Yu Chang Guo pressed his lips into a tight line, grumbling to himself while his mother dragged him out of the house by the scruff of his neck. He really would have liked to get away but his father had already given him a hard look before and his mother didn’t want to relent at all. If he didn’t do as he was told, they would definitely punish him.
Still. He felt that this wasn’t fair at all. Who wanted to see the people that would be moving here? He didn’t care. He didn’t care at all! So what if they had a child his age? He already had friends. He didn’t need a new one! He was perfectly happy without them and he hoped they wouldn’t arrive at all. Hmph.
His mother didn’t care about his muttering and continued to drag him out. She only glanced at the two shallow lines on the ground from Chang Guo’s feet. She furrowed her brows in annoyance but kept quiet.
Finally, the two of them reached the entrance of the courtyard. Mister Yu was already standing there with his back held straight and his jaw locked from tension. His wife gently put a hand on his arm and gave him a smile before she pushed the child in-between them, hoping that he would behave better when next to his father.
Yu Chang Guo grimaced but did indeed not dare to act out. Thus the family of three continued to look out for the carriage of their new neighbors. It didn’t take long until the rumbling of old wooden wheels could be heard. Soon, a carriage came into view, drawn by a horse that looked a if it had seen better days, with the frame’s wood chipped in several places and an old, grayed-out curtain fluttering in the wind.
Thinking of what had happened before, Madam Yu leaned down to her son and lowered her voice. “You better be nice when they arrived. Your father said they had a high status when they were still living in the city. They might have fallen on hard times now but who knows how that will be in the future? It could be that they’ll get their status back. When that happens, it would be very beneficial to our family if we had treated them well when they were down. They might lift us up as well. That’s a chance for all of us that we can’t pass up.”
Yu Chang Guo continued to grumble. He didn’t care about that either. He knew that having a good status was something to be jealous of but since these people had lost theirs, there was no need to do anything. And anyway, he liked to live here. He didn’t even want to go to some city. Wasn’t the countryside much more interesting?
Mister Yu gave his son a warning glance as well, making him finally shut up. He still didn’t look happy though. Hmph, he’d just wait for these people to arrive and then he’d show them when his father wasn’t looking!
The carriage halted in front of the courtyard next door and a servant jumped down from the front, pulling the curtain aside to let the family get out. The first person to alight was a middle-aged man with a few gray hairs that made it seem as if he had aged prematurely. After him followed a well-maintained lady in a dress that didn’t show at all that this family had fallen on hard times. She even still wore jewelry as if she didn’t have a care in the world.
Yu Chang Guo harrumphed. So that was what people looked like when they fell on hard times. He had never seen his mother wear something like this. What kind of times were they in then? Rough times? Huh! How come he had never noticed?
Anyway, that dress didn’t look practical at all. If the child was dressed like that too, then they wouldn’t be able to play together even if his parents tried t force him to. So what had his mother dragged him out here for? He should have stayed inside or gone to play with the others.
Even though he was completely against meeting this child, Yu Chang Guo still fixed his gaze on the carriage and craned his neck to get a good look at that child. Unfortunately, nothing could be seen of him. The rumored child didn’t get off the carriage at all.
Yu Chang Guo harrumphed again. What was it with this child? If he didn’t want to be friends, then he wouldn’t extend an olive branch to him! Who wanted to have a friend that was all stuck up? He certainly not!
In front of the other courtyard, the woman turned around and motioned for the child to follow her. “Xiao Bai, you should come out now. This is where we’ll be living from now on. You can’t always stay in the carriage, can you?”
A quiet response came from inside and finally a small boy peeked out his head, looking around in all directions. When he saw Yu Chang Guo and his parents, he held onto the door of the carriage and ducked half back inside.
Yu Chang Guo furrowed his brows. He hadn’t even been able to take a good look at the boy. Why was he already trying to get back inside?! It couldn’t be that he thought he was looking hideous, could it? He wasn’t hideous at all!
