Happy Heroes 14 Print
Friday, 11 July 2008 11:20

Chapter 13 – NanGong Chou’s Secret

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Guo DaLu: “Do you think Mei RuNan could be Mei RuJia’s younger sister?”

Yan Qi: “Whether she is or not has nothing to do with me.”

Guo DaLu: “Is there enmity between the Mei family and Feng QiWu?”

Yan Qi: “Not certain.”

Guo DaLu: “I think that must be it. That’s why Mei RuNan thought up a plan to get rid of Feng QiWu. But does she hold some sort of hatred towards NanGong Chou as well? Was she the one who rescued NanGong Chou? Did she save him because of that lot of treasures?”


Yan Qi: “Why do you not just ask her?”

Guo DaLu exhaled a sigh. “If she did not mention anything herself, even if I ask, I won’t get any answers.”

Yan Qi gave an icy laugh. “I think you do not dare ask.”

Guo DaLu: “I don’t dare?”

Yan Qi: “You are afraid of offending her, that she will get angry, so…” He had suddenly closed his mouth, and his face had become long. Guo DaLu turned his head in the direction he had been looking and saw Mei RuNan walking towards them.

A sweet smile filled her face. Her eyes were large and bright. She chimed, “You should be asking me all these things. I would not get angry.”

Yan Qi’s face was stony as he asked in a cold tone, “You overheard everything that we just said?”

Her head lowered as she explained, “I did not purposely try to eavesdrop. I came to tell you that dinner is ready.”

Yan Qi: “What opportune timing for your arrival.”

He had already been standing. Now, he turned his head and left. Mei RuNan watched until he was far off into the distance, then gave a sad smile and sighed, “I did not do anything to offend him. Why does he always leave once he sees me?”

Guo DaLu chuckled as he offered, “Maybe it is because he likes you.”

Mei RuNan blinked in surprise. “He likes me? But then, why is he avoiding me?”

Guo DaLu: “Perhaps he has already figured out that he is not the person you like.” She lowered her head again. A long while passed, then all of a sudden, she began giggling. Guo DaLu asked, “What are you laughing about?”

Mei RuNan pressed her lips together to contain her laughter as she replied, “I am laughing at you men. You never ask the questions that you should be asking, and you never say the words that you should be saying.”

Guo DaLu: “Those things that I wanted to ask you, you…”

Mei RuNan cut his sentence off short. Grasping his hand, she smiled and said, “Come on. Let’s go have dinner. I will tell you all those things after we are finished eating.”

Guo DaLu: “Why can you not tell me now?”

Mei RuNan: “I am afraid that after you finish hearing the answers, you will not have any appetite.”

She held Guo DaLu’s hand as they walked back into the house. She held it very tightly. When they sat down, it seemed as if she did not want to let go of it. Wang Dong was staring at her hand. Lin TaiPing was also staring at her hand. Yan Qi was trying to deliberately act as if he did not notice anything, but he, too, could not help stealing several glances. An indescribable feeling of comfort flooded Guo DaLu’s heart, which is why he ate particularly well that meal.

As he was wiping his mouth, Mei RuNan suddenly spoke. “Your guess was correct. I am Mei RuJia’s younger sister, and Feng QiWu is my family’s enemy. But unfortunately, we were never able to find him. Therefore, we thought up this plan.” She gave a little smile, then continued, “We had calculated that GunZi and Golden Lion would be able to fish Feng QiWu out from his place of hiding. They are government officers, so naturally it would be much easier for them to search for someone.” At this time, she let out a sigh. “Up to this point, your speculations were not the least bit wrong.”

Guo DaLu queried, “What about everything after?”

Mei RuNan: “Everything after, you were completely wrong.”

Guo DaLu was silent for a second from surprise. “What points did we guess incorrectly?”

Mei RuNan: “Number one: the black-clothed man is not NanGong Chou.”

Gou DaLu: “If he is not NanGong Chou, then who is he?”

Mei RuNan was biting down on her own lip. A long time passed before she finally gathered the resolve to say, “My older brother.”

