Wine Shop Incident, part 3

Lin Pingzhi watched as the girl walked away. She had a slim figure, but her skin was dark and rough. Pox marks covered her face, which made it appear very ugly. Lin Pingzhi thought that the reason she was so rigid was probably because she had only started waiting on tables not too long ago, so he paid no more attention to her. 

     Escort Shi brought out a pheasant and a yellow rabbit, and handed them to old man Sa. “Clean them up and cook them well,” he ordered. 

     “Yes, sir! Right away! Would you like some jerky and peanuts to go with the wine, sirs?” old man Sa asked. 

Wan’er placed some beef jerky and peanuts on the table, not waiting for old man Sa’s order. 

     “Our Young Mister Lin here is the Young Master of the Fortune Prestige Escort House. He always aids the needy and assists the weak. Money, to him, is like dirt. If you cook the two dishes well and make his stomach happy, you can easily make back that thirty taels investment you spent in a matter of months,” Escort Zheng introduced. 

     “Oh, yes, yes! Many thanks!!” old man Sa answered cheerfully as he picked up the pheasant and the rabbit and went into the kitchen. 

Escort Zheng poured the wine into all three cups. Raising his own cup, he poured it all down his throat, then after smacking his lips a few times, he said contentedly, “The owner has changed, but fortunately the wine is still the same.” 

He poured himself another cup and was just about to drink it, when suddenly, the drum of hoof beats rose from a distance and then came to an abrupt stop outside the shop. Two horsemen had ridden in from the north. Traveling at a blazing speed, they had arrived at the small shop in no time at all. 

     “Hey, it’s a wine shop. Let’s go in for a couple of drinks,” one of the riders shouted. 

Escort Shi recognized that the speaker had a distinct accent of western Sichuan. He turned around and spotted two men in purple robes. They tied the reins of their horses to the big banyan tree outside the shop and walked in. Giving the escorts a casual glance, they made a big display of sitting down. Both had a strip of white cloth wrapped around their foreheads. At first glance, with their purple robes, they seemed to be fairly cultured people, but since both had bare legs showing in the open and bare feet in hemp shoes, they were unlikely to be so. Escort Shi knew that most people from Sichuan dressed in this manner. The strips of white cloths on their foreheads were worn in mourning for the death of Marquis Zhuge Liang. The Marquis did so many great things for the people of Sichuan and was so well respected that even a thousand years after his death, people still wore white mourning cloths on their foreheads in his memory. Lin Pingzhi had never seen people dressed like this before.

      “Their dress looks neither civilian nor martial. It’s very strange indeed,” he thought to himself. 

     “Wine, get me some wine! So many damn mountains here. Our horses are really tired out!” the younger of the two yelled out. 

     “What can I get for you?” Wan’er walked to their table and asked. 

She looked down at the floor while asking the question, so that the two could not see her face. Her voice was low, but sounded very clear and pleasant. The younger man was dazed for a second. Unexpectedly, his right hand shot out and raised Wan’er’s chin.

Brother Yu and his friend were teasing Wan'er
Brother Yu and his friend were teasing Wan'er

     “What a pity!” He snickered. 

Wan’er gasped and quickly drew herself back. The younger man’s companion burst into laughter. 

     “Brother Yu, this chick has a nice body, but as for her face, look how pockmarked it is!! Just like the inside of a pomegranate!” The younger man laughed even louder. 

Lin Pingzhi’s anger flared. He slapped the table hard and shouted, “What kind of creatures are you, you two blind scoundrels? How dare you to come to Fuzhou and behave so ill-manneredly?” 

     “Hey, Jia Junior, somebody seems really upset. Who do you think this sissy is referring to?” the younger fellow, Yu Renyan, said with a smirk. 

Lin Pingzhi was fair of face, and looked much like his mother. Even under normal circumstances, he would have slapped someone just for staring at him. Hearing the word sissy, his temper flared. He grabbed a tin kettle from the table and hurled it at the two men. Yu shifted back slightly; the kettle missed him and sailed out the door, landing on the meadow outside. Wine from the kettle splashed everywhere. Escorts Shi and Zheng sprang up immediately and rushed up to the two men. (To be continued)

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