Chapter 9 — Youths (1)
Xu Yilu finished the test alone. After checking the paper one more time, only then did he raise his hand and call for the teacher. Straightening his white cane, he slowly felt around to stand up, making his way outside. When he reached the door, he heard a familiar voice.
“Little Heron.” Lin Mu reached out to support him. “How was the test?”
Xu Yilu was a little bashful. “It was ok. How about you?”
Lin Mu’s tone was a little pleased. “As long as An Jincheng doesn’t get full marks, I’ll definitely be at the top of the class.”
Xu Yilu did not suppress his laughter. Then, he suddenly remembered the gossip from the school forum that Sun Hai shared with him, about the most handsome boys in school. He asked Lin Mu quietly, “Is the new number one really that handsome?”
“Yup, he is.” Lin Mu thought for a moment. “The first year’s military parade is about to start; we’ll be able to see him then.”
This time, Xu Yilu did not say anything like “I can’t see” that would spoil the atmosphere. The two of them walked through the corridor and happened to run into An Jincheng.
Young Master An had always remained cold and aloof, disdaining to mingle with the ordinary folk of the school. If they happened to bump into him, it was clearly on purpose. As such, Lin Mu could only stop and ask impatiently, “What’s the matter?”
An Jincheng glanced over at Xu Yilu, speaking with an indifferent voice, “The new students are practicing their marching, and their Head Teacher want some second-year students to watch over them. So, he called the few of us.”
Lin Mu asked, “Who else was called?”
An Jincheng did not reply, but Lin Mu understood that it was probably just the two of them.
Lin Mu said, “I’ll send Little Heron back. Why don’t you go first?”
An Jincheng shook his head. “It’s fine. I’ll wait for you.”
Lin Mu was a little surprised, but if Young Master An was willing to wait, he would just let him be. After sending Xu Yilu back to the classroom, then only did he go to the sports ground with An Jincheng.
All the teachers of the first-year students were present. Lin Mu and An Jincheng were assigned to monitor the rehearsal as the representatives of the second-year students, but it was only for show. With An Jincheng’s family background, the teachers dared not offend him, while Lin Mu was as sweet as candy floss, and thus he was very popular among the teachers and students.
There were no issues with the practice at the start. The teachers and the coaches took turns to adjust the contingent, and the flag-holders in charge of giving commands were once again reminded of their duties. Sitting at the podium with his chin in his hand, Lin Mu was a little bored. Looking around him, he found Chen Meihua sitting by the sports ground.
Meimei caught sight of Lin Mu as well. She stood up, waving her arm at him. Today, the old lady was dressed in a bright red dress; her white hair was tied in a ponytail that kept her look fresh and clean. For a moment, Lin Mu looked at her with a smile, and then suddenly noticed Lu Rong walking towards her from a short distance away.
“He’s not practicing…?” Lin Mu mumbled to himself. It was already Class Three’s turn to practice, yet Lu Rong had no intention of joining his classmates. Lin Mu’s brows slowly knitted together.
Chen Meihua seemed to have said something to Lu Rong. The boy looked up, and his eyes met Lin Mu’s directly. Giving him a radiant smile, Lin Mu raised his hand and was about to greet him, but Lu Rong looked away after giving him a quick glance.
“…” With his half-raised arm, Lin Mu awkwardly scratched his head.
Now, he was no longer in the mood to watch the rehearsal. He kept his eyes focused on Meimei and Lu Rong, and after some time, Mo Xiaoxiao joined them as well. Lin Mu had a deep impression of the girl, due to Sun Hai described her as the “girl with the very cool metal leg”.
On the sports ground, Class Four’s rehearsal was almost over. Seeing that Lu Rong and Mo Xiaoxiao did not look like they were about to rejoin their class, Lin Mu could not remain seated anymore and stood up.
An Jincheng looked at him in puzzlement. “What’s wrong?”
Lin Mu did not respond and ran down the podium alone.
The contingent of Class Five was getting ready. When Lin Mu arrived, both the instructor and the form teacher were present. The teacher’s face looked a little unfamiliar to him; she looked quite young, and it was likely that she had just joined the school this year. Lin Mu greeted them loudly, and both of them turned to look at him.
With a smile on his face, Lin Mu pointed at Lu Rong and Mo Xiaoxiao who were by the sports ground. “Laoshi, why are there two students not participating in the parade?”
The form teacher exclaimed, seeming to have just realized it. Sounding uncertain, she asked, “Are they from our class?”
During the military training, most of the time, the students would only interact with the instructor. Subsequently, it was reasonable for the new form teacher not to be able to recognize her own students. Counting, she discovered that there were two missing indeed. With a little surprise, she turned to the coach. “Did they request to be excused?”
The coach glanced over at Lin Mu, his smile a little stiff. “Yes, they did, as the parade would be a little more tiring for them.”
