LiuMing’s family only possesses twoapartments facing the south. In the front apartment there up set one big bedand one small bed. Her parents sleep on the big one and her brother on the smallone. LiuMing share the inner apartment only. This night BaiShiWu lived inLiuMing’s house, the little brother moved to his father’s bed, the mothercrowded with LiuMing in the inner apartment to save the small bed to LiuMing. Howcan LiuMing fallen asleep with her boy friend slept only few feet away withonly a shin plank in between? He had never spent a night in LiuMing’s house. Thistime for the war time curfew she had nothing to do but let him stay. But thismade LiuMing uneasy—his family is so rich where they have blanket, simmons bedand delicately decorated apartments. But in her own house she has only twoshabby apartments, even poorer than their servant’s. Could he fallen asleep onthe hard plank bed? Would the mosquitoes sting him?
…… Hegot exhausted in searching her the whole evening and might have been fallenasleep immediately. That would be all right if only he can fall asleep. Sheremembered the tale in which TangBoHu, an ancient man with artistic talents,went to work as a slave in order to seek for QiuXiang a beauty by that time. Thestory is quite moving and a pleasant feeling surged in his heart. BaiShiWu issomewhat like the TangBoHu in seeking after her. He frequents her house andhumble before her even subjects and plays up to an illiterate old women—hermother…… LiuMing’s eyes wet with tears unconsciously. The first timeshe felt regret for her indifference to him. Though the fellow has his defectsand bad habit as a dandy, but towards love he is sincere and enthusiastic. Itis the first time LiuMing applied the word—love. He loves her and fromchildhood developed a special kinship toward her. Only that she focus on studythat she is not willing to be blocked by love. But now she can not return tothe school, even if still wants to study hard there would be no chance. Thenshould she
……? LiuMing felt shy and did not want to gofurther thinking. Yes she allows the fellow to take her hand and touch herhairs except that she refused him to go further no matter how considerate hebehaved toward her. She is a girl with self-esteem, conceited and proud to someextend. In her mind the BaiShiWu, though handsome and considerate, he lackedsome quality, for which she is not satisfied with. But in what the boy lacks?Liu slept by the side of her mother who had already fallen asleep for the wholeday’s tiredness. She thought it over and over in the snore of her mother’s：in what the boy lacks? He studies law and legislation and canbe counted as hard learning. He loves classic Chinese poems and tried to moveher with sentimental lines. The boy looked handsome and behaves consideratelytowards her or we can say considerate to every detail. He still has theopportunity to study abroad in the future and to be a lawyer to climb up theladder of domestic career success…… He could be a man difficult to seek afterin the country. But LiuMing ask herself: what he lacks in? What’s that?
…… Themoment a shadow jumped out before her. In the pitch-black apartment except dimlight by the window check nothing can be recognized. But LiuMing could perceivea tall figure stood in a mild smile before her. The figure happens to be CaoHongYuan—the fellow she got to knowrecently. Yes! Little Bai lacks the dynamo inside Cao with which he saved outthe father and son of Wang along with MiaoHong and herself. Later he rescuedout WangYongTai from the hands of enemy. That day he still has bloodstain onhis overcoat and it is her uncle who changed the clothes for him. In order topurchase the medicine for anti-Japanese soldiers, he stood out to seek helpfrom professor Miao. He is busy with the deal but always happy with the work.But this BaiShiWu, except for seeking self happiness and be tired for his ownfortune, she had never saw him committed to anything of any value especially atthe time of national crisis. Yes, he lack of the bravery and unselfishness ofCaoHongYuan…… LiuMing took a sigh atthis. Nothing could be complete in theworld. How good it would be if little Bai could have Cao’s quality! …… Shecould no longer carry on the reasoning. This time the window paper rustled andLiuMing is on alert: “How come the noise?” she sat up slightly looking into thedirection of the window.
“LittleLiu, have you fallen asleep? I can’t sleep. Would you please come out and sitfor a talk in the yard?”
LiuMing was burning with anger. How can onetalk at the mid-night in the yard? We have neighbors around! LiuMing tookslight steps to the window. She had thought to scold the BaiShiWu then stoppedand returned to her bed.
“I can’t talk to him. If anyone heard itcould be a shame to me.” LiuMing fell on her pillow and covered her head in thequilt, but her heart beat like a rabbit.
The window still rustled. LiuMing glancefrom under the quilt and saw a hole was poked through on the window paper. Thefire of anger was burning even fiercer. What does it mean? Steal a look inside?She had read the Romans of West Chamber. Isthe BaiShiWu the same kind to ZhangSheng in the drama? She felt as if beingshamed then pushed hard on her mother and raised her voice to say:
“Mom, Listen. Is there a thief outside?”
“What! What! How come the thief?……” Mother turned andsat up to turn on the light. She looked around with her sleepy eyes.
The rustle on the window stopped. Motherstunned for a while then turned off the light again and patted on LiuMing as ifto pat on an infant in the cradle: “Daughter, don’t be suspicious! We have twomen in the front apartment. Don’t worry. Go on sleeping and not to disturbchilde Bai. ”
Analysis: LiuMing don’t not know too many young men so she can not make too many compare. With only a few interact with CaoHongYuan, she couldn’t help made it. She knew the BaiShiWu really cares her. His love is sincere and classic but also incomplete. Just as the result of compare that his love is a selfish one and to his own benefit. The Bai has no sense of the nation or the society if he had ever done anything it is forced by LiuMing and he managed with it.
LiuMing held off her words, but tears dropped off her eyes to the pillow. She was tortured psychologically. If she asks herself then the BaiShiWu counted for something in her heart. In the past what she wanted to do is to focus on her study and knock something out of the learning. She did not like to approach him too much. After July the 7th when Bridge LuoGou incidence broke out, the school lesson was suspended and she had to put down her learning to involve in the first aid work. So BaiShiWu took the chance to besiege her and seek after. More frequent approach turned on the gate of bilateral affection then it could not be shut again…… “How shall I deal with her? How? ” LiuMing asked herself in silence. In the mean time she spied on the movement next door in the front apartment. Had he fallen asleep? No, he couldn’t. Just now I called up my mother and alarm for thief. Would he turn angry if heard? He is not a thief on beauty. If so would it necessary to call me out for the talk? Except for a talk what else could he do in the courtyard?
