Table For Two Chapter 201
The conversation soon arrived at the reason why Xiu Ling was there. Xiu Ling had been trying to lead the conversation towards the topic of Qing Qing and eventually she managed to get Qing Hai to ask, "By the way, how is Qing Qing coping with the city life? I know she's working hard to make a name for herself but sometimes I wish she would just slow down temporarily. I don't want her to tire out."
"Qing Qing is doing well, in fact she just accepted a role in an upcoming movie. Uncle Qing Hai, you must be so proud," Xiu Ling added as reply.
"Of course!" Qing Hai exclaimed proudly, "To think that a farmer's daughter will become a movie star, it feels like I'm living a dream."
"This is because Uncle Qing Hai has raised her well," Xiu Ling complimented.
Qing Hai smiled at the compliment as he said, "Nah, this is all her hard work. I've barely done anything." Then, the old man stood up and told Xiu Ling, "Actually, do you mind staying here for a minute? I have something to show you."
"Of course not." Xiu Ling smiled while Qing Hai excused him to enter one of the bedrooms. Based on the sparse interior, Xiu Ling assumed it was the old man's bedroom. The other bedroom, while not overly feminine, had rugs and soft curtains that suggested a woman's touch. Xiu Ling believed that belonged to Qing Qing before she moved out from home.
Xiu Ling made use of this time to arrange the information that she had managed to deduce so far. Qing Qing wrote back to her father every month and in those letters, she enclosed money for him. Xiu Ling did not know what else she wrote but she had a hard time believing Qing Qing would write to tell him about her sinister plans. Like most children who had left the protection of home, she wouldn't want her father to worry about her so Qing Qing most probably only reported the good news. Furthermore, from her conversation with Qing Qing's father, it didn't seem like the father knew about her daughter's evil deeds. He sounded so proud of her. If Qing Hai was really proud of the chaos his daughter had sown, then this family was rotten from the top to bottom.
Qing Hai soon returned with what looked like a photo album. "Here, take a look at these." Qing Hai sat down and shared the book with Xiu Ling. It was filled with not only pictures but also newspaper clippings of Qing Qing.
The book looked well-worn like Qing Hai would flip through it whenever he had time but the content of the book was well-preserved. The clippings and pictures were taped carefully and there was no sign of dog-ears on the book. Qing Hai probably perused the book as gingerly as he could. Based on the way he handled it, Xiu Ling believed this was the old man's greatest treasure.
"The girl will send me these stories whenever she writes to me. She told me she purposely found the articles that included her picture. I chided her once for her vanity but I knew she picked these out because since she couldn't accompany me in person and these pictures would be the next best thing... That silly girl..." The old man's eyes misted over with pride and memory. Compelled by emotions, Qing Hai continued, "The girl lost her mother when she was very young. She fell ill but we were too poor at the time to afford her medical expenses... Even without a mother, she has grown to become a wonderful young woman. If her mother was alive today, she would have been so proud."
Qing Hai sniffled and chuckled with embarrassment. "Look at me with my sob story. By the way, I forgot to ask, why have you come to find me today?"
When Xiu Ling decided to pursue this line of investigation, she did not expect it would lead her to Qing Qing's father. It had crossed her mind to expose Qing Qing to her father but Xiu Ling didn't have it in her heart to ruin a father's love for her daughter.
Her face was set in conflict and this worried Qing Hai. He asked cautiously, "Is it about Qing Qing? Did something happen to her? Is there anything I can help?"
Xiu Ling immediately forced a smile. "No, no. It's nothing like that."
Her beef was with Qing Qing, Xiu Ling didn't want to drag her innocent father into this.
However, it did not seem like Qing Hai believed her. His face was set in hard lines like he was facing a difficult conundrum. In the end, Qing Hai sighed and told Xiu Ling, "Is it because of something that you cannot tell me?"
Realizing the misunderstanding that she had caused, Xiu Ling tried her best to console Qing Hai, "Uncle Qing Hai, it's not that..."
Qing Hai cut her off with a shake of his head. He added in a resigned tone. "It's okay, I understand. If possible, I'd like you to relay this message to Qing Qing. If it's too hard, just come back home."
Back in the meeting room, Xiu Ling told Qing Qing about her meeting with the girl's father. "Before I left, your father pushed these into my hands, telling me to give them to you. Eat healthy was what he said." Xiu Ling handed Qing Qing a box of fresh vegetables that she had hid under the table.
Qing Qing didn't know how to respond. This was something unprecedented. She had not faced this kind of situation before.
She was tense and worried when Xiu Ling brought up her father. She did not appreciate Xiu Ling using her father as a leverage but she was also thankful at Xiu Ling for not breathing a word about her bad habits to her father. It was a mess of complicated emotions.