Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The two walked through the courtyard, entered the Buddha Hall, walked straight past the three statues in front of them, and stopped in front of the last one with the red cloth on his shoulder.
“This is the Moon God.” Lu Rong said softly.
Shen Jize nodded, “Yes.”
At this point in time, in the eyes of the two, the clay wrapped in red cloth was no longer so funny, the rough features were not perfunctory, but awe-inspiring.
There was only one mat on the floor, Shen Jize dragged another one to the side, both looked at each other, and followed the steps of the last time they worshipped the god like Grandpa Cai, both kneeling on the mat.
Lu Rong peeked around him with his hands folded, just as Shen Jize was looking at him in the same position.
“What do you want to do next?” Lu Rong asked softly.
Shen Jize looked at him blankly, and began to recall the steps in the drama. While trying to remember, Master Hong’s voice came from the door, “You have to offer incense.”
They turned their heads and saw Master Hong leaning against the door frame, holding a bowl in his left hand and chopsticks in his right, with a small bundle of red stuff under his armpit. He walked in, put the bowl on the offering table, and pulled the bundle out from under his armpit, “A pair of red candles and nine sticks of incense, signifying longevity.”
Shen Jize remembered, in the television they worshipped gods by burning incense and lighting candles, this was a necessary procedure.
Master Hong waved the bundle of candles in front of his eyes, “Do you want them?”
“Yes.” Shen Jize replied decisively.
When Shen Jize took the candles, Master Hong took out a lighter from his pocket, “Do you want this?”
How can I light it without a lighter? Definitely.
Master Hong smiled with satisfaction, and like a magic trick, pulled out a small basket from behind him, “A pile of gold yuan treasure, two red ropes, thirty-six red flowers and more than a foot of red silk. Do you want these?”
“This… these are all needed to worship the Moon God?” Shen Jize looked at the basket and asked.
“Of course, if you are sincere, you need a full set. The Moon God needs to receive two incense from you, a gold yuan treasure to buy a bottle of Maotai, with half a catty of marinated meat, and a little wine. Wouldn’t you say make that old man happy?”
Lu Rong envisioned the scene and affirmed, “Yes.”
“Right, when this Elder God is happy, won’t the little red rope tied to you two not be tied strongly? So it won’t break even if you try to break it.” Master Hong said.
Shen Jize turned his head to look at Lu Rong and saw his eyes glowing, so he said, “Then I’ll take this basket of stuff.”
“Thirty-five in total. Thirty for you, plus this basket.” Master Hong readily slipped the bamboo basket to Shen Jize and put out his hand again.
Shen Jize took out the money from his trouser pocket, pulled out a bill and handed it to him.
Lu Rong didn’t expect to need money, and didn’t care if the Moon God had wine to drink, he reached out to block it in pain, but Master Hong was one step faster to grab it with his hand.
Master Hong held up the money to the light, looked at the watermark inside, and then put it into the pocket of his white coat and said, “Wait a moment, I’ll be ready.”
The two people then changed from children to little masters.
Master Hong turned around and left the Buddha Hall. Shen Jize put the basket on the floor and began to pick through the contents while Lu Rong squatted next to him.
Shen Jize tsked at the yuanbao and saffron made of gold paper, and Lu Rong was so lost in thought that these things cost thirty pieces that he was in a trance.
That’s so much candy, and the Moon God took it just like that… Lu Rong was sad…
A few minutes later, Master Hong returned, this time wearing a monk’s robe over his white robe, looking plausible. He handed Shen Jize the seventy in change he had found, walked over to the two boys with a serious face, dragged a mat over and sat down, and began to knock the wooden fish in his hand.
Once the sound of murmuring sutra and wooden fish sounded, the atmosphere of this Buddha hall suddenly became solemn, the shabby also turned ancient.
“Can we begin?” Shen Jize asked.
Master Hong lowered his eyes and nodded slightly.
Shen Jize lit the red candles and incense, and then went to light the yuan-pao and red flowers, when Master Hong suddenly opened his eyes and threw away the wooden fish and snatched the basket away.
“Don’t touch these. I only charged for the incense and candles, these are rented to you. Just extract the Buddha’s breath inside, no need to burn them, so go and light the red candles and incense.”
Shen Jize followed his instructions and placed the red candles on the candlesticks on either side of the idol and the incense in the incense burner before kneeling down again.
Master Hong continued to strike the wooden fish with his eyes closed, and the two children looked at each other, both pursing their lips and smiling, excited and nervous at the same time.
