The Plough – Chapter 64

I don't like men.
“Mr Jiang, what are you doing here?”

“I’ve come to see how you’re doing.”

Jiang He took off his hat and put it on the side.

“You don’t look too pleased to see me.”

Ling Shu put on a fake smile: “How could that be, it’s just that when others come to visit someone in hospital they generally come with a gift, you’ve not brought anything, so it doesn’t seem like you’ve come just to check on me.”

“That’s true, I came in a hurry and forgot.”

Jiang He thought it over and then took out a wad of US dollars from his pocket and put it on the table.

“Just a little something for you.”

This was a heavy handed gesture.

Ling Shu gave him a thumbs up, and was not afraid to dish out compliments: “Frank and straightforward, I like it!”

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One doesn’t visit a temple without a cause1无事不登三宝殿 wúshì bù dēng sān bǎodiàn fig. to visit somebody with an ulterior motive (esp. to ask for something); having a hidden agenda, he still didn’t believe that Jiang He had just come to the hospital especially to visit him.

But since Jiang He didn’t say anything, Ling Shu didn’t want to ask either.

Jiang He did a lap in his hospital room, then stopped before the window, concealing half his body behind the curtain as he looked down below. Ling Shu thought that he could peek into the habits and daily life of Jiang He, by the way he acted.

Ordinary people who stood beside the window would only look out of it in plain sight, and would never half-conceal themselves, ready to hide away completely at any moment, and then ambush the enemy when the time was right.

Only those who were often licking the blood off the edge of the knife and used to hiding themselves in the dark would be so on guard.

Jiang He seemed to have noticed Ling Shu’s gaze upon him and he turned around.

Ling Shu was sitting up on the bed, wrapped up in his quilt, he was currently counting the US dollars.

Jiang He: …..

He had never seen anyone who was so apparently blunt and frank as Ling Shu.

Naturally, he had also never met anyone who wade into the muddy water2蹚浑水 tāng hún shuǐ (fig.) to get involved in an unsavoury enterprise willingly, and help him get away from life-threatening danger, all in the name of finding clues for a case.

“You don’t seem to be curious why I have come.” Jiang He said.

“Didn’t you come just to visit me in the hospital?” Ling Shu waved the dollar bills in his hand, “Thank you for your kind thoughts, there are apples on the table, help yourself.”

Jiang He: “Aside from the money, I’ve also come to bring you some important information that you’ll definitely be interested in.”

Ling Shu didn’t even turn his head: “I’d like to hear it.”

Jiang He: “Chen Youhua is dead.”

Ling Shu raised his head, his face full of shock: “What?!”

Jiang He: “You seem very surprised.”

Ling Shu : “Why wouldn’t I be surprised?”

Jiang He: “I thought you already knew.”

Ling Shu could absolutely not let him find out that he had seen Chen Youhua be killed and had even taken away the newspaper from his dead body.

“Of course I didn’t know, thanks for telling me!” Well, it’s over then, it’s another clue lost, if we want to investigate whether He Youan is lying or not, we seem to be getting further and further from the truth.”

Jiang He took out a document from his coat and threw it onto the bed.

“This is a file on Chen Youhua, perhaps it might be useful to you.”

Ling Shu opened the file and took out the documents, and flipped through it.

The documents detailed Chen Youhua’s work at the press office, and some past events in his life; it was indeed useful.

“Thanks!”

Ling Shu gave the jewellery box that he had yet to open over to Jiang He.

Jiang accepted it with surprise.

Ling Shu said: “In order to show my gratitude, here’s a gift.”

Jiang He frowned.

He only gave this document to Ling Shu to repay him for the favour of that night.

The kindness of saving his life cannot be taken too lightly.

Jiang He didn’t like owing someone a favour, if he could return it, he’d rather do that.

But Ling Shu was someone who was actually quite interesting.

Because an uninteresting person would never choose danger to help him flee for his life.

Jiang He opened the jewellery box and his facial expression turned a little strange.

“You’re giving this to me?”

“En?”

Ling Shu didn’t want to skim over the documents in front of him so he was putting the files away, when he raised his head and saw Jiang He turn the jewellery box around to face him.

The sparkle of a diamond ring entered his eyeline.

Ling Shu: …..

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Zhen Congyun didn’t give her own engagement ring to him, right?!

Most women were incomprehensible, and this Miss Zhen was a prime example of one of them.

Ling Shu had many women who had fallen for his charm, but very few of them had been like Zhen Congyun, who used him as a target, whilst plotting behind his back.

She had fallen in love with a married man. A man that Zhen Congyun could fall for was definitely not simple, it was probably someone who had a lot of authority and power. But why would this kind of big-wig take such a big risk, to involve himself with a young woman who was already engaged?

