He had been serving in the Zhang Family for dozens of years, going through numerous hardships in the business field for over 2 decades. Therefore, his ability for identifying people had been cultivated to the brink of perfection.
Moveover this was the only classmate of the only successor of the Zhang Family.
To say it bluntly, how could the old lady casually permit her granddaughter to go to school by herself? Not only was the secret well kept, they also had to ascertain people’s background of the university through investigation.
Shi Shijie interestingly thought, that within these 2 years, Zhang Qingrui sometimes spoke of this classmate in the chat with the old master; however, what she didn’t know was, her grandmother had already investigated the identity of her classmate.
Zhang Lilanfang shouldn’t be blamed for doing such things. She called herself ‘old woman’, who was old in age but young in mind. Through so many years of trials and hardships being a widow and taking care of an orphan granddaughter alone, if she didn’t keep scheming as for how she used to be in Li’s Family as a servant, she wouldn’t be able to take root in this place.
In the old master’s eyes, though she never saw this classmate before, but he could be categorized as one who came from a decent family; so, she didn’t talk more about him even though her granddaughter occasionally mentioned him.
Zhang Qingrui had commented this classmate in front of her grandma, saying he was a quiet person that was rare.
The standard of evaluating a person varied, like intelligent, kind, progressive, with wild ambition and gentle, etc. but she specifically used ‘quiet’, which made Zhang Lilanfang feel relieved.
"Manager, you invited Mr. Luo here right?" As Shi Shijie recognized him, he forwardly asked with a smile.
His real intention was not bad… but he did bad things with good intention, in Zhang Qingrui’s mind. But since he said so, Zhang Qingtui had to say very helplessly, "Kind of…"
Who knows if she said no, what this uncommon ‘classmate’ would do to them?
This guy could convene wandering ghosts freely and smoothly and scour off her memory like a piece of cake
It was quite mysterious!
"Since you came, then come in." Shi Shijie looked at Luo Qiu with politeness, "Mr. Luo, sorry to bother you last time. I will have a drink with you later to count as an apology."
Well…It was probably an aspirational thing for countless people to receive such a polite manner from Manager Shi who came from the consortium of the Zhang Family.
However, the social status and wealth were less valuable to the club boss than a ball with a story. However, Luo Qiu didn’t want to refuse other’s good intentions.
Since he was found, then go in---it was a vanity fair inside.
It was one thing to hear about it; feeling it was another matter.
"You didn’t tell me yet… What did that girl come here for?" Ms. Zhang lowered her voice and asked Luo Qiu.
She gave this birthday banquet a lot of thought, so before knowing the situation better, her only wish was not to screw up this banquet.
Who knows what this guy was planning privately, who freely went and came in the underground palace of Ulan Bator?
"There might be some little situation." Luo Qiu glanced at the crowd, suddenly saying, "But don’t worry, I’ll send your grandmother a present as compensation."
"Little, little situation?"
Luo Qiu said coolly, "You’d better not get too close to me. If so, I’ll appear to more and more people."
Zhang Qingrui rolled up her eyes, "You’re a common person, is there anyone that cannot see you?"
About the sense of presence, even Luo Qiu took a while to understand it. Therefore, he was in no mood to explain it to her. "You just leave me alone. Your grandma is looking at you, just go to her."
With slight hesitation in mind, Zhang Qingrui had to listen to Luo Qiu for now; yet Ms. Zhang was still anxious about this. On her way to her grandma, she looked back repeatedly.
But just at this moment, someone else caught this sight.
Who was this young man? He was even escorted by Ms. Zhang and Shi Shijie?
Ms. Zhang constantly turned about… like a young girl, who was unwilling to part with her boyfriend.
Gee… where was he? He was here just now but disappeared at an instant?
"Young master, that should be Ms. Zhang’s friend. The one who we met at Gu Yue Zhai last time." Cheng Yun now whispered near Zhong Luochen’s ear.
Zhong Luochen took a glance at his grandpa who also saw this. He made a ‘hush’ gesture without words, as if no waves were raised in his heart.
Old Zhong was absorbed in thought. At the same time, Zhang Lilanfang now watched her granddaughter coming to her.
