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unsheathed – Chapter 86 (2): Walking the Same Path

Chapter 86 (2): Walking the Same Path

Chapter 86 (2): Walking the Same Path

Li Baoping was sitting by the creek, sweating profusely, and she noticed Chen Ping'an suddenly taking off his straw sandals before rolling up the legs of his pants before wading into the water. Due to the fact that the stream was quite wide here, the water had become a lot more shallow, only reaching up to his knees, and there were many little green fish around the same length as a human hand swimming through the water in a nimble fashion.

Ever since the first time Li Baoping waded into the creek, she had dreamed of being able to catch fish someday, but these fish were far more cunning than crabs and prawns, and they were far too difficult for her to catch.

In the past, she had learned from others, cutting down a bamboo tree in secret to make a fishing rod, but for some reason, even though she was using the exact same rig consisting of a rod, line, and worms for bait, she was never able to fish up anything from the creek. She would often hide under the shade of the trees on the bank of the creek and fish for entire afternoons, but for no return at all.

During the same periods of time, other people would've already had many foxtail weeds laden with strung-up fish, or had fish overflowing from their baskets, upon which they would joyfully return to show their parents their spoils, yet Li Baoping would remain completely without luck.

In contrast, Chen Ping'an seemed to be able to do everything, from traversing the mountains and creeks, to burning charcoal, picking medicinal herbs, and catching fish and snakes, there was hardly anything that he couldn't do. Hence, she held a great deal of admiration for him, but she had only ever revealed this secret to Shi Chunjia before.

This time, Li Baoping saw Chen Ping'an select a spot near the shore, where there was a large rock that many of the fish liked to hide under. After that, he began to construct a dam of sorts slightly upstream, and the dam was roughly as long as Li Baopings height.

The dam was entirely constructed from rocks of different sizes that Chen Ping'an had sourced from near the creek, and there was still water flowing downstream through the gaps in the dam, but Chen Ping'an was in no hurry to block those gaps with smaller rocks or sand. Instead, he constructed two more dams, one horizontal and one vertical, and the final product resembled a miniature moat.

Li Baoping made her way over to the bank of the creek near Chen Ping'an, then squatted down, watching intently as Chen Ping'an began to fill the gaps. His movements were lightning-fast and teeming with a sense of artistry. At the same time, she noticed that while working on the dams, Chen Ping'an's expression was extremely calm and focused, and he was fully immersed in the task, allowing no distractions to divert his attention.

This was the same type of single-minded focus that Li Baoping had seen in Mr. Qi the first time that she saw him write, and for some reason, it was a very cathartic sight to behold.

After the dam up above was filled to the point that it was virtually watertight, Chen Ping'an did the same to the dam off to the side. The dam that was downstream was only there to prevent fish from getting away, so it wasn't filled to be as watertight as the other two dams. Hence, the water level in the makeshift pond was gradually falling.

Li Baoping's delicate features were glowing with elation as she clenched her fists tightly while praying in her heart, and even though she was resting on the shore, she was even more tense and anxious than Chen Ping'an.

Chen Ping'an made his way into the pond, then began to scoop water out of it with his hands.

"Chen Ping'an, what you're doing right now is exactly what's described by the idiom 'draining a pond to catch fish'," Li Baoping remarked. "Wait, that's an idiom with negative connotations. I should be describing this as 'pulling the rug out' instead!"

Chen Ping'an smiled as he casually asked, "I often see you fishing by the creek. What's the biggest fish you've caught?"

Li Baoping heaved a forlorn sigh. "The fish are too smart. All I can do is use a foxtail weed to goad crabs out of their holes. Fishing is too hard."

Chen Ping'an was quite amused to hear this, and he asked, "Did you make your fishing rod yourself?"

Li Baoping nodded vigorously in response. "I did. There's a bamboo forest in a corner of your backyard, and apparently, it was planted by my great-great-grandfather, so my father was very protective of it. When I told him that I was going to make a fishing rod, he refused. In the end, I had to go to great lengths just to cut one down in secret before grinding it down bit by bit with a pair of scissors. I was exhausted by the end!"

The water in the pond was becoming murkier and murkier, and there were already fish beginning to escape, splashing water everywhere. Chen Ping'an was already accustomed to this, and he smiled as he asked, "Bamboo isn't that thin to begin with, did you remove the tip as well?"