…… At this LiuMing was grabbed by an apologetic feeling. When she heard the constant sign and groan in the front house by BaiShiWu, she turned much more uneasy. She knew he also torture inside psychologically. He had never slept in such place and he had never shared with her the same roof to sleep so closely with her in the night. Yes he had made proposals to her many times. Maybe one day they would share the same roof…… LiuMing felt her cheek burning with hot and her heart beat faster. Oh, the maiden’s first love, her dream and the first outlook on life in the future—pure and beautiful…… The day was breaking at the moment and the window paper was turning white like the belly of fish. LiuMing wanted to sweep her illusion clean when she perceived a hole in the paper as big as a bowl. Tones of fire penetrated in through the hole. The moment she made a shriek and wanted to take an escape the fire tones disappeared instead water sprung into the house through the hole. She was wet all over almost lost her sense. She was besieged by the water, choked with it and almost drowned. This instance a figure saved her out and held her in his arms to jump out of the flood. Her breath smooth again and the mind recovered. Liu opened her eyes to see the figure turned out to be CaoHongYuan instead of BaiShiWu. The man had blood stain on his arms, face and clothes.
……LiuMing woke up suddenly to see the red sun already climbed up to the window. The mother by her side disappeared and BaiShiWu stand there instead. He washed the white face clean and combed the hair smooth and looked at her affectionately with his narrow eyes……
“Little Bai!” she reached out her hand, “Did you have a good sleep? You must be unaccustomed to our shabby and broken house. Hurry back and have a good sleep then.”
“Yes, little Liu I did have a good night sleep. And I had a dream in which someone called for catching a thief. Did you see the thief?”
LiuMing burst out laughing then pointed to the small hole on the window check:
“Look! It is poked by the thief and I saw it.”
“Willing to die before a beauty and keep romantic in hell!” BaiShiWu took Liu’s hand in the laughing, “Little Liu, let’s go out for the breakfast then.”
Bang! Bang！Bang! Several gun shot thundered through the sky and the window paper of Liu’s shaking with the sound. LiuMing and BaiShiWu were stunned at the moment. LiuMing lay on her bed with her face turning white and the face of BaiShiWu turned paler. He held his head with the hands and looked around in terror.
“Little Liu, little Liu, the gun fired again! Let’s dug a cave and hide under the bed!”
LiuMing calmed herself down for a while, bit her lips and shook her head to say:
“You dug a small hole at night and would like to dig a big one in the day. As you like then! I have been accustomed to the sound of gunshot and I’m not afraid of them nor would I dig so many holes to hide.”
BaiShiWu put down his hands and slanted his head to one side listening to the gun fires shrieking through the sky then said in trembling voice: “What shall we do then? The canons of the Jap can blast inside city BeiPing! Little Liu, my dear, let’s move to a safer place.”
LiuMing turned over and stood up to threw back her black hair:
“The whole nation will thunder with the Jap’s canon! Where you can escape to?
…… Never call me dear again! Who don’t know the petty time you’ve spent on English?”
“Don’t worry for the way out of it!” BaiShiWu looked around in answering it as if still searching for a safer place.
“I don’t have even a mouse cave in my house. Don’t search it! Don’t you have a big safer in your house?! Hurry back and hide in.” Except towards her mother LiuMing speaks mildly and gently to almost everyone. But to this BaiShiWu she always uses irony. BaiShiWu always took it as the flirting manner of the women. He does not mind it and accustomed to it. The gunfire silenced for a long while and the BaiShiWu turned to face LiuMing while cleaning his spectacles. He said in his smooth voice:
“My honored, it’s time to dress up and have something to eat. Let me accompany you, all right?”
LiuMing filled a basin of water, washed her face and rinsed her mouth, then walking towards the door. Mother looked at her dumfounded while BaiShiWu held her hand to say:
“Why didn’t you use the pair’s cosmetics I brought you? Not even tried one piece. You are young and beautiful and should make up yourself. You would be raving beauty when made up as the poem line goes: ‘Win over all the imperial beauties……’”
“Don’t intend to tease me for a touch! I have to go to my hospital and many injured are waiting for me there! Can I spread the fragrance of pairs perfume in front of the injured? Little Bai, how can you think about it?……”LiuMing blinking with her tearful eyes slightly smiled to say: “Yes, little Bai. Don’t forget it! The medicine I entrust you to purchase. You have to purchase them. How many days it will cost you? Never delay! ”
“Three days later!” as soon as Liu mention the medicine purchase, BaiShiWu appears not happy. “Let’s go for breakfast. I got a butterfly in my stomach!”
“My! Childe Bai, we have no delicious food at home. Then let my girl dining out with you? Or I cook something at home for you along with some pastries?” mother said regretfully.
“LiuQingQuan pulled his wife back, his eyes was glaring with anger behind his thick glasses.”
“We are doomed to eat steamed bread. But he has the fate to feed on the swan eggs. Could he eat our steamed bread?”
LiuMing flushed a little, BaiShiWu felt shy also. But LiuMing’s mother patted with her palm and quarrel with her husband:
“You old stubborn head, it is you who are doomed to feed on the steamed bread. Where did childe Bai offend you? Our life would be more difficult without him. Without this good relation you would have nothing to eat and wandering in the street!”
LiuMing is not delighted with mother’s view that she took them as unmarried couple. She stared at her mother and running quickly towards the street.
Analysis: Why LiuMing saw the fire and water in her early morning illusion? Author may use it as a hint. The fire and water may indicate the calamity she would encounter in the national anti-invasion war and crisis. The fire and water is not only for her to suffer, it is the calamity of the whole Chinese nation. And it is CaoHongYuan later saved her out of the danger at the cost of his own injury. This BaiShiWu though looks in deeply love with her but he withdrew every time at the strategic point and even turned reluctant in medicine purchase. The author may also indicate the one who are willing to save the country counts the real one to save the people and win the favor of the people.
Three days had already past after LiuMing entrusted BaiShiWu for the medicine purchase, but she has not yet found the BaiShiWu and the medicine. She worried over it sotook the chance of mid-day break to go to his house in the east of the city andseek him.
