The Plough – Chapter 46

“Oh my heart, I’m hurt.”
The old butler understood and laughed, he kept the bowl of soup in his hand and didn’t move a muscle.

He merely made a signal at Ling Shu with his eyes.

Ling Shu understood and immediately got up to snatch the soup bowl from his hands.

“Zhou-shu didn’t give it to me, I took it myself, so you can’t blame him for it.”

After a sip of the soup, his body that had been subjected to the cold winter wind was instantly warmed.

“Zhou-shu, are there also spare ribs in the soup?”

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The old butler gave a thumbs up: “Yes, to enhance the flavour.”

Ling Shu was pleased with himself: “I could tell from one sip what was in the soup!”

Yue Dingtang said slowly: “There’s an animal that is exactly like you.”

“Yue Sir, I spent the entire day with Miss Zhen just for you, even if there is no reward, you should still acknowledge my hard work. How can you treat such a hardworking subordinate like this, are you not afraid of upsetting me?”

Ling Shu downed the bowl of soup then put his hand on his heart and sighed.

“Oh my heart, I’m hurt.”

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Yue Dingtang didn’t care in the slightest: “I asked you to get rid of her, I didn’t tell you two to go on a date to the cinema.”

Ling Shu laughed and said: “Oh, did you have me followed? It seems you were really worried, so what did you find out from following me?”

Yue Dingtang didn’t speak, he put down the soup bowl and began to eat his dinner.

He had good manners, he would never speak when eating. Even if it was a matter of utmost importance, he would still remember to carefully chew then swallow before speaking.

Ling Shu was the complete opposite.

Ling Shu had never noticed the speed at which he ate, it was also like this before when he was at the station on duty. If he was in the middle of eating and something got called in, he would either drop his chopsticks and go or he’d stuff everything in his mouth to finish quickly.

Ling Shu was once a wealthy family, and had also paid attention to dinner table etiquette. But ordinary citizens were constantly rushing around and working hard in their daily lives, so this so-called etiquette of ‘not speaking with one’s mouth full’ was merely for those who had money and had time to spend in leisure. Ling Shu had long considered that he had changed from a son of a wealthy family to a commoner, if he was eating so politely like Yue Dingtang, then he’d probably not be able to finish eating even after half an hour.

However, after spending some time together, he also discovered a curious regular pattern, when Yue Dingtang was in a bad mood or was deep in thought, then he would only eat from the two plates closest to him, so the dishes the furthest away were probably actually the ones he liked the most.

At this moment, it was evident that Yue si-shaoye was not in a good mood.

Ling Shu laughed.

The other didn’t utter a word, but he was not worried.

Ling Shu tried to slow down the speed at which he was eating, he made a conscious effort to slow his chewing from four times a second to two times a second, and to take smaller and smaller sips of the soup.

Like with the freshwater steamed fish, he picked up a piece of the white fish meat and dipped it in its juices before delivering it to his mouth and savouring the flavour for a long while. He swallowed the juices before swallowing the piece of white fish, this was the most satisfactory way of savouring it.

Secretly enjoying the pleasures of being idle for a short while.

Ling Shu was amusing himself quietly.

In the eyes of Yue Dingtang, Ling Shu was idle every single day, there were many people who would have also loved to stretch out a day’s work into three days. How lucky was he, if they didn’t have a case, he could just be lazy and sleep at his desk, and he could take the opportunity of seeing a movie under the guise of having to go out to research for work —— if he hadn’t slinked off in the middle of the work day, how would he have seen He Youan getting attacked?

“If you don’t have anything else to say, you can go.”

The dinner was finished, the servants cleaned up and served a fruit plate, Ling Shu made himself at home, and stretched out his hand to take a piece with the fork.

“Is this apple from Yantai Prefecture? It’s sweet but crunchy, it’s really not bad!”
Ling Shu finished a piece and then reached out to get another but the plate was taken away from him.

