Chapter 18 – A Red Flower in a White Head of Hair
August 19. Late Morning.
Ingot awaited death, but even after waiting for quite a long time, he didn’t died.
Gao Tianjue’s hand still gripped him tightly, the icy palm slowly seeming to grow warm, just like an iceberg floating on the north pole since ancient times that had begun to melt.
Icebergs will eventually melt, as will flesh and blood people.
“I knew you couldn’t bear to kill me,” he said. “How could you have the heart to kill someone as charming as me?”
Gao Tianjue showed no reaction.
It seemed as if he weren’t there, as if he had slipped deeply into a sweet and dark snare. It was like someone had taken distant dreams of the past and weaved them into a trap.
Ingot stroked his hand, then sighed.
“Such a good-looking hand. You should have been able to use to to do a lot of happy things for yourself and others. Why turn it into a murder weapon?” He couldn’t help but ask: “Why can’t you be like other women, and do the things women are supposed to do?”
Gao Tianjue’s hand and body suddenly became icy cold and rigid.
“How did you know I am a woman?”
“I just do,” said Ingot. “I knew a long time ago.”
Gao Tianjue suddenly flipped her hand around and grabbed his wrist. Angrily, she said, “You knew I was a woman, and you dared to treat me this way?”
She suddenly changed. Now she seemed as if she could kill at any moment. Her hand was now a murder weapon.
But Ingot didn’t look scared at all.
“It’s because I knew you were a woman that I treated you so,” he said. “Because I really have felt bad for you this entire time.”
“You feel bad for me?” Fury filled her hoarse voice. “You dare to feel bad for me?”
“Why can’t I?” he replied. “You have no family, no friends. Your life throughout these years is more painful and lonely than anyone else’s.” He sighed. “To be frank, not only do I feel bad for you, I like you.”
Gao Tianjue looked as if she had just been chopped with a sword. Her sharp fingertips had already stabbed into Ingot’s skin.
“What did you say?” she said angrily. “What did you just say?”
“I said I really like you,” said Ingot, sounding a little angry. “Don’t tell me I can’t like you? Don’t tell me you believe yourself unworthy to be liked?” The more he spoke the more angry he got. “Don’t tell me you think I’m trying to trick you by enticing you? By seducing you? If you really think that, then just kill me now, and if you don’t, then you’re a real bastard.”
Who would dare to speak in such a way to Gao Tianjue? Even Ingot knew that no one dared to.
Therefore, he closed his eyes again and awaited death.
“Congratulations? You’re congratulating me?”
Big Boss Tang couldn’t hold back from letting out a scream. Her throat seemed like it would split apart at any moment.
But Grand Miss Lei just continued on happily: “I am congratulating you.” She repeated herself again: “Congratulations, congratulations! I wish you good fortune and great rejoicing.”
“I was sitting at home minding my business, when suddenly a weird old bastard dragged me here. Then you, you ***** old granny, stripped me, rendered me half dead. And then you congratulated me?” Her voice hoarse, she asked, “What’s wrong with you?”
Her voice not the least bit angry, Grand Miss Lei said, “There’s nothing wrong with us, neither is there with you. I can guarantee your body doesn’t have anything wrong with it whatsoever.”
“I’ve always been that way.”
“So because you have nothing wrong with you, I’m congratulating you. I needed to check to see, and that’s why I had you brought here.”
“There are a lot of people in the world. Why couldn’t you go see if some of them have something wrong?”
“Because they aren’t you,” said Grand Miss Lei cleverly. “It’s because you aren’t someone else that we selected you.”
“Does me having something wrong or not have anything to do with you?”
“Of course it does.”
“Because our Young Master 9th took a liking to you, and wants to marry you,” said Grand Mistress Lei. “So of course I had to take a good close look at you. People with problems cannot marry into the Dragon Family.” 
Big Boss Tang finally understood. And yet she couldn’t help but ask a question to clarify: “Your Young Master 9th is that clown?”
“He’s not a clown, he’s an ingot,” she laughed.  “The great Ingot who everyone loves.”
Big Boss Tang’s face grew red, burning red.
“How do you know he wants to marry me?” She mustered her gumption, then asked again: “Just how do you know?”
“How could we not know?” laughed Grand Miss Lei, sounding even more happy. “We know everything you said and did last night in the bedroom.”
Big Boss Tang’s face grew even more red and hot.
How could these people know about everything she had said and done last night?
“We aren’t the type of people to stick our noses into the affairs of other. We haven’t done so for many years. But when it comes to Young Master 9th’s affairs, we had to get involved; we had no choice.”
“Because of what we owe his father.”
Big Boss Tang started to get angry again. “He’s out causing mischief and stirring up trouble, why don’t you get involved with that?”
“Those things we don’t get involved with,” said Grand Miss Lei. “Actually, his father can’t control him, so even if we wanted to, we couldn’t.” She spoke in a very straightforward manner. “As long as you don’t bully him, then he can do whatever he wants, and we won’t get involved.”
