Chapter 452 - The Case (Conclusion, Part 1)

Ji Yunshu did not miss the change in First Madam’s expression. She smiled confidently as she questioned, “Does the First Madam, perhaps know what cats love the most?”

“Has this got anything to do with the case?”

“Of course it does!” Ji Yunshu proclaimed, “Since First Madam is so fond of cats, you should know that cats would become extremely excited or even frantic at the smell of catmint? Catmint is also commonly referred to as catnip.”

First Madam scoffed, “I haven’t got the slightest idea.”

“Fine, then let this one describe to you what really happened that night.” Ji Yunshu slowly circled around her, explaining in an even and composed tone, “On the night of Old Master Zhang’s birthday banquet, Miss Zhan Mo of the South City Opera Troupe did indeed serve two cups of tea doused with yinshuang poison. That young miss did not only want to kill Old Master Zhang, but also you. However, she could not have predicted that you would set your cats on the teacup before you, knocking it over and spilling its contents onto Old Master Zhang. He could only leave his seat and return to his room to change into those clothes that you had already prepared for him beforehand. It was a set of garments… smoked with catnip. As soon as he was dressed, a cat whose paws were smeared with Tea Poison sneaked into his room. Due to the smell of the catnip, that cat pounced onto Old Master Zhang, scratching him with its claws in the process. As such, the poison entered his bloodstream, and by the time he had returned to his seat at his banquet, the poison had already taken effect and he dropped dead. Of course, that actress was guilty of attempting manslaughter, but the true culprit was that cat who scratched him!” Her retelling was finished!

Everybody was stunned. Old Master Zhang was killed by First Madam?

As Ji Yunshu finished her last sentence, Third Madam finally looked up, pointing an accusatory finger at First Madam, “Was it you who killed the old master?” Full of hate!

First Madam paid her no mind as she sucked in a deep breath. She smirked and let out a cold laugh. “Teacher Ji, you’d better bring out some real proof. Without evidence, who would believe your accusations? Everything you’ve said is merely conjecture. What’s more, I’ve lived under the same roof with my old master for years; why would I try to harm him? What are you trying to achieve by smearing dirt on my name?”

Ji Yunshu was much more confident than she was, “Fine, then let’s first talk about that catnip. After I had finished examining Old Master Zhang’s body, two cats outside kept trying to paw their way in and pounce onto my body. In addition, the cat you were carrying also tried to do the same when we met afterwards. This only happened because I had touched Old Master Zhang’s body, thus causing my clothes and hands to be covered with the smell of catnip as well. Now, let’s talk about that cat.”

Ji Yunshu paused for a moment, licking her dry lips before she continued, “Since this one did not find any wounds on Old Master Zhang’s body after examining it, I was less inclined to come to any sort of hasty conclusion. I was only able to find a single scratch on his forehead after re-examining his body at the mortuary after I left the Zhang Estate. That scratch resembles one made by cats’ claws and there was certainly Tea Poison in that wound. Thus, I am confident that what I have just told you is the truth. Someone purposely let that cat into Old Master Zhang’s room, where it overturned the vases, resulting in its messy state.” She spoke logically and concisely!

First Madam’s face had turned pale, but she kept up a haughty expression. “Even if what you had described were true, I wasn’t the one who covered that cat’s claws with Tea Poison. After all, there are so many cat-lovers in this world; there’s no way only I would know that catnip drives cats crazy. All you’ve done so far is to prove how my old master died, but you can’t pin it on me.”

“True, First Madam is very clever, and this is why this one didn’t expose you yesterday. Luckily, those with a guilty conscience would reveal their true colours in the quiet of the night.”

“What are you trying to imply?”

“First Madam did not personally commit any crime, because the one who helped you smoke Old Master Zhang’s clothes with catnip was somebody else.” A loud sound came from the court’s doors as soon as Ji Yunshu finished.

They turned to look, only to see Shi Zijin enter holding a black bundle in one hand while pushing Butler Zhang in with her other hand holding his hands behind his back. Butler Zhang tripped over his own feet as he stepped inside, falling to his knees. He did not dare look up at Liu Zhiliang, who sat high above, but sent a pleading gaze towards First Madam. He stammered, “Madam, you must help me. I can’t die. If I die, my entire family, from my elderly parents to my young children, wouldn’t survive. You must help me, please!” He was practically crying!

First Madam was horrified, and she lost all strength in her arms, dropping her precious cat to the floor. The cat flounced about, then ran outside. Shi Zijin then flung the black bundle onto the ground, revealing a dirty dead cat’s body. She reported, “Teacher Ji, I managed to catch Butler Zhang as he was trying to bury this beast. Lying in wait the whole night was worth it.”

Ji Yunshu nodded encouragingly, and Shi Zijin took up a position near Jing Rong in an inconspicuous corner of the court.

Butler Zhang was still crying out, “Madam, you ordered me to do so. You need to save me, please, I can’t die!”

First Madam kicked him away disgustedly, replying frantically, “What nonsense are you talking about? What did I order you to do?” Butler Zhang collapsed, prostrate on the ground at her denial!

Ji Yunshu turned to face First Madam, “Are you still denying what you have done even at this point in time?”

“Blasphemy!” Grasping at straws!

“I have both a witness and material evidence, what more do I need?” Ji Yunshu stepped in front of Butler Zhang, “Before, I was still trying to figure things out - who would let the cats enter Old Master Zhang’s room? Who took the cats away afterwards? Who didn’t bother to clean up Old Master Zhang’s room, leaving broken porcelain and cat fur scattered around? I concluded that this accomplice must have been very busy, or that they could not leave the banquet for too long. They also needed to be present once Old Master Zhang returned to the banquet with his fresh garments? Nobody else fits these criteria but you, Butler Zhang. As the housekeeper, you definitely wouldn’t have time to clean up the evidence after Old Master Zhang collapsed. Of course, you wouldn’t have time to get rid of that cat covered in Tea Poison either. Hence, I had Shi Zijin wait at the Zhang Estate to look out for anyone who would bring a poisoned cat out to bury or burn to smithereens. In the end, she caught you.”

Butler Zhang was at a loss for words!

Ji Yunshu addressed First Madam next, “For someone like First Madam who adores cats this much, it would not be possible for you to have neither noticed nor mentioned that your own cat went missing. Therefore, you must have been in cahoots with Butler Zhang. You knocked over that teacup on purpose - everything was unfolding according to your plan.”

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ChouFleur's Thoughts

Such diabolical planning! What was her motivation?

Also, first chapter posted on the new site! Please let me know if this one is wonky. I know many of the older ones didn't migrate with the correct formatting.

Translated by: Tzegeek    Edited by: Lunarlark