Chapter 15 - Are you fond of women's chambers?

“I… At that time, I was downstairs.”

“Why were you downstairs?”

“That morning, I wasn’t feeling well. After I drank my medicine, I went to the young Miss’ courtyard. But, I didn’t see her in her room, so I went to the backyard. From there, I saw her sitting in the attic. I remember that there was no one else in the attic at that time. I had just arrived below the attic when I saw young Miss falling from the attic, and then her head smashed onto the rock garden.” She spoke without hesitation and it did not seem to be a lie.

Ji Yunshu continued to question her, “That night, three days ago, when was the last time you saw Miss Zhou?”

Qiaoxin pondered, then replied, “It should be at the hour of the boar [1]. I saw that the light in her room had gone out, so I went in to light it. At that time, the young miss was just lying on her bed. There was nothing out of the ordinary.” When she spoke, she used a serious tone, making it clear that she wasn’t lying.

There was only one suspicious point about her answer. Ji Yunshu felt a weight pressing on her mind. This case really is tricky.

Qiaoxin asked, “Teacher, you said that our young Miss died at night three days ago, but then how come I saw her sitting in the attic in the morning two days ago?”

“You only saw her from a distance. Naturally, you wouldn’t be able to distinguish if she was already dead then. If someone maliciously murdered your young Miss, that person could also fake the fall. How could that person let a small maidservant like you discover the subterfuge?” With Ji Yunshu’s reply, Qiaoxin understood. 

After a deep breath, Ji Yunshu turned to Lord Zhou and spoke, “Now that we know Miss Zhou’s cause of death and the time of death, the next step is to find the murderer’s motive. Then, according to the motive, we will proceed to find the murderer. Therefore, I need to take a look at Miss Zhou’s room.”

Lord Zhou readily agreed, “I’ll have someone lead you there.” He turned to summon a housekeeper, who was promptly at his side, and gave him an order. “Ah Jing, bring Teacher Ji to the young miss’s room to investigate.”

The old housekeeper bowed. “Yes, Milord.” Then, he looked at Ji Yunshu. “Teacher Ji, this way, please.” The old housekeeper led several maidservants towards Miss Zhou’s courtyard. 

Ji Yunshu was about to catch up to them, but when she passed in front of Jing Rong, he pulled her aside, “I didn’t expect that Teacher Ji was fond of looking at a woman’s chambers.”

If Jing Rong had not voiced anything, she would have completely forgotten about this deity. She had not anticipated that he would be able to keep such a low profile and blend in with the crowd, staying completely out of sight! “Not everyone is a dirty rogue. I am compelled to do so in order to solve this case. If Prince Rong doesn’t disdain such an activity, there’s no harm in going together.”

“Obviously I will go. In fact, I want to see inside Teacher Ji’s brain. Exactly how many more mysterious secrets do you still hide?”

Why do those sentences sound so much like the teasing preamble of a television host?! Ji Yunshu’s mouth twitched. She gave him a polite smile in reply before following after the old housekeeper.

Jing Rong was extremely curious about Ji Yunshu. That scholar is much more amusing than the fights and schemes inside the Capital.

Lang Po approached him and stated, “Prince Rong, it appears that we didn’t find the wrong person. This Teacher Ji is definitely a talent.”

“A talented person is a talented person, but that temper is stubborn.”

“Yes, indeed.”

“Alright, then. Let’s go take a look first.” Jing Rong stopped talking and trailed behind the crowd with Lang Po. The county magistrate waited until Jing Rong had left before he himself dared to leave. After Lord Zhou instructed the servants to quickly support Madame Zhou back to her room, he too went to his deceased daughter’s courtyard.

Miss Zhou’s bedroom was very clean. To be precise, it was spotlessly clean to the point that it was simply abnormal. All the objects in the room were arranged by colour. Inside the room, from the curtain to the bed, everything was red while it was blue and yellow outside the room, and each colour was arranged into sections. This was clearly a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder!

Ji Yunshu stepped into the room and observed the surroundings. She saw the neat arrangement of the makeup on the dressing table. The color of the cases were nearly identical. In addition, there was not even a speck of dust on the cases or the surface of the table.

Qiaoxin’s eyesight was sharp. She hurriedly started to explain, “Our Miss especially loved cleanliness. As long as it was used once, she would absolutely refuse to reuse the makeup a second time. So, early every morning, we would replace them with new ones.”

Ji Yunshu remained silent and walked further into the room. Then, she caught sight of an unusually exquisite candle holder next to the curtain. A candlestick in a rich and influential family would only have flower engravings. However, the candlestick in front of her was sculpted from crystal. Together with its base, the candlestick formed the shape of a gorgeous helix. It was extremely beautiful to behold. Ji Yunshu said, “This candle holder is really beautiful. Your young Miss seemed to be very fond of it.” 

“Yes. Miss particularly loved it.” Qiaoxin nodded, “Not only that, every night before going to sleep, she would want to light it. She said that the scent from the candle helped her sleep.”

“Very nice taste.” The interests of people from rich families were so unlike that of the masses! Ji Yunshu continued to examine the bedroom. 

Then, she saw a red whip hanging on the wall next to the entrance. Was Miss Zhou practicing a family martial art? Doubts arose in her mind. She stretched out her hand and took down the whip. At that instant, she inadvertently glimpsed Qiaoxin out of the corner of her eyes. The sudden panic in Qiaoxin’s eyes did not go unnoticed, nor did the instinctive way she covered her wrist and recoiled. 

So that’s how it was. Ji Yunshu carefully put back the whip.


[1] The hour of the boar is between 9-11pm.

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