"Alright, class, that's all for today's lesson. I'm assigning a project for you all to discuss the origin and development of the English language, including its political and military influence on various ethnic groups around the world, as well as the emergence of a second-tier culture. Feel free to express yourselves, and the assignment is due next week."
The professor, with his scholarly appearance, habitually tapped the desk before leaving. The students had already noticed that three taps meant he was satisfied with his lecture and the classroom atmosphere, while two taps meant he was not very satisfied.
Today, he tapped three times, so it seemed like it went well.
The students quickly stood up to bow to the professor and watched him leave before relaxing and chatting with each other. Unlike his classmates who were chatting in groups, Liang Ye quietly packed his books and headed towards the door.
No one called out to him or even noticed him.
It wasn't until Liang Ye saw someone blocking his way at the door that he realized he wasn't alone.
The stranger raised his hand and gave him a Western-style greeting, which was quite unusual.
But Liang Ye was sure he didn't know him.
"Brother, hold on a moment. My name is Ling Shu. You definitely don't know me, but I know you. I have something to ask you. Can we talk for a bit?"
Ling Shu smiled at him, exuding a charming and charismatic aura.
Unfortunately, Liang Ye wasn't interested.
He only glanced at Ling Shu and planned to walk around him.
But Ling Shu reached out and grabbed him.
"Brother, I'm not a bad person. Look at my face, no bad person is born as good-looking as me. I'm a police officer and just want to ask you something!"
But Liang Ye completely ignored him, pulling his hand away and refusing to make eye contact.
Ling Shu had to use more force to try and drag him away.
"Let go of me! What are you trying to do in broad daylight?!"
Suddenly, Liang Ye shouted loudly, attracting the attention of many students.
Seeing himself being scrutinized by so many eyes, Ling Shu put on an innocent face.
"Cousin, my mother is seriously ill and wants to see you before she dies. Even if you don't care about her being your aunt, please consider that she once supported you financially to go to school. Can you come?"
Liang Ye angrily retorted, "You're talking nonsense!"
He didn't even know Ling Shu, let alone have seen him before. He just went back and forth between school and home, minding his own business, never committing any crimes.
So he instinctively saw Ling Shu as a fraud.
"Cousin, I know you don't want to acknowledge us as your family, but I'm not here to ask for money. My mom really misses you. She keeps talking about you while lying in bed. Just think of it as doing a good deed and please go see her!"
Liang Ye looked at the young man in front of him.
The guy begged and pleaded as if it were true, but the problem was that his grip was surprisingly strong, and Liang Ye couldn't break free.
What's even scarier is that some of the onlookers actually believed him.
"Liang Ye, as a filial son, you should value filial piety. What's the point of studying if you don't understand this principle? You're a top student in university, don't you understand this?"
"Just think about it, your aunt is so sick, why not go see her? Do you want to wait until something happens to her and regret it then?" The crowd chimed in, supporting Ling Shu and blaming Liang Ye.
"If you come with me, I won't make things difficult for you," Liang Ye heard a young man whisper to him in a barely audible voice as he pulled him closer.
He felt more and more like this was a conspiracy, but he had no way to resist.
Usually, he hurried back and forth, not even making friends. His classmates didn't know much about him, thinking he was a solitary person who couldn't be melted by even the warmest sun.
Gradually, they kept their distance, let alone Ling Shu, who was handsome and had a sorrowful expression, with every detail on his face writing the words "good person."
Everyone was definitely on Ling Shu's side, and they all joined in to condemn Liang Ye with one voice.
Liang Ye realized that he was isolated, and his heart suddenly felt desolate. He finally gave up resistance and was led by Ling Shu out of the crowd and to a tree by the wall.
Ling Shu found it a bit amusing. "Liang Ye, it seems like you don't have many friends. As soon as I spoke, everyone believed me. Not a single person doubted that I supported you. If I had said that you owed me money just now, would everyone have forced you to pay me back?"
"Who are you and why are you doing this to me?" Liang Ye leaned against the wall, feeling a mix of sadness, anger, and helplessness.
Ling Shu replied, "My name is Ling Shu. I already introduced myself earlier. I'm a police officer and I'm here to ask you about a murder case that you're suspected of being involved in."
Liang Ye was very cautious. "I don't have any money, and I don't have an aunt!"
Ling Shu said, "If I didn't say that, would you have come out with me? I'm afraid you would have turned around and ran away."
Liang Ye replied angrily, "What do you want to ask? I've been at school every day, how could I have killed someone? I haven't even killed a chicken!"
Ling Shu asked, "Then how did your older brother, Liang Zhou, die?"
Liang Ye's face changed.
Ling Shu continued, "What, you don't even remember your own brother? Let me remind you, Liang Zhou, like you, had the surname Liang. Your parents named him Zhou because they worked day and night for him, and they named you Ye because you were born at night. The Liang family was a scholarly family with some savings, able to afford for both of you to go to school. So why did it end up with the family being destroyed and someone dying?"
