Tang Can promised Shen Yu that he wouldn’t send Zhang Fei back to the regular army division. Despite Shen Yu’s involvement, Zhang Fei was not grateful. She groused about Shen Yu’s deficiencies behind their backs and ground her teeth silently. The only person who saw the female soldier’s actions was Mazha.
Mazha frowned deeply, disappointed by his colleague’s actions. He grumbled under his breath, stating that Zhang Fei was an ungrateful, two-faced witch who didn’t know how to repay good deeds. Although he tried to be quiet, evidently Zhang Fei heard him. She leveled a hard glare at him. Mazha sucked in his neck like a tortoise and rapidly shut his mouth. He didn’t have the clout to fight with this petty woman and her military family.
Tang Can saw that Shen Yu had been thoroughly awakened by Zhang Fei’s underhanded methods. He sighed and suggested that Shen Yu quickly eat dinner right now. She could sleep more after she finished eating.
Using a hand to cover her mouth, Shen Yu let out a long and loud yawn. With a voice still clouded with sleep, she asked Tang Can where he put Wheaty. The young officer smiled brightly and said, “The dog is in the rear courtyard behind the guestrooms. Unfortunately, we had to provide slightly cramped quarters for her. Army regulations. We had to get a dog crate for her, so she’s resting in that right now. I already had someone specializing in veterinary medicine look her over. Wheaty’s wounds got re-bandaged and that person also gave her a shot of something. Don’t worry about the dog!”
Shen Yu nodded obediently. After she finished her dinner, she grabbed a couple steamed rolls from the table and ran out to find Wheaty. Tang Can followed closely behind her. Zhang Fei originally wanted to follow the two but before she could step out, Mazha stopped her.
“You still trying to cause trouble?” he asked. “Are you trying to piss Officer Tang off? Again?”
Zhang Fei stamped her feet, revealing her anger and frustration. She threw off the hand that Mazha had on her arm and swiftly turned to back to her room. Mazha watched her retreat and laughed uneasily.
Shen Yu found the yellow colored dog in the rear courtyard. Wheaty lay dispiritedly in the dog crate, not used to being locked up. When the dog noticed Shen Yu was there, she jumped up and whined pitifully, as if she was a little housewife being abused by her evil mother-in-law.
The young woman squeezed her hand through the bars and patted Wheaty’s head gently, trying to comfort the dog. Wheaty soon saw that Shen Yu was holding steamed rolls, and the dog’s eyes glittered with greed. After a bit, she got impatient and thrust her wet nose into Shen Yu’s hand. Wheaty licked her chops and sat down, waiting anxiously for Shen Yu to do something. Shen Yu deliberately stood there and did nothing. Wheaty clawed at the kennel door at first but then stopped and stared at the woman, her large dark eyes looking sad and pitiful.
If I don’t feed her soon, it seems like I’ll be committing some kind of sin or something. Despite those thoughts, Shen Yu inexplicably felt happy at this moment.
Tang Can crouched next to the dog kennel. He watched Shen Yu and Wheaty contently, not saying a word. An evening breeze blew past them and carried the scent of some unknown flowers to them. Both of them felt pleasure and enjoyed the quiet night air.
Finally, Shen Yu fed the steamed buns in her hand to Wheaty. She briskly wiped her hands clean of the remaining crumbs and stood up to go back to her room. Her body was extremely tired. After feeding Wheaty, she felt relieved about the dog. She wanted to go back, take a hot shower, and then fall into a dead sleep.
Like a personal bodyguard, Tang Can followed Shen Yu back to the guest sleeping quarters. He followed her until they reached the door to her room. Before she could enter, he asked her to bring out her dirty clothes. While she showered, Tang Can planned on bringing them to the laundry facility and have one of the workers there wash the clothes.
Shen Yu’s head ached from exhaustion, her temple throbbing. Usually she enjoyed hearing Tang Can speak, his voice always sounded very smooth and resonant. However, this time, listening to him talk made her head pound more fiercely. She went into her room and changed out of her dirty outer clothes in an effort to get Tang Can to leave so she could go to sleep faster. In her haste, she forgot to check her pockets to take out anything that may be in them. She gave her discarded outer clothes to Tang Can and jumped into the shower, leaving her underwear with her. Those she could wash later in the comfort of her own bathroom.
After realizing her oversight, waves of regret flowed over her. She had forgotten she had found a map while in the mountains. The map had been placed in her pockets and she forgot to take it out in her haste to get undressed. By the time she remembered and went down to the laundry room, it was too late. The laundry room staff brought her a plastic bag that was marked with a number. Inside the bag were the other items she had left in her clothing: keys, nail clipper, wallet, and cellphone. But there was no map.
Shen Yu checked her wallet and found that not even a penny had been taken out of it. Where did the map go? When she asked the laundry attendant, the attendant said that everything that had been taken from her clothes were placed in the plastic bag, no exceptions.