“What’s next?” Lu Rong mouthed to Shen Jize.
Shen Jize looked at Master Hong for help, and saw that he was concentrating on chanting the sutra, and thought to himself that this should be the same as the paper people he met that night.
“One bow worship to heaven and earth.” Shen Jize chanted and fell to the ground.
Lu Rong followed suit and recited, “One bow worship to heaven and earth.”
Master Hong’s wooden fish chanting suddenly disappeared, as he slightly raised his eyes to look at the two children prostrating on the ground, the corners of his eyes twitched, and then continued as if nothing had happened.
“Second bow worship the heavens.” Shen Jize continued to bow to the clay statue, and Lu Rong followed suit.
“Husband and wife bow to worship each other.” Shen Jize felt that something was wrong just as the words left his mouth, and straightened up and looked at Lu Rong blankly.
Lu Rong, however, didn’t care so much, and repeated the couple’s worship on his own, full of solemnity, and bowed to the idol again.
Shen Jize saw that Master Hong was still tapping the wooden fish and didn’t object to this statement, as if there was nothing wrong with this procedure. And Lu Rong beside him had already finished worshipping and was looking at him with bated breath, so although he had doubts in his heart, he had to bow down.
“Okay, okay, it’s over, you can get up now.” Master Hong got up quickly, his gaze drifted not to look at the two.
“Master Hong, will my brother and I never be separated?” Lu Rong asked.
Master Hong touched his nose and hmmed.
“Then my brother and I will love each other until we grow old?” Lu Rong followed up uneasily.
“Ah… Yes, you are… Ah… Never separate, just like other husbands and wives.”
Lu Rong jumped happily in place and cheered, “Good! Hey, Brother and I will never be separated!”
Master Hong took out the basket of golden treasures and red flowers, pocketed them with the hem of his monk’s robe, and handed the empty basket back to Lu Rong.
“The Buddha’s breath has been absorbed from these golden treasures and red flowers. I will stay and continue to infuse the Buddha’s breath, you two take the basket with you.” He said.
Lu Rong took the basket with a smile on his face, the words ‘never to part’ made him happy.
Shen Jize froze and knelt on the mat, he thought about the phrase husband and wife, and then recalled his own off-the-cuff couple worship, thinking that this procedure and his own thought seemed a little different.
Master Hong held the hem of his monk’s robe and was bowing three times to the Moon God statue, chanting softly.
Lu Rong was close to him and vaguely heard something like blame, but he didn’t take it seriously.
“Let’s go, the ritual has been completed, you can leave.” Master Hong took off the monk’s robe containing the yuan-jiao and put it on the offering table, picked up the rice bowl next to him and continued to shove it into his mouth, “…It’s still hot.”
Shen Jize and Lu Rong got up and followed him outside.
As they passed a statue of a god in front of them, Master Hong chewed his rice and stared up at it, “The damn chicken has taken its eyes again.”
Shen Jize looked at the statue and saw that the black beans in the eyes had disappeared, leaving only a small hole.
Master Hong picked out a peanut from his bowl and climbed onto the table and put it into the small hole. He jumped off the table and clapped his hands, saying with satisfaction, “That’s not bad.”
Turning his head to see Shen Jize and Lu Rong staring at him, he explained, “Tomorrow I’ll ask for a black stone from Mount Qiuwu to make eyes for the idol. Do you want to worship anything else?” Master Hong sent the two out the door.
Shen Jize had already returned to his senses and asked, “What else do you want to worship?”
“There is still the God of Wealth just made in the courtyard, if you want to worship. I haven’t put it in the Buddha Hall.”
Shen Jize wasn’t interested in getting rich, so he refused.
“There are other things you can ask for. There’s a… The god of blah blah blah has just been painted and is drying on the roof. You can ask him to bless you with a hundred percent on your exams, to win in fights, to catch birds by touching them, and to pull out bird eggs that are bigger than others.” Master Hong said.
Shen Jize: …
He seemed interested.
Lu Rong hurriedly blocked between the two, covering Shen Jize’s trouser pocket with money, and shook his head frantically, “No more worship.”
“Okay, come back when you want to worship, I’ll give you a 30% discount for the Bodhisattvas and Gods.” Master Hong said regretfully.
After leaving the temple, Lu Rong took a few steps and then turned back, snatching the empty bamboo basket from Master Hong’s hand.
It was paid for, so it was theirs, and it couldn’t be forgotten.
