“Don’t I have to lie down and rest on your thighs?” Zhang Li gave the blushing Ling Yun a somewhat teasing look.
Ding Ning’s face turned red. With some embarrassment, he said, “Ling Yun’s issue was a headache. It’s not the same illness as yours. Hurry and take a seat!”
Once Ding Ning used his True Qi to jab Zhang Li with the needles, she stretched her arms in disbelief.
“I feel much better. I usually feel like there’s a fire burning in my heart and nothing is ever pleasing to my eyes. Now I feel so relaxed that even the sun becomes beautiful to me. Younger Brother Ding, you sure are impressive,” she said in a pleasantly surprised tone.
“Here, this is your prescription. I’ve clearly marked out how to make and take the medicine. Pay attention to your meals. Don’t eat spicy or frozen food.”
Ding Ning took the paper and pen from Ling Yun and handed Zhang Li a prescription that he wrote with flamboyant calligraphy.
Zhang Li put the prescription away like she was putting away a treasure. She winked at Ling Yun and said, “Sister Ling Yun, you don’t mind taking my shift for a while, do you? I’ll go and get the herbs now.”
Ling Yun knew that Zhang Li was returning the favor, wanting to give her a chance to be alone with Ding Ning. She felt a fire blazing in her heart but replied expressionlessly, “Go ahead, I’ll help you cover the shift!”
Zhang Li excitedly waved at Ding Ning and said meaningfully, “I’ll be taking my leave then, Doctor Ding. I’ll have Sister Ling Yun to take good care of you!”
“Hurry up and leave. There’s no end to it, is there?” Ling Yun felt her face burning hot and pushed Zhang Li out of the ward embarrassedly.
Zhang Li gave a strange laugh. “Then I’ll withdraw first, lest I upset someone by being a third wheel.”
“Talk nonsense again and I’ll ignore you.” Ling Yun chased the brazen old woman out of the ward like she was shooing an unlucky person.
When she walked in after closing the door and met Ding Ning’s eyes, she hastily looked avoid his line of sight. Her heart betrayed her by pounding wildly. Her gaze shifted here and there, not daring to look at him.
Ding Ning also noticed the abnormal atmosphere and was suddenly at a loss of words. Silence fell over both of them as a mood called awkwardness rippled inside the ward.
“Girl… are you thirsty? Do you want this Master to pour you a glass of water?”
After a long time, Ling Yun’s voice shattered the awkward mood between two speechless people.
Ding Ning breathed a sigh of relief. He had found the bashful Ling Yun earlier very feminine, subverting her warrior-like image in his mind.
Though she was wonderful and beautiful, that side of her made Ding Ning feel like she was a stranger. He was much more comfortable with the warrior-like Ling Yun.
“Then the little one thanks Master Yun,” Ding Ning said fawningly.
He didn’t know if it was an illusion, but he thought he saw Ling Yun looking relieved.
This was probably because they had gotten used to getting along as a female emperor and a little henchman. Once this was changed, both of them would feel uncomfortable.
“Tock! Tock! Tock!” Someone knocked on the door.
“Come in!” Ding Ning answered.
“Doctor Ding, can I have a private chat with you?”
Ye Shulan pushed the door open. When she glanced at Ling Yun, she looked briefly stunned. What a beautiful little nurse. This kid sure had the luck of meeting beautiful women!
“Take your time!”
Ling Yun sized up Ye Shulan and saw that the latter was a beautiful but middle-aged woman. Though the woman was gorgeous, she didn’t pose a threat to her. With a twist of her waist, she left tactfully.
“Madam Ye, haven’t I already told you? What’s there to talk about?”
Ding Ning frowned. Though Ye Shulan was very humble this time, Shen Muyang didn’t come with her. It seemed that he had no intention of apologizing, making him feel somewhat frustrated.
If it weren’t for the fact that he found Shen Muqing to be beautiful, sensible, and a friend that he could talk to, he wouldn’t show any respect to Ye Shulan.
The kind of people he hated most was those who refused to own up to their mistakes and didn’t even have the courage to apologize.
“I’m here to thank you. I heard from Muqing how you helped her with the needle acupuncture last night. This is enough to show that you’re a good doctor with the kindness of a healer. Secondly, I want to apologize for what I did yesterday. I was up all night, thinking about your words. Society is full of temptations. Everyone will lose themselves and forget themselves. I’ve carefully reflected on myself. Over the years, I have also lost my original heart. Dignity is built on mutual respect. The only reason you didn’t respect me was that I failed to respect you in the first place…”
Ding Ning’s expression turned strange after hearing Ye Shulan’s emotional speech. This old lady wasn’t bright at all, to dwell on the insignificant mistakes while ignoring the main issue and leverage on emotions.
He immediately interrupted her words with a faint smile. “Madam Ye, don’t beat around the bush. Just say what you want and don’t play the emotional card. But know this. There are only three things that I want. First, the person who beat me must apologize to me. Second, your side will bear all expenses incurred during my hospitalization. Third, I can help cure your daughter’s illness, but I don’t have the capability now. You need to give me some time. Her life is safe for three months as long as you don’t provoke her.”
Ye Shulan smiled awkwardly after Ding Ning discovered her intentions but became overjoyed after hearing his final sentence. She was so excited that she rose to her feet. “You’re willing to treat Muqing?”
“No, no, no. Madam Ye, my three conditions are in sequence. The first condition is that your son must apologize to me. As for the second condition, your side ought to pay for the hospitalization expenses in the first place. I’m the victim, after all. I’ll only consider the third condition if the first two conditions are met. I don’t think this is too much to ask for,” Ding Ning said calmly.
