Thursday, December 31, 2009
Yu had to suppress his anger with Cuiping for her reckless act and breach of discipline of the party. While saying their thanks and goodbye to the branch chief, he asked for a day off to take Cuiping back to her mother, who was ill and needed her. By doing this he was also in breach of discipline as he had no right to change Cuiping’s assignment by the party.
Upon hearing this, the branch chief led Cuiping to his wife and took Yu aside. He said, “It was not easy to find someone to be acceptable company for my wife. As they have hit it off so well, I can’t afford to let her leave.” Yu said, “How can I refuse my in-laws request?” The branch chief replied, “We can always give them money for treatment. If you send my god daughter away, my wife would be deprived her of her company and she will continue to nag at me instead.”
So it really was not that the branch chief was enamored of Cupping’s assertive personality, but his necessity to find a suitable companion for his wife that caused him to be nice to Cuiping. Now Yu’s attempt to keep Cuiping from making another gaffe was thwarted by the branch chief’s personal needs. He actually felt sorry for the head of the intelligence agency, who had many wives but wanted so hard to keep up the pretense of appearing to live a righteous life.
After all the arguments pertaining to this incident, Yu discovered he could neither teach or change Cupping’s boldness and recklessness, nor send her away. It was too dangerous to allow such a female guerrilla to work beside him and let her join him in the various activities organized by the intelligence agency. At his wits’ end, he had to request to the party that he be allowed to dictate to Cuiping not to commit any indiscretion or dangerous actions.
So the party gave the permission immediately and Yu passed it on to Cuiping. Cuiping said,” You lied. Just a few days ago you promised to get me an assignment. And now you go behind my back, trying to shut me up at home or send me away.” Yu said, “Now you can’t leave even if you want to.” Cuiping replied, ”I can leave anytime I want.” To which Yu retorted, “It would be irresponsible to the party’s cause if you just leave the branch chief’s wife.” This discussion soon became another of the arguments they frequently had.
Their argument took place in the bedroom, while one was sitting on the bed and one on the floor. Cuiping got angry and lit up her pipe and the smoke instantly turned room into a temple. Yu opened his mouth several times, but in the end he refrained from asking her not to smoke. Insignificant things would be considered very significant if they pertained to the party’s cause, whereas even huge personal feelings would be considered insignificant. He couldn’t allow their working relationship to deteriorate due to his own personal likes or dislikes.
Cuiping finally realized her act and took the pipe and went out bare foot to the balcony. Yu followed, thinking to console and apologize to her to lighten the mood. But he discovered that a car was parked across the street, with two lit cigarettes glowing. As he looked further up and down the street, he saw another car parked farther down. And even though he couldn’t recognize anyone in particular, he knew it was the typical method of the bureau surveillance. So he stretched out his arms and hugged Cuiping from behind, while laughing loudly. He whispered in her ears to do the same.
Obviously, Cuiping was nervous and so her smile was not genuine. He turned her around, putting one hand on her waist and the other on her face. He kissed her on her lips, but the smoke in Cuiping’s mouth brought tears to his eyes.
“Look across the street, now you should realize how dangerous it really is.” He whispered. “Yes.” She nodded in agreement.
He continued, “You have to follow my instructions.” Cuiping shook her head resolutely, and said “No.” “Why not?” Cuiping replied in a whisper that it had to be a real assignment for the revolution. He then said, “You are not following the orders of your leader.” Whereupon Cuiping said, “Even the leaders have to listen to the opinions of the masses.” He replied, “Due to unusual times you must accept unusual measures.” Cuiping retorted,” Under no circumstances, should we be lax about the revolution.” He then said, ”Your working style does not fit the current situation.” So, Cuiping said, “You can teach me how to do it, but you must let me do it.” He then said, “The assignment I give you is to be company for the branch chief’s wife.” She answered, “That hag disgusts me.” So, he said, “There are many things you can learn from her.” Her retort was, “I’d rather die than learn to be a monster like her.”
The argument didn’t end until Cuiping flung his hand away and left. Her parting words stung in his ears, ‘I don’t see any courage of a revolutionary soldier in you.’
Cuiping went back to the room, but Yu couldn’t continue the argument with her immediately, because he had to pretend to show harmony by starting a Taiqi routine to throw off any show of discord. He knew that those spying on him were sent by Old Ma and he was not above framing him if necessary.
In Yu’s own words, this argument between the two comrades was partially won by Cuiping. The next day, he had to write to the party again, asking approval for a not too dangerous assignment for Cuiping. He was embarrassed at being in this wishy-washy situation.
The so-called revolutionary job that Yu gave Cuiping was to deliver the party dues to the party.
他在军统局所做的是那种让人无法清廉的工作，因为总是有那么一些人挖门托房地给他送钱， 目的并不一定是要他帮什么忙，而多半是希望他装一些糊涂，哪怕是少看他们一眼也行。到了天津站之后，他手中已经积存了一大堆十两的金条，但是，由于和党组 织的同志见不上面，他一直也无法上交。现在这一堆金条倒是给了他一个替翠平安排革命工作的理由。
His job at the bureau was difficult to perform without being corrupt, because there were many people who were desperately trying to bribe him for one thing or another, just to keep his eyes and mouth shut. Since his arrival in Tianjin, he had already accumulated a considerable amount of gold in the bribes accepted. As he hadn’t been able to meet any of the party members, he hadn’t turned in the money he was bribed with. Now he was giving this job of delivering the gold ingots to Cuiping.
他对翠平说我已经与组织上联系好了，你每天陪着站长太太出去玩儿，组织上会派交通员与你联络，告诉你交接金条的方法。翠平横了他一眼说原来不是送情报。他只好说这是组织安排，是极为重要的革命工作。翠平问如果我做得顺利，是不是就可以送情报 了?他说假如组织上同意，我们再商量。翠平说我不喜欢摸钱，更恨有钱人。他便说你现在就是有钱人，而且必须得让所有人都明白你是个有钱人，这样你才会安 全。翠平啐了一声狗屎，但还是同意了。
Yu informed Cuiping that the party had agreed that she must accompany the branch chief’s wife and that they would contact her as to how the transfer of the gold ingots was to be made. With a resentful look, she exclaimed,‘Oh it’s not for information.’ Yu had to admit it was the orders of the party and that it was important. Cuiping asked, ‘If I accomplish this, will I be allowed to deliver more important information in the future?’ ‘If the party agrees, of course we can discuss this in the future.’ He replied. Cuiping said, ‘I don’t like to touch money and I hate rich people.’ “You are now one of the rich ones, and you have to make others believe that you are. Only then will you be safe.” She retorted, ‘Oh, shit!’ But she agreed.
Consequently, the ‘husband and wife did their respective jobs and though they didn’t argue, still had their differences of opinion. Yu believed that the basic tenets of the spy business was that the less you know, the safer you are. This is especially true in the cause of revolution.
Afterwards for some quite time, both the work and ‘marriage’ seemed to be going along smoothly for Yu. During this period, Old Ma was his congenial old-self. He would chat and visit Yu often. He invited Yu to dine with him, attend theatres and the bathhouse with him constantly. He gave Cuiping expansive gifts and continually flatted Yu by saying that the branch chief’s wife considered Cuiping more of a daughter than her own daughter by continually keeping her company. You will surely become the next vice branch chief. When the time comes, I hope you won’t forget me.
In addition, Old Ma introduced Yu to several dealers and brokers of foreign currencies and gold. So as to keep Cuiping busy with her money delivery job and to prevent her from intruding upon his intelligence work, he made the overtures to act intensely interested in making more money than ever. Therefore, the bureau had one more corrupt official. It got so noticeable that the branch chief warned Yu several times to slow down his money chasing and see the big picture.
出事的那天，余则成因公跑了一趟塘沽，很晚才回来，却又被新的紧急公事给绊住脱不开身， 便往家中打电话，不想没有人接。他并不知道翠平这天有没有任务，就派手下人到家中去看，那人回来说家中无人，他便立刻意识到翠平出事了，因为，他们在一起 两年来，翠平总是早睡早起，从来也没有过夜不归宿的事发生。
Then it happened! On that day, Yu had gone to Tanggu on important business matters and got back very late. In addition, he had to take care of some emergencies at the office. So he called home, but no one answered. He was sure whether or not Cuiping had any special errands that day, so he sent someone home to check. The assistant returned saying no one was at home, and he immediately realized that something must have happened to Cuiping. In the two years that they had been together, she had always risen early and gone to bed early, and she had never stay out anywhere.
他给站长夫人打电话，老太太说干闺女原本陪她去瞧戏，压轴的《牧虎关》刚开锣，她就不知 道跑哪去了，而且再没见到她。然后他又给警察局长打电话，不一会儿那边回电说今晚没人报警发生绑架案件。他再给卫戍司令部打电话，让他们查寻各出城路口， 并描绘了翠平的身形相貌。然后又打电话找老马，没找到，便又跑下楼找特勤队的其他同事，他们都说今天只抓了些闹事的学生，没见着中校太太。
First he called the Branch chief’s wife, and her reply was that they had gone to the theatre, but before it was over, she just disappeared without a word. He then called the chief of police, and his reply also gave no information. So then he called the general’s office to give them Cuiping’s description and requested them to contact him if Cuiping had been sighted. He tried to call Old Ma but wasn’t able to reach him. So he went downstairs instead to talk to his men and see if they knew anything. They had only caught some student protesters and not any wives of officials.
He really wasn’t worried that Cuiping would do anything damaging after arrest, knowing how brave she was. She also wouldn’t commit suicide, because he had already prevented her from carrying the poison or grenade on her. His thinking was that she would be more prudent without any means of killing herself or others. Otherwise, because of her personality, she might do something reckless.
Yu’s main worry was that Cuiping would clench her lips and refuse to identify herself if she was taken prisoner. His worry was that she would be tortured for not cooperation. He blamed himself for not having gone over any contingency plans if caught doing something wrong, mainly because he thought her was not that dangerous and because he wanted to avoid any further dissention.
By the noon of the next day, even the branch chief was concerned over her disappearance. He exclaimed, ‘Who would have the nerve to do this?’ He even called the Branch Chief of another intelligence agency in Tianjin, but they had no new either. It was not until dusk, when Old Ma returned and said he found Cuiping. Yu was more concerned over this news than if anyone else had found her, because Old Ma was known as an expert in framing people.
Cuiping was being held at the Tax Revenue bureau, where Old Ma took Yu to pick her up. As they approached, the officials had lined up to welcome them. The bureaeu chief was pale with fright, and looked as though they were ready to kowtow for forgiveness. Cuiping’s hair was a mess, her face was bruised, but she had been given new clothes to change into. When she saw Yu, she turned away and her face turned pale then red then purple.
