The Plough – Chapter 7

Ling Shu was feeling hopeless.
When he said this, his gaze never left Yue Dingtang’s face.

The other’s reaction was not what he expected.

Yue Dingtang exhibited a slight surprise.

“Why would you think that?”

Ling Shu didn’t answer and instead asked: “Have you seen Du Yunning’s body with your own eyes?Have you personally investigated it? Is it definitely Du Yunning?”

Yue Dingtang pondered for a moment, then after a while he opened his mouth to talk.

“I remember, on her left arm, near her elbow, she had a red birthmark, and at school, all the female classmates would say that it was from the Gecko Cinnabar1守宫砂 shǒugōng shā lit. protector of the palace is an ancient method used to test a woman’s “purity”. It is a red powder that is put on a woman’s upper arm usually and it leaves a red mark on the woman until it disappears when the woman has had intercourse..

Also, I know that she once fell off a bike and the fall left a scar on her knee. I saw all of these things.”

This time, it was Ling Shu who frowned.

Yue Dingtang: “What made you think that?”

Ling Shu: “When Du Yunning was alive, I met up with her a few times. I found that she was not only dissatisfied with Yuan Bing, but also it seemed likely she had the intention of escaping from the Yuan family. Even on the day before her death, she’d asked me to elope with her. After I refused, she said something to me.”

“Huh?” Yue Dingtang questioned.
Ling Shu: “If you don’t come with me, I’ll leave by myself, I’ll run far away, to the ends of the Earth where no one can find me, so don’t you regret it.”

Yue Dingtang: “This does sound like her.”

Ling Shu was unimpressed: “You actually thought that I was making it up?”

Yue Dingtang: “Of course not, but since she was young, Du Yunning would talk big, but take little action, even though she was resentful of her situation, she never had the courage to make any changes. Back then when she went to study abroad it was like this,after getting married, it was also like this.”

Ling Shu: “If it was only based on this, of course it’s not possible. Do you still remember what I told you before, that she wanted to give me something to look after, to prevent Yuan Bing from taking it away.”

Yue Dingtang acknowledged him with an “en”, he didn’t think Ling Shu was delaying time. If he was mentioning this again at this moment, there must be something that he had previously missed out.

Indeed, he heard Ling Shu continue to say: “At that time, she let me look at a list of assets, which had all the assets she wanted to transfer. But I saw on it, the handwriting of two people.”

Yue Dingtang: “Could it be her maid who helped her write it?”

Ling Shu: “I’ve thought about it but when she married into the Yuan family,she only brought one maid with her which is the maid who follows her now, but that maid can’t even read.”

Yue Dingtang: “Which means there is someone else who helped her to plan all this and help her leave the Yuan family.”

Ling Shu: “Du Yunning was of weak temperament and didn’t have her own opinions. If it was her alone, there is no way that she would have the courage to leave the Yuan family. Once she asked me to meet her, only to complain and cry, until the last few times, she began to suggest eloping and then took out the list of assets for me to look at, step by step, with an ordered plan, this didn’t seem like something that she could have come up with herself.”
Yue Dingtang muttered quietly: “So, you think that she used you and framed you as a murderer to attract everyone’s attention. Then faked her death and eloped with someone else?”

Ling Shu: “I can’t rule out this possibility.”

Yue Dingtang: “That’s such an important clue, why didn’t you say anything earlier?”

Ling Shu: “Because your appearance was too much coincidental. I couldn’t be certain if you were not the person helping Du Yunning.”

Yue Dingtang: “Do you still feel that way? Your current situation is equivalent to being surrounded on all sides, and I am the only one that can help you. Do you really not want to help her find the real killer and allow her to rest in peace? Plus, before she was still a good woman.”

Ling Shu didn’t say anything.

Yue Dingtang couldn’t get any clues from his expression.

A long time ago, Ling Shu was not like this.

