The Plough – Chapter 19

Are you afraid of the dark or of ghosts?
Ling Shu nibbled on the chestnuts, whilst being completely absorbed in his own thoughts. He didn’t even know when Cheng Si left.

His energy levels were not like it was before, plus he had suffered an injury. He was still in a daze when the half-eaten chestnut slipped out of his band and fell onto the floor and rolled across the room.

In his absent-minded state, he felt that someone had bent over to pick it up and put it on the bedside table.

“You’re always losing stuff” said a soft-voice.

It wasn’t like Cheng Si’s worried and pressing voice but clear sweet tone from his memory, like a bowl of sweet crushed ice in the summer, there was no need to add any more honey to it.

Ling Shu rubbed his eyes and then flipped to his side. There was indeed someone standing by the window, they had their back to him, fiddling with the curtains.

“It’s windy outside, if you sleep with the window open and the wind gets to your head, it’ll be more difficult to recover.”

“Du…… Yunning?” Ling Shu was astonished.

The woman in the Qipao said yes.

“Aren’t you…..?”

Ling Shu wanted to say aren’t you dead, but the words stopped on the tip of his tongue and couldn’t come out.

Du Yunning seemed calm and peaceful, she was not like the high-spirited Du Yunning that had just married into the Yuan family. Nor was she like the later version of her as the wealthy wife, she seemed more like the girl he knew from school – carefree and without worries. The girl who had nothing to worry about, in the prime of her life.

“I didn’t die, I’m still alive.” Ling Shu heard her say,“Did you all think I died?”

Ling Shu got up to a sitting position supporting his wounded head. His line of vision was still fuzzy at certain moments. The colour of the sky was dark and because of the curtains, he couldn’t see her face properly.

“You’re not dead? Then where are you? Do you know that we have been looking for you these past few days? The whole of Shanghai thinks you’re dead, your husband Yuan Bing is stuck in prison!”

“I know.”

Du Yunning’s voice was cheerful and relaxed.

“This is exactly what I wanted. I hate him. If he hadn’t put me in that cage all that time doing nothing to help as I deteriorated. Why would have become addicted to opium? Do you know, he has several love children out there. I’m such an idiot, I didn’t know anything. Why can he cheat on me, embracing different women left and right but I must stay the chaste Mrs Yuan for life?”

Ling Shu: “Does that mean you really had a relationship with Hong Xiaoguang, who is he?”

Du Yunning: “Him? He’s you!”

Ling Shu: “Nonsense……”

He wanted to get up and grab a hold of Du Yunning in case she fled. But then after she finished speaking, she suddenly turned around to face him. Her face was completely white unlike a living person at all. The edges of her lips were dripping with blood, her eyeballs looked like they were going to fall out of their sockets, it was petrifying.

Ling Shu immediately burst into a cold sweat. His body started shaking from head to toe.

“You’re awake?”

Du Yunning was gone.

Where she was just standing was a man sitting down with his head in a file.

It was Yue Dingtang.

Ling Shu was still feeling panicked, realising that he had just had a nightmare.

“I just had a dream.”

He gasped for breath slightly, his chest and back were so wet, as if he’d been fished out of the water.

His slender neck was extended out perfectly straight, looking like it could snap at any moment.

“Nightmare?”

Yue Dingtang took off his glasses and got up to turn on the light.

The room brightened up instantly.

Ling Shu secretly breathed a sigh of relief.
But what Yue Dingtang had to say after that made him sigh again.

“Bad news, Yuan Bing is dead.”

It’s true that whatever you fear will come to pass.

Ling Shu froze for a moment, his head buzzing in a moment of confusion.

“How did he die?”

His lips were white and dry, and his voice was also croaky.

“Opium poisoning had taken hold and there was no cure for this disease.”

Yue Dingtang got up and poured him a cup of water.

“I arrived too late. Despite my best efforts, he had just breathed in his last breath. I didn’t even manage to ask one question.”

“Du Yunning’s personal maid, that Ah-Lan is also dead. In two days there were two deaths and both important witnesses for the case. It seems too strange to be a coincidence right?”

Ling Shu had a few sips of water, his throat felt a bit better.

Yue Dingtang: “I asked – before Yuan Bing died, someone went to see him.”

