The Plough - Chapter 11
“Today is New Year’s Eve.”
As soon as he stepped in, he heard Yue Dingtang say.
Ling Shu’s footsteps paused slightly.
If it weren’t for Yue Dingtang’s reminder, he would have forgotten that it was New Year’s Eve tonight.
Because he was involved in this case, and because of Du Yunning’s death, these two days have been hectic, and Ling Shu almost forgot that before he left the house today, his sister Ling Yao reminded him to go back early for the reunion dinner.
Now there must be a big table of dishes at home, and his brother-in-law must have gone home from work. The two of them sat around the table, only missing Ling Shu.
But if the real culprit for this case can’t be found soon, and bound under the law, his family may be even more uneasy.
Anyway, now there is Yue Dingtang, and when heading back later, he can use him as an excuse.
The cafe was deserted and quiet, with only one table of Westerners having dinner.
Rich or poor, all go home for the New Year.
As the most prosperous city in the Far East, the New Year’s Eve in Shanghai is no different from other places in China.
It was not dark yet, and the streets were sparsely populated. Now it is even quieter outside, as if everyone in Shanghai has hidden in an instant and won’t show up.
The Xinyue Cafe was still open for business.
There was a waiter carrying a basket of bread out.
Ling Shu turned his head and saw him standing on the side of the road, distributing to a few beggars.
“Sir, here is the menu, please take a look at it first. If you need it, just press the service bell on the table, and I will be here soon. This is a lemonade, warm, to quench your thirst first.”
Two waiters came up to them as soon as they entered, took their hats, scarves, and coats, led them to a quiet corner, lit the candles on the table, and brought them the menu.
Yue Dingtang opened it and glanced at it.
Pure Western food is unlikely to get the favor of all customers in China, even if this is the International Settlement, so the Xinyue Cafe is no exception. The menu is a combination of Chinese and Western food, such as tomato egg beef noodle, which he would never order, but one can imagine that this dish will be ordered by many customers, otherwise the boss would not keep it on the menu.
“Don’t you close the cafe on the thirtieth?” Ling Shu asked the waiter.
The waiter smiled and said, “Our boss said that on New Year’s Eve, everyone must have closed the door, but there must be many people who cannot go back, at least here is a shelter from the wind and rain, for people to come in and take a break.”
Ling Shu: “Then you can’t go home either?”
Waiter: “We are all people without family or come to this place alone. Fortunately, the boss took us in. We eat and live here, which is also convenient.”
The two were talking, and Yue Dingtang had finished ordering.
“I’ll take this set meal, charbroiled sirloin steak, seven parts cooked, and melon ice cream for dessert.”
“Yes sir. And what would you like, sir?”
Ling Shu was silent, and the servants dared not rush him, but just waited patiently by his side.
Yue Dingtang glanced at him and noticed that Ling Shu had skipped the main course page and went straight to the desserts section without even moving his eyes.
Time ticked away, and Ling Shu was like the master waiting at the summit of Shushan, not moving a muscle, like a wooden statue, forever.
Yue Dingtang couldn’t take it anymore and finally broke the silence.
“I’ll treat this meal.”
Ling Shu visibly relaxed, as if he had been reborn.
“Give us a set of Lobster Fried Noodles, some Cheesecake, Raspberry Ice Cream, Strawberry Pudding and a bottle of Champagne.”
Yue Dingtang: …
The servants were relieved and hurried away.
Yue Dingtang: “Why not just order all the desserts?”
Ling Shu leaned back in his chair lazily: “You think I was screwing with you? My sister made dinner at home, so I don’t want to be too presumptuous and alert the owner. If he really is a nice guy like the people around here say, he’ll definitely come out and stop us when he sees us ordering so much; then we’ll have the chance to talk to him.”
Yue Dingtang hadn’t thought of that and was momentarily speechless.
Seeing this, Ling Shu raised his chin slightly and crossed his legs: “Surprised, weren’t you? How would the little rich boy like you understand these tricks? In the end, someone still had to come to the rescue.”
He had a Damocles sword hanging over his head, yet he could still be so carefree and look for a breakthrough calmly, despite the looming death sentence and the complete absence of clues.
Seeing him like this, Yue Dingtang slowly opened his mouth.
“Given the Ling family’s misfortune, has the Du family been throwing stones down the well and brought you some humiliation?”
Ling Shu was taken aback, then laughed: “Why did you suddenly ask this? I have already forgotten. Besides, the dead are gone, and Du Yunning has passed away, these matters have also disappeared without a trace, it’s better to not mention them.”
Yue Dingtang asked: “How have you been the past few years?”
Ling Shu: “What’s this, Professor Yue, are you trying to arrange a job for me?”
Yue Dingtang: “I can keep an eye out for you, but I’m afraid you won’t take it.”
Ling Shu: “That’s true, I feel that I’m doing quite well now.”
“You also studied abroad, so why did you ultimately settle in such a minor position, don’t you feel it is a pity?”
“It’s still quite alright. If it were before, when my father was still alive and when the Ling family was still in its glory, whatever he arranged for me, I would go for it, going to Nanjing to do some minor job wouldn’t have been impossible. But, in the few years I studied abroad, I didn’t learn much proper skills, I only know a few sentences in foreign language, if they really gave me a job, I wouldn’t take it, it’s better to just stay in the police station and do some minor job, have some leisure time, something many people can’t have.”
