Chapter 49: Together
Madam Zhao hugged Su Sanlang and refused to let go.
Then, the children woke up.
Everyone was crying. Su Chong and Su Hua were sobbing. Su Chong said, “Father, Mother, I want to go too. I’m strong. I can help.”
Su Hua also cried and said, “Father, Mother, I want to go too. Let the tiger eat me first before letting Big Brother smash the tiger’s head. Hua isn’t afraid of death. Really.”
Su Sanmei cried, “Father, Mother, let me be the bait. My skin is tender. I’m the only one that needs to die.”
Madam Zhao immediately cried out in pain and pounded her chest. “My children…”
The family huddled together and wept.
No matter what Su Sanlang said, they refused to let him go alone.
Su Sanlang hugged his wife and child and said with a lump in his throat, “I was incompetent. I couldn’t give you a home. I’m sorry.”
“Father, I’ve thought about it. It’s not impossible for us to fight a tiger. Listen to me. A tiger is terrifying, but it’s still an animal. I’ll be the bait. You’re strong, and so are Chong and Hua. I’ll hold on to it and not let go. You guys use sticks and knives. Just cut off its head. If sacrificing myself can keep our entire family alive, I’m willing.”
Madam Zhao wiped her tears and said seriously to Su Sanlang.
When Su Sanlang heard this, he was about to retort, but Madam Zhao did not give him the chance.
“Father, if you were the bait, I might not be able to kill the tiger with my weak strength. Even if we were lucky enough to kill the tiger, how could a woman like me protect it? Then, what you exchanged your life for would only become someone else’s.”
Madam Zhao had never been so decisive. Her words left Su Sanlang speechless.
As for Madam Zhao, she gently touched the three children and said softly, “I’ve lived for 30 years. I’m satisfied, but Chong and the others are still young. If you hunt the tiger, you can bring the children to see a doctor. Even if I die, I have no regrets, because I believe that you will definitely treat our children well and protect them until they grow up.”
At the end, Madam Zhao hugged Su Sanlang and said, “Sanlang, let me go. Besides, I might not die. It’s a gamble on both sides. Bet on me. I believe you. You can definitely do it.”
Su Sanlang clenched his fists. He knew that everything Madam Zhao said made sense.
He hugged Madam Zhao tightly and finally said, “Alright, let’s go together.”
“Chong and Hua will come with us. Sanmei will wait for us here. Take good care of Simei.”
Su Sanlang made up his mind. What he could not say was that if he really failed, he would not live alone. He would not let Madam Zhao die alone.
As for the two sons, they would remember the way back. If Doctor Wu was kind enough, he might take them in.
There was really no way out.
After making his decision, Su Sanlang did not delay any further. He packed up with Madam Zhao and took the leftover cold steamed buns in the kitchen.
Su Sanlang was extremely sorry about that, but there was nothing he could do about it. If he made it back alive, he would repay Doctor Wu. If he didn’t, he would repay him in his next life.
Before leaving, Su Sanlang squatted down and hugged Su Sanmei. He gently instructed her, “Sanmei, you’re the most obedient. Daddy has left Simei in your care. Can you wait for us at home?”
Su Sanmei nodded through her tears.
Su Sanlang went to hug Su Xiaolu again and kissed her forehead before putting her down.
Madam Zhao hugged Su Sanmei and Su Xiaolu with tears in her eyes.
They left quietly, not looking back.
This night was one that Su Xiaolu would never and could never forget.
Su Xiaolu could not help but cry when she thought about it. It was already dawn, and she did not know where her parents were. Would Doctor Wu be able to find them?
Or perhaps, he could bring back the news that they had died in the tiger’s mouth.
As a baby, she could do nothing but pray.
She could only make herself obedient. When Su Sanmei made the rice soup, she would obediently drink it. She would be quiet, and Su Sanmei would tell Su Xiaolu everything that was on her mind.
Su Sanmei said, “Simei, Father and Mother both said that you’re sent to us from heaven. I really hope that’s true. If you’re a god, you can definitely protect Father, Mother, and our brothers, right? If you can make them return safely, I’ll treat you well for the rest of your life, okay?”
Tears fell on Su Xiaolu’s face as she spoke.
Su Xiaolu prayed that if the heavens really treated her well, then let her parents come back safely.
She still felt that it was definitely not a coincidence that the heavens had given her the Space with the spiritual spring.
If her wishes could come true, she was willing to use her abilities to treat illnesses and save hundreds of evil people in the future to repay this blessing.
In the evening, Old Wu returned alone. He had searched all day and found nothing. He was not related to Su Sanlang’s family. He had already done more than enough.
He looked at Su Sanmei and said, “The mountains are big. I didn’t find your parents.”
Su Sanmei held back her tears and handed Old Wu his bowl and chopsticks.
Then, Su Sanmei knelt down with Su Xiaolu in her arms. She cried, “Grandpa Wu, please take me and my sister in. I can work and I can eat very little. Even if I have to be a slave, I’m willing to take care of you, Grandpa Wu. Please take me and my sister in.”
Old Wu sighed and said, “Get up. You don’t have to be my slave. You can just wash my clothes and cook for me. As long as I stay in this village, you and your sister will have food to eat.”
In a world of ice and snow, Old Wu could not bear to chase Su Sanmei away. The little girl was sensible, so he would just treat it as doing a good deed.
When Su Sanmei heard this, she kowtowed and thanked him.
She thanked Old Wu for keeping them. At the same time, she prayed for a miracle and hoped that her parents and brothers would return safely.
Su Sanlang brought Madam Zhao and his two sons across the mountains and searched everywhere. Finally, on the third day, they found the tiger’s tracks. After searching for four hours, they heard the tiger’s roar.
The low growl was so deep and powerful that it made people tremble.
They began to set the trap carefully. The rope was handmade, as thick as a thumb, and Su Sanlang had woven it into the shape of a rope cage.
Su Chong and Su Hua had a large club in their hands, while Su Sanlang had a machete.
Madam Zhao acted as bait while Su Sanlang and the three children hid.
Madam Zhao slit her wrist and let the blood flow out. She wiped the blood around her. As long as the tiger pounced at her, it would be caught by the rope net.
As bait, the tiger might bite her to death. Even so, she had no fear. As long as they could kill the tiger, their family would survive.
The trap was not difficult. Su Sanlang and Zhou Anding had learned this from Zhou Anding and his son. He had gone with Doctor Wu for the past few days and stayed behind after Doctor Wu left. He had asked many questions about how to catch a tiger.