Looking at their backs, Master Hong leaned against the door frame and said in a loud voice, “Take care, don’t fall down the hill.”
Shen Jize was leading Lu Rong down the stone steps when he heard his body stiffen and slowly turned his head.
Master Hong lifted his leg to block a hen that was trying to sneak out of the doorway and said with a smile, “You two have just paid your respects, so you have become a couple. Do you know what a wedding ceremony is? You got married and tied the knot.”
“Tied the knot… married?” Shen Jize opened his mouth in shock, his face was full of disbelief.
“Yes, that’s why you’re a couple.” Master Hong said happily, “Groom, you must treat your wife well.”
After saying that, he didn’t care about the reaction of the two children, laughed while retreating and banged the courtyard door shut.
Lu Rong looked at the closed door and then looked up at Shen Jize, “Brother, is what Master Hong said true?”
Shen Jize was still in shock, his eyes staring blankly ahead, his brain was reeling.
Lu Rong didn’t wait for an answer and said, bewildered, “But I’m only eight years old, so I’m not even in my senior year yet? None of my classmates seem to be married.”
Shen Jize still felt like lightning had struck, giving no response, Lu Rong began to think again.
Marriage should be with the two closest people, and if Brother and him were married, that meant that the two of them were very close.
It seemed that… getting married was quite good?
Lu Rong thought of this, his face gradually appeared happy, reached out to tug Shen Jize’s sleeve, “Brother, so we are married.”
Shen Jize’s blank brain caught the word married and instantly came back to his senses, saying sharply, “Don’t listen to him, we’re not married.”
“We’re not?” Lu Rong asked suspiciously.
“Do we look like a bride and groom to you? Have you ever seen a child get married?” Shen Jize’s voice and expression were both a bit stern, while pulling Lu Rong towards him.
Lu Rong stumbled and pouted a little unhappily.
“I told you, don’t believe in that nonsense. We’re not married, that worship doesn’t count.” Shen Jize said with a sullen face.
“Doesn’t count?” Lu Rong asked in shock, his eyes wide.
“Then what you said—”
“It doesn’t count, none of it.” Shen Jize interrupted with shame and annoyance.
Lu Rong stared at him, his eyes gradually reddening, and a layer of water had formed under them.
Shen Jize turned his head, meaning that this was not negotiable.
“If it doesn’t count, it doesn’t count, who cares?!” Lu Rong suddenly shouted. He sounded with a cry, his mouth deflated twice after shouting, but held back from crying. He snapped off Shen Jize’s hand and walked down the stone steps, his footsteps flying, but his little body straight.
Puppy, having had enough of playing, came out of the woods to follow, with his head full of leaves.
Lu Rong choked and said, “Let’s go back and not be with him anymore.”
Puppy wagged its tail and gave a naive woof.
Shen Jize was also holding fire in his heart.
How could you get married just like that? Wouldn’t Xiao Yong laugh at him? Wouldn’t his classmates laugh at him? Wouldn’t the teacher call him to the teaching room, the eyes behind the lens of his glasses staring at him dead, “What? You’re married? A good summer vacation, you didn’t do much homework, but got married! Monday morning the whole school assembly will do a review.”
It was scary to think about.
Besides, did his mom and dad allow him to get married now?
And why didn’t Master Hong stop them from getting married?
Shen Jize kicked the tree next to him so hard that his toes hurt and he spun around twice, grimacing. But it calmed him down and made him less angry, especially when he remembered that Lu Rong was on the verge of tears and that he had left in a huff, so his anger was dissipated.
Shen Jize chased down the stone steps and soon saw Lu Rong’s back. He accelerated and stopped when he got behind Lu Rong and followed him down.
Lu Rong ignored him, so Shen Jize coughed twice, but Lu Rong still looked straight ahead, as if not heard. Shen Jize wanted to see if he was crying, so he jogged two steps to Lu Rong’s side, slightly sideways to peek.
Lu Rong noticed his movement and turned his head to the side to hide his face.
Shen Jize only had this to say, “People who cry when they aren’t satisfied are not strong at all.”
Perhaps because the stone steps weren’t easy to walk on, or because he didn’t want to be with Shen Jize, Lu Rong left the steps and slid down the right side of the slope. Shen Jize was too embarrassed to follow him to the dirt slope, so he had to speed up his pace and was side by side with Lu Rong in a horizontal line.
He kept looking sideways, and when he finally saw Lu Rong’s face and found no tears on it, he was relieved and said, “That’s right, a man has to be strong. How can he cry when something happens?”