As the warmth in the room soaked in, Ling Shu’s tone also became warmer and gentle, as if nothing could make him stir, his expression didn’t change much.
But Yue Dingtang felt that this may have been an illusion.
Ling Shu used to be competitive and proud, but now he seems to have become subdued, just passing his days, but you can already see how a three-year-old will be like when they get old, it’s hard to change one’s nature, he may not be content with just getting by like this inside.
“If Du Yunning had thought like you, perhaps the tragedy of today wouldn’t have happened.”
Ling Shu used to be proud and impetuous, but he was quite good at guessing.
Now, even though Ling Shu seemed to have fallen, he had also become more composed, making it hard to see through him.
Ling Shu: “Du Yunning isn’t like me. Even if she had a bad relationship with Yuan Bing, she still had all the luxuries, all her worries were whether her husband loves her or not, whether the gorgeous prison has a few less locks and a bit more of the gaudy decor. In a certain way, she was still as naive as before, never having changed.”
Yue Dingtang: “Since she had already married Yuan Bing according to her family’s arrangements, why did she later quarrel with her family?”
Ling Shu: “You’ve seen how Yuan Bing is, after the marriage, when the Du family was in trouble, and hoped the Yuan family would extend a hand, Yuan Bingdao had already passed away, and so he refused to help, and the Du family’s eldest son died tragically because of this, since then, the Du family has cut all ties with Du Yunning and had no contact with her ever since.”
Yue Dingtang wasn’t too clear about these matters, he had originally considered the possibility of the Du family doing something to Yunning, but after hearing what the other said, it could be mostly excluded.
As they talked, dishes of food arrived.
To be honest, the chef’s skills were average, but the two had been running around all day, so they were very hungry, they ate the food quickly and didn’t talk much about the case.
When it was time for desserts, a middle-aged man with a servant walked over.
“Let me first give my greetings to both of you!”
The other was polite, wearing western clothes, but still used the Chinese style of greeting with cupped hands.
“Sorry for intruding, my surname is Li, I am the boss here. Thank you two for coming, are you two here for the first time?”
“Yes, we are university teachers, we had business to attend to today.” Yue Dingtang said.
“Oh, professors! My apologies!” Boss Li quickly cupped his hands together and said, “I noticed that the two of you have ordered quite a few desserts, and I was worried that if you have too many one after another it would be too much, so I came over to remind you. Please don’t take offence!”
Yue Dingtang smiled, “Businessmen usually want customers to buy more, but you are worried that you don’t have enough to sell and that you are being too generous. People like you, who are so honest in their business, are rare nowadays.”
Boss Li was a bit embarrassed, “As you said, running a business is about being honest. If I didn’t remind you two, then I would not have done my part, and if you two were to come back, it would not be unprofitable for me in the long run.”
Ling Shu said, “Please package up the extra desserts for us, I’d like to take them back home for my family to enjoy.”
Boss Li was surprised, “No problem!”
The food was quickly packaged up and delivered. There was a ribbon tied around the small box, and a small card with ‘Happy New Year’ written on it, which was thoughtful.
Even Yue Dingtang, who was used to grand occasions, thought that the food here may not be the best, but with Boss Li’s service attitude, there would certainly be a lot of repeat customers, and these customers were enough to sustain the cafe’s turnover.
In the middle of the meal, Boss Li left to serve another table of Westerners, returning only after the two had finished eating.
“As two educated gentlemen, could I ask you two to leave a message in the cafe’s guestbook?”
“We can’t call ourselves gentlemen, we are just scholars.” Yue Dingtang waved his hand.
Boss Li smiled, “It was my presumption. I, Li, am not well-educated and only know that you two have read a lot and have a high level of cultivation. I wish I could keep your words of wisdom as a treasure, so that when I go back home I can show them to my grandchildren, to teach them a lesson.”
Yue Dingtang replied, “If you don’t mind, we will be honoured.”
Boss Li was delighted, and quickly brought the guestbook over.
When Yue Dingtang looked at it, he saw that there were some familiar names on it, which may not be well-known throughout the country, but here on the Shanghai beach, they were considered minor celebrities.
He wrote a sentence ‘ll guests feel at home’ and signed his name, then flipped a few pages.
A familiar signature caught his eye.
‘Like a spring breeze.’
The author has something to say:
Interlude unrelated to the main story——
About Job Hunting 1
Ling Shu: Is there such a job, where you get paid a lot, have little work to do and lots of holidays, without having to investigate cases or take the blame?
Yue Dingtang: Anything is possible in your dreams.
About Job Hunting 2
Ling Shu saw that a domestic brand was recruiting an advertising male star, so he went for the job.
Yue Dingtang was waiting to pour cold water on him.
Who knew that Ling Shu actually got the job.
Yue Dingtang: With your looks, you can be a star just by sitting there?
Ling Shu: Yeah, they said I look nice, so I just had to sit there and let them take pictures for calendars. I just slept there for a day, and my waist and back were sore. Fortunately, I got paid.
Yue Dingtang: …