Feeling despondent, Stellan ventured alone to the river in a secluded northern town. The river had solidified into ice. He consumed a portion of wine and reclined leisurely. It was a blessing to be born in winter and perish in winter.
While in a state of dizziness, a middle-aged gentleman named Du Fu lifted him from the frozen expanse: “Young man, why did you succumb to slumber here? If you remain frozen, your life cannot be saved. Hence, hasten back to your abode!” Stellan felt slightly disheartened and angered, yet he refrained from venting his frustrations upon his “savior.”
Du Fu donned a tattered coat as he glided across the icy surface. Observing Stellan’s stationary stance, he added, “Winter strips away all hues. Few venture to this place. It is perilous for you to linger here alone.” “Then why are you here?”
Stellan furrowed his brow. Du Fu disclosed his intention to depart from the town.
“You traversed the river instead of the road?” Stellan inquired.
Du Fu shrugged, wearing a faintly bitter smile. “It is swifter this way. Surely, it is the chief advantage of the frigid winter!” With that, he gracefully skated away.
Having assimilated Du Fu’s words and beholding his elegant figure in motion, Stellan perceived life akin to the frozen river. Amidst the river’s total congelation, he had to learn to derive pleasure from hardships. Suddenly, he yearned to skate and called out to Du Fu, “Sir, I implore you to wait a moment—”
Stellan bestowed some monetary compensation upon Du Fu and inquired if he had an urgent motive for departure. If he was not pressed for time, could he teach him to skate on the frozen river? Du Fu remained bewildered, unable to react for a considerable duration.
“Pardon me,” Stellan said. Observing Du Fu’s sincerity and urgency, he extracted spare skates from his backpack and resolved to instruct him.
Stellan possessed exceptional acumen and swiftly acquired proficiency within half a day. He bid farewell to the town and returned to the city where he had previously experienced repression. It transpired that after graduating from Strang University, he spurned offers from prominent corporations and tenaciously embarked on entrepreneurship, disregarding the dissent of those around him. Ensnared by deceit, he suffered a resounding defeat and plunged into profound debt. Unable to withstand the relentless pursuit of his creditors, Stellan was plagued by the notion of suicide.
Upon his return, Stellan actively attended to various matters. After three arduous years, he not only liquidated his debts and steered his company towards success, but also encountered the love of his life while skating.
A year later, Stellan entered matrimony. While deliberating with his spouse on their honeymoon destination, he suddenly recollected Du Fu and the frozen river. Coincidentally, it was winter once again, prompting Stellan to propose a sojourn for ice skating on the frozen river, the place of his rebirth. His wife readily consented.
Four years later, the town had undergone a remarkable transformation. The frozen river buzzed with activity as numerous individuals engaged in skating and revelry. A woman peddled food near the edge of the glacier, her gentle gaze perpetually directed towards a single point.
Stellan followed the woman’s line of sight and beheld a towering figure executing intricate maneuvers on the ice, diligently instructing a youth on the art of skating, eliciting cheers from the onlookers.
“That is extraordinary!” Stellan exclaimed involuntarily. The woman averted her gaze, turned towards Stellan, and proudly declared, “He is my husband.”
Stellan murmured softly, “Ah,” and concurrently experienced a surge of joy upon realizing that the man was Du Fu.
As their eyes locked, Du Fu also recognized Stellan, and the two embraced each other warmly, patting each other’s shoulders. Stellan proceeded to recount to Du Fu the sequence of events from that year, expressing heartfelt gratitude: “Thank you for saving me and assisting me.” Unexpectedly, Du Fu responded with emotion, “No, no, you aided me!” Du Fu had originally toiled as a laborer in a local factory, burdened by the illness that had befallen his wife since their union, and his family constantly struggled to make ends meet. Following the passing winter, their circumstances deteriorated further: the factory shuttered its operations, his wife’s ailment intensified, and they lacked the means to procure treatment. Du Fu felt desolate, yet his compassionate wife implored him to abandon her and seek a new world. On the day he encountered Stellan, Du Fu resolved to forsake his beloved and embark on a flight.
However, his encounter with Stellan ignited a revelation. Being an adept skater himself, he realized that mostpeople in the vicinity were unfamiliar with the art. Given the dearth of entertainment during the harsh winter, why not employ the natural ice rink to teach people skating and earn a livelihood? If one could rescue a stranger, how could they callously abandon the one they loved and abscond?
Du Fu clenched his jaw and remained, instructing people in the art of skating to generate income for the sustenance of his family and the treatment of his spouse’s affliction. When the glacier eventually thawed, he established an adjacent ice rink. Over time, the enterprise flourished, and his wife’s health gradually ameliorated.
Upon hearing Du Fu’s account, Stellan grew even more elated. He wept and embraced Du Fu tightly once more. Despite the bone-chilling cold, the two of them sensed a warm zephyr caressing their beings.