Chapter 13: Poplar Tree
Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
The world would not stop turning because of Wen Yu’s sadness.
On the third day after returning to the villa, Wen Yu had recovered. After three days of having an intermittent low fever, he had lost weight, his complexion had also become an unhealthy shade. His face drained of color and his whole person looked lethargic.
When Zhao Zheng pushed the door open, he saw Wen Yu half lying on the bed and staring out of the window. He didn’t say anything. He walked straight over, lifted the quilt, and said in a cold voice, “Let’s go out for a walk.”
Wen Yu was obedient, nodded his head, and went out in slippers.
The butler handed over his coat at the door, Zhao Zheng took it and put it on for Wen Yu. Wen Yu looked up at Zhao Zheng. Uncle Zhao’s jawline was very cold and hard. At first glance, one could tell he was not a very nice person and that was indeed how he treated other people.
They went out of the door and followed the path to the back garden. Neither spoke the entire way. Today’s weather was really good. The rare warm winter sun shone down on the flowers and plants, exuding a brilliance.
Wen Yu looked up at Zhao Zheng and suddenly opened his mouth, “Why are you so kind to me?”
Zhao Zheng did not stop, continued to hold onto Wen Yu’s shoulder and looked forward, his voice was still cold, “You’re worth it.”
Wen Yu didn’t expect this answer and he has thought about many other reasons. He needed a reason to be at ease. But these three words from Zhao Zheng’s mouth, sounded particularly convincing as if he held a special place in Zhao Zheng’s heart.
“Actually I’m really scared.” Wen Yu lowered his head, then looked up at Zhao Zheng. “Can this really be my home?”
“I said this before, this is your home.” Zhao Zheng replied, unyielding.
There was a faint smile on his face and he silently told himself that he would do his best to treat Uncle Zhao well in his life.
He didn’t know if it was a problem of walking too long or the sunshine, but Wen Yu felt a little hot. He took the initiative to hold Zhao Zheng’s arm and said with a smile, “Uncle, I’m hungry. How about having sweet soup 1 today?”
Zhao Zheng looked at Wen Yu with a smile, his almond-shaped eyes bright. His cold and hard facial features softened as he said, “Okay.”
At noon, there was indeed a fruit-based sweet soup on the dining table. Zhao Zheng, who had never liked sweet food, also drank a bowl of it. Wen Yu smiled, his white teeth were bright and stared at Zhao Zheng curiously.
Zhao Zheng tapped Wen Yu’s head lightly, “Eat properly.”
Seeing the young master’s face full of smiles, the butler was relieved. He saw that his master picked a piece of pineapple-flavored sweet and sour pork 2 and ate it. His eyes widened. He thought that his master seemed to have changed. After dinner, Zhao Zheng and Wen Yu sat in the living room, one reading a book and the other read documents.
Wen Yu sat for a while, looked at the phone on the table next to him, looked back again, but he could not read a word in the book in his hands, and then swept his eyes over the phone again.
Zhao Zheng’s head didn’t raise as he whispered, “Do whatever you want.”
“I want to call my mother.” Wen Yu muttered.
Hearing this, Zhao Zheng paused, closed the document, and glanced at him with sharp eyes. Wen Yu didn’t notice it. He held his face and said seriously, “I think should call.”
After dialing the number and holding the receiver tightly for a few minutes, one could see that Wen Yu was also nervous. He had thought out many dialogues, but when the phone was picked up and he heard the familiar voice, Wen Yu’s heart suddenly calmed down.
“Mom, I’m in Beijing. I heard you quarrel with Dad that night.” There was a silence on both sides. Wen Yu felt relieved and the following came out naturally, “Now that I have grown up, I can take care of myself, and I have a job as a tutor. I can earn my own living expenses and tuition fees now. I may be very busy later, so I won’t go back.”
There was a pause.
“Take care of the things at home.” Wen Yu’s voice choked, “Mom, thank you and Dad. Goodbye.”
Wen Yu knew that it was really goodbye after this.
There was a long silence, and Wen Yu was disappointed. He was about to hang up the phone, and then heard the choking voice on the opposite side, “Xiao Yu, live a good life.”
The phone hung up, and that was it. His family, which he had been with for twenty years, was completely cut off.
His heart was empty, but it felt a lot lighter. Wen Yu got up and sat next to Zhao Zheng, cross-legged, and smilingly told him about his plan.
“I am planning to work during winter vacation. If I start now, there should be about two months. I should be able to pay my tuition fees. I’ll also save a part of it for Xiao Le after his college entrance examination. I want to buy him a gift.”
“Gift?” Zhao Zheng asked.
Wen Yu nodded his head and said seriously, “Without them, I might have died or been in an orphanage. They didn’t abuse me. I don’t have money now, so I can only repay them with some small things.”
Zhao Zheng looked at Wen Yu deeply, then smiled.
He was really worthy of being his.
Since then, Wen Yu had come to his senses and had been looking for a job actively. Zhao Zheng saw that he was so excited and energetic that he didn’t plan to interfere. He treated it as Wen Yu’s entertainment and let him be.
The next day at the dining table, Wen Yu announced his good news with a smile.
“I found a job, Uncle.”
Zhao Zheng nodded his head and asked, “What’s the job?”
“A teaching job at the English Institute.” Wen Yu said with a smile, “The students are not on a break yet. I’m going to be busy during this period.”
Zhao Zheng didn’t really mind it. He reached out and scooped up a bowl of soup for Wen Yu and said, “As long as you’re happy.”
The next day, Wen Yu got up at six-thirty am, had breakfast and hurried to work by car. When Zhao Zheng came down, he noticed the empty living room. He frowned and asked, “Where’s Wen Yu?”