Yue Dingtang: “Zhou-shu, see our guest out.”

Zhou-shu didn’t move, he expressed reluctance on his face: “Si-shaoye……”

Yue Dingtang: “What is it, even I can’t get you to take action now? Ok Lao Hong ——”

“Ok, fine I’ll tell you alright?” Ling Shu took the fruit plate back, and took a piece of apple at the same time. “I didn’t find any earth-shattering clues, I was afraid you hadn’t digested yet, I was giving you a bit of extra time to digest. After I left Miss Zhen this afternoon, I went to He Youan’s old address, and asked around her old neighbours and friends, guess what I found out?”

The way he was asking, he was clearly purposefully trying to make it unnecessarily complicated, the answer was definitely not anything too unexpected.

Yue Dingtang expressed a slight interest. “

“Has she killed someone before?”

Ling Shu: “She was previously married.”

Yue Dingtang frowned,

“Could it be that one of her neighbours is jealous of her success, and is purposefully trying to defame her?”

Ling Shu said: “No it doesn’t seem so. But there are not many people who know about this matter. I travelled around to quite a few households, their impressions of He Youan and her brother was that he was incredibly hardworking and assiduous, he studied most of the night, and then during the day he went to docks to work to support himself and his sister. Whilst she also often went out to take on odd jobs in order to earn some pocket money to help out. Until He Zhangan went missing, and He Youan lost her support system. With her beautiful appearance, and without the protection of her older brother, if no one took a fancy to her, that would be the odd thing.”

Yue Dingtang: “Continue.”

Ling Shu: “So then there was a family surnamed Liang, in this family the father and mother knew He Youan’s parents but they had also both passed away after. However, their situation was a little better off than He Youan, at least the children had some money. The Liang brothers were able to go to school, the eldest brother, Liang Zhou was fond of He Youan from a young age and proposed to her.”

Yue Dingtang: “Did she agree?”

Ling Shu: “She said yes, at that time there was only one witness at the wedding, and that was the neighbour who told me about it. It’s an old lady surnamed Zhong. It’s a pity that not long after they married, her husband, Liang Zhou, was introduced to drugs, and was secretly smoking opium behind her back. And wanting to get rich overnight and recover the money he had spent on opium, he went to the betting shop but lost everything.

Nowadays being addicted to cigarettes was already serious, let alone having a drug addiction.

Yue Dingtang: “Sounds like the family was in ruins.”

Ling Shu: “Not totally, but also not far off. Liang Zhou did not die from smoke poisoning. It was because he couldn’t pay back all the money he lost at the betting shop, so he was beaten half to death and finally succumbed to his injuries not long after.”

Yue Dingtang said: “Some of the betting shops will hold back and not kill the person on the spot, but instead cause them internal injuries so that the person is able to return home, and the betting shop can clear themselves of any crime. Plus they usually have the backing of the gangs so even if one was to go to the police it wouldn’t do a lot of good.”

Ling Shu: “That’s right, it was only after Liang Zhou died, that He Youan found out that he had spent all of their money on opium, and he had even borrowed money from a loan-shark with astronomical interest rates. Even if she didn’t eat or drink and worked hard for ten years – she would still not be able to pay it back. In addition to this, Liang Zhou also had a young brother, Liang Ye who was still studying and had expenses. The debt nearly crushed them, until, not long after that, He Youan was selling flowers outside the cinema when Shen Shiqi took a shine to her.

Yue Dingtang: “All this was from her old neighbour?”

Ling Shu nodded: “He Youan has a lot of fans, if this information got out it would definitely harm her reputation, and make her social status fall rapidly, the old neighbour received some hush money and she also pitied He Youan’s bumpy past, so she never told anyone.”

Yue Dingtang: “So how come this person told you then?”

Ling Shu lifted his chin slightly: “Well that’s naturally because I’m capable, isn’t that right, Zhou-shu?”

The old butler smiled but did not say a word.

