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It was not the first time he had received the sad news of the deaths of his relatives and friends, but he still could not accept the news calmly.
In just a few days in the United States, Zhang Zian performed martial arts, went camping in the wilderness, visited Hollywood, and captured an elfin. His life there was colorful. But the person who had left the deepest impression on him was an American lady. She called him Jeff, and told him to call her Cathy.
Cathy was an ordinary old lady, but what she did was extraordinary. For decades, she had been partic.i.p.ating with her cats in the CFA game for house cats, just hoping that the CFA would admit chocolate-colored Abyssinian cats one day.
Zhang Zian clearly remembered that she had said that was probably the last time she could partic.i.p.ate in the compet.i.tion because she would not be able to walk soon.
After leaving the venue, he still remembered her. He had inquired about who had won the compet.i.tion for house cats, but unfortunately, he did not find any information. He also asked Tim to inquire about relevant news for him. The good news was that the CFA might soon recognize chocolate-colored Abyssinian cats.
He was sincerely happy for Cathy. Not only had her persistence finally moved the CFA, but it had also touched him.
At the compet.i.tion, he had told her that if she ever came to China in the future, be sure to visit Binhai City, and that he would be a good host.
However, it was the sad news of her death that had arrived instead...
He still remembered their encounter, but she was in heaven now.
"Mr. Store Manager?"
Zhang Zian's shoulder felt a sharp pain — it was Richard's claws pinching his skin.
He suddenly came back to himself. The lights in the shop had lit up again. Lu Yiyun and Adams were not far away, but were looking at him worriedly.
"I'm fine." He shook his head and glanced over at Richard on his shoulder.
Adams said in a very professional tone, "Mr. Zhang, if you are not feeling well, I can come and visit another time." As a solicitor specializing in probate, he was familiar with similar situations and knew that in the event of unexpected news, people were more fragile than he could imagine.
"No," Zhang Zian waved his hands. "I suddenly remembered something... I'm fine. Please continue."
Adams lifted the briefcase from the ground, and made his way to the cashier's desk. "May I?"
"Please," Zhang Zian nodded.
Lu Yiyun quickly put her digitizer tablet on her knees, making room on the desk.
Adams put the briefcase on the desk, entered the pa.s.sword, and removed several doc.u.ments from the now-open briefcase.
"Actually, Ms. Ryan suddenly contacted me a few days ago and asked for a change in her will..." He was about to continue, but was interrupted by Zhang Zian.
"Wait a minute, she..." Zhang Zian's lips were wriggling, but he could not find the right words to express his thoughts.
The experienced Adams knew what he meant, and answered before Zhang Zian could finish his sentence. "Ms. Ryan died of natural causes in her sleep, serenely and painlessly. She was living alone, and the next day when her neighbors did not see her go out with her cats, they were very worried about her, and called the police."
Adams was speaking Chinese, and although the p.r.o.nunciations were a little strange, Lu Yiyun could understand him. Hearing the description about Ms. Ryan, who pa.s.sed away with no one, Lu Yiyun gripped her drawing pen tightly.
"Well, I'm sorry to interrupt you. Please continue." Zhang Zian felt slightly better.
"I went to Ms. Ryan's house and notarized her will." Adams handed several doc.u.ments to Zhang Zian. "Here's a copy of her will and the Power of Attorney."
Zhang Zian shook his head, "I don’t understand them, and I can’t process them right now. Please just tell me what they are about."
"Well," Adams didn’t insist. He said, "In Ms. Ryan’s most recently revised will, she donated all her possessions to the Matthew Davis Cancer Research Foundation for research on lung cancer, and she left her cats to you."
Zhang Zian was surprised again. He repeated, "Her cats?"
"Yes. As of now, Ms. Ryan had a total of eight cats and she designated you to take care of them." Adams took a few photos out of the briefcase, "Please take a look at them."
Zhang Zian took over the photos, and was shocked to recognize the first one as Wendy, Cathy's favorite, the one he saw in the arena of the CFA compet.i.tion. The second cat, the third cat… all the way until the eighth cat were all chocolate-colored Abyssinian cats of different sizes and diverse postures.
He shuffled through the pictures repeatedly, his hands shaking gently. He understood that Cathy's most cherished legacy was not money, but the Abyssinian cats she had carefully nurtured.
At some point, Fina jumped off the cat tree and came up beside him, staring at the pictures of these Abyssinian cats.
Adams observed Zhang Zian’s expression and whispered, "I'm sorry, I should have sent you a lawyer's letter in advance to inform you so that you could prepare for this news. However... Ms. Ryan only knew the p.r.o.nunciation of your Chinese name, and that you had a pet shop in Binhai City, China. She didn’t know your phone number or exact address, so I spent a lot of time trying to find you."
In the United States, it was not uncommon to specify who would inherit one’s pets in his/her will, and Adams had handled dozens of similar wills. It was the first time Adams had met a testator who gave her pets to a stranger half a world away.
Fortunately, Adams was very optimistic about China's prospects in the 21st century, and had learned some Chinese years ago.
He flew from the warm and bright Los Angeles to the cold and damp Binhai City. When he arrived, he first went to the Trade and Industry Bureau, checked all the local pet shops registered under it, and then compared the p.r.o.nunciations of the owners' names to the name of Zhang Zian, and finally determined the location of Amazing Fate Pet Shop. He arrived today early in the morning but suffered from the rainy and snowy weather... Despite these hardships, he uttered no complaints. Instead, because of the professionalism he had displayed, he was considerate about Zhang Zian’s mood and feelings, and was willing to visit another day.
Zhang Zian thanked him sincerely, "Thank you. You must be exhausted."
"This is my job," Adams smiled. "Well, Mr. Zhang, do you have any questions?"
"Why me?" Zhang Zian could not figure out why Cathy left such a precious legacy to him.
Adams slightly nodded. "I also asked Ms. Ryan this question, and her answer was because you said she was very beautiful."
"That's it?" Zhang Zian was stunned.
"That's it," Adams replied affirmatively, his gaze landing on the unheated skewers and steak in the foam insulated box. "Ms. Ryan had no other relatives, and I guess she probably thought you would take good care of her cats—after coming to your shop, I can understand why she thought that way."
Zhang Zian went silent.
"Any other questions?" Adams asked again.
Zhang Zian shook his head, "No."
"Well, Mr. Zhang Zian, are you willing to accept the will of Ms. Catherine Donna Ryan?" asked Adams.
Zhang Zian was choked with sobs.
Only he could truly understand Cathy. She gave him the cats, not because he praised her as beautiful, not because she felt he could take care of them, but because she hoped he could follow her path, and lead the Abyssinian cats towards rejuvenation and glory.
It was an extremely heavy but utmost glorious hope, one that was full of Cathy’s trust.
"Why are you still hesitating?" cried Fina sharply.
Old Time Tea said in a deep voice, "Zian, you are called upon to uphold righteousness!"
Zhang Zian bit his lips, nodded, and said to Adams, "I accept it!"