“Is it something very important? I swear that I didn’t see anything else!” said the laundry attendant, alarmed. She was a young girl, around sixteen to seventeen years of age. Her face turned white when she heard that Shen Yu had lost something at the laundry. She looked like she was about to cry.
When Shen Yu saw the attendant’s expression, she hurriedly tried to comfort her. “It was nothing important! I’ll go look elsewhere for it, don’t worry about it. It probably dropped in the car earlier.”
Shen Yu dropped the matter. She knew how the world worked. If anyone complained about losing items at the laundry, all of the workers would get punished. She had no desire to make life difficult for such a hardworking, young girl over a piece of paper that had questionable value. Even if the map did lead to a hidden treasure, what was she supposed to do with it? Go treasure hunting herself? She already had Uncle Li’s example in front of her, and she really didn’t want to become the Shen family’s second Uncle Li. In her mind, living a simple and hardworking life was the only correct decision. There was no need to waste her life trying to chase down a mythical treasure.
When the laundry attendant heard Shen Yu say that it was not a big deal, her expression relaxed and a smile came back. She had Shen Yu sign a paper and then gave the contents of the plastic bag to her.
At this point, Shen Yu started to struggle with some mixed feelings. She remembered placing the map into the inner pocket of her clothes. How could it just drop out and disappear? Someone must have stolen it from her. Her number one suspect was Tang Can, especially since he was the only one who had access to her clothes. Shen Yu felt somewhat down. Although she had never completely trusted the man, she had thought he was a relatively upright and honest person. But he was the most likely suspect in the case of the missing map. Her impression of him worsened.
Regardless, they were all going to stay in Changsha for a couple of days. At first, Shen Yu did her best to ignore Tang Can. When she couldn’t ignore him, she treated him with distant politeness, pasted a smile on her face, and grunted to avoid speaking. Her smile was so obviously fake that it was painful to look at.
At this point, Shen Yu realized she had inadvertently made Zhang Fei very happy. When Zhang Fei had saw that Shen Yu and Tang Can were no longer speaking to each other, the female soldier started humming a merry tune. Her face also had a self-satisfied expression on it.
On the other hand, Mazha also sensed that there was something not right. In an attempt to repair their relationship, he kept bringing Shen Yu and Tang Can close together. In his mind, Mazha thought that there must have been a misunderstanding. As someone who liked to smooth relationships over, he did all that he could to release the tension between the two. But it was in vain. Tang Can had no issues with Shen Yu but Shen Yu was not willing to spend time with the young officer. In the end, Mazha got yelled at by Zhang Fei, who called him an idiot who liked to meddle unnecessarily in other people’s lives.
Shen Yu thought Mazha was actually pretty adorable. Even when he got scolded, he never got angry. He merely laughed and acted sheepishly. In her eyes, Mazha was a pure hearted person. Her impression of him had started off and remained very good.
The next few days passed leisurely. Shen Yu had no tasks during the day, so she spent most of her time taking care of Wheaty. She was afraid that Wheaty would get sick and depressed from being locked up and ended up buying a leash for the dog. On leash, she took the dog with her to the military guest house’s gardens for walks. Shen Yu didn’t dare to take the dog to other places as she wasn’t sure of their welcome in other areas. True to his nature, Mazha treated Shen Yu and the dog very well. Every day, while they walked and got their exercise, he used that time to clean the dog crate.
As usual, Shen Yu took Wheaty out for walk this morning. When she came back, Mazha was still in the middle of cleaning the dog’s living quarters. After walking a large loop, the dog was thirsty. Next to the kennel were Wheaty’s dishes for food and water. The dog bounded over to take a drink but suddenly Mazha yelled, “Wheaty, don’t drink! There are rice sheep inside the bowl!” He grabbed the water dish and poured the water out on the ground.
Mazha was doing a good deed by making sure the water was fresh enough for the dog to drink, but Shen Yu had an odd expression on her face. For a while after, she looked at Mazha with a weird look in her eyes. Every time Tang Can saw Shen Yu having a good time with Mazha, he could not help but smile bitterly, as if he had just swallowed something unpalatable. He suddenly noticed the young woman looking at him. His smile changed and became bright and happy.
Shen Yu went over to talk to the young officer. She wanted to know where Mazha’s old home province was.
“Mazha’s a good fellow! Any woman who marries him will have a good life for the rest of her life!” exclaimed Tang Can, as if he was trying to recommend Mazha as a possible husband to Shen Yu.
Shen Yu ignored Tang Can’s weird comment and frowned. “Is he really from the inner Mongol tribes?”
Surprised, Tang Can stared off into space for a bit. He had a faint feeling that Shen Yu’s question had more than one meaning. He observed her quietly and then slowly said, “Mazha’s file says so. It says he’s a native from inner Mongolia. From Darhan Muming’an united banner in Baotou, Inner Mongolia to be exact.”
Shen Yu smiled sweetly at him. “I’m going to ask you another question, Tang Can. Do you know what ‘rice sheep’ are?”