai carried an empty bamboo basket and smiled down the stairs, saying, “Because the Moon Elder will bless your brother, Xiao Ze and his wife with love and affection, so they can grow old together.”
“Oh…” Lu Rong nodded his head with seeming understanding.
“Oops, I won’t walk with you guys. It’s too slow.” Shen Jize impatiently quickened his pace, and didn’t hold Lu Rong’s hand, as he jogged down the steps by himself.
Grandpa Cai knew that this was bashfulness, but he didn’t point it out, only gave the admonition, “Don’t run fast! Beware of falling!”
Lu Rong thought for a while in silence, his eyes drifted, and then asked softly, “Grandpa, can I take my wife to worship in the future? And also find love and affection.”
Grandpa Cai was stunned and burst out laughing, choking on his laughter and starting to cough. Only when Lu Rong’s face gradually showed anger, did he answer while laughing, “Sorry, sorry. My child, you can also worship, take your wife to worship and get blessed and you will love each other and grow old.”
“Then why are you laughing?” Lu Rong pouted with an accusing face.
Grandpa Cai was busy saying, “No more laughing, Grandpa is not laughing.” He reluctantly put away his smile and stroked the top of Lu Rong’s soft hair, “Oh, my baby is like a tender pea, thinking of his wife already.”
“I’m not a tender pea, I’m a young onion.”
“Yes, yes, yes, you are a young onion.” Grandpa Cai started coughing again.
When they got home, Grandpa Cai went to the village council and the two kids started doing their homework, sitting face to face at that desk. Lu Rong pulled out his math book to do math, and Shen Jize had finished writing the essay on his trip to the hospital and was writing the second one.
“My classmate, Xiao Ming, has a red face like an apple and big eyes that shine with wisdom…” He had used this opening countless times, the words were engraved in his mind, the tip of his pen fell on the paper, rustling sharply.
Lu Rong finished a question, was caught by his speed, and after staring at the square book for a while, admired, “Brother, you write essays so fast.”
“If you study hard, you will be the same as Brother.” Shen Jize returned without raising his head.
“What are you writing about? Is it about going to the temple?” Lu Rong remembered that at the beginning he had told him to look at the idols well, saying that it was important material for his essay.
Shen Jize: “Yeah, usually anything interesting is fodder for my essay.”
Lu Rong moved his upper body to look at Shen Jize’s essay, but he covered it with a hand. “Don’t look at mine, write your own seriously.”
Lu Rong sat back and lifted his pen, before he asked again, “Do you have an essay for the holidays?”
“Yes, there are five to write.”
Shen Jize intoned, “What we experienced today is very interesting, you can write it down and carefully describe the shape of the idol.”
“Mn, got it.” Lu Rong nodded seriously.
Shen Jize sighed in an old-fashioned way and looked down to continue writing his essay.
“…Xiao Ming said: it doesn’t matter if you get a bad test once, as long as you work hard in the future. After hearing this, I wiped the tears from my face and made up my mind…”
After finishing their homework, the two went to the river. Since they didn’t dare to swim in the river again, they sat under an old willow tree and soaked their feet in the cool, shallow water.
Shen Jize picked up a few stones to throw in the water, watching the string of water jumping forward and squinting. Suddenly a small hand reached out, its white palm holding a round ball made of wicker, “Here, brother.”
“The ball is well made.” Shen Jize said perfunctorily.
Lu Rong looked at him with shock and disbelief, “It’s not a ball!”
“Not a ball?” Shen Jize took it and weighed it, “What is it if it’s not a ball?”
Lu Rong scratched his face and finally said, “This is the deer I made.”
“A deer?” Shen Jize was also surprised, “How is this a deer?”
“Look, there are four legs underneath and two horns on the head.” Lu Rong pointed his finger at the small bumps on the top of the orb.
Shen Jize stared at the four round nests on the back of his hand, and then at his long, drooping eyelashes, and swallowed his retort.
“These legs seem a little too short.” He said politely.
Lu Rong asked blankly, “Are they too short?”
Shen Jize lifted his hand and pulled a willow branch, then chose the thinnest end and pulled four pieces, inserting them under the ball.
“Look, this is the deer, with legs.”
“It’s true! It’s a deer with four legs!” Lu Rong’s eyes glowed and he took it with joy.
In fact, Shen Jize thought this ball with four willow branches also didn’t look like a deer, but like a stool. Seeing Lu Rong’s look of love, he didn’t make a sound.
A stool deer was still a stool deer.