Liang Ye asked, "Who told you all of this? Was it that woman surnamed He?"
As Ling Shu spoke, he observed Liang Ye's expression with interest. "So you call your own sister-in-law that woman with the surname He? As far as I know, your brother Liang Zhou was very fond of He You'an. He even went out of his way to propose to her and marry her. But instead, your brother fell into the trap of smoking and gambling, ruining his future and life. He left He You'an with a huge debt at a young age. Isn't that the truth?"
Liang Ye gritted his teeth in anger. "If it weren't for her flaunting herself and fooling around with other men, how could my brother have argued with her? If they hadn't argued, how could he have left in a fit of anger and smoked to relieve his stress? How could he have lost all our family's wealth and hoped to earn my tuition through gambling?"
Ling Shu raised an eyebrow. "So you've been threatening He You'an with death, one after another, trying to make her restless?"
Liang Ye said, "I don't know what you're talking about!"
"It doesn't matter," Ling Shu replied. "I know enough. If you don't tell me the truth today, you'll have to go to the police. You know that He You'an is a big star now, and many of her supporters are wealthy young masters and rich young ladies. Those people can easily cause you endless trouble with just a few words. And then there's Shen Shiqi. Have you heard of him? If he wants to crush you, it's like crushing an ant. Do you think you can come out alive if you go in?"
Liang Ye's face turned pale as he looked up at Ling Shu.
"Are you trying to force a confession out of me?" he asked.
"I want you to tell me the truth, plain and simple," Ling Shu replied, unyielding.
Liang Ye was furious, "The truth is, I could never have threatened her or harmed her in any way! I wish I never had to see that woman again! She's the one who destroyed my family, and now all I want is to focus on my studies and have nothing to do with anyone surnamed He!"
His disdain for He You'an was evident in his expression and he didn't bother to hide it in front of others. That's why he never mentioned their relationship to anyone.
Ling Shu looked at Liang Ye again. He was a typical useless scholar, out of breath from running all the way from the classroom to here. It was hard to imagine him climbing up to the second floor of He You’an's house to put a dead cat on the windowsill. As for the second incident, hiring someone to attack, it didn't seem like something Liang Ye would have the courage to do.
"Since the Liang family has already fallen," he spoke slowly. "It is said that you live a reclusive life and do not associate with any classmates. They cannot sympathize and support you. I have also seen your academic record, which is average. There will be no teacher or mentor who will discover and appreciate you among the thousands of students. So, where do you get the money to pay for your tuition?"
Liang Ye replied, "It's from my distant cousin who sent it to me."
Ling Shu asked, "What's his name? Where is he from? What's his occupation?"
Liang Ye replied in a low voice, "I don't know! He only wrote to me after my brother passed away, asking about my situation. He said my parents had helped him before, so he wanted to support me until I start a family. He claims to live in Beiping, but I don't know what he does. I can't write to him, but he sends me money regularly, enough for me to rent a place and study."
Ling Shu said, "It's such a coincidence that when your brother was alive, he never wrote to you. But when he passed away and the Liang family was left helpless, this person suddenly appeared and not only gave you money without expecting anything in return, but also never revealed his name or address. It's like a bodhisattva or immortal reincarnated on earth. And you just accepted it without any guilt?"
Liang Ye angrily replied, "If you don't believe me, I can show you those letters. I've kept them all!"
Ling Shu thought to himself that there must be something suspicious about a pitiful person, and this statement was quite reasonable.
If Liang Zhou had fallen to such a low point, it was entirely his own fault. No matter how bad He You'an was, she couldn't have forced him into smoking and gambling dens.
Blaming others for one's own mistakes is always the most useless kind of person.
Even without any addiction to smoking or gambling, his achievements in life were limited.
"I'll tell you the truth, you don't actually have a distant uncle. What distant relative would selflessly support a family they've never even met, and not even reveal their own name and background? All that money was sent to you by He You'an under false pretenses!"
Liang Ye retorted, "That's nonsense!"
Ling Shu smiled slyly, "You actually already suspected it, but you didn't want to admit that you were indebted to He You'an. You'd rather deceive yourself into believing in a distant uncle, so you wouldn't owe her any favors and could feel at ease. It's a win-win situation."
Liang Ye looked embarrassed and tried to argue, but he wasn't good with words.
He opened his mouth and could only say things like, "You're talking nonsense, I never thought that way."
Ling Shu could be sure that Liang Ye was not someone who would plan death threats multiple times. Even though he had the knowledge, he lacked the courage. His heart was not cruel enough, and he was too attached to the present to admit to He You'an that he couldn't live without her.
This young man, who seemed to have received a modern education and became a university student, was actually just a poor creature surviving by sucking the blood of his relatives.
While He You'an was being played by Shen Shiqi, Liang Ye was comfortably reading books, wandering in the ocean of knowledge, holding onto his dreams and looking forward to the future.
Although Liang Zhou's death was not glorious, for Liang Ye, his life still had a bright future.
