Chapter 9: Renting a Room
Jing Tian led him to the second floor. Because her grandfather was old and had trouble with his legs, he usually lived in the front bungalow, while she lived on the first floor to take care of him. The two rooms on the second floor were usually empty.
Pushing open the door, Yang Xiaolong walked in alone. Although the room was relatively empty with only an old desk and a bed, it was clean and spacious, about thirty square meters. Opening the window, he could see the sea across the way.
He then looked at the other room, which was about the same size, but the lighting in the first room was better.
“Jing Tian, how much is the rent for the room?” Yang Xiaolong asked.
“If it’s short-term, it’s 600 yuan per month. For long-term, it’s 500 yuan per month,” Jing Tian replied.
Yang Xiaolong nodded. The rent was not high. During the peak tourist season, a room like this would cost at least over 100 yuan per night.
After inspecting the rooms, Yang Xiaolong was satisfied with the house, but he didn’t have enough money at the moment. He discussed it with Jing Tian and they agreed on a one-year contract with rent due every three months.
After they had agreed, the two of them went downstairs and ran into an old man carrying a fish basket. Jing Tian hurried over to help him carry the basket.
“Grandpa, didn’t I tell you not to go to the sea? Why didn’t you listen?”
“I’m an old bone.” The old man took out his pipe from his waist and took a puff before tapping it on his shoe. He then noticed Yang Xiaolong and asked, “Jing girl, who is this young man?”
Jing Tian explained the situation about renting the house to the old man, who was easy to talk to and waved his hand to leave everything to his granddaughter to decide. He wouldn’t interfere.
After settling the house, Yang Xiaolong paid three months’ rent upfront, leaving only 2,000 yuan in his account. He had to hurry up and make some money; he couldn’t sit idle.
Two days later, Yang Xiaolong moved all his things from the dormitory. Fortunately, he borrowed Jing Tian’s tricycle, or he would have had to make several trips with his bags.
“Young man, you’re here.”
The old man, Jing’s grandfather, was already sitting at the door, sewing fishing nets. Their family were all fishermen. Due to some accidents in the family in previous years, coupled with his old age, Jing Tian, a young girl, was not at ease letting him go out to sea. They could only make a living by catching fish along the nearby coast.
“Mhm, I’m busy.”
In the courtyard, Jing Tian was washing clothes by the well, and the two greeted each other.
“By the way, I left the car key on the table in front for you. Thanks.”
“Mhm, got it.”
Yang Xiaolong carried his luggage upstairs. Even though he had opened the windows earlier to air out the room, it still had a musty smell from being unoccupied for a long time.
After arranging the bedding and nearing noon, Jing Tian’s family provided meals to their guests for fifteen yuan, which was about the same price as eating fast food outside.
As he descended the stairs, Jing Tian had already started bustling around in the kitchen, filling the air of the entire courtyard with the aroma of cooking.
Yang Xiaolong entered the kitchen and said, “Jing Tian, we have one more person for lunch.”
“Do you need any help?”
“No, it’s fine. Lunch will be ready soon.”
With nothing else to do, Yang Xiaolong decided to take a walk around. As he approached the doorway, he noticed Jing’s grandfather tinkering away at something that looked like a cage.
Curious, he went over to take a closer look. Along the way, he noticed many people in the village were sewing and patching things up. Under a large tree at the edge of the village, a group of women and young brides were busy working on something similar to what the fishermen would use to trap fish back in his hometown.
“Young man, do you know how to do this?” Jing’s grandfather teased as Yang Xiaolong approached.
“No, I don’t. Are you all preparing to go out to sea?” Yang asked.
“Yes,” the old man stopped his work and sat down on a small stool nearby. He instinctively took out his tobacco pipe, “In a few days, the village is preparing to go out to sea together. We’re just organizing everything properly so that we don’t delay ourselves later.”
“Going out to sea together?” Yang Xiaolong was confused. It was the first time he had heard of it.
“Yes, going out to sea together means that several families in the village have agreed to go out to the open sea together, contract a large ship at the port, split the cost of fuel, and share the catch of fish. Another way is for each family to bring their own fishing nets and rely on their own luck for the catch,” explained the old man.
“I see. Grandpa, can I join?” Yang Xiaolong asked.
“You?” Jing’s grandfather laughed heartily. “Of course not. Only acquaintances from our village can join.”
“Oh, I see,” Yang nodded, then turned to Jing’s grandfather and said, “Thank you for explaining.”
As they were talking, Jing came out of the kitchen wearing a lacy apron.
“What are you guys talking about? It’s time to eat,” Jing said.
“We were just talking about going out to sea,” Jing’s grandfather replied.
Jing then asked Yang, “Do you want to go out to sea?”
“Yes,” Yang nodded.
Yang Xiaolong spoke absent-mindedly, listening with interest.
Although the Jing family were old fishermen, Grandpa Jing was getting older and going out to sea with others was not like usual. It would take at least three or four days, or even longer. Last time, he came back so tired that he stayed in bed for half a month.
“Let’s eat first.” Grandpa Jing brushed off the dust on his clothes and walked straight into the house.
Yang Xiaolong had only asked casually, so since it wasn’t possible, he would have to think of other ways. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
Lunch was quite abundant with three dishes and a soup, including fish and seafood. The price for this kind of meal was only 15 yuan, which was more expensive than a single dish of fish at a restaurant outside. Of course, seafood was not precious by the seaside, and smaller ones were not worth much. They could either be thrown away or kept for personal consumption.
“Is Old Jing at home?”
While they were having lunch, someone rushed over and shouted loudly at the door.
Before Jing Laotou could speak, Jing Tian was the first to stand up and grab a stool.
“Uncle San, have you eaten yet?”
“I’ve eaten. Don’t bother. I just came to say a few words and leave.”
The dark-skinned man wiped the sweat off his head. “Old Jing, just now Jing Da came over to inform us that the boat has been arranged. Because there are many people waiting in line, we need to prepare. We will depart tomorrow afternoon.”
“So soon? We still have some of our fishing nets that haven’t been sorted out.”
“Then you should hurry up and get them sorted. I won’t say anything more. I need to go and inform the others.”
“Uncle San, won’t you stay for a while?”
“No, you help your grandfather get things sorted out. Don’t delay.”
After the man left, Jing Tian frowned. “Grandpa, didn’t I tell you not to go far out to sea? How can you handle the fishing nets with your body? It’s enough to go to sea occasionally.”
The old man sighed. He knew his physical condition very well, but seeing the young girl work so hard every day, he felt uneasy.
Seeing that he didn’t say anything, Jing Tian continued, “Grandpa, why don’t you stay this time and let me go with Uncle San and the others?”
“Nonsense!” The old man slammed his tobacco pipe on the table. “Have you ever seen a young girl go out to the open sea?”