The boat was a five-person rowboat, with the boatman from earlier steering at the bow, and two young men at each end of the boat handling the oars. The boat swayed gently, moving swiftly.

A gentle breeze carrying the moist air of the river blew into the cabin. Mu Ruo Yan sat upright on the wooden plank, his clothes fluttering in the wind, his expression somewhat forced.

Nan Ming was such a troublemaker. He spent the entire night last night making noises on the bed, and today he dragged Tian Shu to join us on the boat. It would be strange if he didn’t look uncomfortable.

I finally understood why Mu Ruo Yan, as a nobleman from the Xiang Mansion, had such health issues. It was probably caused by Nan Ming’s antics.

But Tian Shu also enjoyed being teased by Nan Ming, or else he wouldn’t end up like this. It was like Zhou Yu and Huang Gai—one willingly provokes while the other willingly endures.

There was a thin red thread connecting the names Mu Ruo Yan and Shan Sheng Ling. How could Tian Shu not want to be teased by Nan Ming?

Suddenly, Shan Sheng Ling’s voice spoke, “These fox and wildcat, are they the pets of the nobleman? They’re quite rare creatures.”

Shan Sheng Ling started a conversation due to his lonely journey.

Heng Wen smiled, and I said, “You flatter us.” Shan Sheng Ling continued, “Nobleman, are you also heading to Lu Yang?”

Heng Wen replied, “Yes, I’ve heard that Nanguan has beautiful scenery, so I wanted to take a look.”

Shan Sheng Ling said, “When you arrive in Lu Yang, if you don’t mind, please grace my humble mansion for a meeting. Let me show some hospitality as a landlord.”

I said, “Sir Shan is too polite.”

As Shan Sheng Ling and Heng Wen conversed, the fur on the fox’s neck stood up even though it was lying down. Heng Wen patted its head, and the fur on its neck settled down. Seizing the opportunity, it climbed onto Heng Wen’s lap. The fox was well taken care of, with a plump figure and glossy fur. When a breeze blew, its snow-white fur gently swayed, as if it carried a silver sheen on its tips. This caught Mu Ruo Yan’s attention, and a hesitant look appeared on his face. He then spoke softly, “It’s a snow fox. Its fur is truly beautiful.”

Heng Wen replied, “Yes.” I said, “I bought it at the inn, but who knows what it really is.” The fox moved its ears on Heng Wen’s lap, and Mu Ruo Yan couldn’t help but ask, “Can it… be touched?”

Heng Wen leisurely said, “That’s for it to decide.”

Mu Ruo Yan approached and tentatively reached out his hand. However, the fox, being proud and majestic, likely took on this posture just to extract some favors from Heng Wen and console its unrequited love. Moreover, Mu Ruo Yan was the lover of Heng Wen’s enemy. So when Mu Ruo Yan’s hand was about to touch the fox’s head, the fox arrogantly turned its head and dodged.

Mu Ruo Yan’s hand froze in mid-air, and he smiled, saying, “It seems it’s unwilling. I’ve overstepped.”

Although he said so, his hand couldn’t help but try again to touch the fox. This time, the fox didn’t dodge and allowed Mu Ruo Yan to touch its head. Its ears twitched, and it shook its head abruptly.

Mu Ruo Yan smiled slightly, retracted his hand, and returned to his seat across from me. I watched the fox about to lie down on Heng Wen’s lap again, and I grinned, “Master Shan, would you like to come and touch it too?”

With a start, the fox leaped up, its fur standing on end, revealing sharp teeth. It jumped off Heng Wen and snorted, then found a spot on the wooden plank and lay down sulkily.

The oars creaked as the boat swayed gently.

The boatman said that we would reach Ping Jiang Ferry by evening. Heng Wen took out a book from his sleeve and pretended to read, while Mu Ruo Yan looked unwell, closing his eyes to rest. That left me and Shan Sheng Ling facing each other, looking at the scenery over each other’s heads.

Suddenly, Shan Sheng Ling said, “I heard that the Daoist is skilled at divination. I didn’t have a chance to ask at the inn. Would it be possible for you to read my fortune now?”