余则成问局长是谁把翠平抓进来的，局长只是一味地作揖，口中不停地说兄弟该死有眼无珠。 除了退还翠平的金条，局长另外又送上一根金条说是给太太压惊。余则成不愿意理睬他，倒是翠平老实不客气地将金条抓在了手中。他知道，翠平一定是相信了他给 她灌输的道理——革命事业同样需要金钱的支持。
Yu asked who brought Cuiping in, but the bureau chief continued to offer apologies and cursed officer who brought her in. In addition to returning Cuiping’s gold, he added an additional ingot to compensate for her distress. Yu ignored him, but Cuiping grabbed the gold without hesitation. Yu knew that Cuiping must have been influenced by his constant promotion of the need for money for the revolutionary cause.
He then asked Old Ma How he found Cuiping. Old Ma said he had no special abilities but he had lots of men who were his eyes and ears. He consoled Cuiping by saying he would exact revenge upon those men who brought he in and they would wish they were dead before he was through with them. But Yu recognized that all this could have been set up by Old Ma to trick them into something, because even though the officer of the tax revenue bureau may not have recognized Cuiping, he surely would have recognized the bureau chief’s wife, who was her constant companion.
After they got home, he asked Cuiping what happened to the messenger who was supposed to receive the money. She burst into tears saying, ‘He took the poison, which you wouldn’t allow me to have. So I was caught alive and may implicate you.’ But Yu wouldn’t agree, because he knew that had she committed suicide just because of trading gold, he would have been in more trouble because they would be suspicious of him using this as a method for passing intelligence to the communists. He didn’t say this out loud to Cuiping since she was already so embarrassed by being caught.
After this incident, Cuiping became silent and did not ask for any further work, would not even to deliver the money. She spent all day smoking her pipe until her teeth turned brown and never left the apartment. Even the branch chief became worried and complained to Yu that his wife missed her god daughter. Yu could only use illness as a pretext and that when she recovered, she would go visit her god mother. In his heart, he hoped that she would soon recover even if it meant more arguments between them. The reality was that Cuiping didn’t want to speak at all, and gradually became more and more emaciated and sickly.
At this time, the party requested Yu to evaluate Cuiping’s working capacity and so that they could update her file.
这件事把余则成推入了一个两难的境地。在他看来，翠平无论是从学识相貌，到脾气秉性，以 及工作方法，都与她现在的工作大相径庭，更让他恼火的是，翠平几乎从来也不肯听从他的领导，不肯认同他的工作也是需要绝大的勇气和毅力的。然而，他却没有勇气将他的这些想法汇报给组织上，特别是在翠平出现了这次重大的失误之后。过去几年来，他一直在经手与中共有关的各项情报，早几年从延安传来的情报中，有多一半是报告中共整风运动和抓特务运动的情况，如果单从那些情报来看，确实有些吓人，然而，由于他与组织上没有直接的联系，他又无从判断这些情报的真实性 有多大，也就无法辨别那些派遣出去的特务是不是在写小说，编故事。
This put Yu in a big dilemma. From his perspective, her education, appearance, personality and work ethics all lacked sufficiency. More over, she never listened to him or followed his directions. She didn’t not acknowledge his worthiness: bravery, determination and self-sacrifice. However, he wasn’t ready to report these thoughts honestly to the party, especially after this fiasco. Over the past few years, Yu had seen many reports of the severe purging of the party members in Yan’an. The reports were scary enough to keep him from telling them the truth about Cuiping. Due to his lack of communication with the party, he couldn’t be sure of the accuracy of the reports, as to their validity.
Regardless of truthfulness, it would be very inappropriate for him to report the truth about Cuiping and her shortcomings. She was a person to be pitied already in her pathetic situation. Normally, in their position, after 3 to 5 months, the marriage should have been consummated. But in their case, even after two years, not only did they not consummate, their relationship was even worse. He blamed himself for this. Therefore, he put in his evaluation that she had great deal of courage and perseverance, her passion for the cause was admirable, and her zeal for strict interpretation of the party’s cause should be emulated. Therefore, I recommend a commendation for her enthusiasm, as a token of encouragement.
Having reread his evaluation of Cuiping, he decided that it was not quite adequate and added that she had become a seasoned veteran and should now be given a backup drop box which she would be in charge of.
Before long the party responded with a message that they had approved his proposal for Cuiping for having her own drop box and in addition, they awarded her with a distinguished third class merit citation, which would be logged into her personal file.
“This is your new assignment and you are now in charge of it.” Yu said after he explained the party’s instruction to her.
Let me carry the poison pills and the grenade on me. Cuiping was still weak but her spirit was rejuvenated which showed in her dark eyes the hatred for the enemy.
The most intense period of the war in the Northeastern part of China occurred at midnight of October 14, 1948, that’s when the branch chief urgently summoned Yu to his office. He showed him a large envelope from the National Military Committee. Yu discovered the letter was from the Wei Lihuang clique to the general who was in charge of defending the City of Changchun. “Nanjing’s intentions are to have us send some messengers to penetrate the fortification of Changchun. I’ve recommended you to head this mission, with the proviso that anyone you find who might show any signs of desertion be shot on the spot.” Pointing to the envelope, Yu asked what was inside. To which, the branch chief replied I am of the same mind as you. Better not to be in the dark, let’s open it.
Yu used a letter opener to unseal the letter, and withdrew Chiang Kai-shek’s decree. It was simple, Chiang ordered General Zheng to break out with full force in the direction of Shenyang. By doing so, they could distract the liberation forces from both directions. Having seen the decree, the branch chief gave a long sigh and said, “We are finished in Northeastern China!”
Knowing that he didn’t have any excuse to decline the mission, he pointedly assured the manger that he would carry out this mission. He heated the wax and the branch chief took out the counterfeit seal and stamped it shut again. Because they had done this often, it was easy and smooth.
The branch chief told him that the plane is on standby and you can take off immediately. Here’s what you will need if you need to sacrifice yourself for the country .,.
Uncustomarily for him, Yu said jokingly, “I left my poison in my pistol, which is in my sock drawer at home.”
With his eyes wet, the branch chief said,”When you jump from the plane, be very careful, I don’t want to lose my best right hand man for nothing.” Yu replied, ”Don’t worry. When you become the bureau chief in Nanjing, I will still be your deputy.”
When Yu arrived home, Cuiping was still awake. Recently she had been unable to sleep and so she smoked and stayed awake all night long. When she saw him packing, she asked how long he would be gone. “Not long.” Although he knew chances of his return were very slim. The war in the Northeastern section was like a conflagration. Not even counting that they were only dispatching a few people, even if it had been a battalion, it would have been as if Chang Kaishek threw a nail into a pot of molten steel.
As he finished packing, he wrote down Chang Kaishek’s message on a slip of paper. “Take it to your drop and mark it ‘Urgent’ and it needs to be delivered to the party as soon as possible.” Cuiping asked, ‘Are you travelling because of this?” He answered “Yes.” “Where?””Changchen.”
翠平听到这话便坐回到地铺上半天不语。很久以来，每当翠平心绪烦乱而余则成又有一点儿空 闲的时候，他便不停地对她讲话，希望能够缓解她内心的痛苦。然而他是个老实人，不善言辞，便只好把解放军在全国战场上的军事行动讲给她听，所以，对东北的 战局翠平也很清楚，只是对地理方位时常闹不大明白罢了。
Hearing this, Cuiping sat back down and became silent. For a while, whenever Cuiping was upset, Yu would try to pacify her by talking, even though he was not a verbal person. He would discuss situations of the war. So Cuiping was quite aware the dangers in the Northeastern sector.
Seeing her silent, Yu had mixed feelings. The truth was they had never really bonded like true comrades through the past two years. So when he picked up the baggage and walked to the door, he just said, “I’m leaving.”
此一去就是生离死别。他心中清楚得很，那份情报一旦送出去，郑洞国的兵团便断无逃生之 路。在相互厮杀的百万军中，他每时每刻都有被杀死的可能。不过，如果他回不来，对翠平倒可能是个解脱，因为她终于完成了任务，而且带着良好的评语，她可以 回到熟悉的环境和战友们中间，到那个时候，她也许能找到快乐，至少比与他相处要快乐得多。
This departure would most likely be final. He was clear that once the decree was delivered, General Zheng’s army would be forced to fight to the death. And at any moment, because he would be between the two forces, his life would be hanging by a thread. However, if he did come back, he would actually be doing Cuiping a service. Her mission would be completed with commendation. She could return to her home environment, joining her fellow guerillas and perhaps find happiness again. At least she would be happier than being with him.
He said again, “ I’m leaving.”
This time, Cuiping abruptly said, “I’ve been living with you for over two years. I can never remarry. So you must come back.”
This was the first time Cuiping had ever made a request for herself. He couldn’t describe his emotions, but said honestly, “I probably won’t make it back. So after you deliver the message, you should return to your fellow guerillas.”
He knew his words would sting her, but he didn’t want to give Cuiping any hope. Even if he could come back, he wouldn’t give her any happiness, nor to himself.
Thirty years later, to celebrate his vindication of being a nationalist intelligence officer, he cooked a pot of stewed beef and invited a friend name Long Yi to hear his story. Long Yi asked him, “Whatever happened to Cuiping?” Yu shook his head and said, “I looked for her several times in the early fifties, but found no evidence of her.” Long Yi asked, “Was the message delivered?” Yu answered that the message had played a critical role in winning the war, but Cuiping disappeared on the same day that the message was delivered as did Old Ma. Long Yi tapped his head, teasingly said, “Maybe she thought you deserted her and married someone else.”
Yu said adamantly, ”No way. She must have been stalked by Old Ma, and while he was arresting her, she must have pulled the grenade out. That grenade was powerful enough to make several people disappear.”
Friday, December 25, 2009
晚上回到家中，余则成说你累了一天，早些睡吧，便下楼去工作。他们住的房子在旧英租界的 爱丁堡道，是原比商仪品公司高级职员的公寓，楼上有一间大卧房和卫生间，楼下只有一间客厅兼书房的大房间，另外就是厨房兼餐厅了。这所住房并不大，但对于 他来讲已经很不错了，接收工作开始之后，接收大员们首先争夺的就是好房子。这个时候能在几天之内就弄出个像样的家来，大约也只有军统特务能够办得到。
That night after they returned, Yu said,” You must be tired. Go to bed early,” and then he went downstairs to work. Their apartment was located on the Edinburg Road in the former British Concession and was the quarters for the senior executives of a Belgian real estate company. There was a master bedroom with a bath upstairs and down below was a great room containing the living room and study area, plus a kitchen with a dining area. The apartment wasn’t huge, but more than adequate to him. During this transition period, the best housing went to the highest ranking officers. Only the intelligence agents from the Military Statistics Bureau could have pulled the strings to obtain such nice accommodations as this in such a short time.
