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Chapter 26 No One Repents

Novel:The Three-Bodyauthor:Cinxin Liu pubdate:2019-02-14 15:03

Chapter 26 No One Repents
The deaths of Lei and Yang were treated as accidents. Everybody at the base knew that Ye and Yang were a happy couple, and no one suspected her.
A new commissar came to the base, and life returned to its habitual peace. The tiny life inside Ye grew bigger every day, and she also felt the world outside change.
One day, the security platoon commander asked Ye to come to the gatehouse at the entrance to the base. When she entered the gatehouse, she was surprised to see three children: two boys and a girl, about fifteen or sixteen. They all wore old coats and dog fur hats, obviously locals. The guard on duty told her that they came from the village of Qijiatun. They had heard that the people on Radar Peak were learned and had come to ask some questions related to their studies.
Ye wondered how they dared to come onto Radar Peak. This was a restricted military zone, and the guards were authorized to warn intruders only once before shooting. The guard saw that Ye was puzzled and explained that they had just received orders that Red Coast Base's security rating had been reduced. The locals were allowed onto Radar Peak as long as they stayed outside the base. Several local peasants had already come yesterday to bring vegetables.
One of the children took out a worn-out middle school physics textbook. His hands were dirty and cracked like tree bark. In a thick Northeastern accent, he asked a simple physics question: The textbook said that a body in free fall is under constant acceleration but will always reach a terminal velocity. They had been thinking about this for several nights and could not understand why.
"You walked all this way just to ask this?" Ye asked.
"Teacher Ye, don t you know that they've restarted the exam?" the girl said excitedly.
"The exam?"
"The National College Entrance Exam! Whoever studies hard and gets the best score gets to go to college! It began two years ago. Didn't you know?"
"There's no need for recommendations anymore?"
"No. Anyone can take the exam. Even the children of the Five Black Categories(*35) in the village can take it."
[Translator's Note(*35): The Five Black Categories, the targets of the Cultural Revolution, were five political identities used during the revolution: landlords, rich farmers, counter-revolutionaries, 'bad elements', and right-wingers.]
Ye was stunned. This change left her with mixed feelings. Only after a while did she realize that the children were still waiting with their books held up. She hurriedly answered their question, explaining that it was due to air resistance reaching equilibrium against the force of gravity. Then she promised that if they encountered any difficulties in their studies in the future, they could always come to her for help.
Three days later, seven children came to seek Ye. In addition to the three who had come last time, there were four more from villages located even farther away. The third time, fifteen children came to find her, and even a teacher at a small-town high school came along.
Because there was a shortage of teachers, he had to teach physics, math, and chemistry, and he came to ask Ye for some help on teaching. The man was over fifty years old, and his face was already full of wrinkles. He was very nervous in front of Ye, and spilled books everywhere. After they left the gatehouse, Ye heard him say to the students: "Children, that was a scientist. A real, bona fide scientist!"
After that, children would come to her for tutoring every few days. Sometimes there were so many of them that the gatehouse couldn't accommodate them all. With the permission of the officers in charge of base security, the guards would escort them to the cafeteria. There, Ye put up a small blackboard and taught the children.
It was dark by the time Ye got off work on the eve of Chinese New Year, 1980. Most people at the base had already left Radar Peak for the three-day holiday, and it was quiet everywhere. Ye returned to her room. This was once the home of her and Yang Weining, but now it was empty, her only companion the unborn child within her. In the night outside, the cold wind of the Greater Khingan Mountains screamed, carrying with it the faint sound of firecrackers going off in the village of Qijiatun. Loneliness pressed down on Ye like a giant hand, and she felt herself being crushed; compressed until she was so small that she disappeared into an invisible corner of the universe....
Just then, someone knocked on her door. When she opened it, Ye first saw the guard, and then, behind him, the fire of several pine branch torches flickering in the cold wind. The torches were held aloft by a crowd of children, their faces bright red from the cold, and icicles hung from their hats. When they came into her room, they seemed to bring the cold air in with them. Two of the boys, thinly dressed, had suffered the most. They had taken off their thick coats and wrapped them around something that they carried in their arms. Unwrapping the coats revealed a large pot, the fermented cabbage and pork dumplings inside still steaming hot.
That year, eight months after she sent her signal toward the sun, Ye went into labor. Because the baby was malpositioned and her body was weak, the base clinic couldn't handle her case and had to send her to the nearest town hospital.
