"Another person died?" Ling Shu blurted out unconsciously.
Yue Dingtang replied, "Can't you hope for something good?"
Ling Shu innocently said, "It's not my fault. There are too many people dying in this case. Every time we find a clue, it disappears. If it weren't for your luck, you would be lying in a coffin now, and I should be in jail."
"It's the old butler. He revealed something," Yue Dingtang said.
The police station couldn't reach the consulate by phone, and the person who came to report couldn't explain everything in a few words.
Ling Shu and Yue Dingtant had to go there in person.
Yue Dingtang said goodbye to Pence and took Ling Shu to the car outside.
Ling Shu didn't notice that there had been a pair of eyes following him all along. Shen Shiqi had a stern face, with a gloomy and irritable expression that almost overflowed from his eyes. No one within three feet of him wanted to approach him, even those who usually flattered him were temporarily silent, as if they were invisible.
With Pence present, Shen Shiqi couldn't cause trouble at the banquet. Not only would it upset the Americans, but his uncle would also not let him off the hook. But once he left here, no one could control him.
Shen Shiqi slowly chuckled.
Shen Shiqi turned his head towards the voice, and He You'an walked over with two glasses of wine.
"Have a drink and calm down, okay?"
She was gentle and graceful, just like the countless wealthy young ladies she had played on the silver screen, a virtuous wife and loving mother.
Any beauty with an outstanding temperament was not just a beauty, but could enter the ranks of unforgettable great beauties. Although He You'an was quiet and silent like a vase when she didn't speak, when she smiled and spoke, there was a dazzling brilliance like swaying flowers, making every move and gesture beautiful beyond words.
No man was immune to such beauty, and Shen Shiqi was no exception at first. He had exerted great effort to win over this beauty, but at this moment, even before her face, he could not dispel the resentment and anger in his heart.
"You've been avoiding me just now, afraid that I'll be angry? Or did you go to meet that person surnamed Ling?" Shen Shiqi said with a sinister expression, looking like a demon returned from hell.
Her voice softened, "You've misunderstood. The wife of the first secretary at the consulate stopped me earlier and asked where I got my earrings. I told her you gave them to me, and we chatted for a bit. It's all my fault. Please don't be angry, okay?"
But her meekness did little to quell Shen Shiqi's rage. He took the drink she offered him with a blank expression and then splashed it in her face.
The beautiful woman's hair and face were drenched in alcohol, her stunning features now marred.
The crowd erupted in shock and everyone's eyes were on them.
"What are you doing? Even if Miss He is here with you, you can't just bully her like this! It's a new era of equality, you can't use old-fashioned methods to oppress people!"
Someone immediately stepped forward, standing in front of He You'an. Many were fans of He You'an, but even more were admirers who fell under her beauty. Shen Shiqi's attitude towards her as a plaything had long been noticed by everyone, but they had held back due to the occasion and the banquet director. Now that Shen Shiqi stepped over the line, everyone spoke up for her.
Of course, there were also those who were jealous of He You'an's looks and secretly cursed her as a femme fatale. But with her delicate and pitiful appearance, who could find fault with her?
Shen Shiqi saw that he had become the target of everyone's criticism, and Mr. Pence also turned his head to look over. Knowing that he had once again made an impulsive mistake, he could only grit his teeth and swallow his anger.
He no longer paid attention to He You'an, but instead crossed the crowd to bid farewell to Pence before leaving the banquet hall in large strides.
He had brought He You'an with him, so naturally she had to follow. She took the handkerchief handed to her by the waiter and quickly wiped her damp hair. Her expression of enduring grievance and forcing a smile could move anyone, regardless of gender.
Immediately, someone couldn't bear to watch anymore and spoke up, "Miss He, you don't have to go with him. I can take you back later. My father has some face in Shanghai and Shen Shiqi wouldn't dare do anything to you!"
He You'an smiled gratefully at him, "If it weren't for Mr. Shen bringing me here, I wouldn't have met all of you tonight. He may be heartless, but I cannot be ungrateful. Although I come from a humble background, there are certain principles one must abide by. Anyway, thank you all for tonight. When the new movie is released, I'll have someone send everyone tickets."
Her words were reasonable and clear, even those who previously disliked her were slightly impressed. Women are often soft-hearted and easily swayed, but with these words, He You'an gained many supporters.
"If he gives you trouble, be sure to tell us. I'll give you my phone number and you can come straight to my house, Liugong Manor. Just mention my name, Liu Wu, and someone will let me know."
