The handover went very smoothly. Tiny Garden was small and there were not many things to hand over. It was nothing more than explaining how to take care of the flowers and plants in the shop. Du Lin was really relieved to have Lu Lingxi. She was in the later stages of her pregnancy and was not ready to come to the shop often after the handover, so she planned to be an arm-flinging shopkeeper (somebody who asks others to work but does nothing himself).
After leaving her mobile number and home phone number to Lu Lingxi, Du Lin explained the shop’s liquidity to Lu Lingxi, packed up and left. She was not worried about Lu Lingxi running away with the money. For one thing, Lu Lingxi was someone Yi Hang knew, and although Yi Hang liked to play, he was still trustworthy. Secondly, after just two meetings the impression that Lu Lingxi left on Du Lin was too good. When they met yesterday, the feeling was not too obvious, but today, probably because of severe morning sickness, Du Lin was a little irritable. However, after standing next to Lu Lingxi for some time, she felt her mood inexplicably calm down.
Once Du Lin left, Yi Hang was liberated. He sat down grumpily on the wicker chair at the entrance of Tiny Garden and shouted loudly, pretending to be a customer, “Boss, bring up the most expensive flowers you have here.”
Lu Lingxi was holding a small watering can to water the flowers in the shop and didn’t have time to pay any attention to him.
Yi Hang was alone and bored, and habitually tried to move closer to Lu Lingxi when a customer walked in. “Welcome!” Yi Hang was extremely quick to react, and only halfway through shouting did he realise that it was actually an acquaintance, Brother Cheng, whom he had met yesterday.
Brother Cheng saw Lu Lingxi at a glance and was surprised, “Xiao Xi, where’s Boss Du?” Lu Lingxi had left a very deep impression on him, and he remembered that Du Lin called the young man in front of him Xiao Xi, so he called the name smoothly.
Lu Lingxi put down the watering can in his hand and explained, “Sister Du has gone home, I will be in the shop during this time.”
“That’s great!” Brother Cheng happily said, looking back, “Lao Han, hurry up.”
As Brother Cheng said that, a man of his age walked in carrying a pot of clivia. Brother Cheng grabbed him, introducing, “Lao Han, I’m telling you, don’t look Xiao Xi is young, he’s no less capable. You know the pot of azaleas at my house that was losing petals, right? Here, Xiao Xi, take a look, can this pot still be saved?”
The man known as Lao Han was very cooperative and immediately showed the clivia in his hand to Lu Lingxi’s face.
The leaves of a normal clivia were dark green and shiny, and the flowers should be in full bloom in July. But the clivia in front of them was only sparsely blooming with a few small flowers, and the leaves were withered and yellow. Lu Lingxi’s eyes fell on the rhizome part (a plant stem that grows horizontally, generally underground, and produces both shoots and roots) of the clivia; there were thin white mycelia wrapped around the rhizome, and some of the mycelia were tangled together and made small reddish-brown clumps.
The white panel emerged as Lu Lingxi scanned the clivia.
Plant name: Large-flowered clivia
Plant needs: Treatment of white mould
Plant viability: Very low
Lu Lingxi stared at the very low plant viability display and frowned slightly; he didn’t know if it could still be saved.
Lao Han could see his face and said with a bitter smile, “Is it not possible?”
Lu Lingxi hesitated for a few seconds and said, “Why don’t you leave it here and I’ll try?”
He didn’t have a clue when he said this; from the panel it looked like most of the rhizomes of this clivia had actually rotted. Although he could see the symptoms of this clivia through the panel, it was still a question of how to save it.
Lao Han’s eyes lit up when he heard the words “I’ll try” and he looked at Lu Lingxi gratefully. Lu Lingxi carefully put the flower pot on the floor. He still needed to look up the information on how to cure it.
After sending Lao Han and Brother Cheng away, Yi Hang took a look at the clivia. Even if he didn’t know anything, he could tell that this clivia was not going to make it. “Lao San, are you sure?” After all, this was Lu Lingxi’s first day at work. What if the flower didn’t survive and there were any bad repercussions?
Lu Lingxi shook his head. He was not sure, but he couldn’t just watch the clivia die and do nothing.
White mould was one of the common diseases of large-flowered clivia, affecting the rhizomes and underground fleshy stems. The early stages of the disease were relatively easy to deal with, but once it reached the later stages, it threatened the survival of the plant, and in severe cases the plants would wilt or die. Lu Lingxi closed the book with the information and carefully followed the instructions in the book to remove the diseased parts. With the aid of the white panel, he could easily see exactly where the rhizome was rotting and did not need to try hard to find it. After removing the diseased parts, he then disinfected the remaining base and put it in sterile, wet sandy soil, waiting for it to take root again. This process was simple to say, but in fact extremely tedious to carry out and required one’s full attention and care.