Old Zhang grabbed her daughter’s palm, smiling faintly, "You aren’t going to introduce your friend to me?"
Zhang Qingrui didn’t want her old granny to know such fantastic issue, so she answered, "He…he’s shy."
Hopefully, Luo Qiu didn’t hear that… she peeped at him, but couldn’t find where he was… However, she witnessed the girl that came in with Luo Qiu’s help, walking towards the band.
The young violinist of the band walked out---It was the halftime break now.
Viewing Zhang Qingrui’s small act, Zhang Lilanfang suddenly said, "Dance with me for the first performance."
"Sure." Zhang Qingrui nodded.
This was the last event before drinking the toast.
Fang Jiping had just paused his performance. Seeing Manman’s entering, he felt very surprised… but Fang Ruchang looked sort of displeased.
Fang Jiping loved this girl but dared not to speak of her to Fang Ruchang. However, since Manman was here, he couldn’t pretend that he didn’t know her. Struggling with the pressure that came from Fang Ruchang’s look, he pulled Manman out to the tableware-setting room.
"Manman, why are you here?" Fang Jiping grabbed Manman’s hands, asking with a faint smile.
Manman sensed Fang Jiping’s happiness because of her coming, then smiled sweetly, but her look became serious.
Manman lips moved, shouting abruptly, "Baby Tiger…"
His delightfulness due to her girlfriend’s appearance seemed to curdle at this moment. Out of instinct, he let go her hands, but pretended to know nothing soon, "What did you say?"
"Seems that’ true…"
Looking at Fang Jiping’s reaction, Manman gaped, looking him up and down carefully, "Jiping… look at this."
"Stay calm." Manman deeply breathed, taking out her cellphone and clicking on the video, before giving it to Fang Jiping.
---‘Your son is over there!’
It was clear enough to distinguish the two people’s face…the heart-rending yelp, going over the guard bar, finally falling into water, and the struggling person in the water.
And… the merciless man.
Fang Jiping hands quivered, the video was therefore shaking.
"I don’t know who shot this but the man should be your father eh?" Manman hesitated, "I met an aunt who was drowning. She seems to be the aunt in the video. Yang Ping… Jiping, do you know her?"
The cellphone fell from Fang Jiping’s hands at one blow and his eyes turned red abruptly.
As Manman was about to pick up the phone, a person suddenly dashed over. Grabbing it more quickly and clicked open the video.
His face turned alarmed, "How… how come… who shot it…"
Since he caught Fang Jiping’s look, the jaunty look due to an unknown girl he never saw, he guessed it in his heart. He felt angry concerning the issue that Fang Jiping hid from him and got together with this kind of common girl.
Or it could be said… it was unrest due to losing control.
Fang Ruchang followed them and hid outside the door, eavesdropping on their conversation…but he heard the shocking talk and the vague video sound.
Fang Ruchang wanted to seek confirmation of the video content quickly that put him in an extremely disturbing situation---So, he exposed himself.
"You…you lied to me." Fang Jiping raised up to see this man with an uneasy expression.
Fang Ruchang hurried to say something… but what he could say? This video was like an ironclad proof beyond dispute.
"You liar!!!!" As if going crazy, Fang Jiping grasped Fang Ruchang’s collar, pushing him to the wall, being agitated, "You liar!! What did you tell me! You told me she left after receiving your money… but, but you even… how could you treat her like this!! You…How can you do this! You brute!!"
Fang Jiping had never acted so cruel and fierce before, as if that anger could swallow him at any time. Fang Ruchang became more flurried, "Jiping, listen to me… I just, I lost my head for the moment."
"Lost your head for the moment?" Fang Jiping felt angrier, "That’s a human life! How can you so easily… you!!"
He directly grasped Fang Ruchang, pulling him outside.
"What… what are you doing?" Fang Ruchang was panicked.
"This is voluntary manslaughter… I won’t forgive you!"
