The Young Master Lived Begging, part 1

He considered washing the clothing before putting it on, but then decided against it. If he should miss an opportunity to save his parents simply because of his concern over the cleanliness of clothes, he would surely regret it for the rest of his life. He clenched his teeth, undressed himself, then changed into the dead person’s clothes. 

Lighting a torch, he looked around, and soon discovered his father’s sword and his mother’s golden saber lying in a corner. He picked up his father’s sword and wrapped it in a rag, tied it to his back, and then walked outside. The croaking of the frogs in the canyon sounded in the distance through the otherwise silent night. Lin Pingzhi suddenly felt overwhelmed with desolation and almost cried out. He threw the torch as hard as he could; the flame formed a beautiful red arc in the night sky before being extinguished in the pond. Instantly, darkness engulfed him once again. 

Lin Pingzhi changed his clothe intos the dead person’s clothes
Lin Pingzhi changed his clothe intos the dead person’s clothes

  “Lin Pingzhi, Lin Pingzhi! If you can’t be cautious and alert, and let yourself fall back into the hands of those Qingcheng villains, then you will be snuffed out, just like that torch falling into that filthy pond,” Lin Pingzhi admonished himself. 

Raising his arm, he wiped the corners of his eyes with a sleeve. When the sleeve neared his face, the odor reeked so badly that he almost vomited. But he firmly said aloud to himself, “If you can’t even withstand this foul odor, you are not a true man!” 

He started walking, but before long, his hips began hurting again. He clenched his teeth and increased his pace. However, not knowing which way his parents had been taken, he wandered randomly through different paths in the mountains. He walked till dawn, when rays of sunshine bathed his face, making it difficult to see things clearly. 

Suddenly, a thought struck him, “Those two villains are going to Mount Qingcheng. Szechwan Province is to the west of Fujian. Why am I going east?” He hurriedly turned around and began to walk with his back to the sun. 

   “Mother and Father have been gone for more than a half day,” he thought, “and I was walking the opposite direction for half a night; I must be far away from them by now. I’d better buy a horse. I wonder how much money I will need.” 

He examined his pocket and then groaned. When they started the trip, all the gold and jewelry were put into a leather saddlebag. Lin Zhennan and Madam Wang both had silver on their persons, but not Lin Pingzhi; he did not have even a single tael. He stamped his foot in frustration. “What should I do? What should I do?” He stared blankly at the sky for a while and then decided, “I must go rescue my parents. I am sure I’ll find some way somehow, and not starve.” 

He began walking toward the foot of the mountain. When it was about noon, his stomach began to growl loudly. Some green fruits on a tree by the side of the road caught his eye. They were not ripe yet, but at least they would assuage his hunger. He went up to the tree to pick some fruits, but then realized that the fruits belonged to someone else. Taking them without permission was really no different from stealing. For three generations, the Lin family had protected goods from being robbed or stolen by bandits. How could he do something that only common thieves do? If somebody saw him, and called him a thief in front of his father, it would have brought great shame to his father! The honor of the Fortune Prestige Escort House would be disgraced forever. 

He had learned when he was still a little boy that all infamous criminals started out as small thieves, and that small thieves usually began by stealing only small things, like a squash or fruit. Then they would start to steal more and more, finally losing all self-control, and never able to stop. At that thought, he broke out in a cold sweat. 

   “One day, Father and I will restore the fame of the Fortune Prestige Escort House! I must always do what a true man does. I would rather beg than steal from others,” he vowed. 

He continued on his trip in a hurry, and gave no more thought to the fruit trees by the road. A couple of miles later, he arrived at a small village. He walked to a shack and started begging for food in a halting voice. He was used to being waited upon for everything all his life, and had never before needed to beg for anything from other people. After uttering only a couple of words his face had already turned red with shame. 

The farmer’s wife in the shack had just received a severe beating from her husband and was still in a foul mood. When she saw that Lin Pingzhi was just a mere beggar, she immediately released a torrent of abuse at him. 

   “You little thief, what are you doing sneaking around! I just lost a hen. You probably stole it, and now you want more? Even if I had some food, I wouldn’t give it to a thief like you. You stole my hen, and made my wretch of a husband so angry that he beat me all black and blue!” she yelled, waving a broom. 

Every time the woman spat out a curse, Lin Pingzhi stepped back a little. The woman became so excited that she swung her broom at Lin Pingzhi’s face. Lin Pingzhi was furious. He moved to the side to dodge the broom, and then shot a strike at the woman with his palm. (To be continued)

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