The Plough – Chapter 35

Ling, Shu!
Although Yue Dingtang had an official position as a consultant, he did not actually have any specific work.

As long as there is nothing to be done at the police station, even if he didn’t not come in for ten days or even half a month, no one would ask questions.

In the end, this job was just set up by the superiors to aid the other down below. Yue Dingtang was very clear on that, so his main focus was still placed at the University. At the police station as long as Ling Shu was about to keep an eye on things, help to run errands and pass on any messages, it was enough.

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After handing the papers to Ling Shu for delivery, he went back to the University to teach a class.

At noon, the driver arrived on time to take him to a teahouse for a pre-arranged banquet.

Another luncheon.

Yue Dingtang didn’t like going to luncheons.

Although on the surface he was smooth, slick, and rigorous, even a bit warm on the outside and cold on the inside, but if he had the choice he would rather stay home quietly and read a book and write a couple of essays.

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A moment of silence was more eloquent than ten thousand words1万言万当,不如一默- just an expression to say that one must be careful with words/what is said. If you say too much, you could always make mistakes, and if you make mistakes, you will need to make up for them, and there will be endless trouble.

But sometimes, such social events were essential.

As an intellectual, in particular, there would always be some dealings within the literary circle. For example, tonight’s guests came from the North to attend the event. They were also avant-garde poets and writers of considerable repute in China. They had specifically wanted to see the art of the Southern style Opera so the host had organised the luncheon at this teahouse where they could also watch the Huangmei Opera. The luncheon took place in a private room on the second floor, where they listened to the Opera, ate and made conversation.

The teahouse was not very busy in the middle of the day, but it was really lively at night.

They looked down from the second floor, and saw the opera actors on stage, as well as the sparse audience on the first floor, who were in full view.

“Ming Hong and Shao Yu have come a long way, please forgive me for the poor hospitality. Please do not look down on this humble teahouse, it is quite old and famous in the local area, even Mr. Mei2I think they might be referring to this guy has sung on the stage here in his early career.”

“No, no, no, you’re too kind, Zhao-xiong. We just came here to make some contacts, we’ll just stay for two or three days, you can just let us wander around by ourselves, no need to trouble you to accompany us everywhere. Who is this?”

Exchanging conventional greetings and courtesies were inevitable at the beginning of such events.

Amongst the several people present, there were those who were wearing western suits like Yue Dingtang and others who were wearing changshan and round hats. It was a real mix of East and West, which was a common sight in the era.

“Come, come, let me introduce you, this is Mr. Han, Zhou Han, the editor-in-chief of 《The Eastern Times》, you must have heard of him.”

“More than just heard I believe? I have long admired Mr. Han, and I have not missed a single issue of your editorial under your pseudonym ‘Xiao Bai Yang’!”

“Hahahaha, Ming Hong-xiong is too kind. I have read all of your poetry anthologies, I must buy every issue each time it is released in Shanghai!”

“This is Mr Yue, Yue Dingtang, who is both a Professor of Law and an advisor to the Shanghai PSB and the Municipal Police.”

Compared to the familiar names in the literary circle, the name Yue Dingtang was relatively unknown.

There was really not much reaction from the two guests.

The co-host, who was in charge of the introductions, added: “This is the same Mr Yue who solved the recent murder case of a famous Shanghai lady of note.”

It was then that it dawned on those two people and they were instantly more than a little impressed.

“So it was Mr Yue who cracked the case, and we all heard about it in Beijing!”

“This case has been reported in all the newspapers in the North and South of the country in several issues, and we have followed it from the beginning to the end. It is true that there are ups and downs, but even if the newspapers add their own bells and whistles and there are inevitably exaggerations, today we have the pleasure of meeting you. I wonder if Yue-xiong would be willing to share with us some of the details of the case?”
Yue Dingtang’s mind began to wander.

It was the first time his mind had wandered off at a social event like this and he had not heard what was being said to him.

Because he saw someone.

It’s on the first floor, at the first table in front of the stage.

He was alone at that table.

On the table was a plate of peanuts, layered osmanthus cakes and a cup of hot tea freshly brewed by teamaster.

He sat with his legs crossed one over the other, resting one hand on the table which was tapping to the rhythm of the music, the gauze was still faintly visible on the back of his hand.

Yue Dingtang thought that he was seeing things.

“Mr Yue? Mr Yue?”

Yue Dingtang returned to his senses.

“Sorry, I just saw a friend and got lost in thought.”

“No harm, no foul, you have a friend here, why not call him up and join us for tea and conversation.”

Yue Dingtang laughed, “He likes to listen to the opera, so I’ll let him be, no need to disturb each other.”

At the request of the crowd, he gave a brief account of the case, which, in a few words, was enough to amaze.

After all, it’s not everyday that one can experience walking on the edge of life and death, and for many writers who spent their days at their desks crouched over their work, it was more like something that happened in another world.

Yue Dingtang finished recounting the details of the case and glanced at his watch.

It was 1 o’clock.

In broad daylight, at noon during working hours, a man who should have been out delivering a document was here listening to a play.

Even though he had given him half a day off, it was for him to go back and move his things over, not to entertain and amuse himself.

If the tiger doesn’t fly into a fit of rage, do you treat him like a sick cat?

Yue Dingtang sneered inwardly and naturally lifted his head to look downstairs again.

A cold smile curled at the corners of his mouth.

That person had disappeared.

The man who had just been sitting there munching on peanuts had disappeared without a trace.

Yue Dingtang frowned slightly.

