“It’s not true. You're spouting nonsense!” Suyun vehemently denied as she clenched her hands into fists.
Ji Yunshu grapsed the handkerchief in her hand confidently, “Miss Suyun, I believe you must know the significance of the mulberry flowers for the people in the Western regions. Only girls from the Western regions would embroider two mulberry flowers on their handkerchiefs. The first flower represents themselves; the second, their lovers.”
“You are wrong. I am not from the Western regions. I just casually embroidered them. It is absolutely not like you said.”
“Oh? Then, why did you go to Miss Zhou’s room to look for that handkerchief last night?”
Suyun foolishly stared back.
“Since you can’t come up with a reason, let me help you answer.” Ji Yunshu’s face unhurriedly stretched into a smile, “Because you are a westerner, you learned about rice poison from a very young age. Also, you took into account that the coroner wouldn’t be able to detect the poison through a regular autopsy. Therefore, after you murdered Miss Zhou, you secretly returned to her room, worried about the possibility of the body being discovered by Qiaoxin. That’s why you dragged it onto the bed. But during that process, your handkerchief got hooked on Miss Zhou’s fingernail, leaving behind a tiny piece of evidence. However, you were completely unaware of it. After you informed your lover about the matter, you’d hastily departed from the mansion. You only came back last night and went to Miss Zhou’s bedroom, all in order to find your handkerchief.”
Ji Yunshu raised the handkerchief up for everyone to see. On one of the two mulberry flowers, it could be seen that a few threads were pulled out, “You certainly hadn’t expect that because your handkerchief got stuck on Miss Zhou’s fingernail, it would cause her fingernail to break. As a result, a red thread was left, caught on her fingernail. I would like to ask, for a precious Miss that never ever reused the same thing twice, why could she leave a broken fingernail alone? There could only be one reason; Miss Zhou was already dead by then. Since you were sick and absent from the mansion, only returning a few days after Miss Zhou passed away, how do you explain the presence of the missing red thread from your handkerchief on her fingernail?”
“If that kind of evidence is not enough to make you plead guilty, we can reopen the coffin and let you clearly see whether or not that thread on Miss Zhou’s fingernail is the same as the one on your handkerchief.”
“No need. I confess.” Suyun’s ghostly voice floated out. Her previous malevolence had dissipated into utter hopelessness
.Ji Yunshu had not anticipated that Suyun would admit to her crime this quickly, and she clenched the handkerchief in her fists.
The girl who revealed a sinister expression earlier, did not show any hostility nor fear at this instant; that complete reversal of attitude was comparable to a monolith! Even in her frail body, her temperament had turned steady and firm, “That’s right. I killed the young miss. It was my doing!”
Her expression underwent another transformation. Her pale lips hooked into a forced smile as she looked at Ji Yunshu, Lord Zhou, and Madame Zhou. Then, she spoke, “Milord, Madame… I killed her. You can send me to the yamen. For this crime, I’m willing to pay with my life.”
Madame Zhou glared at her with bloodshot eyes, brimming with endless grief and rage. She stepped forward and raised her hand, slapping down on Suyun fiercely, sending her to the floor. Blood trickled down the corner of her mouth, but she kept quiet and weakly lay on the floor, accepting everything happening to her.
“Why did you want to kill my daughter?! In the end, what did we owe you?! My daughter shouldn’t have died. She shouldn’t have died! Why did you want to kill her…” Madame Zhou madly bellowed.
Yet, in reply, she only heard Suyun’s increasingly lively laughter. Suyun’s voice was loud and clear, “Teacher Ji’s conjectures were all correct. Why do I want to kill the young miss? It’s because she killed my child.”
“You’re lying! It’s impossible for my daughter to do that to you.”
“Since things have reached this point, I have no need for lies.” Then, she pointed at the box in Ji Yunshu’s hand and continued, “Every time Miss stabbed those needles in me, it hurt so much… It was excruciatingly painful. But each time, I kept holding on. If it wasn’t for that… if it wasn’t for me enduring that much pain, my baby wouldn’t have died at her hands! My poor baby!” Her smile vanished, replaced by an expression of extreme hatred and fury.
The crowd grew enrapt, as if they were watching a good show! Madame Zhou shook, but she too quietened down.
It was Lord Zhou who spoke, “Suyun, my daughter has already passed away, but you still want to slander her.” This was a great family’s skeleton in the closet, so naturally, even if you beat them to death, they wouldn’t acknowledge it!
Right at this time, the trembling Qiaoxin suddenly knelt and cried, “Milord, Madame! What Teacher Ji and Suyun said were all true. Whenever Miss was slightly unhappy, she would vent her anger on us. Since she was worried that other people would find the wounds on our bodies, she would only pierce us with the silver needles. We didn’t dare to speak out and had no other option but to endure it.”
“Qiaoxin, are you insane? I can’t believe you’re protecting this homicidal killer! My daughter was young but so sensible. It’s impossible for her to do such things.”
“Madame, everything this servant spoke of can be verified!”
“Nonsense! I don’t believe you!”
Ji Yunshu sighed. This conversation would go nowhere. With a frown, she spoke, “Lord Zhou and Madame Zhou, your daughter was really a clever and pleasant person, but it’s undeniable that she had a serious illness. When her illness flared up and she experienced an episode, even if she knew about it, it was hard for her to control herself. Her distress, due to extreme anxiety, led her to harm people and possibly even kill them!”
Madame Zhou asked, “Illness? If my daughter had an illness, how come we didn’t know about it?”
“This kind of illness doesn’t exhibit symptoms like a physical illness or disease would. To be precise, her illness came from her mind. Whenever she became slightly unhappy, that feeling would be amplified in her mind, triggering a panic attack. Aside from those moments, she would look the same as any ordinary person. Since Miss Zhou was also intelligent, she knew how to conceal herself well. So, not knowing about her illness isn’t surprising.” The behaviour of those with OCD was truly not easy to explain with concrete words! Considering that she didn’t expect to explain so much, it actually didn’t turn out too bad.
Madame Zhou’s angry expression didn’t fade. She still ferociously glared at Suyun. “Even so, my daughter didn’t deserve to die! You murderer! Pay with your life!” She turned to a servant and ordered. “Grab her and drag her to the yamen! I want her death to pay for my daughter’s life.”
The male servants quickly recovered their minds and were about to advance toward Suyun, but was blocked by Ji Yunshu, “Wait a moment, please. I still have a few questions to ask Miss Suyun.”
Then, Ji Yunshu squatted down such that her mouth drew near Suyun’s ear. She questioned her. “Since things have reached this point, are you sacrificing yourself in order to cover for your lover?”
Suyun’s eyes grew big, but she didn’t utter a word!
“Soon, you are going to die, but he’s still hidden in the crowd. You really loved the wrong person.” When she spoke those words aloud, Ji Yunshu’s eyes swept a quick glance at the people present. Suyun’s originally calm eyes suddenly flitted around.
In an instant, Ji Yunshu took out a dagger from and yelled in a clear and resounding voice, “It would better if you help me find him!”
Ji Yunshu raised the dagger high above her and ruthlessly plunged it toward Suyun’s heart. The dagger flashed through the air. A finger’s length away from the target, a shadow flew out from the crowd, disarming Ji Yunshu in a split second and sending the dagger skittering across the ground. In the next instant, the shadow sent out a palm strike towards Ji Yunshu’s chest.
It was only when the palm strike was millimeters away, at the last possible second, when a strong force seized Ji Yunshu’s waist and pulled her body back.