This person was very competitive in regards to his school achievements, and he would often engage in lively debates with others about current affairs, societal issues and it wasn’t clear where he was able to find out so much about these matters. After class, he was always surrounded from all sides, all the classmates wanted to listen to him explain his stories and tales.

Although Yue Dingtang thought that most of it back then was nonsense, in reality he also loved to listen to it. Which adolescent didn’t enjoy listening to colourful tall tales?

In the name of face, he would never admit this, instead he’d secretly stand a bit further away pretending to be just passing by but leaving an ear open to listen.

Amongst the crowd,Ling Shu would always be chased to get to the point but his expression wouldn’t change, he’d be in high spirits and feeling proud of himself, especially his eyes, even when he wasn’t laughing, it looked like he was radiant with delight, it made him even more lively.

It was absolutely not like how he was now, lazy, completely lacking in fighting spirit, satisfied to live just day by day.

“I’m going out to smoke.”

Yue Dingtang stood up and made his way out, whilst touching his pocket, before realising that he had come out too suddenly and had forgotten to bring his cigarettes.

Half a pack of cigarettes was thrown at him from Ling Shu, who curled his lips at him.

Without letting Yue Dingtang react,Ling Shu said: “Take one, return two. I’m poor.”

Yue Dingtang:……

Ling Shu had guessed that he wasn’t actually going out for a smoke.

Plus when Shen Renjie had brought him here, there were also two other police officers who were waiting outside as well.

Shen Renjie would never dare to take up this responsibility so he needed Yue Dingtang to resolve all of this.

As expected, without spending the time to even smoke half a cigarette, the one surnamed Yue had already come back.
Ling Yao and the old housekeeper had already put out a table of dishes.

It couldn’t be compared to the elegance of Yue manor but it surpassed the Yue manor in giving that homely feel.

Ling Yao rubbed her hands together and let out a deep breath.

“It was too late to go out and buy the things you like so Hongyi and I have made some convenient dishes, please forgive us!”

Yue Dingtang had a quick look over and smiled: “Da-jie, so many dishes and you still call it convenient. I don’t even get such a rich meal at home.”

Ling Yao laughed: “That’s not the same, you are our guest. We must make you feel at home, come come, quick take a seat. No need to be so courteous, please eat more, if you’re not full, I won’t let you leave!”

Yue Dingtang hadn’t planned to stay for lunch, but Ling Yao was so sincere, and Ling Shu had not yet given him the final answer on Du Yunning’s case, so he accepted and took off his coat and scarf.

Without needing to say anything, the old housekeeper immediately came over to take them and put them somewhere safe, only to be returned when the guest was going to leave.

It was difficult for a well-off family to find a housekeeper with such an eye for order, for someone who paid attention to details, it was not hard to discern that the Ling family was very well-regarded back in those days.

Yue Dingtang’s line of sight moved from the old housekeeper to the food on the table,he noticed that the corner of the table had much wear and tear, and one of the table legs had a piece of cardboard underneath to prop it up.

Ling Yao’s cooking skills were not bad, he had eaten at the Ling family’s home in the past and at that time Ling Yao had personally cooked the meal so there was a sense of familiarity in the odour of the food before him. In addition to Ling Yao’s warm hospitality, it was enough to counteract Ling Shu’s negative energy.

“Dingtang, where are you working now?”

Ling Yao ladled him out a bowl of chicken soup whilst asking the question.

Yue Dingtang: “I’m teaching law at the university now, lecturing on the Western Legal System.”

Ling Yao’s eyes brightened: “This job is great, an honourable post. In the university, there are perhaps many well-educated female lecturers?”

Yue Dingtang: “There are a few but not very many.”

Ling Shu was distracted: “I think I heard someone at the door, I’m going to take a look.”

“Sit down!”

Ling Yao shouted, gave Ling Shu a look to tell him not to move, and then looked at Yue Dingtang with a smile.

