Baobei thought that time passed too quickly. A week flew by like the wind.
The day before the holidays, the other three girls were packing up and preparing to return home. The homesick Jiahui was packed since a few days ago, all ready to go back to meet her lover. As for Baobei, she laid in bed like a corpse; she was unresponsive, and refused to move when the others shoved her.
“Damn, youth is really useless. Before maturing, you’ll start ageing.” The child sighed like an elderly person.
“Damn! Why are you acting up again?” Fang Jie seemed to have walked out from her breakup. She didn’t take too much time. Most women were like this - initially, they would hurt so badly that they felt as though they were going to die, but when they started to experience the joys of singlehood, they would become exceptionally youthful and cheerful. However, no one knew what they were thinking about inside. Women could sometimes be so strong that they could bear the burden of both their happiness and sadness.
“Baobei, Baobei, are you going back on Labour Day?” Shi Xiaoxi scuttled over to Baobei’s bedside. This child lived nearby, so she only needed to pack light, as though she was going home for the weekend, and could finish packing quickly.
“I am.” Baobei was dispirited.
“You’re so subdued; could it be that you can’t bear to part with my Lecturer Jiang?” Shi Xiaoxi covered her mouth and sniggered, thinking that she was very smart.
Baobei looked aimlessly at Shi Xiaoxi, “He’s going back with me.”
“Nani?  He’s going to meet your parents already?!” Fang Jie crowded over. Jiahui had just ended a call and walked in, and when she saw the other two huddled at Baobei’s position, she also joined them with a gossipy look on her face.
“I don’t want it either.” Baobei sighed, as she forced herself to sit up.
“How dare you! You’d better give my Lecturer Jiang a proper status!” Shi Xiaoxi threatened.
“You're better off dead.” Speaking of meeting the parents, Baobei was reminded of something. That day, when they were returning to school, Lecturer Jiang had already given her an ultimatum. After threatening her, he tried to coax her by patting her head as though teasing a cat, “Be good, call your parents and let them know about it first, so that they are mentally prepared. Otherwise, it won’t be nice if our family appears without any warning.”
What’s not nice! You can just not go! Of course, Baobei would never dare to blurt this out.
Furthermore, Jiang Moxiu showed a rare humane side to him. He said, before Baobei officially stepped into womanhood, she should experience her final days of youth in school. Unexpectedly, these few days, the man who unleashed his monstrosity, Lecturer Jiang, didn’t bring Baobei home to do dirty things to her.
What womanhood?! Baobei was so annoyed that she wanted to pull out Lecturer Jiang’s hair.
“I want to be ordained.”
“Please, go ahead. Then, my Lecturer Jiang will also go into monkhood. A nun and a monk, a forbidden love, how beautiful.” Shi Xiaoxi’s perverse thoughts started again.
“Go away!” She imitated Da Shao’s method of chasing Liu Shao away. Everything that Da Shao did was good.
Baobei took out her phone and checked the time. It was 12.15PM, her father’s lunchtime. Baobei had been troubled for a long time about who to call. Eventually, she decided on her father. Yup, subconsciously, she was still closer to her father. However, what this lass forgot, was that it was precisely because Xia Wenjin was close to his youngest daughter, that he later lashed out at Jiang Moxiu as though he was an enemy.
“Brother Wenjin, are you taking an afternoon nap?” When speaking to her father, this young lady didn’t hold back on her charms.
“No, I’m reading some documents. Xia Tian said that you will be flying back tomorrow afternoon? What do you feel like eating? Daddy will buy it for you tomorrow morning.” On the other end of the phone, Xia Wenjin was in an extremely good mood after hearing his daughter’s voice. His daughter didn’t particularly like talking on the phone, and it was always the parents who called her. It was truly rare that she would take the initiative and call, like she did today.
“Brother Wenjin~” The child dragged her voice with the intention of acting cute, but also sounded somewhat helpless.
“What’s wrong, little baby?” A thought struck him. “Don’t you dare tell Daddy you are not coming back. Daddy hasn’t seen you for close to three months.”
“No, no.” She hastily placated him. “Xia Tian and I will surely return home tomorrow afternoon.”