Yu Chang Guo furrowed his brows in indignation. He’d show this guy! He slipped out of his mother’s grasp and ran over, standing in front of the door of the carriage and peering inside. Unfortunately, it was dark inside so he couldn’t see anything but an indistinct figure. “You come out here!”
The other boy shrank back even more, not daring to move a single muscle. He really wanted to go back to the capital! People had never been like this to him over there.
Yu Chang Guo stomped his feet and crawled into the carriage himself. He unceremoniously grabbed onto the boy and dragged him out, not listening to the weak protest behind him at all.
When he turned back to scold the boy for not only being slow and whiny but also for being so disrespectful, he froze as soon as he saw him. This was … His cheeks flushed bright red when he took a closer look. At first, he had almost thought that the other boy was actually a little girl. But he really was a boy, just that he was a head shorter than him, with big limpid eyes and really pale skin. His lips were rosy in his eyelashes long. He really didn’t look like a boy!
Yu Chang Guo’s mother cursed and ran over, hurriedly bowing to the Mo couple. “I’m sorry! Our Xiao Chang was all excited that he would be getting a new friend today. I hope he didn’t offend you or your son.”
The couple looked at their son that was trembling in fright but felt that they couldn’t make a fuss just after arriving. Who knew how long they would need to get along with these people? After all, they had no idea when they would be allowed to the capital city or if ever. It was better to be cautious and establish a good relationship in the beginning.
Madam Mo cleared her throat and shook her head. “Ah, don’t be like that. They are both young boys. I’m sure they’ll get along very well.” She motioned at her son and gave a strained smile. “This is our son, Xiao Bai. He’s a little timid so he probably didn’t dare to come out just now. That really wasn’t good manners. I hope you won’t mind.”
Madam Yu waved her hands. “Ah, of course not, of course not. It’s better for children to be a bit more careful. Xiao Chang often makes trouble because he is too outgoing. I really hope he can learn from your son in the future and become a little more reserved.”
While the two women were exchanging pleasantries, Yu Chang Guo had at least listened in long enough to catch the boy’s name. When he did, he beamed at him. “You’re called Xiao Bai? Is it because your skin is so pale?” He pointed at the other boy’s nose, only making him shrink back in fear.
Mister Mo’s expression grew complicated at these words and he couldn’t help but look from his own son to Yu Chang Guo who was a head taller and well-built even for his age. He couldn’t help but feel that his own son was rather lacking in comparison.
Thinking of it that way, maybe it wasn’t only bad to come to the countryside. Naturally, he would do everything he could to regain their status but if his son could become more daring in the time that took, he would actually gain something. After all, when he entered the court after he grew up, he couldn’t be as timid as a mouse anymore or those officials would eat him raw.
At that moment, Mister Yu also hurried over with cold sweat on his forehead. They had warned Chang Guo so often over the past days but he still had to go and make trouble! He could only hope they hadn’t offended these people yet. Thus he earnestly greeted Mister Mo and also apologized for his son’s behavior, almost making the scene his wife and Madam Mo had acted out repeat again.
Meanwhile, Yu Chang Guo didn’t care about what his parents did or how his actions would affect them. Hadn’t they said that he should become friends with this boy? Well, now that he had seen him, he felt that he wasn’t as insufferable. Actually, he was pretty cute. He might as well lower himself and disregard that this was an outsider and make him become a person like them.
With that thought, he grabbed Mo Bai’s hand and pulled him along. “Come on. I’ll show you my favorite places.” He didn’t wait for an answer and just ran forward, dragging the other child with him.
He didn’t know what it was but he felt that this new friend wasn’t too bad. If he could stay here forever and his family didn’t regain their status, it would actually be very good. Mn, that would really be for the best. He should tell him about that idea sometime. For now, there were more important things though.
He turned back to look at Mo Bai and gave him a brilliant smile. “You can be my best friend from now on. Originally, Ah Ming was my best friend but I think he won’t mind if you take his place for a while.”
Mo Bai looked at him with big eyes and didn’t know what to say. In the end, he just nodded his head and continued to hold that warm hand. He felt that this boy was a little ferocious but at the very least, he seemed to be nice. Staying here might not be as bad as he had thought after all.