(A Chinese Mermaid Tale)
In our last episode, We saw a familiar scene…
Mei lost in her thoughts – and a shady, skulking Sha who, again, seems to be in the right place at the right time… or is it in the wrong place at the wrong time?
As Mei hurries towards the secret cave where her 7 sisters are waiting, Sha slinks off after her. Will Mei’s secret be discovered?
Today, we find out in Part 7 of Pearl – A Chinese Mermaid Story.
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Chapter 19 – Shadow
第十九章 – 影
CHAPTER 19 生词 | Vocabulary (191 - 200)
191. 揣 (Chuāi) v. to hide (or carry) in one’s cloths (compare with 端; carry; Duān )
192. 抱怨 (Bàoyuàn) v. complain; grumble
193. 晃 (huàng, huǎng) v. flash past; dazzle v. shake; sway
194. 娇小 (Jiāoxiǎo) adj. petite; delicate
195. 幽灵 (Yōulíng) n. ghost; spectre
196. 亦步亦趋 (Yìbùyìqū) IDIOM ape sb. At every step; imitate sb.’s every move
197. 无声无息 (Wúshēng wú xī) IDIOM silent; quiet; noiseless
198. 一连串 (Yīliánchuàn) adj. a succession of; a series of; a string of
199. 傍晚 (Bàngwǎn) n. dusk; twilight
200. 隐藏 (Yǐncáng) v. hide; conceal; remain under cover
Sha’s search for wine had ended. He now clutched a jug of cheap rice wine, taking frequent swigs as he continued to bemoan his rotten luck. As he grumbled his way back to his house, something caught his eye: a slight figure, long hair in two neat braids, disappearing around a street corner. Sha narrowed bloodshot eyes.
He knew those braids...
Sha adjusted his jug of wine and set off in pursuit, shadowing Mei’s footsteps. Her bracelets, those pretty (and expensive! he thought to himself) trinkets clinked, and a night wind carried their music to Sha’s ears. Sha followed stealthily, with quiet footsteps, careful to keep out of sight.
Sha needn't have bothered with subterfuge though – not tonight. Mei was completely lost in thought..
My cave, Mei thought, my feet are taking me towards my cave… Where my sisters wait.
Chapter 20 – Reunion
第二十章 – 重逢
CHAPTER 20 生词 | Vocabulary (201 - 210)
201. 寸步不离 (Cùnbù bùlí) expression. Follow sb. Closely; keep close to sb.
202. 簇拥 (cùyōng) v. cluster round
203. 覆盖 (fùgài) v. cover; n. plant cover; vegetation
204.密密麻麻 (mìmimámá) adv. As thick as stalks in a field; densely packed
205. 迷茫 (mímáng) adj. vast and hazy; confused; perplexed; dazed
206. 迫不及待 (Pòbùjídài) IDIOM very impatient; unable to hold back
207. 闪烁 (Shǎnshuò) v. twinkle; scintillate; glimmer
208. 微弱 (wéiruò) adj. faint; feeble; weak
209. 硌 (gè) v. to press against some part of one’s body causing discomfort; to chafe
210. 汗流浃背 (hànliújiābèi) IDIOM sweat streaming down and drenching one’s back
Sha followed the girl away from the village and towards the sea shore. The sun was beginning to set, and a cold wind swirled her cloak around her. As the girl hurried along, her twin braids danced in the wind. Sha soon realized that the girl was heading toward an ivy-covered cluster of rocks, which rested at the foot of a mountain ridge.
Sha hung back, taking care to stay out of sight. The girl had stopped by the cluster of rocks. Sha watched as she lifted a hand toward the climbing ivy, stepped forward… and somehow into the rocks themselves.
Sha blinked in confusion and rubbed at his eyes. She had disappeared!
Sha gurgled the rest of his wine and hurried closer to where the girl had vanished. He ran his hands across the ivy strewn rock surface, when – suddenly – he stopped.
What was this?
Instead of more rock, Sha felt emptiness behind the thick ivy. He brushed the foliage aside and saw... an entrance. Narrow, hidden, and just large enough for a person to squeeze through. Through the entrance, Sha could just make out a faint glimmer of light.
Sha squeezed his way into the opening. His belly, bloated by spirits, chafed uncomfortably against the rocks... but, finally, he was through. Sha crept along the semi-darkness of the cave, sweating profusely. When he reached another cluster of rocks, he half-crouched behind them, peering over his makeshift wall to see – without being seen.
Sha stared at the scene before him.
It looked as if the girl was sitting – somehow – at the center of a large, crystalline pool. Her hair had been loosened from her braids, and they streamed down her shoulders in ebony sheets, fanning out into the water. Though Sha could only see her back, he knew this to be the same wench he’d followed from the village. He would have recognized her glittering bracelets anywhere…
Mei sat lotus like, upon a large, flat stone at the center of the pool. With eyes closed, she raised both arms – which were bare but for the sea-hearts that adorned one wrist. Her skin glowed, pearl like, in the cave’s light. Slowly, she lowered her extended arms towards the water’s surface.