“What kind of ladies are they? are they married yet? You and Ling Shu are old classmates, I don’t ask much of him, just that he gets married soon and starts his own family. The woman does not need to be rich, as long as she has a good character and is from an honest family. Ling Shu is not like you, he’s at the police station all day, all his colleagues are male, the only women he meets are criminal suspects. If we wait for him to find someone himself, he’ll still be single when he reaches thirty!”

Ling Shu butts in grudgingly: “Jie, could you let our guest eat in peace, he’ll get full from fright!”
Yue Dingtang: “It’s okay da-jie. There aren’t many age-appropriate lecturers at the university but my san-jie knows a lot of people. When I go home I’ll ask her to keep an eye out.”

Ling Yao was delighted and said good a few times in response.

“Dingtang, you are so outstanding, you are probably already married? when will you bring sister-in-law over for a meal, da-jie doesn’t have anything,only a set of cooking skills.”

Yue Dingtang laughed: “Not yet, my family haven’t said anything, they aren’t worried.”

Ling Shu saw an opening: “Jie, you see, he himself hasn’t wed yet. You’re asking him to help me look, isn’t that like the blind leading the blind?”

Ling Yao sighed: “There are no worries for an outstanding individual like you. Girls are willing to pursue you from Shanghai to Northern Jiangsu. Unlike Ling Shu, I am afraid that even if he stands on the street and shouts, no one will want him.”

Ling Shu:……

The one surnamed Yue felt that there wasn’t enough firewood on the fire and pretended to comfort her:“Maybe Ling Shu has already met someone but he hasn’t told you yet. Da-jie,you don’t need to worry too much, you need to let these things come naturally.”

Ling Yao’s mouth twitched: “Him? If he doesn’t come home one day saying he wants to marry a dancer then I’ll thank the heavens!”

Ling Shu couldn’t hold back and ridiculed:: “Last time you said that as long as I get married even if it was a dancer you’d accept it.”

Ling Yao stared at him angrily.

The topic had come to an end. After a few seconds——

“Dingtang, you’ve been studying abroad for a few years, how come you never sent news?”

“I went to France for three years and then another two years in Europe, I went to a few countries.”

“So that means you can speak all the European languages?”

Yue Dingtang replied modestly: “Not exactly. I can speak French and English fluently, the others such as Russian and Spanish, I can only say a few words. After returning home,, not being in that environment, I’ve almost completely forgotten everything.”

Ling Yao: “That’s so impressive, just expected for a University Lecturer, our Ling Shu is no good, till now he can only manage a few clumsy sentences in a foreign language.”

Ling Shu:……

He understood now. Yue Dingtang was the “forever outstanding child from next door”,as long as he was present, Ling Shu was not fated to have a quiet dinner at home.

“Dajie, you can’t say that, since childhood to now we have always spoken in Chinese,suddenly going abroad, of course it’s hard to adapt. I’ve even seen people who have been abroad for a few years and they still can’t even speak the language and when they saw a foreigner they could only stammer away.”

Yue Dingtang spoke neither fast nor slow, timely helping him out.

“What you’re saying is correct but they were still studying abroad so they must have some capabilities. We mustn’t compare him to inferiors, if Ling Shu was more like you, I wouldn’t have to be so worried all the time.”
Ling Yao looked at Yue Dingtang, whatever she saw on him was good, a pleasant manner and a gentle voice, which was in sharp contrast with his own brother.

“Ling Shu was outstanding when he was studying, it’s only that now we have graduated, opportunities have been different, our paths are also not the same, with Ling Shu’s capabilities, he will have his moment of glory one day.”

Yue Dingtang said to console Ling Yao. He was in a good mood looking at Ling Shu. who was like a fearless hog in the face of hot water2死猪不怕开水烫 – idiom – he doesn’t care about anything in prison but was now looking completely hopeless.
08/01/2022 – Re-phrasing and re-formatting done.

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