Yu realized that was necessary for him to sleep in the upstairs bedroom. One couldn’t afford to make any mistakes, because the Military Statistics Bureau tended to keep everyone under close surveillance. Had he made any mistakes, he would not have survived to this day. When the clock chimed twelve, he went upstairs and cleaned up. After that, he cautiously left open the bathroom window ajar, and unlocked the door leading to the balcony from the hallway, thus providing him with two getaway exits. When he was put through the training at the Military Statistics Bureau, he was taught to always have two alternate escape exits. That fact had always been kept in the back of his mind, and he now was putting to use for the righteous cause.
翠平还没有睡，她将带来的行李铺在地板上，坐在上面打盹。他说你到床上去睡，我睡地下。 翠平说我睡地下，这是我的任务。他问什么任务。她说保护你的安全。说着话，她挪开包袱，露出怀里的手雷。余则成一见手雷不禁吃惊得想笑，那东西可不是八路 军或日军使用的手榴弹，也不是普通的美式步兵手雷，而是美国政府刚刚援助的攻坚手雷，粗粗的一个圆筒，炸开来楼上楼下不会留下一个活口。看来组织上想得很周到，余则成放心了，睡得也比平日里安稳许多。到凌晨醒来时，他发现翠平没在房中，便走到门口，这才看到翠平正蹲在二楼的阳台上，嘴里咬着一杆短烟袋，喷出来的浓烟好似火车头，脚边被用来当烟缸使的是他刚买回来的一方端砚，据说是文徵明的遗物。如果此刻被时常考察属下的军统局发现他太太蹲在阳台上抽烟，不论从哪方面讲都不是好事，但是，他还是悄悄地退了回来，他希望来监视他的人只会认为是他们夫妻不和而已。
Rather than being asleep on the bed, he found Cuiping dozing hunched over that parcel she carried, sitting on the luggage that was spread on the floor. When he offered “Go sleep on the bed, I’ll sleep on the floor.” She replied, ”I’ll sleep on the floor, because this is my assignment.” Then he asked, ”What assignment is that?” She explained that her assignment was to protect him. While they were talking, she shifted parcel, exposing a grenade, which shocked and amused Yu at the same time. The grenade was not made by the communists or the Japanese. It was not even an ordinary American infantry grenade, but one of those which were powerful enough to raze a whole building. He was relieved and gratified that the communists were watching over him, and thus slept better that night than before. At dawn when he woke up, he discovered that Cuiping was not in the room and went out to look for her. He found her squatting on the floor of the balcony, clutching a pipe and puffing like a locomotive. Beside her was his antique ink stone used by the famous calligrapher Wen Huiming from the Ming dynasty being used as an ash tray. It was not a scene to be seen by anyone from the Military Statistics Bureau. So, rather than making a scene, he withdrew without causing a commotion which might attract the others.
Unsurprisingly, Yu found himself summoned by the branch chief that morning, and upon arriving, found him lighting up a humongous cigar almost the size of a Chinese rolling pin. He said with amusement,” I didn’t realize that my god daughter was so addicted to smoking.” Then in a consoling tone, he said,”This child must have suffered a lot during the Japanese occupation. You have to be tolerant and accepting. You are a man, so don’t nag like a fish wife. If you do get bored or unsatisfied, go out and enjoy yourself, but don’t ever desert my god daughter. She is already pathetic and needs to be pitied, not to also mention the fact that you are not allowed to hurt her.” Yu nodded in agreement over and over, all the while wondering, why he was so compassionate towards Cuiping.
余则成的日常工作是汇总、分析军统局天津站在华北各个组织送来的情报，多数是中共方面 的，也有许多是关于政府军和国民党军政大员的，五花八门，数量极大，他必须得把这些情报分类存档，并将经过站长核准的情报送往刚刚迁回南京的军统局总部。 除此之外，他还必须要将这些情报中对中共有用的部分抄录一份，通过联络点送出去。
Yu’s regular job was to compile all the intelligence reports sent by the different stations from all over northern China, most of which was communist related. Also, there was information included regarding the Nationalist Army and their officials. He had to sort out from this mountain of information the most useful and important aspects, which was then given to the branch chief for approval and then forwarded to the recently relocated bureau headquarters in Nanjing. Further, he had to copy the useful information for the communists and then leave it at the drop.
Another of his jobs was to handle the personal finances of the branch chief. After Tianjin was liberated from the Japanese, the Military Statistics Bureau was among the first to be reinstated. As a matter of fact, the Bureau chief, himself flew in to reorganize the bureau and filled a plane load of treasures confiscated from the Japanese back to Nanjing with him. During the same period, the branch chief also acquired a fortune. His forte, because of his intelligence and education, was not in compiling art and treasures, but rather in the banking, insurance, and salt enterprises. The restructuring and redistribution of stock shares involved complicated methods and required a lot of energy and time, so he delegated these tasks to Yu, and focus his own time and energy in routing out communist spies in the city of Tianjin. He never differentiated between good or bad communists, but used ruthless methods in his pursuit. And because of this, Yu had proposed to the communists the assassination of the branch chief numerous times. However, they repeatedly came back with reprimands him that his usefulness in gaining information for them was a hundred times more valuable than to have the branch chief killed. They could not risk his great usefulness for what to them was an insignificant matter.
由于他的工作量极大，胃也不好，身体在不知不觉间便越来越差。翠平看着他一天比一天瘦， 便提出来由她去送情报，给他分担一点负担。他问，组织上怎么给你交代的?她说组织上知道你一个人忙不过来，就想重新建立单线联系，让你写，让我送。他又 问：你知道为什么会选中你吗?她说知道，组织上说，一来是因为女学生们都到延安去了，一时找不到合适的人：二来是因为我不识字。余则成点了点头，第二条理 由最重要，组织上考虑的比他要周全得多。但是，他仍然不同意由翠平代替他去送情报，因为这项工作太危险，如果被抓，他的军统身份可以暂时抵挡一阵，能够争 取到撤退的机会，但翠平却没有这机会，而是只有一条死路。
Because of his heavy workload and stomach ulcers, Yu’s health had been deteriorating during this time. Seeing him losing weight, Cuiping offered to lessen his burdens by taking the deliveries to the drop. He asked her what the party said about doing this. She said that the party had known that he was overburdened, and would need to establish a new line of communication. “You compile the information and I will deliver it.” Then Yu asked, “Do you know why the party picked you for this job?” She replied that the party officials said the first reason was that all the female students had gone to Yan’an and they couldn’t find a suitable candidate. The second reason was that I was not literate. Yu nodded, the second reason was more important and the party was more thoughtful than he realized. Still, he was not going to let Cuiping be the messenger. His thinking was that would be too dangerous for her should she be caught. Had he been caught, he at least had an official title which could afford him some time, possible to escape, whereas they would execute her on the spot.
Cuiping might have guessed what he was thinking, and said bluntly, “Even if I were caught, I would not rat on you. I have arsenic sealed in my collar, which I will immediately take.” Being amused at her simplistic thinking, he said: ”You’re my wife and the god daughter of the branch chief. How could it possibly not implicate me?” Cuiping instantly flared up and said: “ What a coward you are! You don’t trust your revolutionary comrade. In my eyes, you are not the hero they make you out to be.” For several days thereafter, Cuiping refused to speak to him, but wandered around the house going up and down doing nothing. When she went out on the balcony to smoke, she continued to use his precious ink stone as an ash tray.
Yu thought this was exactly the stubbornness he had seen in her eyes the first time they met. She was simple-minded, inflexible and even a little rude. But he also believed that she must be very brave and would surely take the arsenic without hesitation or even use the grenade to blow herself up. For that, his respect for her grew.
However, something happened before long to make him realize that for his own safety, Cuiping was even more dangerous to him than Old Ma.
一九四六年八月十日，马歇尔和司徒雷登宣布对国共双方的“调处”失败，内战即将全面爆 发。在这个时候，军统局天津站的工作一下子忙碌起来，余则成一连半个多月没有回家，到了九月二日，国民政府军事委员会的《国军在华北及东北地区作战计划 书》终于下达了，与此文件一同送来的还有晋升他为中校的委任状。余则成这几年的工作确实非常出色，不论是对于中共党组织，还是对于军统局，所以，得到晋升是意料之中的事。
On August 10, 1946, General Marshall and Leighton Stuart announced that peace talks between the Nationalists and the Communists failed and civil war broke out. At this time, the Tianjin branch of the Military Statistics Bureau became very busy. Yu hadn’t gone home for over two weeks. On September 2nd, the National Military Commission announced the Military Strategic Plan for the Northern and North Eastern Areas and along with it came the notice of promotion that Yu was now a lieutenant Colonel. Yu had done an excellent job in the past few years, both for the Communists and the Nationalists, making the promotion totally expected.
He made copies of the document for the communists and sent the original to the branch chief. Upon seeing the document, the branch chief said happily, “Now that we have wrapped up everything, we can take a break. Bring your wife to my home tonight. She can meet her god mother and you can show off your new stripes.”
于是，他急忙给家里打电话，是老妈子接的。翠平虽然来此已经几个月了，但仍然不习惯电 话、抽水马桶和烧煤球的炉子。他让老妈子转告太太，说晚上有应酬，让她将新做的衣服准备好。他还想叮嘱一下让翠平弄弄头发，但最后还是决定回去接她时再 说。这些琐事都是他们日积月累的矛盾，不是一时半会儿可以解决得了的。
So, he hurriedly made a call to home. It was the old maid who answered the phone. Although Cuiping had arrived several months earlier, she was still not used to the phone, the flushing toilet and the charcoal stove. Yu asked the maid to pass his words to his wife that there would be a party that evening and tell her to wear her newly made dress. He also wanted to say something about her hair, but decided he better tell her in person. All the small matters that had been accumulating for sometime now, could not be fixed at once.
Not surprisingly, when he got him, he found Cuiping squatting on the balcony smoking her pipe, and hadn’t done anything he had asked at all. The old maid said apologetically, “the Missus has not been in a good mood recently, please speak to her nicely, sir.” Yu wouldn’t want anyone to see them arguing, for it wouldn’t be good if such incidents were gossiped about and got to either the nationalist or the Communists.