This became one of the hardest times in Ye's life. After enduring a great deal of pain and losing a large amount of blood, she sank into a coma. Through a blur she could only see three hot, blinding suns slowly orbiting around her, cruelly roasting her body. This state lasted for some time, and she hazily thought it was probably the end for her. It was her hell. The fire of the three suns would torment her and burn her forever. This was punishment for her betrayal, the betrayal that exceeded all others. She sank into terror: not for her, but for her unborn child--was the child still in her? Or had she already been born into this hell to suffer eternally with her?
She didn't know how much time had passed. Gradually the three suns moved farther away. After a certain distance, they suddenly shrank and turned into crystalline flying stars. The air around her cooled, and her pain lessened. She finally awoke.
Ye heard a cry next to her. Turning her head with great effort, she saw the baby's pink, wet, little face.
The doctor told Ye that she had lost more than 2,000 ml of blood. Dozens of peasants from Qijiatun had come to donate blood to her. Many of the peasants had children who Ye had tutored, but most had no connection to her at all, having only heard her name from the children and their parents. Without them, she would certainly have died.
Ye's living situation became a problem after the birth of her child. The difficult birth had damaged her health. It was impossible for her to stay at the base with the baby all by herself, and she had no relatives who could help. Just then, an old couple living in Qijiatun came to talk to the base leaders and explained that they could take Ye and her baby home with them and take care of them. The old man used to be a hunter and also gathered some herbs for traditional medicine. Later, after the forest around the area was lost to logging, the couple had turned to farming, but people still called him Hunter Qi out of habit. They had two sons and two daughters. The daughters were married and had moved out. One of the sons was a soldier away from home, and the other was married and lived with them. The daughter-in-law had also just given birth.
Ye still hadn't been rehabilitated politically, and the base leadership was unsure about this suggested solution. But in the end, there was no other way, and so they allowed the couple to take Ye and the baby home from the hospital on a sled.
Ye lived for more than half a year with this peasant family in the Greater Khingan Mountains. She was so weak after giving birth that her milk did not come in. During this time, the baby girl, Yang Dong, was breastfed by all the women of the village. The one who nursed her the most was Hunter Qi's daughter-in-law, called Feng. Feng had the strong, solid frame of the women of the Northeast. She ate sorghum every day, and her large breasts were full of milk even though she was feeding two babies at the same time. Other nursing women in Qijiatun also came to feed Yang Dong. They liked her, saying that the baby had the same clever air as her mother.
Gradually, Hunter Qi's home became the gathering place for all the women of the village. Old and young, matrons and maidens, they all liked to stop by when they had nothing else going on. They admired Ye and were curious about her, and she found that she had many women's topics to discuss with them.
On countless days, Ye held Yang Dong and sat with the other women of the village in the yard, surrounded by birch posts. Next to her was a lazy black dog and the playing children, bathing in the warm sunlight. She paid attention especially to the women with the copper tobacco pipes. Leisurely, they blew smoke out of their mouths, and the smoke, filled with sunlight, gave off a silvery glow much like the fine hairs on their plump limbs. One time, one of them handed her the long-stemmed cupronickel pipe and told her it would make her feel better. She took only two hits before she became dizzy, and they laughed about it for several days.
As for the men, Ye had little to say to them. The matters that occupied them all day also seemed outside her understanding. She gathered that they were interested in planting some ginseng for cash while the government seemed to be relaxing policies a little, but they didn't quite have the courage to try. They all treated Ye with great respect and were very polite toward her. She didn't pay much attention to this first. But after a while, after observing how those men roughly beat their wives and flirted outrageously with the widows in the village, saying things that made her blush, she finally realized how precious their respect was. Every few days, one of them would bring a hare or pheasant he had caught to Hunter Qi's home. They also gave Yang Dong strange and quaint toys that they'd made with their own hands.
In Ye's memory, these months seemed to belong to someone else, like a segment of another life that had drifted into hers like a feather. This period condensed in her memory into a series of classical paintings—not Chinese brush paintings but European oil paintings. Chinese brush paintings are full of blank spaces, but life in Qijiatun had no blank spaces. Like classical oil paintings, it was filled with thick, rich, solid colors. Everything was warm and intense: the heated kang stove-beds lined with thick layers of ura sedge, the Guandong and Mohe tobacco stuffed in copper pipes, the thick and heavy sorghum meal, the sixty-five-proof baijiu distilled from sorghum—all of these blended into a quiet and peaceful life, like the creek at the edge of the village.