This woman had left the ring with him, did she really want to elope? Would the man she loved really run away with her?

Zhen Congyun’s ring was naturally not a knock-off.

The diamond was shining so brightly that Ling Shu was having trouble keeping his eyes open.

From the ring design, he could tell that it was probably made by a foreign jewellery maker.

This kind of priceless diamond ring was casually thrown away by Miss Zhen, and passed to him like a hot potato3 烫手山芋扔 tàng shǒu shānyù fig. problem; trouble; headache.

“The falling flowers are yearning for love, but the heartless brook ripples on4落花有意,流水无情 luòhuā yǒuyì , liúshuǐ wúqíng fig. one side is willing, yet the other one remains indifferent (basically it’s about unrequited love). I don’t like men. You should give this ring to someone else.”

Jiang He said coldly and put down the ring box.

Ling Shu: …..

For the moment, he had still not figured out why Zhen Congyun had left him this ring, but Ling Shu believed that it was definitely not a good thing, there were even various thoughts of calamities arising because of it, she was probably threatening the East and striking in the West5声东击西 shēng dōng jī xī (idiom); to create a diversion.

He really didn’t want to be this unlucky bugger.

He was just about to weave a touching narrative, and persuade Jiang He to take the ring with him, so that he could become the new foolish idiot, when someone pushed open the door.

Ling Shu and Jiang He, almostly subconsciously both looked towards the door together.

And what Yue Dingtang saw was, one sitting up in the bed and the other standing by the bed with an opened diamond ring box in his hand as he held it out towards the other.

Yue Dingtang: ……

Ling Shu, Jiang He: ……

Yue Dingtang was silent for a moment.

“Should I give you both a few minutes alone?”

“No need.”

The one who replied was Jiang He.

Jiang He passed the ring box swiftly into Ling Shu’s hands.

“I’m leaving.”

“Wait!”

Ling Shu’s plea had fallen on deaf ears, Jiang He took large steps towards the exit and swiftly disappeared behind the door.

Yue Dingtang asked: “What’s in the box?”

Ling Shu was dispirited: “A diamond ring.”

The same strange face that Jiang He had made previously appeared on Yue Dingtang’s face.

“I didn’t know that your emotional entanglements spread to include men as well.”

Ling Shu: “I’m not, I haven’t, don’t talk crap, this is Zhen Congyun’s ring.”

Yue Dingtang frowned: “Zhen Congyun? Why did she come here?”

Ling Shu recounted the whole incident briefly.

“Do you know who the married man is that she likes?”

Yue Dingtang: “I’m not sure, my family and the Zhen family don’t have much interaction, we usually just bump into each other from time to time and say hello out of a sign of respect. San-jie wanted to introduce her to me because someone else had mentioned it and she didn’t want to refuse that person, that’s all.”

Ling Shu was pleased: “Luckily you didn’t take a liking to this Miss Zhen, or in an instant she would have turned around and made you wear a green hat6绿帽 lǜmào – fig. To be cuckolded (when a man is cheated on by his wife) and what would you have done then?”

Yue Dingtang coldly and calmly said: “The person she has her sights on now seems to be you.”

Ling Shu choked a bit.

“Why don’t we talk about something else, Jiang He brought a file on Chen Youhua.”

This was basically like feeling sleepy and someone delivering you a pillow.

Yue Dingtang had come back precisely to ask Ling Shu to get hold of Jiang He regarding Chen Youhua.

He would never have thought that Jiang He would come with the information of his own accord.

“He knows that Chen Youhua is dead.”

“Yes.”

“Well why don’t you suspect him?”

Ling Shu thought about it and then shook his head.

“He did ask, but it was only a passing mention. He came today probably after finding out about Chen Youhua’s death, he knew that I was investigating He Youan’s case and he didn’t want to owe me a favour.”

Yue Dingtang pulled out the documents and flicked through them and couldn’t help frowning.

“Jiang He is indeed capable.”

Many of things, if using legal methods would probably not be found, but it was not the same for Jiang He as his men were like those in the Green Gang, they were deeply ingrained into all walks of life in Shanghai, especially at the pier, gambling dens, dancehalls, pawn shops etc. These kind of places were where snakes and dragons mingle7龙蛇混杂 lóng shé hùnzá fig. a mix of good people and scumbags, so they were the easiest places to get information and to make discreet inquiries.

Perhaps Lu Tongcang thought that his right-hand man had become too powerful and was no longer under his thumb which is why he decided to kill him.

“So Chen Youhua really isn’t his real name. His real name is Cheng Feng, he was a well-known Chemistry teacher at one of the nine British secondary schools in Shanghai. But later, due to some issues with fighting with other teachers, he was dismissed from the school and got a job at the press office and changed his name to Chen Youhua and worked there until the attempted assassination when he disappeared.”