BaiShiWu lives in a complex house consist of several freshly brushed courtyards. By the side of red painted gate stand a pair of giant big-eyed stone lions. Walking through two yards and the moon gatewent across then you reached the core compound with mosaic ground where hightent covered with mat had been set up. There are two giant porcelain basinsenameled with flowers in the compound which copies each other. A goldfish bowlmade of mud inlayed in each of the basin. They stand in parallel under thewindow of the centre house. The pomegranates bloom with flowers and theoleander with pink flowers lined along the corridor. They stretch until thestone steps under the house facing the north. LiuMing scanned the big apartmentsof his parents: it is in silence and maybe they had already fallen asleep so hetook a side walk to the backyard to find BaiShiWu. He lives in a line of threeapartments in the backyard house facing the north, two sunny and one shaded.All shining red painted with white silk curtain hang on the big glass windows.LiuMing walked into the open door. There are only several big bookcases withglass windows and a set of leather sofa but no one available. The phonographwas still playing with light music. She thought BaiShiWu must be sleeping inthe inner house for he has a habit to listen to the music of Pekingopera through radio or phonograph when lie on the bed. LiuMing stand at thedoor to the inner apartment and called:
“BaiShiWuare you available?”
This momentBaiShiWu lie on the simmons bed lazily pinched photos in the examine. Heshouted in bad temper:
“Aunt Li,I am sleeping now. Why you are here by now?”
LiuMingheard the words “Aunt Li” and she knew his anger does not point to her. But shealso felt angry so she pulled the door open and dashed to his bed side:
“Who isyour aunt Li? You can’t shout like this even if towards the servants! Youreally behave like a young master!” in the mean time she suspended the pin on the phonograph when there played a woman’s voice “I’m here to serve you.” Then the play stopped there suddenly.
BaiShiWuwas instantly at a loss what to do when he realized it is LiuMing. He insertedthe big photo pinched in his hand under the pillow instantly. Then he jumpeddown his bed hurriedly.
“My! It’syou, little Liu! I thought aunt Li came to fetch water for me. ”the hecontinued to hide the photos under the pillow.
LiuMingeyes are sharp so she saw the first one is a magnified portrait of head for awoman and the second one is hers. She stared at his face and said coldly:
“How canmy photos fly into your household? But I haven’t given you any of my photos!”
“That is.That is
……”BaiShiWu stammered and his face turnedsomewhat red in color.
“How itcomes? How could my photo fall into your possession and mix with other women’s?…… Tell me the truth, please!”
“LittleLiu, sit down please!” BaiShiWu calmed himself down then introduced LiuMing toa cane chair and sat himself on a soft chair by the side. He grinned and said:“This is send by your mother. I had asked from you but you turn down so what Ican do is to seek help from your mother. She gave me one and I had it magnified…… Don’t you know it? I like photography and know how towash it out. So I can change your positive film to negative and have itmagnified…… Just look!” he was about to take outthe photo under the pillow to make a show of his expert skill in photographythen felt it improper for there are also other women’s photos under the pillow.It would be bad if LiuMing should see them. So he withdrew his hand and changedthe topic, “Little Liu, you never came to my shabby house easily. What bringsyou here today to make my house glory in your presence?!”
“Shabby?How can it be shabby? You are too modest and your house could compare with thesleeping room for the princes of Qing Dynasty. It is much proper to call myhouse shabby…… Little Bai I am here to accomplishsomething. Don’t talk non-sense! What your use of my photos and please give itback to me.” This moment of talking LiuMing raised her head to see there are afew photos of film stars both abroad and home hanging on the cream-coloredwall. She felt unhappy but inconvenient to express. She looked at BaiShiWu andwait to hear what he would explain:
“Give itback to you?” BaiShiWu said in smile, “I give this copy to you and I canreproduce another ten magnified one. Anyhow the negative is in my hand. LittleLiu, no wonder someone call you bull’s direct: you let the big cat went throughthe big hole and the small one small. Why not let the two cats use the big holetogether?” BaiShiWu laughed loudly in the saying.
ThenLiuMing know it has some reason. Mother played up to BaiShiWu, she like therich family and would like her daughter to develop the relation. It is notunimaginable to get her photos from mother. But how can there other women’sphotos too?…… LiuMing held off the suspicion andcheered up to say:
“LittleBai, how about the medicine purchase? The Bridge LuGou incidence is on theintense and every hospital is in lack of medicine. Hurry up with it!”
“Why should be the hospital? Did you say one of your friends entrust you forthe procurement? Tell me who is behind the deal or I won’t help you.”
LiuMingwanted to scold him for his ironic words. But she suddenly recalled theCaoHongYuan, he is not elderly too but his calm and stable weigh far beyondherself…… She thinks herself too emotionalespecially towards this “shadow”. She focused her eyes on the green leaves ofcherry apple tree in front of the window, silenced for a while and said:
“LittleBai, last time you promised me that you would make the purchase soon. You saidyou need only three days and now the time has come. Are you credible? ‘Everyone is responsible to the fate of the country’ as it says. Please push forwardyour purchase. I am here special for this target so I can put off the lot ofthing I have to do in the hospital.
“Then youwon’t come here to meet me if not for the medical service?” BaiShiWu stared atLiuMing’s face depressed. Many relatives and friends send photos for him tochoose a girlfriend. He magnified every one of them and compare with LiuMing’sone by one when he can lay on the bed at mid-day rest. He still found LiuMingthe most beautiful. Her big black eyes glazed with light even on the photo.Then he determined to seek after LiuMing firstly. His friend had said to him how hardhearted the woman is you can crush her by considerate, tears and money. But toseek after the women who concentrated her work is not a simple mission. Herlove is so ambiguous. What if it is one sided?…… Themoment BaiShiWu sat on the chair all in a mess LiuMing opened her mouth:
Analysis: Yes why not let the big cat and thesmall one pass through the same big hole? Then Why not make a multiple choice?The problem lay in that BaiShiWu had been seeking LiuMing long before hereceived all these photos. And these photos are neither film-star nor classmateor colleagues they are for him to choose a girl-friend. He should have refusedthem decisively in the first notion. So again it is neither a love nor adependable attachment. I had called it attachment then I discovered it is worsethan attachment. He himself is so ambiguous.