Fang Ruchang was scared, "Don’t… Jiping, do it out of consideration for me. Be nostalgic, at least thinking of who saved you from human traders. During these 20 years, I supported you to go to school. When did I treat you shabbily? I, I just lost my head for the moment, I’m afraid this woman will grab you from me…"
Fang Jiping sneered, "Quite a nice explanation but you are just afraid that Wu’s Family will know your filthy instinct!"
Fang Ruchang was clear that if he was pulled out of this door, it would definitely come to the worst ending; so he had to continue to implore, "Jiping, listen to me… I know I did wrong. But I can make up for you! What about this? I’ll go to Yang Ping and kneel to apologize, then we take her to our house and support her remaining life. I swear there won’t be any single little trick! Think about it, I apologize, we support Yang Ping together, you’re still my son, and could go further on the way of being a better violinist… and, if you like this girl, marry her, ok? Everything will be better."
Hearing this, Manman couldn’t help it and became angry. "How can you be so shameless!"
Fang Ruchang hurried to kneel down, pressing his suit, "Considering these 20 years of mutual affection, at least give me a chance to correct the error…I beg you please, at least going through today, let me apologize to your mother, please! If, if your mother doesn’t forgive me, then… then take me to the police station! I know I did wrong, really!"
Looking at Fang Ruchang constantly made kowtows, Fang Jiping didn’t know what to do. He subconsciously turned to Manman.
While Manman glanced at Fang Jiping with complex emotions, saying helplessly, "You make the decision…"
"After the banquet, you must go to the hospital with me! Account for every evil doings clearly!" Fang Jiping gritted his teeth, lifting Fang Ruchang by one hand, expressions turned indifferently, "For the sake of these 20 years of fostering."
"No problem." Fang Ruchang couldn’t haggle over the transformation of their status.
He just wanted to buy as much time as possible. So long as Fang Jiping didn’t get the impulse, then he would have opportunity--- he was quite clear about Fang Jiping’s indecisive character.
"The next is a dance music. After it, I’ll follow you."
Walking out of this tea room, Fang Ruchang promised again, as if he was afraid Fang Jiping would change his mind. However, with a face full of anger, Fang Jiping didn’t reply.
Fang Jiping tidied his clothes, the banquet emcee was now ceremoniously declaring the next program, dance.
"…On this gorgeous evening, our famous commander Mr. Fang Ruchang will lead his band, to play the music ‘Salut d’Amour’ of Edgar! Let’s applaud to welcome him!"
The audience burst into thunderous applause.
However, the light completely deepened. In the huge banquet hall, only a beam of spotlight projected down to the piano in the corner.
Who knows when the piano place was changed. It’s back was now facing all members and there seemed to be one person sitting in front.
However, the piano lid totally covered this person. In the dark, the piano was especially dazzling under the spotlight.
The music started, a few musical notes flew out and a young and powerful voice came out through the sound equipment setting in the hall.
"A special programme, sorry for the delay, everybody." That piano-player said softly, "A short story."
Since it was called a special program… then it must have been arranged by the host?
Everybody listened to it quietly… even though the music was not that matured in the view of those who knew the ropes.
Zhang Lilanfang glimpsed at her granddaughter, voicing softly, "What did you arrange for me?"
Zhang Qingrui… Ms. Zhang didn’t arrange this at all. She just figured out who this guy was through distinguishing the voice.
When she was to explain something to make clear this, the piano player continued to talk after a heavy note.
"In a small quiet village, a woman’s husband left her early. He said he went to work in another place but never came back later. Soon after, the woman heard that this man had remarried outside and had a kid. The woman didn’t know if her husband would come back but she knew that communication had been broken off with her husband."
The music ran softly, just like confiding in a low sound.
"She had gone out to seek for long. Eventually, she came back to this quiet village in despair. The woman looked at her little kid, who looked dignified and strong with a pair of beautiful eyes. The mother’s family of this woman urged her to remarry, but with the requirement that she cannot bring this kid any longer. However, she gave up and intended to raise this kid up by herself."
The music tempo turned quicker.
"She undertook all the work, no matter farm work or family livelihood. The life was hard, but it passed smoothly. When the woman thought she would foster this kid till he grown up, the uncertain fate torment her again. Her 3-year-old kid caught a serious illness, which was an unsustainable heavy burden. She borrowed money from her fellow villagers, leaving no means untried, but she couldn’t even gather enough money to treat her kid to conquer the disease. Afterwards, the woman made a decision that had her repent a lifetime."