Seeing that the meal was already halfway through, he found an excuse to leave early and return to the PSB.

The corridor was quiet, there was no one in sight.

It should still be lunchtime.

Yue Dingtang walked slowly to his office and paused for a moment.

There was no movement inside and it was silent inside and out.

Yue Dingtang was sure that Ling Shu must not have returned yet. He reached out and pushed the door open.

The main desk, naturally, was empty.

The desk on the side of the office–

There was a person sitting upright, writing at tremendous speed, assiduously and diligently, working tirelessly to complete his task.

Hearing the sound of the door opening, the other looked up with a surprised look on his face.

“Sir, you’re back so soon, didn’t you say you had a social event?”

Yue Dingtang:……

He walked over to him.
The white paper under Ling Shu’s pen had only one line of a title written on it.

Discussion on the necessity to rectify public security around the periphery of teahouses in Shanghai.

Yue Dingtang: “The documents I asked you to deliver, you did it so quickly?”

Ling Shu: “The place you asked me to go was not far away, and I happened to bump into Secretary Song on my way out to run the errand, so she asked the driver to give me a lift, so I came back quickly.”

Secretary Song was the Deputy Mayor’s secretary, which, in theory, had nothing to do with Ling Shu.

And this Secretary Song, of whom Yue Dingtang had also heard, was not easy to get along with.

But on his first day at work, Ling Shu had already managed to build a relationship with her and made her willing to give him a ride.

Even if it was just a convenient drop-off, it still depends on the person.

Yue Dingtang raised his eyebrows, “Ling laodi is indeed sociable!”

Ling Shu said modestly: “No, no, I have learnt everything from you, Sir!”

Yue Dingtang:……

Why does it sound a bit off?

“Didn’t I give you a half day off. Have you finished moving all your stuff?”

“I haven’t gone back yet, but when I was coming back from delivering the document, I passed by the teahouse and saw someone being burgled at the entrance, so I thought of this topic. When it’s finished, could I ask you to correct it for me?”

Yue Dingtang gave a meaningful “oh” and expressed some doubt, “You just passed by and didn’t go in to sit, rest and listen to the play?”

Ling Shu’s face was innocent and pure: “How could I? I’m just concerned about my work, how could I do such a thing during work hours?”

Yue Dingtang smiled slightly and said, “I was right about you, you were such a diligent and active person when you were studying and you are no exception now. So can I see this report you have written for tomorrow?”

Ling Shu said, “I’m afraid tomorrow is a bit too soon, can you give me some time?”

Yue Dingtang refused to let him off: “Then you set a time. But it’s just a report, it doesn’t take ten days or half a month to write, does it?”

Ling Shu: “That’s not much time, it can be completed in a month.”

Yue Dingtang nodded, “Then I’ll give you a month.”

That was the end of that matter.

When Yue Dingtang returned home that evening, his sister Yue Chunxiao heard that Ling Shu was working under him and asked him a couple of questions about it, and asked him to take care of his old classmate and not to make him work too hard.

Yue Dingtang’s mouth twitched at her words, “The assistant to the Consultant, who is sitting in the office all day long, and not having to run around like before. Where exactly is the hard work?”

Yue Chunxiao: “Then didn’t you still ask him to write a report of some sort? I heard that he has to go all over Shanghai and investigate the surrounding districts, and apply for funding. Just listening to this sounds like a lot of work. Plus Xiao Ling is still recovering from injuries, I saw his wounds at the hospital, even if you want him to help you out, you should still do it with some measure.”

The more Yue Dingtang listened, the more he felt that something was off: “What funding, what on earth did he tell you?”

Yue Chunxiao rebuked: “He just didn’t say anything, that’s why I feel sorry for him, he took it all on himself to repay you for the promotion, you have to help him out.”

Yue Dingtang:……

He was at a loss for words, so he didn’t say anything and let his own sister ramble on.

Given that it was already too late, he did not have time to pursue the matter with Ling Shu.

The following morning, Yue Dingtang went straight to the Ling family home.

But Ling Yao told him that Ling Shu had gotten up early in the morning and gone to the office already.

Yue Dingtang had to rush to the PSB.
Just after getting out of the car, before he had a chance to go up to the office, he bumped into Secretary Song.

As soon as Secretary Song saw him, she said, “Yue laodi, you’re just in time, the funding you applied for has come through from above, come with me to sign some documents.”

After she finished, she leaned in a bit closer, with a secretive smile she said, “Your face3面子 mianzi – reminder sociological concept that engenders honour, respect, reputation etc is indeed great, it all went through unimpeded. As soon as Mayor Chen heard that it was your proposal, he immediately let the finance side approve it, but it was also because your proposal was really well written. Yue laodi, you’re really suited to this career, why don’t you quit your job at the University and concentrate your efforts over here full time!”

Yue Dingtang:……

Although he didn’t know what had happened yet, he had a feeling that it must have something to do with that guy surnamed Ling.

Ling, Shu!

Ling Shu, who was outside the cinema waiting to go in, sneezed.

Needless to say, it must have been Yue Dingtang who was scolding him.

Yue Dingtang as a newcomer, had an unestablished foundation, not to mention no tasks at hand. Ling Shu had taken the initiative to make good relations with others for him and apply for project funding for his boss, and even spent half the night finishing the job, but the one surnamed Yue was not able to appreciate his good intentions and was actually scolding him behind his back.

Alas, it is so hard to be a good person these days.
Translator Notes:

hahahaha poor Lao Yue. I guess he’s going to really start regretting having Lingling as his assistant.

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