When she said this, everyone was struck with astonishment. Guo DaLu could barely prevent himself from crying out. Even Lin TaiPing could not help exclaiming, “Your brother? Why would he do something like that?”

She hung her head low as she explained, “Everyone within jianghu thinks that we, the Mei family, are an old and well-known family within wulin and, because we have always been quite ostentatious, must have endless wealth. Any friend of jianghu who has come to us for aid has never been disappointed.” The expression on her face grew miserable, and she said sadly, “In reality, even though my family may seem impressive on the outside, on the inside, since my father passed away, we have exhausted our resources. Not only are we not capable of providing financial aid to others, it has been arduous getting through each day in our own lives. And so…”

Wang Dong: “So in addition to wanting Feng QiWu’s life, you wanted his money as well.”

Mei RuNan gave a slight nod of her head. “Correct. Our plan was to have ‘two brushes paint one picture.’ While I was here committing burglaries, my older brother had already approached GunZi and Golden Lion and become their bodyguard.”

Guo DaLu asked, “But being the shrewd type of people that GunZi and Golden Lion are, how could they just carelessly believe that he was NanGong Chou? And why would they heedlessly use him as their bodyguard?”

Mei RuNan: “One: because they had never seen NanGong Chou before. Two: because my older brother has a memento that once belonged to NanGong Chou. Three: because they never thought someone would try to masquerade as NanGong Chou.”

Guo DaLu: “Four: because your luck has been good. But why would your brother have a memento from NanGong Chou?”

Mei RuNan: “Because he is my brother’s friend.”

With a sigh and a cynical smile, Guo DaLu commented, “It seems that your brother is very talented to be able to befriend such a person.”

Mei RuNan’s cheeks turned a slight pink as she replied, “He has always been one who likes to make new friends, and he enjoys helping others. There have been countless numbers of people in jianghu who have received favors from him. It is because he has too many friends and is overly generous that our family is getting poorer with each day.”

Chuckling, Guo DaLu said, “True. Misers will never lack money to spend. If I had known he was such a person, I would have thrown that one punch of mine a little lighter.”

Mei RuNan’s face showed displeasure as she stated slowly, “I still have two other things that I must tell you.”

Guo DaLu: “Go ahead.”

Mei RuNan: “One: I do not appreciate it when people insult my brother to my face. And two: If he had not been using a weapon that he was not used to, the one taking a beating would have been you, not him.”

“Stone Man” Mei RuJia’s weapon of choice was made of stone. This point Guo DaLu had heard before. He could only respond with a faint smile. “So how is the martial arts of the real NanGong Chou?”

Mei RuNan answered indifferently, “If the person you came across had been the real NanGong Chou, you probably would not be sitting here right now.”

Guo DaLu: “If I wouldn’t be sitting here, where would I be?”

Mei RuNan: “Lying down. Even if you were not lying in a coffin, you would at least be lying on a bed.”

Guo DaLu laughed loudly in response, except his laughter appeared to be a little unnatural.

Mei RuNan had picked up her story again. “Our whole plan had been proceeding very smoothly until…” Her eyes glanced over towards Lin TaiPing.

Lin TaiPing filled in, “Until I accidentally saw him.”

Mei RuNan uttered a sigh. “I really wish that day you guys did not go to the city and did not see him.”

Lin TaiPing: “He was afraid that we would dig deeper into his secret so he decided to kill us.”

Sadness filled her voice as she continued, “He is the only son of our Mei family. He could not let the Mei family name and hundred-year reputation be ruined at his hands.”

Wang Dong lamented, “So he would rather admit to being NanGong Chou than reveal his true identity. And he would rather die than be disgraced, right?”

Mei RuNan gave a slight nod of her head. Her eyes grew red with tears.

Wang Dong unexpectedly heaved a long sigh also. “To be the only son of an old and respected family in wulin truly comes with sufferings that others cannot understand.”

Guo DaLu: “There is probably only one person who has to endure more suffering than him.”

Wang Dong: “Who?”

Guo DaLu: “His sister.”

