Chapter 405 - Once Bitten, Twice Shy
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Why did Li Mingzhou say that he did not know the deceased? What happened between them? After Fang Mingshan listened to Zhao Huai’s words, he ordered, “Someone go get Li Mingzhou here.”
A few of the yamen runners were ready to go.
“Stop!” Jing Rong stalled them. He straightened his face, “He denied it yesterday, and he will do the same today even if you bring him here again.”
“What does the Prince suggest then?” Jing Rong gazed at Ji Yunshu and quirked the corner of his lips. “Didn’t Teacher Ji say that best way to find out the truth is to lure the snake from its nest?”
Oh? He’s applying what he learnt? Ji Yunshu had no idea what was on his mind. He gestured Lang Po to his side and whispered a few words to him. Lang Po nodded, then left to carry out his task.
“Leave this issue to this Prince. Tonight, we are catching him red-handed.” His voice rang with assurance, face brimming with confidence. No one knew had a clue what he had planned.
At this moment, Zhao Huai handed that piece of paper to Ji Yunshu. “I’ve told you everything I know. I wonder if Teacher Ji can reciprocate and answer some of my questions too?”
Huh? Ji Yunshu retreated slightly and narrowed her eyes slightly. Brother, what do you want from me?
Jing Rong quickly pulled her behind himself to shield her and faced Zhao Huai. “If there’s anything, First Master can just ask me. The Prince will tell you everything I know without fail.”
“Only Teacher Ji has the answer to my questions.”
“That’s impossible.” Jing Rong was insistent. “Teacher Ji is one of my people. She must to be within my line of sight at all times. There’s no way I’ll let you to talk to her in private.” Once bitten, twice shy. He would never let Ji Yunshu be alone with Zhao Huai, and again bear the responsibility of the death of thousands.
However, Ji Yunshu unexpectedly said, “Fine. What do you want to know? I’ll tell you everything I know. Take this as repayment for the information you gave regarding the tattoo.”
What? Jing Rong turned around and glared at her, “This Prince orders you to not leave my line of sight.”
Ji Yunshu pursed her lips and nodded. She then looked at Zhao Huai. “I believe that First Master would not act impulsively like before, right?”
“Don’t worry. I will not hurt you.”
Two of them took a seat at the little pavillion in the backyard of the yamen, while Jing Rong stood a short distance away, from the pavillion and stared warily at them with a fiercely protective gaze.
A little uncomfortable with Jing Rong’s burning gaze, Ji Yunshu turned her back on him. “I wonder what questions First Master has for me?”
Zhao Huai remained silent for a beat, words seemingly stuck in his throat, before asking gravely, “Does the jade pendant carved with the word ‘Xu’ belong to you?”
“Why do you ask?”
“You only have to answer me: yes or no.”
Zhao Huai reflexively clenched his fist as a wave of emotion swept through him. Steadying himself, he continued asking, “Who gave you that jade then?”
From his words, Ji Yunshu could sense that something was amiss. Why would he ask about the jade out of the blue? Zhao Huai had followed her from Shanhuai County to Yuzhou City. Was it because of this jade?
“First Master doesn’t have to beat around the bush; why not speak plainly? You have been focused on the jade from the beginning. I reckon that you must have seen it somewhere, or it’s meaningful to you in some way.”
“I only want to know who gave you the jade.”
“I’ve had it with me since young.” She lied.
Before she was certain about Zhao Huai’s intentions, she did not want Wei Yi to be involved in this mess. When Zhao Huai heard her answer, his rough features seemed to suddenly droop. He looked at Ji Yunshu with eyes faintly glimmering with tears and his burly form shook with repressed emotion.
Ji Yunshu asked, “What do you know about this jade?”
Instead of answering Ji Yunshu, Zhao Huai asked, “You really have no idea where did the jade come from?” She shook her head.
Zhao Huai opened his mouth, but instead of answering her, he said, “That piece of jade is very important. It’s also very important to you. No matter what happens, don’t ever lose the jade. If Teacher Ji wants to know the origin of the jade, someday, someone will tell you; but not today.”
“What do you mean?”
“Remember my words. The jade exists and perishes together with its owner.”
What was Zhao Huai trying to say? Ji Yunshu was puzzled.
Before she could continue asking questions, Zhao Huai had already hurried away. She could only remain seated, staring dazedly into the distance while mentally turning over what little she knew about the jade. After Zhao Huai left, Jing Rong came in. Seeing how preoccupied she was, he did not question her further.
At the Li Residence
The minute he returned from the yamen, Li Mingzhou ordered his servants to start packing for a trip, saying that he had business to attend to elsewhere and planned to temporarily leave Yuzhou City with his family. Soon after, most of his things had been put away and their wooden boxes were loaded onto the carriages. A pageboy drenched in sweat ran over and asked, “Old Master, the preparations are almost complete. We can depart now. Should I usher Madam and Miss onto the carriage?”
He nodded and waved his hand. “Hurry up.”
“Yes.” The pageboy went off to inform the Madam and Miss while Li Mingzhou stood in the hall for a while. He looked at the place he called home for almost twenty years and sighed helplessly before he stepped out of the residence.
Four or five carriages were waiting outside the residence. The butler drew the curtain and was ready to help Li Mingzhou into the carriage.
Suddenly, a voice drifted from afar. “Have you heard about it? They have found new clues about that incident with the vengeful spirit.”
That man seemed very excited. “Really? Who’s the murderer?”
“I have a relative who works for the yamen. He said that Lord Fang has acquired enough evidences to prove the identity of the murderer. I think there’s this Teacher Ji who was hired by the yamen to examine the dead bodies for evidence. But since the evidence was not sufficient, they said that they will check Old Master Chang’s dead body again tomorrow. Then, they will probably find out who the murderer is.”
“That’s great! This case has blown up recently, making everyone around anxious. The murderer must be decapitated once he is caught.”
“I wonder who the murderer is. To kill three people...it’s too cruel.”
“Anyway, before they find the culprit, it’s better for us not to go out at night.”
“Yes. We can only pray that they will find the evidence as soon as possible.”
The two men were talking amongst themselves as they walked past the Li Residence carriage. Coincidentally, Li Mingzhou overheard the entirety of their conversation. The pageboy beside him asked, “Old Master, are you not getting into the carriage?”
“The sun is setting. If we don’t set off right now, we will not be able to reach the guesthouse outside the city.”
Li Mingzhou said solemnly, “Inform everyone that we’re not leaving today. We’ll leave tomorrow.” The pageboy scratched his head but did not question the order, ordering the others to move the baggages from the carriages back into the house.
As Madam Li came down from the carriage with the help of her daughter, she asked, “Old Master, what’s wrong?”
He patted the back of Madam Li’s hand. “Nothing. The weather just doesn’t look good and it may rain tonight. So, it’s better for us to leave tomorrow.”
“But aren’t you in a hurry to to attend to business?”
“It’s okay to delay it a little. Wife, your health is not good, so you better hurry back to your room and rest.” He then told his daughter, “Jin’er, help your mom back indoors.”
Jin’er was always an obedient child. She nodded and supported Madam Li as they went indoors. In the meantime, Li Mingzhou was secretly planning something...
ChouFleur Rants Corner
Hmm... lots of hidden secrets eh?
Wei Yi's jade probably looks something like this:
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