Chapter 417 - Night watchmen and Beggars
Original and most updated translations are from volare. Please don't read elsewhere and stop supporting theft.
Li Mingzhou remembered vividly that he saw Li Yuan coming out from Chang Residence on the night he returned to Yuzhou City! He was very certain as he immediately brought Li Yuan back to Li Residence to avoid being discovered by others. On the next day, the news of Chang Shiliang’s death had spread throughout the city.
The murder of Chang Shiliang was done the exact same way as Wu Lei and Liu Shuhuai’s cases. Logically speaking, Li Yuan indeed announced that he was going to kill them and subsequently sent Yu’in to scare them as a ghost in disguise. He was most certainly the murderer! However, if that was what happened, why was Yu’in saying this?
Yu’in did not reply to Li Mingzhou although she could tell that he was confused. Instead, she looked at Ji Yunshu and explained, “Since the death of my sister, Ah Yuan has held a grudge against the leaders of the Liu Gang. My sister’s death is also the reason why Ah Yuan is like this today. I want revenge for my sister as much as Ah Yuan does, and conveniently, the three old masters always ask for me when they visit the House of Serenity.”
“That was why I used the opportunity to scare them with the human skin mask in the Moonlit Dream room before I let Ah Yuan kill them. In the end, their deaths would be blamed on evil spirits seeking revenge. However, when I found out that Chang Shiliang had passed away between the hours of eleven and one at night, I knew that something was not right because Ah Yuan was with me during that period of time. He left my place after one. So, how could he be the killer?” Yu’in continued.
Ji Yunshu did not trust her words completely. Hence, she asked Li Mingzhou, “What time did you bump into Li Yuan outside the Chang Residence?”
Li Mingzhou was uncertain. He did not notice the time as he was in a hurry to stop Li Yuan. He tried to recall anxiously. After some times, his eyes beamed and he said firmly, “I remember, it was the third watch after one at night.”
Yu’in was visibly excited by his words. “That’s right! I remember that when Ah Yuan left my place, the watchman just rang the first gong after one. The earliest he could have reached the Chang Residence from my place was during the second watch. Chang Shiliang passed away before one at night - definitely before Ah Yuan arrived at Chang Residence.” She sounded confident as she listed the alibi.
If they were speaking the truth, then Li Yuan did not kill Chang Shiliang.
Li Mingzhou was surprised. “Yu’in, are you being honest?”
“There’s no reason for me to lie. I’ve spoken the truth. Ah Yuan was really with me on that night.”
Li Mingzhou felt like a heavy stone had finally been lifted from his heart. His brother was not the killer. There was no longer a need for him to worry.
However, Fang Mingshan said after some contemplation, “Why should we trust your words? You could have colluded with each other to create an alibi.”
“I didn’t lie. All I said was nothing but the truth.”
“Do you have any proof?”
Yu’in could not answer to that question!
Even though her residence was not far from town, it was the middle of the night. How could she find a witness from an empty street? She gripped the handkerchief in her sweaty palms and bit her red lips. “It was late at night and there was no one on the street. In addition, those who stay around my residence had gone to bed by that time. Moreover, Ah Yuan and I did not wish to let anyone know about our relationship, so he always visits me discreetly, without letting anyone know.”
“Oh? So, why did Li Yuan visit you? Why did he visit you that night if he has such an unstable illness?”
“Because…” Yu’in stuttered as she twisted her handkerchief with even more tightly. It was apparent that she was struggling to find an appropriate answer.
The insensitive Constable Zhang bumbled up and questioned, raising his voice for all the world to hear, “Miss Yu’in, are you having an affair with Li Yuan?”
“No!” She denied as her eyes teared up. “I am not having an affair with Ah Yuan. Our relationship is nothing like you said. I know that he has always liked my elder sister but not me. I will never force him to accept me. No matter what, I’m only a lady from the brothel. I’ll never be compatible with him. The only thing I can do for him is to keep him company and take care of him on my sister’s behalf.”
“Why did he visit you then? Why we should believe you?”
She worried at her lips and finally said, “Initially, he was supposed to head to Chang Residence that night. However, he came to my place and said that he missed my elder sister, so I had a few drinks with him. He had a little too much to drink and rested at my place for a while. It was already one at night by the time he woke up. He left immediately after he regained sobriety and we didn’t do anything inappropriate. I, Yu’in, have always earned money with my talent but not my body. My purity is as important as my life. How can you say that we are having an affair?” She was resolute. She would rather be killed than being accused of having an affair!
Constable Zhang gasped, realising that he had touched Yu’in’s sore spot. He wiped the cold sweat on his forehead and quietly stepped aside. He swore to himself that he would never speak again! ‘I have to admit that I’m an uncultured person.’
Yu’in squatted down as she was done speaking and gently caressed Li Yuan’s back with tears falling down her cheeks. She said, “Anyway, I wasn’t lying. Ah Yuan couldn’t have killed anyone.”
The hall remained silent. Fang Mingshan was frustrated as he said, “But the official can’t believe you if there’s no proof.”
“But we didn’t meet anyone that night,” Yu’in answered.
Fang Mingshan sighed.
At this moment, Ji Yunshu’s gaze lingered on the three of them who were still on the ground. ‘Is Li Yuan really not the killer? Yu’in and Li Mingzhou’s words are true?’ These questions were running through Ji Yunshu’s mind. She focused her gaze when the question repeated in her mind for the fifth time. “You were so confident when you mentioned the first watch and the third watch after one at night respectively. Did you hear the gong from the night watchman?”
“Yes,” they lifted their heads and replied in unison.
“Then, it’ll be easy to prove their words,” Ji Yunshu said as she turned around and looked at Fang Mingshan. “I’ve to trouble Lord Fang to do me a favour. This humble one will draw a portrait of Li Yuan in a short while. Would Lord Fang please show it to the night watchmen and the beggars of Yuzhou City, and ask if any of them have seen Li Yuan around the time Chang Shiliang passed away?”
Huh? Fang Mingshan was confused. “This official can understand asking the night watchmen. But why do you want to look for the beggars, Teacher Ji?”
“Has Lord Fang not heard of gossip-mongers?”
“I’ve heard of this phrase. But what does it have to do with the beggars?”
“Of course there is! If the jobs of the court recorders of Da Lin are to document all the political issues, keep records of the officials and all the significant documents in history, then the beggars all around Da Lin are the ‘court recorders’ of the common people. They document every major and minor thing that happens among the commoners. The only thing they lack is a brush!”
After her explanation, realisation dawned on the faces of everyone assembled. That was right!
Jing Rong smirked faintly at her explanation. There was actually someone on earth who would compare the court recorder to beggars! Why don’t you try to compare the world to beggars?
Jing Rong said nonchalantly, “The real detective should be Teacher Ji. There’s nothing around Da Lin that you don’t know about. From what this Prince sees, you’re better than the beggars.”
‘Brother, are you complimenting or insulting me? Can we live in peace?’ Ji Yunshu glanced at him in displeasure. ‘Bastard, I’ll get back at you!’
ChouFleur Rants Corner
Aww... unreciprocrated love :'(
Does this remind anyone of the Baker Street Irregulars/Sherlock's homeless network? ;)
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