The silk brocade now showed an image of a woman dressed in light pink, standing beneath a plum blossom tree. She had a pointy chin, rosy-red complexion, and a pair of deep and profound eyes. The tip of her nose was plump and upright, and her thin lips stretched upwards to form a faint smile. A beauty had come to life before their eyes!
Lord Zhou's eyes immediately reddened when he saw the painting, and he trembled. A man could have tears, but he couldn’t shed them easily. He forcibly restrained himself from crying, instead rolling up the painting and handing it to his wife.
“This is indeed my Ning’er. This was exactly what she looked like before the fall claimed her life. My poor daughter… You were often sick when you were alive, but even in your death, you have to suffer with such an appearance. Mother is so sorry to have let you down! My poor daughter…” Madame Zhou hugged the painting as guilt consumed her, tears falling like raindrops on a pear blossom.
“Madame, stop being sad. Ning’er wouldn’t want to see you so heart-broken. Your health is not good; don't husband worry!”
Madame Zhou stifled her sobs, but her eyes were almost blinded by her tears. Finally, her maidservants supported her back to her room.
Ji Yunshu packed up her things, hefting the sandalwood box under her arm as she prepared to leave.
“Please hold on, Teacher Ji.” Lord Zhou interjected and handed her a bag of silvers, “I hope that Teacher will accept this money.”
“There’s no need. I'm but working for the yamen - the county magistrate pay me my wages.” She returned the bag of silvers and departed quietly from the mourning hall.
As a yamen runner, she should receive money from the yamen. She couldn’t desire that kind of extra money. If she had decided to accept tips, people would start coming directly to her instead of going through the yamen to make requests. She would then be swarmed with jobs and be worked to death. It was said that without a standard protocol, nothing could be accomplished. Having an established schedule definitely had its advantages!
The downpour grew heavier on her way home. Ji Yunshu returned via the same path, but instead of entering via the Ji Residence's main entrance, she walked through a side door.
West Side Courtyard
Luan’er looked outside, twisting her hands anxiously. When she noticed that Ji Yunshu had returned, she hurriedly got up, welcoming her back.
“Miss, you were gone for almost four hours. Earlier, the Old Madame sent people here. They said that several noble guests from the capital were coming for the evening banquet and that you are not allowed to attend. They also said that you would bring bad luck to the family, because you make portraits of the deceased.”
“I don’t even want to attend in the first place. So, why are you flustered?”
“But the other misses could attend - only you were left out!” Luan’er complained.
“You should know that I hate crowds. Besides, it’s raining today. It’s better to rest inside instead.” Ji Yunshu washed her hands using the water flowing from the eaves before entering her room.
Luan’er felt heartbroken on behalf of her miss. She sighed softly, and dutifully followed after her.
Ji Yunshu removed her male clothing and makeup, revealing her fair skin and beautiful face. Her facial features were sharp and refined, giving off an impression of wisdom and intelligence. However, the beautiful visage reflected in the mirror was not Ji Yunshu’s original appearance.
Five years ago, she had died on the operating table. When she woke up, she found herself in the body of the barely 13-year-old Third Miss of the Ji family in Jinjiang city. As the former owner’s memories rushed through her brain like a tidal wave, she was able to understand her predicament. The former Ji Yunshu was the unloved and bullied daughter of a concubine. Her mother was a prostitute from a brothel who had become pregnant with her after a night of passion with her drunk father. When the child had entered the world, her mother had died due to the difficult childbirth. Since her tender childhood, she had lived in the West Side Courtyard under the care of Wet Nurse Zhang. Unfortunately, a few years ago, Wet Nurse Zhang had passed away from illness.
After her death, the West Side Courtyard received diminishing support, and the 13-year-old Ji Yunshu had turned into skin and bones, finally dying from starvation.
Her battered body was taken over by the new Ji Yunshu. Fortunately, this Ji Yunshu was a famous forensic anthropologist from the 21st century who specialised in facial reconstruction of skeletons. Therefore, in order to support herself, she simply resumed working in her previous profession and became a yamen runner who drew portraits of corpses that had their faces destroyed beyond recognition.
This only made her even more unwelcome in the Ji Family household - no one in the family liked her because of her lowly status. Moreover, the Ji Family was a prestigious household, wouldn’t the Ji family greatly lose face if rumours were to spread about her frequently being in contact with corpses?
Hence, Ji Yunshu had to crossdress every time she went to work. She never spoke of or relied on her family background; besides, the Ji Family never acknowledged her in the first place, and she enjoyed the freedom it bought her. With her salary, she could even buy new clothes from time to time.
In the span of five years, Ji Yunshu had gradually gotten used to this body and could now use it as she pleased.Previous Chapter Next Chapter