"Yes, I'll also let your film company know and have them send two people to protect you!"
"Shen Shiqi won't dare to do anything. He still relies on his uncle for a living. I'll have my dad talk to his uncle and make sure you can focus on filming without any worries."
With everyone's encouragement, He You'an felt more courageous and surrounded by their support. She thanked everyone one by one and quickly walked out of the door, leaving with Shen Shiqi's bodyguards who were waiting outside.
Shen Shiqi was already sitting in the car, his face gloomy and not much better than when he left.
If Ling Shu had only filled half of the gunpowder barrel before, the words of the guests who sided with He You'an were like adding fuel to the fire, causing Shen Shiqi to completely explode, but he had to restrain himself in the end.
His expression under the mottled light and shadow was even more gloomy than before.
He You'an sighed quietly and said, "Master Shen, I'm back."
Shen Shiqi replied, "Why did you come back? So many people admire you, why not leave with someone else instead of suffering here with me?"
He You'an said, "I came with you, so naturally I will follow you. I understand how good you have been to me. That Ling guy is just a small character who is not worth your attention. Don't be angry, okay?"
Suddenly, her chin was pinched and forcefully pulled closer.
With their faces almost touching, Shen Shiqi's breath almost sprayed onto her face.
Mixed with the alcohol that was splashed on her face just now, and the alcohol in the other party's nasal cavity, He You'an's eyes quickly became moist.
"Don't think that just because you are a popular movie star in front of others, your wings have grown and you can leave me to fly solo. I can lift you up, but I can also pull you down and make you fall even harder than before..."
Shen Shiqi paused between each word, his tone sinister and cruel.
"...and make you crash even harder!"
He You'an's breath was weak, and her eyelashes trembled. At that moment, she was like a swan with a broken neck, on the brink of death.
Perhaps she didn't know that often, when a damsel in distress falls into darkness and begs for mercy, it only fuels some people's sadistic desires to destroy beauty.
"I understand, Master Shen. I have been yours my whole life and have never dared to have a second thought."
When Ling Shu and the others saw the old butler, he already looked pale and weak, barely able to speak.
It wasn't because of the torture from the police station. The old butler was already so old and couldn't withstand the tiger bench or chili water. It was because after being arrested, facing the oppressive atmosphere of the interrogation room and the intimidating questioning from the interrogators, it was hard for anyone to maintain their composure.
"It was me who made Sancai scare people at the Yuan Manor!" After all the fuss, the old butler finally stopped beating around the bush and got straight to the point when he met with Ling Shu and the others.
Shen Renjie handed him a small bowl of water, allowing him to quench his thirst after being parched for so long.
Yue Dingtang asked, "So you're saying that you didn't kill the person?"
The butler quickly shook his head and said, "No, no! I've never killed anyone! I've been loyal to the Yuan family since I was a teenager. How could I possibly harm my master?"
Shen Renjie asked, "Then why did you send Sancai to scare people?"
The old butler took a deep breath and from his expression, Ling Shu could tell that he didn't want to talk about it. However, the situation had already spiraled out of control and the old butler was starting to panic.
Three people, with six piercing eyes, stared intently. The flickering lights in the interrogation room seemed to be haunted, refusing to rest. Outside the iron bars, the trees rustled and whispered, and the sound of weeping could be heard faintly in the distance. It was eerie and unsettling.
But it was precisely because the sound was indistinct that it made people even more fearful.
The old butler's psychological defenses had completely collapsed.
"Because, because when the old master was alive, he left a batch of valuables to the Yuan family!"
Ling Shu and Yue Dingtang exchanged a glance.
They had previously speculated that the killer's multiple murders, seemingly related to Du Yunning's affair, were actually all revolving around the Yuan family. It was very likely that the Yuan family possessed something that the killer desperately wanted.
Now it seemed that the deaths of Du Yunning, Yuan Bing, and Ah Lan were all related to this matter, even if the old butler was not directly involved.
"What kind of valuables?" The butler's hands trembled as he held the bowl, his expression changing as he struggled internally.
At this point, he could no longer continue to conceal the secrets buried for many years.
"Gold, endless gold... enough to fill half a room!"
Not only was Shen Renjie unable to close his mouth, even Ling Shu and Yue Dingtang couldn't help but show a look of shock.
