Translated by Addis of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
They walked down the street for a few minutes, turned a corner and arrived at Mr. Lynn’s residence. It was a townhouse with an elegant light gray facade, shiny handrails on the front steps, and well-tended garden plants on both sides. It reflected the meticulous attitude of the lady of the house.
Mr. Lynn rang the doorbell.
The door was opened by Mrs. Lynn herself. She was a tall and slender woman, dressed in a luxurious and elegant way, but her face was overly powdered, causing her skin to look whiter than the string of pearls on her neck. If she was a towering North American rosebud, then the rich Mr. Lynn was an Australian shrub. It was a rare thing that two species so far apart could be married.
“Honey, you’re back. We’re just waiting for you to start dinner!” She let out an exaggerated shout, and kissed Mr. Lynn on both cheeks.
The lawyer heard the word “dinner” and rustled and trembled. As if to delay the meal, he deliberately introduced Duan FeiZhou and Z to his wife with tedious words. “This is Joseph’s nephew. You see, isn’t it obvious at a glance that he is related to Joseph? This gentleman is a police officer from Scotland Yard, Leo’s benefactor…”
Mrs. Lynn scolded, “Why didn’t you say there was another guest! I’m afraid I don’t have that much dinner ready!”
“That’s all right. There’s enough to share…”
The sound of thumping footsteps came from the house. “Dad, why don’t you introduce me?”
A slim girl leapt out from behind Mrs. Lynn. The girl was about fifteen or sixteen, wore a blue girls’ school uniform, and had thick brown hair tied into a braid with a blue ribbon. She had to be Mr. and Mrs. Lynn’s daughter.
Duan FeiZhou looked at her with amazement, deeply impressed that the product of the combination of North American rosebud and the Australian bush was a pavilion of bowl lilies. Nature could be really wonderful.
“This is my daughter, Louisa.” Mr. Lynn said proudly.
Two blushes fluttered on Louisa’s cheeks. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Chester. Your uncle has always taken care of our family…”
She shyly held out her hand to Z.
Z was indifferent, and said coldly, “I didn’t know I changed my name.”
“Huh?” Louisa was stunned.
Duan FeiZhou coughed awkwardly. “I’m Leopold Chester.”
Louisa looked at him, then at Z. She let out an odd whimper, and covered her reddened face. She cried out in embarrassment, “Daddy! Why didn’t you even say anything! It’s embarrassing!”
Mr. Lynn was aggrieved. “Didn’t I tell you that Leo is a young man?”
“Am I old?” Z wasn’t very happy.
Louisa said, “But you said he was a very handsome young man! I thought…”
“I’m sorry I’m not very handsome.” Duan FeiZhou said sadly.
It was Mrs. Lynn who rescued the group from the embarrassment.
“Why don’t we start the meal? It’s not good when it’s cold,” she said as she pushed her hapless daughter into the foyer.
Duan FeiZhou swore he heard Mr. Lynn say in a faint voice, imperceptible to his wife, “As if hot is any better.”
As the group settled at the table, an older maid brought out from the kitchen a shiny silver plate containing something dark that looked rather like burnt wood floating in muck. Mrs. Lynn gazed expectantly at her guests, hoping to hear complimentary words from them, “Since we were having guests coming today, I cooked it myself.”
Mr. Lynn hurriedly handed Z a plate full of food and said warmly, “Be sure to try my wife’s best dish!”
Duan FeiZhou finally understood why Mr. Lynn had so enthusiastically invited Z to join the family dinner. One more person would reduce the amount of dark food each person would receive.
“Honey, you eat some too.” Mrs. Lynn placed another plate in front of Louisa.
“I’m on a diet, Mom, or I wouldn’t be able to fit into that new dress.” Louisa justified as she refused her mother’s kind offer. This excuse was unbelievably brilliant, it was just a pity that men couldn’t use it.
Mr. Lynn took the dark dish into his mouth with a sad expression. Duan FeiZhou saw tears in his eyes. Under Mrs. Lynn’s urging gaze, Duan FeiZhou also picked up a fork with difficulty, stuck it in a piece of charred black object from the plate and brought it into his mouth.
Perhaps because he did not expect it from the beginning, the taste of the food was not as bad as he thought. He originally thought it was similar to eating mud (don’t ask him how he knew what mud tasted like), but the taste was actually quite good. Of course, this may also be because his taste buds had long been completely destroyed by the ashes mixed with rice.
Mr. Lynn and Louisa saw him swallow a large bite of the dark dish without changing his face, and showed a mixture of shock and admiration. When they witnessed Z gracefully sweeping away an entire plate of food, they couldn’t wait to bow down at his feet.
