As a few of you pointed out already from last update, Zhousheng Ren is no ordinary youth. We learn more about him and the Zhou/Zhousheng family.
Chapter 10.3 – Like Your First Adornment (3)
She was somewhat innately perceptive, especially in regards to people’s behaviours and attitudes.
If there was even a slight, subtle hint of something, she could detect it.
And so, she was thinking, Xiao Ren’s sudden appearance here to visit this future sister-in-law of his was definitely not simply as he had described, that it was “on his way.” Xiao Ren was quite a bit more particular than Zhousheng Chen about his food and lodgings, perhaps because he was the only son of Zhousheng Chen’s uncle and, even though he had been given over in adoption to Zhousheng Chen’s mother, he was still very much doted on and pampered.
His very gestures and expressions more or less emitted a sense of self-importance from being spoiled and loved.
However, he truly seemed to be fond of Shi Yi, or at least, she could not sense any sort of unfriendliness.
This little brother had brought with him a trunk of clothing, which was moved into the room Shi Yi and Mei Lin were staying in. The people who had moved the trunk had just stepped out of the room before Mei Lin immediately opened up the unlocked trunk. The entire trunk was filled with clothing. From layering garments that were to be worn next to the skin to outer garments, everything that she could need was all there.
Shi Yi had previously worn clothing made by the Wang family, and she knew they liked to sew two pearls on the inner edge of the sleeves.
Therefore, she only needed to rummage through a little before she knew that these clothes had been made by the people of the Wang family.
While Mei Lin was still looking through the clothing, someone had moved a whole box of water into the room.
“Big Brother mentioned that you heard some strange noises last night,” Xiao Ren explained to her simply, “so, if possible, these next couple of days, we will try to avoid drinking the water or eating the food from this place. The people who came with me will take care of all that for us.”
“That cautious?” Shi Yi could not suppress her laughter.
Xiao Ren also laughed with her, and in a half serious, half joking tone, he answered, “Whether it’s ghosts from hell or ‘ghosts’ among the living, the people of the Zhou family have encountered many of them, so of course we have learned to be more careful.”
Shi Yi merely treated his words as a joke and teased him, “Have you ever encountered any?”
But contrary to expectations, the boy did not reply.
From his facial expressions, she could not perceive anything unusual, but Shi Yi still seemed to feel that she had said something she should not have.
That evening, when she was having her phone call with Zhousheng Chen, she mentioned this incident. Zhousheng Chen paused slightly before telling her, “Xiao Ren’s mother died in an unexpected event, and furthermore, the reason for her death was somewhat unique. Hence, at times, his words and behavior may be a little peculiar.”
Zhousheng Chen’s explanation was very vague.
To be honest, Shi Yi did not understand what he was saying, and in a seldom seen occurrence, she pursued the issue. “What was the reason?”
He did not answer.
Shi Yi thought for a moment and then spoke again. “Sooner or later, I will need to find out about these things.”
“The Zhou family is rather unique. 96% of its assets are held internationally, and it has some business and friendships that are hidden from the light of the law,” he said. “Although the family of Xiao Ren’s mother was a longtime friend of our family, the reason for she chose to marry into the Zhou family was primarily because they wanted to investigate some matters pertaining to the Zhou family. Later… she died by accidental means.”
Shi Yi leaned against the edge of the window, listening as he continued to clarify this event of the past.
Approximately eight or nine years ago, when Zhousheng Ren was still a young child, he had gone onboard a gambling ship with his father and mother. This gambling ship belonged to the Zhou family. At the time, the Zhou family had been taking the lead to coordinate the business transaction of allocating the rights to an ore deposit for which ownership had not yet been claimed. And it was on this ship that, after her intentions had been discovered, Xiao Ren’s mother was given her punishment of death by the family clan.
At the time, in order to not bring about a negative effect on Xiao Ren, the illusion of a “death by accidental means” was created.
But as Xiao Ren gradually grew older, he naturally came to know some of the truths.
And so, on the topic of “ghosts among the living,” he had chosen to remain silent.
Shi Yi was stunned by Zhousheng Chen’s description of his own family, but she chose not to delve much deeper.
When she linked up in her mind all the things of his past, she increasingly felt that the environments in which they each lived were completely different worlds.
“In some aspects, I do not belong to the Zhou family,” Zhousheng Chen stated. “When this whole matter is done, everyone and everything will return to their original trajectory.”
“So, you actually don’t want to inherit the control of the Zhou family?”
“I have absolutely no intention of doing so.”
Near him, someone was saying something in a language she did not understand. It sounded like it was work-related.
Shi Yi did not speak again, and they ended this conversation.