He calmed him down with difficulty and said to Cuiping,” Branch Chief invited you to meet his wife. It would be best for you to dress up.”
Although the branch chief had several homes, he and his first wife had been always living in the mansion located at No. 1 Changde Road in the old British Concession. He was very respectful of the Chinese traditional morals and etiquette rules. He had told his subordinates repeatedly that forms of the social and family hierarchy is everything. If that was changed, all society would be thrown into chaos.
Cuiping gathered up the pipe and the ash tray and went back into the bedroom, and said, “I don’t want to see these people. They are all murderous demons inside, but sit there acting like polite school teachers. This only makes me feel more resentful towards them, making me want to pull the grenade and blow them up.
Yu said with resignation, “I have explained this to you many times. This is required of us to further the cause of our revolution.”
他必须得说服翠平，这种应酬是无法推托的。军统局对属下的内部团结有着极其严格的要求， 所以，不论是站长一级，还是侦探、办事员之类的下级人员，各种联谊活动以及私人之间的往来非常稠密，然而，翠平每一次参加这类活动，总是会给别人带来不快。当然了，她倒也没有什么特别的举动或言语，只是一到地方她便把那对粗眉拧得紧紧的，脸上被太阳灼伤的皮肤因为神色阴郁而越发地晦暗，有人与她讲话，她 也只是牵一牵嘴角，既没有一丝和气的神色，也没有一句言语。这与军统局所谓的“大家庭”气氛格格不入，特别是让那些因为丈夫参与接收而一夜之间浑身珠光宝气的家眷们大为恼火，便忍不住回到家中大发牢骚，而这些牢骚的作用也已经对余则成的工作造成了极其不利的影响。
Yu had to persuade Cuiping to go, because this was a ‘social demand’ and not just an invitation that they could refuse. The Military Statistics Bureau had very strict requirements for its associates to socialize, so there were frequent social gatherings at each level from the branch chiefs down to the detectives and agents. Whenever Cuiping attended one of these gatherings, she would cast a pall on the party. It was not because she said or did anything inappropriate, rather it was because she was always frowning and her sunburned face made her look even gloomier. Even when people tried to engage her in conversation, her lips would barely move and showed no interest whatsoever. Her lack of friendliness and withdrawal kept her an outsider from the “big bureau family.” It caused resentment among the snobby wives of the higher ranked officers, who complained about her to their husbands at home, and the repercussions of that often fell on Yu at work.
Therefore, Yu, himself, took out the newly made Indian silk Qipao for Cuiping, and the American nylon stockings and the English white leather pumps, as well as a long string of pearls from her jewelry box. He never feared dangers or sacrificing his life for the cause, but he felt humiliated having to do these things. He never blamed the party for not knowing him well, but felt that they should have trained her better. He was working on a very dangerous mission, and under the circumstance, Cuiping certainly was not helping.
While he was laying out the cloth and jewelry, Cupiping was sulking with her head down sitting on the bed. Suddenly, she said, “You have kept me imprisoned at home all this time. You have never treated me like a revolutionary comrade or given me any real assignment.”
Yu reasoned with her, saying that her living there was her assignment for the revolution. Had she felt bored, she was free to go out. There was money in the drawer for her to spend, and a car from the bureau was at her disposal. She had the freedom to go wherever she wanted and do whatever she pleased.
“Do you really want me to squander my time like those snobby women? I am a proud guerilla soldier.” She glared at him with fire in her eyes.
Facing resistance from a woman, Yu could do nothing but ask, “What do you want me to do?”
“Give me a job, a real job for the revolution.” Cuiping said with conviction.
“You are illiterate, and …” Yu bit off the rest of the sentence and changed his tone, “It’s a critical time for the cause of our party. The party has asked you to stay undercover; you should gladly accept this job. Being an undercover agent is also a job for the revolution.”
从他进入军统局干训班开始，曾经有两年多的时间与党组织没有任何联系。那是一段痛苦不堪 的回忆，要求他一边学习并实践对共产党人的搜捕、刑讯和暗杀，一边等待为党组织做工作的机会。因为经历过那么艰难的考验，所以他对翠平轻视潜伏工作的态度很不满意。他觉得，翠平之所以不能理解组织上的用意，主要是因为她不是知识分子。他这样想丝毫没有轻视农工阶级的用意，只是这种无知无识的状态，让翠平对党的革命理想和斗争策略无法进行深入的理解。然而，他又确实不擅长教导翠平这样的学生，无法将党的真实用意清楚地传达给她，因为他只会讲些干巴巴的道理， 而翠平脾气硬，性格执拗，最不擅长的便是听取道理。所以，虽然他们是革命同志，但却无法沟通他们的革命思想。为此，余则成心中非常痛苦，而且是那种老老实实、刻骨铭心的自责。
Since Yu started the training program with the Military Statistics Bureau, there had been a period of over two years where he did not communicate at all with the party. It had been an excruciating experience to learn and practice arresting, interrogating and assassinating communists, while waiting for a new assignment from the party. Due to his numerous trials, he was disgusted by Cuiping’s contempt for being an undercover agent. He thought it was because she was uneducated that she didn’t understand the party’s strategy. He was not demeaning the illiterate farm class per se, but that the lack of education prevented her from understanding the party’s strategy and goals. Unfortunately, he was not able to teach Cuiping or others like her, the real party line. He could only repeat the dry party slogans and clichés to them. And because of her undisciplined, impetuous personality, Cuiping was neither a good student nor a good listener. So even though they were comrades, they could not communicate with each other their own ideas of the party’s ideals and goals. Yu felt unreasonable pain because of the strong guilt of not being able to change her mindset.
Having no choice, he had to compromise by saying after tonight’s event, he would ask the party to give her a specific assignment.
But Cuiping replied, “The party has assigned me a job, and that is to assist you.”
“That’s OK.” Yu backed off one more step. But his compromise eventually brought him a reward – Cuiping agreed to use some fragrant soap to shampoo with.
Probably because Yu agreed to her request, Cuiping was relatively cooperative that night. She twisted her shampooed hair into a smooth bun, which made her look more mature. Unfortunately, the hair do did not complement her fashionable outfit. Yu kept her from putting on too much make-up because of her dark complexion, and only allowed her to use a little vanishing cream and lipstick.
Upon seeing Cuiping in her new outfit, the branch chief laughingly said, “This is what you should be doing. You look very pretty when you are all made up.” And he turned to Yu and teasingly ordered him, “you must be generous to her and let her dress fashionably.” Yu agreed readily.
The wife of the branch chief was an assertive mature woman who was quite statuesque in her fifties. It was alleged that she was a general’s daughter during the period of the warlords and inherited her father’s ability to shoot with both hands. Cuiping paid proper homage to her adoptive god mother and the god mother in acceptance gave her some valuable jewelry and silks in return. The audience were the colleagues from the bureau. Among them was Old Ma standing next to Yu, following him and plying him with flattery, that his future was assured, that he would be promoted, and have a nurturing wife and many beautiful concubines and dutiful children with in-laws scattered all over the country.
Hoping not to offend Old Ma, his replies were neutral. Old Ma could be his executioner, and was definitely his rival at the bureau. Rumors were that a new vice branch chief position would be forthcoming at the Tianjin branch. Old Ma had been coveting that position for a long time. As Yu had been recently promoted, he was also in line for this promotion. If he got this promotion, he would have access to the highest military secrets even those written by Chiang Kai-shek himself. His mission was to rise in rank as fast as possible, because the higher his position, the more he could contribute to the party. Therefore, he and Old Ma were really arch rivals and enemies.
Old Ma was very talkative and flattering to the branch chief and his wife and made them happy. He was very attentive to Cuiping, showing her all around the grand mansion with a humble attitude as though he was an inferior. Yu regretted that he had not warned Cuiping earlier of Old Ma, whose predecessor died due to his obsequiousness. He had been Yu’s partner and fellow spy assigned by the communists. After his death, Yu felt very alone.
Towards the latter part of the party, Yu noticed that Cuiping had suddenly become more animated. She was laughing and chattering with the branch chief’s wife. Their two distinctive accents mingled with enthusiastic laughter worried Yu to wonder what made Cuiping so cheerful.
Due to the fact that the civil war was about to begin, the party ended early and people started leaving. Cuiping was clutching the arm of the branch chief’s wife, as they said their farewells to the guests. Yu was behind them worried that Cuiping would do something to expose them. Unexpectedly, Cuiping, surreptitiously, winked at him with a self-satisfied expression. She flipped at the slit in her qipao, shocking Yu to the point of horror. He saw slipped under her stocking a document with the words facing outwards, which was none other than the same Military Strategic Plan for the Northern and North Eastern Areas. Yu glanced out of the front door, noticing that Old Ma who had left some time ago was still in the front yard with some of his men. They seemed to be scrutinizing all the departing guests. At that time, there were very few guests left. With no other option, Yu yanked Cuiping’s arm, while saying “Don’t you need to go to the bathroom before we leave?” and rushed her upstairs.
The Branch chief’s study was on the second floor, where Old Ma had set a trap for Cuiping, hoping to catch her possibly in it. The tradition of the bureau was to test all members, better to catch one than let one escape.
翠平却一边跑一边问，走出去就安全了，你干啥要回来?余则成只好吓唬她说你偷文件的事已 经被发现了，他们正在门外等着抓你。跑进书房，他问你在哪拿的?翠平一指书桌上已被打开的公文包，那是站长的公文包。他迅速从翠平衣下拉出那份文件，又放 在书桌上用十根手指弹琴一般按了个遍，好用他的指纹盖住翠平的指纹。刚刚将文件塞进公文包，门外便响起了脚步声。翠平这时黑眼睛一闪，咬紧嘴唇，一下子扑到他的怀中，像一只小动物一般在他的胸前拱来拱去。但余则成知道这样解决不了问题，便猛地将翠平的旗袍撩到腰际，然后将她抱到书桌上，一只手搬起她的一条 腿，另一只手迅速将站长的公文包锁好。同时他也留意到，翠平的脸已经红到了脖子和耳朵上。
While running up the stairs, Cuiping asked, ”We were almost safe, why are you pulling me back?” Yu frightened her by saying she had already been caught in the trap and they were waiting outside to expose them. When they entered the study, Yu asked “Where did you get the document from?” She pointed the open briefcase on the desk, which belong to the branch chief. Yu quickly pulled out the document from her stocking, put on the desk and rubbed it with his fingers to take out any finger prints left on it. Just as he placed the document into the briefcase, he heard the footsteps outside the room. Cuiping shut her eyes, bit her lips and threw herself into Yu’s arms, cuddling him. Yu knew that was not sufficient, and lifted her qipao over her hips, set her on the desk, with one hand up her panty, while locking the briefcase with the other. He saw that Cuiping was flushed from her ears down her neck.