It was already afternoon when Lu Lingxi had finished. It would take a few days for the clivia to take root again. He had done his best, but the rest would depend on the vitality of this clivia.
As the thought flashed through his mind, a prompt suddenly appeared on the white panel.
The rescue of the large-flowered clivia successful, rewarding the plant heart +1 and the power of nature +1
Lu Lingxi’s gaze fell on the words “power of nature”, and his expression turned slightly puzzled. He thought he already had a basic understanding of the white panel; what was this sudden appearance of the power of nature? And what was the difference between it and the plant heart?
New things always tend to arouse people’s interest, and Lu Lingxi studied the panel for a long time. Luckily, Yi Hang had left at noon because he was bored, and now Lu Lingxi was the only one in the shop, so he didn’t worry about his strange behaviour being noticed. Unfortunately, no matter how much he tapped on the panel, there was still no hint on it. His knowledge of the power of nature remained limited to these few words. Forget it, Lu Lingxi thought to himself; the panel would naturally give a hint when it was due and even if he thought about it now, he couldn’t figure it out. After he decided, Lu Lingxi stopped dwelling on the power of nature and sat alone on a wicker chair with the book he bought yesterday and read it carefully.
After one day, Lu Lingxi quickly adapted to life in the shop. When he arrived home in the evening, Wang Shuxiu had already gone to work. The dinner was ready on the table, so Lu Lingxi just had to warm it up. After dinner Lu Lingxi went to the backyard again. The seedlings in the yard seemed to have grown a little taller. He checked the humidity of the soil, watered some more and received a ten point reward of plant hearts.
He took a shower, read and fell asleep; a day passed like that. Over the next few days, Lu Lingxi began to make new friends while working. Tiny Garden had been on this street for a little over a year, and Du Lin used to be very popular. It was no secret that she had gone home to have a baby and had found someone to look after the shop for her, so the shop owners visited to get acquainted with Lu Lingxi when they had free time.
Lu Lingxi was good-looking, polite and in addition had an indescribable aura about him that made everyone feel very comfortable next to him. Within a few days, Lu Lingxi became popular in the neighbourhood. The owners of several small shops around like to tease Lu Lingxi. The child was so young and tender that he would blush when teased, and his whole appearance was so pink and soft that they all felt motherly and could not wait to give him a squeeze.
Of the several shops around, Lu Lingxi liked the one across the road called “Angel Baby” the most. The owner of the pet shop was a man in his thirties called Dong Zhi. Dong Zhi was so chubby and honest that he was nicknamed “Dough” by the people around him. Whenever people around him teased Lu Lingxi, Dong Zhi would speak up in his defence. As time went by, Lu Lingxi quickly became friends with him.
Sometimes, when he was tired of reading, Lu Lingxi would go to the pet shop to hang out. Unexpectedly, the animals in the pet shop all liked Lu Lingxi very much. Every time he appeared, the animals were willing to come to his side. Occasionally, the cats and dogs inside were fighting and Dong Zhi could not control them, but as soon as Lu Lingxi appeared, the animals would all become obedient. Dong Zhi even joked and asked Lu Lingxi if he would be willing to work for him. Compared to the gardening shop, the pet shop was the right place for Lu Lingxi to stay.
Such a life was something that the old Lu Lingxi would never have dared to imagine. A healthy body, a caring mother, new friends, freedom at his disposal, all these things that Lu Lingxi once dreamed of but could never have.
Lu Lingxi lay on his bed, rolling happily. Although the bed was so small that he had to worry about whether he would roll onto the floor when he rolled, he had never been happier. If this was a dream, he wished he could have stayed asleep for the rest of his life.
When he woke up the next day, the sky was overcast and dull. Before Lu Lingxi went to work, Wang Shuxiu asked him to take an umbrella, fearing that it would rain during the day. Sure enough, in the evening when he was about to leave work, it suddenly started to rain heavily. Although Lu Lingxi had an umbrella, he decided to wait for the rain to subside before going home.
Sitting on the wicker chair inside the shop, Lu Lingxi felt the coolness in the air and looked through the window at the splashes of water on the ground outside. Suddenly there was a sharp sound of brakes and a black Jaguar stopped in front of the pet shop opposite. The car door opened and a man who seemed to hold something got out of the car and entered the pet shop.
Lu Lingxi took a look and his eyes unconsciously fell on the black Jaguar. He felt that this car seemed somewhat familiar, as if he had seen it somewhere before. Before he could remember where he had seen this car, he heard a mournful wail suddenly coming from inside the pet shop, the sound that was so loud that it even drowned out the rain outside.
“Be careful, be careful.”