“What do you…What do you think?” Mr. Lynn asked cautiously.
“Very good. I haven’t had a decent meal like this in a long time.” Z pushed the empty plate away.
“I’m not asking about the food, I’m asking about your health.”
Z looked to Mrs. Lynn. “Can I have a little more?”
Everyone now looked at Z with awe as if he were a saint who had descended from heaven.
“Louisa, you haven’t told us about your time at school.” Mrs. Lynn asked her daughter as she brought in a new plate of dark food.
Louisa ate less than a bird, and Duan FeiZhou looked at her enviously. “As usual. By the way, Mrs. Nightingale came to give a lecture at our school last week.”
Hearing this unmistakably familiar name, Duan FeiZhou subconsciously raised his head.” Ms. Nightingale?”
“Yes, it’s the famous Ms. Nightingale. What’s wrong?”
“I respect her!” Duan FeiZhou’s eyes were overflowing with longing. It suddenly occurred to him that although there were a few differences between this world and his world, most of the places were still exactly the same. He might have a chance to meet someone famous in history – like Nightingale! Maybe he should have a little book with him to collect signatures…He was so lost in thought that he didn’t notice a look of undetectable distress from Z beside him.
“She’s a wonderful woman, isn’t she?” Louisa said cheerfully, chatting about her favorite topic to make her forget her embarrassment. “I am inspired by her, and I want to be a nurse in the future.”
“Oh, dear, I’m afraid you can not deal with that kind of suffering.” Mr. Lynn’s face was full of sadness.
“I think it’s good. It’s a noble profession.” Mrs. Lynn said.
Mr. Lynn immediately said, “Your mother is right, it’s good for young people to suffer more.”
“Tell us about yourself, Mr. Chester,” Louisa said. “Dad says you know a lot about medicine and have cured a lot of people!”
Duan FeiZhou felt that his past life was not very interesting, that he had not met any famous people and that he did not have noble ambitions like Louisa, so he had to tell the story of his unlicensed medical practice.
“… So, I had to saw off Mr. Roberts’ leg. Since there was no anesthesia, I had to give him a hard time.”
Father, daughter and Z stared in silence at the charred meal on their plates, and even the last trace of appetite had disappeared. In order to eliminate the awkwardness, Louisa said with a twinkle in her eye and in an exaggerated tone, “Mom, your necklace is so beautiful! I’ve never seen it before! You didn’t win it from playing cards again, did you?”
Duan FeiZhou’s eyes fell on the pearl necklace around Mrs. Lynn’s neck. Duan FeiZhou had seen pearls before, and he was sure that they could not emit such light. The most bizarre thing was that the light seemed to appear directly in his brain, not the light that existed in reality. Except for him, the rest of the people didn’t think there was anything unusual about the necklace.
Mr. Lynn wasn’t pleased. “You’re playing cards again!”
“I didn’t!” Mrs. Lynn said in a defensive tone. “You remember Mrs. Vilyuy, who owns a tailor store, right? She borrowed thirty pounds from me, and not long ago said she couldn’t pay it back, so she used the necklace to cover the debt. I think I’ve earned it! A friend of mine who owns a jewelry store said that the necklace is worth at least fifty pounds!”
Mr. Lynn scolded his wife, “Look at you. You look like a Jewish moneylender!”
Mrs. Lynn gave her husband a sidelong glance, “Why do you say that so harshly? It’s a way to make money!”
“You want jewelry, just say so. Why go to play cards? It’s good to win, but what if you lose? Even if you earn money in this way, it’s not something honorable.”
“Your money comes in a fair and square way, how come I never see you buy me such beautiful jewelry?”
The couple tussled with a glance. Judging from Louisa’s accustomed expression, this should be a common sight at their family dinner table.
Duan FeiZhou wasn’t interested in listening to the couple’s explicit show, but rather gazed intently at Mrs. Lynn’s necklace. He had seen this kind of light on the Sword in the Stone, did it mean that the necklace had some special power? Could it be that it was not an ordinary object, but an object with magic powers?
Mrs. Lynn said that the necklace was used by a Mrs. Vilyuy to settle a debt. Could she be an occult practitioner? Duan FeiZhou asked, “And where did Mrs. Vilyuy get this necklace?”
All eyes turned to him at the same time, and Z’s expression was particularly suspicious.
“What are you prying about?” Z asked, frowning.
Duan FeiZhou’s throat was dry with tension.
Z suspected him! If he said anything, Z would immediately know what kind of powers he possessed and find out that he was the new owner of the Secret Trading House! He would be sent to prison with Palmer!
Duan FeiZhou’s mind raced.