Li Baoping was rather befuddled to hear this, and she replied, "I did. I was afraid that if the fishing rod was too thin, it would snap if I hooked onto a big fish. If I have to cut down another bamboo tree to make a second fishing rod, even if I don't get beaten by my father, just the thought of having to grind it down with those scissors again is enough to give me a headache."

An amused look appeared on Chen Ping'an's face as he said, "Who uses a bamboo stick for fishing? None of the fish in our creek are all that large, so if you have too thick a fishing rod, you won't be able to detect whether a fish has been hooked, or if it's just nibbling at the bait.

The first few times they strike, they'll never chomp fully down onto the bait. They're not stupid, if you swing your rod up too early, then there's no way you'll be able to hook them. A fishing rod has to be of moderate thickness, and there are all types of factors that you have to consider, including the season, the weather, the location, the hook, and the bait."

Li Baoping was completely bewildered by what she was hearing, and her mouth was gaped wide open. At the same time, she was feeling a little embarrassed as there was something else that she had refrained from telling Chen Ping'an, which was that the hook she had attached to the end of her line was one that she had made by bending a sewing needle. Thinking back now, it was probably so large that the fish couldn't even swallow it if they tried.

She could only console herself internally, telling herself that her ignorance was justifiable given her tender age.

Chen Ping'an could see that she was feeling a little dejected, so he could only offer her some words of consolation. "I feel like it's even more impressive that you weren't able to catch a single fish even after all these years."

Li Baoping's eyes immediately lit up upon hearing this, and it was as if a knot in her heart had suddenly been untied, leaving her feeling elated and reinvigorated.

"Why are we catching fish?" she asked with a curious expression. "We still have so much to eat."Tp vl updates on n/(o)/v/lb/in(.)com

Chen Ping'an explained, "There's an expression that states that even a mountain of food can eventually be exhausted if it's never replenished. If that applies even to a mountain of food, then how can we possibly expect our two little baskets of food to last if we're not careful and conservative? We still have a very long way to go, so we need to conserve food as much as possible."

Li Baoping nodded in agreement to this sentiment, following which an eager look appeared on her face as she said, "As the saying goes: give someone a fish, and you'll feed them for a day, but teach them to fish, and you'll feed them for a lifetime, so you can teach me how to making fishing rods and catch fish in the future."

"Catch!"

Chen Ping'an casually caught a red and green fish, then tossed it at Li Baoping, watching with amusement as she juggled it in a panic. He then said, "You're still too young, so just do what you can. There's no need to try and compete with me in everything, my job is to ensure that you arrive safely at Mountain Cliff Academy so you can receive an education."

After a mighty struggle, Li Baoping finally caught the fish securely in her hands, and she said in a justified manner, "That's incorrect! Mr. Qi told us that an accomplished scholar needs to not only read countless books, but also travel extensively. There are only five books in my basket, so I need to go to the academy to read the rest, but traveling is something that I also need to do as a scholar.

There's an idiom that states that one needs to learn while traveling, which means that I need to carry my bookcase while traveling this vast world, and learning from books and learning from practical experience are both indispensable parts of a complete education. If I'm missing either of those two elements, then my education would be incomplete."

"There are a lot of foxtail weeds around you, you can pass them through the fish's gills if you want to string them together. If you're afraid of the weed snapping, then you can use two or three at once."

While teaching Li Baoping how to string together the fish, he asked, "Does learning while traveling refer to carrying a bookcase around? The type that Chen Songfeng from Dragon Tail County was carrying? That one was woven from bamboo, and it looked really nice. If we pass by a bamboo forest during our trip, I can make one for you.

I'll be needing a fishing rod anyway. If we're going to be traveling along the creek, then we'll have to derive our sustenance from the water, and if we go further from here, the water will become deeper, so we won't be able to catch fish using this method anymore."

Li Baoping was squatting on the shore, stringing together the fish tossed at her one by one, and as soon as she heard this, she was so elated that she immediately jumped up as she exclaimed, "Really?!"

Chen Ping'an smiled as he confirmed, "Why would I lie to you? Hey, be careful! Quit jumping around or you're going to fall into the creek with the fish! The fish aren't going to be able to get away, but what if you catch a cold?"

Li Baoping did as she was told, squatting back down as she said with a radiant smile, "I'm so happy! I'm finally going to have my very own bookcase!"

Chen Ping'an was crouched down in the makeshift pond, where the water level was so low that the creekbed was almost visible, and his head was pressed tightly against the rock as he reached under it to grab fish.