It was Old Ma and his men who entered the room. Seeing them in that position, Old Ma said while grinning:” I never expected an innocent like you to do such a thing.”
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Yu Zecheng was a trustworthy and well-educated young man.
Because of his trustworthiness, youth and intelligence, his superior favored him and entrusted him with many highly charged governmental secrets as well as personal ones. Yu always managed to complete all assignments to his satisfaction. Therefore his superior trusted him even more and gave him ever higher levels of secrets and he still managed to accomplish everything well. As time went by, his superior regarded him as if he were his own nephew, and ordered him to bring his wife to be reunited and also arranged for their accommodations and household necessities.
In actuality, Yu didn’t really have a wife in his hometown, not even a girlfriend. However, in his profile, he was a married man. Six years ago, when he signed up for the officers training program for the Investigation and Statistics Bureau of the National Military Commission in Chongqing, the communist party had prepared a detailed profile on him, in which he had a wife in a Japanese-occupied province in northern China. That was because married men were considered more trustworthy by the Nationalists, especially the young well-educated ones.
Now that the Japanese had been defeated, he had followed his superior to set up a branch of the Military Statistics Bureau in Tianjin. Yu’s superior became a major general and the branch chief while he became a lieutenant adjutant and the director of the classified information unit. In anticipation of the wealthy and prosperous future after throwing out the Japanese, the branch chief, married three wives in a row and built three mansions, one for each of them. Because of his care and concern of his right-hand man, Yu, who had left his wife back home six years ago, the branch chief arranged for this reunion.
因为余则成近几年的身份、职位过于重要，组织上考虑到他的安全，甚至连与他的单线联系也掐断了，现在他只能通过秘密联络点把这个新情况向党组织汇报。他与组织上的同志们已经一年多没见过面，虽然心中时时思念，但他知道必须得抑制住这份感情， 革命毕竟是一项有纪律的事业。很快，组织上回信说需要他的一张旧照片和五天的准备时间。到了第六天，他在联络点拿到了一个大信封，里边有一张已略显破旧的 大红婚帖，另外一张是印着“百年好合”金字的结婚证，角上贴着贰元陆角的印花税，下边盖着当年日伪县政府的大印和县长的私章。结婚证中间贴着照片，男的是 他的那张旧照片翻印的，女的粗眉大眼的不难看。一番检查过后，他发现这个证件制作得极其精致，联银券的印花税票是真品，县政府公章的雕工无可挑剔，照片的 翻印和修版也做得非常地道，不会被任何人看出破绽。他很感激组织上为他的安全费尽心力，军统局的那班技术人员相当厉害，如果留下一丝破绽，他连逃跑的机会也没有。
Due to his rise in rank, the communist party, for the sake of his safety, had ended any personal communication with him but arranged a drop for necessary communication. He hadn’t contacted his comrades for over a year, even though he had wanted to. He had suppressed his desires due to his understanding of the importance of discipline to the cause. Soon thereafter, he received a request from the party for an old picture of him and five days in which to complete his request. On the sixth day, he received a large envelope from the drop, which contained a frayed red wedding invitation and a marriage certificate with gilt lettering which said “A good union for a hundred years”, with a tax stamp of 2 Yuan 6 Jiao on the right top corner and seals of the Japanese puppet government and the county chief at the bottom. In the middle, there were pictures, the male one was of him that was sent and the female one showing a woman with thick eyebrows and large eyes, not bad looking. Upon detailed examination, he discovered how sophisticatedly the certificate was fabricated: the tax stamp was authentic; the government seal was perfect; and the reprint of the pictures was genuine. It was impossible to detect any flaws. He was appreciative of the efforts that the party had made on his behalf, because it would be thoroughly scrutinized by the technicians at his bureau. Had there been any flaws, he wouldn’t even have a chance to escape.
到了第七天，站长说要给余则成派个司机，让他见面后踏踏实实地与太太说说话，边开车边说 话毕竟危险。不想，特勤队的队长老马听见了，立刻自告奋勇，说是往日没机会巴结小余，今日总算逮着个茬口，不可放过。然而，余则成平日里防范最严密的就是 这个老马，他是出了名的鹰犬，站里跟踪、搜查、抓捕、刑讯、暗杀等所有可怕的工作都归他负责，而且他是中校军衔，没有替余则成当司机的道理。站长却挺高 兴，说你们俩都是我的心腹，正应该多亲近亲近。
On the Seventh day, the branch chief expressed his desire to assign a chauffeur for Yu so that he wouldn’t have to drive and talk with his wife at the same time. Upon hearing this, old Ma, head of the Special Missions Team, willingly volunteered to be the chauffer. He said he wouldn’t pass this rare opportunity to do this favor for Yu. However, Yu was especially wary of this man, because he was well-known for his ruthlessness and he was in charge of all the horrible tasks at the branch such as stalking, searching, arresting, interrogating and assassinating. Further, he was a lieutenant colonel and realistically too high up to be a chauffeur. However, to his dismay, the branch chief was happy that both of his right-hand men would have the opportunity to get to know each other better.
Thus, the intelligence head and the communist undercover agent went together to pick up the wife who didn’t exist.
The car arrived at Lintingko in Baodi County, where a horse carriage was waiting by the roadside. The driver, clutching a whip, was napping behind the carriage. Within the carriage, were two women, one older, and one younger. The younger one, holding to her breast a parcel, had thick eyebrows and large eyes, but not as pretty as her picture. Yu got out of the car and addressed the older one, “Mother”, and then introduced her to Old Ma as his mother-in-law and to her, Old Ma as his colleague. The old woman, carrying a big pipe, shook her hands in greeting. Old Ma bowed to her politely in greeting and offered her two boxes of deserts and four bottles of wine, saying “This is a gift of respect.”
The carriage driver came from behind and loaded the luggage into the jeep. Yu yanked the carriage driver’s shirt and said “you have to be more careful”, but he was trying to pull down the driver’s shirt to cover the gun in his waistband. Earlier when the carriage driver was hidden behind the carriage, his hand must have been on the gun stuck in his waistband.
On their way back, Yu introduced his wife, Cuiping, to Old Ma and Cuiping called him elder brother. Old Ma asked why no one in Yu’s family accompanied her. Yu answered that there was no one left in his family. Old Ma cursed the Japanese and kept silent after that.
在后座上，余则成伸手去握翠平的手，翠平瑟缩了一下，便任由他握着。于是，余则成在她的 手掌中摸到了一大片粗硬的老茧，也发现她的头发虽然仔细洗过，而且抹了刨花水，但并不洁净；脸上的皮肤很黑，是那种被阳光反复烧灼过后的痕迹；新衣服也不 合身，窝窝囊囊的不像是量体裁衣。除此之外，她身上还有一股味道，火烧火燎的焦臭，但绝不是烧柴做饭的味道。汽车开出去二十里之后，他才弄明白，这是烟袋 油子的味道。于是，他便热切地盼望着这股味道仅只是他那位“岳母大人”给熏染上的而已。
In the backseat, when Yu tried to hold Cuiping’s hand, she resisted at first and then gave in. Yu, holding her hand, rubbed her hand and discovered calluses. Although, her hair had been washed, perhaps even with some sort of soap, it was still not clean. Her complexion was dark, as if sunburned. Her clothes were ill-fitting, and she emanated a burnt smell, although not from cooking. After 20 miles, he realized it was from the “mother-in-law’s” pipe and hoped that she had not taken up that habit.
Yu only had one hobby, which was collecting the four treasures (tools of Chinese calligraphy), and the one thing that he hated most and was renowned for was his dislike of smoke. Even the branch chief would put out his cigar whenever he was around, and Old Ma, who was a chain smoker, refrained from smoking during the whole trip. It was probably because he hadn’t been in touch for so long that the party leaders had forgotten his likes and dislikes.
虽说领导可能不了解他的生活习惯，但还不至于不了解他的其他情况。翠平很明显没有文化， 只是一名可敬的农村劳动妇女，这样的同志应该有许多适合她的工作，而送她到大城市里给一个特务头子当太太就很不适宜了。他转过头来看翠平，发现她也在偷偷 地看他，黑眼珠晶亮，但眼神却很执拗。于是他问你饿了吗?她却立刻从包袱里摸出两只熟鸡蛋放在他的手中，显然她很紧张。这时老马在前边打趣道，我这抬轿子的可还没吃东西啊!老马从后视镜中可以看到他们的一切，这也是余则成不得不做戏的原因。
Although the party leaders didn’t know Yu’s likes and dislikes very well, they should have known about his current station. Cuiping was a field woman and obviously uneducated. They could have found many other tasks more suitable to her abilities than sending her to be a wife of an intelligence official in a big city. He turned to inspect her further and found her surreptitiously checking him out. Her eyes were dark, bright and possibly stubborn looking. “Are you hungry?” he asked. She immediately whipped out two hard boiled eggs from her parcel and put them in his hand. She was obviously nervous. Jokingly, Old Ma cut in with “I am the one who is carrying the wedding carriage, and I haven’t had anything to eat yet.” Old Ma had been able to see everything from the rearview mirror, and that was why Yu had to pretend.
That evening, the branch chief held a welcome banquet for Cuiping at the very expensive western style Shunde Restaurant. The invited colleagues, trying their best to impress both the branch chief and his right-hand man, brought Cuiping many expensive gifts. Just after the Japanese had been ousted, money was ill-gotten and freely spent.