Most memorable to Ye were the evenings. Hunter Qi's son was away in the city selling mushrooms—the first to leave the village to earn money elsewhere, so she shared a room in his house with Feng. Back then, there was no electricity in the village, and every evening, the two huddled around a kerosene lamp. Ye would read while Feng did her needlework. Ye would lean closer and closer to the lamp without noticing, and her bangs would often get singed, at which point the two of them would glance up and smile at each other. Feng, of course, never had this happen to her. She had very sharp eyes, and could do detailed work even in the dim light from heating charcoal. The two babies, not even half a year old, would be sleeping together on the kang next to them. Ye loved to watch them sleep, their even breathing the only sound in the room.
At first, Ye did not like sleeping on the heated kang, and often got sick, but she gradually got used to it. As she slept, she would imagine herself becoming a baby sleeping in someone's warm lap. The person who held her wasn't her father or mother, or her dead husband. She didn't know who it was. The feeling was so real that she would wake up with tears on her face.
One time, she put down her book and saw that Feng was holding the cloth shoe she was stitching over her knee and staring into the kerosene lamp without moving. When she realized that Ye was looking at her, Feng asked, "Sister, why do you think the stars in the sky don't fall down?"
Ye examined Feng. The kerosene lamp was a wonderful artist and created a classical painting with dignified colors and bright strokes: Feng had her coat draped over her shoulders, exposing her red belly-band, and a strong, graceful arm. The glow from the kerosene lamp painted her figure with vivid, warm colors, while the rest of the room dissolved into a gentle darkness. Close attention revealed a dim red glow, which didn't come from the kerosene lamp, but the heating charcoal on the ground. The cold air outside sculpted beautiful ice patterns on the windowpanes with the room's warm, humid air.
"You're afraid of the stars falling down?" Ye asked softly.
Feng laughed and shook her head. "What's there to be afraid of? They're so tiny."
Ye did not give her the answer of an astrophysicist. She only said, "They're very, very far away. They can't fall."
Feng was satisfied with this answer, and went back to her needlework. But Ye could no longer be at peace. She put down her book and lay down on the warm surface of the kang, closing her eyes. In her imagination, the rest of the universe around their tiny cottage disappeared, just the way the kerosene lamp hid most of the room in darkness. Then she substituted the universe in Feng's heart for the real one. The night sky was a black dome that was just large enough to cover the entirety of the world. The surface of the dome was inlaid with countless stars shining with a crystalline silver light, none of which was bigger than the mirror on the old wooden table next to the bed. The world was flat and extended very far in each direction, but ultimately there was an edge where it met the sky. The flat surface was covered with mountain ranges like the Greater Khingan Mountains, and with forests dotted with tiny villages, just like Qijiatun... This toy-box-like universe comforted Ye, and gradually it shifted from her imagination into her dreams.
In this tiny mountain hamlet deep in the Greater Khingan Mountains, something finally thawed in Ye Wenjie's heart. In the frozen tundra of her soul, a tiny, clear lake of meltwater appeared.
Ye eventually returned to Red Coast Base with Yang Dong. Another two years passed, divided between anxiety and peace. Ye then received a notice: Both she and her father had been politically rehabilitated. Soon after, a letter arrived for her from Tsinghua, stating that she could return to teach right away. Accompanying the letter was a sum of money: the back pay owed to her father after his rehabilitation. Finally, at base meetings, her supervisors could call her comrade.
Ye faced all these changes with equanimity, showing no sign of excitement or elation. She had no interest in the outside world, only wanting to stay at the quiet, out-of-the-way Red Coast Base. But for the sake of Yang Dong's education, she finally left the base that she had once thought would be her home for the rest of her life, and returned to her alma mater.
Leaving the mountains, Ye felt spring was everywhere. The cold winter of the Cultural Revolution really was over, and everything was springing back to life. Even though the calamity had just ended, everything was in ruins, and countless men and women were licking their wounds. The dawn of a new life was already evident. Students with children of their own appeared on college campuses; bookstores sold out of famous literary works; technological innovation became the focus in factories; and scientific research now enjoyed a sacred halo. Science and technology were the only keys to opening the door to the future, and people approached science with the faith and sincerity of elementary school students. Though their efforts were naive, they were also down-to-earth. At the first National Conference on Science, Guo Moruo, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, declared that it was the season of rebirth and renewal for China's battered science establishment.
Was this the end of the madness? Were science and rationality really coming back? Ye asked herself these questions repeatedly.