He heaved a sigh of relief. “Which flight?”
“Uhhh…” She didn’t know how to tell him. “We’re… taking a chartered flight back.”
Xia Jinwen frowned. He didn’t speak for some time, but eventually asked, “Is one of Xia Tian’s friends coming along to Shanghai too?”
“Uhhh… No… It’s my… friend…” She stammered.
“Dad, my boyfriend and his family want to meet Mom and you.” She had to face this sooner or later. This child simply garnered her courage, closed her eyes and shouted it out.
There was a prolonged silence on the other end……
“Daddy… I…” a sob escaped.
Unexpectedly, a sob also came from the other end. “Baobei~... You… are you… pregnant…”
“No, no!” She almost added, “Your daughter is still a virgin!”, but she felt too shameless to say that.
Xia Wenjin heaved a sigh of relief. “Then it’s fine. Baobei~, isn’t it just a boyfriend? You can bring a hundred back, and Daddy won’t even care. It’s right that you bring your boyfriend home to let Daddy and Mummy take a look, and if they are unreliable, you should quickly ditch them. You’re still young; you should look around more, and choose wisely. Your sister married when she was in her early twenties. Daddy doesn’t want you to get married so soon. How about thirty? You can get married after thirty. You should spend a few more years with Daddy.”
He was setting his own conditions directly.
Baobei couldn’t even speak of the word “engagement”.
That night, Jiang Moxiu brought Baobei to the Jiang family home for dinner. During the short free time before dinner, he brought the girl into the room and started teasing her.
He asked, “Have you called?”
She replied, “Yes.”
He continued, “Did you say anything about the engagement?”
She replied, “Engagement?! Damn your sister’s engagement!” 
He was silent for a moment before saying, “I don’t have a sister.”
She was furious, “Fuck!”
He was silent again before he said, “Let’s do it then.”
Her mood turned from anger to laughter, and like an inflated ball, she shrugged, “My Brother Wenjin has made it clear. My sister got married too early, so he’ll want to keep me till thirty before he’ll be willing to let me get married.”
Jiang Moxiu’s eyes immediately widened, “Thirty?”
“He might even be thinking that it’s too early.”
“Wifey! You have to take responsibility for me! When you’re thirty, I’ll be thirty seven, I…” Jiang Moxiu pulled Baobei in one big hug. He suddenly felt that his road to happiness was going further and further away. If his father-in-law was to act up, he would become the most terrifying being in the entire world.
Baobei circled her arms around Jiang Moxiu’s shoulder and brought him into her embrace to console him. At that moment, their roles were switched; the young lady was like a young master who regularly visited brothels, “Be good. Even if you’re thirty-eight, I won’t reject you.”
This was typical of Baobei - if she didn’t cause any trouble, or wasn’t disciplined by Lecturer Jiang periodically, she would be too full of herself!
When it was time for dinner, empress dowager Kong called the couple down. Even though she would sometimes act up, she grew up overseas after all, so she was still insistent on protecting others’ privacy, even if it was her sons’. She didn’t know what the two kids were doing in the room, but she made a call to them anyhow. Hence, in future, when Shi Xiaoxi said that Liang Jiangnan’s mother would occasionally barge into the room when they were inside together, and even prohibited them from closing the door sometimes, Baobei would be stupefied.
It was a rare occasion today, as Jiang Mojie was also present. Ever since this man returned to the country, he acted like a fish returning to the ocean, disappearing without a trace. Sometimes, he didn’t even go to the company, and eventually, he had to be hung upside down on a tree in the yard and lashed by Jiang Moxiu before he behaved. At that time, the old master still lamented that he wasn’t a good father. The eldest son was like the father; Moxiu’s discipline of his brother was even stricter than him, their father.
The mood at the dining table was harmonious. With her daughter-in-law seated beside her, empress dowager Kong was in a good mood. She truly felt that she could be a little more blissful, hence she turned the topic to Jiang Mojie.
“Mojie, do you have someone you like?”
“Pfft!” Jiang Mojie choked. “Mum! I’m so young, but you want me to settle down so soon?!”
