Fan Sizhe’s expression changed from a look of shock to one of admiration.
"What is it?" Fan Xian looked at him with a strange smile.
Fan Sizhe could no longer tolerate his gaze, a gaze that seemed extremely gentle but that was in reality limitlessly cold. He trembled as he spoke,
"I’m just surprised you wrote that book."
Fan Xian was baffled.
"You’ve read this book?"
In his memories of his previous world, anyone who read Dream of the Red Chamber before the age of 12 and loved it was likely to become a hipster or a rogue who cheated female hipsters.
"No." Fan Sizhe shook his head in a hurry, "I read a little of it and thought it boring." He felt he regained confidence with these words, and held his head higher.
"My teacher read it, and he said…"
He deliberated before deciding to tell the truth, "He was full of compliments. He said that the author wrote colorfully and was brimming with talent."
The high praises failed to make Fan Xian blush. Instead he smile and asked, "So you admire me?"
"I admire my teacher." Fan Sizhe thought about it. "And my teacher really likes the book you wrote."
All of a sudden, his eyes sparkled with greed as he said enviously, "Although I’ve not read it, I know that it is sold by chapters on the market. Each chapter could be sold for a price as high as eight taels of silver."
He nodded his head and regarded Fan Xian like an idol, "Making so much money just for some words is quite impressive… I think I understand why my sister admires you so much now."
"I haven’t made money off of it," Fan Xian corrected him. He was confused as to why Fan Sizhe viewed him so highly all of a sudden because of the money he could make rather than his apparent talent in writing stories. After some thought he understood: his innate passionate love for money was inherited from his father, who was the emperor’s personal accountant.
Fan Sizhe rubbed his hands together and spoke in a frenzy, saying, "If you ever wish to make money off your talent in writing in the future, then I will happily buy shares."
Fan Xian sighed as he realized that his brother was quite innocent; merely, it was a shame that they were so conflicted in how they saw the benefits.. Although Fan Xian did not really plan on taking over the Fan business, the idea was deeply ingrained in the minds of the Liu Clan.
In the spur of the moment, Fan Xian decided to attempt something, as after all, he was related to his brother by blood, and it was in his interest to avoid a tragic conclusion..
"You haven’t told me why you’ve been following me; don’t you have school today?" Fan Xian had made up his mind and decided to chat with his stepbrother.
Although Fan Sizhe was young, he was not stupid. He knew that what he said earlier may have pleased Fan Xian, so he smiled sweetly and replied, "Because… mum says… you’re competent, and that I should hang around with you more…that you would be a good influence."
Fan Xian sighed on the inside. No one could hold a candle to him when it came to being cute, and so Fan Sizhe’s cute act put him to shame.
Fan Xian was clear it was Lady Liu’s idea to have Fan Sizhe follow him, but there was no reason for Fan Sizhe to flatter him; even if he realized Fan Xian was treated more importantly than a useful tool by their father, there was still no sense in doing so.
Dinner was served. Fan Xian’s chopsticks flew as fast as lightning around the table as he picked up his food with precision and put it in his mouth. He was oblivious to the dumbfounded expressions of his siblings.
He licked his lips as he tasted the food daintily and he nodded, "The cuisine of the Capital is quite delicious."
Fan Ruoruo was delicate and ate only a little, her body turned to the side as she concentrated on the book Dream of the Red Chamber. Meanwhile, Fan Xian and Fan Sizhe were munching away, with Fan Sizhe growing more depressed at as he ate, not understanding why he was chubbier than Fan Xian, who ate faster and more than him.
Fan Ruoruo’s frown grew deeper as she realized that this copy of Dream of the Red Chamber was practically identical to the one that was in her room, the only difference being the that the excerpt concerning Miss Duo that was intentionally extracted from the first page and that might lead the capital people to see Dream of the Red Chamber as a dirty book.
Seeing her expression, Fan Xian knew what was on her mind. He smiled and placed his chopsticks down on the plate of fish, saying, "This is merely a marketing method; what’s there to be upset about?" Their voices slowly increased in volume.
Fan Ruoruo guessed what marketing method meant but Fan Sizhe was completely confused.
"Before someone buys a book, they will flick through it for an idea of what it’s about. Things like the foreword, preface, postscript or prologue must be written clearly- not necessarily to explain the novel in full, but to catch their interest."
Fan Xian took a sip of tea and continued to talk, "Sister, you are angry because you feel that the bookseller has no morals, as they placed Miss Duo’s excerpt at the front which could easily cause the misunderstanding that the story was a romantic affair novel, right?"
Fan Ruoruo blinked her eyes and nodded. Treating such a lofty novel as something so unrespectable- wasn't this something to be mad at?
"But the booksellers must do this." Fan Xian Looked at his sister’s serious face and burst out laughing. "If it were me, I would have been even more excessive. This is a copy of chapter ten, so on the title page I would have wrote the most intriguing excerpts designed to intrigue the customer so much that they must buy the book to find out more."
"Ones like Miss Duo’s excerpt."
"How about this chapter?" Fan Ruoruo understood what her brother meant, and with a slight smile, she pointed to a section of the book, chapter twenty-three: Lines from ‘Romance of the West Chamber quoted for fun, a vibrant song from ‘The Peony Pavilion’ singing the distresses of the heart.’ This chapter talked about things which happened before the flower burial, and there were no sentences which would have made someone blush.
Fan Xian chuckled as he spoke, "The words’ vibrant song makes it easy. If it was me, I would use the excerpt… where more than half of the people in the garden were girls, and it was a chaotic and innocent place. People lay around lazily, laughing to themselves. At the time, Baoyu had something on her mind and wasn't herself. She hung out in the garden and only messed around outside, yet once again she stupidly… witnessed the red array of flowers."
"And then I would outline the words lay around lazily, laughing to themselves and playing around, stupidly and red array in the color red."
Fan Ruoruo looked down in thought and realized that this really seemed to work. The words meant nothing special on their own, but once combined, and in addition the words ‘vibrant song’ in the title, a vast room for imagination was created.
She blushed, and spoke in a low voice, "It would seem that brother has much experience in this sort of business."
Fan Sizhe, however, was stunned; he gave his brother thumbs up and said, "Big brother, you really are full of talent."
Fan Xian snorted and spat out all the tea in his mouth.
At the moment, a highly arrogant voice could be heard from outside of their compartment, "Just where did those ignorant people come from? How do they dare call a mind full of dirty thoughts talented?"