Mei RuNan cast a glance in his direction. There seemed to be a faint smile on her face; a hint of sadness in her expression, yet not quite. Looking at her, there was an indescribable attractiveness about her.

Lin TaiPing gazed at her besottedly. He suddenly asked, “Did you send the coffin here?”

Mei RuNan: “Uh huh.”

Lin TaiPing: “For what reason?”

Mei RuNan took a deep breath before answering. “I knew that after you realized that you had killed someone, your heart would be feeling dreadful. I sent the coffin here for the purpose of letting you know that the person you had ‘killed’ had not died.”

The look on Lin TaiPing’s face grew even more smitten as mumbled, “No matter what, I should thank you.”

Guo DaLu’s eyes travelled between Lin TaiPing and Mei RuNan before he exhaled and affirmed, “You really should thank her. She treats you quite well.”

Yan Qi had remained silent during the discussion, but now he spoke in a cold tone, “But NanGong Chou is still the name that was on the coffin.”

Mei RuNan: “In spite of what he has done, I still could not betray my older brother.” Her eyes grew even redder as she added, “Even though I knew that what he was doing was not right, I could only secretly try to stop him…”

Yan Qi: “And that is why this whole time you did not dare reveal yourself.”

Mei RuNan: “I did not dare and also could not reveal myself. But I still tried my best to make it up to you. My only hope was that you would forgive him because of me and everything I had done.”

Yan Qi: “Where is he now?”

Mei RuNan: “He has gone home.”

Yan Qi: “You were the one who rescued him?”

Mei RuNan: “Of course it was me. He is my older brother by blood. I could not stand to one side and watch him suffer…” All of a sudden, she lifted her chin. “Should you really find that you cannot forgive him, then there is no need for you to seek him out. I am willing to assume responsibility for all of his wrongdoings.”

Lin TaiPing jumped to his feet and declared in a loud voice, “Regardless of what anyone else may say, I believe that you have not done anything wrong.”

Guo DaLu chimed in, “Whoever says she is wrong is a b*stard!”

Wang Dong: “My only comment is, she cannot be considered a human.”

Lin TaiPings face flushed immediately with anger. His neck bulged as he glared fiercely and roared, “Did you just say she is not human?”

Wang Dong sighed, “Yes, she is not human. I have never seen a real person with courage such as hers.”

Guo DaLu clapped his hands together. “Absolutely correct. She had no obligation to tell us all these things, but yet, she did not try to hide anything from us. Who else has courage that could compare?”

Yan Qi: “Can you compare?”

Guo DaLu: “If it was me in her place, I am not certain I would be brave enough to tell us all these things directly to our faces.”

Yan Qi snickered unexpectedly, “Well at least now you know that women are not as useless as you had thought.”

Guo DaLu: “Not only are they not useless, they are approaching greatness.”

Her eyes reddened again as Mei RuNan asked hesitantly, “You… you honestly do not blame me?”

Guo DaLu exclaimed, “Blame you? Who would possibly blame you? In fact, we should be on our knees and kowtowing in thanks to you.”

Wang Dong: “Were it not for you, even if we could have avoided death by poisoning, we would still have died from starvation.”

Mei RuNan’s head hung low. “My brother actually is not…”

Guo DaLu hurriedly cut in, “You do not need to explain anything for him. We do not blame him either.”

Mei RuNan: “Really?”

Guo DaLu: “If I had been in his shoes, I may have done the same thing.”

Wang Dong: “I may have been even more ruthless than him.”

Guo DaLu: “I am only worried now that, if your brother finds out that you interfered with what he was doing, he will be furious.”

Mei RuNan smiled bitterly. “He knows already.”

Guo DaLu reeled back slightly in surprise. “What happened after he found out?”

Mei RuNan: “He was furious.”

Guo DaLu: “What did you do?”

Mei RuNan: “I ran away.”

Guo DaLu frowned as he pointed out, “But you will have to go back eventually. That is your home.”

She lowered her head again and did not answer.

Wang Dong said with a knowing grin, “Of course, if she goes back she will have to suffer some punishment, but she does not have to go back.”

