The Plough - Chapter 51
The rumba was known for its sensuality, and Ling Shu had heard of it and seen others dance it before. But now that he was immersed in it, he realized that the rumba was even more sensual than he had imagined.
Yue Dingtang had already slowed down his movements as much as possible, but he still felt awkward and unsure. He had learned how to dance before, so he should have had a foundation, but now he felt like a beginner.
Ling Shu was starting to regret his decision to dance the rumba. He felt like a puppet being pulled by Yue Dingtang, going east when he was pulled east, going west when he was pulled west. He had no willpower and his mind was muddled.
Perhaps the bowl of bone soup he had just eaten had not fully digested yet. The tender meat and bone marrow were still dancing in his seven emotions and six desires, making it difficult for him to return to reality for a while. He could only rely on the foundation of social dance he had learned and react subconsciously with his body.
“Wait!” Ling Shu couldn’t help but shout to stop.
But Yue Dingtang ignored him.
With a piece of music still playing, it was useless for anyone to stop.
Dancing requires a beginning and an end, especially for a dance like the rumba that emphasizes mood and state of mind. It is important for a person to be able to fully immerse themselves in it, which determines their understanding and learning progress.
Obviously, it was impossible for Ling Shu to become proficient in half an hour.
At best, he could chat a little on the dance floor and make Miss Zhen think that he had some knowledge of the rumba, so as not to appear completely clueless.
However, Ling Shu felt that something was off.
He couldn’t help but express his doubts, “You want me to please Miss Zhen, but why do I feel like I’m pleasing you?”
Yue Dingtang’s expression remained unchanged, “Do you care about pleasing me?”
Ling Shu laughed, “If Captain Yue is willing to give me a raise, I will do my best to make you feel comfortable and at ease, like a breath of fresh air.”
To match the atmosphere of the dance, the main lights in the living room were turned off, leaving only dim lights for a slightly romantic ambiance.
If you ignore their conversation, that is.
Yue Dingtang asked, “You still haven’t told me what you were doing during those years you studied abroad. What were you up to?”
Ling Shu replied, “Do I have to know how to dance the rumba just because I studied abroad? That’s asking too much of me, Captain Yue.”
Yue Dingtang retorted, “It’s normal for someone who studied in France for a few years to not know how to dance the rumba, but forgetting how to greet someone in French? At the consulate banquet last time, if I hadn’t helped you out, how were you planning to deal with the consul?”
Ling Shu shrugged and said, “If I couldn’t handle it, I just wouldn’t. I’d say a few nonsense words and bluff my way through. The consul wouldn’t even know who I am, so why would he bother with a small fry like me?”
Yue Dingtang sighed, “You weren’t like this before.”
Ling Shu lazily replied, “Captain Yue, your expectations of me may be too high. Nowadays, there are plenty of people who go abroad to get a degree and come back to find a mediocre job. Look at the high-ranking officials’ children in Nanjing, nine out of ten are like that. What’s so special about me? Besides, my father has passed away. No matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to make it to the top. It’s better to live a comfortable life. Now, it’s great that I’ve met someone like you, I don’t even have to go on night patrols anymore. My sister will be thrilled!”
“Is that so?” Yue Dingtang didn’t comment on Ling Shu’s words.
His thumb slid over Ling Shu’s wrist, unexpectedly rubbing it with a deliberate hint of flirtation.
Ling Shu’s breath caught in his throat, feeling a chill run down his spine.
“Captain Yue, you’re teaching us to dance, not to harass your subordinates. Is this why you’ve never had an assistant? It seems like you’ve scared them all away and can only resort to targeting old classmates?”
“I’ve said it before, your marksmanship is excellent – fast, fierce, and accurate. Regular police or patrolmen don’t have your level of skill. Both your left and right hands have calluses, indicating that you’ve trained both hands. But why do you only use your left hand now?”
His voice was low, almost a whisper, accompanied by the music, like a love confession.
But the content had nothing to do with love, and even had a hint of a chilling taste.
Yue Dingtang followed his right palm and rubbed it up to the tender flesh on the inside of his wrist, only to be suddenly grabbed by the back of his hand!
“Captain Yue, I have a suspicion.”
“You’re not getting married yet, is there something you’re hiding? Don’t worry, I won’t look down on you, and I won’t tell anyone. Tonight, I haven’t heard a thing.”
Yue Dingtang didn’t care that he was changing the subject and continued, “I’ve had someone check, and during the years you were abroad, not a single Chinese student named Ling Shu was accepted into any of the top universities in Paris. So, I have a bold guess.”
He looked directly into Ling Shu’s eyes, who also lifted his head, seemingly indifferent, with clear eyes and even a hint of a playful smile.
“You never went to France, nor did you study there. So, during those years, where were you and what were you doing? Does your left hand switching to your right have anything to do with it?”
Ling Shu suddenly burst out laughing. “I say, Captain Yue, you’ve been curious about this issue for a long time, asking me repeatedly, whether you’re interested in me or my experience, persistently pursuing an answer?”
Captain Yue Dingtang replied, “I am interested in your transformation. A person who was once ambitious suddenly becomes complacent, there must have been some changes. I hope to find the root of the problem and help you become the Lin Shu you used to be.”
Lin Shu retorted, “Then bring my father back to life first. If he comes back to life, our family will have everything.”