Ye never again received any communication from Trisolaris. She knew that she would have to wait at least eight years to hear that worlds response to her message, and after leaving the base, she no longer had any way of receiving extraterrestrial replies.
It was such an important thing, and yet she had done it all by herself. This gave her a sense of unreality. As time passed, that sense grew ever stronger. What had happened resembled an illusion, a dream. Could the sun really amplify radio signals? Did she really use it as an antenna to send a message about human civilization into the universe? Did she really receive a message from the stars? Did that blood-hued morning, when she had betrayed the entire human race, really happen? And those murders . . .
Ye tried to numb herself with work so as to forget the past—and almost succeeded. A strange kind of self-protective instinct caused her to stop recalling the past, to stop thinking about the communication she had once had with another civilization. Her life passed this way, day after day, in tranquility.
After she had been back at Tsinghua for a while, Ye took Dong Dong to see her grandmother, Shao Lin. After her husband's death, Shao had soon recovered from her mental breakdown and found ways to survive in the tiny cracks of politics. Her attempts to chase the political winds and shout the right slogans finally paid off, and later, during the "Return to Class, Continue the Revolution" phase(*36), she went back to teaching.
[Translator's Note(*36): During the initial phase of the Cultural Revolution, all classes ceased at colleges and elementary, junior high, and high schools as older students became Red Guards. The resulting Chaos finally caused the leadership in Beijing to ask students to return to class in late 1967 and continue the revolution in a more controlled manner.]
But then Shao did something that no one expected. She married a persecuted high-level cadre from the Education Ministry. At that time, the cadre still lived in a "cowshed" for reform through labor(*37). This was part of Shao's long-term plan. She knew that the chaos in society could not last long. The young rebels who were attacking everything in sight had no experience in managing a country. Sooner or later, the persecuted and sidelined old cadres would be back in power.
[Translator's Note(*37): "Cowsheds" were locations set up by work units (factories, schools, towns, etc.) during the early phases of the Cultural Revolution to detain the counter-revolutionary "Monsters and Demons" (reactionary academic authorities, rightists, the Five Black Categories, etc.) at the work unit.]
Her gamble paid off. Even before the end of the Cultural Revolution, her husband was partially restored to his old position. After the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh CPC Central Committee(*38), he was soon promoted to the level of a deputy minister. Based on this background, Shao Lin also rose quickly as intellectuals became favored again. After becoming a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, she very wisely left her old school and was promoted to be the vice president of another famous university.
[Translator's Note(*38): This meeting marked the beginning of the "Reform and Opening Up" policy and was seen as the moment when Deng Xiaoping became the leader of China.]
Ye Wenjie saw this new version of her mother as the very model of an educated woman who knew how to take care of herself. There was not a hint of the persecution that she went through. She enthusiastically welcomed Ye and Dong Dong, inquired after Ye's life during those years with concern, exclaimed that Dong Dong was so cute and smart, and meticulously directed the cook in preparing Ye's favorite dishes. Everything was done with skill, practice, and the appropriate level of care. But Ye could clearly detect an invisible wall between her mother and herself. They carefully avoided sensitive topics and never mentioned Ye's father.
After dinner, Shao Lin and her husband accompanied Ye and Dong Dong down to the street to say good-bye. Then Shao Lin returned home while the deputy minister asked to have a word with Ye. In a moment, the deputy minister's kind smile turned to frost, as though he had impatiently pulled off his mask.
"We're happy to have you and the child visit in the future under one condition: Do not try to pursue old historical debts. Your mother bears no responsibility for your father's death. She was a victim as well. Your father clung to his own faith in a manner that was not healthy and walked all the way down a blind alley. He abandoned his responsibility to his family and caused you and your mother to suffer."
"You have no right to speak of my father," Ye said, anger suffusing her voice. 'This is between my mother and me. It has nothing to do with you."
"You're right," Shao Lin's husband said coldly. "I'm only passing on a message from your mother."
Ye looked up at the residential apartment building reserved for high-level cadres. Shao Lin had lifted a corner of the curtain to peek down at them. Without a word, Ye bent down to pick up Dong Dong and left. She never returned.
Ye searched and searched for information about the four female Red Guards who had killed her father, and eventually managed to locate three of them. All three had been sent down to the countryside(*39) and then returned, and all were unemployed. After Ye got their addresses, she wrote a brief letter to each of them, asking them to meet her at the exercise grounds where her father had died. Just to talk.