余则成很担心翠平会像老舍的小说《离婚》里边那位乡下太太一样，被这个阵势给吓住，或是 有什么不得体的举止。如果他的“太太”应酬不下来这个场面，便应该算是他的工作没做好。任何一件小小的失误都会给革命事业带来损失，他坚信这一点。不想， 等站长演讲、祝酒完毕，开始上菜的时候，翠平突然点手把留着金黄色小胡子的白俄领班叫了过来。众人的目光一下子都集中到她身上，只听她大大方方地说道，有面条吗?给我煮一碗，顺便带双筷子过来。站长听罢哈哈大笑，说我就喜欢你这样的孩子，好孩子，够爽快，我至今生了六个混蛋儿子，就是没有个女儿，你做我的 干女儿吧!过几天还是这些人，去我家，我这姑娘那天正式行礼改称呼，你们都得带礼物，可别小气啦。众人哄然响应。余则成发现，翠平的目光在这一阵哄闹中接 连向他盯了好几眼，既像是观察他的反应，又像是朝他放枪。他向她点点头，传达了鼓励之意。他猜想，翠平在这个时候最需要的应该就是鼓励。
Yu was worried as to whether she would be intimidated by the grandeur of the banquet and the surroundings and act clumsily, like the country bumpkin in Lao She’s story, ‘Divorce’. He felt that if his ‘wife’ didn’t act properly, it would be his fault that he had not prepare her sufficiently. He believed that any mistakes would damage their cause in the revolution. However, after the branch chief delivered his speech toasted his welcome, while the food was being served, unexpectedly, Cuiping, waved over the mustached white Russian waiter. As everyone watched her intently, she unabashedly ordered a bowl of noodles and a pair of chopsticks. Upon hearing this, the branch chief laughed out loud, and said to her, “you are the kind of child I would like to have had. Good girl, you are so straightforward. I have six spoiled sons and no daughter. How would you like to be my god daughter? Why don’t we have an adoption ceremony at my house in a few days and everyone here is invited.” And to them, he added, “You all have to bring gifts and don’t be stingy.” Everyone cheered unanimously. Yu noticed, during all this, Cuiping glanced at Yu several times, as if she was either observing him or looking for signs of his approval. Yu nodded to her and acknowledge her conquest. He felt that more than anything else at this moment, Cuiping needed his encouragement and approval.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
The Chronicle of Mr. “Close Enough”
By Hu Shi
Do you know who the most famous person in China is? His name is a well-known phrase to everyone, everywhere. In Chinese, his surname means ‘Enough’ and his given name would be ‘Close’. He could be from any village, any county, and any province. You must have seen him, or heard people talking about him. The name of Mr. ‘Close Enough’ is on our lips every day, because he is like the representative of the Chinese people.
Mr. Close Enough looks ordinary, just like you and I. He has a pair of eyes, which unfortunately does not see clearly. He has a pair of ears, which hears rather poorly. As for his nose and mouth, they are not particularly sensitive to tastes and smells. His brain, although not small, has poor memory and his thoughts are not at all analytical.
What he often says is “as long as it is close enough, we are fine. Why bother being precise?”
When he was a child, his mother sent him to buy brown sugar, but he brought back white sugar instead. When reprimanded, he shook his head and said “brown sugar and white sugar, are they not close enough?”
In school, his teacher once asked him “which province borders Hebei on the west side?” He answered Shaanxi. His teacher said “The answer is wrong. It should be Shanxi.” He said: “Shaanxi and Shanxi, are they not close enough?”
Later he became a clerk in a bank. He could write and calculate, but was not very careful. Often times, he would mistakenly write the Chinese character of 1000 for that of 10, or vice versa. His carelessness infuriated his boss, who often berated him. He would grin as though apologizing and say, “The characters of 1000 and 10, don’t they look close enough?”
One day, he had to take the train to Shanghai for an urgent matter. He strolled unhurriedly to the train station, and found he was two minutes late. He could not believe that the train had already left the station. As he watched the smoke billowing from the vanishing train, he shook his head:’’ It seems that I will have to leave tomorrow. Today and tomorrow are close enough, but the train company is just overly punctual. Is 8:32 not close enough to 8:30”? Grumbling to himself, he walked slowly home, puzzled as to why the train couldn’t have waited just 2 more minutes for him.
One day, he came down with an acute illness. He sent a family member to fetch Dr. Wong from the Eastern Avenue. The family member, in a hurry, couldn’t find Dr. Wong from the Eastern Avenue, but instead brought back a cow doctor, Dr. Wang from the Western Avenue. Mr. Close Enough, as sick as he was lying on the bed, knew that it was not the right doctor, but as he was in such great pain and too worried to wait any longer, he thought, “This Dr. Wang seems to be close enough to the other Dr. Wang. Why not let him have a try?” Thus the wrong Dr. Wang came to his bed, and applied the method he used as a vet to treat cows to Mr. Close Enough. In less than one hour, Mr. Close Enough was dead.
When Mr. Close Enough was about to die, he gasped: “A live man… and a dead man… are close enough. As long as… it is close enough, we are fine. Why bother… to be so precise?” Having finished his mantra, he took his last breath.
After his death, people applauded Mr. Close Enough as being very wise and philosophical. People said he had always been undemanding and easygoing so therefore, virtuous. As a result, they gave him the title “Grand Master of Flexibility” posthumously.
His fame grew further and wider with time to the extent that countless numbers of people today are emulating him. Consequently, everyone has become a Mr. Close Enough and China has now become a nation of lazy people.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The Precious “Consciousness of Others”
The Chinese style “collectivism” of the middle of the last century had broken up by the end of the century and returned to the respect for individuals and individual entities. Since the moment when a system that safeguards individuals’ rights and interests was preliminarily established, the term ‘we’ – a frequently used word during the era of planned economy – has been replaced by the more commonly used ‘I’.
I like to use “I” and therefore also appreciate the other ‘I’s. Had there not been the recognition of ‘I’ or the cooperation among the countless ‘I’s, the ‘we’ would inevitably be empty, fragile, like a hollow shell that can be destroyed by a single blow.
Nevertheless, between the ‘I’ and the ‘we’, there is the concept of the ‘others’ to connect the two. It is because of the existence of the ‘others’ that the ‘I’ becomes ‘I’ and the ‘we’ becomes ‘we’. When we excessively intensify and amplify the ‘I’ and overlook the ‘others’, the ‘I’ will be left in a besieged and isolated position.
In our culture, the idea of the ‘others’, under most circumstances, is merely a tablet of the dead only being worshiped at important occasions. This is evidenced by the Chinese idiom that “to use your neighboring country as a ditch to divert the floods” and it is also evidenced by another Chinese saying that “people sweep away the snow at their own doorsteps only, and couldn’t care less about the snow accumulated on the tiles of other homes.”
即便在集体主义理想教育最为鼎盛之时，“他人 ”不仅未能成为国人的自觉意识，“他人”反而意味着告密、背叛、异己、危险、离间等等。这种体制下的集体主义文化，终于导致了“他人即地狱”的严酷后果。 闻“他人”而心颤，近“他人”而丧胆。
Even at the peak of the moral education of collectivism, the idea of the ‘others’ did not become spontaneously conscious in the Chinese people. Instead, it was often associated with tattle-telling, betrayals, alienations, dangers and estrangements, etc. The collectivism under such a system had eventually led to the devastating result of “Hell is other people,” where the ‘others’ became a fearful term that terrified everyone.
It was probably because of this fear of the ‘others’ that after the Cultural Revolution, the concept of the ‘we’ immediately collapsed and the ‘I’ became the dominating and prevalent idea, while the concept of the ‘others’ has retreated from the public eye and been reduced to an insignificant empty word and become a vague area of civil morality.
With the exponential population growth since the 1950’s, the living space of the Chinese people has been extremely reduced: the excessive population growth has been a heavy burden to economic development and public health for a long time, whereas the promotion of family planning is still facing strong resistance in the rural and less developed areas. ‘I’ raise my own children; mind your own business! Do people have the consciousness of the ‘others’ over the population issue?
餐馆大肆收购、杀戮、烹煮野生动物为牟取暴利；食客面不改色食用野生动物以饱“口福 ”或炫耀财富；官吏不惜以野生珍稀动物作为最高规格的宴席；“贿赂”上级领导为自己铺设升官晋级的阶梯——在这个破坏自然生态的“人链”中，可有“他人” 的位置么？
Restaurants profiteer through the procurement and mass killing of wild animals and by selling them to their patrons, who enjoy the exotic parts of wild animals not only as delicacies but also a way to show off their great fortunes; officials outrageously pick wild and endangered animals to embellish the extravagant banquets that are used to bribe their superiors in order to climb up the ladder – in such an environmentally destructive chain, has anybody ever considered the ‘others’?
For a long time, the public health system in both urban and rural areas has never really been accorded sufficient attention: the unsanitary and disarrayed offices, the maintenance and the lack of disinfection of the public areas, the washing facilities in public restrooms, the treatment of wastewater and the disposal of household trash, etc. However, the regulators and regulatees of public health share a surprisingly similar mentality: this is not just my problem. Is there any consciousness of the ‘others’ at these forgotten corners of public health?
日积累月的 民众生活卫生习惯中，沉淀下多少恶习陋性——随地吐痰、随地大小便、随地抛弃果皮塑料袋、就餐分餐制难以推行、酒后驾车、公共场所吸烟等等……“我们”的 传统文化是“不患寡，患不均”——在这利益与灾祸均享均沾、“同甘共苦”的行为惯性中，可有愿为“他人”避免灾祸而自控自律的一份责任感？
How many despicable unhealthy habits have been passed down generations after generations – littering, spiting, urinating and defecating at inappropriate public areas, the resistance towards individual meal servings, driving under the influence, public smoking and so forth…our culture has a traditional egalitarian philosophy that “even distribution trumps poverty” – in such a behavioral inertia of “sharing the loss and gain” and “sticking together through thick and thin,” can you find a sense of responsibility of restraining himself for the sake of the others?
It seems we have been unconsciously clearing out a way as a preparation to welcome an age of ‘zero distance’. Nevertheless, in the public domain, ‘zero distance’ is actually harmful. Distance is all about ‘others’, and ‘others’ means civic etiquette. That is because on this planet, aside from the ‘you’ and the ‘I’, there are many more unknown ‘he’s and ‘she’s – ‘other people’, as well as ‘it’s – the dear animal friends who cohabit with us.
It is for the sake of our own safety and freedom that we should not be ‘self-centric’ or ‘anthrocentric’ and acknowledge and show our concerns and affections for the ‘others’. The unrestrained freedom of the ‘I’ will inevitably deprive the freedom of the ‘others’. Only with all the ‘others’ having their freedom, then the freedom of the ‘I’ will finally be complete.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
It would be a real pity if you visit Shanghai without taking a walk in its alleyways. In the afternoons, before the people come back from school or work, if you randomly roam away from Shanghai’s major commercial streets and enter into a narrow one, you will immediately see a broad entrance under some parasol trees and the header of the entrance with something written on it. Sometimes it says 1902 below the arcade. Inside there are several rows of townhouses of 2 or 3 stories. The small balconies side by side are filled with warm sunshine. The glass windows deep inside reflect the passing cars in the street. Here, you are in a Shanghai alley.
Half of the residential areas in Shanghai are in such alleys and the majority of the Shanghainese live in the different variants of the alleys.
