Of course, Miao Chu He would never publicly compare the famous Bi Teng Shan Ren with his niece. That mysterious man was someone that the Lin Family’s Jinshi shop found after a lot of hard work. There was no way they would lie about his identity.
Thus, he decided that he must have been mistaken. When he looked at the painting again with that thought, he realized that it was a far cry from his niece’s paintings.
Miao Chu He could not help but laugh at himself for being so foolish. There must be something wrong with his eyes!
Now, Lu Xiao Shu had actually become a rich little lady, and she had been living in luxury ever since. It was impossible for her to use up all the money that she earned, so she was not worried about earning more money. Besides, she was very generous with what she had, making everyone at the Lin Family’s pier fond of her. Since she did not like people calling her “little girl”, someone started to address her as “Big Sister Lu”, and everyone started calling her that. Lu Xiao Shu felt that it was quite fitting as if she had gone back to the days when she was addressed as Big Sister.
To be honest, it was already good enough, even if it was not as cool as back then. With everyone from the Lin Family backing her up, who would dare to get on her wrong side? She was also a playful girl who would try everything fun. Dressed up as a boy, she could go anywhere without being stopped. Plus, she was very generous, loyal, and smart, making her a little famous in the city.
Lu Xiao Shu also found life more exciting. It was a lot more meaningful than her little games in the village with the other kids where she could be reported for bad behavior. That was why she went to the city whenever she liked to have as much fun as she wanted without restraints.
Lin Fang was always hanging out with her and ordered around. The only one who could see the situation clearly was Lu Qi, and he thought that everyone must be nuts!
Soon, a rumor started to spread like wildfire in the city that the Young Master had taken a liking to Big Sister Lu. Everyone started to be more relaxed around her and did not dare to cross the line with jokes when it came to Big Sister Lu. It would be a disaster to offend the Young Master!
What? Do you think that those rumors were baseless? Well, it definitely was not because people have eyes!
Have they never seen Big Sister Lu going to the city with both the Young Master and Lu Qi were always by her side? Her family probably did not give her so much money to spend. It must all be the courtesy of the Young Master!
Come to think of it, if the Young Master willingly let her spend his allowance, it definitely meant that he had feelings for her, right?
Besides, everyone thought that Cricket was the Young Master’s loyal servant. He had been following and serving the Young Master since he was little, only taking orders from the Young Master. However, lo and behold, Big Sister Lu could order Cricket around too! The kid happily obliged her requests without any dismay!
What did that tell them? Did it require any further explanation?
The more they think about it, the more sense it made. Thus, they tried harder to get into Lu Xiao Shu’s good graces.
Eventually, the rumor reached Lin Fang.
That day, Lin Fang and Lu Qi overheard it from some passerby’s conversation. The boys exchanged stunned looks as they could not believe it.
Lu Qi was shocked and irritated as he snapped at those people with a dark expression. Those who were caught red-handed by the Young Master noticed how his expression was really dark. They were utterly terrified, thinking that he must be very sensitive with it to have gotten so worked up. It would be better if they just scram! One by one, they left the place giving any sort of excuse they could come up with.
“Ahem,” Lu Qi forced a smile, “Ah Fang, you should let go of this nonsense. These people are just bored, so they came up with gossips like this. Xiao Shu is another problem. She’s been like this since she was a kid, never acting like a proper girl, recklessly doing things however she likes. It’s no wonder that people misunderstood us. Don’t worry, I’ll talk to her about it later.”
“It’s fine…” Lin Fang was a little unsure of himself as he forced a smile in return, “We grew up playing together as close friends. It’s not like I don’t know Xiao Shu’s character. I guess… you don’t have to tell her off too strictly. The rumors are just rumors anyway, let’s not dwell on it…”
Lu Qi was stunned to hear that, glancing at Lin Fang in confusion.
All of a sudden, Lin Fang lost his interest in having fun. He made up some lame excuse and headed back home with Cricket.
How would Lu Qi know at that moment, all that was on Lin Fang’s mind was Lu Xiao Shu: her adorable frown, her sweet smile, and her every move. He suddenly thought that Lu Xiao Shu was actually quite good looking. She had an oval face, fair skin, elegant and thick eyelashes, a pair of beautiful rouge lips, and not to forget those bright smart eyes which were clear and lively. When she smiled, those eyes would look like crescent moons, making her shine so brightly and radiantly that people might not dare to look.
To be honest, she was quite good looking…
Her attitude was very charming too. She was always up to something with those endless naughty ideas of hers. With the way she talked being so interesting, no one ever felt that she was annoying. Anyone being around her would always be full of cheerful laughter.
