The Boy and the Sea Dragon
Chapter Thirty One
A New Home
When the interview was over, Shulngeniu said in Jalapean, “Shequyle, for his accommodations . This is no place for a child his age to be!”
Shequyle said, “We can’t let him go free. We have to have a place to keep him. This is the only place I know.”
Shulngeniu offered, “Let him stay with me!”
Shequyle said, “Very well. Just make sure he is available any time I need him.”
Shulngeniu assured him, “Don’t worry, he is going nowhere! Does he have any property other than the clothes he is wearing?”
Shequyle said, “He has some cash and a necklace. Come with me, I’ll sign for them.”
“In a minute,” Shulngeniu told him.
She switched to Cingalia. She said, “Zuangeng, you will be staying with me instead of going back to that cell. So, come with us.”
All three got up. They exited the room. They walked to the evidence room. Shequyle signed for Zuangeng’s property. He gave the envelope to Zuangeng. Zuangeng tore the envelope open. He dumped the contents into his left hand. He pocketed the change. He put the necklace around his neck. Shequyle walked back to his office.
Shulngeniu exited the station with Zuangeng. The sun was bright. Their eyes adjusted to the light. They stopped just outside the doors. she looked Zuangeng over. His clothes were filthy and tattered. They were discolored with dirt and grime. He, himself, looked like he hadn’t bathed for some time. His hair was dusty and unkempt. He had dirt over his face and hands. He had a bad odor about himself. She said, “This will not do! You need better clothing than that! You need a bath, yourself! We’ll shop for some new clothes for you. I’ll buy them. When we get to my place, you are to take a bath before you put anything on.”
They walked to a clothing store. She bought him some new outfits. The new clothes and shoes were put in a bag. Shulngeniu carried the bag. They walked to her house.
It was late afternoon when they arrived. The house was big. It was one story. The outside was light grey stone.
She opened the wide front oak door. They entered the house. They were greeted by he butler. He was Cingala himself. He wore black pants, leather shoes and jacket. His shirt was white with a black bow tie around his neck. He stately spoke Cingalia, “Evening, ma’am. I see we have a guest, tonight. Who is this young gentleman?”
He saw a dirty, young Cingala boy in filthy rags. Zuangeng was taken aback by what the butler called him. He did not know how to take it. Nobody had ever called him a gentleman before.
Shulngeniu noticed the startled Zuangeng. She said, “That was a compliment.”
She turned to the butler. She said, “This is Zuangeng. He is staying with us. Show him to the spare bedroom. Then, show him to the bathroom. Prepare his bath. He needs one. Here are the new clothes for him.”
She handed the bag of new clothes to the butler. He took the bag. He said, “Very well, madam.”
He turned to Zuangeng. He said, “Zuangeng, follow me, young sir.”
Zuangeng followed the butler. They walked to the back of the house. They walked to the aforementioned room. They entered it. The floor was plush sea blue carpet. The bed was on the right wall. It was king sized. It was made up in case of guests. Above the headboard was a large window. It was covered with lush curtains to complement the décor. On the far wall was another window. It was wide and went to the floor. It was similarly draped. On the left wall, was a dresser and a walk-in closet. Zuangeng only saw such extravagance once before. The butler placed the bag on the dresser. He said, “This is where you will be sleeping. Please, follow me.”
They walked out. The butler led Zuangeng to the bathroom.
The walls were white. A window was in the far wall above a cast iron tub. The floor was marble tile. On the left wall was a marble topped cabinet. The sink was in the middle. Right of the sink was a gold hand pump. The tub was similarly equipped. Left of the sink was a gas burner. Obviously to heat water. On the right wall was a closet and towel racks.
The butler prepared Zuangeng’s bath. He got a towel and washcloth out of the cabinet. He hung the towel on the rack. He hung the washcloth on the tub’s side. Zuangeng stripped. He climbed into the tub. Even his skin under the clothes was filthy. He went to bathing.
The butler picked up the old clothes and shoes. He exited the bathroom with them. He found Shulngeniu in her home office. He said, “Ma’am, what do you want me to do with these?”
“Burn them! When Zuangeng is done and dressed, bring him here,” she said.
The butler disposed of the old clothes and shoes. He washed his own hands. The dirt and grime had rubbed off onto his hands. He went to Zuangeng’s bedroom. He pulled the tags off the new clothes. He picked out an outfit. He neatly laid out the outfit on the bed. He put the shoes on the floor beside the clothes. He put the rest away.
After his bath, Zuangeng got out of the tub. He looked at the water. It had gone from clear to almost black. He dried off with the towel. He put it back on the rack. He exited the bathroom naked. He walked to his new room. He found the clothes on the bed. He put them on. He exited the room.
He searched for Shulngeniu. He found the butler, instead. The butler saw a clean Zuangeng in new clothes and even shoes. He said, “That’s much better. You look like a man, not a ragamuffin. Madam wants to see you. Follow me.”
The butler led him to the office. Zuangeng entered the room. The butler closed the door behind him. The butler went to prepare the evening meal.
Shulngeniu sat behind her mahogany desk. The back wall was lined with shelves filled with books and notebooks. An oil lamp was lit on her desk. There were a few papers on the desk. The floor was varnished pine. She leaned back in her chair. She held her hands with the fingertips touching under her chin. She inspected Zuangeng from head to toe. She pursed her lips. After awhile, she said, “Ah, that is much better! Now, you look like a human, not a street rat!”
“I feel like one,” Zuangeng admitted.
“Tomorrow, we will buy you some more clothes,” she said.
She continued, “We will, also, teach you Jalapean. You need more than you have learned on your own. Especially, if you plan on living here.”
Zuangeng said, “I’d rather go back home.”