Lingshu: “Who?”

Yue Dingtang: “Ling Boyuan, Bingdao’s second youngest sister.”

Ling Shu: “Didn’t this person settle down in Hong Kong ages ago, why would she suddenly come back?”

Yue Dingtang nodded: “Yuan Bing had a single cell, his relationship with the police was not bad. When someone came claiming to be his aunt, the police agreed and let her in.”

Ling Shu couldn’t hold back: “How can the Shanghai Municipal Police be this complacent?”

Yue Dingtang snorted: “If not, how would it allow people to drink and play cards as well as eat midnight snacks in the cell?”

Ling Shu played innocent with a look of what are you talking about, I don’t understand what you’re saying at all.

His whole head was wet from the previous cold sweat. He had a clammy forehead, he was feeling weak, so he was not able to hold himself in his usual confident and carefree manner.

Yue Dingtang swept a glance over at him, he suppressed the taunts and ridicule that he had been holding at the tip of his tongue.

“It’s reasonable to say that if the aunt was fake, Yuan Bing would have noticed. According to the police officer on shift, after the woman entered, she stayed there for about an hour. There wasn’t any noise or disturbances coming from the room. After the woman left, the police officer went in to take a look. Yuan Bing was sitting calmly there and never made a fuss. But after half an hour, he started making a ruckus. Yuan Bing was saying that he felt ill and the situation got more and more serious. The police called the doctor to come but it was already too late.”

Ling Shu: “Could someone have poisoned his food? Have you identified that the body is definitely him?”

Yue Dingtang: “It’s definitely him without a doubt. The initial cause of his death was determined to be excessive smoking, that is to say, his aunt went in to visit him in prison and brought him opium to smoke. The police officer on duty accepted bribes, so it was concealed from us at the beginning, and he has now been dismissed from his post and questioned.”

With money, you can do anything you like, this was especially true in Shanghai.

Although Yuan Bing was temporarily locked up on suspicion of murder, the Yuan family still had some status and wealth, which was enough to bribe the police officers to get some preferential treatment in prison. And it was because of his status, that no one dared to cause trouble, even when Yuan Lingbo suddenly turned up, no one dared ask anything, and just let her in and be in close contact with Yuan Bing.

No one knows what happened in the hour that they spent together. Whether that woman was actually Yuan Bing’s aunt is a riddle that died with Yuan Bing.

As expected, even if they searched the whole of Shanghai, they would not find the woman named Yuan Lingbo.

“What about Ah-Lan, what was the result of the autopsy report?” Ling Shu changed the subject to the maid.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.” said Yue Dingtang, “Right now the initial report confirmed that Ah-Lan died from hanging herself.”

Ling Shu: “But murder cannot be eliminated, if someone first knocked her unconscious and then put her on to the rope. Then that would mean that she still died by hanging herself then nothing odd would come out in the investigation.”

Yue Dingtang shook his head.
“Whether it is or is not, is no longer important now.”

Before they had wondered why the culprit had gone after Du Yunning and not Yuan Bing if they were actually after the Yuan family fortune. Not long after they had questioned themselves about this, something really did happen to Yuan Bing.

Once the news of Yuan Bing’s death got out, it would undoubtedly create another stir, and make this confusing case even more bewildering.

Many journalists may even be inspired by this and make up some more weird news. The three part report on the Yuan Family serialized in newspapers would also turn a great profit.

But this had nothing to do with the case and could even impede the case.

What if they went back to look at the cause of death of these three people?

After becoming a police officer, Ling Shu had come across quite a few cases from trivial matters to major unsolved crimes. There were a lot of things that happened in Shanghai everyday, there were more cases that haven’t even been filed with the police. Many case files had already accumulated dust and were lying at the bottom of some boxes. When Ling Shu was free, he would go to the archives to look through it slowly, without anyone disturbing him. This had become one of his pastimes and pleasures.

From these cases, Ling Shu slowly realised something.

For example, when you seem to be led forward by something, don’t pay attention to the rope. But try to go past the person who is holding the rope. Get to the front of them, and you may find another clue.

“Did Yuan Bing have any illegitimate children?”

