Chapter 7: By the Willow Bridge on the Seventh Day of the Seventh Month

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The water dripped against the boulders.
I strained my ears to detect any other sound, but it was in vain.
It was silent, dead silent.
My eyes were blindfolded so tightly that I didn’t know whether it was night or day and my mouth was sealed.
Only the smell of damp, rotting moss permeated the nostrils.

This would have been a stone hut, so well enclosed that a loud echo could be heard when a small stone was accidentally kicked.

If it was a kidnapping case for money, there would be nothing complicated about it, nothing more than a trip to the Ye family to extort money.
However, my instincts told me that this was all purposeful and premeditated.
An iron door creaked, like the old groan of a broken phonograph, echoing eerily in my ears.
I couldn’t help but shrink back and tried to make my voice sound as unruffled as possible. 

“Who is it? What the hell do you want?”

“You don’t have to be afraid.
I’ll ask you anything, just answer truthfully and I’ll let you go.” 

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It was the voice of the flower-selling girl, who was very close to me, her body smeared with the scent of magnolia flowers.

The cat really did smell the fish and just followed the trail to find it.
The secret letter was like a time bomb, and as long as the matter remained unresolved, I would have no peace of mind.
I just didn’t know whether the flower-selling girl in front of me was an enemy or a friend, which made me extremely anxious.

“Just ask, if you want money.
Our Ye family has plenty of money.
I’ll write a note for my father to pay the ransom.”

“Second Miss Ye, we don’t talk in plain sight.
Black Cat’s information has been lost.
You were the last person he came in contact with before he died.
So I want to ask you, have you seen that thing?”

The last person to come into contact with him? 

I sneered in my heart.
What a good Qin Shiyue, usually calm but sneaky behind the scenes.
I knew that I was the last person to come into contact with the black cat, and the only other person who knew was Qin Shiyue.
I’m afraid he must have been following the Black Cat, but he didn’t expect he would be killed out of nowhere.

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Seeing that I did not reply, the flower-selling girl added, “That letter of information will only cause trouble for Miss Ye.
It is better to leave it to me.”

I sighed, “I was only doing it for fun, but I never thought I would get into such trouble.
I threw away that inexplicable piece of information after reading it, so I can’t hand it over either.
All I can tell you is that it was sent by the Black Cat to a man called Tengu, and it only had one sentence on it, ‘By the Willow Bridge on the seventh day of the seventh month’.”

“By the Willow Bridge on the seventh day of the seventh month?” The flower-selling girl was stunned.
“What does that mean?”

“How should I know what it means?! I thought it was a love poem from the man who was going to die, to the girl he loved!”


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“Now you should let me go, right?” 

The sudden silence in my ears made me feel more and more uncomfortable, and my heart was like a small drum.
If they found out the contents of the secret letter and killed me, then I would’ve died for nothing.
Before I could think about the horror of killing and dumping the corpse, I smelt the fragrance of magnolia flowers.
It was the same strong scent that made me drowsy.

It was a very long dream.

I struggled against the sea, salty water filling my nostrils, my eyes, my ears.

I woke up with a dozen children surrounding me in a dilapidated courtyard that looked familiar.
A small pot propped up with a few bricks was gurgling and steaming.
A girl child of only six or seven years old was using a worn towel to wipe my face.

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“Sister Bingqing, you’re finally awake.” The oldest child came over happily.
“Do you remember me? I’m a ghost.”

“Little ghost?”

“Have you forgotten? The last time Uncle Qin was here, you gave us a dozen coins.
We went and bought shoes to wear and bought the fish girl back from the human traffickers.”

“How did I end up here?”

“When I came back from polishing my shoes in the evening, I found you lying at the entrance to the alley.”

It was dark outside.
I wondered how long I had been unconscious and thought the Ye family must have become a swarm of chaos by now.
I struggled to sit up and thanked the little child and the others for taking care of me.
I went out of the alleyway, hailed a yellow cab, and hurried back to the Ye family.

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