Outside the window, the wind was blowing rather forcefully, creating swirls on the surface of the waterways and whipping up the clothing of passengers inside the fishing barges. The subsequent sounds of laughter and loud voices rang out.
She thought to herself, she understood what he meant.
If it could be said that in both lives, Zhousheng Chen’s belief and desire were to reverse the course of development so that there would be fewer families that would endure misfortune, then hers could be summarized much more simply: she believed in him, and she would always stand by his side.
The next evening was the last round of the competition finals.
Xiao Ren had said that he wanted to watch, and Shi Yi had told him in a completely serious tone that he would not receive special treatment. For instance, he could only come by himself into the competition area and sit in a corner in the seats reserved for the media. She had thought that this proud boy would not want to comply with those terms, but contrary to her expectations, he still came, alone and even carrying a book. Since Shi Yi was sitting at the judges’ table, most of the time, she could not watch or take care of him, and only when the competition was over did she finally have an opportunity to check on him.
She had not expected that a quick glance at the book in his hand would discover teaching material written in a foreign language.
She did not look through the content of the book in detail, but her eyes swept over familiar formulas. It was physics.
“You want to study physics in the future?” Finally, Shi Yi could see in him traces of an ordinary person.
“Mm-hmm.” Xiao Ren nodded his head, closed the book, and set it down flat on his lap.
“That’s great,” she agreed quietly. “With these types of subjects, the further you pursue your studies, the more blurry the boundaries become between the individual fields and disciplines. Maybe one day you can even be better than your big brother.”
“It’s not possible. I cannot possibly exceed him.” Xiao Ren laughed, and, in a seldom seen moment, he was somewhat shy as he explained, “He’s a genius. At age twelve, he was receiving invitations from universities. Age fourteen, he entered university. Age nineteen, he received his PhD in chemical engineering. I’m already fourteen, but I still have not entered university.”
She had heard these words before, spoken from the mouth of Zhou Wenchuan.
But when Xiao Ren said them, he truly was extremely proud of these facts, and there was even an obvious sense of worship in his tone.
“Oh, is that so?” Shi Yi deliberately pretended that she had just learned this information, and in accordance with the act, she gasped in surprise, “That’s amazing.”
“He is very amazing.” Xiao Ren looked at her. “Otherwise, why would my second sister-in-law still love him?”
“Oh,” she smiled. “I heard they used to be engaged.”
“Yes.” Xiao Ren did not attempt to conceal this. “Tong Jiaren is also the older sister of my birth mother. Anyway, the relationships are very complicated. At the time, because my birth mother married Fath–… Uncle… she took it upon herself to break off the engagement.”
She had been the one to do it of her own accord?
Shi Yi gave another “oh” in response.
“But this is all just what I heard. I hadn’t been born at the time yet.”
Perhaps because their topic involved Zhousheng Chen, this was actually a rare moment in which Xiao Ren had much to say.
Shi Yi chatted with him for a while and also carefully browsed through his book, but she could not really understand what was written. In some ways, this boy appeared to be very similar to Zhousheng Chen. She pondered, if Xiao Ren had the chance to study under Zhousheng Chen, the arrogance and finickiness that had been produced as a result of his family’s coddling could be completely polished away.
After the two of them had talked for some time, Shi Yi gave Mei Lin an excuse and first took Xiao Ren out for dinner by herself.
This was the last night of the contest finals, and by tomorrow afternoon, everyone would be leaving this place, returning to their own respective cities. It was unavoidable, therefore, that Shi Yi would need to spend some time with the group, drinking tea and carrying out casual dialogue.
Xiao Ren insisted on staying with Shi Yi. He did not say much and would occasionally answer with a word or two when faced with Hong Xiaoyu’s curiosity as she tried to strike up a conversation with him.
Later, when the older voice actors had all retired for the day and only the younger people remained, everyone began discussing what they could do to entertain themselves. Somehow, their topic turned to pai gow [Chinese dominoes].
“I didn’t bring anything for that,” Mei Lin laughed as she curbed their enthusiasm. “I’m afraid we won’t have enough time to go out and buy a set now, right?”
“It doesn’t need to be so serious. We can just find something here to use as a substitute.”
Everyone was in high spirits. Shi Yi did not really understand the game, so she simply listened and observed.
Xiao Ren, on the other hand, in a low voice summoned a girl who was standing not far away and quietly gave her a few instructions. The girl, who was one of his accompanying attendants, quickly left, and when she returned, she was holding a long box.
“What is that?” Shi Yi asked inquisitively.
“Pai gow. Also called ‘bone tiles’.”