The form teacher frowned slightly; she seemed a little disapproving. Lin Mu spoke up, lazily, “Why don’t we just call them over and ask?”
Hence, Lu Rong and Mo Xiaoxiao were called over.
Although they had been informed that they did not need to participate in the parade, they were still obediently wearing their military uniforms handed out by the school. Mo Xiaoxiao looked at Lin Mu curiously, and he gave her a smile.
The form teacher was a sensible person; she took the initiative to ask Lu Rong, “Did you asked to be excused?”
Lu Rong swept a gaze across his classmates who stood still in position, his response indifferent. “I didn’t.”
The expression of the instructor standing by the side worsened. Suddenly, a boy in the class raised his hand.
“The military parade will be graded.” That boy shot a glance at Mo Xiaoxiao’s leg; his tone was a little unhappy. “We won’t be able to receive a good score if someone is dragging us down.”
Lin Mu inhaled sharply; a swell of anger rushing to his head. Just as he was about to scold the boy, he heard a burst of mocking laughter from the last row of girls.
“Are you referring to yourself?” That girl was not tall, and she had a short, neat haircut under her cap. She raised her chin slightly. “Mo Xiaoxiao never missed a beat when marching in the contingent; which of your eyes did you see her dragging us down?”
Lin Mu was surprised.
The boy standing in front probably did not expect that someone would contradict him. His face flushed red with anger, and he argued, “Li Zi, what do you mean by that?! Who are you trying to scold?!”
Li Zi looked up from under the brim of her cap. Raising her arm, she flipped the boy off. “Who else, but you? What a piece of rubbish, trying to ostracize people in the class.”
Obviously, no one seemed to expect Li Zi to have such a sharp tongue, and a ruckus occurred in the contingent. Even though Lin Mu had yet to vent his anger, he now had to help the form teacher and the instructor control the situation.
High school students were young and vigorous — without careful supervision, arguments could quickly turn into war. The form teacher was, after all, still young and inexperienced, but just before she was about to lose control over the situation, someone roared through a loudspeaker from the other side of the sports ground, “Why is Class Five making a fuss?!”
The anxiety in Lin Mu vanished as soon as he heard this voice. Just as he was feeling a little puzzled as to why Chu Lin would come over so early, he understood as soon as he saw An Jincheng standing beside her.
Chu Lin — the head teacher of special education class, the inspector of the school’s board of education, the secretary of the board committee, and Kunqian’s number one tigress.
She was wearing a pair of heels today, that when combined with the thick soles, was twelve centimeters high. Halfway walking towards them, Chu Lin removed her heels and held them in her hand, striding over to Class Five without giving the prickly grass under her feet any concern.
Lin Mu straightened up, looking polite and obedient. “Ms. Chu.”
Chu Lin glanced at him, then turned her attention to the young form teacher. “What’s going on?”
The form teacher succinctly reported the matter, and near the end, she did not even dare to look at Chu Lin’s face. In Kunqian, aside from the principal Zhong He, there was no one dared to butt heads with Chu Lin — she could be said to be the one who singlehandedly established the special education class and supported it. With the immeasurable glory and honor as well as the vast amounts of donations and aid she gathered for school, not to mention that the contributions she had made to society and the government, her accomplishments were sufficient to bring all the teachers and students of Kunqian to line up and kowtow to her.
With a grim expression, Chu Lin listened to her. Anger seemed to manifest gradually on her face, and she spoke coldly, “An Jincheng, recite the school motto.”
It was a few seconds of silence before An Jincheng recited every word clearly, “Kindness, Courage, Equality, Love.”
Chu Lin studied the faces of the students in front of her and abruptly asked, “Do you know why I wanted all of you to hear the school’s motto?”
No one dared to speak a single word; even the boy in front had his head bowed. Lin Mu could not help but look at Lu Rong, and the latter happened to look over as well. Time stood still for a moment, then Lu Rong averted his eyes nonchalantly.
“Lin Mu,” Chu Lin suddenly called out to him.
Lin Mu straightened unconsciously. “Here!”
Chu Lin nodded her head.
“Well done,” she said, then looked over to An Jincheng. “An Jincheng too.”
An Jincheng remained silent. He frowned, looking down at the ground, while Lin Mu pursed his lips silently.
Although Chu Lin knew their estrangement, she had no intention of acting as a go-between for them. Her compliments were as blunt as her scolding, direct and straightforward. “You don’t understand the school motto, and you’re not learning from example. Why did you want to come to Kunqian?”
Neither of them had enough courage to provide an answer, and the class was dead silent from the rebuke.
“Since you all have decided to study at Kunqian, you had better engrave the four words of the school motto right into your soul. Whoever thinks they’re unable to learn it, you can step forward now.” Chu Lin put her heels back on. Standing tall and straight, she looked down at the students and spoke calmly, “I will personally help them with their school withdrawal application.”