Chapter 24 – Case Closed (part 1)
Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Ji Yunshu calmly nodded to express that she understood what Lord Zhou meant.
Madame Zhou softly leaned forward. Her hands were trembling as she pleaded, “Teacher, who killed my daughter? Why did that person want to do such a thing?”
“Madame, please stay calm. It’s better if I first tell everyone a story.”
“What?” Madame Zhou didn’t understand.
Jing Rong also frowned. ‘This scholar is really too carefree and idle. To narrate a story at this time? And in the mourning hall at that!’
A weirdo! Too eccentric!
Ji Yunshu made herself comfortable, and her expression suddenly sharpened. After sweeping a glance at everyone present, she started her narration.
“More than 10 years ago, in this same month, a young child, six or seven years of age, was betrayed by her impoverished family and sold to a rich family as a maidservant to their young miss. At the time, she’d believed that her situation wasn’t too bad. That is, she had a roof, warm clothes, and three meals a day. Unfortunately, she was unaware that the miss she had been assigned to serve had been crafty and unruly from the day she could walk. She would often beat or scold the servants for any and every fault. As the young servant grew up, there hardly went a day without the young maidservant being abused from head to toe.”
“As the years passed, the young miss’ personality problem didn’t fade. On the contrary, her abusive personality intensified. The young maidservant didn’t dare to get angry, nor did she dare to voice out her pain. Her whole body was riddled with wounds from her tormenter. Each day in the depth of the night, she alone would weep until her heart broke and her lungs rent, because she knew very well that she was merely a servant. Her life was worth nothing, thus she could only endure, endlessly endure…”
While she spoke, Ji Yunshu strode around the mourning hall, walking among the crowd of servants until she finally reached the last row. She stopped in front of Suyun who had kept her head lowered all this time. Identical to yesterday, her face was as pale and emaciated as ever.
She clearly perceived a pressure from the presence in front of her. Her body trembled even more uncontrollably, and her head burrowed further to her chest. Her sight was fixated on Ji Yunshu’s pair of embroidered shoes.
The crowd parted on both sides as their astonished gazes fell on Suyun. They looked at each other in dismay, without understanding the deep meaning behind it.
Ji Yunshu’s sight was fixed on top of Suyun’s head as she went on with her story.
“That young girl also didn’t expect that no matter how much she endured, the young miss would continue to treat her inhumanly, going as far as breaking the girl’s leg. Yet, the girl could only grit her teeth and continue to endure.”
Suyun subconsciously shifted her weight.. And trembled!
“Miss Suyun, I don’t know; was what I said correct?”
The whole crowd broke into an uproar.
Hidden under her hair, her eyes revealed a panic-stricken expression. Suyan firmly bit her lips but didn’t dare to let out a sound!
Ji Yunshu’s outstretched hand touched Suyun’s trembling arm. She frowned and hesitantly said, “Miss Zhou is good-looking and intelligent. In front of people, she put on a facade of a sweet and pleasant girl, but little could we have imagined that behind closed doors, she treated the people besides her in such a cruel manner, tormenting them to this point.”
Everyone widened their eyes in disbelief. Their young miss was someone who would weep from sadness for three days and three nights after seeing a dead fish in the lotus pond. How did she fit the word “cruel” in the slightest?!
Madame Zhou was the fastest to come up behind Ji Yunshu. The unwillingness to believe such nonsense showed on her face as she spoke to Ji Yunshu. “Teacher, you are certainly mistaken. My daughter absolutely cannot do such things. It must be a mistake…”
As she spoke those words, Madame Zhou grabbed Suyun, and in complete disregard of the crowd, she bluntly pulled up Suyun’s sleeves and tore off her clothes, exposing the young girl’s shoulders and collarbones to prying eyes.
Suyun’s skin was as fair as paper and was completely devoid of any trace of injuries!
“Teacher said that my daughter mistreated her? How could it be possible? Look! See? There is no injury on her body.” Madame Zhou exclaimed confidently.
However, Ji Yunshu didn’t explain. Unhurriedly, she took out an exquisite little box from her sleeve. Slowly, she opened it, exposing for the first time to the bright light, hundreds of neatly placed silver needles.
At that instant, Suyun used her hands to cover her exposed skin and leaped back several steps. Even the uninvolved Qiaoxin reacted in fright; her mouth turned pale and her whole body trembled.
‘Ah! So, these maidservants were actually afraid of those silver needles!’
Ji Yunshu’s hand reached into the box and picked up a needle.
“As an intelligent person, she would naturally not be stupid enough to leave traces of injury on the girl’s body. Which is where this silver needle comes in. Even if one is pricked with this kind of silver needle, no trace would be left behind, and it would not cause bleeding. Yet, it would make people feel unbearable pain when it was jabbed into one’s bursa. For such an intelligent person, I cannot remain unconvinced.”
“Impossible! My daughter wasn’t such a person.”
Madame Zhou persisted in denying the conjecture, becoming more hysterical by the minute.
Upon seeing this, Lord Zhou stepped forward and took her in his arms. He sighed heavily when he turned to Ji Yunshu. “Teacher Ji, you must properly investigate this part. My daughter definitively could not do such evil things. Moreover, what has that got to do with my daughter’s murder?”
“I have yet to finish my story.”
Ji Yunshu was simply playing with people’s heartstrings from her tone.
She put the needle back into its box and closed the lid. Her gaze returned to Suyun.
“Every day, her life was endless torture, pushing her to seek numerous paths to end her suffering. But, life was never as one expects. She met her other half – a man who would risk everything for her. They secretly fell in love and swore their undying love to each other. Not long after, the girl became pregnant. She was…elated, truly happy. She planned to save her wages to buy back her freedom, but how could she have known that her plan would reach the ears of the young miss? More than that, she would never have expected that the young miss, who was so demure in front of everyone, would fiercely prick her with the needles. That session of torture almost claimed her life. That last session… cost her that unborn child, and left her hovering between life and death.”
“Finally, the girl could no longer endure it. She was determined to take her revenge; she was going to kill that young miss. Thus, she used the excuse of her bad health to return home, but she secretly came back to the mansion on the same night in order to add poison into her miss’ medicinal concoction. She was going to poison that devil who killed her child.”
While she spoke, everyone was stunned to the point of numbness.
Ji Yunshu picked up the pace as she continued her story, “When the deed was done, the lifeless body of the poisoned miss lay on the floor in front of her. With all her strength, she put the body on the bed, but she was filled with dread. She was afraid that someone would discover what she did, so she confided in her lover. Early the next morning, they carried Miss Zhou’s body to the attic and faked her accidental fall!”
At those last words, the whole hall became quiet.
“It’s not me! It’s not me!” Suyun’s voice trembled while she frantically shook her head.
“There’s no need to deny it so vehemently. Since I told that story, I have the evidence to prove it.”
Ji Yunshu approached Suyun step by step. In one quick move, she pulled on the maidservant’s sleeve and fished out her handkerchief.
It was the handkerchief embroidered with the two mulberry tree flowers!
“Give it back!”
In a flash, Suyun abruptly lifted her head and revealed a malevolent expression. Her hands snapped out in a ferocious attempt to yank it back. Unfortunately for her, Ji Yunshu had already retreated a step and avoided her with a hasty side-step. Suyun ended up throwing herself at empty space.
“And so, she turns out to be a girl from the Western Regions. She’s concealed herself quite deeply.”
Suyun immediately became startled!
Grenn’s Rants Corner
So, the next two chapters are a bit longer than usual, so I might post them a bit later tomorrow.