While speaking, he raised his index finger and wagged it.
“It’s not too much, not at all. But…”
Ye Shulan also knew that these three conditions were perfectly reasonable. He was neither blackmailing them nor deliberately trying to embarrass them.
However, the first condition was the greatest obstacle. Ye Shulan was unable to communicate with Shen Muyang, the stubborn mule. Not even bringing up his father would be effective.
Ye Shulan sighed deeply and said with embarrassment, “We’ve spoiled Muyang rotten. He and his father are carved in the same mold; both are as stubborn as a mule. Even if he knows he has done something wrong, he will never admit his mistake. I’ve lectured him all night, even crying, causing a fuss, and threatening to die. That bastard still refuses to back down. He’s stubbornly refusing to bend his neck.”
Ding Ning shook his head helplessly as he looked at Ye Shulan’s weary face and smiled. “I’m also stubborn myself, but I’m never one to force others. If your son thinks his sister’s life isn’t even worth an apology, then forget it. These three conditions are my bottom line. I think I’ve already set a very low bar for my conditions. Please go back. Besides, your daughter has three months of safety left for you to slowly consider!”
Ye Shulan nodded helplessly and said apologetically, “I know you’ve done all that you can, Doctor Ding. I’ll try my best to persuade Muyang. Have a rest; I won’t disturb you any further.”
Ding Ning suddenly felt furious after seeing how dejected she looked, a fury that was directed at Shen Muyang.
He said loudly, “Tell Shen Muyang that it’s not my style to force someone to do something. Our families have nothing to do with each other. The only reason I would treat your daughter is that I didn’t want a girl to leave the world at the prime of her youth. Otherwise, what do her living and dying have to do with me? If he does something wrong, he must have the courage to bear the consequences. If he doesn’t even have the courage to admit his mistake and endanger his sister’s life because of his so-called personality, he isn’t worthy to be a man or even a brother. How can he face his family?”
Surprised, Ye Shulan turned to look at Ding Ning with red-rimmed eyes. She didn’t understand why he would be this agitated.
Ding Ning closed his eyes and took a deep breath to pacify his emotions. Only then did he open his eyes, his calmness restored. “I’m sorry for losing my composure. I really feel bad for Shen Muqing. Shen Muyang keeps saying how much he loves his sister, but what I see is a self-centered and self-loving asshole. His so-called stubbornness is just a facade he puts up to hide the fact that he doesn’t have the courage to face his mistakes. Perhaps he’ll understand just how important family is to everyone after experiencing the separation of death. Please go back.”
Ye Shulan nodded pensively and turned to leave. Compared to how deeply Ding Ning cared for his family, Shen Muyang was like a child who refused to grow up. Without experiencing the pain of separation that death brings, he would never understand just how important family was to him.
Ding Ning lay transfixed on his sickbed, staring at the white ceiling in a daze. There were an indescribable sadness and longing in his eyes. “Dad, where have you and those Masters gone? I miss you all so much.”
It had been five years since he left the border town that he yearned for day and night, five years since he lost contact with his father. He was still not used to this bustling city with its bright lights.
Compared to the simplicity of the people in his small town, this place was filled with intrigues and schemes. He had no choice but to put on a facade to conceal the kindness in his heart and show ferocious fangs for self-protection.
Shen Muyang ignored his sister’s life and refused to apologize for his so-called ego. This touched the most sensitive bottom line in Ding Ning’s heart.
To him, nothing in this world was more important than familial love.
Having grown up in a single-parent home, Ding Ning was both unfortunate and fortunate.
He was unfortunate to lack maternal love. Moreover, his father was a taciturn butcher who spoke no more than ten words all year round. There was never a smile on his face as if he had been born with the inability to smile.
Yet, he was fortunate in that his quiet father found him four good masters to accompany him throughout his childhood.
First Master, Meng Wenhan, taught him astronomy, geography, economy, politics, and human history.
Second Master, Zhao Fugui, told him anecdotes of the Jianghu and taught him psychology, business, how to make friends, and how to survive better in society.
Third Master, Duan Xiaowu, taught him how to survive in the wild, lay traps, snipe with guns, use bows and arrows, and hunt and kill.
Fourth Master, Chen Qiao’er, taught him cooking, tolerance, and medicine.
His father had no medical knowledge but handed Chen Qiao’er their ancestral medical book “Compendium of Flora” so the latter could teach him. Meanwhile, his father taught him exquisite Cattle-butchering Skill.
After more than ten years of hard training, Ding Ning had sharpened his Cattle-butchering Skill to the point that he could operate on a white mouse with a 1.5-foot long, straight-edged machete.
Therefore, Ding Ning’s hands were stable and dry in all times. Even his temperament became placid and calm. His expression wouldn’t change even if Mount Tai collapsed in front of him.
Confucius often said that to be calm during major events. The more danger one encountered, the calmer one must be in order to maintain the clarity of mind.
Ding Ning’s masters taught him not only martial arts and crafts but also human responsibility, wisdom to distinguish right from wrong, as well as the courage to be fearless.
Ding Ning believed in the saying that he would be able to ignore the temptation before his eyes no matter how great it was, and his spine would never bend for that reason.
Ding Ning wasn’t someone who would ignore someone on their deathbed but his Second Master, Zhao Fugui, once taught him a person would be grateful to him with a small favor but would grow to hate him once his increasing demands weren’t met. People would only be more appreciative of hard-won things.
This was the real reason why he refused to let Shen Muyang go and insisted on the latter apologizing.