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Richard felt a bit of regret for taking over this task impulsively, for now Richard had found this mission was a little more difficult than it had thought. Chinese was too complicated and too difficult. It was way more difficult than learning the Indo-European Family Languages. Even if they p.r.o.nounced the words in Chinese correctly, others were still unable to understand what they meant if the tone was wrong.
Segments were composed of phonemes and suprasegmental phonemes – Phonemes were made up of vowels and consonants, which determined the basic p.r.o.nunciation of a word, and could be applied to most languages in this world. When it came to suprasegmental phonemes, there were voice accent, nasal, intonation, phonetic change and rhythm, and many other aspects involved, and Chinese included indefinite changes of suprasegmental phonemes, making it a language hard to comprehend thoroughly.
Little Purple and Yellow Pea Cake lowered their heads in front of Richard and stood timidly, like pupils that had made mistakes.
Seeing them like that, Richard couldn’t bear to reprimand them anymore. After all, objectively speaking, their learning speed was very fast, much faster than Richard was back in the old days.
Richard’s memory was somewhat vague when recalling the old days, which were really long ago. At that time, it had not yet become an Elf because of the Strength of Faith. It was just an ordinary African grey parrot to be sold as a pet. It was no different from any other grey parrots. If it was because of anything, it was that Richard met her.
She bought Richard from a pet shop.
Yes, a pet shop. Its destiny was always somewhat related to pet shops, thought Richard. It met her in a pet shop, and appeared in another pet shop after becoming an Elf. Although the two pet shops were half a world away, it seemed like there was some sort of magic linking them.
Richard didn’t know how she chose it among all those parrots in the pet shop—because of its breed? Size? Feather color? Or its eyes that Zhang Zian mentioned oftentimes? Unfortunately, it never got the chance to ask her, for it hadn’t learnt how to ask.
Richard had heard the word "chemistry" for the first time from Zhang Zian. There were no exact corresponding words in English for what "chemistry" meant in Chinese. At best, only phrases like "the encounter of fate", "love at first sight, and "fall into love" could deliver a similar meaning, yet these combinations were too superficial, and could not be as exquisite and long-lasting as the word "chemistry" in Chinese.
Richard knew that it should not scare Little Purple and Yellow Pea Cake, but if it did not do so, birds' instinct of activeness would make them unable to concentrate—and concentration was the key to efficient learning.
Richard still remembered its tension and fear when it left the pet shop and was brought into the lab. Facing the strange woman in a white coat, Richard nervously speculated, what she was going to do? To kill it? Or to eat it? It wanted to tell her that it was not tasty, its meat was hard to chew, its feathers were hard to pull, and it had too many bones...
Although she tried hard to express her friendliness, Richard’s brain was so chaotic that it could not understand her good will. Richard just felt more afraid and did not even dare to leave the cage. Although the cage imprisoned its freedom, it was also a shelter for Richard.
What made Richard even more tense was that, there were not only it and her in the lab, but also there was another parrot—a parakeet named "Merlin". Though Merlin was smaller in size, it was rather hostile, staring at Richard as if it was an intruder and s.n.a.t.c.her in its territory.
Richard couldn’t help but compare the parakeet Merlin with the cats in the pet shop now. In its opinion, the scariest cat in the shop was Fina, who would lose its temper easily. However, the way Fina looked at Richard was different than that of Merlin—Fina never regarded Richard as a threatening opponent.
To calm Richard down, she brought water and food. But Richard was so overly nervous and scared that it didn’t drink a drop of water or consume a single grain of rice…hunger, thirst, fear of a new environment and the strangers took turns in tormenting it.
Fortunately, the very next day she had detected the reason—parrots were also territorial creatures that needed their own s.p.a.ce, especially when they arrived at a new environment. So, she brought Merlin the parakeet to another room, so that Richard could stay alone in a room, and she comforted Richard more gently.
Richard, who gradually calmed down, had really felt her good will, within which her compa.s.sion and caring for it was absolutely true. She kept wiping the edges of its eyes, and repeatedly saying "poor little thing". She blamed herself—because of her inexperience and improper handling, Richard was suffering from unexpected fears and anxieties.
Seeing her like that, Richard gathered its courage, trying to tell her that, it was not her fault, and everything would get better. Richard didn’t know where this sentence was heard from, perhaps was in the pet shop, or maybe somewhere else. Richard wanted to say this sentence to her, but it couldn’t, because it didn’t know how to speak back then. It could only muster its courage and go out of the cage, jumping onto her arm and bowing its head to touch her white coat, hoping to convey to her the message.
She smiled with surprise, and her face became softened, as if she had seen a very precious gift. She held out her other hand, trying to comb its disheveled feathers, but then she stopped, fearful of scaring it again.
Richard wanted to prove it was not a coward, so it fluttered its wings, trying to fly. However, it forgot that the birdcage was right next to it, and one of its wings accidentally got stuck amongst the iron fence of the cage. In an instant, it had felt it was bleeding painfully. Richard was screaming, she was also screaming, and the other people who heard the screams rushed forward and hurriedly treated its injury and wrapped it up.
That hurt, that really hurt. Even today, Richard still remembered that intense pain.
Richard’s first formal contact with her had a nice start, and had an extremely awful ending...
The noise from downstairs woke Richard up from its memories. It shook its head, trying to get rid of these memories temporarily—ever since it became an Elf, forgetting the past seemed increasingly difficult. Every minute, every second when it was with her recurred to Richard so vividly, just like yesterday once more.
Richard cheered up, raising a wing to point to the kitchen utensils, and said to Little Purple and Yellow Pea Cake, "Pot! Pot! Pot, bowl, basin!"
Richard knew it was not smart, what it was doing right now, and that it was just a poor imitation of what she did in the past.
The kitchen door was pushed open, and Richard thought it was Zhang Zian, so it immediately changed its serious expression to cheeky grinning and looked at the door. It would no longer be sad and weak anymore, for no one would look at it with gentle and caring eyes like she did.
It was not Zhang Zian who’s standing at the door, but was Sun Xiaomeng, holding the American Shorthair in her arms.
Just like her, Sun Xiaomeng was also dressed in a white coat, with a pair of rational and intelligent eyes.
Just like yesterday once more.