“None.” Yue Dingtang replied with certainty. “Although Yuan Bing was a lathario,he was a long-term opium user, so this definitely impacted his abilities to reproduce.”

Ling Shu: “Yuan Bing had three aunts, if Yuan Bing and Du Yunning are both dead, then the Yuan fortune should go to the three of them. But his third aunt is already dead and didn’t have any kids, the eldest aunt lives in the US, but they must have received the news by now that something has happened with the Yuan family. The only one that came to visit was the second aunt who saw Yuan Bing just before he died.”

Yue Dingtang: “That’s correct, but with her appearance it’s difficult not to be linked to the death of her nephew. Under the suspicion of conspiring to gain the family assets, if this Yuan Lingbo is real, she’s unlikely to show her face again.”

Ling Shu: “If no one inherits the Yuan family’s property for a long time, the government will reclaim it and confiscate the house and then auction the house out again.”

Yue Dingtang frowned.

He gestured to Ling Shu not to speak any more.

But he himself did not say anything, obviously clarifying his thoughts.

Ling Shu thought of the maid, Ah-Lan, and Yuan Manor.

This woman had to be the pivotal point in the case.

She either knew something or was an accomplice in the crime, so she had to die.

The murderer killed people in order to cover up some things, thinking that their death solved everything, but from another perspective, the more dead people, the more flaws came to the surface.

“I’m going to first look into Ah-Lan.”

“I want to go to take a look at Yuan Manor.”

The two of them almost spoke at the same time.

Yue Dingtang: “Yuan Bing and Ah-Lan’s deaths are unfortunate deaths but there is an advantage. They’ve indirectly cleared you of all suspicion, so you don’t need to be so worried now.”

Ling Shu: “The sooner this case is solved, the sooner I can completely break away from suspicion. Otherwise the culprit will still be at large, and I will definitely be suspended from the police. My dream job is being a police officer, so I don’t want to lose this job.”

This idle and leisurely job.

He added silently to himself.

Yue Dingtang saw through what he hadn’t said out loud.

“The doctor said you need more rest, you shouldn’t be running about.”

“I think I’m a lot better.” Ling Shu touched his head, “I saw Du Yunning in my dream just now.”

Yue Dingtang was silent.

Even though this name had already been a part of their memories, but within their memories it would stay, never to be erased.

The Du Yunning now was pitiful but she was once sincere and beautiful.
That belonged to their shared past.

Even though they didn’t say it outloud,who didn’t want to find the truth as a way to help her soul rest in peace.

“Tomorrow after the doctor comes to see you and confirms that you are fine to leave the hospital, we can go to Yuan Manor to investigate again,” said Yue Dingtang.

Ling Shu yawned: “I think we must have missed something important last time.”

Yue Dingtang could see that his face was droopy and pale, as well as tired, so he tidied up the file in his hands and got up.

“Rest well, I’ll come back tomorrow.”

“Get home safe. Don’t turn off the light.” Ling Shu slipped under the covers and pulled it up past his ears.

“Are you afraid of the dark or of ghosts?” Yue Dingtang teased.

Ling Shu didn’t mutter a word as if he was sleeping.

Yue Dingtang laughed, then walked to the door, he opened the door but he thought of something so he walked back to the bed.

“Oh yeh, I forgot to ask you, you said that you have been practising to write with your left hand for a few years just for the fun of it. How come you’ve even changed hands for shooting your gun? Is it also just for fun?”

Ling Shu didn’t move at all.

After a good while, when Yue Dingtang was about to leave, he heard the other’s sleepy voice.

“I’m a police officer, I must be able to use both hands so that in a crucial moment I can save lives. Even if I explained it to you, you still wouldn’t understand.”
Author Note:

Yue Dingtang: Let me tell you a ghost story.

Ling Shu finished listening, his expression didn’t change, staying calm and composed.

Yue Dingtang thought to himself, this wasn’t scary, did I get it wrong?

Taking advantage of him getting up to smoke, Ling Shu took out his earplugs and threw them in the bin.

2 thoughts on “The Plough – Chapter 19”

  1. Yue Dingtang is so gentle, I already like him. Did anything happen with Ling Shu’s hand? Or did that scene mean he actually worked hard at his job?
    Thank you so much for the chapter <3

    Reply

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