Guo DaLu: “Why?”

Wang Dong chuckled, “When a girl marries a man, she does not have to go back to her home anymore.”

Guo DaLu got the picture. He snorted, “Right. If she is married, she is no longer a member of the Mei family and her brother no longer has control over her.”

Wang Dong: “So now, she has no option but to hurry and get married.”

Guo DaLu: “Who is she going to marry?”

Wang Dong answered in a nonchalant tone, “Obviously, she will marry the man she likes. Maybe it is you, maybe it’s me.”

Guo DaLu had all of a sudden become very still from shock. He had discovered that Mei RuNan was smiling secretly. All this time, she had sat quietly with her head hanging low, her cheeks flushed with red, as if she was filled with despair and the whole ordeal was very difficult for her. But she could not contain a faint smile from showing on the corner of her lips. That smile was similar to one of a young fox who had just stolen eight chicks. The light bulb lit up in Guo DaLu’s head. These four macho men had all been duped by her. Under these circumstances, no matter which one she fancied among the four of them, that person would have an obligation to take her as his wife. The little fox had unsuspectingly ensnared them with a noose around each of their necks. And now, all that was needed was a tug from her hand and one of them would be hung up, captured for the rest of his life.

“It appears that women are much more intelligent than what men had imagined.”

But who was it she wanted to capture?

Wang Dong was still grinning; he was grinning like a fox – a sly old fox. It seemed as if he was certain he would not be the one who was hung. He also appeared to know something that Guo DaLu did not. He let out another chuckle. “We may not be considered as grand heroes or brave paladins, but neither are we ungrateful cowards who will kick our benefactor while she is down. Correct?”

Lin TaiPing: “Correct.”

Wang Dong: “So if Mei guniang has any problems, we will definitely try and help her find a solution, right?”

Lin TaiPing hurriedly affirmed, “Right.” He had again rushed in to be the first to answer.

Guo DaLu let out a sigh and thought to himself as he watched him, “He is still young and can become overly passionate, allowing his emotions to rule at any time. Someone has only gotten the length of rope ready, and he is already scrambling to loop it around his own neck.”

But he had not even completely exhaling that sigh when he noticed that Wang Dong was staring at him and directing a question his way. “And you? Do you think what I said is true?”

Though Guo DaLu wanted to answer no, he could not since he knew it would look bad if he did. He wished he could grab an egg and shove it into Wang Dong’s mouth.

Yan Qi interrupted them, “You do not even need to ask. When it comes to gallantly rising to the occasion and caring for and protecting beauties, who in this world can compare to our Mr. Guo here?”

Wang Dong nodded his head thoughtfully, as if Yan Qi had spoken words that had been in his heart as well. With a serious look on his face, he said, “That statement is very true indeed. But what about you?”

Yan Qi gave a little laugh and replied lightly, “So long as Wang Laoda is okay with it, what problem could I possibly have?”

Wang Dong exhaled a lengthy breath. His face lit up with a bright smile as asked, “Mei guniang, you heard our entire discussion?”

Her head low, Mei RuNan responded with a light nasal “mm” sound. It was as quiet as the cry of a mosquito.

Wang Dong: “Then why will you not tell us about any problem you may have?”

She lowered her head even further. Looking very fragile, she whispered, “I feel awkward saying it out.”

Wang Dong: “Don’t worry. Tell us.”

Her cheeks brushed a pretty pink again, making her appear even more delicate and embarrassed. It took her nearly half a day to finally stammer, “My brother was so livid when he learned what I had done that he nearly went berserk. He pressed right up against me and demanded to know why I would do something like that, why I would help an outsider harm my own brother.”

Wang Dong: “And how did you answer?”

Mei RuNan blushed even more fiercely. “I could not think of anything else but to say… but to say… but to say…” She kept repeating those three words over and over again, like she had suddenly developed a cramp.

Unable to bear the suspense, Guo DaLu asked anxiously, “What did you say?”