Yue Dingtang said, “I was wrong. Not only do you have ambition, but you also have strong willpower. Your family’s downfall did not change your character, and even more so, Mr. Ling did not die a tragic death but passed away peacefully. It was inevitable that the Ling family would decline without a successor. The mysteries surrounding you make me suspect–“
He intentionally paused, drawing out his tone.
But Ling Shu still had no reaction. He even slightly widened his eyes, hoping that Yue Dingtang would reveal something shocking.
Yue Dingtang was a bit disappointed. This was not the reaction he wanted.
“What do you suspect?” Ling Shu asked eagerly, urging him to reveal the answer.
“I suspect that you have received special training, completed missions, and even suffered serious injuries,” Yue Dingtang said.
Ling Shu laughed heartily, “Why don’t you just suspect me of working for the Japanese? To be honest, the Zhen family has a good relationship with Director Wang, who also has close ties with the Japanese. I need a way in, so I plan to cozy up to Director Wang. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have to rush to please Miss Zhen.”
The first half of Ling Shu’s statement was pure nonsense, but the second half was quite revealing, causing Yue Dingtang to furrow his brow.
“What do you need Director Wang for?”
“I went abroad, but not to France, I went to America. Haven’t you noticed that my English is pretty good? The person who took me there fooled me, saying that America was full of gold. At that time, you know our family’s situation, my sister had to sell everything to scrape together enough money for me to study abroad. I didn’t want to work hard and study for years outside, only to come back and maybe not even get a decent job. So, I added money at the last minute on the ship and went to America with that person.”
“What happened next?”
“In the end, I was naturally deceived. America, far from being a land of gold, discriminates against anyone with yellow skin and black hair. The Chinese Exclusion Act made it even harder for us to get by. After working odd jobs in Chinatown for a few months, I found an opportunity to return to China. But I didn’t dare go home to see my sister because I had already spent the money she gave me for tuition. So, I wandered around Yunnan and Sichuan for a few years, joined bandits, and even hung out with gangsters. Are you curious about why my right hand is disabled? I learned how to fight like others and got injured. My right hand’s tendons were severed, and I couldn’t lift heavy objects or aim properly, so I switched to my left hand.”
He spoke candidly and honestly, blurring the line between truth and fiction, leaving even Yue Dingtang momentarily confused. The two locked eyes as Ling Shu spoke fluently and confidently, without any hesitation.
Yue Dingtang asked, “So how did you manage to come back?”
Ling Shu shrugged nonchalantly, “I had a sudden change of heart. One day, I woke up and realized that my sister was still waiting for me at home. It doesn’t matter if I waste my own life, but if my sister found out that I not only didn’t go abroad but also joined a gang, and ended up with nothing, she would be heartbroken.”
Yue Dingtang replied, “Although the gang and the bandits are not a tightly organized group, they have shed blood and wielded knives. How could they just let you leave so easily?”
Ling Shu chuckled, “Of course not. When I joined, I was cautious and used a fake name, posing as a one-eyed dragon. I always wore an eye patch and disguised myself. With my experience traveling all over the country, I’ve even been to America and fought against the foreigners. What are a few bandits to me? I faked my death and disappeared without a trace. They all thought I was dead and buried, with grass growing three feet high on my grave!”
Yue Dingtang asked, “What does this have to do with you and Director Wang getting close?”
Ling Shu said, “Nowadays, China is full of foreign powers. Even Shanghai has been divided into three parts. People say that the Nanjing government, with the director at its front, is actually controlled by the English, Americans, Japanese, and Russians. Among them, the Japanese are the most ambitious and have already taken a big piece of meat from the three eastern provinces. Since Director Wang is close to the Japanese, if we can connect with him, it would be like having an extra network. Who knows, maybe we can get some benefits from the Japanese someday. How can we say it’s not necessary?”
He analyzed the situation with confidence, but spoke in a nonchalant tone, as if he was watching a comedy that had nothing to do with him, cold and ruthless.
Can Yue Dingtang believe his words?
Doubts arose in his heart, even with his vast experience in reading people, he couldn’t be sure. If what Ling Shu said was true, then his experiences were nothing short of rich. His marksmanship and physical abilities could also be easily explained.
After experiencing so much, one could become mature beyond their years, with their ambitions and aspirations worn down. They would only want to live a carefree life, indulging in food and laziness, and even their petty tricks and schemes could be justified.
But the music had stopped, yet the crowd had not dispersed.
Yue Dingtang did not let go, instead moving closer and speaking slowly.
“Be careful, don’t try to take advantage and end up burning yourself.”
Ling Shu grinned, “Isn’t Captain Yue here to protect me? If there’s a problem, I’ll come to you. Don’t worry, besides Shen Shiqi, have you ever seen me come into conflict with anyone else? Everyone loves me, and flowers bloom wherever I go.”
Yue Dingtang snorted coldly, suddenly pushing him away and pointing a finger at Ling Shu.
“At the dance party of the Zhen family, there were many people like Shen Shiqi who were difficult to deal with, and there were even more formidable opponents. You, behave yourself for me.”
Ling Shu pretended to bow respectfully.
Author’s note: In the previous chapter, although the historical place names were followed, the university mentioned was fictional, including the one where Yue Dingtang was located. To avoid confusion, the name of the university was changed.