“Does he have any family?”

“On his CV from when he was working at the school, it says that he is from Ji’an, Jiangxi. He has parents who live up there and was a single child, and he was also single, unmarried, educated up to secondary school level. The rest of his CV is not particularly detailed, however, in order to have got a job at the school he must have gone through an interview. But this person doesn’t seem to have had any issues with that. Ordinarily, when one is looking for a job, one will want to give as much information as possible, but Chen Youhua has done the opposite, this is the first strange thing.”

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“Also, according to his colleagues at the school, Chen Youhua hardly ever mentioned his family, and he was quite unsociable. But when he went to work at the press office, his personality completely changed and he was described as open and friendly. Look at this, the colleagues at the press office have given him glowing reviews, saying that Chen Youhua was honest and kind-hearted, he was a good person. Why have two polar opposites in character manifested in the same person?”

“If Chen Youhua really is Cheng Feng, then there is only one explanation. Only one of them is his true personality and the other, he purposely put on an act, or perhaps, both of them are an act. No one knows what he was truly like, and no one really knows where he is from, everything about him is like a riddle. Now he is dead, unless we can find someone with a connection to him, otherwise, perhaps, even the name Cheng Feng is also fake.”

Yue Dingtang was deep in thought.

Ling Shu also needed a bit of time to process and clear his mind on the matter.

Since Jiang He had offered up this document as repayment for a favour, that meant that this information must have been almost completely accurate.

“Have you been to Ming De Bookshop?” Yue Dingtang suddenly asked.

“That’s right, Jiang He and I both were suspicious of this place, he also sent someone over to Hangzhou to investigate this Ming De Bookshop. The coincidence is that after the death of Chen Youhua, the night when I returned from Hangzhou, Ming De Bookshop closed its doors. There was a notice outside the door of the bookshop, saying that the Dong family were leaving and their return date had not been decided, and they requested their customers to go elsewhere for their books.”

Although this meant that there was something up with Ming De Bookshop, they could no longer go down this path to investigate.

Twists and turns, everything led once again back to He Youan.

All the clues led to He Youan.

“From before until now, I am still unable to figure out why He Youan asked us to look into the death threat letters? If everything is linked to her, by doing this, originally, even if we wouldn’t have noticed her involvement, she has now pulled focus on herself.”

“Two possibilities.”

Yue Dingtang spoke quietly.

“One – the matter has nothing to do with He Youan. She didn’t know that Shen Shiqi wanted to kill Chen Youhua, and she also didn’t know that Chen Youhua managed to escape, the two of them appeared at the bookshop at the same time coincidentally.”

“The other possibility is that she and Chen Youhua were working together. She pulled us into the game in order to have the possibilities to pull us under water when the time suited her. To put it bluntly, she wanted to push all the responsibility and blame onto us.”

Ling Shu: “I don’t think she is that kind of person.”

Yue Dingtang: “Your feelings for her have already surpassed objectivity.”

Ling Shu said innocently: “Why do I feel like you, on the other hand, are particularly biassed against her?”

Yue Dingtang: “You said once that if there are many coincidences occurring at the same time, then it is not a coincidence. When Chen Youhua went to Ming De Bookshop, why was she also in Hangzhou? Hangzhou is a large place, why did she choose specifically to go to Ming De?”

Ling Shu said: “Chen Wendong wants to kill me, she could have chosen not to write that note warning us, this means that she treats us with at least a basic level of respect and kindness.”

Yue Dingtang: “You’re too naive.”

Ling Shu: “Lao Yue, although, human nature is not always virtuous, He Youan has not done anything to harm us, I think that we may still get a breakthrough in the case from her.”

Yue Dingtang: “Let’s hear it.”

Ling Shu: “Let’s pretend for a moment that this has nothing to do with her. Chen Youhua definitely has an accomplice, if he really did kill Shen Shiqi, perhaps, Chen Youhua’s accomplice might try to do something to He Youan. I will tell He Youan about it and see how she reacts.”

Yue Dingtang: “And if she has no reaction at all?”

Ling Shu: “I’m a good judge of character and I believe in myself.”

A few moments after saying this, Ling Shu started to regret it.

He was standing outside He Youan’s hospital room, exchanging words with the two bodyguards in front of her door.

He could hear the noise of something moving around in the room, it seemed that He Youan was not alone, but the door was firmly shut, he could not peek in and take a look, and the people at the door did not want to announce his arrival, so Ling Shu could only continue to dilly-dally.

Until the nurse came with medicine, she knocked and then opened the door, and Ling Shu finally had the opportunity to shout out loud.

“Miss He, it’s Ling Shu, I’m here to see you!”

