Ling Shu is the only male left in the Ling family.
The driver did a little jog around and opened the car door.
Yue Dingtang felt a chill on his right cheek, he wiped it with his hand, it was a melting snowflake.
Under the car headlights, the fine grains of snow were clearly visible. With the occasional bit of wind, the snowflakes blew down the collar of the driver who subconsciously shrugged and muttered quietly. “Why is it still snowing?”
The warm breeze came to his face, mixed with a sombre fragrance, the change from cold to hot made his nose tickle, the driver could not help but sneeze.
A figure walked down from upstairs, it was hard for her to be wearing high heels and a Qipao, and still fly down the stairs.
Yue Dingtang didn’t even need to look at the other party’s face, he blurted out, “San-jie, why are you back?”
Yue Dingtang: “With Madame Chiang1蒋夫人 – Soong Mei-Ling was a Chinese political figure who was First Lady of the Republic of China, the wife of Generalissimo and President Chiang Kai-shek. in Nanjing, there are soirees and banquets every day, isn’t that your favourite?”
Yue Chunxiao’s lips curled: “I like to be in the limelight, but I don’t like fawning over all those self-important people. Without going to Nanjing, you don’t know your own status, I have absolutely no interest in socialising with those people with powerful connections. Why not just come home and be comfortable? Besides, those people think that working abroad is an amazing job, they will definitely ask questions about it and think that your brother-in-law is some big fish to suck up to!”
Yue Dingtang nodded: “Still as bad tempered as ever then.”
Yue Chunxiao made a gesture as if she was about to hit him, the latter’s eyes flashed away, whilst Yue Chunxiao’s hands stopped halfway and changed to pinch his ear.
Yue Dingtang hissed, “Be gentle!”
Yue Chunxiao: “Do you concede?”
Yue Dingtang: “I prostrate in veneration.”
Yue Chunxiao let go with satisfaction: “I made some dumplings and rolled out some noodles. What do you want to eat, dumpling soup? Scallion noodles?”
Yue Dingtang: “Noodles with scallion oil.”
Yue Chunxiao groaned: “You still have the same taste; it hasn’t changed since we were kids.”
After that, she sauntered off happily to prepare the noodles.
Noodles with scallion oil is easy to prepare. Heat the scallions and oil in a pan until the scallions are browned, and then cook the noodles and poor the scallion oil over the top of the noodles.
A bowl of noodles has thus become the stable of most people in this city, from the wealthy down to the lower classes.
Yue Chunxiao made more than just noodles with scallion oil.
Stuffed mushrooms and small soup dumplings were also placed on the table.
These two things however must have taken some work to make.
Yue Dingtang’s mouth twitched: “Didn’t we say just supper, do you want me to be completely stuffed.”
Yue Chunxiao did not bother asking the maidservant and personally brought up the noodles with scallion oil and placed them in front of him.
“I thought your er-ge would come back to eat, but who knew he suddenly had to go to Beijing.” Yue Chunxiao sat down opposite him and sighed, “It’s better to be at home, everything looks so familiar, even the wardrobe in the room that’s missing a handle looks better than the one I have outside.”
Yue Dingtang lowered his head and ate several bites of noodles before saying, “What’s happened to make you sigh like this? Didn’t you always think that the West was so much better than the East. Everything is more advanced, more beautiful, with tall buildings and a civilized etiquette. Wasn’t that what you said?”
Yue Chunxiao gave him a glance: “Before I was studying abroad. Can studying abroad be the same as living abroad? Of course you’d be saying this, I should really make you see it with your own eyes. People who know, know it’s an Embassy those who don’t think it’s some sort of rundown haunted house!”
Yue Chunxiao smiled bitterly: “Respected? Nanjing should actually pay your brother-in-law and the others. They have been in arrears for more than half a year and still haven’t been paid. Those who are like us with some family background are still able to get by. But those that aren’t, can hardly afford winter clothing! The Embassy is also in need of repair. Whenever it rains, the roof will leak. Not to mention in your brother-in-law’s office. The windows are broken and can’t be closed. Rain will always splash inside, making the floor around the window wet, and mould grew over time. If he asked for another office, where would the funds come from, even his salary is in arrears?”
