The Plough – Chapter 48

Ling Shu frowned, and thought that he had entered into someone else’s carefully planned trap.
“Pity the poor servant girl’s life, as she heads to death for her master.”

“This was the contents of the third death threat letter.”

“I remember, at that time, you were even afraid that the maidservant by your side might be affected so you asked her to go home and visit family in the country.”

“But something still happened to her.”

He Youan forced out a slight smile.

When Ling Shu and Yue Dingtang had first read the contents of the third letter, they had suspected that the murderer might target the people around her.

He Youan had been even more perceptive and had directly thought about her personal maid.

This maid had worked for He Youan the longest, and understood her the best and she was extremely clear on He Youan’s habits, likes and dislikes. To He Youan, this maid was like family to her, and couldn’t only be considered as a master and servant relationship.

After receiving the death threat letters, He Youan had given that maidservant a three month long vacation, asking her to go home to visit her family in the countryside, and had even given her some extra money to go to the department store to pick up some gifts for her family in order for her to return proudly to her hometown.

Because the maid had worked for He Youan a long time, she could be considered as someone who had seen the outside world, but she knew that this was not the case for her relatives. She knew that if she casually bought a few things from the big city of Shanghai, this would be enough to impress those relatives who lived in the countryside.

Because He Youan frequently shopped at Xinxin Department Store, the maid was also familiar with it and when her master had given her some extra money, she had gone there to buy the gifts, but it was when she was leaving the store that an accident occurred.

The maid was carrying too much, and was not paying attention to the stairs. She took a wrong step and fell down, hitting the back of her head heavily against the stairs and splattering blood everywhere.

“Miss Qian was already comatosed on the way to the hospital, not long after arriving at the hospital she was pronounced dead, we are also very distraught over this. Because this incident did not happen inside the department store, the department store therefore, claims no responsibility in the matter. But we still feel regret for this incident and we would like to contribute to Miss Qian’s funeral arrangements. Miss He, please restrain your grief, accept fate1节哀顺变 jié’āi shùn biàn – chinese way of saying “My condolences” etc when someone dies.”

The speaker was the manager of the department store, to him, this was a truly stressful day.

The news of a woman dying in front of the department store had already been printed in the newspapers, and the pool of blood on the floor was enough to frighten and deter the people coming in and out of the department store. In the end, it was impossible for this incident to not affect the department store. If it had been Yong’an department store, the other rival department stores would have used this opportunity to discredit them. Saying things such as Xinxin Department Store had some problems with Fengshui, which would definitely affect its business.
If the servant’s master had not been the famous He Youan, the department store manager would have not bothered to come over personally, to offer his condolences and to propose compensation.

Ling Shu: “A few days ago, it snowed causing the steps to become too slippery, although, the victim slipped and fell, the department store cannot be completely absolved of fault.”

As soon as the department store manager heard this, his face instantly darkened, and had to defend himself.

“Mr Ling, your words are wrongly accusing us! Snow is snow, but we have so many customers every day, so we must clear the snow at the entrance every two hours, so even if the weather was cold making the steps slippery, aside from Miss Qian, we have never had such an incident happen before.”

The underlying meaning was that the maid Miss Chen was unlucky, so unlucky that she ended up offering her little life from just one fall.

He Youan sighed and said: “Although Miss Qian and I were master and servant, in reality we were more like family, I am feeling much aggrieved, so I will not be able to receive you all today. Regarding the compensation, please go and discuss it with Teng lao-ban2Reminder: her manager/agent, I don’t want any of it, he will send it to her family.”
The department store manager was eager to leave, after hearing what she said, he immediately replied: “Miss He is benevolent, we will get an obituary published on behalf of Miss Qian regarding the reason for this incident, it can also act as a warning to any of our customers to take more care in the future and it will also praise Miss He’s devotion and kindness to Miss Qian.

He Youan shook her head: “There is no need to mention me, if you want to get it published then feel free to do so, but please don’t put all the blame on Miss Qian, she has already passed away so let her rest in peace.”

“Naturally! Naturally!” The department store manager said in succession.

The third death threat letter had been realised.

Until now, between the three incidents, the only one that could be considered murder was the second incident3Reminder: the cinema stabbing incident.

