Ji Yunshu did not sleep that night. Instead, she stood beneath the eaves, watching the water dripping from the tiles and turning into ice. She watched as the icicles formed and grew, sparkling and translucent, from the rooftop.
When Jing Rong pushed open his door and appeared, he happened to see her standing there, dressed in a white hemp gown. Her hair was untied and had unfurled to her waist. Her eyes were transfixed on the steadily dripping icicles and the light reflecting off the snow shone upon her, highlighting her delicate figure as she stood. As the snow fell, it called its companion, the cold wind, to come and play. It snuck around her, making her sleeves swing gently and ruffling a few stray strands of her hair. It was a scene hard to come by!
It suddenly dawned upon Jing Rong as his soul stirred. His thin lips faintly hooked up as he walked towards Ji Yunshu. He too gazed at the sky filled with snow. Then, he stretched his hand out, catching several snowflakes on his palm, “Teacher, did you watch the snow fall the whole night?”
Ji Yunshu remained silent.
“Did you get frostbite? Are you mute?” Jing Rong asked.
She shook her head, still wordless, and withdrew her gaze from the roof. She shot a quick glance at him and broke her silence with a rhetorical question, “I wonder if Prince Rong slept well on Zhou Mansion’s padauk bed?”
“I didn’t sleep well.”
“Oh? On the contrary, I believe you had a very good night of sleep.”
Hearing her words, Jing Rong’s interest became stronger. He raised his long eyebrow and asked, “Then, do enlighten me. How can you prove that this prince slept well on this cold winter night?”Ji Yunshu calmly sized him up before speaking with confidence.
“This humble one remembers there was a jade pendant tied to your Highness’ waist yesterday night. If I’m not wrong, it was hung approximately 2.5cm below the waist, but right now, that isn’t so. In fact, it’s hung around 7.5cm lower. What’s more, your Highness’ clothes are tidy. Not to mention, you’re meticulously well-dressed. These few points are enough to reveal that your mental state is clear-headed and that you slept well. Besides, the regions around your cheekbones are raised, allowing the contours of your eyes to be slightly swollen. This is a sign that is mostly seen in people who have had a peaceful night of deep sleep.” After her point-by-point assessment, she asked, “Please enlighten me, was my analysis correct?”
Jing Rong was shocked. He had met countless people with extraordinary talent while he was traveling, but this young scholar was one of the most intelligent people he had met. He could not help but sigh and shake his head, “This is truly unfortunate.”
“Why is your Highness saying that?”
“Such a tiny and insignificant city like Jinjiang might not be able to contain Teacher.”
Jing Rong stopped speaking, but a mysterious smile hung on his face. Ji Yunshu observed him for a moment, but dismissed it, not bothering to inquire further.
At this moment, a maidservant braved the snowy weather and ran into the reception hall. When she arrived in front of them, she said, “Teacher Ji, Madame sent this servant here to inquire if you have found the murderer?”
As a mother, being anxious about your daughter's murderer was quite normal and expected. Ji Yunshu spoke gravely, “I will have to trouble you to invite Lord Zhou and Madame Zhou to the mourning hall.”
“Correct. Please invite them right now. In addition, summon everyone else in the mansion.”
The maidservant displayed a bewildered expression, but she wrapped her arms around herself and faced the whistling cold wind again to go inform everyone.
Jing Rong knitted his eyebrows, “Isn’t better if we eat breakfast before going?”
If she could, Ji Yunshu’s glare would have simultaneously burned and frozen him. She spoke mockingly, “If your Highness properly ate last night’s supper, you would be unlikely to care about this morning’s breakfast.” Who told you not to eat yesterday, serves you right!
Without waiting for Jing Rong to refute her, she started walking towards the mourning hall. This was the first time Jing Rong was rendered truly speechless by someone. His bright and stern eyes were bored into Ji Yunshu’s straight back. His expression was cool, seemingly without anger. In the end, he still had to bury his vexation, and follow behind!
Thus, this man with a sour face thought long and hard about how to punish Ji Yunshu.
The mourning hall.
The twenty-odd people in the mansion were already gathered.
Lord Zhou’s expression was grave. His face was slightly drooping, and his forehead had acquired new wrinkles. Beside him, Madame Zhou no longer wailed nor wept endlessly. Her complexion was also much better. However, her eyes continued to redden every time she looked at her daughter's coffin, “Teacher Ji, the proper time to bury my daughter has passed. If we don’t bury her today, I worry that my daughter’s body will…”
Lord Zhou didn’t finish his words, as a sigh replaced what was left unsaid.
A corpse left alone for a few days would begin to exude a putrid smell. What’s more, Miss Zhou’s corpse had smashed into the ground, leaving most parts broken and her flesh had burst open. Even if it was January, the corpse’s stench was already becoming quite overpowering.