Chapter 249 - A Theatrical Introduction
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“It wasn’t me, it really wasn’t me…” Ji Muqing had never been this flustered in her life; she shook her head fervently, her clothes and hair in disarray, face ghostly white. She stared at the corpse in utter disbelief, backing away into Ji Wanxin. She turned around and tugged at Ji Wanxin, “Wanxin, did you see it? It wasn’t me - she tripped and fell herself, it was her own doing.”
“Elder Sister, I… I didn’t see anything!”
The two of them were so caught up in their brawl, surrounded by many onlookers who only saw the tussle between the two ladies, then one fell, falling head-first onto the silver hairpin. Ji Muqing’s face twitched with anxiety, “It really wasn’t me.”
“Don’t panic, Elder Sister.”
“How could one not panic? Someone is dead.” Her eyes were glistening with tears.
‘Even you know that a life has been taken - serves you right for being so haughty.’
Just then, a little servant girl pushed through the crowd. As she glanced upon the scene, she dropped all the shopping in her hands and ran towards the corpse, crying, “Young Miss, what’s wrong? Young Miss?” She cried out uncontrollably, shaking her lifeless body.
She nervously placed a finger beneath the nostrils of the corpse and fell to the floor in shock - there was no breath. “She is… dead?” Stunned momentarily, the little servant girl began to cry once more, demanding of the shopkeeper, “Why is my young miss like this, why?”
The female shopkeeper was likewise scared out of her wits. She pointed a finger towards Ji Muqing and said, “Miss Liang had an argument with this lady over here and this lady… pushed Miss Liang over.”
“It wasn’t me!” Ji Muqing immediately refuted.
The sobbing servant girl held her miss’ body in her hands and glared at Ji Muqing, “What did my young miss do to offend you? Why did you have to act so vicious against her?”
A commotion began to stir in the crowds just then, and several officials appeared, surrounding the store in a second. “Please give way…” They chased the onlookers to one side.
The leading yamen runners glanced at the corpse lying on the floor, questioning in his gruff voice, “Someone reported that there was a murder, who did it?”
The tearful servant girl raised her finger angrily at Ji Muqing, “It’s her, she killed my young mistress.” Her eyes were full of hatred.
The official squinted at the disheveled Ji Muqing and beckoned towards a few officials standing outside, “Take her away.” The men came forth on his order.
Ji Muqing pushed Ji Wanxin forwards and hid behind her, bellowing in fear and rage, “I didn’t kill anyone, I didn’t push her.”
Ji Wanxin quickly followed and addressed the men, “Dear officials, my Elder Sister is not a murderer. There must be some mistake here.” Her tone was so gentle, and so pitiful.
The lowly official almost gave in to this gentle lass; luckily the head official was much less likely to be swayed, “Stop your nonsense; you must pay for your crime. Take her away!”
Ji Muqing finally could not help herself, “How dare you, do you not know who I am? I’m Secretary Ji’s and the Changlin General’s younger sister - if you dare arrest me, my older brothers will never let you off!”
The officials looked at each other in astonishment. Who in this capital was unaware of Secretary Ji and the Changlin General? Every official, high- or low-ranking, had to show them face since they held all military power!
On the other hand, Ji Yunshu was in a bit of a dilemma. Was this woman an idiot? There was not much time until the Crown Princess selection - if everyone knew that she was the Ji Family’s firstborn daughter and that she was embroiled in a murder case, even if she was innocent, her chances of becoming the Crown Princess was close to zero!
Ji Yunshu sighed and shook her head. She had to do something about this herself. She let go of Wei Yi and walked towards the store, “Girl, how can you spout such nonsense in this day and age?”
Hmm? Both Ji Muqing and Ji Wanxin were surprised at Ji Yunshu’s arrival. Ji Muqing, especially - her eyes filled with killing intent as she clenched her fists, barely keeping her composure, “You-”
She was interrupted by Ji Yunshu before she could continue, “Me? What about me? Secretary Ji’s and Changlin General’s younger sister is famed for her grace and humility, how could she be someone uncouth like you? Moreover, I personally saw that young lady several months ago - she was fair and beautiful, unlike yourself.”
Although it seemed as if Ji Yunshu was helping Ji Muqing out of this sticky situation, she meant every single word of it! Ji Muqing was unsure if she was praising her or putting her down; Ji Wanxin, on the other hand, was much more rational. She tugged on Ji Muqing’s sleeve discreetly, indicating to her to calm down.
These runners were all servants of the capital yamen and naturally knew of Ji Yunshu. The head runner paid his respects and heaved a sigh of relief, “Teacher Ji! If you hadn’t said so, I really would have thought that she was indeed Secretary Ji’s and General Ji’s younger sister.”
“Of course not, Secretary Ji’s sister would never do such a thing.”
“That is true, surely.”
Ji Yunshu made no further comments and approached Ji Muqing and Ji Wanxin. She lowered her voice and reminded them, “This is the capital, not Jinjiang. If you want to come out of this unscathed, then don’t use your elder brothers’ names, lest you wish to drag them down. There are too many people here - don’t stir up unnecessary trouble; if this were to have happened behind closed doors, then name-dropping might have worked.”
Ji Muqing bit her lips in silence. Ji Wanxin, however, called out Ji Yunshu’s name gently but was immediately pulled back suddenly by Ji Muqing. It served as a warning not to forget their prior conversation in the carriage. This small action did not escape Ji Yunshu’s eyes, but she was not bothered by it. She bent down and knelt beside the corpse where the young servant girl still sat, bawling.
Ji Yunshu observed the surroundings, then took a closer look at the body’s foot soles - there was a fresh friction mark on the heel, corresponding with a similar slip mark in front of the corpse’s feet. Her primary evaluation was that the victim was pushed backwards, her feet sliding forwards and body falling backwards, skull falling directly onto the silver hairpin on the floor, dying immediately. Could it be - did Ji Muqing really push her in their scuffle?
As she was contemplating, an officer approached her, “Teacher Ji, how is it?”
She shook her head, “Based on my preliminary assessment, she definitely was pushed and as she fell, the hairpin pierced through her skull, causing her death.”
“There is no mistake, then?”
Ji Yunshu did not answer. The crying servant girl looked up and pointed intensely at Ji Muqing at her words. She fiercely spouted, “My young miss is the beloved daughter of Lord Liang, the Minister of the Imperial Clan Bureau[1. The Imperial Clan Bureau is a ministry that manages all the affairs pertaining to the imperial family’s relatives. So emperors not only need empresses to managed their harem, they also need someone to manage their relatives while they are busy governing. An example of their functions, if a relative of the imperial family commits a crime, they will collaborate with the other ministries for the investigation and attend the trial. That position is usually given to someone who is a descendant of the imperial clan.], you just wait for your punishment!” So she was the pampered daughter of the Liang Mansion - no wonder she was so arrogant.
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