“You are healthy and not injured how can I go to see you frequently?
…… The current events are hot on the line. BaiShiWu, you’d better join the anti-Japanese activity. Save your time at home watching the photos of women.” LiuMing felt shy and flushed before she can finish her words.
BaiShiWu focused on the face of LiuMing he found her face flushed for the moment and he felt dizzy. He moved his chair nearer to LiuMing and said shyly with his face ruddy:
“Little Liu, I do watch the women’s photos. But they are all sent by my relatives and friends for proposal. To tell you the truth, no one of them could compare to you……”
“Never talk your non-sense!” LiuMing interrupted BaiShiWu’s words, “Little Bai, we had been classmates and your aunt had been our principal who is an upright woman. She treats her students well and treats me well. For all these reason I agreed to make friends with you. But why did you always mislead your thinking? MiaoHong and I along with thousands of Chinese students and thousands of Chinese men who are not willing to be slaves without a nation are being tortured now, among us there are also professor Miao and his wife. We are tortured for the collapse of our nation and the undetermined future. But only you cared nothing of the state events and concentrate on your maidens
…… Say, wouldn’t you purchase the medicine we demanded? If you won’t just make it clear and I will leave her immediately.” LiuMing really stand up by now.
“Again you mentioned ‘we’ for which I won help you. If you say ‘I’ then I will care about.”
LiuMing was about to be anger another time when the calm look on the face of CaoHongYuan flashed out for a second. She conquered the anger and said in low voice:
“Little Bai, don’t be so critical on certain words. Could all those medicine for my own use? No, so I applied the word ‘I’
…… Tell me as soon as possible haven’t you purchased it? Don’t you understand I had many things else to deal with in the hospital? The day before yesterday I was assigned to work in the No. 3 hospital affiliated to BeiJing University. They place many injured soldiers there and they also established a penitentiary. I have to work there day and night.”
“Oh, you moved to work in the penitentiary of No. 3 hospital affiliated to BeiJingUniversity? No wonder I can not find you. Even your parents and little brother did not know where you were. Ok, tomorrow morning I will be there to send the bill of lading. I had purchased the medicine but they are not willing to check the bill of lading for they can’t explain why they sold so many things at one go. My goddess, how about it? I go there tomorrow to meet you!” BaiShiWu tenderly held the hands of LiuMing and looked at her affectionately. LiuMing bent down her head to think for a while in silence then said:
“Ok!” She threw a glance at Bai then stood up and walking outside in the mean time said to her boyfriend by side: “If you would be there. Please do not follow me everywhere without an aim. That would interfere with my job and looked awkward. You can take the role of student who went there to help the injured and do something solid. If you cheat me and failed to present with the bill of lading then I would bid you farewell.”
BaiShiWu still moved his head to follow his look at the face of LiuMing. He stared at her charming eyes in the walking until the red painted gate of his house reached. Then he said sadly in low voice:
“Little Liu, don’t worry! I’m also patriotic. The recent uneasy is all for you. How about to have a walk in BeiHai Park to be released from it? I’m really distressed psychologically and have many things to talk to you.”
LiuMing shook her head.
“I really have no time. If you have anything to say please save it for later chances. You shall bring me the bill of lading tomorrow, otherwise……”She hurried to the entrance of the lane before she finished her words.
BaiShiWu stood by the stone lion at the gate for a long while watching the shadow of LiuMing until it disappeared out of the lane. Then he walked inside the door at a loss and sighed in depression.
CaoHongYuan took a copy of newspaper and sat on the edge of the temporary bed set up for WangFuLai in the hut reading carefully. That is a telex by SongZheYuan to Chiang Kai-shek and the whole nation, the title of which marks “The Situation Has Reached the Critical” in bold Chinese characters. The telex surprised him. Cao surmised though the Song had expressed his determination to “Defend the Nation”, the finial critical point would come soon……
Two days before CaoHongYuan went to ChangXinSian again. He had become good friend with the father and son of Wang’s. The WangFuLai household was broken so the father and the son have no place to live in. They temporarily quartered in the master worker WeiBin’s house who had been in the as factory with WangYongTai. CaoHongYuan also live in Wei’s household. This moment Wei and the Wangs happened not available there and left the house for CaoHongYuan to sat and meditated solely under the oil lamp.
The Cao was depressed so he walked out of the house to stand on the well mouth platform in the middle of vegetable garden. The slight smell of the vegetable was brought into his nose by the fresh cool wind while can not remove his worry by heart. The gunfire around NanYuan and bridge LuGou was constantly brought into his ears. With the sound of gunfire in his ears and the newspaper in his hand Cao was reasoning: “Anti-Japanese war” –a new great mission has been fallen in this new era of China. All the focus of the communist’s party seemed to be switched to this mission. “A united national front for anti-Japanese”—the come up and emphasize of the slogan showed the expert skill of leadership from the party. Then he brought to his mind for the instance the image of professor Miao. The image of tall and straightforward senior intellectual stood right before him. The professor prompted with the purchase of the demanded medicine and does it show the power of the party’s propaganda?
The storm of war surged and the present situation is on the aggressive. The GuoMingDang party seeks for retreat and compromise after July the 7th incident. In the days when Chiang Kai-shek pressed SongZheYuan to negotiate with the Jap as to the retreat, the Jap took the chance to deploy their army forces in preparation to launch a grand scale invasion into inland China.
July 26th the Jap had occupied LangFang along the BeiPing to TianJin railway then brought up a deadline to SongZheYuan for the retreat. July 28th when the Japanese troop had completed their preparation they initiated a large scale assault at NanYuan, BeiYuan and XiYuan of city BeiPing. In view of the imminent occupation of BeiPing and people’s enslaved life under the dictatorship of the Jap, CaoHongYuan stay there on the platform looking around: in the dark night sky lumps of black clouds was billowing at the dim horizon. The thunder of nature and the thunder of cannon mixed with each other constantly ringing through the sky. The high explosives blast with lightings that glared the eyes. Cao inhaled in a few breathes of cold air, stared wide his eyes and made a turn to fix on the north Weston sky—the majestic figure of Pagoda Mountain seems to appear before his eyes and the murmuring of river YanHe seems to sound. The lovely voice and happy countenance of familiar leaders and comrades seem at present……
A long flash of lightening scratched through the night sky and illuminated the vast land for the instance.