Lu Rong suddenly grabbed a small tree beside him to stop his feet, and smashed the empty bamboo basket in his hand at Shen Jize, “Giving your bamboo basket back to you.”
“Ouch.” Shen Jize was caught off guard by the smash, rushed to reach out to block the bamboo basket, but it was grabbed in the air by the dog, who then ran to Lu Rong’s side with joy.
This time Shen Jize was also angry, the two no longer speak, silently walking down the mountain. The only sounds were the dog panting and the wind blowing leaves.
Lu Rong tried to get rid of him and started to trot.
Shen Jize then ran after him on the stone steps.
Lu Rong couldn’t control his speed because he was on an earthen slope, and finally sat down and slid down the slope.
Shen Jize was running, saw a few meters high cliff, and his heart suddenly tightened. He couldn’t care less about being angry, so he shouted ‘Rong Rong!’ and rushed to the slope, half-sliding, half-running to Lu Rong side, and pulled him.
The two of them slid together for another half a meter before coming to a close stop at the edge of the cliff.
Lu Rong looked down, his face a little white. No longer stubborn, he obediently allowed Shen Jize to pull him to the stone steps. There were two scrapes on his calves, also stained with mud, so Shen Jize sullenly squatted to look at the place, with fingers gently stroking off the mud spots, frowning with his delicate brow, very carefully.
Lu Rong watched Shen Jize’s actions in silence, and when he stood up, he stepped forward and wrapped his arms around his waist, then pressed his face against his chest. Although nothing was said, this was the meaning of making up. A few moments later, he felt a finger touch his head, a response from Shen Jize.
“Brother…” Lu Rong called out aggressively, looked up to peek at his face and asked softly, “Brother, don’t you mean what you promised last night?”
After saying that, he kissed Shen Jize on the chest like he usually did with Grandpa Cai. His two ears were so white that they were almost transparent. Shen Jize saw him touching him carefully, his face was full of flattery, and his heart suddenly softened into a pool of water.
My brother is so nice and cute. I shouldn’t have been mean to him.
He remembered the conversation about the garbage can last night, and his heart felt a surge of heat, “It counts, how could it not count?”
“But you just said it doesn’t count.” Lu Rong whispered.
Shen Jize said, “Just now… just now I wasn’t talking about the promise from last night.”
“Then what were you talking about?”
Shen Jize said, “I was talking about getting married.”
“Does the marriage count?” Lu Rong put his arm around his waist and shook it.
Shen Jize hesitated and didn’t say anything.
“It counts, it counts, I want to be with you, Brother～” Lu Rong wriggled around in his arms and pouted, quite knowing how to impress Shen Jize.
Shen Jize was indeed more soft-hearted, and after Lu Rong begged for ten times, he gritted his teeth and said regardless, “It counts.”
Lu Rong got the answer he wanted, and instantly smiled and narrowed his eyes.
Shen Jize just blurted out some regret, but seeing Lu Rong smiling so sweetly, his dimples showing, big eyes curved, a completely happy child, those regrets instantly dissipated.
Wasn’t it just a marriage?
It was fine.
He wouldn’t tell it to his classmates, nor to Xiao Yong said, he could just reveal it to them later. Same goes for his mom and dad, he had to hide it first.
When he grew up, he could say it and tell them in a calm tone: ‘I want to announce a matter ah. I have actually married…’
It was pretty cool to think about how people would react at that time.
Shen Jize figured out this point, his heart suddenly calm like when the wind blew away the clouds, losing his hesitation and worry. He instantly turned his mind around and gradually began to get excited.
I got married? I married?
I’m married? I’m married!
Looking again at the boy in front of him, suddenly there were a few different feelings.
Rong Rong is my… Ah… A little embarrassing… Ah… Is he my wife? Did Rong Rong become my wife?
Lu Rong smiled up at him again at this point, tilting his head, with a dazzlingly beautiful layer of soft fluff on his face.
Yes, Rong Rong is my wife.
Shen Jize immediately made up his mind.
But he couldn’t afford to take him out yet, he couldn’t afford to raise him…
He could only come to Longquan Mountain every holiday, work harder, and when he grew up and earned money, then he could retrieve this boy.
From now on, he couldn’t spend money recklessly, and needed to save his pocket money to support his wife…
Shen Jize quickly accepted his identity as a married person, his heart was born with a sense of responsibility, and began to solemnly plan the future of their lives in his heart.