The Plough – Chapter 11

Ling Shu looked as if he'd been reborn.
“Today is Lunar New Year’s Eve.”

He’d just walked in when he heard Yue Dingtang speak.

Ling Shu paused for a moment.

If Yue Dingtang hadn’t reminded him, he really would have forgotten that it was Lunar New Year’s Eve.
Because he had been thrown into this case and also because of Du Yunning’s death, he’d been rushing around the place the last two days. Ling Shu had also almost forgotten today before leaving the house, his sister Ling Yao had specifically told him to come home earlier tonight for reunion dinner.

At home right now, there must already be a table full of home-cooked dishes. His brother-in-law had probably already finished work and went home as well. The two people sat at the table, staring at the empty seat where Ling Shu should be.
But if the murderer wasn’t found soon and detained in accordance with the law,unfortunately the Ling family would not be allowed any peace.

Anyway, Yue Dingtang was about, when he returned him in a bit, he’d just use him as an excuse.

The coffee shop was desolate and cheerless, there was only one table of foreigners eating.

Rich or poor, everyone went home for Lunar New Year.

As the most prosperous city in the Far East, Lunar New Year’s Eve in Shanghai was no different from the rest of China.

The sky was not completely dark, there were little pedestrians on the street. It was even calmer outside now, as if in one instant, the whole of Shanghai had hidden themselves,unwilling to show their face.

New Moon Cafe was dedicated to its work to still stay open.

A waiter holding a basket of bread ran outside.

Ling Shu turned his head to look, and saw the waiter standing at the end of the road, giving the bread out to beggars.

“Gentlemen, this is the menu, please take a look. When you are ready, give the bell on the table a ring and I’ll come over immediately. This is lemon water, it’s warm, first please quench your thirst.”

They had just entered and two people had already come to greet them, taking their hats, scarves and coats. And then led them to a quiet corner, lit the candles on the table, and put down a menu.

Yue Dingtang opened it up to glance over it.

Having only Western food on the menu in China would be difficult to please all the customers. Even if it is in the International Settlement, this New Moon Cafe was no exception. The menu was a fusion of Western and Chinese food. For example the tomato, egg and beef spaghetti, which was absolutely unique. He would never order this dish, but it was conceivable that many customers would order it, otherwise the boss wouldn’t leave it on the menu.

“You don’t even close on Lunar New Year’s Eve?” Ling Shu asked the waiter.

The waiter smiled and replied: “Our boss said during the holidays everyone will close but there will be quite a few people who can’t go home. So here can be a place to shelter from the wind and snow for the guests to come in and have a rest.”

Ling Shu: “Then you won’t be able to go home?”

Waiter: “None of us have any relatives at home or came here alone for work. Luckily our boss took us in. It’s convenient for everyone to eat and stay here.”

Whilst the two were chatting, Yue Dingtang had already chosen what he wanted.

“I’ll have this set meal – chargrilled sirloin steak, medium-rare and for dessert, the honey melon ice cream.”

“Yes sir. And this gentleman, what would you like to order?”

Ling Shu was silent. The waiter didn’t dare to rush him so he waited patiently.

Yue Dingtang glanced over, he noticed that Ling Shu skipped the main menu and turned directly to the desserts, his eyes didn’t even blink.

Time passed by, Ling Shu was like the master standing on the peak of Shu Mountain, waiting for a sword to be unsheathed. The enemy didn’t move, nor did he, resembling a wood carving from days of old.

Yue Dingtang had enough, finally he broke the silence.

“I’ll pay this time.”

Ling Shu stretched out his body, he looked as if he’d been reborn.

“I’ll have the lobster noodle set meal and for dessert – a cheese millefeuille, raspberry ice cream, strawberry pudding and bring us a bottle of Champagne.”
Yue Dingtang:……

The waiter promptly took down the order and left.

Yue Dingtang: “Why don’t you just wrap all the desserts here?”

Ling Shu leaned back in the chair lazily: “Do you think I’m deliberately ruining you? My sister made a table full of dishes and is waiting for me to go home for dinner. If we take the initiative to find the owner now, it would be too presumptuous, and it would easily cause him to be wary. If he is really a good person like the neighbours say. Seeing us order so much, he will definitely come out to stop us, then there will be a chance to talk. ”

Yue Dingtang had really not thought about it like that so he didn’t reply for a while.

Seeing this, Ling Shu crossed his legs and raised his chin slightly: “I guess you hadn’t thought of it. How can a shaoye like you who is above us commoners understand these details? In the end, you still need this master to make his move?”

He had a sword of Damocles1an allusion to the imminent and ever-present peril that may fall at any time, hanging over his head,but was still able to joke like nothing was wrong. Swapped with anyone else who was faced with imminent death,with a case that was completely lacking in clues,they probably would have given up hope by now,let alone stay so level-headed to search for an opportunity.

“Back then,” Looking at Ling Shu, Yue Dingtang slowly asked.

“When the Ling family ran into problems, did the Du family add salt to the wound and cause you all more embarrassment?”

Ling Shu gave a startled laugh: “Why are you suddenly asking this? I forgot about it a long time ago. Plus Du Yunning has already passed away, these things have already dispersed into the wind, there’s no point mentioning it again.”

Yue Dingtang: “Have you been well, these last couple of years?”

Ling Shu: “What’s the matter, Professor Yue wants to help me get a job?”

Yue Dingtang: “I can keep an eye out for you, but I’m afraid that you won’t go.”

Ling Shu: “That’s true, I think I’m doing well where I am.”

“You’ve also studied abroad but ended up in this lowly position, don’t you think it’s a shame?”

