Chapter 393 - Miss Chang
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House of Serenity
Ji Yunshu gave an awkward smile without saying anything more. Wen Lingyang said, “I will now pay a visit to Magistrate Fang and not disturb your work any further. Let me know any time if you need any clarifications.
After he left, Constable Zhang spoke up. “Miss...Teacher Ji, Advisor Wen has already been at the yamen for two years. He's a good person; not only intelligent but also efficient.”
“Why are you always praising Advisor Wen?”
“Truth be told, actually…” Constable Zhang was a little embarrassed. He sighed. “My younger sister greatly admires Advisor Wen. Being her brother, I'm naturally a little biased.”
Ji Yunshu lowered her head to hide a smile. “So that's why. Advisor Wen seems to be a rare talented man who pays attention to detail. Your sister has good taste.”
“However, there's still something I don't understand.”
He nodded. “Please feel free to ask.”
“Given his intelligence and ranking in the exams, Advisor Wen should have entered the capital for the next stage of the imperial exams. Why would he work in the yamen for two years?”
“Advisor Wen said that he doesn't want to participate in the imperial examinations at all. What top scholar… it's just a label. He'd rather be carefree as an insignificant advisor in Yuzhou city.”
One who doesn't care about fame? How admirable.
Ji Yunshu smiled warmly and nodded. Back at her desk, she continued reading the case files. When it was almost dark, she went to look for Fang Mingsan.
Due to his worry and frustration over the case, Fang Mingsan had not had much of an appetite the past two months and had become sickly and frail. At Ji Yunshu’s approach, he excitedly asked, “Teacher Ji, did you find a clue? You're not joking, are you?”
“Lord Fang, I've only briefly looked over the details in the case files, but I still need to examine the deceased and the crime scene before I can make a conclusion.”
Fang Mingsan nodded. “This official understands.”
He waved over a couple of yamen runners. “Immediately go inform the Chang residence not to bury Old Master Chang yet. We need to do another autopsy.”
“Yes!” The runner hurried away.
Fang Mingsan pointed to the skies. “Teacher Ji, it's getting late. Why don't you rest for the night and go to the Chang residence first thing tomorrow morning?”
“There's no need. The case is urgent.”
After all, Jing Rong had only given her five days. She didn't want to waste any of that time and she could always rest later.
Faced with her resolve, Fang Mingsan gave orders for Wen Lingyang to bring writing instruments and for his subordinates to set off to the Chang residence.
Just as they stepped out the door, Jing Rong appeared. “This prince will go with you.”
Cool as a cucumber.
Fang Mingsan stepped forward. “Prince, maybe you should rest for now. This official will not let anything happen to Teacher Ji.”
Jing Rong gave a cold laugh, brushing his sleeves as he placed his hands behind him, staring at Ji Yunshu. “This prince does trust Magistrate Fang, but certainly not Teacher Ji.
Oh? What was this supposed to mean?
Ji Yunshu narrowed her eyes minutely and pursed her lips, unable to say a word in her own defense. Certainly, in Jing Rong’s eyes, she was a troublemaker!
At the Chang Residence
At the tightly closed front gates stood two servants in mourning clothes; even the chains on the gates were wrapped in white cloth. [1. White is the colour of mourning. Mourning clothes are typically white cloth, sometimes with a burlap overcoat.] On their way there, Fang Mingsan briefly recounted the situation at the Chang Residence.
The Chang family were one of the most prominent families in Yuzhou city, supported by the silk trade. Old Master Chang basically monopolized the entire silk industry in the city, but he was also a kind man with a good reputation as he would distribute rice and porridge during celebrations and festivals. Naturally, he did not have any enemies. Thus, his inexplicable death was all the more puzzling.
There was no reason for anyone to harm him. When Old Master Chang was alive, he was kind and generous to the family servants. He was even called a living Buddha. If he died, there would not be any advantages for those in the residence. There wouldn’t even be any dispute for family assets as Old Master Chang did not remarry after his wife died seven years ago and he left behind only a daughter.
Other than these, what other possibilities could there be? Ji Yunshu thought for a while but didn’t come to any conclusions.
As everyone arrived at the ancestral hall in the Chang residence inner courtyard, the coffin was still placed in the middle of the room. The room was lit by candles and draped with white cloth. At the entrance was a basin covered with black cloth with a white flower placed on it.
In the corners of the doorway hung two white lanterns that shone gently together with the moonlight. Below the lanterns were two jade pendants hung with black cord. This was the custom of prominent families.
Miss Chang was kneeling in a corner of the ancestral hall, wearing mourning clothes and hood, sobbing with a lowered head. The nanny was by her side, trying to comfort her to no avail.
Seeing the group approach, Butler Chang had come out to welcome them. He first looked at Jing Rong and Ji Yunshu, then asked Fang Mingsan, “Lord Fang, didn’t the yamen already do an autopsy? Why is there a need to test again?”
Fang Mingsan turned and pointed. “Butler Chang, this is Prince Rong.”
“Prince Rong?” Butler Chang startled and hurriedly kneeled down. “This lowly one greets the Prince. Pardon me for not being able to welcome you earlier.”
Jing Rong blinked and gestured. “Get up, there’s no need to announce my presence.”
With that, Butler Chang slowly got up, but kept his head lowered out of respect and worry.
Fang Mingsan next introduced Ji Yunshu. “This is Teacher Ji. She is responsible for this case, so I’ve brought her here and requested for Old Master Chang to be buried a day later.”
Butler Chang lifted his eyes to look at Ji Yunshu, then stood aside with a bow, gesturing at the ancestral hall with an outstretched arm. “The corpse of our Old Master is just inside. Teacher, please make yourself at home.”
Ji Yunshu led the way in. Just as she reached the coffin, the sobbing Miss Chang suddenly spoke in a choked voice. “Who are you?” The sound was as thin and delicate as a willow leaf landing on water.
Ji Yunshu turned and met the red-rimmed, teary eyes of Miss Chang. The delicate girl looked to be in her teens. Her slim figure trembled as she kneeled on the ground.
“This humble one is named Ji.”
“Are you here to investigate the death of my father?”
“Then, could you find out who killed my father?”
“If he was killed, yes.”
“My father loved me a lot. Now that he’s dead, I don’t know what to do.” Miss Chang sniffed sorrowfully, with her big, round eyes staring straight at her.
Ji Yunshu walked up to her, bent down and gently patted her head. “What is your name?”
“Such a pretty name.”
“My mother gave me this name. But she’s already dead, and now even my father is dead.” What a pitiful story!
“Yiyan, first go back to your room and have a good sleep. You have to wake up early to lead your father’s funeral procession tomorrow.”
At the side, the nanny pursed her lips. She herself had tried to persuade her several times, but Chang Yiyan just refused to take a rest. How could someone who had just appeared succeed?
Unexpectedly, Chang Yiyan nodded.
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