Chapter 3: The Black Cat’s Death
These days, there was no peace and security in Shanghai’s shoal. If it wasn’t Qing Bang causing trouble everywhere, it was news about how the Japanese were ready to attack. The gunfight that broke out near the gate of Ye Xin Girls’ Middle School also caused my father to feel that the situation was getting serious, so he decided to personally pick me up from school.
My second mother was the most verbose out of all family members. After dinner was over, she spoke to my mother. “Alas, look at how the Master is treating Bingqing. It’s truly different from how he treats Xiao Feng, our son. Really, even though he is the only son of the Ye Family, I’ve never seen the Master treat him as if he is holding a treasure in the palm of his hand.”
At that time, Third Mother was fiddling with the embroidery needles in her hand. Hearing the vague hint of complaint in Second Mother’s voice, she couldn’t help herself from interrupting with a smile.
“Second Sister, Bingqing was seriously ill when she was a child. She almost lost her life if Master didn’t send her to a foreign country for medical treatment. Furthermore, she has just come back from studying in a foreign country. Of course, Master will treat her like a lost treasure. Don’t be jealous.”
Second Mother was a little annoyed at being caught red-handed, but she still maintained the smile on her face and said, “Third Sister, in fact, I’m no better than you. Although you are a tailor’s daughter, my wedding was still grander than yours. However, your family background is pure, unlike my own unfortunate background. At best, people will call me a movie star; at worst, they will call me in the same way they do an opera singer. I only have this one son, Xiao Feng, so I expect him to bring honor to his ancestors—”
“Second Sister, although the status of a woman can’t match with a man, Yujie is about to marry Captain Du, a young and promising man whom Master praised as a rare talent. So, won’t she be able to bring glory to her ancestor as well if she marries the boy?”
Hearing that, Second Mother’s displeasure was about to explode, not even caring about the fact that they were still in the hall downstairs. Sensing this, her fifteen years old son, Xiao Feng, and her six years old daughter, Tao Tao kept their mouths shut. They didn’t dare to make a sound due to the brewing flames of war that appeared without rhyme or reason.
At this time, my sister, Yujie went over to Second Mother and put her arms around her neck intimately and she said smiling, “Mother Yun, don’t get angry and harm your smooth skin. Excessive anger might lead Mother Yun’s skin to wrinkle over time! Anyway, Yujie couldn’t properly watch the movie Mother Yun acted in last time. Could Mother Yun lend it to me again?”
Second Mother had no other hobbies aside from bragging about the films she had acted in. As such, when she met someone who liked the movies she was in, she would forget all her troubles. That was why she happily followed Yujie upstairs without bothering Third Mother any longer.
It was only after her figure had disappeared from sight in the stairway that my mother sighed and said, “Ling Yue, it’s not like you don’t know Ah Yun’s temper. She can be rather preposterous when attention is on her. If you ignore her, then she will naturally calm down on her own.”
This was something I didn’t know. Frankly speaking, my presence in this family was a bit similar to a stranger’s presence. Even though I felt like my parents’ doting of me did go a little too far, I was still their daughter they hadn’t seen for ten years. As such, to me, their reaction didn’t feel out of bound in the slightest. Because I didn’t come back to Shanghai until last year.
Don’t assume anything. This didn’t mean that I didn’t want to return during the whole ten years of being away. I did want to come back more than once. However, China wasn’t a peaceful place. Wars were brewing everywhere with no pause. While other people were busy avoiding the disaster that was war, I was instead in a hurry to go back home; the very place where wars were brewing everywhere. In the end, I had to give up my plan under my father’s strong opposition, thus causing me this current situation.
Fortunately, my brothers and sisters had simple characters. To them, it wasn’t unusual to have sisters coming out of thin air. As such, they weren’t shy at all in pestering me to ask inconsequential questions about foreigners, such as what those blue-eyed and yellow-haired people liked to eat and drink.
Time passed, and by the time Father came back, it was already very late. He came back while I was doing my homework downstairs. I knew it simply because I happened to overhear the sound of the housekeeper opening the iron door for him. However, when I laid eyes on my father, I noticed his brows were tightly locked together.
It was not only me who noticed, but my mother and Third Mother also noticed. While Third Mother quickly brought the pair of children upstairs to sleep, my mother ordered someone to make a cup of Bi Luochun1Jue:Bi luochun green tea is one of the 10 famous Chinese teas. Bi luochun is produced in Dongting mountains, Taihu Lake, Wuxian, Jiangsu. Bi luochun is always known in China by the saying “one tender three fresh”. This phrase means the bud is very tender, the color is bright, the taste is mellow, while the aroma is strong. for Father. She presented it to him and asked, “Master, is there something troubling you? If there is, please have a cup of tea first to calm yourself so your mind will be clear.”
“Nothing is peaceful in this troubled world.” Father sighed heavily, obviously troubled as he continued speaking, “Do you remember the other night? There was a murder of a revolutionary member near Ye Xin Girls’ Middle School. The revolutionist died in the alley, but there was a Chinese textbook with Ye Xin Girl’s Middle School’s stamp beside him. Here comes the worst part. Although he was only a simple revolutionist, he has the secret information Colonel Lu needs, but they can’t find the information on his body! So, they figure that it must be on the person who last saw him, the person who left that Chinese textbook with Ye Xin’s stamp on it. As such, the colonel has laid down an order for me to search for the owner of this textbook. If I can’t find the owner, then the school will be searched.”
It was only then I realized how I had lost my Chinese textbook. Fortunately for me, I only used my textbook for reading and had never written notes or my name on it. If there were, then the matter would be very troublesome.
“Bingqing, normally I wouldn’t ask this of you, but now I have no choice. You should pay attention to your schoolmates and check whether there are any female students who have lost their Chinese textbook.”
“I understand,” I responded quietly while carefully masking my true feelings so no one would know what I was feeling underneath. Then, I bid them good night one by one before going upstairs to my room to have a rest. To be truthful, the only thing I remember clearly of that time was the relieved smile on that man’s face before he died.
However, I could interpret that smile as one of relief that everything was finally over or one of accomplishment that he had completed something important. At that thought, a flash of insight suddenly appeared in my mind. I finally recalled that he seemed to have yanked my handbag twice. Since it was stained with blood, when I got home, I threw that bag to the corner of my room’s wall.
The bag was still in the corner where I had thrown it. I took it and looked through it carefully, trying to see whether my speculation was correct or not. When I was about to give up, I found a small bamboo stick in the bag. Taking it in my hand, I found its center had been hollowed out and was stuffed with a small paper ball. Opening the paper, I read.
Qin Shiyue was a nationalist party’s spy who broke into our organization. Please report to the higher authorities as soon as possible.
Right Black Cat.