At first, the hand holding the noodles didn’t stop, but gradually, the movement slowed down.
Silence flowed between the two.
“What did Nanjing say about it, Diplomat Chen sent a telegram?”
“It’s been sent, it was sent a while ago, urging them to release salaries and funding. Nanjing just said that it is difficult time at the moment and asked them to find their own way to raise the money. I just want to say just quit this bullshit Diplomat position!”
“Respect is earned by oneself, not given by others. If even your own country doesn’t take itself seriously, then why should your brother-in-law and the others go abroad to suffer!”
“You have no idea, before we returned to the country, there was a soiree in the British Embassy. I accompanied your brother-in-law. At that time, the French Diplomat asked your brother-in-law in front of the secretaries of the Diplomats of several other countries. He said the rain has stopped outside, but why was it still raining inside the Chinese Embassy, and if that was true?”
She had only complaints at this point without a trace of the smugness that she had exhibited before she had left the country.
Yue Dingtang: “How did brother-in-law get sent back?”
Yue Chunxiao: “Your brother-in-law said that the world is still not at peace, and we Chinese like to think of danger in times of safety, we must always remind ourselves that we must not forget our suffering, so that we can do more for the people.”
Yue Dingtang smiled and said, “This answer is not bad.”
Yue Chunxiao said angrily: “Don’t laugh! If your brother-in-law was a member of the American or British embassy, would the other party dare to make such a joke?!”
Yue Dingtang: “That was just idle chatter in an informal setting, it’s a mess both domestically and abroad, so outsiders can’t be blamed for mocking us.”
She complained a lot, and Yue Dingtang was also very patient to listen to her. After all, if the couple had to go abroad again, it would be difficult for brother and sister to be able to see each other again.
“Right,” Yue Chunxiao pierced the soup dumpling with her chopsticks, the juices poured out, with a delicious aroma. “Today I went for afternoon tea and bumped into Ling Yao, do you remember her? The elder sister of your old classmate Ling Shu.”
Yue Dingtang’s hand which was on the noodle bowl stopped moving.
“What’s up with her?”
Yue Chunxiao: “Nothing. I only found out when I returned to China this time. She married someone who works for Shanghai City Government, she really hasn’t changed much. Life brings its ups and downs. Tsk tsk, how glorious and well-regarded was the Ling family back then, but now their reputation has completely waned. She was still trying to put on a front in front of that Mrs Kuo but was ruthlessly thwarted by me.”
Yue Dingtang: “I remember that you used to be on good terms, no?”
Yue Chunxiao chuckled: “You really don’t understand women at all. We have a love-hate relationship based on rivalry. Do you understand?”
Yue Dingtang came to the conclusion: “A hypocritical relationship.”
After saying that he moved quickly, nimbling avoiding his sister’s ear pinching hand.
Yue Chunxiao continued to sigh: “I still remember when Ling Yao and I were in school, she’d change her outfit everyday, each day would be different style. Those handbags and perfumes that weren’t available in China yet, she had already got someone to bring them back from the West for her. But now, the checked Qipao that she was wearing, has clearly been overworn and full of lint but she is still wearing it, so you can imagine what life Ling Yao is living now! By the way, how is your old classmate Ling Shu, have you got in touch with him? ”
Yue Dingtang: “Rarely.”
Yue Chunxiao: “As the saying goes, the friendship of old classmates is the most precious. If you are free, call him over and catch up a little. I have liked that child since I was young, he’s handsome and clever, if it weren’t for the fall of the Ling family, he’d probably be even more successful than you now! ”
Yue Chunxiao laughed and said: “Is that so contradictory? I hate his sister, but not him.”