“Little Cao, come into the house please. The shell blasts constantly and no one dare to make a show outside!” WangFuLai went to HongYuan secretly and tried to persuade him earnestly.
“Uncle, it is blown-out shots and grenade launching to terrify us. I had been on the battle ground and understand what kind of gunshot is dangerous and what not. Be at easy. But Master Wei and YongTai has not returned yet. Could they be blocked from the city or could not get out from the city?”
For the war is on the intense, these days the four gates of city BeiPing only open for one or two hours a day to let in the vegetable vendors. The outlet had long before controlled.
WangFuLai squatted on the well mouth looking into the direction of BeiPing and said in his low voice:
“That’s it! They haven’t been home so later and I am also worried. Considering the present situation our BeiPing must be occupied soon…… How can we live on afterwards?
Before CaoHongYuan could prompt with an answer, an agitated sound broke out:
“Anti-Japanese! Anti-Japanese! But BeiPing had finished with the task!”
CaoHongYuan reached out his hand to hold the speaker’s—the one who spoke is just the WangYongTai. Along with him followed WeiBin and a few dozens of young workers and peasants in shabby clothes. In the mixed noise of thunder and cannon WeiBin gasping out:
“What kind of leader it is! As soon as they saw the intense Japanese cannon fire the SongZheYuan and the mayor of BeiPing QinDeChun had stole their way out first. They left with them millions of headless civilians to be disciplined by the fuck Japanese!”
“Is this message dependable?” CaoHongYuan asked WeiBin in haste and in his hand still hold the newspaper printed with the telex “Defend the Nation”, for which he couldn’t totally believe in what WeiBin said.
“That’s very much true!” WeiBin answered, “We took advantage of the night to collect message in one of our workmate’s house which sits just under the city wall. The brother of the workmate works as a transporter at QianMen railway station. He saw with his own eyes, SongZheYuan, QinDeChun along with their households and servants escaped into the train compartment last night—the flock of people escaped from BeiPing. It is said to carry on anti-Japanese battle at city BaoDing. But to hell! Who knows!
…… We also heard the TianJin is endangered too. The Jap assault there too!”
“The damned Chiang Kai-shek, he does not mean to fight against the Jap! Does he mean to make Chinese people slaves without a nation? Brother Cao we can’t wait and see the Jap strode into the city easily! We are Chinese men. We can’t tolerate!” WangYongTai knocked at his chest angrily, “Brother Cao, you lead us to take action to fight against them!”
“To fight against the Jap and we can survive; to compromise and the nation die! Cao sir, what shall we do under such serious situation? ”the speaker is a woman. HongYuan glanced at her secretly with surprise—under the dark night he can make out her appearance but he can see a pair of big blinking eyes on the slim face. The woman had a wide brim cap and collared shirt, so CaoHongYuan and WangFuLai couldn’t make out that is a female.
Then WeiBin introduced to HongYuan:
“The lady is called LuFang who works in the education line in BeiPing. She has a relative who quartered in a nearby village. These days she went to her relative and made a lot of connections. Little Cao, she heard you are here today so she let me bring her to you. ”
Analysis: We can not say the 29th Route Army and SongZheYuan refused to fight against the Jap but we can say Chiang Kai-shek did. Nor can we say the telex on the newspaper “Defend the Nation” is only a make-up. As historical record says for lack of weapon and reinforcement the defense war had been very cruel and hard. The Jap bought through a traitor in the 29th Route Army their defense map so one day the core defense was crushed and the headquarter along with the army had to retreat otherwise they would either surrender or be eliminated. The anti-Japanese war is not an individual behavior of a man, a group or an individual army. It should be a nation wide co-operation, but the man like WangYongTai couldn’t understand—the civil assault at this time counts nothing.
CaoHongYuan shook his hands with LuFang then smiled to say:
“Ms. Lu I had heard about you…… BeiPing is about to be occupied and I just have something to inquire you. What shall we do? We are patriotic men without fortune.
Once CaoHongYuan had heard ZhangYi made an introduction to this LuFang who is one of the leaders in charge of the student’s union. He also knew she is mobilizing the mass in the ChangXinDian Zone.
LuFang seems to know something about CaoHongYuan too. She took of her straw hat and her black short cut hairs showed. She smiled to say:
“We peasants and workers had heard the escape of SongZheYuan—though general ZhangZiZhong stayed to work in place of SongZheYuan as the chairman of discipline inspection committee, the 29th Route Army had been dispersed and the Jap would march into BeiPing. We are all angered and worried not knowing how to use our strength…… I came here to…… to…… You know.” LuFang secretly took an ambitious look around those several young men in shabby clothes then continued: “The LuGou Battle had been put to an end. In order to fight against the Jap, yes, to fight against them, we are critically in need of guns. I heard the 29th route Army left many guns in this region and I think we can gather more patriotic folk men to pick them up by the river, ponds and pitches—those shaded places. If we have guns, later whoever wants to join the anti-Japanese army could join them as wish. ”
At this, CaoHongYuan understand that she had come to gather people for picking up the guns—that’s a coincidence!
“That’s good! Just look, what is it? ” a young fellow produced a Mauser pistol held it high and waved it to the mass.
“My! My! It’s a pistol!” several other young man pretended to grab his weapon.
“That’s all right! Let’s get down find those guns. Then fight against the damned Jap with the weapon. ”Several other young fellows said in one voice: “Don’t take other one’s gun. Get down to find the weapon if you have a capacity.”
“Yes, we should do this!” LuFang spoke in her ringing voice in smile.
CaoHongYuan patted on the shoulder of WangYongTai and said:
“Brother! What would you do then?”
“You make the order and I follow you!” WangYongTai turn mild to this man who had saved his lives.