There is almost always a small convenience store at the entrance of an alley. In such an incredibly small store, all kinds of daily necessity items are shelved in a wonderfully orderly manner, from kids’ snacks, ladies’ needle kits, postal stamps to any daily necessity items one may suddenly need, you will find it here. People often come out to the store in their “homie” clothes and footwear. You can see women, wearing colorful pajamas, come to buy a pack of snack food. Their toes grip the red flip-flops whose heels are already worn down. Such scenes cannot be more ordinary to the people living in the alleys. The store keeper is usually watchful and warm-hearted. His radio is always turned on. Listening to the radio all day long, he also wants to have some real people listen to him talking. Since he has seen so many people walking back and forth in the street, or coming in and out of the alley, as long as he has some imagination, he tends to be a very street smart guy.
Until you step into a Shanghai alley, you won’t really understand the life in Shanghai, the life that is hidden behind Shanghai’s bustling commercial streets, its glittering neon lights, and its flamboyant lifestyle. The Shanghainese cherish their image very much and always keep a sleek look in the shops, restaurants, bars, and parks. However, they look totally different in the alleys.
Light music is peacefully playing and the aroma of the chicken soup escapes from the backdoor of the shared kitchen. Where the sun reaches, the residents living at the bottom pull the hemp ropes, and hang out all the quilts and sheets of the entire family. The sweet smell from the freshly washed cloths permeates the alley. If you look more closely at those colorful clothes fluttering in the air, you will recognize those are the most fashionable style of the year. You also see there is a young lady bending at the sink by the backdoor. Wearing an old shrunken woolen sweater, she is washing her waterfall like hair with a shampoo called Siphone. In the sun, hot steam rises from her wet hair. There is also a shoe repairman sitting at the entrance of the alley. He is making a tatpat sound while hitting the tiny heel of a lady’s stiletto, trying to patch it with a piece of new leather. A sleek woman sitting astride on a stool is waiting with a bare foot. They complain in unison on the poor quality of the shoes today and berate the dishonest manufacturers.
The elderly of the alley are chatting where the sun reaches. Old women are usually more reticent, whereas most old men like to accost strangers. Their favorite thing is to talk about their “salad” days.
There is always a serene and earthly atmosphere in the alleys and you can tell how the Shanghainese treasure this special atmosphere. This is the “living” color of their life. Since the 19th century, along with the birth of the first Shanghai alley named “Xing Ren Li” located near the Bund, it is neither the too flamboyant nor the too conservative Shanghainese life philosophy that emphasizes harmony and pragmatism, yet stays cool with the transient fashion.
In the mid of the 19th century, because of the rebellion of the Small Swords Society in the Chinese section of the city, many people fled to the foreign concessions. In order to make a profit from these Chinese refugees, the foreigners in the concessions copied the workers’ residences in London’s industrial areas and built 800 houses in rows. These are the precursors of the Shanghai alleys in the concessions. The real alley life began at the moment when Mayipa built Xing Ren Li in 1872.
Shanghai is a big metropolis, like the table of a chef at a restaurant with all kinds of tastes. The city was carved up by foreigners; one part became the French concession, one part became the British one and one part was reserved for the Chinese. In the suburban industrial areas, there are places developed for the residences of the workers in the factories. Although these divisions all belong to the past, they have been left in the minds of the Shanghainese. People living in different parts of Shanghai are classified into different classes, and they are not necessarily friendly to each other. They tend to alienate each other and rarely socialize. Shanghai, such a remarkable place, sometimes makes you feel that there are many small nations within it. Just like in Europe, it seems all people are the same at first glance, but when you look at them closely, you will see the seriousness of the German, the romance of the French and austereness of the Poles. People living in different parts of Shanghai also look differently. That is why even those who grew up in Shanghai and have lived in it for several decades still don’t dare to claim that they know Shanghai very well, because all they know is only one small part of Shanghai.
From the early wood houses for the refugees, to the Shikumen houses and the new style alley houses, all of them, are like blood vessel spread across Shanghai in the over 9,000 alleys, yet they all share a similar atmosphere to some degree.
These are the places where the middle class of Shanghai live. They, being the majority of the society, lead a well-off life, but are not really wealthy; they have sleek looking appearances, but without splendor; they are economical, pragmatic, prudent, never indulging themselves in excessive entertainment or luxury. They are hard working and enjoy the well-to-do life. They are progressive, expecting a better life year by year, but also very realistic, and never imagine the impossible. They are living contentedly in their own small world, but whenever they see an opportunity, they will grasp it and strive to succeed. They are not innocent people, but neither are they bad ones.
Despair is never seen in the Shanghai Alleys. Home-made dried vegetables, the recently bought soybeans are baking in the sun on the tiny balconies; in the shades below the window of the small north room, hangs the salted pork that is made of the best pork, which is peppered and covered with oil paper in case of rain. The oil paper rustles in the wind. On the windowsill, resilient succulents are planted in broken washbasins. Even during the most turbulent upheavals, the life in the alleys still goes smoothly at its own pace. This is the philosophy of the seniors, compromising, worldly, sticking to the conventional norms and values and staying lukewarm. They never impose their own opinions on the other people. All they focus on is their own conforming life.
In the evening, many aromas permeate from the open backdoors when all the families are cooking. People are coming back. The country-looking girls are busy going in and out the backdoors. These are the rush hours for those hourly maids. Country girls gain weight very easily after they arrive in Shanghai, because there are more choices of food in Shanghai, and therefore they often look chubbier than the local girls. They quietly, but efficiently work in the shared kitchen by the backdoor. Today’s maids don’t gossip as much as they used to, but neither do they know as much about how to serve the Shanghainese properly. So the sophisticated work is left to the mistress themselves, such as slicing the boiled pork, preparing the sauce for the big hairy crabs, and heating the Shaoxin yellow wine. The mistress puts everything in a big tray and brings it to their room.
After you visit a Shanghai alley, you probably will see more things then when you go to other places in Shanghai, because alleys are the most real and open space in Shanghai. People live a real life in the alleys, where even the Shanghai sophisticates wear the homie outfits and never mind fetching the mails in slippers.
常常在弄堂的出口，开着一家小烟纸店，小得不能让人置信的店面里，千丝万缕地陈放着各种日用品，小孩子吃的零食，老太太用的针线，本市邮政用的邮票，各种居 家日子里容易突然告缺的东西，应有尽有，人们穿着家常的衣服鞋子，就可以跑出来买。常常有穿着花睡衣来买一包零食的女人，脚趾紧紧夹着踩蹋了跟的红拖鞋， 在弄堂里人们不见怪的。小店里的人，常常很警惕，也很热心，他开着一个收音机，整天听主持人说话，也希望来个什么人，听他说说，他日日望着小街上来往的 人，弄堂里进出的人，只要有一点点想象力，就能算得上阅人多矣。
平平静静的音乐开着；后门的公共厨房里传出来炖鸡的香气；有阳光的地方，底楼人家拉出了麻绳，把一家人的被子褥子统统拿出来晒着，新洗的衣服散发着香气，花 花绿绿的在风里飘，仔细地看，就认出来这是今年大街上时髦的式样；你看见路上头发如瀑的小姐正在后门的水斗上，穿了一件缩了水的旧毛衣，用诗芬在洗头发， 太阳下面那湿湿的头发冒出热气来; 还有修鞋师傅，坐在弄口，乒乒地敲着一个高跟鞋的细跟，补上一块新橡皮，旁边的小凳子上坐着一个穿得挺周正的女人，光着一 只脚等着修鞋，他们一起骂如今鞋子的质量和那卖次品鞋子的奸商。
上 海是一个大都市，大到就像饭店里大厨子用的桌布一样，五味俱全。从前被外国人划了许多块，一块做法国租界，一块做英国租界，留下一块做上海老城厢，远远的 靠工厂区的地方，又有许多人住在为在工厂做事的人开辟出来的区域里，那是从前城市的划分，可在上海人的心里觉得这样区域的划分，好像也划分出了阶级一样， 住在不同地方的人，彼此怀着不那么友好的态度，彼此不喜欢认同乡，因此也不怎么来往。这样，上海这地方，有时让人感到像里面还有许多小国家一样，就像欧 洲，人看上去都是一样的人，仔细地看，就看出了德国人的板，法国人的媚，波兰人的苦，住在上海不同地域的人，也有着不同的脸相。所以，在上海从小到大住了 几十年的人，都不敢说自己是了解上海的，只是了解上海的某一块地方。
那是上海的中层阶级代代生存的地方。他们是社会中的大多数人，有温饱的生活，可没有大富大贵；有体面，可没有飞黄腾达；经济实用，小心做人，不过分的娱乐， 不过分的奢侈，勤勉而满意地支持着自己小康的日子；有进取心，希望自己一年比一年好，可也识时务，懂得离开空中楼阁。他们定定心心地在经济的空间里过着自 己的日子，可一眼一眼地膘着可能有的机会，期望更上一层楼。他们不是那种纯真的人，当然也不太坏。
上海的弄堂总是不会有绝望的情绪的。小小的阳台上晒着家制干菜、刚买来的黄豆，背阴的北面亭子间窗下，挂着自家用上好的鲜肉阉的成肉，放了花椒的，上面还盖 了一张油纸，防止下雨，在风里哗哗地响。窗沿上有人用破脸盆种了不怕冷的宝石花。就是在最动乱的时候，弄堂里的生活还是有序地进行着。这里像世故老人，中 庸，世故，遵循着市井的道德观，不喜欢任何激进，可也并不把自己的意见强加于人，只是中规中矩地过自己的日子。
晚 上，家家的后门开着烧饭，香气扑鼻，人们回到自己的家里来，乡下姑娘样子的人匆匆进出后门，那是做钟点的保姆最忙的时候。来上海的女孩子，大都很快地胖起来，因为有更多的东西可以吃，和上海女孩子比起来，有一点肿了似的，她们默默地飞快地在后门的公共厨房里干着活，现在的保姆不像从前在这里出入的保姆那样喜欢说话，喜欢搬弄是非了。可她们也不那么会伺候上海人，所以，厨房里精细的事还是主人自己做，切白切肉，调大闸蟹的姜醋蘸料，温绍兴黄酒，然后，女主人 用一张大托盘子，送到自家房间里。
Friday, May 15, 2009
Based on what I have said, it would not be hard for you to guess that I wouldn’t be able to live off my skills as a paper craftsman forever. When the times change, people flee in all directions, just like street fair visitors who are caught in a downpour. In the course of my life, it seems as if I was walking downhill all the time, and couldn’t stop. No matter how hard I wished the world would get better, I couldn’t help but continue to slide deeper and deeper into a hopeless situation. This was a total change, which didn’t leave me any room to breath, a complete change from the past. It was not just an alteration, but a gale that blew people away without any idea where they were going. Many of the lucrative businesses of my childhood had abruptly come to a dead end, and seemed not to have much of a future. I had forseen this long ago. Had it been peace time, if I had wanted, I could have opened a small shop and taken on a couple of apprentices, and easily have led a comfortable life. Luckily I didn’t go down that path. If I didn’t get at least several big orders every year, how could I possibly manage to make a living just by making paper wagons or pasting paper on ceilings? Looking over the past dozen years, did I even get one decent work order? No, so it was a wise choice I made to quit.