Yue Dingtang put down the soup bowl.
“I’m afraid, I will have to disappoint you.”
Yue Chunxiao was puzzled.
Yue Dingtang: “Ling Shu is involved in a murder case. He is the prime suspect.”
Yue Chunxiao looked shocked: “Then Ling Yao…”
Yue Dingtang: “She probably doesn’t know about this. At present, the media has been suppressed by us, and the newspapers are not allowed to publish the news for the time being. Otherwise, because of the special identity of the deceased, I’m afraid it will cause a sensation.”
Yue Chunxiao: “Impossible, what a well-behaved child Ling Shu was when he was in school, I still remember…”
Yue Dingtang: “The deceased was Du Yunning, you also know her, san-jie, an old classmate of Ling Shu and I.”
Yue Chunxiao stopped talking.
“I’ve finished eating.”
Yue Dingtang got up, ready to go back to his room upstairs.
Yue Chunxiao stopped him.
“Ling Yao, although I don’t like her, I don’t have any deep grudges against her. We are still old classmates. The Ling family has now declined to this state. Ling Shu is the only male left in the Ling family. Could this matter be a mistake?”
Yue Dingtang: “The case happened in the International Settlement. I will help Smith to follow up. We are still collecting evidence at the moment.”
Yue Chunxiao was startled and sighed again.
“Ah, why is this happening now? It’s Lunar New Year in a few days, if Ling Yao is to find out about this, it will be like the sky above her head is about to collapse.”
Yue Dingtang walked up the stairs and then glanced back down, he saw a table full of home cooked dishes, and Yue Chunxiao sitting there frowning.
Back in his bedroom, after washing up, he should have gone to bed to rest. Tomorrow, he has to have to go to school to mark some papers, but Yue Dingtang tossed and turned over and over again and was not sleepy at all.
The phrase “Ling Shu is the only male left in the Ling family” was stuck on his mind.
He grabbed the pocket watch on his bedside table, it was already 3am.
Yue Dingtang rubbed his nose, sat up again, took off his crumpled satin nightgown and slowly changed into a suit, then called a servant over.
“Si-shaoye, what do you need?”
“Go and call the driver, I’m going out.”
“Yes, go now.”
As soon as he entered the station, Shen Renjie hurried over to greeted him.
Yue Dingtang already had this slightly chubby Police Officer pegged.
“Mr Yue, it’s so late, why have you come?”
Shen Renjie was no longer the happy bootlicker from before, it seemed he was trying to put on a fake smile.
Yue Dingtang was immediately suspicious.
“Du Yunning’s case, I thought of some details and want to question the suspect, help me bring out Ling Shu.”
“Well ……” Shen Renjie’s face showed reluctancy.
Yue Dingting: “What’s the matter, it can’t be done?”
Shen Renjie: “No no, look, it’s so late, it’s already the middle of the night, why not tomorrow? At least let the suspect get a good night’s sleep, and tomorrow his mind will be clearer, right?”
Yue Dingtang had heard a lot about the way the Municipal Police treat their suspects.
Although he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, Yue Dingtang knew that most of it was true.
There are countless ways to make a person yield——
Make people wish for death, make people want to live, or to be in utter misery neither dead nor alive.
“When did the Municipal Police become so lenient towards the suspects, that questioning times are now divided between day and night.”
Under his eagle-eyed gaze, Shen Renjie’s nose was sweating profusely in the cold winter.
“Ok, please wait a moment, I’ll ask him to be brought over!”
He strode pass Shen Renjie and walked towards the prison.
“I’ll get him myself!”
A little history:
The Qing Dynasty ended in 1912.
This novel is set in the 1930’s during the Republic of China (1912-1949) – the Capital moved around a bit during this era but at the time of the novel it was in Nanjing hence you will see it mentioned a lot in this novel.
22/07/21 -Additional footnotes, links to the food, and City Hall changed to Shanghai City Government.
08/01/22 – Reformat.