“I also think we should firstly gather the dispersed weapons and ammunition in this region first! I heard a security troop under YinRuGen’s east HeBei anti-communist puppey regime chose to fight against the Jap, which were cracked down. They also left here many guns in the surounding villages. We hurry up to find those! If anyone could collect one please come to WeiBin for registration. Then if anyone wants to join the gorilla force take one piece and join them. Of course, if anyone failed to collect one but still wants to join we also can introduce him in. is that all right?”HongYuan turned to face the LuFang who stared wide her eyes at him in the talking. It seems that CaoHongYuan also received the assignment to collect the guns. LuFang developed a kinship towards him at this thought.
“Cao sir, do you come here for medicine?
…… Eh, the proposal you made just now sounds very good, so let’s get down to do it in groups. ”
“Ok, let’s start up!” the young fellows all wear happy looks in their faces. The moment they were about to separate a young fellow produce a pack of white paper parcel suddenly. He weighed the parcel in his hand and reached out to CaoHongYuan.
“It’s for you. I bought it.”
“What’s in?” CaoHongYuan was somewhat surprised.
“It’s medicine. Don’t you need medicine? I heard it, so I mangaged to buy a pacel of A-s-p-r-i-n……”The young fellow couldn’t bring to his mind clearly the sicetific name, so he spelled the word letter by letter.
“I give you this and it is cinchona.” Another young fellow produced another white parcel and reached out to Cao.
More than a dozen of young fellow produced their parcel of medicine one by one and put into Cao’s hand. Cao couldn’t hold so much with his two hands so LuFang helped him to hold with her overcoat.
HongYuan looked at these unfamiliar peasants and workers in shabby shirts affectionately his heart beat fast and his eyes in tears.
“How do you know I need to make the purchase? You lived a so hard life and I couldn’t accept them in vain. How much does it cost? And I will let Master Wei to pay you tomorrow.”
“We apprieciated it when we heard you are here to buy medicine for the anti-Japanese army. It is not easy to make the purchase and this is all we can do.”
“This is our petty presents to the anti-Japanese army. We won accept your payment……” Then they strode away one by one.
The thunder stopped so did the cannon. Lumps of black clouds were billowing in the sky. Under the dim star lights, there stayed on the well mouth only CaoHongYuan, WeiBin and LuFang as well as the father and son of Wang.
“Cao sir, I heard you are in medicine purchase mission. Have you gathered enough now? ”LuFang stared wide her big blinking eyes in the dark night and asked mildly in low voice.
“How can you know this? Professor Miao helped me with some but not enough. It’s better if another classmate in the medical academy I entrusted could help me with some. ”CaoHongYuan did not disclose the name of LiuMing.
“I had already bought some for you. Would you come to meet me at the student’s union tomorrow? I will transfer you the bill of lading.”
HongYuan was over—joyed. He looked at the white shirt she wore and smiled to say:
“That’s too good, the professor Miao’s purchase plus your plus the young fellow’s and my clamate’s would be more than enough. Mis.Lu I am so apprieciated for your help.”HongYuan intend to shake hands with LuFang but they had their hand full of medicine so what they can do is only to nod.
The day was breaking and WeiBin let them in to have the talk.
HongYuan said to WeiBin:
“We will shoulder the vendor’s vegetable into the city. You stay home and prepare to register the guns and store them. You shall record the number and the type on account book. ”At this he turned back his face to smile to the father and son of Wang’s, “Uncle Wang and YongTai, follow me to the city! There’s something can not complete without you. Take some clothes and quilts and we get started.
The father and the son felt something strange: what shall we do in the city at this moment?
CaoHongYuan refused to say anything and they are inconvenient to ask. Then follow him, anyhow he is a good fellow. There’s nothing improper to follow him.
The day broke and Cao shouldered two full baskets of green vegetables. The moment he get start off and raised his head he saw the LuFang in the shirt standing at the gate of Wei’s. Though it is man’s wear it couldn’t conceal her beautiful face. How it is like LiuMing’s! They looked like twin-sisters with LuFang the elder and LiuMing the younger.
Analysis: the defence was crushed and soldiers left many guns around the battle ground. But as one threw it the other would take. As one fell down the other would stand up. It is a nation wide anti-invation war. When the formal army was defeated people will carry on gorilla attack until one day the invaders were driven out. Though peasants and workers when they think of the war they are not sad at all. They are very happy. Why? Did they nature born warlike? No. They are happy because with the gun and organization they could have the chance to fight for their only independence instead of a slave without a nation under the dictatorship of the invador’s.
Firstly she thought of BeiPing which is about to be fallen into the hands of Jap. The gunfire hasceased but in her heart she tortured the never experienced depression and pain.
Secondly, BaiShiWu had not made the purchase till the end and she felt herself incredible as wellas sorry to CaoHongYuan.
She decided to meet CaoHongYuan again.
HongYuan had told that he lives in DaCheng house, XiShan Street. If anything should happen she could find him there. LiuMing went there twice and this evening she found him in a shabby apartment. LiuMing behaved as if she had done something wrong in the encounter.She wanted to say something but held off at last. CaoHongYuan couldn’t understand her, so they stand face to face for a moment stunned. Then he smiled and said:
“Miss Liu, anything happened? The medicine purchase failed. Is that so?”
LiuMing took a long sigh and smiled. How clever he is and he should guess out instantly.
“I’m sorry Cao sir, the guy cheated me he didn’t buy even a pill. I’m terribly sorry…… ”
“It isn’t your fault.”Cao smiled, “In this harsh times of war it is very difficult to accomplish the task. There are fifty three western pharmacies in BeiPing. I covered all of them from some of the biggest WuZhou pharmacy and JianShen pharmacy to the smaller ones as HeJi drugstore and FengYu drugstore. I even got familiar to their accountant, but they all refused to sell anything more. It is not your fault even me, this professional buyer, could not make it. ” a warm tide flooded LiuMing’s heart. She threw a shyly glance at LiuMing and calmed down gradually. Then she took a seat on the little bench at the table and said with her head bent low:
“I heard MiaoHong said that professor Miao had purchased the medicine in time. Now you might be only in need of my part to be enough. Cao sir, it’s my fault, mine……”She wanted to curse herself and the BaiShiWu. But she flushed and couldn’t say anything. Liu raised up her head a long while later then asked: “Cao sir. What shall we do? I really worry over it. BeiPingis about to be lost and those legal tender is about to be illegal. Then how can you make the purchase.”