The tempo suddenly became slowly.
"Later on, the village was not quiet any longer. Who knows since when, some outsider came to this village, starting a gambling business. The square dice with six different points, one two, three four, five six. It seemed these points had an endless fascination. They could have people gain a year of income in only one night and vice versa… They, seemed to be the last hope to this woman.
Together with the music, someone held their breath, as if they could all see this woman going in with hope, and coming out with a devastated mood… After all, such things were commonly seen in the society.
People here had heard such things but never experienced them. They suddenly thought they couldn’t show empathy to this story in the environment with piano music.
"In this gamble, the woman succeeded. Unexpectedly, she gained enough money to treat her son. Not long after, the woman’s son recovered; but the life seemed to not turn better because of this."
The soft voice turned into a whisper.
"No one knows since when, it might because of the attempt before, the woman was infected with gambling addiction. Money came so easily, to the extent that the woman thought her of former hardships and labor were like a joke. She went into the gambling house with hope each time, but without a smile while going out."
The music suddenly turned rapidly.
"Suddenly, one day, the woman started to win after a long time. She got even more excited, and forgot her kid was playing outside alone… Well, it should be that the woman remembered her son all through. She remembered every promise she said to her son. She promised if they turned wealthy, she’d take him to the town to watch Chinese shadow puppets, taking him to the restaurant to have a fancy dinner. It was getting cold, she thought of buying new cotton-padded jackets. The kid had grown up, she considered send him to school. She even dreamed that they could buy a TV and she could hold her kid to watch it while falling asleep. She wanted a fridge with many many ice suckers. In summer evening, sitting on the doorway and eating it, while looking at the setting sun; but to her surprise, since that day, she no longer saw her son. Because on that day, a stranger came to the village, to kidnap and sell. Therefore, her son disappeared from this small village."
"The kid had been kidnapped and the woman regretted greatly. She upbraided herself, thinking of committing suicide. She hated herself bitterly, even hanging herself from the beam but was rescued by other people. She wanted to see her son. So, on a New Year’s holiday with snow, the woman took a sack sneakily, leaving this small village as the firecrackers exploded. This leaving went on for 20 years… Finally, the woman found her son."
The story suddenly came to the end, yet the audience felt afflictive.
However, the story continued and the music hadn’t stopped.
"Since that day the kid had been kidnapped, he was taken to a farther place. He saw many kids like him who were taken there from different places. Boys and girls, some of them had their feet and hands broken. As the same with these kids, he had to beg for money in the streets. Who knows since when, the kid started to hate the woman. He hated her for ignoring him, who only wanted to stay in the evil gambling house. He carefully hid the rattle-drum the woman sent him. He loved it and hated it."
"One day, a man bought him from the human trader. The man provided this kid with good education and even raised him up to be a famous concert performer. After 20 years, this kid had grown up. He had a girl he loved and a career he was found of. His life seemed to be perfect. But just at this time, he saw the woman that lost him that year."
"He had grown up, but the resentment in his heart couldn’t be dissipated. He didn’t know how to face this woman. And right then, he had to make a decision. That man who fostered him said, "If you choose your mother, you’ll lose everything. But he promised him, that if he didn’t say anything, he’d have the chance to enjoy everything. He could even support his biological mother stealthily. Yes, stealthily."
The young man that played the piano fell silent, only the musical notes smoothly jumped from his finger-tips, "I don’t know the ending. But I know the woman could not hear the voice of her kid, when she was in the gambling house that year. After 20 years, her kid had done well in life, but still could not hear the woman’s voice. What a similar situation...Richard•Clayderman, Concerto D’Amour, hopefully, everyone enjoyed it."
The voice stopped and the performance had been paused as well. The quiet environment seemed to bring them all into a black-and-white old film, nobody was willing to open the mouth to break the silence.
Only Fang Jiping in the corner had his face covered with tears. He gazed at the piano in a daze, sobbing, "I… am exactly that kid."