“Do you think you’re still a child?!” Empress dowager Kong was unhappy with Jiang Mojie’s reply.
“Oh my dear mother, I’m just worried that if I get married too early, your grandchildren might all arrive at the same time in future, and you won’t be able to handle caring for all of them.” He quickly placated her.
“You don’t have to worry about that. Even if you bring me more than ten at once, I’ll still be able to care for all of them.” Empress dowager Kong gracefully held her soup bowl up.
A strange image started appearing in Baobei’s mind: that of the empress dowager rearing the kids. She was clad in an imperial outfit, and there was one person kneeling beside the sofa manicuring her nails, another massaging her back, and one more helping to fan her, while the nannies would stand in a row, carrying a child each. She would carry whichever grandchild she wanted depending on her mood, as though she was flipping green tablets . Or perhaps when she brought her grandchildren out, that aura would certainly be overbearing.
“What are you thinking about?” Jiang Moxiu was quietly eating, and he hadn’t heard the lass say anything for some time. When he saw her conflicted expression, he chuckled.
She pouted, then continued eating. However, she suddenly recalled something. “Oh, Brother Mojie, when you didn’t come for dinner that time, Xia Tian said that you brought your girlfriend out on a trip, didn’t you?”
Jiang Mojie’s expression darkened. Was the lass trying to cause trouble for him? It was just a casual fling, how could he bring such a person home? “I don’t have a girlfriend.”
“Really?” Baobei obviously didn’t believe him.
“I really don’t!” His expression became even more sullen.
“You could have one.” Baobei suggested honestly. She felt that since Jiang Mojie was with the girl and being so high profile about it, he could surely man up and take responsibility. This child had a smooth life, and a blissful relationship, so she was ignorant when it came to such matters.
“I really don’t!” Jiang Mojie pouted, resisting the urge to laugh. He thought about it; he was probably angered to the point of laughter.
Jiang Moxiu smiled, and came to save her brother at the right time. He patted Baobei’s head, “Hurry up and eat. It’s not good for your stomach if the food’s cold.”
When empress dowager Kong heard Baobei talk about it, she started listening with interest. Later on, when she saw how the brothers worked together to cover up the matter, she knew that it wasn’t a suitable candidate, hence she didn’t persist. However, she quickly acted.
“Oh, Mojie, why not let Mom introduce you to one? What about the youngest daughter of your Uncle Tan, Leyin? Last time, when you picked me up, didn’t you have a good time chatting?”
“Who?” Clearly, the second young master Jiang didn’t have an impression.
“How about Uncle Feng’s child, Chengcheng?”
“From The Bund?”  He was itching to be beaten.
“Weiwei from Aunty Zhao’s is not bad right?”
“Oh, turns out there are so many single ladies in the city.” He was gleeful.
“Jiang Xiaojie, are you itching for a beating?” Sure enough, the empress dowager was ticked off.
“What about that lass from the Bao family? They got along well in their childhood days. I think that lass is quite good; she’s stylish and intelligent.” The old master, who had been eating silently, suddenly spoke up. One would think that he didn’t have any interest in such gossip, but unexpectedly, he was focused on the conversation, and secretly making plans in his mind.
Baobei waited for Jiang Mojie to refute, but that guy’s expression was at a loss. Clearly, who would intentionally remember playing house a few times more than ten years’ ago? It was the adults who thought about it endlessly.
“That lass…” It was Jiang Moxiu who finally spoke up, “Our little King of Hell doesn’t deserve her.”
The old master was silent for a while, then nodded in agreement.
“Fuck!” Jiang Mojie looked as though he was about to flip the table.
“In front of your father, who are you trying to fuck with?” The old man put down his chopsticks with a frown.
Seckill! Jiang Mojie immediately lost his arrogance.
“Who?” Baobei whispered to Jiang Moxiu. He smiled, then mouthed the words, I’ll tell you later.
Empress dowager Kong saw the couple acting intimately, and her heart soared with happiness.