At first, when Ling Shu discovered that He You'an had been married before, he couldn't help but have all sorts of suspicions and imaginations like any ordinary person. He even wondered if there was some hidden evil beneath He You'an's beautiful appearance.
However, when the incident with Liang Ye came to light, it indirectly confirmed He You'an's innocence.
The more Liang Ye despised her, the more people felt sorry for and regretful for He You'an. Ling Shu could guarantee that even if it was exposed that He You'an had been married before, at most she would face some criticism for a short period of time.
But once people understood the story behind it, public opinion would immediately turn and sympathize with her. Under the current call for the liberation of women in the new era, especially in big cities like Shanghai, as long as there was a little guidance, the newspapers would immediately promote He You'an's spirit of love and pursuit of freedom.
If handled properly, not only would her career not be affected, but it could also reach new heights.
Ling Shu sighed.
Liang Ye looked at him in fear, as if afraid he would say something heartless next.
But what Ling Shu was thinking was that since there was no result from Liang Ye's side, they could only start from Jiang He's side.
Could Lu Tongcang's capable right-hand man, the ruthless and cunning Jiang He, be the breakthrough point?
"Take care of yourself. Each person is responsible for their own actions. Even if you don't expect anything in return, at least be grateful. Don't waste your education."
Ling Shu patted Liang Ye's shoulder, hands in his pockets, and left under the tree.
He wondered if Yue Dingtang was still teaching at this time. He didn't know what the young man who used to compete with him was like now that he was a teacher.
Yue Dingtang almost sneezed. He pressed his nose and continued teaching.
The students below the podium listened attentively. The position of a university professor was highly respected, especially for someone like Yue Dingtang, who had returned with honors.
Furthermore, his lectures were not rigid. He could always cite classic examples and tell stories along with his explanations.
The students were eager to learn and wished they could remember every word he said. Furthermore, Yue Dingtang had a charming demeanor, unlike the old scholars who were on the verge of senility. He wore a three-piece suit and stood tall and straight, with some students attentively listening to his lecture while others were daydreaming.
Suddenly, someone entered through the back door without making a sound.
There was an empty seat by the door, but the view from there was poor. Many students who came to audit the class preferred to sit in the middle aisle rather than stay there because it was difficult to see the words on the blackboard.
However, Yue Dingtang had a bird's-eye view and could see everything clearly.
He looked at Ling Shu, who sat down sneakily, and twitched his mouth.
"Just now, I want to ask the class for their opinions on a question. What kind of spirit does China need most to rise today? What do you think?" he asked.
"Of course, it's focus!" A student stood up without hesitation.
"Looking at the world, Japan first underwent a Meiji Restoration and then became prosperous. Originally just a small and insignificant country, they were able to defeat the Qing Dynasty and become the fourth strongest navy in the world, ultimately becoming one of the great powers. The root of their success lies in their ability to humble themselves and learn from the West!
“On the other hand, in our country, some advocate for following England and America, while others promote learning from Germany and France. There are even those who suggest looking to the East for inspiration. We try to learn a little from the West and a little from the East, looking to England and America today and Germany and France tomorrow. In the end, we become neither here nor there, unable to rise or fall, leading to our current situation! Therefore, in my opinion, if China wants to rise today, we must have a spirit of focused learning. If we don't learn, we will fall behind. If we learn, we should learn from the strongest, England!"
"In my opinion, it's about having backbone!"
"No, it's about peace. If we keep fighting within our own country, when will we ever have peace to talk about becoming strong?"
Everyone had their own opinions and spoke up. Yue Dingtang pointed his teaching cane at Ling Shu from afar.
"Let's hear from the student sitting by the door," he said.
"Me?" Ling Shu pointed to himself.
Yue Dingtang nodded, and all eyes turned to Ling Shu.
Ling Shu thought to himself that Mr. Yue must want to see him make a fool of himself.
He stood up slowly and asked, "Do you really want me to speak, sir?"
Yue Dingtang replied, "Just speak your mind. There are a thousand different opinions on this issue, and you don't have to be a professional to answer it."
Ling Shu smiled and said, "Well, in my opinion, what we need most is Mr. Yue's serious and meticulous spirit. When it comes to anything, the most important thing is to take it seriously. As long as we do that, we can not only catch up with the top students, but even surpass them."
The crowd caught on to the teasing and joking, bursting into laughter. They wondered which student was bold enough to openly mock their teacher.
Yue Dingtang remained expressionless.
Ling Shu winked at him.
The uproar of the crowd became background noise and a stage for the two of them. They were like flirting, with hidden waves and deep waters.
Yue Dingtang seemed to see the young man from years ago, full of spirit and vitality. Time had passed, but it was as if happiness could be relived.
Meanwhile, Yue Dingtang received a phone call in his office at the police station.
No one answered the phone, so the call was transferred to the secretary's office outside.
After some effort, they finally reached him at the school when he finished class.
"Mr. Yue, my maid is in trouble!"
He Yong'an's voice was very nervous on the phone.