Suyun had committed suicide! No one had expected this to happen.
The yamen runner handed a bloody handkerchief to Ji Yunshu... On that soft and silky handkerchief, a few slanted lines of words were written in blood, starkly framed by the red and blue mulberry flowers!
Ji Yunshu paused slightly before reaching out to receive the handkerchief. What originally should have been delicate handwriting now seemed harsh due to the blood tracing out the characters.
Three rows of words could be seen clearly:
I am willing to use my life to request
Lin Duan’s safety!
To Teacher Ji
Ji Yunshu's hands violently shook! Her fingertips brushing against the threads of the embroidered mulberry flowers felt like they were stabbed by countless tiny knives, cutting into her heart! She should have been quicker in solving the case! If only she had been a bit quicker...
The feeling of regret was like an onion being peeled layer by layer under her nose, causing her eyes to redden in grief. She looked at the old housekeeper and lashed out, “Did you know that you have harmed not only one but two lives?”
The old steward lowered his brows and eyes, and for the first time revealed a hint of guilt and remorse, “I… I didn’t want to do that.” He shook his head.
“But you ended up killing someone, hurting someone else in the process.”
“It wasn’t my intention. I didn’t think…”
The next moment, he raised his head abruptly. All the former calmness and apathy was gone as he roared at Ji Yunshu, “I killed my own daughter; do you think I’m happy?! If she hadn’t done those things, I wouldn’t have killed her!”
“Don’t say it!”
Two voices had risen one after the other. But to everyone’s surprise, it was the silent Lord Zhou who had interrupted. His shocked and terrified eyes glared at the old housekeeper. His face was bright red as he agitatedly stepped forward and pointed at him, “You once promised me that even if you died you would never speak about that to anyone!”
Wasn’t the Zhou family’s young miss’ father supposed to be Lord Zhou? When did she become the old housekeeper’s daughter?
This revelation shocked everyone, including Ji Yunshu.
Truly, what an astonishing secret! Jing Rong, who had silently melded into the background, grinned as he slightly lifted his brilliant eyes. A single hand lightly patted his uplifted knee. He was clearly quite amused. Hurry up already. This Prince wants to hear the whole story.
Due to Lord Zhou stopping him, the old housekeeper did not continue. However, his body could be seen faintly trembling. Those deep-sunken eyes were filled with tears as he sobbed with regret.
The magistrate scratched his head, his face full of confusion on what to do next. So, he simply picked up the gavel once again.
Ji Yunshu secretly rolled her eyes at him. This person’s brain must be malfunctioning. Why on earth would you slam the gavel down at this time?!
The magistrate cleared his throat before asking, “Speak clearly! What does that matter refer to? Tell me everything in a well-organised manner. I want every single detail included. In court, you must not hide anything or else I will have to introduce you to the paddle.”
Introduce your sis! thought Ji Yunshu.
At this moment, Madame Zhou stepped forward with a sigh, “Let me say it.” Her voice was so low that it was barely audible.
Lord Zhou moved forward to pull her back as he spoke fearfully, “My dear, don’t.”
“It’s already come to this. What’s there to continue hiding?” Her gaze seemed to be calmer than before. Her gaze shifted from the magistrate to the old housekeeper, who was still wrecked with sobs, before once again landing on Lord Zhou.
With eyes filled with reminiscence, she recounted, “Twenty years ago, when I married my husband, I never managed to give birth to any children for the Zhou family. No matter how I nursed my body, it was useless. After being diagnosed by many doctors, we learned that it wasn’t because my body couldn’t get pregnant, it was that my husband’s body… wasn’t able to impregnate me. During that period of time, my husband was often worried about this issue. Everyday he would drink himself into a stupor, so I…”
Having spoken to this point, Madame Zhou started choking up as she used her sleeves to wipe her tears. Looking back up, she continued, “I wasn’t thinking clearly then, and I came up with the idea of having Ah Jing help me. I just wanted to get pregnant so that my husband would stop worrying. After he learned about it, my husband didn’t blame me. Instead, he helped me hide the matter. We all thought that this secret would die with us.”
Her gaze landed on the old housekeeper before she continued, “But a few years ago, Ah Jing’s daughter came to the mansion to visit him. Because she accidentally dirtied Ning’er’s clothing, she was locked up. In the end, she was tortured to death... The scar on Ah Jing’s face was an injury caused by Ning’er while he was trying to rescue his daughter. Although Ah Jing grieved over his daughter’s death, Ning’er was also his daughter. So at that time he didn’t report it to the officials or tell anyone. Only my husband and I knew of it.”
At this very moment, Madame Zhou’s confession had reduced her to a sobbing wreck! Lord Zhou’s face was scrunched up as he reached out to embrace his wife, clearly upset.
Ji Yunshu roughly understood what happened. Lord Zhou was impotent! Therefore, Madame Zhou had gotten pregnant with someone else!
The old housekeeper had two biological daughters. One daughter was killed by the other, and he… killed the remaining one!
What a complicated story! No wonder after knowing that the old housekeeper was the real murderer, Madame Zhou was not upset and Lord Zhou did not fly into a rage.
This case’s conclusion was now clear. But everyone’s hearts were heavier than before. Even Jing Rong who had been watching enthusiastically displayed a more serious expression, his heart feeling a little stifled.
The magistrate licked his dry lips. According to the procedure, he had to ask again, “Housekeeper, due to your daughter’s death at the hands of the young Miss Zhou, you had the urge to kill her when she was abusing you that night, is this correct?”
After a moment’s pause, the old housekeeper curled up his body, deeply burying that ferociously scarred face and hiding away his once gentle eyes, now filled with remorse! Only a single muffled word was heard, “Yes.”
The magistrate nodded his head, satisfied. He looked at his legal advisor who took the freshly written confession and walked to the old housekeeper. He placed the confession in front of him and pressed the old housekeeper’s thumb on the red wax at the bottom of the paper.
The young Miss Zhou’s case was finally concluded.
But no one could bring themselves to be happy about it, especially Ji Yunshu.
While the old housekeeper was brought to prison, Lord Zhou and Madame Zhou hugged their heads and cried their hearts out, heartbroken, as they left!
Ji Yunshu remained standing in the courtroom as she stared blankly at the plaque above the hall. Justice and Fairness! She could not help but sigh. She was still holding that mulberry flower-embroidered handkerchief.
She truly hated herself.
She hated herself for not resolving the case faster. Had it not been for Ji Lingzhi making trouble, perhaps she could have saved Suyun before the young woman decided to kill herself!
She hated herself even more for leaving that oil lamp with her.
Seeing Ji Yunshu was staring into space for so long, Magistrate Liu raised his hand and waved, “Disperse, everyone disperse now.”
The yamen runners, having received their orders, departed.
Jing Rong had also left at some point, since his shadow was nowhere to be seen.
Grenn's Rants Corner
*moment of silence* ...