Shi Yi looked at him in surprise.
Beside them sat Hong Xiaoyu and Du Feng. Hearing their conversation, Xiaoyu’s interest was aroused. “Someone really brought some. Perfect. Open it so everyone can play.”
The young girl simply looked at Xiao Ren, and only after he gave a slight nod of his head did she open up the long, narrow box and place it on the table.
Lustrous, smooth ivory domino tiles that were slightly yellow in color were stacked in towers of four, but very swiftly, they were laid out into eight rows.
The young girl appeared as if she did not intend to leave and in fact, stood there in front of the table with the solemn look of a dealer. A quiet had settled over everyone. Initially, they had all assumed that this little brother of Shi Yi was simply a pampered, spoiled child of an affluent family, and the young girl accompanying him was surely there to wait upon his daily needs and wants.
But seeing the tiles on the table as well as watching the girl’s fluid motions a moment ago when she had stacked them… If they had not known better, they would have thought they had stepped into a gambling hall of the olden times, and they were esteemed patrons who had been given their own separate game table.
“My family’s elders are fond of this, so to please them, everyone more or less has learned a little bit,” Xiao Ren kindly explained to them. “This big sister here often accompanies Father when he plays, so she is very familiar with it.”
This explanation was rather curious but not difficult to understand.
Now that there were tiles, those who earlier had eagerly wanted to play turned their attention over in their direction and approached the table to place their bets. Because they were only playing for fun and Mei Lin had strictly prohibited everyone from using real money, the young girl, who had taken on the role as the banker, divided up some gaming chips to every person as their wagers.
Their private room soon grew very lively. Shi Yi, though, was curious and quietly asked Xiao Ren, “Your fath–… your uncle really likes this game?”
“The people in the family all like it.” Xiao Ren looked over at Shi Yi. “Big Brother never told you?”
She shook her head.
“Your family is so interesting.” Hong Xiaoyu found this boy’s words and demeanor very entertaining. “Do you know how to play?”
Zhousheng Ren nodded. “Yes.”
Hong Xiaoyu burst out in a laugh. Tugging on Du Feng’s arm, she asked him, “Want to give it a try? In a moment?”
“If we’re not playing for real money, then I’ll play a bit.” Du Feng also seemed amused as he looked toward Xiao Ren. “Never thought a little boy would know how to play pai gow. Are you good at it?”
Zhousheng Ren returned his gaze. “I’m not very adept in it, but my skills are more than adequate to play with all of you.”
“Oh.” Du Feng laughed amusedly. “That’s some pretty big talk. When I was in Macau, I did not lose very often.”
Xiao Ren contemplated for a moment before he spoke. “Do you know of the saying, ‘pai gow that risks a city’?” He seemed to remember someone or something, and a trace of a smile could be heard in his voice. “The life-or-death, win-or-lose instances of pai gow are such that in a single night, you can lose an entire city. And so, do not heedlessly enter into this game, especially when you are acting impulsively and based on feeings.”
 牌九 “pai jiu.” Literally, it means to “make nine.” A Chinese gambling game that uses a set of 32 Chinese dominoes. “Pai jiu” is the Mandarin pinyin for this game, but in English and casinos, they have transliterated it as “pai gow.”
 Macau is known as the “Monte Carlo of the Orient,” with an economy that is highly dependent upon gambling tourism.
 倾城牌九 “qing cheng pai jiu.” 倾城 “qing cheng” is what I often translate as “downfall of a city.” However, the word 倾 “qing” can also mean “to throw in”, “to risk” or “to lose” something. The saying, “pai gow that risks/loses a city” is saying that the risks in the game of pai gow are so high, and if your skill is not good enough, you could lose everything, even an entire city, in a single night. Therefore, if you have not fallen into the allure of the game, don’t let yourself, but if you have, you must as soon as possible learn the skills (and cheating skills) that will decrease your risks to the lowest possible and increase your chances of winning to the highest possible.
Just a little tidbit: This gambling ship incident had been mentioned earlier, and I had told you before that the first book, 突然想要的地老天荒 (also called 一生一世), of the series describes the event, including the death of Xiao Ren’s mother, in detail. In that very last bit about “pai gow that risks a city”, Xiao Ren is actually quoting the male lead of that first novel, who had said these same words onboard the gambling ship. The “someone or something” that Xiao Ren is remembering here is likely that male lead and probably the (awesome) scene at the gambling table he had created that time.
P.S. Next update begins chapter 11, and I have an inkling that many of you will like that entire chapter. 🙂 Don’t miss it.
1 of 1 Prologue
33 of 56 Main story segments
0 of 3 Epilogues