The mountains were so huge, rolling from one to another and stretching to the distant until they were totally out of sight in the misty dusk.
We were on the highest of the Mount Ailao, walking thorough a dense forest on such a stiff mountain, only to meet few people during the whole day. By sunset, we were a somewhat anxious that if we could not reach the village over the mountain, we had to camp in this mountain overnight.
My companion was Mr Yu who had lived in the frontier for ages. All of a sudden, he pointed to the front and exclaimed, “Look! The flowers of pear!”
The white flowers were blooming all over the whole trees! What a beautiful pear forest!
Yu said to me, “since there is pear trees here, there must be families ahead!”
A new waning moon was rising gradually, helping us to walk thorough the pear forest. The wind in the mountain was chilly smashing to our faces and the white petals of the pear flowers were scattered lightly on our bodies.
“Look! There is a house!” said Yu.
A thatched cabin with a muddy wall circled by dried bamboos was appearing in our sight by the edge of the forest. Inside the house there was no light and man. We were wondering who was the owner of the cabin.
Yu took a torch and found the door was unlocked. On the white door was written two two words “come in”.
We pushed the door open. The ashes in the oven was cold, which clearly indicated that the the cabin was not inhabited for a long time. A crude bed was covered by thick straws. By the wall was a large bamboo tube full of water. I took a sip and found it really cool! Since both of us were thoroughly exhausted, we decided to accommodate ourselves here overnight.
Yu scanned the whole house with the torch and spotted some big-sized words on the wall. They told us that there were dry woods behind the house and upon the beam was a bamboo tubes containing rice and salt as well as hot pepper.
We began to light up the fire and cook our meal. The warm fire, along with the aromatic rice and hot water wiped out our fatigue and hunger completely. We were lying on bed, feeling endlessly grateful to the owner of the house. I asked Yu curiously, “What is the owner of the house? Can you get it?” He responded to me, “ Maybe he is an old man guarding the forests on the mountain.”
All of a sudden, the poor was pushed open and came in an old man with hair and bear totally white. He was standing in front of the door with an airgun in hands and a bag of rice on the shoulder. He must be the owner! Both of Yu and me grasped his hands tightly and poured out our grateful words to him constantly. The old man was opening his eyes wide and seemingly wanted to say something but had not the chance. At last, until Yu and I kept silent, he smiled to us, “I am not the owner but a passer-by!”
We invited the old man by the oven and treated him with hot water and rice. He smile and thanked us again and again.
It was evident that he was an experienced hunter in the mountain. After the supper, he lit up a cigarette and said, “I am sending rice to the owner!”
“Who is the owner?”
“Then whom will you hand over the rice?”
“Just put it on the beam.”
“Are you joking?”
The old man was leisurely smoking and said, “I am serious.” After a while, he continued saying, “I am from the village by a river over the mountain. I love hunting in my spare time. Last month I was chasing a group of deer and got lost in the forest. I had no idea why I would finally walk here. At that time I was all too weary and ran out of my food, yearning for a house to rest. At my disappointment, I spotted this pear forests and the house, inside which there was wood, rice and water but owner. I torn down a piece of red cloth from my scarf and pegged it to the door with a feather, telling the owner I had bothered to live here and would say thanks in a few days.”
Then he pointed to the door and said, “Look! The cloth is still there!”
The old man continued, “I had been prying for the owner of the cabin and ultimately learnt from a horseman that the owner was a girl called “pear flower”. She devoted herself to helping the passers-by of the mountain.
Only until then did we know that everything including rice, water, dry woods as well as the warm “come in” on wall was from the lovely girl “pear flower”. What a kind flower!
The old man said, “All the passers-by were carefully attended to and felt extremely grateful and tried their best to put what they had taken back in the cabin to facilitate others. So I am specially carrying the rice there.”
That night I slept sound. In my dream I was strolling along the pear forest and saw a lovely girl singing amid the pear flowers.
The next morn, we did not start out right away. Nor did the old man. Instead, we resolved to fix the thatched cabin and dig deeper in the trench. Even a little girl knew to serve the public, so we should learn from her.
When we were laboring hot, a crowd of little girls flashed out of the forest, in front of whom was a girl of 14 or 15 years old with two slim curved eyebrows and big crystal eyes. I thought she must be “ pear flower”.
The old man came to them instantly and bowed deeply to solute them, which frightened the girls away like a group of birds. Then they laughed happily, “Hi my dear grandpa! We do not deserve your bow!” He said solemnly, “Thank you for building this cabin!”
The leading girl was waving her hands and said, “Do not thank us! It was built by the PLA!”
Then the little girl told us the history of the house. About a decade ago, there was a team of soldiers passed here and stayed in the forest overnight, only to be showered by the downpour. Then they thought that it would be wonderful if there was a house to shelter the passers-by. The next day, they cut trees to build the house. Her sister was accidentally right there witnessing everything. She ask the soldiers curiously, “Are you going to live here for long?” “No,” said the soldiers, “We are doing for the passers-by under the instruction of Lei Feng.” Her sister was deeply moved and since then, she would often come to manage the house when she cut woods or picked up some mushrooms.
So the little girl here was still not “pear flower”. “Where is pear flower?” I asked.
“She was married at the side over the mountain a few years ago!”
So needless to say, after her sister’s marriage, it was the little girl who took over the job and took care of the house.
Looking at the lively little girls in front of me and the pure pear flowers, I could not help thinking of a poetic sentence, “The pear flowers were blooming all the way!”