The dead cat was simply to frighten her, but this time, someone had actually lost their life.

If there was a third, could there be a fourth or even a fifth time?

What exactly was the suspect’s objective?

Maybe he didn’t want He Youan to die so easily, so he started from the people around her, just like a cat when it catches a mouse but it doesn’t eat it, and just plays with the mouse again and again. Maybe, the last time at the movie theater when the person tried to kill her, he didn’t mean to take her life at all.

He Youan was not looking good at all.

She was not only dejected and upset, she was also starting to feel defeated.

This time, she thought that she had made the necessary arrangements in advance but in the end it was a calamity that was impossible to avoid.

What if the maidservant had not fallen to her death? But there were so many witnesses in the broad light of day. What if her death was not an accident, how could one explain that letter that had accurately predicted this incident?

Ling Shu thought that under these circumstances it didn’t seem quite right to bring up Liang Ye, but he still had some questions that he wanted clarifying.

“Miss He, I’ll be so bold as to ask, do you know someone called Liang Ye?”

He Youan looked up.

“You found out about him?”

Ling Shu nodded and said: “Originally I didn’t want to bring it up now, but for the sake of solving this case earlier, I decided to ask for clarifications anyway.”

He Youan calmly said: “Please ask.”

Ling Shu: “So Liang Ye really is your little brother-in-law?”

He Youan: “That’s correct.”

Ling Shu: “Since you’re paying for his tuition fees, why did you try to hide it?”
He Youan: “I guess you have already seen him then? Then you must already know how he feels about me, he treats me worse than he would to a stranger. To him, I am the one who destroyed his older brother and sent their family into ruin. No matter what I do, he doesn’t want to see me. If he found out that I was paying for his tuition fee then he probably wouldn’t accept it.”

Ling Shu: “That’s not necessarily true, I think he already knows but he doesn’t want to admit it. On the one hand, he wants to take benefits from you but on the other hand he doesn’t want to see you, is this type of person worth providing for?”

He Youan: “I treat him well in order to keep my promise to Liang Zhou. In my darkest hour, it was Liang Zhou who helped me, even if he used marriage as a means of exchange. But I didn’t hate him, and even thought about living my days out peacefully with him, but the heavens had their own plans. Not long after we married, he got addicted to opium, and squandered the entire family fortune. Even if I worked night and day, I would have had no way of paying back this debt. I had nothing at all, except for this face.”

She touched her own bright and clear cheek, and with a hint of grief in her voice, she asked Ling Shu.

“Mr Ling, how do you think a woman living in this turbulent world could possibly continue living? If I had a background like Miss Zhen, perhaps I could also be living abroad and studying, coming back to China as a modern woman, but I did not have this, I only had this face. I hate it but I can’t damage it.”

Ling Shu did not know how to answer He Youan’s question at that moment.

He Youan did not actually require him to answer.

“My marriage is not a secret, but Teng lao-ban didn’t want too many people to know because it can influence the filmgoers. Mr Ling, are you suspecting Liang Ye? From what I know, although he hates me, I don’t think he would do anything like this, putting aside killing a person, he wouldn’t even kill a chicken. The bottom line is that if I die, his tuition fee and living expenses would disappear. If he guessed that I was giving him the money, then he should know that doing this kind of thing would have absolutely no benefit to him.

What He Youan said seemed to make a lot of sense, and Ling Shu had already eliminated Liang Ye as a potential suspect.

“You need to be more careful, if there is a fourth letter, or if there are any suspicious people hanging around you, please do tell me immediately.” He could only think of saying this to He Youan.

When he said this, he didn’t know that the fourth letter would actually be delivered so quickly.

Just as Ling Shu left He Youan’s apartment, and got to the end of the street, a paperboy rushed past him.

“Extra extra! Mister, why not buy a copy, it’s the new edition, the headline is ‘The League of Nations4Precursor of the modern day UN does not recognise the state of Manchuria5Was a puppet state of the Empire of Japan in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia from 1932 until 1945. Under the de facto control of Japan, it had limited international recognition., Germany has chosen a new prime minister!”

“No need…..”