“I think it’s okay. If it was in the past when my father was still alive and the Ling family was well-regarded he naturally would have organised something for me. Head to Nanjing to get a cushy job, that all could have been possible. But, when I studied abroad those few years I didn’t gain much. In the end, I can only speak a few sentences in a foreign language, even if someone were to offer me a good job, I don’t think I’m qualified. So why not be like now, keep up the routine, work at the police station, pass my days leisurely. There are many people who could only wish for just that.”

Influenced by the warm air circulating in the coffee shop, Ling Shu’s tone had also softened with it, it was neither fast nor slow,as if whatever came his way he could withstand it.

But Yue Dingtang thought this was just a facade.

The Ling Shu that he knew was aggressive and competitive, although he had an understated air of arrogance, living idly day by day but old habits die hard. You can’t change who you are. Internally he may not really have resigned himself to just muddling through idly day by day.

“If Du Yunning thought like you, perhaps this tragedy wouldn’t have happened.”

In the past, Ling Shu was high-spirited, proud but predictable.

But the Ling Shu of today seemed down and out, unexpectedly settled, it was hard to know what he was really thinking.

Ling Shu: “Du Yunning and I are not the same, even if she never got on with Yuan Bing, she was still living a life of luxury, all her problems came down to the fact that her husband didn’t love her, and whether her extravagant cage could have a few more bells and whistles added to it. Looking at it from this perspective,she was just as naive as she was before,that never changed.”

Yue Dingtang: “Back then she had already done what her family had requested and married Yuan Bing so why in the end did she still fall out with her own family?”

Ling Shu: “What kind of person Yuan Bing is, I think you’ve seen for yourself. After she got married, the Du family got into a spot of trouble, they hoped that the Yuan family would help them out. At that time Yuan Bingdao had already died. Yuan Bing wouldn’t help, thus the eldest son of the Du family died tragically, after this, the Du family cut ties completely with Du Yunning and never contacted her again.”

Yue Dingtang was not too clear on this situation, he originally was considering if the Du family had something to do with the murder, but after hearing what Ling Shu said, he thought he could rule them out.

Whilst they were chatting, the dishes came out successively.

To be honest, the standard of the chef was mediocre at best but the two of them had been busy all day so they were quite hungry. The meal was finished just like that, all the dishes were cleared and they didn’t even discuss the case while they ate.

Until it was time for dessert, a middle-aged man with the waiter made his way over to them.
“First of all, greetings and Happy New Year!”

The man was refined and courteous, although he was wearing western clothing, he still had the habit of cupping his hands together to salute, showing his Chinese etiquette.

“I apologize for the disturbance, my surname is Li, I am the owner here, thank you both for your patronage, is it your first time here?”

“Yes, we are both professors at the university, today we had some business outside.” Yue Dingtang replied.

“Oh, it’s two university professors, it’s my pleasure!” Mr Li successively cupped his hands together in a salute again, “I saw that you ordered quite a few desserts, I was afraid that it might have been too much, so I came over just to check, please excuse my disturbance!”

Yue Dingtang laughed and said: “Others who are doing business would want to sell more and get their goods out there, but you’ve especially come over to ask us to order less, businessmen like you are hard to come by these days.”

Mr Li was a little embarrassed: “As you say, honesty is the most important thing in doing business. If I didn’t come over, it would mean that I did not fulfill my duty. If you both realised after, I am afraid that you will never come back next time. In the long run, I will lose money. ”

Ling Shu said: “Could you bring a few more desserts, wrap them up for me, I want to take them home for my family to try.”

Mr Li replied quickly: “No problem!”

The desserts were very quickly wrapped up and served, the box had even been tied up with a silk ribbon, there was also a small card written “Auspicious wishes for the beginning of Spring“, it was all very thoughtful.

Even Yue Dingtang who was used to the luxurious service, also thought that although the food here was only mediocre, the attitude of the owner would definitely make quite a few customers come back regularly and become the coffee shop’s regulars.

In the middle of this, Mr Li had gone and greeted the foreigners at another table as they looked as if they were almost done with their meals, after that he came back to their table.

“You are University Professors, can I take the liberty to ask both of you to leave a message in the celebrity book of the cafe?”

“We can’t be considered celebrities, we are just professors.” Yue Dingtang waved his hand.

Mr Li laughed and said: “That’s my mistake, I am not very cultured, I just know that studying a lot means to be accomplished and become a person of knowledge and experience. Could you at least leave a few words so that when I return to my hometown I can show my grandchildren your distinguished calligraphy.”

Yue Dingtang: “If you wish, we’d be rude to refuse.”

Mr Li was overjoyed and hurried to personally bring the celebrity book.

Yue Dingtang took it to take a look, and saw that there were really a few well-known names in it, perhaps they were not well-known across the country but certainly in Shanghai they were enjoyed local fame.

He used a fountain pen on a blank page and wrote the sentence “A home away from home” and then signed his name, finally looking ahead a few pages.

A very familiar signature came before his eyes.

Like a spring breeze.

Du Yunning.
Author Note:

Mini theatre unrelated to the story——

Regarding the job search Part 1
Ling Shu: Is there a kind of job with good pay, not much to do and plenty of holiday,no need to solve crimes,no need to carry a black pot2 be a scapegoat

Yue Dingtang:In your dreams.

Regarding the job search Part 2
Ling Shu saw that a Chinese beauty brand was looking to recruit a male celebrity, so he unexpectedly went over to apply.

Yue Dingtang was waiting to pour a bucket of ice water over his head.

Who knew Ling Shu would actually get the job.

Yue Dingtang: Someone as uncouth as you can also become a celeb?

Ling Shu: Yeh, they said I have a good-looking face, I just have to sit there and not move,and just let them draw the monthly calendar page, so I sat and slept for a day. I’m sore all over, fortunately it was paid.

Yue Dingtang:……

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