“And what if he bullies others?”
“He’s a good boy. Good and kind-hearted. Why would he bully people?” Her voice was filled with love. “Even if sometimes it seems like he’s bullying others, it’s not a big problem.” Then her voice grew hard. “But if he wants to do some bullying, so be it. We’ll just pretend we don’t know. And if he tries to, but fails, we will step in to help out.”
Big Boss Tang listened, shocked.
She didn’t understand how someone could say such preposterous things.
“As of now,” said Grand Miss Lei, “I know you have no defects, so you are qualified to marry him. Of course I should congratulate you.” Then she asked, “Now do you understand?”
“You still don’t understand?” said Grand Miss Lei, shocked. “Are you an idiot?”
“I’m not an idiot,” said Tang Lanfang. “But I’m old.”
“You’re not the least bit old.”
“I’m at least ten years older than him.”
“So?” she said, sounding both very open-minded and also very earnest. “Married couples and friends are the same. As long as they both are happy, what does a bit of difference in age have to do with anything.”
Tang Lanfang gaped.
She had never heard anyone say such things before, nor had she ever dared to think about them.
Yet now, she was forced to. Her heart started to beat, quickly.
Then she heard the voice of the old man coming from outside: “Can I come in now?”
“You dare!” cried Grand Miss Lei angrily. “If you dare to come in, I’ll dig out your eyeballs.”
He seemed to heave a sigh.
Grand Miss Lei muttered curses: “Old pervert.” As she cursed, she put Tang Lanfang’s clothes back on. Afterwards, she shouted, “Get the hell in here!”
Finally, Tan Lanfang could see the two of them clearly.
The husband, furtive and ancient, incredibly skinny and short.
The wife, even more furtive, more ancient and more skinny, and at least twice as tall as her husband.
Her age was far beyond that of “Grand Miss.” She was at least old enough to be any grand miss’s grandmother.
And yet she wore the clothes that a grand miss would wear. And what she wore was even more gaudy than any grand miss would put on.
She wore makeup on her gaunt face, and a large red flower was stuck into the white hair on her temples.
Tan Lanfang had never seen people as laughable as this. And yet she didn’t laugh.
However, the old man laughed. Looked at her and laughed.
“Do you know why my wife just said what she did?” he asked her. “Why she said that an age difference shouldn’t matter between married couples?”
He quickly answered his own question, apparently afraid his wife would forbid him from saying it: “Because she’s a dozen or so years older than me.”
Tan Lanfang felt it was all very strange.
What was strange was not what he had said, but the fact that after he said it, he didn’t receive a slap in the face.
Not only did Grand Miss Lei not seem inclined to do anything, she actually looked at her husband with a warm, meaningful glance.
“He was born in the year of the sheep,” she said, “and he always assumed I was too. That would make me twelve years older than him. Except, I was actually born in the year of the tiger, which makes me nineteen years older than him.”
“You thought I didn’t know?” said the old man with a loud laugh. “You thought you could trick me?”
“Of course I knew,” said the old man, looking immensely pleased. “I knew even before we got married.”
“Then why did you ask me to marry you?”
“Because I love you,” the old man told his wife, his eyes filled with sweet, tender affection. “Even though you’re seventeen years older than me, I still wanted to marry you.”
“When did I ever lie to you?” he said with a wink. “If I ever did, it was only because I didn’t want you to get angry.”
Grand Miss Lei chuckled, a laugh that truly sounded like a grand miss.
“Now, you’re not allowed to lie to me,” she said, her face suddenly very serious. “After you married me, did you regret it?”
“Why would I regret it?”
“Not only am I older than you, I’m fierce and rude and get jealous easily.”
“You’re fierce because you want the best for me. You get jealous because you love me, and you’re worried I’ll go after a younger woman. If you didn’t love me, I could go chase eight hundred women, get on my knees and beg you to get jealous, but you wouldn’t.”
He suddenly clasped his wife’s hand, just like a young man clasping the hand of his first love. “Let me ask you, after all these years, would you say our lives have been happy?”
Grand Miss Lei nodded her head quietly. “Every day since the day we got married has been very happy. If God could let me live them all again, I would still marry you.”
She then turned her head and looked at Tang Lanfang: “I bet you think we are sickeningly amusing.”
Tang Lanfang didn’t respond. She didn’t need to. She was sure that they could see how she felt. Right now, if anyone said they were sickeningly amusing, she would slap them across the face.
Originally, she had thought this couple to be laughable, but now she just wanted to cry.
Like a person who had been stuck in a dark room for a very long time, and then suddenly saw the bright sunny sky, green mountains and trees, red flowers and spacious land, tears streamed from her eyes.
“I’m not crying.”
“You’re obviously shedding tears.”
“Shedding tears isn’t necessarily crying,” said Tang Lanfang. “And crying isn’t necessarily shedding tears.”