Money moves the heart, fortunately, there were only the three of them in the interrogation room now. Otherwise, it would be difficult to guarantee that others would not go crazy and cause trouble after hearing this news.
Yue Dingtang looked at Shen Renjie at the right time.
Shen Renjie was so clever that he immediately stood up straight and said, "All the contents of the case must not be made public before the case is closed. I will also keep the testimony of the relevant personnel properly. Once it leaks out, you can come after me!"
Yue Dingtang nodded and turned to the old butler. "Please continue. Where did the gold come from?"
Yuan Bingdao didn't spend much time in Sichuan before he could speak the language fluently.
After losing in the factional struggles, he was soon forced to leave. However, the reason why he was able to live comfortably for the rest of his life, with endless wealth, was not only because he had plundered the people during his time in power, but also because of a sunken ship he discovered.
Yuan Bingdao's trusted aide was the first to discover the sunken ship. At the time, they only thought it was an ordinary civilian ship, dating back to the late Ming and early Qing dynasties.
But later, when Yuan Bingdao sent people to salvage most of the boxes from the ship, they found either gold or precious objects inside. Who the ship owner was and why the ship sank here was not Yuan Bingdao's main concern. In times of warlords and chaos, nothing brings more joy than a fortune that falls from the sky.
Yuan Bingdao quickly snapped out of his daze.
Although he was a warlord, there were different levels of power among them. Big fish eat small fish, and Yuan Bingdao's influence was not enough to dominate. If someone discovered that these huge fortunes were concentrated in his hands, it wouldn't be long before he couldn't even ensure his own safety, let alone leave Sichuan.
Yuan Bingdao thought for three days and three nights before finally making a decision. He called his trusted men, gave them a portion of the wealth, and then disguised the rest in batches to be transported out of Sichuan.
He himself pretended to be sick and gradually withdrew from the military and political circles of Sichuan, retiring from the rapids and going to Shanghai to enjoy the high life. His plan was a success, although there were some unexpected incidents on the way or perhaps some gold was embezzled, but most of the gold was still transported to Shanghai.
"Only by keeping the gold under his own eyes can the old master rest assured. But at that time, time was tight, and it was not easy to find such a house. In the end, the old master chose the Yuan Manor because it had a large enough cellar."
Shen Renjie asked, "Cellar? We searched but didn't find the gold you mentioned."
The old butler replied, "What you saw was just the cellar that came with the house. There is another layer underneath."
Yue Dingtang asked, "The house already had it?" The butler nodded, "When we bought the house, we unexpectedly discovered it. It was already abandoned, with piles of rocks and dirt that made it unusable. The old master had someone clean it up and hide the gold inside before locking it up again. The entrance is hidden and ordinary people wouldn't be able to find it. Even if they did, they wouldn't have the key to open it."
Ling Shu said, "So you made up the ghost stories about the house after all?"
The old butler sighed, "I had no choice. The old master only had one son, who he knew was a spendthrift and incapable of running the family business. He never told him about the secret stash of gold, fearing that he would squander it all and bring the Yuan family to ruin. The master gave the key to his son and entrusted me to keep the secret until he got his act together or until his children were born."
As expected, Yuan Bing lived up to his father's fears. He not only became addicted to opium, but also squandered the family fortune. If he got his hands on the stash of gold, the family's power would soon dissipate.
However, Yuan Bing's demise came sooner than anyone expected. Not only did he fail to turn his life around, but the old butler didn't even have to wait for his child to be born before Yuan Bing met his untimely end.
"I thought to myself, the old master's hard-earned family business should not be taken away by outsiders no matter what. This secret, I will keep it day by day. Even if Miss Yuan and her family return to the country in the future, at least it will be inherited by the Yuan family."
"But that house has had one problem after another, and all of you are focused on it. I'm afraid that if too many people come and go, sooner or later they will discover the secret there. That's why I had Sancai dress up as a ghost to scare people."
"Scaring people is one thing, but I would never go and kill anyone. Your Honor, how could I possibly harm the old master and his wife?"
"And as for Ah Lan, I never thought she would hang herself. It must be because she did something wrong to the old master and his wife, and her guilty conscience kept her up at night until she chose to die as an apology!"
As he spoke, Shen Renjie brought in an iron box from outside. "Mr. Yue, this is what we found in Ah Lan's room. It's said to contain all her belongings," the person said.
Yue Dingtang took it and opened it, but his expression was doubtful.
The author has something to say: The truth is gradually coming to light, so what should we have for our midnight snack?