Inside the pet shop, a large, pure black dog half lay on its side on the operating table, its front limbs poking over the edge of the table and looking bloody. Two young nurses were nervously gathered around the table, holding tweezers and trying to do some cleaning of the big dog. But as soon as they dared to come near, the big dog would straighten up and let out a low growl, baring its teeth, warning them not to come closer.
“What should we do?” The young nurse looked at Dong Zhi in panic.
Dong Zhi glanced in embarrassment at the man who had brought the dog. The man was very tall, at least 1.8m, with a strong body and handsome features, wearing a black suit that didn’t look cheap. Perhaps because he had held the dog, the hem of the man’s clothes were stained with mud, but he didn’t seem to care about it and kept staring at the black dog on the operating table.
The black dog looked like a stray dog, with dirty fur that was tangled and clumped together, wet with the rain. In just a moment, the white sheets on the operating table had been soaked black. One could only wonder who hit this dog. Dong Zhi gave the man a look and ruled him out. Usually stray dogs like this one would hold a grudge, and had this man hit it, the dog would have looked at the man differently.
Dong Zhi thought about it and ordered, “Prepare the anaesthetic, give it a shot before cleaning it up.”
“Okay.” The young nurse left in a hurry.
Yan Yue stood there listening to their conversation, his eyes lingering on the black dog on the operating table. He was driving nearby and saw the black dog that had been hit by someone struggling to get up and get off the road.
When the headlights illuminated the black dog, Yan Yue saw the look in the dog’s eyes. There was vigilance, alienation and hostility in them, but more than anything else, there was a desire to live. Yan Yue couldn’t say what happened. He seemed to be moved by the dog’s eyes, stopped the car and carried the dog to the car, finding the pet shop along the way.
The black dog had been cooperative before, but when the young nurse took the scissors and tried to cut away the tangled hair around the dog’s wound, the dog suddenly barked, furiously refusing to let anyone come any closer. Yan Yue guessed that the black dog must have experienced some kind of injury before, so much so that it was wary of humans. Unfortunately, he had never owned a dog before and didn’t know what to do when faced with this situation.
The young nurse came over with the anaesthetic and the black dog looked even more vigilant. As it arched its back and growled low in anger, Yan Yue was sure it would have pounced on them if it hadn’t had difficulty moving.
“What should I do?” The young nurse was about to cry in fear and said hastily, “Why don’t we let Xiao Xi try? Boss, remember all the puppies in our store are especially obedient whenever they see Xiao Xi?”
Dong Zhi hesitated for a few seconds, “Okay, then I’ll go and try to find Xiao Xi.” The dog’s injury was so bad that if it couldn’t be treated in time the dog would probably be a cripple even if it got well. It was hard enough for a stray dog to survive; with a limp, it would be even harder.
Dong Zhi smiled embarrassedly at Yan Yue as he finished speaking and hurried out the door with his umbrella.
Yan Yue watched as Dong Zhi crossed the road and went to the gardening shop across the street. The rain was so heavy that Yan Yue could not see the other person’s face, but judging from his figure he did not seem to be very old. As the two crossed the road, Yan Yue saw the person’s appearance and was surprised with how unexpectedly young the other person was, perhaps even underage.
“Xiao Xi.” The young nurse called out happily.
The teenager smiled shyly at the nurse and his gaze fell on the black dog on the operating table. He had obviously heard what had happened and didn’t need the nurse to explain anything, taking a few tentative steps towards the dog.
To Yan Yue’s surprise, the black dog that had been manic and restless actually did not growl at the boy, but merely strained its body and watched him warily, as if judging the boy’s intentions. Noticing the black dog’s reaction, the boy paused a little and stopped where he was. A minute or so later, the black dog’s tense body slowly relaxed, much of its hostility dissipating and its attitude becoming gentle.
Compared to humans, the intuition of animals was much more acute. The black dog sensed a very comfortable aura from the young man in front of it, and it somewhat wanted to get closer to this aura.
The young man saw the black dog’s intention and carefully walked up to it, gently reaching out and putting his hand on its head.
The black dog moved and let out a low whimper, not a warning but a kind of affectionate bark.
The young man smiled faintly, his face radiant as he patted the black dog’s head again and again. He ran his white, slender fingers along the knotted fur on the top of the black dog’s head, not at all disgusted by the dog’s dirtiness. The black dog squinted comfortably and became docile, not caring much about Dong Zhi who took the opportunity to approach it.
The teenager stroked the black dog while repeating in a soft voice, “It’s alright, it doesn’t hurt, just sleep and you’ll be fine.”
The black dog seemed to understand the boy’s words and stopped struggling as Dong Zhi gave it anaesthesia.
While a group of people gathered around the black dog on the operating table, Yan Yue looked straight at the young man. There were stormy waves in his heart, and he felt that he was really crazy. He watched the boy gently stroking the dog, wishing that the boy’s hand was now touching his head.