[Translator's Note(*39): In the later years of the Cultural Revolution, privileged, educated urban youths were sent down to the poor, mountainous countryside to live with and learn from the farmers there. Many of these so-called "Rusticated Youths" were former Red Guards, and some commentators believe that the policy was instituted by Chairman Mao to restore order by removing the rebels, who had gotten out of control, from the cities. ]
Ye had no desire for revenge. Back at Red Coast Base, on that morning of the transmission, she had gotten revenge against the entire human race, including those Red Guards. But she wanted to hear these murderers repent, wanted to see even a hint of the return of humanity.
That afternoon after class, Ye waited for them on the exercise grounds. She didn't have much hope, and was almost certain that they wouldn't show up. But at the time of the appointment, the three old Red Guards came.
Ye recognized them from a distance because they were all dressed in now-rare green military uniforms. When they came closer, she realized that the uniforms were likely the same ones they had worn at that mass struggle session. The clothes had been laundered until their color had faded, and they had been conspicuously patched. Other than the uniforms, the three women in their thirties no longer resembled the three young Red Guards who had looked so valiant on that day. They had lost not only youth, but also something else.
The first impression Ye had was that, though the three had once seemed to be carved out of the same mold, they now looked very different from each other. One had become very thin and small, and her uniform hung loose on her. Already showing her age, her back was bent and her hair had a yellow tint. Another had become thick framed, so that the uniform jacket she wore could not even be buttoned. Her hair was messy and her face dark, as though the hardship of life had robbed her of any feminine refinement, leaving behind only numbness and rudeness. The third woman still had hints of her youthful appearance, but one of her sleeves was now empty and hung loose as she walked.
The three old Red Guards stood in front of Ye in a row—just like they had stood against Ye Zhetai—trying to recapture their long-forgotten dignity. But the demonic spiritual energy that had once propelled them was gone. The thin woman's face held a mouselike expression. The thickset woman's face showed only numbness. The one-armed woman gazed up at the sky.
"Did you think we wouldn't dare to show up?" the thickset woman asked, her tone trying to be provocative.
"I thought we should see each other. There should be some closure to the past," Ye said.
"The past is finished. You should know that." The thin woman's voice was sharp, as though she was always frightened of something.
"I meant spiritual closure."
"Then you want to hear us repent?" the thick woman asked.
"Don't you think you should?"
"Then who will repent to us?" the one-armed woman asked.
The thickset woman said, "Of the four of us, three had signed the big-character poster at the high school attached to Tsinghua. Revolutionary tours, the great rallies in Tiananmen, the Red Guard Civil Wars, First Red Headquarters, Second Red Headquarters, Third Red Headquarters, Joint Action Committee, Western Pickets, Eastern Pickets, New Peking University Commune, Red Flag Combat Team, The East is Red—we went through every single milestone in the history of the Red Guards from birth to death."
The one-armed woman took over. "During the Hundred-Day War(*40) at Tsinghua, two of us were with the Jinggang Mountain Corps, and the other two were with the April Fourteenth Faction. I held a grenade and attacked a homemade tank from the Jinggang Mountain faction. My arm was crushed by the treads on the tank. My blood and muscle and bones were ground into the mud. I was only fifteen years old."
[Translator's Note(*40): The Hundred-Day War at Tsinghua University was one of the most violent Red Guard civil wars during the Cultural Revolution. Fought between two Red Guard factions, it lasted from April 23 to July 27 in 1968. Melee weapons, guns, grenades, mines, cannons, etc. were all used. In the end, eighteen people died, more than eleven hundred were wounded, and more than thirty were permanently disabled.]
 "Then, we were sent to the wilderness!" The thickset woman raised her arms. "Two of us were sent to Shaanxi, the other two to Henan, all to the most remote and poorest corners. When we first went, we were still idealistic, but that didn't last. After a day of laboring in the fields, we were so tired that we couldn't even wash our clothes. We lay in leaky straw huts and listened to wolves cry in the night, and gradually we woke from our dreams. We were stuck in those forgotten villages and no one cared about us at all."
The one-armed woman stared at the ground numbly. "While we were down in the countryside, sometimes, on a trail across the barren hill, I'd bump into another Red Guard comrade or an enemy. We'd look at each other: the same ragged clothes, the same dirt and cow shit covering us. We had nothing to say to each other."
