The Plough – Chapter 21

The ghost is here.
The Yuan servants were still not permitted to leave the small building. Because of Ah-Lan’s death,everyone was depressed, they looked even more haggard than a few days ago. Ling Shu and Yue Dingtang had just arrived but could already feel the heavy emotions in the air.

Even the police officer on duty had had enough of waiting around. He let them take over and then looked for an excuse to leave.

“I think that the Manor is haunted. The death of Mr and Mrs Yuan may also be related to this.”

The butler was called out, humming and hawing for a long while, before finally saying something so startling in the end.

Yue Dingtang frowned: “That’s not what you said last time.”

The butler forced a smile: “Last time, we didn’t know that it would become this bad. Now even Ah-Lan is dead. Aiii, it’s impossible to not believe it now!”

Yue Dingtang: “how is it haunted?”

The butler sighed: “Back then when Mr Yuan Senior moved into this manor, he’d been dissuaded by someone….”

A few years ago, the political sphere was quite unsteady and leadership was frequently changing. In reality, the whole country was in rebellion. Those notable warlords could be found everywhere, today they were your friends, tomorrow perhaps your foe. There was an abundance of small warlords everywhere.

Yuan Bingdao was originally the subordinate of the Provincial Military Governor of the Sichuan Province, Liu Cun Hou. When Liu started to lose power, Yuan Bingdao immediately took a bunch of soldiers to leave with him and attempted to establish himself on top. Nothing lasts forever, Yuan Bingdao was quickly swallowed up by another Warlord. His subordinates were either killed or they left to serve someone else. Yuan Bingdao wanted to make a comeback by attaching himself to the Nationalist Government but the Nationalist Government did not regard him very highly and he found himself once again without soldiers or authority.

Helpless and without power, Yuan Bingdao could only bring his family to Shanghai and settle down here. This residence was originally for him to grow old in, so it was chosen with the utmost attention and importance.

At that time there were three houses that were in the running but he had his heart set on this one because the wily old fox that was Yuan Bingdao thought that during the current ways of the world with foreign powers growing outside of China. If the country is weak, the people are weak. Precisely when the World War had just ended, this fertile land that was China would be coveted sooner or later. If it wasn’t the British or the Americans, it would be the Japanese or the Russians, so in the end a house located in the International Settlement would be the safest bet for his family.

The previous owner of the manor was an Englishman. He had been married three times, apparently each one of his wives had died a suspicious death. According to gossip, it was rumoured the Englishman was killing his wives but no one reported the crime and there was no proof so the matter was left unsolved.

After that the Englishman also died and when he was discovered it was already too late to try to save him. Rumour has it he died with a terrible look on his face as if he had seen something so frightening that it had scared him to death. Following this, the rumour of the ghost in the manor was born.

After Yuan Bingdao bought the house, this place became Yuan Manor and had a decade of peace. Everyone had forgotten about this rumour but the old butler still remembered. This time, three people had died in succession and that memory was pulled forth from the depths of his mind, the more he thought about it the more scared he got.

Ling Shu and Yue Dingtang looked at each other.

This was something that happened ten years ago, even the servants who worked there weren’t aware of this, let alone the two of them.

“Yuan Bingdao was so rich that he could have any house he liked. There were certainly bigger and better houses, so why was he dead set on a haunted one?” Ling Shu asked.

The old butler smiled bitterly: “At that time, he was anxious to move in and this house was the right size. Mr Yuan Senior had a few wives, if it wasn’t a house like this, it would have been difficult to find a place.”

Ling Shu looked around in his immediate vicinity.

“Although the Yuan Manor is located in a good district, it’s not particularly bright here, even the road that the manor is on is a bit noisy. To someone like Yuan Bingdao who was definitely not lacking in money, this kind of place was definitely not his first choice to retire in. Also, according to what I know, when the Yuan family moved here, he only brought one wife and one concubine, and one son, Yuan Bing. After coming to Shanghai, he didn’t marry anyone else, so there was no need to have so many rooms.”
The old butler: “The considerations of Mr Yuan Senior were not something that I could influence. I had also tried to persuade him but he insisted on buying this place, I could only continue to serve.”

Yue Dingtang: “So those ten years before when you were living here, you hadn’t seen any ghosts?”

The old butler hesitated for a bit: “There were actually a few incidents. Back then, the Yuan family was still quite large so no one really paid attention to this stuff. But after Mr and Mrs Yuan Senior passed away, the house gradually got quieter and the strange incidents became more and more frequent.”

Ling Shu: “Then how come Yuan Bing and the others never wanted to move somewhere else?”

The old butler sighed: “Mr Yuan spent his time indulging in sensual pleasures so he’s almost never at home. Why would he care, plus he had spent most of the money, so aside from this manor, where else is there to go!”

When they asked about Ah-Lan, whether it was the old butler or one of the other maids, everyone answered with I don’t know.

Just as the both of them had expected, Ah-Lan was close to invisible in the Yuan Manor. Although she was someone really important at the side of Du Yunning, because she was unable to speak and illiterate, it was a serious hindrance to her social interaction with other people. Aside from the old butler who knew a bit of sign language, the others had no way of communicating with her.

No one liked her, no one disliked her, but there was also no one who cared about her. If it wasn’t for her involvement in this case this time, whether she was alive or dead would not have made much of a difference at all.

This kind of insignificant existence, in this time period, in this city, could be found everywhere, it was not in the least bit unusual.

Ling Shu: “Did Ah-Lan leave behind anything?”

The old butler said: “After she died, a senior officer from the Municipal Police came. He has already taken all her belongings away, you can go and ask them.”

Yue Dingtang didn’t acknowledge him and simply said: “First let’s go up and take a look.”

The old butler was humming and hawing, not wanting to go.

Yue Dingtang knew the reason.

Right now, rumours were flying everywhere, especially the one about Yuan Manor being haunted. Each day was more than the next, to the extent that even the Police Officer who was supposed to be guarding the place swore that he had seen Du Yunning’s ghost standing by the window looking out.

In this kind of situation, the others were of course jittery and panicking at every turn.

The two of them didn’t want to force him. Yue Dingtang had the keys himself so he was able to open the doors directly.

A musty smell hit their noses, carrying along with it the cold of the ice and snow, making a lap around the place. It was gloomy, cold and dry, there was nothing that was joyful or cheerful about the place.

The owner of this home had not even left for that long but the feeling of life had disappeared completely. It even had a bit of an eerie air in the place so the old butler couldn’t be blamed for wanting to stay outside, not daring to step a foot inside.

Yue Dingtang first went downstairs to the maid’s room whilst Ling Shu went upstairs to Du Yunning’s room.

What they needed to see, they had already seen last time, in reality, there was nothing new to discover.

But Ling Shu was afraid that he had missed something so he had to look over every nook and cranny again to be sure.

Outside the door, footsteps could be heard, they were very light but the pace was not particularly quick.

“What did you find?” Ling Shu didn’t even turn around.

He thought it was Yue Dingtang.

But he didn’t get a reply.

Ling Shu was looking into the drawer next to the bed again so he wasn’t really paying attention until he felt a soft breath on the back of his neck.

A warm and cold breath that made the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

Ling Shu used his hand to grab behind him but there was only thin air!

He instantly turned around!

Suddenly the lights went out.
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