Home Post 1697-chapter-8


Fine drizzle fell gently to the ground, like countless silver threads spun by silkworms. Outside the window, everything was misty and obscured, as if draped in a layer of white gauze. 

Gu Xian saw Qing Shu gazing blankly out the window and smiled as she asked, “Hongdou, what are you looking at?” 

The rain in Jiangnan was different from that in the capital city. Although she hadn’t been to the capital city yet, she knew that if she mentioned it, she would be suspected of being possessed by some supernatural being. “Mother, could you change my name? I don’t like the name ‘Hongdou’.” 

“Hongdous grow in the southern land, and a few branches sprout in spring. May you pick and choose many, for this thing is most reminiscent of longing.” 

So, in the hearts of scholars, Hongdou symbolized a token of longing, representing the deep love between lovers. Her name, Hongdou, was originally meant to witness the affection between her parents. Unfortunately, with the experiences from her past life, Qing Shu had already seen through Lin Chengyu. 

What longing? What deep affection? They were all lies. If Lin Chengyu had the slightest affection for her mother, he wouldn’t have first pushed her into the Cui family’s pit, then turned a blind eye to Cui Jianbo poisoning her, letting Cui Jianbo send her to the man-eating Lion Monastery. 

Gu Xian was taken aback, and after a while, she asked, “Why suddenly want to change your name?” She really liked the name “Hongdou” because it represented Lin Chengyu’s deep affection for her. 

Qing Shu had prepared her words in advance, “Hongdous, yellow beans, black beans, peas, lentils, mung beans. You can see these beans everywhere on the streets. Mother, this name sounds rustic. Could you give me a different name?” 

“Our Hongdou has grown up and has developed some tastes,” Gu Xian replied without much thought. Many children grow up and find their childhood nicknames plain. Even she, after becoming sensible, prohibited Old Madam Gu from calling her by her childhood nickname. 

Qing Shu gently shook Gu Xian’s arm and said, “Mother, give me a new name, please!” 

Gu Xian smiled and said, “Hongdou is your nickname, and since you don’t like it, from now on, I’ll call you by your given name.” 

“What’s my given name then?” Qing Shu asked nervously. She had carried this name for over twenty years and had grown accustomed to it. She didn’t want it changed. 

With a smile, Gu Xian said, “Your given name is Qing Shu. I hope you can live a peaceful and comfortable life.” Her given name was registered when she was born, but since she had become accustomed to her nickname, her given name had never been used. 

The name Qing Shu was taken from the Tang Dynasty literary figure Yan Zhenqing’s “Qin Li Stele”1: ‘It also has a lingering air, neither fast nor slow, gently fluttering like a fan, leisurely and comfortable.’ 

Qing Shu hugged Gu Xian’s arm, her eyes bright with a smile. “Mother, I like this name.” 

She had thought that the name Qing Shu was just something Lin Chengyu came up with casually, but she never expected that her own mother had chosen it, and with such a meaningful implication. 

After their mother-daughter conversation, Gu Xian brought over a book, “Yesterday, I told you ten idiom stories. Do you remember them?” 

“I remember them all. The first idiom, ‘dao ting tu shuo,’ is about a man named Ai Zi who returned to the Qi state from the Chu state during the Warring States period. As soon as he entered the capital, he met Mao Kong, who loved to spread rumors. Mao Kong mysteriously told Ai Zi that a family’s duck had laid a hundred eggs at once…” 

Qing Shu accurately recited the ten idiom stories. 

When Qing Shu was very young, Gu Xian would hold a book and read stories to her. In her opinion, it was important to nurture her daughter from a young age. Unfortunately, Qing Shu’s young age caused her to forget what she had learned in no time. That’s why Gu Xian used it as a way to pass the time, not really expecting Qing Shu to learn. 

This time, Qing Shu surprised her. Since falling ill, Qing Shu had displayed an exceptional memory, remembering the stories after just one telling. Unlike before, when Gu Xian had to repeat the stories three or four times for her to remember. 

In her previous life in the Lin family, Qing Shu couldn’t read. It was only when Lin Chengyu saw that she couldn’t read that he specially arranged for a tutor, although the tutor was dismissed once she finished a few beginner’s books.  

Gu Xian praised, “My clever Hongdou.” 

Gu Xian was worried that the Hundred Family Surnames and Thousand Character Classic were too dry, so she bought a book titled “Children’s Enlightenment Book” to teach Qing Shu. To her surprise, after Qing Shu got sick, her memory had significantly improved, and she remembered the content after just one lesson. Unlike before, when she had to be taught the same thing three or four times to remember. 

Qing Shu then asked Gu Xian to teach her to write characters. Although she could read in her previous life, her handwriting was not good-looking. Now that she had the opportunity, she wanted to change that. 

Gu Xian shook her head and said, “No, you’re still growing, and it’s not advisable to practice writing yet. Otherwise, your fingers might become deformed in the future.” 

Qing Shu wasn’t a true child anymore and knew about this situation, but as long as she didn’t overdo it, there wouldn’t be any problems. 

Unable to resist Qing Shu, Gu Xian reluctantly agreed, “Alright, you can practice writing, but you’re only allowed to write five characters each day.” Others were afraid that children would be lazy and not study, but she was worried that Qing Shu would work too hard. 

Qing Shu was extremely happy, “Thank you, Mother.” After saying this, she even kissed Gu Xian on the cheek. 

To avoid making the same mistakes again, Qing Shu was cautious about everything she did. Even in her speech, she would think twice before speaking. Fortunately, her efforts didn’t go to waste, and neither Gu Xian nor Chen Mama had become suspicious. 

Gu Xian fetched a copy of Yan Zhenqing’s “Qin Li Stele” character copybook and handed it to her. This copybook had been obtained by Old Master Gu during a trip to the capital city and was very precious. 

Qing Shu had only written half a page when she heard urgent footsteps outside. 

Gu Xian stood up. 

Qing Shu was a little worried that someone would enter without being announced, especially with such a commotion. But when she saw Gu Xian’s calm expression, she knew she was overthinking it. “Mother, who’s coming?” 

Without waiting for Gu Xian to respond, the red lacquered bamboo curtain was lifted, and four people walked in. At the forefront was an energetic old lady. 

Old Madam Gu walked in and saw Qing Shu. She immediately embraced her, saying, “My poor darling, how did you end up like this? You must have suffered so much!” 

She had only been away for half a month in the capital city, and her darling had changed so much. If she had known, she wouldn’t have gone to the capital city. 

Qing Shu could tell from the way she was addressed that her grandmother cared deeply for her. Tears welled up in her eyes as she replied, “Grandmother.” 

Old Madam Gu felt heartbroken, gently patting Qing Shu’s back as she spoke softly, “Don’t cry, my darling. Tomorrow, Grandmother will take you shopping. Whatever you want, Grandmother will buy for you.” 

Qing Shu loved going shopping because she could eat a lot of delicious food. Every time, she would eat until her stomach was round. 

Qing Shu wiped her tears and said, “I don’t want anything. I just want Grandmother to live a long life.” 

Old Madam Gu was overjoyed and kissed Qing Shu on the cheek, saying, “My good darling is so filial.” 

This child was truly worth all the love and care. 

A smile appeared on Gu Xian’s face. Since Qing Shu’s illness, she had not only become more obedient but also very considerate. 

  1. Yan Zhenqing’s “Yan Qin Li Stele” is one of the most famous regular script works in Chinese calligraphy.