“Young master already went out, Master.” The butler said respectfully.
Zhao Zheng nodded and said nothing, but a faint crease appeared between his eyebrows.
At half-past seven, a black car stopped outside the training institute.
Wen Yu, with his school bag on his back, pushed the door open and said, “Brother Jiang, I will get going first.” He rushed into the institute. As soon as he arrived, the group leader in charge of him gave Wen Yu a stack of flyers and urged him, “Hurry up.”
Holding a stack of flyers, he ran to the school as planned yesterday. Wen Yu had said he got a job as a teacher, but, in fact, he was responsible for recruiting students, distributing flyers at the gate of each school district, setting up stands, and introducing their institution.
He arrived at the school gate at seven-forty am. At this time, the parents of the students who sent their children to the school lingered around. Wen Yu hadn’t caught his breath yet but with flyers in hand, he started to work.
He was tall, handsome, and very attractive as he stood out by the gates. He had a smile on his face and since he had tutored before, he knew what the parents were looking for. He introduced the institute’s details carefully and spoke in a gentle and pleasant voice. Before long, a circle of parents surrounded him and left their contact information.
He was only paid by this job from commissions, so Wen Yu did his best. When the parents at the gate of the primary school left one after another, he went to the gate of the community to publicize. He was so busy that time passed really fast. It was already lunch and he went to a fast-food joint.
Someone patted him on the shoulder, Wen Yu was startled and looked back to see Gao Yang.
“It’s really you. I thought I recognized you from afar, but I thought you went home?” Gao Yang conveniently sat opposite of him.
Wen Yu’s hand, holding chopsticks, paused and said, “Some things happened, I will not be going back in the future.”
Gao Yang’s eyes widened. As his friend of two years, he knew how much Wen Yu loved his family. For him to have said those words, something big must have happened. But seeing Wen Yu averting the question behind a bowl of noodles, he knew that this guy didn’t want to talk about it, so he stopped asking. His gaze fell on the flyers beside him.
“My job. Does your sister need to go to cram school?” Wen Yu smiled at Gao Yang.
“You are really dedicated.” Gao Yang didn’t know what else to say. He also ordered noodles to eat and said, “I’ll ask my mother later.”
After a while, Gao Yang thought of something, he put down his chopsticks happily and looked at Wen Yu attentively. Wen Yu could feel his scalp burning from the staring. “Don’t look at me like this.”
“How do you get home after work?”
“Brother Jiang will pick me up. It’s too far away from home and there is no bus —” Wen Yu stopped here, looked at Gao Yang, and knew what the boy was up to.
Sure enough, Gao Yang began to laugh and asked, “Is your place still recruiting people?”
The best time to recruit people for cram schools was during winter vacation and therefore they lacked people. Gao Yang looked good and was good at coaxing girls. The female team leader immediately agreed and said directly, “Then you and Wen Yu will work together in the afternoon, and I’ll pay you for half the day.”
Work was much easier along with Gao Yang, in the afternoon, mainly because it was not boring.
At seven o’clock in the evening, the temperature dropped and it was windy.
Wen Yu and Gao Yang were cleaning up the stands, sorting out the phone numbers collected today. They would contact them in their spare time tomorrow and ask interested prospects to attend free lessons.
Meanwhile, at the villa, even with the heaters that warmed the place, the atmosphere in the room was even colder than outside. In such a large space, the butler and servants were on standby near the dining table. No one dared not speak, they just lowered their heads while trembling.
Zhao Zheng put down the chopsticks in his hand. His actions were quiet, but it made the butler’s heart tremble and his head lowered even more.
The table was full of scrumptious dishes, which were not different from the past. They were very refined dishes, but they were not good enough in Zhao Zheng’s eyes. He said coldly, “Have Meng Tian pick him up.”
“Yes, Master.” The butler did not straighten up but retreated slowly to pass the message.
Back on this side, Wen Yu didn’t know that he had made Uncle Zhao unhappy. He sorted out the materials and packed his bag after reporting to his group leader. Then, he followed Gao Yang downstairs and went out. Knowingly, he still asked on purpose, “How are you going to get home?”
“I don’t feel at ease until I see you get in the car.” Gao Yang said seriously but his eyes were staring at the traffic on the road like he was looking for something. Within two minutes, he saw a familiar vehicle. His eyes sparkled, and he ran faster than Wen Yu. He came to the side of the road and straightened his posture.
Wen Yu saw half of the general’s face in the car and looked at Gao Yang, who was standing in an army posture. He couldn’t help but laugh.
Gao Yang had already said hello, “Hi, Shifu, what a coincidence.”
Wen Yu tried to hurry over before Brother Jiang could open the door for him. The only bad thing at home was that there were too many etiquette and rules. He was not used to it.
“Brother Jiang, I’ll have to trouble you to send Gao Yang home first.” Wen Yu said, he was going to help his friend..
Meng Jiang said flatly, “Young master, it will be better if I take you home first. His Maj— Master has been waiting for you.” Then, he took a glance at the uninvited Gao Yang, who had been sitting in the front passenger seat, “I will send this little poplar tree 3 back myself.”
- Sweet soup(甜汤) is a collective term for any sweet, warm soup or custard served as a dessert at the end of a meal
- A classic Chinese sweet and sour pork stir-fry recipe made with juicy pieces of pork tenderloin, bell peppers, onion, and pineapple. HERE
- Little poplar tree’s phonetic pronunciation is ‘xiao yang shu’ and the ‘yang’ is the same as Gao Yang’s name. It’s a nickname for Gao Yang by the General.