When we returned to the station, Officer Lu and the others had nothing to show for despite their exhausting day. At the sight of us bringing in the suspect to surrender, Officer Lu’s jaw dropped in disbelief. Just as we were about to leave, he suddenly stood in my way and accused, "You cheated!"
I almost laughed out loud at the absurdity of his claim. "How did I cheat?"
Officer Lu was so angry he was almost incoherent as he pointed at me, "H-h-how is it possible you solved the case in a day? There’s no way I’d believe that. You must have concealed some clue or knew who did it."
"Wow, you actually guessed it,” I played along. “In fact, the dead man told me everything in a dream last night."
Officer Lu actually fell for it. "Really? Why did he look for you instead of me?"
"Maybe you look too fierce!" I said.
I left Officer Lu frozen in puzzlement, and exited the station with Bingxin.
"What a pity! Why didn't you make a bet with him in the beginning? We could be watching him bark like a dog right now," Bingxin laughed.
In my eyes, Officer Lu was perhaps too foolish to be considered an opponent. There was no fun in betting against a small county policeman who had never solved a case. "That extra time might as well be spent with you," I teased.
"Song Yang-gege, how thoughtful you are!" she blushed.
Officer Ma spent a day at our house, chatting with my aunt. In the evening when we returned, he asked if there were any developments in the case. I said, "They’re going to conduct the hearing."
Officer Ma was filled with astonishment. "What?! You’ve caught the culprit? Alas, there goes my treasured bottle of Maotai! "
"What do you mean?" I asked curiously.
It turned out that Sun Tiger had aroused Officer Ma’s skepticism when he claimed I would solve the case within three days. The two men bet on a bottle of aged Maotai that Sun Tiger long had his eyes on. All these years, Officer Ma had refused his request but now he had the chance to change that.
I fought the urge to laugh out loud. Sun Tiger had such a wicked sense of humor. Forget Officer Ma, any other policeman who didn’t know me wouldn't believe that I could solve a crime so quickly.
The follow-up of the case would be handled by Officer Ma. Tomorrow, he would head down to the station, settle the handover procedures and escort Mr. Qin to the city for legal proceedings. This arrangement benefited Mr. Qin since there were better lawyers in the city.
That night, I had a strange dream in which a formidable ancient general dropped to one knee before me and cupped his fist, saying, "Many thanks for upholding justice for my Qin family descendants. I, Qin Shubao, have nothing to offer other than ten years of good fortune which I bestow upon you."
I woke up shortly after, and on the next day, I went to buy a lottery ticket but I didn't win.
Later on, I started a business partnership with Wang Dali upon graduating. Only after ten years of smooth sailing and never having to worry about money did I truly comprehend the existence of miracles too wonderful for words. It seemed that the dream had really come true!
Winter vacation passed quickly. Bingxin couldn’t bear to leave after her marvelous time here.
Xiaotao sent me a message saying, "You little brat, have you already given Sun Tiger a grandchild? Quickly come back!"
"Is there another case?" I asked.
"No, I just miss you," she confessed.
I smiled, "I'll bring you some gifts!"
“Alright then. I'll be waiting for you," she replied.
Before leaving for the city, my aunt told me to light some joss sticks for my Grandpa. I approached the Song family ancestral tablets, lit three joss sticks and said to my Grandpa's spirit tablet, "Grandpa, I've taken over your mantle. One day, I will definitely bring the Jiangbei Daggers to justice. When that day comes, I'll be back to inform you so you can be at peace."
I stood up and placed the joss sticks into the censer. My eyes were suddenly drawn to a spirit tablet in the middle that read: Ancestor Song Xingchen’s spirit tablet.
I was dumbfounded. Had Song Xingchen lied to me? Perhaps that wasn’t his name at all.
I thumbed through the genealogical records and unexpectedly discovered that there were more than a dozen people named Song Xingchen among my ancestors. These people were all from collateral families. More than half of these people named "Song Xingchen" died before they could reach a ripe old age, as if they had been engaged in dangerous work.
However, there were no records of Song Xingchen in the books left by my ancestors, as though they were mere shadows. There were occasional mentions of a mysterious guard dating from the Song Dynasty to the Republic of China. It seemed that such a character had always existed in the Song family.
Suddenly struck by a thought, I conjectured that Song Xingchen wasn’t a person but a code name, a spirit, or a belief.
Like shadows, they secretly protected every descendant of the Song family who stepped into this world. Coincidentally, although the Song family strictly abided by the family rule of never becoming an official or an officer to preserve our safety, each generation had a descendent who cooperated with the government to solve crimes.
Protection from the elusive Song Xingchen suggested that they already acknowledged me!Previous Chapter Next Chapter