However, this was not the only reason that I quit. The forces of nature are not something a man can fight, just like arms can’t wrestle with legs. You are looking for trouble if you intend to fight against the changes in society. It is even more unbearable should extra misfortune befall you alone. This in turn can easily drive a person crazy to do things like drowning themselves. These occurances are not rare at all, not to mention being forced to put down his old profession and pick up a new one. Difficulties which can be endured by a group, could easily crush an individual; a rice grain is small, but it takes an ant all his strength to move it. It is the same when it comes to man. Life depends on a breath; so anything keeping you from that breath would cause desperation. Man, what a fragile creature!
My intelligence and friendliness brought me only bad fortune, which sounds absurd at first, however, it is nevertheless true. If it had not happen to me, I myself wouldn’t believe such a thing. However, misfortunes came to find me. At the time, I was practically turned into a mad man. After two or three decades, as I look back, I can laugh it off and regard it as just a story. Now I have realized, one’s benefits do not have to belong to one alone. The real benefits should also belong to the people around, just like "no man is an island". If you alone are doing well, but the people around you aren't, then the benefit can be burdensome. Then what would intelligence and friendliness matter? In retrospect, since I now understand life, I can just laugh off that event. But at that moment, how could I swallow it all so easily. I was still very young at the time.
Who does not want to be good looking? When I was young, I always dressed myself up very dashingly when I was out socializing or running errands so that no one could even tell that I was a craftsman. In the olden time, leather was very expensive, and people were not supposed to wear them at will. Nowadays, anybody who wins at the races or wins a lottery can wear a leather overcoat the next day, whether you are teenage or a 20 year old young man who has not even shaved his face yet. In the past your clothes must fit your status and age. In those days, it was already flashy looking enough if you were able to have a shirt collar on your Chinese jacket or waistcoat. I always had such a shirt collar and the jacket and waist coat were made of blue silk – the silk back then was so incredibly strong that it would take over 10 years to wear out. I became a dirty wretch when I was pasting ceilings, but once I got home and cleaned myself off, I would immediately turn into a handsome young man. I preferred to be the handsome young man to the dirty wretch. I had a dark and long braid, and a well-shaved shiny forehead. When I put on the silk waistcoat with the shirt collar, I did look like “somebody!”
What a handsome young man fears nothing more than to marry an ugly wife. Long before, I had already explicitly or implicitly hinted to the elders that either I marry a pretty girl, or I won’t get married at all. In those days, “free” marriages were obviously not the common practice, but some freedom was allowed for young men and young women to decide on their marriages. I insisted on seeing my fiancée before marriage. I was not going to be taken in by the flowery words of the matchmaker.
At the age of 20, I got married. My wife was one year younger than I. She could easily be considered a pretty girl wherever she went. I managed to see her before our engagement. I wouldn’t dare say that she was a real beauty, but she was definitely cute and perky, which fit exactly my criteria in choosing my wife. I wouldn’t have nodded agreement had she failed my test. You can very well tell from my criteria for choosing wife what kind a person I was. In those days, I was young, handsome, and capable and therefore I would never marry a homely woman.
You'd have to admit that we were a perfect match, blessed by heaven. We were both young and appealing, and neither of us were tall. Before the friends and relatives, we were like a pair of agile tops, spinning in all directions, making the seniors smile out flowers from their eyes. We competed with each other to show off our wit and charm. We were both very competetive and would do whatever it took to win a few compliments that we were the most admirable of couples. Those complements from other people increased our mutual respect and affection, as it was put, that the real heroes know how to acknowledge and respect other heroes.
I was very happy. To be honest, my parents didn’t own a big fortune, but they had a house so that I could save up the rent money. I lived in a rent-free house, with a yard full of trees and a pair of orioles that perched on the eaves. I, myself, had good skills, a wide social circle, and a lovely young wife. How could I not be happy?
As for my wife, I couldn’t find any flaws. Granted, once a while I thought she was a little wild, but which active young wife is not a little wild? She was talkative, because she was very sociable; she didn’t avoid men, but she was only enjoying the privilege of being a young wife. For the new young wives, especially the capable ones, they would naturally shake off the shyness of the young girls, and act confidently like a “woman.” You can't really call these “flaws.” Moreover, she was kind and considerate toward the elders and dutifully served them. It really seemed nothing that she was a little too familiar when with other young people. She was very outgoing and sincere, expressing her warmness to both the aged and the young. I had never blamed her for being too open.
Then she became pregnant and a mother, even prettier than before, and more confident -- I could no longer bring myself to use the word “wild” to describe her. Is there anything more attractive than a pregnant woman, or anything more lovable than a young mother? Every time I saw her sitting at the threshold, suckling the baby with her breast exposed, my love for her would only swell, and I forgot all of her wild behavior.
At the age of 24, I was already of a father of a son and a daughter. But when it comes to parenting, how much credit can a husband claim? When the husband was happy, he would lift the baby and play around; the wife did all the unpleasant work. I was not stupid. I didn’t need anyone to tell me this. Really, men are totally helpless even when they want to help the wife during childbirth or raising children. However, as long as you have understanding, you should make your wife’s life a little easier and give her more freedom. People who bully pregnant women or young mothers are real jerks. As for my wife, I gave her even more freedom after we had children. I thought that was the right thing to do.
In addition, it is said that the husband and wife are like trees, and their children are flowers. The flowers by the trees demonstrate the deep roots of the trees. Any suspicions, or distrust should be eliminated. The children would hold their mothers firmly. Therefore, even though I sometimes felt she was a little wild – and I hate to use this word – I was no longer worried, because she was already a mother.
不过，这还不是我忽然改了行的唯一的原因。年头儿的改变不是个人所能抵抗的，胳臂扭不过大 腿去，跟年头儿叫死劲简直是自己找别扭。可是，个人独有的事往往来得更厉害，它能马上教人疯了。去投河觅井都不算新奇，不用说把自己的行业放下，而去干些 别的了。个人的事虽然很小，可是一加在个人身上便受不住；一个米粒很小，教蚂蚁去搬运便很费力气。个人的事也是如此。人活着是仗了一口气，多喒有点事儿， 把这口气憋住，人就要抽风。人是多么小的玩艺儿呢！
我的精明与和气给我带来背运。乍一听这句话仿佛是不合情理，可是千真万确，一点儿不假，假 若这要不落在我自己身上，我也许不大相信天下会有这宗事。它竟自找到了我；在当时，我差不多真成了个疯子。隔了这么二三十年，现在想起那回事儿来，我满可 以微微一笑，仿佛想起一个故事来似的。现在我明白了个人的好处不必一定就有利于自己。一个人好，大家都好，这点好处才有用，正是如鱼得水。一个人好，而大 家并不都好，个人的好处也许就是让他倒霉的祸根。精明和气有什么用呢！现在，我悟过这点理儿来，想起那件事不过点点头，笑一笑罢了。在当时，我可真有点咽 不下去那口气。那时候我还很年轻啊。
哪个年轻的人不爱漂亮呢？在我年轻的时候，给人家行人情或办点事，我的打扮与气派谁也不敢 说我是个手艺人。在早年间，皮货很贵，而且不准乱穿。如今晚的人，今天得了马票或奖券，明天就可以穿上狐皮大衣，不管是个十五岁的孩子还是二十岁还没刮过 脸的小伙子。早年间可不行，年纪身分决定个人的服装打扮。那年月，在马褂或坎肩上安上一条灰鼠领子就仿佛是很漂亮阔气。我老安着这么条领子，马褂与坎肩都 是青大缎的——那时候的缎子也不怎么那样结实，一件马褂至少也可以穿上十来年。在给人家糊棚顶的时候，我是个土鬼；回到家中一梳洗打扮，我立刻变成个漂亮 小伙子。我不喜欢那个土鬼，所以更爱这个漂亮的青年。我的辫子又黑又长，脑门剃得锃光青亮，穿上带灰鼠领子的缎子坎肩，我的确象个“人儿”！
二十岁那年，我结了婚，我的妻比我小一岁。把她放在哪里，她也得算个俏式利落的小媳妇；在 定婚以前，我亲眼相看的呀。她美不美，我不敢说，我说她俏式利落，因为这四个字就是我择妻的标准；她要是不够这四个字的格儿，当初我决不会点头。在这四个 字里很可以见出我自己是怎样的人来。那时候，我年轻，漂亮，作事麻利，所以我一定不能要个笨牛似的老婆。
这个婚姻不能说不是天配良缘。我俩都年轻，都利落，都个子不高；在亲友面前，我们象一对轻 巧的陀螺似的，四面八方的转动，招得那年岁大些的人们眼中要笑出一朵花来。我俩竞争着去在大家面前显出个人的机警与口才，到处争强好胜，只为数人夸奖一声 我们是一对最有出息的小夫妇。别人的夸奖增高了我俩彼此间的敬爱，颇有点英雄惜英雄，好汉爱好汉的劲儿。
对于我的妻，我简直找不出什么毛病来。不错，有时候我觉得她有点太野；可是哪个利落的小媳 妇不爽快呢？她爱说话，因为她会说；她不大躲避男人，因为这正是作媳妇所应享的利益，特别是刚出嫁而有些本事的小媳妇，她自然愿意把作姑娘时的腼腆收起一 些，而大大方方的自居为“媳妇”。这点实在不能算作毛病。况且，她见了长辈又是那么亲热体贴，殷勤的伺候，那么她对年轻一点的人随便一些也正是理之当然； 她是爽快大方，所以对于年老的正象对于年少的，都愿表示出亲热周到来。我没因为她爽快而责备她过。
到了二十四岁，我已有一儿一女。对于生儿养女，作丈夫的有什么功劳呢！赶上高兴，男子把娃 娃抱起来，耍巴一回；其余的苦处全是女人的。我不是个糊涂人，不必等谁告诉我才能明白这个。真的，生小孩，养育小孩，男人有时候想去帮忙也归无用；不过， 一个懂得点人事的人，自然该使作妻的痛快一些，自由一些；欺侮孕妇或一个年轻的母亲，据我看，才真是混蛋呢！对于我的妻，自从有了小孩之后，我更放任了 些；我认为这是当然的合理的。