Mei RuNan bit down hard on her lip, as if she had brought herself to make a very difficult decision. Her face scarlet, she carried on, “I said, ‘The person I helped is not an outsider.’ So he asked, ‘If he is not an outsider, what is he?’ I could only answer that he is… is…”

Guo DaLu could not stop himself from blurting out again, “Is what?”

Mei RuNan: “I had no choice but to answer that he is his mei fu [*brother-in-law; younger sister’s husband] because I had already betrothed myself to him.” Upon finishing her sentence, her whole body seemed to go limp and she nearly slid underneath the table.

Guo DaLu nearly fell beneath the table himself.

Wang Dong blinked at her as he inquired, “What did your brother say after he heard this?”

Mei RuNan: “He finally cooled down slightly after I told him. But he warned me that if I was trying to deceive him, he would beat me to death. And he is also forcing me to bring… back home with me.”

Wang Dong: “Bring what back home?”

Mei RuNan: “Bring the person...”

Wang Dong: “Which person?”

Mei RuNan: “Brother-in… brother-in-law…”

Wang Dong: “Whose brother-in-law?”

Mei RuNan: “My… my brother’s brother-in-law.” She seemed drained once again after forcing the answer out.

Guo DaLu felt himself grow weak also.

Wang Dong let out another long breath, as if Mei RuNan’s meaning had only now become apparent. In reality, it truly is no easy feat to be able to completely figure out all the meanings behind a girl’s words. He smiled pleasantly, “So it seems that only one question remains.”

Lin TaiPing: “Which question is that?”

Wang Dong: “Out of the four of us, who is the brother-in-law of Mei guniang’s brother? And will he be willing to go back with Mei guniang?”

Lin TaiPing: “Who would not be willing? Would that person be so heartless as to watch Mei guniang go back and get beaten to death by her older brother?”

Wang Dong: “What if he is unwilling?”

Lin TaiPing: “Then that person should not even be considered our friend. We do not need to be civilized when dealing with friends who are not really friends.”

Rubbing his palms together, Wang Dong exclaimed, “True. If someone refuses to go, the other three will force him to. Do you all agree?”

Lin TaiPing: “Agreed.”

Wang Dong was staring at Guo DaLu out of the corner of his eye as he addressed him, “What about you?”

Yan Qi spoke up with a chilly tone, “You should not need to ask that question. Do you perceive Mr. Guo to be an ungrateful and disloyal person?”

Wang Dong beamed. “Then it is perfect! All problems have been solved. Mei guniang, what are you waiting for?”

However, Mei RuNan deliberately wanted to keep them waiting a while longer. Women seem to innately enjoy making men anxious. Her eyes were constantly moving, flickering between each of their four faces. Guo DaLu really hoped that her gaze would not end up resting on his face.

He actually did not dislike this “Sour Plum Soup” one bit. This morning, when she had arrived, if she had said that the one she fancied was someone else, not him, he would have been infuriated. But fancying was one thing, taking her as his wife was a different thing. And being forced to take her as his wife was an entirely different thing. It was analogous to a situation where, though he liked to drink wine, he would not let someone pinch his nose and pour wine down his throat. His only hope now was that there was something wrong with this Sour Plum Soup’s eyes, that the man she was attracted to was someone else, not him.

But unfortunately, her eyes appeared to be perfectly fine and in fact, were now fixed upon him. She was not only gazing directly at him, she was also smiling – a sweet smile, a mesmerizing smile. Everyone who knows that they have hooked a big fish would smile sweetly. Guo DaLu wanted to return her smile, but he could not force one out.

He sighed to himself and mourned, “I guess it is my bad luck that I was born more handsome than everyone else.”

Mei RuNan all of a sudden spoke to him. “I had promised that when I had decided, you would be the first person I told.”

Guo DaLu mumbled, “Really, you do not have to be too concerned about keeping your word with me. I know girls often forget the promises that they make.”

She chimed, “I have not forgotten. Come out with me. I will tell you.” She rose to her feet unexpectedly and walked outside, her footsteps light and graceful like a swallow – a swallow that had just caught seven or eight large caterpillars.


End of Chapter 13

Last Updated ( Friday, 11 July 2008 12:04 )