The Plough – Chapter 22

There's one missing.
The winter sky was dark, it was impossible to see anything outside. When the light went out it immediately became pitch-black inside aswell.

When he turned around, he naturally wasn’t able to see anything.

Ling Shu didn’t even think about it and immediately got up and pounced in front of him.

Jumping into thin air!

There was nothing in the room.

There was nothing in the corridor.

On the first floor of the manor, there was only the echo of the sound of his hurried footsteps on the wooden floor of the corridor.

“Yue Dingtang!”

He shouted out loud.

“I’m here.”

A steady voice came from downstairs.

“Has the electricity gone out?”

“Looks like it.”

“You didn’t just come up here?”

Yue Dingtang walked up the stars with an oil lamp that he had found from god knows where.

The weak flicker of the flame became the whole light source for the entire building.

But it made everywhere even more pitch-black.

As if walking with a lamp in the midst of hell, the light did not scare off the darkness, but rather drew it in.

“I didn’t come up just now.”

Yue Dingtang came upstairs.

“What did you see?”

Ling Shu was standing at the door, looking at him opening all of the bedroom doors, and shining the lamp in to look inside.

“Just now it seemed like someone was behind me but when I turned around there was no one.”
“Could it have been your imagination?” Yue Dingtang went into Du Yunning’s room and did a lap around.

“Perhaps.” Ling Shu couldn’t be sure, he even suspected that it was because of his head injury. Because he got up so quickly just before, he was feeling a little dizzy. “But the old butler might have been lying.”

Yue Dingtang: “How do you know?”

Ling Shu: “You asked him just before if when the Yuan family moved in, did they seen any ghosts. He looked very unsettled, first grabbing his thumb and then fiddling with his ear. When I was interrogating suspects, this is the type of thing they’d do when they were lying.”

Yue Dingtang: “If he is lying, then the haunting of Yuan Manor could also be a fabrication that someone made up.”

Ling Shu: “Do you suspect that all three deaths are linked to the old butler?”

Yue Dingtang: “Yuan Bing and Du Yunning didn’t have any children. The old butler has a motive, plus he lied about the ghost story, so there must be something that he is keeping from us, and this may be the crucial piece that can solve this puzzle.”

Ling Shu yawned: “So does that mean that we go home then, now that the electricity is out, we won’t be able to investigate anything. I’d better go home and rest.”

Yue Dingtang: “It’s 6pm, you have to come back with me and get changed. We can make it to the drinks reception by 7pm.”

Ling Shu smacked his mouth with his hand.

It turned out that the one surnamed Yue hadn’t forgotten about this matter?

Ling Shu went downstairs first, waiting at the bottom of the staircase because the lamp was still in Yue Dingtang’s hand.

“I feel like what I am wearing is fine, I can go directly to the drinks reception….”

He said that whilst looking behind him.

Yue Dingtang was still walking down the stairs.

Within the limits of where the candle flame could reach, Ling Shu could clearly see behind him on the wall. There was an additional black shadow.

The black shadow was very long but it was clearly the silhouette of a person.

But, it wasn’t Yue Dingtang’s shadow.

Because that black shadow was holding an axe and it was raised up high and aimed directly at Yue Dingtang’s back!

“Get out of the way!”

At this moment of life and death, Ling Shu was only able to shout out those few words.
Those words were enough to engender everything he wanted to say.

If he had shouted out be careful, Yue Dingtang wouldn’t have known what he needed to be careful about.

If he had shouted behind you, Yue Dingtang might have turned around and he wouldn’t have been able to get out of the way.

In this half a second. It was now all down to the response of Yue Dingtang as well as his trust in Ling Shu.

If he thought that Ling Shu was joking, perhaps he wouldn’t have bothered to move.

Yue Dingtang moved.

He immediately grabbed the stair’s handrail and jumped forward, his lower back sliding down the handrail, feet in the air, he dropped down a good few steps and then stood back up at the bottom of the stairs.

The oil lamp slipped from his hand, falling onto the ground. It immediately snuffed out.

Whilst he was coming down, Ling Shu had already jumped a few steps back, completely untouched and unharmed, standing to one side.

Yue Dingtang: ……

He didn’t bother to rub his sore back and directly turned around to look up.

The glimmer of light from outside reflected the withered branches swaying, making threatening gestures similar in appearance to a person.