“You little brat!”

“What is it?”

These two large body guards were getting ready to throw him out.

Luckily he had finally caught He Youan’s attention.

“Is it Mr Ling? Please come in.”

Ling Shu breathed out a sigh of relief, and darted into the room under the watchful gaze of the bodyguards.

But when he entered, he discovered that there were two large suitcases in the room. There were also two servants helping He Youan to pack her suitcase. They were working very quickly, not giving any thought to whether she wanted to keep or throw away those items.

“Miss He, are you going away?”

“Yes, I’m leaving Shanghai very soon.”

“Where are you going?” Ling Shu asked without thinking.

“I don’t know yet, perhaps Hong Kong, or perhaps overseas. Perhaps I will just travel around and relieve my boredom.”

They had not seen each other for only a couple of days but He Youan seemed to have changed.

It was difficult to pinpoint exactly on how she had changed.

He Youan was still He Youan.

As beautiful as ever, tranquil and calm.

For example, if one was to say that He Youan from before was like a splendid and delicate flower blossom that looked over a rushing creek, the petals would fall and follow the flow of the water. But now, she was more like a stone in the creek, no matter how hurriedly the water passed by, the stone was still looking towards the moon, unwavering and calm, not moving an inch.

This kind of change was minute, if they had not been separated for several days and he was not particularly focused on her behaviour, he would probably not have noticed.

In the place of Ling Shu, if it was someone who was more careless, they probably wouldn’t have noticed at all.

“Why so sudden, haven’t you only made half your film?” Ling Shu said.

He Youan pointed at the bandage on her forehead.

“Look at the state of me now, do you think I can continue filming? I don’t think I will finish, they can change the actress. Mr Cheng was afraid that I was weary and asked me to travel around. This is also good, I have lived in Shanghai for long enough, it’s time for me to go out and see the world.”

“This sounds good, when are you leaving?”

“In the next two days.”

Ling Shu was stunned.

“So soon? Your injuries have not even completely healed, do you not need more rest?”

He Youan smiled: “It would be good to rest on the ship, Mr Cheng will bring a private doctor, so he will be able to consult at any time.”

Ling Shu: “But it’s better to stay at the hospital for medical supplies.”

He Youan: “I’m fine, I really don’t think it’s too serious, as long as it’s not something as demanding as acting, I can take it.”

Ling Shu finally understood what had changed in He Youan.

She had become more cold, her facial expressions no longer expressed any warmth or vitality.

Ling Shu did not know how she was with others, but at least with him, she was definitely not as warm and friendly as before.

“Since it’s like that, I have a few things I’d like to say to Miss He before we part, is it okay if we discuss it now?”

He Youan shot a glance at him and then said to the two maids: “I want to eat some tangerines and roasted chestnuts, it would be great if you could go and pick them up before finishing with the packing.”

After the two maids left, He Youan took out a small silk brocade pouch from her bag.

“Don’t worry Mr Ling, I haven’t forgotten about the reward that I promised you both. This is the key to the safe number 7708 at HSBC. After May, you can go see the bank manager there, and he will take you both to pick up what’s inside.”

Ling Shu: “Why wait till May?”

He Youan smiled: “I’m afraid I don’t have the time to prepare it in advance. I apologise for having to make the two of you wait a further two months for your reward, but it’s better to be thorough.”

Ling Shu said: “To be quite honest, in the beginning, when I accepted this case, it really was for the promise of a reward on your part, but now, the reward has already become secondary.”

He Youan: “I understand, when you saved me at the film premiere that was definitely not for any reward. Mr Ling is generous and kind-hearted, I also know this. I am incredibly grateful to you, however, it’s just a pity that aside from a monetary reward, I don’t know what else I can give to you to thank you.”

Ling Shu: “And if I want to know the truth?”

He Youan was extremely surprised: “What truth?”

Ling Shu looked straight at her and said coldly: “Chen Youhua is dead.”

He thought that what he had said would make He Youan react in some way.

But there was nothing at all, He Youan maintained calm and composed.

“Who is Chen Youhua?”

Ling Shu: “Do you know that Shen Shiqi is dead?”

He Youan: “I know.”

Ling Shu: “Who told you?”

He Youan said: “Mr Cheng, he was just here.”

Ling Shu: “Don’t you have anything to say?”

He Youan sighed, and seemed to look a little upset.

“What can I say? How the relationship was between Mr Shen and I was known to everyone. No matter how he was when he was alive, after all is said and done, when someone dies it is like a light has been extinguished, I can only express my grief over his passing, pray for him, and hope that under the Nine Springs, he is able to close his eyes in death and die contently8瞑目 míngmù – Chinese way of saying – Rest in Peace.

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