Chapter 13 - Time of Death?

Lord Zhou asked, “Teacher Ji, what do you mean by that? My daughter has passed away, how can you say it’s ‘fortunate’?” 

Ji Yunshu expression sank as she replied, “What I meant by that is… How fortunate that Miss Zhou died without closing her eyes. She has left us a clear hint, namely, that protuberance on her shoulder was caused by a swelling.”

“A swelling? Were you referring to this spot?”

Ji Yunshu slipped her white gloves on and opened her sandalwood box, but this time, the box did not contain her usual painting tools. Instead, there were all kinds of tools that resembled tweezers and scissors. She took out a small dagger and under everyone’s eyes, cut deeply into Miss Zhou’s flesh and sliced open her shoulder. The already coagulated dark purple blood pooling underneath her rotting skin, oozed out, mixing itself with a bit of dark red blood from the incised muscles and flesh. The end result appeared like a coulis of diarrhea trickling down Miss Zhou’s neck, permeating her hair and gorgeous brocade clothes. It was really a pity that such a sumptuous garment was ruined!

Undeterred, Ji Yunshu continued to slice deeper and deeper into the shoulder until the root of the swelling was revealed. Of course, her callous actions had completely frightened everyone. Their faces turned green while they covered their mouths, every single one on the verge of vomiting. 

Ji Yunshu removed her dagger, absentmindedly cleaning it as she gazed at the newly opened shoulder. She put her dagger back in her sandalwood box before turning back to Miss Zhou’s shoulder. She palpated both sides of the shoulder bone, then closely examined the swelling. Gradually she came up with a satisfying conclusion. As expected, her conjecture wasn’t the slightest bit wrong. “From the shape of this bulge, someone had lifted both of her arms and dragged her away. What’s more, she was pulled by her wrists, which is congruent with the marks on her wrists that I found.”

Everyone had endured the sick feeling that assaulted their senses, yet when they heard her words, they were overcome by shock. Madame Zhou had a bitter face. She asked with a voice filled with doubt, “Teacher, what does that have to do with my daughter’s death?”

“Of course, there’s a link between the two findings.” Her expression was confident and she swept her eyes at the crowd of housekeepers and maidservants inside the room before asking, “Who was with Miss Zhou at the time of her death?”

From within the crowd, a trembling young maidservant came out. She lowered her head. “This servant was at her side at the time.”

Ji Yunshu sized her up: she had a small stature, a delicate and pretty appearance, and was barely thirteen years of age. Her two hands were tightly clenched inside her sleeves. She appeared to be afraid. “Let me ask you. Are you certain your young Miss fell to her death early morning two days ago?”

“I am sure that Miss fell to death at that time. I saw it with my own eyes.”

“You’re lying.” The entire hall exploded as soon as Ji Yunshu spoke.

Madame Zhou remained silent, but she walked in front of the maidservant and slapped her, “Damned girl! Confess! Did you push down my daughter? Why did you want to harm her? Didn’t she treat you well?”

“Madame, it wasn’t me! It really wasn’t me who pushed the young Miss. Even if I had great courage, this servant wouldn’t dare!”

“Teacher Ji said that you lied. If it wasn’t you, then who was it? Someone, grab that cheap servant. I want her to pay for my daughter’s life!”

“Madame… This slave has been accused wrongly!”

The ruckus was giving Ji Yunshu a headache. She frowned and let out a sigh, then put a stop to the situation, “Madame, I didn't say that the young Miss was murdered by this girl. Please stop for a moment. And could you wait until this humble one is done explaining?”

Lord Zhou hurriedly pulled his wife to the side and stated, “Dear, your body is not well. Don’t be angry. Let’s hear Teacher’s explanation first, then redress Ning’er’s grievances.”

Madame Zhou was so anxious that she almost fainted. To calm herself, she took deep breaths and forced herself to sit.

“Get up.” Ji Yunshu bent down and lifted the crying and trembling girl to her feet. Coincidentally, she had merely brushed against the girl’s wrist, yet the maidservant had groaned in pain before slowly getting up. This naturally did not escape Ji Yunshu’s eyes. 

Ji Yunshu turned back next to the coffin and solemnly spoke, “Lord Zhou and Madame Zhou, the reason why I said that this young girl was lying was because she absolutely wasn’t at Miss Zhou’s side at the time of her death. If she really had been present, she would have discovered that Miss Zhou was already dead. Miss Zhou died sometime during the night three days ago.”

“What?!” Lord Zhou was shocked. 

Everyone present started to assess and discuss this new bombshell. Obviously, the Zhou family’s young Miss had fallen to her death early morning two days ago. How did it become the night three days ago?


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