Lin Miao was a bit uneasy. The doctor spoke softly to her, “The Young Master’s health isn’t good, don’t let him catch the wind outside, okay?”

“Then can we walk around in the room instead?” Lin Miao asked quietly.

“You can do that, but be careful, you won’t be able to take the responsibility if he falls.”

Lin Miao nodded. She let out a breath of relief after exiting the room. He didn’t hit her, it’s all fine.

In the past, her teacher would whip her palm every time she called Lin Miao to the office. She would even tell her to hit herself with the pointer stick. It made her terrified to be called aside to talk with an adult.

The Young Master was sleeping, so Lin Miao read alone in her room, a bit tense. At the village, she had her mom and brother, picked firewood and mushrooms, and had buddies. She wasn’t used to being alone.

So, she surreptitiously sneaked into the Young Master’s room with her literacy textbook and a pencil.

He was still sleeping.

Lin Maio sat on the ground, reading and studying characters while waiting for the Young Master to wake up.

Lin Miao didn’t touch her books much so she started from the first lesson: Our National Elementary School. The teacher covered all this already.

She didn’t want to study at all, but she promised her mom that she would study, so she followed through.

Lin Miao mouthed the new characters and then copied them down.

Some of the characters on her textbook had pinyin, but most didn’t.

Lin Miao didn’t recognize many of the characters. She then recalled that she forgot to bring the dictionary her mom bought for her here.

“What are you doing? Cough cough cough...” A voice said above her.

Lin Miao raised her head and saw the Young Master, who was now awake. Lin Miao was a bit embarrassed, “I’m studying.”

The Young Master also saw the vocabulary characters and pinyin in her book. He held back his laugh and said, “Come here.”

Lin Miao came to him. The Young Master took her textbook. “You’re in third grade? Nice.”

Lin Miao nodded. She thought that he was always sick and probably never went to school, so, Lin Miao said modestly, “No, I don’t know a lot, I’m not suited for studying.”

But the Young Master turned all serious and looked at the text. “Are the underlined characters the ones you can’t pronounce?”

Lin Miao nodded embarrassingly.

“Come a bit closer.” The Young Master said

Lin Miao got right in front of him, the Young Master held her pencil with his pretty hand, and pointed to an underlined word, “This word is pronounced róng.”

Lin Miao followed, “róng (绒).”

“Read this sentence.” The Young Master pointed to the entire sentence with her battered pencil.

“From… roads… blooming with… powder puff flowers and sunflowers, there came… many students.” Lin Miao stuttered.

The Young Master pointed at the “róng (绒)” again.

Lin Miao accurately pronounced it.

The Young Master said, “Write the pinyin on there so you won’t forget it in the future.”

Lin Miao’s face reddened as took the pencil from the Young Master, but she only managed to write an “r”.

The Young Master saw that her face flushed red, took the pencil, and added an “ong” behind the bit wonky “r”.

The Young Master’s letters were beautiful, contrasting boldly with the “r” in front.

Lin Miao’s face turned even redder, she regretted not practicing her penmanship.

The Young Master took back the pen and pointed at the pinyin, “r-ong, róng (绒).”

Lin Miao hurriedly followed.

Then they proceeded to the next underlined word.

With one teaching and one learning, the two quickly figured the text out.

Lin Miao started to read to the Young Master, her voice was full of vigor and came with rises and pauses. It was uplifting and placed listeners in a good mood.

Lin Miao realized for the first time that reading and studying could be an enjoyable thing.

In the evening, Grandma returned. The Young Master went back to his room after eating dinner with Grandma.

Lin Miao knew that the Young Master was going to sleep again.

Because her mom said that it was detrimental to sleep directly after meals, she also thought this way.

So, Lin Miao slipped in again, and of course, the Young Master was lying on his bed.

Lin Miao went to him but realized that she still didn’t know what to call him.

The housekeeper and doctor called him “Young Master”, but she didn’t want to call him this.

His mother and Grandma called him “Little Yu”.

They told her to call him “Gege”. Lin Miao wasn’t very competitive, she only argued with her younger brother over this to entertain him.

(Note: “Gege” is pinyin for “older brother” in Chinese)

So, Lin Miao thought for a second, and called quietly, “Gege, sleep a bit later, okay?”

Lin Miao’s voice was soft to start with, after lowering it, it was even softer.

The Young Master paused a bit, then turned his head. He saw her looking at him with her bright eyes and heard her say with anticipation, “Gege, Gege, let's go see the stars. The sun was giant today, there will definitely be a lot of stars.”

The Young Master really wanted to say that he didn’t want to get up, but he was still pulled up by Lin Miao.

The roots of the Young Master’s ear were flaming red; he didn’t say anything.

Lin Miao thought that “Gege” sounded euphonious. She doesn’t have an older brother, so she never called someone that.

The doctor said that they were fine as long as the Young Master didn’t catch the wind. So, Lin Miao led the Young Master to the windowsill and noticed that there was a myriad of twinkling lights outside but not even half of a star.

Lin Miao wasn’t in dismay, she just realized that it was very pretty outside older brother’s window.

She had never seen such a stunning evening.

The Young Master originally thought that she was disappointed because there weren’t any stars in the sky, but then he heard her say, “It’s so beautiful here.”

The Young Master noticed that Shui Shui was completely different in front of him compared to when she was in front of everyone else. During dinner, she was very careful and didn’t talk much. But, in front of him, she was the type that could go on endlessly and talked about anything available.

Lin Miao continued to talk, “Gege, lemme tell you a story.”

Back at the village, she and her brother would enjoy the cool shade under the pear tree in their backyard during summer nights. Lin Miao would tell stories to her younger brother under the starry night.

The Young Master was curious about what she was going to tell, “Sure, go ahead.”

“On a rainy evening...” After the first sentence, Lin Miao remembered the story that followed: it was about a child-eating witch being electrocuted to death. She stopped, it was a horror story that one of her friends had told her, it was unfit to tell the Young Master this. She was worried about scaring him.

Then, it came to her mind that all her stories, which her friends told her, were used by the adults in the village to scare children. They weren’t appropriate to be told to the Young Master, what if it scares him?

So, she said embarrassingly, “I forgot what followed.”

The Young Master believed her. After all, he had witnessed that her memory wasn’t so sharp during the day.

“Then tell me something about your school.” The Young Master said.


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