Bill Meilen
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CHANGO JADE

 

Loy bowed to his uncle. “Respected Uncle. It is a great joy to see you again,” he allowed in painful precision of tone. “The memory of you is branded upon my heart.”

Sun beamed to hear the boy speak in his native tongue.

“You remember me?”

Loy smiled. “Who could forget such a teacher, even after so many years, Uncle? Your face is always remembered. You have not aged one minute! I have been looking forward to seeing you again, and you seem no different from when I was a small boy.”

Sun could hear peculiar vowel inflections in the young man’s speech-song that sounded alien to his ear, but was of no dialect that he had ever come across, oddly flat, denasalized and foreign, yet perfectly understandable. “You speak with a sound like some of those Gwailo mercenaries working for the Kuomintang. Odd, but interesting. Never mind; after a few weeks we will get rid of that dullness and have you sounding like one of your own people. A month around our babbling servants and you will speak like poetry, as though you never went far away to Gim San!”

Lee shook his head. “He does not have a month in which to learn. We can stay only a few days before our return to Gim San. Japan is attacking in the Northeast with great savagery, and if we do not get out quickly, it may be impossible for us all to leave in safety.” He lit a cigarette. “That damned nation of convicts, Nippon, is pouring troops into the country through Manchuria, killing whoever stands in the way of their imperialistic aims. It has already taken us three weeks longer to reach here than we had planned, and the way between is overrun with communists and turtle-egg mercenaries who go about harassing everyone to form an army. That is why we are travelling in military guise, thanks to friends in Nanking and our great Kuomintang!”

He sat heavily on the edge of the stoop and undid his bootstraps, allowing Loy to pull the dirty riding boots from his legs. He placed his bare feet on the cool flagstones of the door-path and sighed with relief, wriggling his toes luxuriously. “Pack your most cherished possessions. You will be leaving with us when we go, Chang Suey-sun.”

“Leave? Me? Leave Hai Ping?”

“Yes. I am taking you back to be the boy’s teacher. Perhaps you will be able to balance the bad influences of North America upon him.”

Sun’s eyes widened. “You want me to return to Gold Mountain? That thought has never entered my mind.”

Lee stood to tower above his younger brother. “You have no choice in the matter. Your magical expertise is needed. We will cross the water bridge to Gim San.” His powerful gaze brooked no argument. “First of all, of course, we will select a satisfactory bride, get the boy married, and begin the new branch of the Family Chang.”

 

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