The Plough - Chapter 1
The slender and thin fingers lightly stroked the jade-white porcelain pipe for a moment before carelessly tossing it onto the bed.
The woman yawned, slowly getting up and sauntering to the washbasin.
She turned the faucet on and lightly twisted it, her eyes half-lidded and her body seemingly unable to muster up any energy.
There came a commotion from behind her.
The woman in the mirror saw the one who had come.
“How did you get here?” She lazily smiled, her demeanor filled with alluring charm.
“Just in time, come help me choose a qipao, today…”
Before she could finish her sentence, her expression in the mirror turned to shock!
“What are you doin–“
The scream that was about to escape her throat was immediately blocked, and she struggled, desperately trying to grab the other’s hand. The meticulously maintained nail polish was broken due to the effort of trying to grab, and blood oozed out from the cracks, making it unclear who was injured.
However, this only provoked a much more vicious response from the other.
The woman subconsciously opened her mouth wide!
She couldn’t breathe in the slightest bit of air she desperately wanted to inhale, instead it only hastened her own death.
The face that would usually make men swoon was now distorted and menacing, her temples pulsing with blue veins, her eyes slightly rolling up. In the darkness, a passing thought made her realize that the clothing choking her neck was her own sleeping gown she had just thrown onto the bed.
The silk cape that she bought last month, she had grown to love it. She would often wear it.
Her slippers were kicked away, and her body was dragged towards the bedroom, leaving two wet marks on the floor as her feet were exposed.
The person gripping her showed no sympathy, and applied even more force when he saw her struggling.
For someone on the brink of death, life was being shortened second by second.
Gradually, her legs stopped kicking.
Her body lay limp on the bed, her eyes still wide open, fixated on the ceiling.
Death had not closed her eyes.
Ya Qi was eagerly playing with the makeup products on her desk. After hesitating for half a day between the two brands of snow cream, she finally chose the new one from Summer’s Lian. The new bottle was a bit stiff when she unscrewed the cap, but the fragrance that was applied to her face quickly erased her last bit of reluctance. Looking at herself in the mirror, Ya Qi’s mood also brightened. To her, it was just an ordinary night among thousands of nights. But this night had subtly changed due to the arrival of someone.
“Ya Qi, Young Master Ling has come, he wants to see you!”
Ya Qi quickly turned around and snatched the Danqi lipstick that was farthest from her and had not been opened yet. She opened it, twisted it, and carefully applied it to the mirror. This was a foreign product she had recently bought from Yong’an Department Store and she hadn’t been able to bear to use it for days.
The manager behind her was coming in with a laugh.
“You’re so happy to hear that Young Master Ling has come?”
Ya Qi glanced at the mirror and said, “I think you’re even happier than me, your mouth is almost reaching your ears!”
The manager said, “Young Master Ling is handsome, he speaks nicely and knows how to coax people. Who wouldn’t like him? It’s a pity that he’s not as good as the real rich young masters, but his handsome face is enough. I don’t know if he will buy your time tonight. If he were a young man in his teens or twenties, I’d rather give him money than go out with him!”
Ya Qi snorted, said nothing, and just kept looking at herself in the mirror. Her lips were flaming, leaving behind a delicate and beautiful face. Young Master Ling should have noticed that she was different tonight?
The conversation was interrupted when the manager saw the timid young girl nearby.
“What are you standing around for, come out with us! Young Master Ling has brought a friend over, perfect!”
The young girl was called Rosie, who had just been hired as a dancer at Feilengcui a few days ago, and did not yet understand the rules or had seen too many scenes.
“Who is Young Master Ling? Is he a regular here?” she asked curiously.
The three of them passed through the lit galleria, their high heels tapping out crisp rhythms on the floor.
Ya Qi had no enthusiasm to answer, and the manager simply said, “Hurry up and follow us!”
Rosie had no choice but to comply, adjusting to the discomfort of wearing high heels.
She had previously had a relatively comfortable life, and was in middle school. Her father had suddenly passed away a few years ago, and the family suddenly collapsed overnight, leaving her no choice but to come to Feilengcui to work to support her younger brother’s schooling.
The manager had seen many people with similar experiences in the dance hall.
In this era, what was in shortest supply was people’s lack of choice in life.
At least, being a dancer provided a good income.
The name Rosie, a combination of Chinese and Western, was given to her by the manager when she entered the dance hall, as her stage name.
On the vast Shanghai beach, Feilengcui can’t compare with the dance halls of the Bailemen, Fairy Music Palace, Metropolis and Vienna, but it is still famous and welcomes all visitors, with a wider range of guests. For places like the Bailemen, only the wealthy can afford to enter there, it’s not something an ordinary person can afford. If Rose was willing to work hard, in a month she would have more than enough money for her younger brother’s school tuition, and maybe some left over for expenses.
Rose soon saw Young Master Ling, whom the manager called “handsome and smooth”. He was wearing a gray and black suit, his hair arranged like the many young people of the time, only without pomade, fluffy and refreshing. His attire was not particularly remarkable. Rose had seen young masters dressed in luxurious clothing, and peacocks more ostentatiously dressed than him. But it was the first time she realized that if a person was good-looking enough, it didn’t matter what they wore, they could make ordinary clothes look extraordinary. There were plenty of people who relied on their clothes, but there were very few like Young Master Ling who relied on their looks.