Ling Shu’s mind was completely stuck in He Youan’s case, so he paid no attention to the paperboy, but after the two words had slipped out from his mouth, the paperboy had already stuck a copy into his arms.
And the paperboy didn’t even ask Ling Shu for the money, after he passed the paper to him he ran off. How could Ling Shu let him slink off, he took a large step forward and grabbed the paperboy to pull him back.

“How come you’re selling newspapers but you don’t want money?”

“There’s no need, the person before bought a copy and told me to give it to you!” The paperboy didn’t struggle and just told him honestly.

“Who told you to give it to me?” Ling Shu asked.

The paperboy pointed.

Ling Shu looked in the direction that he was pointing at.

The main road was busy with people moving back and forth, so there was clearly no one who would just stand there waiting for him to identify.

“Why did he buy me this paper?”

“I don’t know, I think he put a letter inside the paper, and asked me to give it to you with the newspaper. I don’t know anything!”

Ling Shu shook the paper in his hand, and there was indeed something inside.

“What does that guy look like?”

“I… I don’t remember.”

“If you don’t tell me, I’ll walk you down to the police station.”

“I really don’t remember, he was wearing a hat as well as a scarf that was covering half his face, his entire body was wrapped up tightly, he was wearing a big black coat, and he was very skinny and small but I think it was a man!”

Ling Shu thought that this paperboy didn’t seem to be lying, so he let go of him and then got the letter out.

The envelope was light, there was only a photograph inside.

The photo was of a woman hanging herself with a white silk from the ceiling.

Ling Shu recognised the woman immediately as He Youan.

This was a famous scene from one of He Youan’s films, at the end of her tether, the female protagonist had committed suicide by hanging herself at the end of the movie, this picture had once been published in the newspapers and magazines so it had been widely distributed.

He turned the photo around, there was a line of tiny text written in pencil ——

The beauty in front of the pond, the fragrant bones behind the bridge, the dry tombs in the town, the winter days are drawing to a close, the radiance of spring is approaching, and there will be tears of blood both inside and outside.

It was a curious sentence and could not even be counted as a poem, but brought with it a sense of horror.

Ling Shu understood, so this was the fourth death threat letter aimed at He Youan.

So why did the person decide to give it to him?

Was the killer watching his every move, and knew that he would definitely give the letter to He Youan?

Ling Shu frowned, and thought that he had entered into someone else’s carefully planned trap.

The bigger his movements, the stronger the trap would bite back.

The one who had set the trap was in some secret place laughing, whilst they didn’t even know what the suspect looked like.

And was this photo supposed to be a warning, telling them that what would happen to He Youan next was even more dangerous?

Someone suddenly touched his shoulder.

Ling Shu turned around immediately!

It was Yue Dingtang.

The other saw that his reaction was rather large and asked curiously: “What happened?”

Ling Shu heaved a sigh of relief.

He didn’t know why but seeing Yue Dingtang made him feel a bit more relieved.
Author Note:

== An unrelated mini theatre ==
Yue Dingtang: Why did you heave a sigh of relief when you saw me?
Ling Shu: Perhaps because I’m a really good-looking guy, so I often have beautiful ladies coming up to seduce me.
He thought that Yue Dingtang would scold him for not wanting any face6面子 miànzi – in this context – being utterly shameless, but he didn’t, instead Yue Dingtang just frowned.
Yue Dingtang: Then why would you think you’d be safe with a man? What if I wanted to seduce you?
Ling Shu: ? ? ?
Translator Note:

Thanks for the Ko-fi boost, Sarah! ♡
05/10/21 – Poetry verse updated.

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2 thoughts on “The Plough – Chapter 48”

    • 𝕊𝕠 𝕒𝕞 𝕀 . 𝕀𝕥 𝕚𝕤 𝕤𝕠 𝕨𝕖𝕚𝕣𝕕, 𝕨𝕙𝕪 𝕙𝕒𝕤𝕟’𝕥 𝕐𝕦𝕖 𝔻𝕚𝕟𝕘𝕥𝕒𝕟 𝕗𝕝𝕚𝕣𝕥 𝕨𝕚𝕥𝕙 𝕒𝕟𝕪 𝕨𝕠𝕞𝕒𝕟 𝕝𝕚𝕜𝕖 𝕂𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕊𝕙𝕖 𝕕𝕠𝕖𝕤? ℍ𝕞𝕞 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸

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