The thickset woman stared at Ye. "Tang Hongjing was the girl who gave your father the fatal strike with her belt. She drowned in the Yellow River. There was a flood that carried off a few of the sheep kept by the production team. So the Party secretary called to the sent-down students, 'Revolutionary youths! It's time to test your mettle! ' And so, Hongjing and three other students jumped into the river to save the sheep. It was early spring, and the surface of the river was still covered by a thin layer of ice. All four died, and no one knew if it was from drowning or freezing. When I saw their bodies . . . I. . . I. . . can't fucking talk about this anymore." She covered her eyes and sobbed.
The thin woman sighed, tears in her eyes. "Then, later, we returned to the city. But so what if we're back? We still have nothing. Rusticated youths who have returned don't lead very good lives. We can't even find the worst jobs. No job, no money, no future. We have nothing."
Ye had no words.
The one-armed woman said, "There was a movie called Maple recently. I don't know if you've seen it. At the end, an adult and a child stand in front of the grave of a Red Guard who had died during the faction civil wars. The child asks the adult, Are they heroes?' The adult says no. The child asks, Are they enemies?' The adult again says no. The child asks, Then who are they?' The adult says, 'History.' "
"Did you hear that?" The thickset woman waved an arm excitedly at Ye. "History! History! It's a new age now. Who will remember us? Who will think of us, including you? Everyone will forget all this completely!" 
The three old Red Guards departed, leaving only Ye on the exercise grounds. More than a dozen years ago, on that rainy afternoon, she had stood alone here as well, gazing at her dead father. The old Red Guard's final remark echoed endlessly in her mind. . . .
The setting sun cast a long shadow from Ye's slender figure. The small sliver of hope for society that had emerged in her soul had evaporated like a drop of dew in the sun. Her tiny sense of doubt about her supreme act of betrayal had also disappeared without a trace.
Ye finally had her unshakable ideal: to bring superior civilization from elsewhere in the universe into the human world.
Chapter 26 Vocabulary Note
platoon - a small group of soldiers
spill - to fall off something onto the ground or floor
bona fide - real, true, and not intended to deceive anyone
ferment - if fruit, beer, wine etc ferments, or if it is fermented, the sugar in it changes to alcohol     
hazy - an idea, memory etc that is hazy is not clear or exact
rehabilitate - to make people think that someone or something is good again after a period when people had a bad opinion of them        
sled - a small vehicle used for sliding over snow
sorghum - a type of grain that is grown in tropical areas
matron - an older married woman
birch - 1 a tree with smooth bark and thin branches, or the wood from this tree
plump - round and full so that it looks attractive
cupronickel - copper containing up to 40 percent nickel which does not easily corrode(=destroyed by the effect of water and chemical)
roughly - violently
pheasant - a large bird with a long tail, often shot for food, or the meat of this bird
ura sedge - a kind of grass 
sorghum - a plant that produces grain and grows mainly in tropical areas
creek - a small narrow stream or river   
huddle - if a group of people huddle together, they stay close to each other, especially because they are cold
kerosene - a clear oil that is burnt to provide heat or light
bangs - hair cut straight across your forehead
singe -to burn the surface of something slightly         
sculpt - to make a particular shape from stone, wood, clay etc
inlaid - an inlaid box, table, floor etc has little pieces of another material set into its surface for decoration
hamlet - a very small village
thawed - to be warm enough for snow and ice to melt
tundra - a large flat areas of land, where it is very cold and there are no trees
equanimity - calmness; not becoming upset or annoyed
elation - a feeling of great happiness and excitement
alma mater - the school, college etc that someone used to attend
calamity - a terrible and unexpected event that causes a lot of damage or suffering
blood-hued - having the color of blood; in this case, it indicates the death of two people that morning 
persecute - to treat someone cruelly or unfairly over a period of time, especially because of their religious or political beliefs
sideline - if you are sidelined, you are unable to take part in an activity because you are not as good as someone else
plenary - involving all the members of a committee, organization etc
meticulous - very careful about small details, and always making sure that everything is done correctly
repent - to be sorry for something and wish you had not done it - used especially when considering your actions in a religious way
launder - to wash
conspicuous - very easy to notice
refinement - elegance, politeness, and good taste
demonic - wild and cruel; relating to a demon
provocative - intending to make people angry or upset
thickset - having a wide strong body
grenade - a small bomb that can be thrown by hand
faction - a small group of people within a larger group, who have different ideas from the other members, and who try to get their own ideas accepted
tread - the chain of a tank
leaky - a roof that is leaky has a hole or crack in it so that liquid or gas passes through it
mettle - courage and determination to do something even when it is very difficult
rusticate - to go to the country to live; 


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