HongYuan kept in his smart manner. He leaned on the wall by the door under the dim light of electric bulb and smoothed her thick black hairs to say:
“Miss Liu, don’t worry too much over it! That’s really no use. Many people are in favor of anti-Japanese so they would manage to do. I want to know something more. Did you annoy the friend you entrusted for the medicine purchase?”
LiuMing was startled for the instance. The fellow before her seems to be a fortune teller and he could calculate out that annoyed BaiShiWu.
LiuMing seems to knowsomething more about this newly acquented fellow—he is smart, capable, experiencedand considerate. Further more he is open-minded differ to the narrow-mindedBaiShiWu who is suspicious of every thing. Thinking of this BaiShiWu an upsetscene presented before her and she felt a kind of untold puzzle……
BaiShiWu had promised to go to the injured soldier’s asylum the next day to send the bill oflading. He did go there in the afternoon. But as soon as he met LiuMing he made a long face and said:
“Litte Liu, I’m sorry…… the relative—my uncle refused to sell me even a pill…… Look! Look! How can it help? …… Don’t be angry Liu, do not anger……”
LiuMing shivered at this. Beads of sweet filtered out on her forehead. She stared at the white face of BaiShiWu in anger and anxiety and bitted on her lips for a few seconds before she opened her mouth:
“But you have promised to send me the bill of lading and how can you eat out your words? …you…you…”She threw her stethoscope on the table then sat on the bench looking out of the window at a loss.
BaiShiWu stand by her also at a loss. It is a temporary doctor’s office so there stayed no one else.
BaiShiWu stand there awkwardly for a moment then said lowly:
“My dear little Liu, forgive me. It is not that I want to make you unhappy. My parents heard fromthe uncle that I will buy so many medicines for the anti—Japanese soldiers then they repeated to my uncle time and again that he mustn’t sell me a pill. So my uncle changed his idea……. So little Liu, forgive me! How can I help?!” The moment BaiShiWu took out handkerchief with flower lace to wipe off his tears.
LiuMing’s anger was gradually disappeared. She the father of BaiShiWu is the son of prince in Qing Dynasty and his mother had been a noble woman as viscountess. Seeing the Japanese would soon occupy BeiPing, how can they let their son risk to buy medicine for the anti-Japanese soldiers? Further more they did not agree to take LiuMing, the daughter of a poor teacher, as their daughter in law from the beginging. But their son had grown up they had no way to persuade him if he does not listen. But they successfully ruined the medicine purchase.
“BaiShiWu you really put me into an awkward situation! I had promised him and how can I turn him down?!” This time it is LiuMing who shed tears.
“Little Liu, you just transfer my words to the fellow. Is that fellow your friend? Then you just tell him the truth, if you can no make the purchase he would take it for granted……”
“Look you can see it as nothing! Who would eat out his words like you and not feel shamed at all?” LiuMing’s anger rose up again and her big black eyes stared at the white face of BaiShiWu with fires: “Let’s say good-by then! You walk your broad way and I walk on my single plank bridge.”
“No! No! No!……”BaiShiWu knelt on one of his knees like the scene in western film in wooing. But LiuMing stand up and jumped out of the house without looking back. She let the BaiShiWu stay solitarily in the silent house.
CaoHongYuan sat on a bench by the side of LiuMing he saw LiuMing kept in the silence then he said in low voice:
“Mr.Bai is so kind to you, so I don’t think he refused it intentionally. He must be in real difficulty.” HongYuan continued, “Anyhow you should unite him. He is also a young man and you should win him over to the anti-Japanese force. One more individual man a little more strength!”
“Cao sir, your suggestion sounds good. I had tried my best to win over him but he can not keep his words for the small mission of medicine purchase! I do not want to mind him anymore……”
“I don’t think it proper if you shun him for such case. For example shall I shun you for you can not make it? Just think is it proper to do so?”
“Not for certain, for certain!” Cao repeated “Certain” then waved his hand and smiled to say, “I have many things more to seek your help. We have many things to do for the sake of anti-Japanese.”
“For the sake of anti-Japanese?……” LiuMing bent down her head murmuring, “But how to?” she rosed up her head and smooth her hair with her hands. The lights in her eyes are still blinking—it is fire like but in the mean time as cold and solitary as star lights.
The straight brows of HongYuan moved and the same kind of worry assaulted his heart. He also bent down his head in silence:
“GuoMingDang Party did not fight against the Jap nor did they mobilize the people for it. But there is a communist party in China and the party determined to fight against the Jap. The young men involve themselves in the anti-invasion war. They dedicated their young lives to the national liberation cause. It has turned to the only out of the national crisies. As for how to do the job…… I don’t know if you want to stay at BeiPing or
……” Cao did not carry on it he stopped with a smile in stead.
Analysis: BeiPing was about to be occupied by the Jap. At this moment any civil anti-Japanese acitivity would be dangerous to the man himself or herself. For those want determined to fight against the invaders they do not know how. If the strong army can be defeated what can a civilan do? We have already known that the GuoMingDang Party seek compromise and retreated their main forces out of BeiPing, further more they refuse to mobilize the people? Why? Superficially they proposed the propaganda that the anti-Japanese has nothing to do with common walks of life. It is a government behavior. But in the deeper sense, they are afraid of people, afraid of the self-realize and the liberation of people themselves.
It is approaching the end of autumn and everything grow on the ground is withering.