“Young Master Ling!” Rose saw Ya Qi fly over like a happy little bird, her high heels seeming to give her a lightness of foot. On Young Master Ling’s face was a lazy, satisfied smile. “Ya Qi, have you started using new lipstick? You’re even more beautiful than the last time I saw you!” Ya Qi was both surprised and delighted. “You noticed? This is a new color from Dandy Lipstick, it’s only sold in limited quantities at Yong’an Department Store, I had to have someone queue up for me for ages and almost didn’t manage to buy it!” She went over and hugged Young Master Ling’s arm, chattering away.
Rosie was pushed towards the young man next to Young Master Ling by the big group.
“Come to the ballroom to dance,” he said.
Under the melody of the music, Rosie was a bit embarrassed and stiff, accompanying the other party to take clumsy steps.
Dancing quickly brought the two closer. She learned from the young man’s mouth that Young Master Ling’s full name was Ling Shu and he was actually a police officer from Jiangwan District Police Department. The person who was dancing with her was called Cheng Si, who was Ling Shu’s colleague and good friend.
Cheng Si was also handsome, but compared to Ling Shu, he was undoubtedly lacking in the moonlight and starlight.
Rosie’s gaze could not help but follow the figure in the ballroom lights again.
Ling Shu danced very well.
His steps were light and nimble.
The hair without hair oil jumped lightly with the movement of the pace.
One after another, just like Rosie’s palpitating heart of a young girl.
She looked at the corner of his eye.
The flowing light draws out a’flying, instantaneously blasting a scar in her chest, bright and eye-catching.
“People who look good are different, they can even get tips from the dance girl!”
Cheng Si’s muttering came from her ear.
Rosie looked carefully and indeed saw Ya Qi putting a small handkerchief wrapped in a ball into Ling Shu’s hand.
Nowadays, the dance venues are divided into various categories and the guests who go to the dance venues are divided into three classes and nine grades. Even the most stingy guests have to open a bottle of wine and leave a tip for the dancers. Those who are generous may even spend a fortune, take the dancers out on the street, and even rent a hotel room or buy a house for them.
However, Rosie had never seen a dancer patronizing her customers before. The shock that she should have felt vanished when she saw Ling Shu.
Rosie even felt that she could understand it; if it were her, she might have done the same…
The dance ended. Yaqi still wanted to continue, but Cheng Si let go of Rosie’s hand and walked towards Ling Shu.
“Look at the bald man over there,” Cheng Si elbowed Ling Shu’s arm and raised his chin. “What about him?”
“This bald man was involved in an incident this morning because a person driving a yellow cart didn’t look at the road and bumped into him slightly. He beat the other person severely, and when the other person left he was limping and in a pretty bad state.”
It seems like he wants to take care of the bald man?
Ling Shu: “Have you checked it out?”
Cheng Si grinned: “I thought he had to have some kind of background, so I checked it out. He’s just an uncle who works as a middle-level police officer in the police headquarters. His background isn’t even as good as yours!”
Ling Shu had a wooden face: “What kind of background can I have? I’m just a small police officer who’s barely making it. Don’t bring me into this.”
Cheng Si: “Let’s go, don’t bother me! I’ll go find him later and give him a beating, how about that?”
Ling Shou raised an eyebrow and suddenly smirked: “I have a better idea.”
Baldy Huang was not satisfied with his dance partner.
He had been eyeing Ya Qi from afar for a long time.
Given that there was already a guest by her side, and he did not know the guest’s background, he did not dare to approach recklessly.
Everyone knew that Shanghai was a place of hidden dragons and crouching tigers, and one wrong move could land him in trouble with some wealthy gentry or foreign businessmen, which Baldy Huang could not afford to provoke.
Seizing an opportunity, Baldy Huang grabbed the servant who was delivering wine, gave him some money, and asked him about the two people.
After finding out that neither Cheng nor Ling were wealthy guests nor did they have any great background, he let out a sigh of relief and walked towards them.
“What’s your surname, I’m Huang. Have a smoke?”
Baldy Huang handed over a cigarette in a friendly manner. According to his experience from his days of mingling in the rivers and lakes, this move would work almost every time.
The other party would certainly ask where he was from, and he would then mention his uncle and try to get the beautiful dancer for the night.
But what happened next was completely unexpected for him.
Cheng Si took the cigarette and suddenly exclaimed: “Have I seen you somewhere before?”
Baldy Huang was taken aback and smiled: “No way, I think you have a keen eye.”
Cheng Si hit his thigh and pulled Ling Shu’s arm, “Take a look, does the criminal portrait look exactly like the real person?”
Ling Shu examined closely and seriously, “It does look quite similar.”
Baldy Huang angrily said, “What kind of nonsense is that! My surname is Huang and my name is Song, hear me clearly, Song from the Songshan mountain. What does this have to do with the wanted criminal? Do you know who my uncle is?”
