Laughing involuntarily, Xu Ziling replied, "I haven't made my mind on that yet; in fact, I have quit for many years, it's just that these past few days my gambling desire suddenly flared up, I could not hold my hands. That's all."
Disappointed, Hu Xiaoxian said, "That's very disappointing. I hope Gong Xiong will not flee. This time Xiaoxian came all the way to Jiujiang, my desire is to meet the so-called 'Du Xia' [gambling hero] Lei Jiuzhi. This man's gambling skill has already reached perfection, it has entered the 'calling the wind and summoning the rain' realm. Does Gong Xiong know him?"
Xu Ziling did not want to lie to her; smiling, he said, "Can Zaixia not answer this question?"
Casting a sidelong glance at him, Hu Xiaoxian said, "Gong Xiong always show profound mystery aura everywhere. If not for all your ten fingers are intact, I would think that you are him. That opponent of yours was very beautiful."
Neither confirming nor denying, Xu Ziling slightly shrugged his shoulders, and spoke calmly, "Thank you, Miss, for your praise. Because Zaixia has an important matter, I have to ask to be excused, I am asking for Miss's forgiveness."
Finished speaking, he left without waiting for an answer.
Hu Xiaoxian called out, "I hope to see Gong Xiong tomorrow night!"
Watching Xu Ziling's back as she followed him getting farther and farther away with her eyes, some kind of hard-to-describe feeling bubbled up in Hu Xiaoxian's heart.
This man, who was several years her senior, his external form was boorish, tall and straight, although definitely he was not even borderline handsome, his domineering prowess was brimming with masculine charm. Furthermore, his voice was sweet sounding, his speech was cultured and refined, neither haughty nor humble. Not a single one of his movements was not touching, confident and at ease. Plus his gambling skill was outstanding, his conduct brimming with mystery.
Even she, who has always looked for young, good-looking gentlemen as husband material, could not help having her heart moved. Would she see him tomorrow?
The cards moving back and forth, four men had played for more than a dozen rounds; each man has been the banker three times. Following ample instruction from Liu An, Kou Zhong deliberately lost in succession to the two fat sheep, one fake and one real, by acting as if he wanted to recapture his earlier loss. Naturally he could only let the opponent win small, otherwise he would run out of gold really quick.
To him, the real fat sheep was Lai Chaogui, the fake fat sheep was Lei Jiuzhi. But to Liu An and Lai Chaogui, the opposite was true, plus Kou Zhong was the other fat sheep.
The situation was complex and subtle.
It was Lei Jiuzhi's turn to be the banker. After dealing the cards, Lei Jiuzhi's hand was, from right to left, 'regular three' [(ma san) see my note above], 'three and three', 'five and six', and 'four and five'. Other than 'four and five', which was of military suit, the rest were good, valuable card of the civil suit. Even the 'four and five' was the red nine of military suit, the point was the highest.
'Ma San' was even stronger. 'Three and three' was commonly referred to 'Twelve Mount Wu'. 'Five and six' was 'Chu-Han Contention' [(206-202 BC), power struggle between Liu Bang of Han and Xiang Yu of Chu]. As the cards were laid out, unexpectedly it was the case of 'banker eats all'.
According to the rules previously agreed, the other three players had to pay double.
Ling Gu uttered a sigh of admiration. While looking at the cards, half of her body was leaning against Lei Jiuzhi's shoulder.
But Lai Chaogui and Liu An's faces did not change. Although until this moment they have not played any trick, they only use their hand to feel the number of dots on the card and determine which card to play, but because Kou Zhong was willing to cooperate with them, there has been no problem and they had the situation under control. This time they actually let Lei Jiuzhi scored a big win, playing the 'throwing a brick to attract jade' trick.
Lei Jiuzhi reached out to stroke Ling Gu's cheek again. Assuming an air of considering-himself-unexcelled-in-the-world, he sighed dramatically and said, "The tailwind on my hand is just too strong! Three gentlemen still want to continue?"
Letting out a fake laughter Liu An said, "Is Chen Laoban getting bored just sitting here?"
Lei Jiuzhi laughed and said, "How can winning money be boring? I am just thinking of having a heart-to-heart chat with the beauty, seeking some pleasure!"
Ling Gu giggled tenderly; her attractiveness has just shot through the roof.
Kou Zhong suddenly realized that Ling Gu must be someone from Lai Chaogui's side, because big casinos like Yin Ru Ge would never allow their staffs to flirt openly with the guests.
Plus Lai Chaogui and Liu An might be afraid that in order to seek reward, Ling Gu might help Lei Jiuzhi.
Lai Chaogui pushed his remaining twenty something taels of gold to the middle of the table and calmly said, "Since Chen Xiong is anxious to seek pleasure, we might as well put big bet. Win or lose will be decided in one hand. Chen Xiong, what do you think?"
Lei Jiuzhi laughed aloud and said, "Even if Jia Xiong wins, you could only win half of the money in my hand. But if you lose, you will be immediately out of the game. Jia Xiong better think clearly."
Remaining calm and unruffled in the midst of chaos, Lai Chaogui took another ten taels of gold from his pouch, which he added to the pile of gold already on the table. Smiling, he said, "How about this?"
Lei Jiuzhi and Kou Zhong pretended to be greedy; they stared without blinking on the small hill of gold on the table.
After signaling Kou Zhong with his eyes, Liu An also pushed out his remaining six taels of gold, and cried out, "I will also go all out in this hand!"
When the three men's eyes turned toward him, Kou Zhong showed an uncertain expression first, and then gnashing his teeth he said, "I will join you."
Lai Chaogui took out his smoking pipe, lit the tobacco, took a deep pull and then said, "Shuffle the cards!"