“You should think an old granny like me, made up like a little girl, is quite laughable. Why are you crying instead?”
“I don’t know,” said Tang Lanfang. “I really don’t know.”
Actually, she did know, she just didn’t want to say. So the old man said it for her.
“If you believe yourself to be young, who would dare call you old?” he said to his wife. “If you believe yourself to be old, you can dress yourself up however you wish, and no one will think it laughable.” He continued: “The determining factor in being old is not one’s age, but rather one’s heart. Therefore, some people who are eighteen years old are already old, but some people who have lived to eighty are still quite young.”
Grand Miss Lei laughed, then lightly pinched Tan Lanfang’s cheek. “If I’m not old, then how can you dare to call yourself old? Come! We must go back.”
“Go back?” asked Tan Lanfang. “Go back where?”
“Back to your little clown!”
She grabbed her to leave, but Tan Lanfang, her face growing red, said, “Wait a moment.”
“Wait for what?”
“There’s something else I want to ask you.”
“Maybe he wants to marry me, but do I want to marry him?” she asked, her face scarlet. “Regardless of anything, you should at least ask me first.”
She had to muster a lot of bravery to say this. And yet, to Grand Miss Lei this question didn’t seem to even count as a question.
“Of course you want to,” she said. “Who knows how many women want to marry a talented young man like him. If they lined up, the line would stretch all the way to Kaifeng.” 
“There are really that many women who want to marry him?”
“Of course there are.”
“Then why don’t you let one of them marry him?”
“Why would I let someone else marry him?”
“Because I’m not someone else,” said Tang Lanfang, her face straight. “Other people want to, but I don’t.”
Grand Miss Lei laughed again. “I know, I know. Women are like this. With their lips they say they don’t want to, but in their hearts they 1000% want to.”
It seemed she was already completely decided on the matter, unwilling to change her mind at all. Even if Tang Lanfang said more on the subject, she wouldn’t listen.
Tan Lanfang could only go along with her.
Dealing with a person like this, what else could she do?
It was an enchanting, sunlit spring day. Flowers bloomed. Some bloomed a bit early, and some a bit late, but eventually, they all bloomed.
Flowers that bloom late are always more colorful and beautiful.
Some people’s lives are like late-blooming flowers. Just when they think that no more flowers will bear fruit in their lives, heaven will send them an unexpected surprise. Flowers will again bloom, bringing happiness.
As long as one is alive, there is hope.
Tan Lanfang’s heart beat rapidly. The closer they got to her house, the faster it beat.
What would happen after she saw Ingot? How would he treat her? How would she treat him? She still didn’t dare to think about it.
The little scoundrel had only said those things after he was drunk. Who knows how many times in the past he had said similar things to girls. Maybe he had already forgotten what he said.
But this old couple took what he said seriously, as if he had formally proposed to her according to the three letters and six etiquettes.  It seemed they were ready to send them to the nuptial chamber. When she thought of that, her heart beat even faster.
She liked Ingot, really liked him. But not enough to marry him instantly.
She had never even thought of marrying someone.
But if Ingot, in all seriousness, admitted to what he had said, she might not be that angry.
—How could a thirty-four year old woman suddenly start acting like a little girl?
She really wanted to give herself two strong slaps across the face.
What about Ingot? Had he woken up to find her gone? Was he worried about her?
The old man had been looking at her this whole time, laughing to himself, as if he could see into her heart. He suddenly said, “Don’t worry, he won’t run off. Even if someone tried to beat him away with a broom, he wouldn’t leave. I know that he loves you, and he’ll wait for you to come back.”
Tang Lanfang ignored him.
The old man continued to mess with her. Deliberately, he asked, “You know who the ‘he’ I’m talking about is, don’t you?”
Deliberately, she responded, “No, I don’t.”
“You really don’t know?”
“Well then I’ll just have to tell you,” he said with a wink. “I’m talking about that clown, your future husband.”
Tan Lanfang’s face grew red, and the old man clapped his hands, laughing. He laughed so hard it seemed as if his one remaining tooth might fall out.
Grand Miss Lei also looked quite happy. Even the big red flower in her white hair seemed to be laughing happily. Tang Lanfang wanted to be angry, but just couldn’t make herself.
When life is so wonderful, what reason would they have to be upset? What justification to be angry?
And so they were happy. Because they had no idea what had happened to Ingot.
Even if someone told them, they probably wouldn’t believe it.
What had happened to Ingot, even he himself could scarcely believe.
** And finally here is the connection to 7 Killers!!! Remember Dragon 5th of the Dragon Family? As of now, we know that Ingot is Dragon 9th, assumably Dragon 5th’s brother.
 A bit of wordplay here. If you take the first character of the word ingot and change it to another character, it makes the word for a clown or a funny person.
 Kaifeng is a city in Henan province. http://tinyurl.com/l87yg3m
 Ancient China had some pretty complicated wedding customs. http://tinyurl.com/oa2vxwb