"This kind of fish can be eaten raw after it's dried under the sun. If you feel like it's dirty, I can remove the internal organs for you. Personally, I used to just eat this type of fish whole."

After some internal conflict, Li Baoping said in a timid voice, "Can you remove the internal organs for me?"

Chen Ping'an pulled out another fish from under the rock, then tossed it onto the grassy bank as he replied, "It's up to you. I'll take care of it."

"No, I can do it," Li Baoping hurriedly said.

At this point, she was already holding three strings of fish.

Chen Ping'an nodded in response, then continued to grab more fish from under the rock.

Moments later, a loud splash suddenly rang out, and Li Baoping was bawling her eyes out as she stood in the water.

Chen Ping'an hurriedly stood up and rushed over to her, then asked with an anxious expression, "What's wrong?"

Li Baoping was absolutely distraught as she bawled, "There was a fish that looked like it was about to die, so I pulled it off from the foxtail weed, but as soon as I placed it in the water, it swam away! I couldn't catch it..."

Chen Ping'an was very amused to hear this, and he bent down to roll up the soaked legs of her pants, then gently cradled her onto the bank before telling her to take off her shoes and leave the fish to him.

Li Baoping did as she was told, obediently taking off her shoes, but she still felt like she had done something terrible, and it was as if the sky were about to collapse on her.

Meanwhile, Chen Ping'an began to process the fish in a well-rehearsed manner, slicing open their bellies before removing their innards. At the same time, he was trying his best not to laugh as he didn't want to throw salt onto Li Baoping's wounds.

Finally, he turned to Li Baoping, then gently raised the three strings of fish with their innards removed.

It was a huge haul, and a smile broke through Li Baoping's sobs. Despite the tear streaks all over her face, she was elated as she exclaimed, "We still have so many left, even though one of them got away!"

Chen Ping'an made his way over to her side before taking a seat, then handed her the three strings of fish as he patted her on the head. "That's right, so you don't have to be so sad if something like this happens again."

Li Baoping raised the three strings of fish so that they were level with her eyes, and she replied in a joyful voice, "Alright!"

"I can weave a few pairs of straw sandals for you at some point. I guarantee you they won't give you blisters," Chen Ping'an offered.

Li Baoping's eyes were glowing as she asked, "Really?"

Chen Ping'an leaned down to wring out the water that had soaked into the legs of her pants as he replied, "It's really simple."

"You know how to do everything, while I don't know how to do anything," Li Baoping sighed.

Chen Ping'an smiled as he said, "You can teach me to read and write. I don't know that many characters right now, only around 500."

Li Baoping immediately nodded in response. "You can count on me!"

The two of them sat side by side, watching the slow-moving water in the creek, and Li Baoping suddenly asked, "Do you know what this creek is called?"

"Dragon Whisker Creek."

"How do you know that?"

"Last time I entered the mountains, I had a pair of maps. Master Ruan told me that they were maps of Dragon Spring County, and the creek was annotated as Dragon Whisker Creek on the map. However, once the direction of its flow changes from southeast to south, the red line on the map gradually thickened, and its name changed into the Iron Talisman River."

"I see. Let me tell you how all of this works. Our Great Li Empire's imperial court has six ministries, and the ministry of rites has three types of officials, namely the heaven official, the earth official, and the humanitarian official. Among them, the earth official is responsible for making these maps.

However, they receive assistance from the fengshui masters of the ministry of astronomy, who lead the way for the earth officials during their exploration of the world. Essentially, they measure out every single inch of an empire's territory with their own two feet before transferring what they see onto maps. Aren't those earth officials and fengshui masters really amazing?"

"Do you want to become an earth official or a fengshui master once you grow up?"

"Chen Ping'an, don't you know that women can't become officials? And that's not just the case in our Great Li Empire, it seems to be that way everywhere else as well. Girls like Shi Chunjia and I can receive education, but I've never heard of any woman becoming a teacher or being referred to as a scholar."

"I see."

"By the way, you said that the jade hairpin you're wearing right now was given to Mr. Qi by his teacher, then given to you by Mr. Qi, right?"

"That's right."

"In that case, from now on, I'm going to call you junior uncle!"

"Why?"

"Once you become my junior uncle, even if I do something to make you mad at me, your conscience won't allow you to abandon me! You'll think to yourself: 'Li Baoping looks up to me and admires me as her junior uncle, I can't just leave her behind!'"