As the gunfire at bridge LuGou ceased and the Japanese troop was about to marching into BeiPing, LiuMing got too tired to make any movement like an athlete after a long race. The war ceased and the injured were gradually transferred so no one call her for operation or nursing any more. She need not go to the hospital wards any longer. LiuMing couldn’t eat well and sleep well. Every time she shut her eyes the bloody injured faces emerged before her and floating in the air. This half month she almost spent every day and night with those soldiers from the bloody battle. Now every of those scenes vanished—gunfire, the injured, forceps, scalpel, ben pan and urinal etc. When the gunfire was on the intense she was terrified sometimes but as she thought it’s a battle against the Jap a hope and condolence rose up in her heart. The time she heard the army commander of 29th Route Army TongLingGe sacrified his life in the battle she even broke into tears then a pride surged inside her. It is a glory of the nation! Our army fought against the heavy odds but the officers charged in the lead without any hesitation. The inspiration is great. In the hot fierce battle the injured were carried down from the fire line constantly and her operation skill advanced. In the mean time her heart approach nearer to those injured soldiers. She often stay in the hospital whole day and whole night vigorus, hard working and forgot all about fatigue or anything other than the work itself. Now at certain time the battle of fire and blood stopped. LiuMing felt especially empty. As if a beautiful iceberg of career collapsed in an instance and melted away. She has nothing to do now empty-hearted and completely lonely. She slept on her little bed whole day long as if slept in a tomb.
In the mean time the problem which had tortured him before Bridge LuGou incidence jumped out to torture him again—what shall she do afterwards? Could she continue her learning? Could she still have the chance to climb up the altar of medical career?
LiuMing thought over all these gripping things whole day long that when BaiShiWu came to find her she was downhearted and not in the mood. As the boyfriend said to invite her out for a walk and play she stared at him angrily to say:
“As the poem say: ‘The lady of Kingdom Shang does know resent of losing her motherland.’ And how shall you still have such kind of easiness?”
In the small apartment of Liu’s there are now sofa and electric fan, so hot, humid and muffled that BaiShiWu couldn’t tolerant. He approached LiuMing and sat by her side for a while holding her hand in his then went away.
LiuQingQuan developed the same temper as his daughter’s the whole day—proud, solitary, arrogant not willing to play up to the rich and powerful. Though his wife likes and flatters the Childe BaiShiWu, he himself looked down up this dandy. (He calls the boy dandy in his heart.) He knew his daughter favor the boy for it is her affection—love affair. It is different from his wife who loved his fortune only. So he never reproached his daughter. What he did is to stare behind his spectacles at his wife and scolded at her superficial view at times. When the situation changed and submerge of BeiPing became imminent waiting for the Japanese to take over, he is also distressed like his daughter and even laid aside the newpapers which he likes to read. The man lied on his bed taking long and short sighs constantly.
LiuMing’s mother was also in anger, but she did not point it towards her daughter. Instead she shouted at the old man in bed and she would slap her hand before she spoke with foam in the mouth.
“Say, the two of you! Say, this rotten old man! What’s the matter? If the heaven should collapse it will fallen on the mass. No foreigner could occupy the treasured land of BeiPing for a long time. It will belong to us in the end. The Manchurian of Qing Dynasty had invaded in to sit at the imperial palace but did we reclaim it at last? The Jap may occupy it but would not keep long. What kind of lawsuit had fallen on you two? How shall you refuse to eat, to drink and to sleep? What kind of a fairy fox disillusioned you or what kind of evil influence caught you?……”
The mother of LiuMing crippled along with her two bounded feet. She wandered back and force in the room with a patched shabby clothe in the hand. Sometimes he shouts one or two lines to her husband at the outer apartment; sometimes crippled to her daughter’s bedside to express her wisdom.
The father and the daughter kept silence and let her behave herself. She sat by her daughter’s side and sometimes gossiping her long episode and cry at times “my daughter” “my baby”……
“Say, my daughter, my baby? How precious your words are? How shall you keep in silence? The war had ceased and why didn’t you take the chance to have a rest and keep fit? Why not go out to have a walk with childe Bai and release yourself? Baby! How can you stay out like lost and made Childe Bai searching you all day long?
…… The Jap had invaded in even if you worried to death it is in vain……”When ever the old woman initiated with her gossip she can never put to an end.
LiuMing could tolerate it no longer. She sat up suddenly and bitted on her lips facing the window. Then she burst out a line:
“It is all but nonsense!” then she fell on her bed again.
The little brother LiuFang is always by the side of his sister. He also got tired of the mother’s gossip. He probed out his little head and spoke to the mother:
“Mother, I would follow the example of my sister’s and learn to operate. I won’t learn how to gossip like you.”
“Stop it! You brat! Didn’t you say you want to be an army officer when grown up? How shall you learn operation? The bloody things and what’s the significance to you? ”
“If I learn how to operation then I can cut one part of your tongue then stitch it again to save your gossiping.”
“You ungrateful things!” the mother was angered and she took up the broom by her side to beat her son. The son was running outside and the mother chasing after her and kept beating with the broom:
“You all rebelled! The three worms of you, old and young! How shall you all bite on me?! ”
The little brother was making his faces, laughing naughtily at his mother and the mother kept running after him and beating him with the broom.
In all these chaotic, BaiShiWu pulled a bicycle into the courtyard in his neat clothes and gentleman manner.
Except for LiuMing BaiShiWu likes no one else in the family. He managed to deal with them for the sake of LiuMing.
The house quiet down the moment BaiShiWu arrived. LiuMing’s mother went to fetch tea for him as soon as possible. BaiShiWu went into LiuMing’s apartment and shut the door then he threw a pacel of fruit and candy to her. He turned and walked to LiuMing’s bedside then held tight her hand.
“Little Liu, you looks better today. Look, you looked much thinner these days. I am worrying over it now. ”BaiShiWu sat at the bench before her bed, looking at the crystal face affectionately: “I send you good news today……”
“What’s the news?”
“You guess. It will make you happy for sure.”
“I can’t guess. Don’t beating about the bush, tell me directly.”
But BaiShiWu delayed instead he took a piece of cream cake from the table and reached to LiuMing’s mouth. He slanted his head as if coaxing a child.
“Little Liu, ate it out! It is like my sweat heart. You swallow it and my heart linked yours.”
Analysis: The war ceased. In the interval between the war and the marhing in of the Japanese army, peace seems to be recovered. There came the conflicts of familiar thoughts. The mother cared her daughter so much. Why the daughter prompted out a line:“It is all but nonsense.” ? In the heart of her mother she selected the best life for her daughter to married a rich family. But the mind of the educated LiuMing had changed. Though she still cared about the handsome and condiderate BaiShiWu, she is facing the choice between nation and priate life. “It is all but nonsense.” This is a very impolite line to say to her mother, but it is a big leap forward, for she inclined the nation.