“Publicity is the best way to get people looking for your daughter quickly, Scholar Sung,” the policeman pointed out patiently to Nai’s father.
“But we’ve just started trying to find her a husband,” protested Sung Kao. “Running away from home is not the sort of accomplishment of my daughter’s that I want to draw attention to.”
The policeman’s gaze sharpened. “Indeed, sir? And what did Nai think about your decision that she’s ready for marriage?”
Her father looked flummoxed. “She didn’t say anything. She’s a good girl who does as she’s told…”
“Who walked out of the house the next day and hasn’t come back,” pointed out the policeman. He sighed inwardly. For a bright man Scholar Sung needed a lot of things pointed out to him. If he didn’t want to provide a photo of his missing daughter for the press, then he probably wasn’t going to like the next suggestion either. “I’d like Constable Kim,” he indicated his female constable, “to look through your daughter’s room to see if there are any clues your family might have missed. Under your wife’s supervision, of course.”
“I don’t see why you need to do that,” huffed Nai’s father.
“I’m sure you’ve already looked, sir,” soothed the policeman, “but Constable Kim has had more experience with young women who’ve gone missing than I expect you to have had. There may be some little thing that didn’t seem significant to you, but before that can you and Madam Sung tell us about your daughter’s friends?”
“Nai’s never brought anyone to the house,” offered her mother quietly. “Never.”
“So no boyfriends, that you know of,” noted the policeman as he wrote in his notebook. “Is there anyone, a classmate or a teacher, we could speak to?”
The Sungs exchanged a glance and Madam Sung said in a slightly guilty tone, “I’m afraid we haven’t been to any of Nai’s school events in recent years.”
“You must understand, Sergeant,” her husband put in smoothly, “that all of our other children attend selective or specialist secondary schools and we’ve had children in up to six different secondary schools at once. It hasn’t been uncommon for us to have three school functions on in the one night and there are only two of us.”
“Indeed sir,” the policeman agreed smoothly. “Now, she was supposed to be going to a gi class. What about her gi teacher?”
“He’s closed up shop and taken some protégé off on the professional circuit,” complained Scholar Sung. “At least we know that can’t be Nai, gi teachers are never backwards in asking for more fees if they think a student is any good and would benefit from extra lessons. This one hasn’t upped his fees since Nai started with him when she was six.”
“That is unusual,” agreed the policeman. “And his name sir?”
“Master Que Tzu,” replied Scholar Sung. “I’ve never met him but when I made enquiries I was assured that he is qualified to teach gi.”
The policeman looked slightly stunned and replied gently, “Yes, he would be that. You said your daughter has been his student since she was six? I think I can assure you, sir and madam, that if your daughter has gone off with Master Que and his protégé then she is perfectly safe.”