Yue Dingtang: “Well now what do you plan to do next?”

Ling Shu: “There’s no need to rush, that’s not the only thing I found out. After this old neighbour, I found out Liang Zhou’s younger brother, Liang Ye’s address, he could be considered He Youan’s ex brother-in-law. Consequently, right now, he’s studying at the university where you teach. It could be said, Yue Sir, that this Liang Ye is also your student!”

Yue Dingtang: “What department?”

“Foreign languages, second year.” Ling Shu was radiant with delight, “There is something even more coincidental, the one who lured Liang Zhou into gambling all of his money and leaving the Liang family penniless, was a real character, it’s Lu Tongcang’s right hand man, Jiang He.”

Yue Dingtang: “He Youan said before that because Jiang He was really displeased with all the attention that Lu Tongcang was spending on her. Afraid that he would run into ruin because of her beauty, he even sent someone to give her a warning.”

Ling Shu: “That’s right, that’s him.”

Yue Dingtang: “But this situation should have happened after He Youan began making movies.”
Ling Shu: “Could it be that before that, Lu Tongcang had already seen He Youan, and had set this all up previously so that she’d end up having to sell herself but instead Shen Shiqi ended up being the one to benefit from it?”

Yue Dingtang: “This is only your guess.”

Ling Shu: “So we need to dig a little deeper to get confirmation. I’ve decided to go see Liang Ye and Jiang He tomorrow, and try to get some more information from the two of them.

Yue Dingtang stared at the fruit plate.

The apple had been cut into eight pieces, he had eaten two pieces, the rest had all been swallowed up by Ling Shu.

This guy ate everyday, but how come he was still so scrawny, unless he had two stomachs?

Ling Shu watched as the other’s gaze moved from the fruit plate to his body, staring at him for a while, he couldn’t help using a hand to cover his chest.

“What is it, seeing that I’m too clever, you want to steal my heart?”

Yue Dingtang couldn’t resist letting out a sigh.

He thought that in order to get along with Ling Shu, the most essential thing was to learn to master the Buddhist principle of being ‘tranquil and even-tempered’.

What was the point in making a fuss for a little matter. Others can get angry but I won’t, wouldn’t it be worse to get a sickness stemming from too much anger.

Yue Dingtang recited this a few times in his head, the corners of his mouth unexpectedly twitched up a little and he smiled slightly at Ling Shu.

“You’ve been talking for a long while, but you still haven’t told me what happened with Zhen Congyun.”

Ling Shu:……

Ling Shu thought that Yue Dingtang’s reaction was really odd, so this time he got straight to the point.

“After I met up with Miss Zhen, I told her what you wanted me to pass on to her but Miss Zhen didn’t make things difficult for me and we ended up chatting a little.”

Yue Dingtang: “Chat about what?”

Ling Shu: “Worldly affairs, current affairs and customs, although she just came back from Japan, her knowledge is vast, and she seemed to know a lot of stuff, I think she must spend a lot of time reading. We got to talking about movies, and ended up discussing He Youan’s new film, then she invited me to go see it.”

Yue Dingtang: “Did you go?”

Ling Shu: “Of course not, if I went to the cinema, how could I investigate the case. With my determination, I naturally declined Miss Zhen’s invitation. However, Miss Zhen also invited me to go dancing this weekend at Paramount. This weekend, the Zhen family have privately reserved the entire Paramount so that she can invite her friends to celebrate her birthday.” Yue Dingtang: “You agreed to go.”

Ling Shu fished out a list of names from his pocket, put it on the table then slid it over to Yue Dingtang.

“This is the guestlist that I got from Miss Zhen, on it are all the people that she has invited to the party. Written in black are the friends that she has invited herself, the ones written in red were added by her secretary, these people have been for the sake of networking for the Zhen family.”

Yue Dingtang took the guestlist and glanced over it.

In the corner, aside from Lu Tongcang, there was also another familiar name.

Jiang He.

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