Cheng Si spoke seriously, “Even if your uncle is the mayor, it has nothing to do with whether you are a criminal or not. We are the police from Jiangwan District. Please come with us and if you are proven innocent, you will be released.”
With that, he grabbed Baldy Huang’s wrist and pulled out a pair of brass manacles, ready to put them on.
Baldy Huang was both surprised and angry. He never expected himself to be put in this situation when he hadn’t even had a chance to make a move.
“My uncle is Huang Ming, do you know Huang Ming from the police headquarters? How dare you arrest people? Be careful, he might take all of you out when he comes back. Damn it, you all have some nerve…”
Ling Shu kicked his back knee.
Baldy Huang, who had been struggling and roaring, quickly kneeled down and presented his wrist, and the brass manacles closely touched his skin. Cheng Si smiled as he looked at Baldy Huang.
“Let’s go, bro!”
No matter who Baldy Huang’s uncle was, whether he was from the police headquarters or the city government, they were taking him away to teach him a lesson. Even if someone came, they could just make excuses that they were carrying out their duties. Who could they argue with?
Baldy Huang stubbornly refused to comply, his body restrained, yet his mouth still cursed non-stop.
Ya Qi and Rosie were both scared, even the manager had come to try to mediate, and convince them not to make trouble here.
Ling Shu directly picked up a loaf of bread from the side and stuffed it into Baldy Huang’s big mouth that was still cursing.
Peace was restored to the world.
“He is now a suspect, according to the rules, he must cooperate with the investigation, interrogate and make it clear, you can rest assured, we will not wrong a good person.”
After Ling Shu spoke to the manager, he said to Cheng Si, “Okay, you take the person back first, I’ll leave later.”
Cheng Si glared at him: “You are not righteous!”
“Miss Ya Qi is such a difficult person, can I just leave like this? We have to stay together for a while, right?”
Ling Shu smiled at Ya Qi, her face immediately flushed.
Cheng Si’s teeth itched, he got close and lowered his voice: “Three meals at De Xing Guan, I’ll turn and leave!”
Ling Shu was not happy: “Are you robbing? One meal, no more!”
Cheng Si: “Two meals, if it’s less than that I won’t leave, I’ll just stay here with Baldy Huang and watch you guys dance.”
Ling Shu waved his hand like chasing away a fly: “Two meals, hurry up and go!”
Cheng Si laughed, not regretting that he didn’t get to spend more time with Rosie tonight, he grabbed Baldy Huang and left with satisfaction.
“Alright, from now on, this evening is our time together.”
The gentleman held out his hand to Miss Ya Qi.
“I wonder if Miss Ya Qi would be interested in dancing another round with me?”
“I would be honoured,” Miss Yaki replied with a smile.
But her joy that evening was destined to not last long.
Halfway through the dance, from outside to inside, a small commotion came.
The first to go out were several members of the dance floor, and soon they returned, and their faces didn’t look very good, they had to force a smile and raise the corners of their mouths.
Putting aside the clueless Rosie, Ya Qi, who had been mingling in the party scene for many years, knew at once something was wrong.
A big shot had arrived.
Unlike the bluster of Baldy Huang, it was a real big shot who could not be provoked.
Many guests and dancers, not knowing what was going on, unconsciously gave way, retreating to both sides.
In front were two tall, deep-nosed Western police officers, commonly known as foreign police, who were obviously from the concession areas occupied by foreign powers.
But what was even more attention-grabbing were the two people behind them.
One was a Westerner, the other was Chinese.
The Westerner was wearing a police uniform and was a high-ranking police officer in the concession.
These days, in Shanghai and even across China, Westerners are a group of people one shouldn’t mess with.
Wherever there is a Westerner, simple things often become complicated.
The Chinese man walking alongside him – his face half-hidden in the interweaving of light and shadow, the contours blurred, but arousing even more inquisitiveness in the viewers.
Then, he slightly raised his chin.
The whole face was then revealed in the light.
Many people immediately gave a silent praise in their hearts, but this praise was soon suppressed by the other’s imposing aura and they could not tell if it was because of the aura or the appearance.
Ling Shu and Ya Qi also stopped dancing and watched as the other person crossed the dense crowd, walking towards them.
Ya Qi was a little flustered and started searching her memory for someone she had offended from the Western Police.
Ling Shu slightly narrowed his eyes.
The shiny leather shoes stepped on the checked floor, exuding an irresistible aura.
Ya Qi was so scared that she didn’t even notice that the man’s gaze was fixed on Ling Shu from start to finish.
Ling Shu suddenly smiled lazily.
“Ah, isn’t this Mr. Yue? With your standards and level, why come to a small place like Feilengcui instead of the Bailemen and the Fairy Music Palace?”
Ya Qi was confused.
The phrase sounded like the two were old acquaintances.
Though they were close, the air between them was tense.
Before she could make sense of it, she heard the man in the coat speak.
“Du Yunning is dead.”
Lingshu’s careless expression changed slightly.
Then the high ranking police officer beside the man said, “We suspect you are the murderer.”