The more Lin Fang thought about it, the more he felt that Lu Xiao Shu was unique. Back then, he thought that she was arrogant, bossy, and rude. Now, he could not help but find her cute and innocent. He even felt ashamed and annoyed at himself: Was I hit by a donkey back then? How could I think of Xiao Shu that way? She’s obviously the best!
It seemed like… liking her isn’t a bad idea at all.
Lin Fang kept thinking about it while in his carriage. A dazed look of imagination washed over him, and a small smile crept onto his face. Cricket was watching him, finding the smile peculiar and suspicious.
Cricket was getting goosebumps from watching him, so he crossed his arms to steady himself and asked tentatively, “Master? Are you… alright?”
After repeating his questions several times, Lin Fang finally responded with a “yes?” as he got out of his daze. He asked, “What do you mean am I alright? What’s gotten into you?”
Cricket let out a breath of relief as he added, “It’s not me! It’s obviously something that’s gotten into you! Master, were you thinking about something important?” He huffed in exasperation, “It’s normal for you to overthink, if it were me, I would be mad at them too! Those bastards are ridiculous! How dare they say something like that about you? You’re a respectable man while that wild girl, Lu Xiao Shu, is definitely not good enough for you! She’s—”
“Huh?” Lin Fang was actually still deep in thought and ignorant of what Cricket had to say, but when he heard Lu Xiao Shu being mentioned, he glared at Cricket, “You’re just my servant, so what do you know? Keep your mouth shut! What wild girl? Don’t you forget that you lost a bet to her and now you’re her servant too! You’re not supposed to be rude to your Master, or have you forgotten your discipline?”
Cricket froze mid-sentence as his wide eyes glanced at Lin Fang in disbelief. He said solemnly, “But… I’ve always called her that… Besides, I did everything she told me to…”
Lin Fang huffed, “Well, you’re not allowed to call her that or be rude to her anymore! You must treat her with as much respect as you treat me with. No. You should treat her with more respect. Got it?”
Cricket stared at him with wide eyes silently, unable to say anything. He thought that his master must be under a spell or he must have hit his head pretty hard!
“Did you hear me?” Lin Fang noticed how he stared dumbly at him, and chastised, “If you dare to be rude to her again, I’ll discipline you under our family laws.”
That was too scary for him and he could not help but cower in fear. He cried, “Yes, sir! I heard you!”
“Good,” Lin Fang nodded in satisfaction and turned away from him as he mumbled to himself, “Xiao Shu is such an adorable little girl, how could anyone say that about her?”
Cricket almost fell over at that. His heart skipped a bit as he thought: There’s no hope for my master now. Did he really fall for that wild girl? Doesn’t this mean that my life will be worse after this?
Meanwhile, Lu Qi took some time off and went home to express his thoughts to Lu Xiao Shu. He wanted to tell her that she’s not little anymore, that she should start behaving properly like a girl, start learning embroidery when she was free, learn how to cook and start doing chores instead of having fun all day long. The pier was full of rough and uneducated people, so she should not be spending her time there anymore. How would she be able to marry if she ruined her reputation? Would any gentleman want to marry her?
When Lu Xiao Shu heard all that, she glanced at Lu Qi from head to tail and placed her hand on his forehead as she asked, “Lu Qi, did you get a fever? What nonsense are you saying? Haha! If you’re so caring, shouldn’t you be thinking of getting yourself a wife instead? Mother keeps nagging to engage you to Zhang Luo. There’s no need for you to worry about my marriage.”
Marriage? She had never thought about that! Gosh! She was only ten!
“Damn you!” Before Lu Xiao Shu could finish, Lu Qi knocked her hand away from his forehead and snapped with a frown, “You’re a girl so if you want to talk, there’s no need to touch me! What wife? How could you speak so freely without thinking through when you’re a girl?”
Lu Xiao Shu started to feel pissed, and she replied darkly, “You’re my brother, so what’s wrong with touching you? You even piggybacked me when I was little. I’m only ten, and you’re already sick of me? Huh! I should’ve known that you hate me for not being your biological sister!”
Lu Xiao Shu had never said anything like this before. Now that she had said it, it reminded her of the time when her birth parents left her just like that. Tears welled up in her eyes as an ominous sadness washed over her without warning. She lowered her head and bit her lips to keep herself from crying.
“I, I didn’t mean that!” Lu Qi suddenly regretted his words. He hesitated but reached his hand out to hold her hands. However, Lu Xiao Shu swatted him away unceremoniously.
Annoyed with her, Lu Qi sighed, “Xiao Shu, I’ve always treated you the same way with Xiao Xue since we grew up together. Have you ever felt that I was biased when you were little?”
Lu Xiao Shu huffed, “How would I remember something that happened when I was little? How would I know if back then, you pinched my face on purpose for fun?”