Gently, Mei tapped the water with her fingertips. Spots of light appeared where her fingers met water. They shone, brighter and brighter, before spreading out to form a glowing ring around her.
Slowly, Mei opened her eyes.
The glowing lights had faded. In their place were Mei’s seven sisters – the seven elder daughters of the dragon king. They swam towards Mei, movements graceful and sure. One by one, they embraced their youngest sister.
"Many moons has it been, sister of ours, since we’ve seen you last," spoke Mei’s eldest sister, her blue-eyed gaze steady and impenetrable.
"Must be something special – or perhaps someone special – who has kept our little Mei away!” quipped sister three, her amber eyes flecked with golden merriment.
Mei colored rosily. She thought of Hai. She gazed upon her sisters and began to speak.
Chapter 21 – The Choice
第二十一章 – 抉择
CHAPTER 21 生词 | Vocabulary (210 - 221)
211. 局促不安 (Júcù bù'ān) IDIOM ill at ease
212. 面面相觑 (miànmiànxiāngqù) IDIOM look at each other in blank dismay
213. 雀跃 (quèyuè) v. literary jump for joy
214. 话锋 (huàfēng) n. thread of discourse; topic of conversation
215. 僵住 (jiāng zhù) adj. motionless; unable to move
216. 渴望(kěwàng) v. aspire (or thirst, long, yearn) for
217. 孕育(yùnyù) v. give birth to; pregnant with (figu)
218. 蕴含(yùnhán) v. to contain
219. 不约而同 (bùyuē'értóng) IDIOM do or think the same thing without prior consultation
220. 隐隐(yǐnyǐn) adv. Hidden; only a hint of (compare with 稳稳; wěn wěn ; steadily)
“Sisters,” said Mei. “I would like to stay.”
“You may stay,” replied Elder sister, steady blue gaze resting on Mei. “Our magic will last for four moons more. For four more moons you, may stay.”
Mei swallowed. This, she already knew. What she wanted to know was…
“But… what if I want to stay for more than four moons?” Mei looked shyly around at her seven sisters. “What if… I wanted to stay?”
Several of Mei’s sisters looked at each other in surprise. Sister three looked at Mei with a knowing smile, but gave a slight shake of her head. Eldest sister showed no sign of surprise. She only sighed.
“It is possible,” she began,
Mei’s heart leapt for joy –
“but it is a path of tears and heartbreak,” Elder sister finished.
.– Mei’s smile faded slightly. Here, Mei’s third sister continued on:
“As daughters of the sea, our sea-hearts beat in tune with the ocean tides.. as long as they continue to rise, to fall, we daughters of the sea exist. And like the ocean tides, we may visit land – see its wonders and marvel at its beauty.” Mei’s other sisters nodded in agreement, several pairs of eyes misting over in memory of their own past visits to land… many, many years ago.
“However,” sister three added, “like the tides from whence we came, we all must return to sea. Immortals like us cannot remain on land… only humans may.”
“And that,” said Eldest sister, “is the terrible possibility you seek.” She looked again at Mei. “The only way for you to remain, past your twelve moons, is to become truly human.”
Mei’s mind whirled. She thought about the beauty held in a single seed. The sunshine contained in a piece of fruit. She thought of the tales the villagers told, recreated, and told anew… and she thought of Hai’s quiet smile and steady hands. Her decision was made – had already been made, perhaps – the very first night she’d decided to leave.
“I choose this,” Mei told her sisters, sea-storm eyes as steady as they had been on that very first night. “I choose humanity. Please, tell me how.”
Mei’s sisters looked at each other. Sister three whispered to sister two, and they both turned their eyes toward Mei, one smiling in approval – the other in sadness. Mei’s fourth sister said nothing, her green eyes unreadable. Sisters five, six, and seven were quiet too, their hands clasped in each others as they gazed at little Mei.
Eldest sister fixed a piercing blue gaze on Mei, and finally replied: “To become human, you must love, and be loved in return. To become fully mortal – both you, and the one who loves you, must choose to surrender your immortality.”
“But,” Mei began, confused, “Hai thinks me a village girl – he knows nothing of my past.”
Mei’s second sister shook her head and took Mei’s hands in her own. Her eyes, the same ruby red as her sea-heart, were sad as she spoke, “Ah dear Mei… your Hai must accept you fully as you are, as the eighth daughter of the southern seas. But rare is a mortal who has such welcoming heart – ”
“You must remember,” Elder Sister cut in, “that you may not reveal your magic before him. For, should you try to make him believe, your young man will perish, and his heart will cease to beat.”
Mei gazed at her Eldest sister, face glazed in shock.
"Belief cannot be forced, little one," Elder sister whispered, lifting a hand to stroke Mei’s cheek.
A hint of sadness tinged her voice.
Story Video (with bonus drawing process! )