"Can I not be your junior uncle? Even if I'm not your junior uncle, I still won't leave you behind."

"No!"

"In that case, I won't make a bookcase or any straw sandals for you."

"I don't care! I'm calling you junior uncle no matter what! As my junior uncle, you'll have an obligation to make a bookcase and straw sandals for me!"

Chapter end

<<Prev
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Catalogue
Chapter 31: Beating Around the Mountain
Chapter 32: Peach Leaf
Chapter 33: White Dragon Disguising as a Fish
Chapter 34: Gathered Together
Chapter 35: Licorice Root
Chapter 36: Ancient Book
Chapter 37: Fist Technique
Chapter 38: Ninth Tier
Chapter 39: Cursing the Locust Tree
Chapter 40: Returning the Courtesy
Chapter 42: Prodigy
Chapter 43: The Young Boy and the Old Dog
Chapter 44: Coming to Light
Chapter 45: Sunlight
Chapter 46: Skirt Dagger
Chapter 47: Going Alone
Chapter 48: The Hunter and the Hunted
Chapter 49: Porcelain Shard
Chapter 50 (1): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 50 (2): One Who is Destined for Great Things
Chapter 51: Confrontation
Chapter 52: Shudder
Chapter 53: Gift
Chapter 54: Facing the Enemy
Chapter 55: Feeling Proud in the Spring Breeze
Chapter 56: Nodding Bodhisattva
Chapter 57: Sword Nurturing Gourd
Chapter 58: Teacher
Chapter 59: Sleep
Chapter 60: There's a Ghost
Chapter 61: Helpless Pawn
Chapter 62: Falling Tree
Chapter 63 (1): So That's How It Is
Chapter 63 (2): So That's How It Is
Chapter 64: The Three Chens
Chapter 65: Jewel
Chapter 66: Looking Up
Chapter 67 (1): Long Journey
Chapter 67 (2): Long Journey
Chapter 68: Spring Under the Heavens
Chapter 69: Night
Chapter 70: Daylight
Chapter 71 (1): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 71 (2): I’ll Like You for a While Longer
Chapter 72: Black Cloud
Chapter 73: Wooden Figure
Chapter 74: The Fire Dragon Roams the Water
Chapter 75: Mountain Selection
Chapter 76: Back to Back
Chapter 77: Entering the Mountains
Chapter 78: Another Dream
Chapter 79: Spring Welcome Seal
Chapter 80: Leaving the Mountains
Chapter 81: Imperial Preceptor
Chapter 82 (1): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 82 (2): Master and Student, Senior Brother and Junio
Chapter 83: Dreams
Chapter 84 (1): I Have a Sword
Chapter 84 (2): I Have a Sword
Chapter 85 (1): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 85 (2): Conclusion of the Examination
Chapter 86 (1): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 86 (2): Walking the Same Path
Chapter 87 (1): Little Teacher
Chapter 87 (2): Little Teacher
Chapter 88: Grand Entrance
Chapter 89: Two Heads
Chapter 90: Heavy Rain
Chapter 91: Jade Hairpin
Chapter 92 (1): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 92 (2): Bamboo Bookcase
Chapter 93 (1): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 93 (2): There's a Character on the Wall
Chapter 94: A Feast for the Eyes
Chapter 95: Too Small a Place
Chapter 96: Demons in the Mountains and Rivers
Chapter 97: Bowing to the Mountain
Chapter 98: The Meddlesome Mountain God
Chapter 99: The Mountain God and the Bamboo Saber
Chapter 100 (1): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 100 (2): The World Beneath One's Feet
Chapter 101: Guard the Mountain
Chapter 102: Soaring White Ray
Chapter 103: Bamboo Building
Chapter 104: Sharing the Spoils
Chapter 105: Rootless Duckweed
Chapter 106: People from All Walks of Life
Chapter 107: Fishing Net
Chapter 108: Spring Hunting
Chapter 109: The Young Boy Has Some Words to Say
Chapter 110: All Good Things Must Come to an End
Chapter 111: Bamboo Hat
Chapter 112: Powerful Individual
Chapter 113: Unparalleled Might
Chapter 114: Seeing A'Liang Again
Chapter 115: There's an Old Scholar In the World (1)
Chapter 116: There's an Old Scholar In the World (2)
Chapter 117 (1): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 117 (2): There's an Old Scholar In the World (3)
Chapter 118 (1): There's Righteousness In The World
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