After dinner, the group adjourned to the living room, ate some fruits and drank some tea. The atmosphere was harmonious as the family spoke about their daily lives, mainly listening to Baobei and the empress dowager chattering happily. Jiang Mojie would occasionally make foolish comments in jest to anger his mother, while the old master and Jiang Moxiu rarely interrupted, but their smiles hung on their faces. It could be foreseen that in the next few years, the living room would be filled with young children running around. By then, the chatters and laughter of the adults, and the cries and tantrums of the children would make the place lively and blissful.
Baobei had two more classes the next morning, and she needed to go back for class. Jiang Moxiu saw that it was late, so he wanted to bring Baobei home. Empress dowager Kong surely couldn’t bear to let her leave, but it was her education, a matter of importance, hence she didn’t say much, and simply told her son to drive safely.
When they walked towards the gate, Baobei suddenly turned towards the old master who was standing right at the back, looking as though she had something to say.
“What’s the matter?” The old master held his hands together, standing upright.
Jiang Moxiu, who had already walked out, turned back again.
“You… Can you say something for me?” She felt somewhat embarrassed, and even scratched the back of her head.
“What is it?” The old master asked affectionately.
“Uhh, on TV, the line that you always told soldiers: Comrades, you’ve worked hard. Can you say it to me once?” Her face was flushed.
What a precious young girl! Empress dowager Kong almost burst out laughing, while Jiang Mojie had a perplexed expression, but he instinctively quickly whipped out his phone to record the scene. Only Jiang Moxiu walked to Baobei, then ruffled her hair as he looked at the old master.
The old master originally felt that it was awkward doing this at home, but since his son was supportive, and his daughter-in-law was so innocent and cute, he couldn’t bear to reject her. He clenched his fist and pretended to clear his throat, then looked forward, raised his hand lightly and waved at Baobei. He didn’t say it too seriously due to the awkwardness; it was somewhat of a half-hearted attempt.
“Comrades, you’ve worked hard!”
How should Baobei react at this point in time? In everyone’s mind, this child should be excitedly prancing about. However, she didn’t. The young lady wasn’t a soldier, but she harboured the dream of being one before.
She stood upright, did a salute that seemed out of place, before replying enthusiastically, “To! Serve! The! People!”
What a resounding response!
If it was in front of others, this reaction would be regarded as lunacy, but in front of old master Jiang, it seemed different. The empress dowager didn’t make a sound, neither did Jiang Moxiu. Even Jiang Mojie, who wanted to burst out laughing, couldn’t laugh at all.
The old master was stunned for a moment, then gradually gave Baobei a bright smile. He had always heard this during the ten most glorious years of his life, but now that he heard it from a little girl, he was moved in a different way. This statement was the reverberation of a Chinese citizen, the solemnness as the chief of the defence forces, and the pride of a man who used to be at the top of the country. He suddenly recalled the countless warriors who replied in unison, those eventful years, and now that he thought about them again, his pride soared, and the feeling that had disappeared from his heart for some time was stirred up by this young lady today.
“Go back early.” The old master nodded, then turned around and walked slowly back to his study, his back view looking somewhat slouched and forlorn.
The look that empress dowager Kong gave to Baobei became even more doting. If she could, she would have loved to hug this child and thank her.
Jiang Moxiu nodded at empress dowager Kong and said, “We’re leaving now.” He then held Baobei’s hand and squeezed it lightly, then the couple turned around and left.
Baobei still didn’t know what she had done; she was even somewhat bewildered. She secretly turned around and shot Jiang Mojie a look, mouthing some words.
Jiang Mojie saw it. She said, Send it to me later.
She was referring to the clip that he’d filmed.
“Look, your brother’s found a treasure.” Empress dowager Kong was even more pleased with this future daughter-in-law.
“Yup”, Jiang Mojie nodded, suddenly feeling envious of his brother.
After they left and boarded the car, Jiang Moxiu couldn’t hold back anymore. He hugged Baobei tightly, and for a long time, before he finally whispered in her ear, “Thank you”.
 Japanese for “what?!”
 The term used here was 订你妹的婚, where “your sister” is a euphemism akin to “damn it”.
 In ancient China, the emperor would flip green tablets of concubines to determine who he would be spending the night with.
 Feng Chengcheng (Fung Chingching) is a fictional female protagonist from the 1980 Hong Kong drama, The Bund.