There was nothing.

He suspected that Ling Shu was mistaken, or perhaps he had done it on purpose to mess with him.

He looked at Ling Shu again, the latter looked completely innocent, acting like it wasn’t him that had shouted just before.

“Gentlemen……”

The old butler was standing outside the door, holding a lamp, he stretched his neck in to see inside, still unwilling to step even one foot inside.

“Have you finished? Do you need a light?”

In the cold winter wind, his old crooked back trembled with fear and looked like it could collapse at any time.

“Just now, did you come inside?” Yue Dingtang said while walking outside.

The old butler shook his head like a rattle. “I was standing outside the whole time, I heard someone shouting from inside, so I came closer to take a look. I have already told you both. This house… it’s better not to come here at night!”
Ling Shu: “Even if the house is haunted, it’s still the departed souls of your former master and mistress, if others are afraid that is normal, but why are you so scared. Unless you commited some heinous crime, that you don’t dare to face them?”

The old butler didn’t speak, he wasn’t looking so good: “When Mrs Yuan was alive she didn’t really like us. Once, after she and Mr Yuan got into a fight, she said that the Yuan family had wasted half her life. Even if she became a ghost, she would not let anyone here live well….”

Under Yue Dingtang’s close gaze, his voice became quieter and quieter.

“You are lying.”

Yue Dingtang said lightly.

“Mrs Yuan never said anything like this. And, before when you were telling us about the ghost in Yuan Manor, that was clearly a lie.”

“How could I dare to lie to you!” the old butler maintained,“when Mrs Yuan was alive she really did…..”

“Just now I saw her.” Ling Shu suddenly said.

Faint indistinct noises could be heard with a light movement as if the night’s cold breeze was blowing towards the old butler.

The latter was so scared he was shaking. He didn’t react yet and then he heard Ling Shu continue: “She was just in her room wearing her nightgown. She was beautiful as she was when she was alive, only her face was wretched and the corner of her mouth was flowing with blood.”

With his eyes fixed on the old butler, he patted the old butler on his back.

“You don’t believe me, turn around and take a look.”

The old butler almost let go of the lamp in his hand. He didn’t turn around, instead he walked forward a few steps.

“Don’t try to scare me, every injustice has its perpetrator and every debt its debtor. I’m not the one that killed Mrs Yuan, so why would she come back for me!”

Ling Shu laughed eerily: “That means you know who killed me, is that right?”

He purposefully lowered his voice, adding a gentle and reserved feminine manner. Speaking slowly, he did actually sound a bit like Du Yunning.
The old butler’s knees couldn’t hold out any longer and he simply fell to the ground.

“No no, I don’t know, I don’t know anything! The Yuan Manor really does have a ghost. If you don’t believe me, ask the other servants of the Yuan Manor and also the Officer from Municipal Police. They all said they have seen it so how can it just be me making it up!”

Ling Shu crouched down, still wanting to continue the charade but at that moment the police officer who had slunk off before returned. He was carrying two midnight snack boxes, which he had prepared to give to Yue Dingtang, in order to curry some favour with this person who was ever so popular with the foreign police officers higher up.

“Mr Yue, why don’t you take a break?”

The other party came in closer with a big smile on his face, not realising that he had ruined Ling Shu’s little act.

The old butler came back to his senses, dripping with sweat, his expression turning from fear to alertness.

His mouth was clamped shut like a clamshell, no longer willing to offer another word.

“You came at an opportune moment, take him back to the station and question him well. He’s linked to the murder case.” Yue Dingtang thought about it,“The other people of Yuan Manor also cannot be ruled out, take them all back with you.”

The police officer looked distracted. Then he quickly agreed and called over his colleague to help take everyone away.

There were not many people left at Yuan Manor, so two police officers were enough for the task. It was just that these Yuan family servants were already very anxious from the murder case, they were feeling frenetic, crying out, complaining tearfully. It was basically a group of five people in an utterly confused state of mind.

“This person is old. You can interrogate him but don’t go too far in case something happens – the gains do not make up for the losses.” Yue Dingtang informed them.

“I understand, don’t worry!” The police officer said.

The servants of Yuan Manor were quickly taken out, each one hanging their heads completely dispirited, with worry plastered across all their faces.

Ling Shu made a sweeping glance.

“Why is there one missing?”
Translator Note:

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