“It… It was Madame Jiang’s younger brother.” His voice trembled terribly as he said this.
Although it was circulated that the Jiang family had moved to the capital two years ago, why was the death of the master of the Jiang family not reported to the yamen? Or was there something else fishy going on?
Ji Yunshu had quite a lot of doubts so she approached him. As she thought about it, her expression became even more serious than before. Hence, she asked him, “If that skeleton really was Master Jiang, why didn’t the yamen receive a report of his death? If it is as you said, that the murderer really was Madame Jiang’s younger brother, even if she wholeheartedly protected him and moved to the capital to avoid getting discovered, how could everyone else be so blind to miss a living, breathing human being? Even if they were afraid of being silenced like you said, it’s still… a bit far-fetched to believe!”
The old man felt grieved, for all his words were true!
The old man clenched his fists tightly, and a trace of fear could be discerned from his tone, “Teacher Ji, I’m telling the truth. Look, Madame Jiang only found out that Master Jiang had a yin-yang body when she married him, so she had always treated him badly. And the Master, he… he didn’t dare to fight back since he was ashamed! Nobody in the manor cared for him and the person in charge of the Jiang family is actually Madame Jiang.”
“What connection does that have to this case?”
“Teacher Ji, I know the Master was murdered because I saw with my own eyes that the Madame’s younger brother got into a disagreement with the Master, and it got physical. I didn’t really pay attention at the time, because it was a common occurrence, so I left. However, when I went back, I saw him digging a hole to bury the Master’s body. I witnessed the whole process but did not dare to say anything. After the Master disappeared, nobody reported it because the Madame said that the Master went mad and disappeared somewhere. Thus, we were forbidden from speaking of it. Not long afterwards, the Madame dismissed a portion of the servants and moved to the capital with her trusted confidantes.”
What a fascinating story! Ji Yunshu listened attentively.
Her brows perked up and she spoke, “I have memorised everything you just said. However, the conclusion will still have to wait until I finish reconstructing the deceased’s appearance. After all, I can’t just determine the identity of the deceased based on your words alone. Additionally, although you claim to have witnessed the murder, you don’t have any concrete evidence. Even if it were Lord Liu, he can’t arrest someone based on your words alone. You have to know that it all depends on evidence.”
The old man nodded. “I have long heard of Teacher Ji’s case-solving abilities. I believe you will bring Master Jiang justice.”
“Rest assured, since this case has landed in my hands, I won’t rest till I find the murderer.” She paused before continuing, “Old man, I know you have certain… considerations. However, this is a case where a life was lost. Hence I hope that after I draw out the deceased’s appearance, and if it turns out to really be Master Jiang, could you perhaps make a trip to the yamen?”
“I-!” He panicked!
Who exactly was this Madame Jiang to cause the entire Jiang household to fear her so? In the modern world, she would be beyond the level of a powerful woman, she’d be a beast!
Ji Yunshu showed her serious face as she continued attempting to persuade him, “Murderers must be punished. If you can act as a witness, then it would increase the chances of bringing your Master justice.”
The old man’s expression remained panicked as his eyes darted around back and forth before finally clenching his teeth, “Okay. I’ll do it. I’ll- I’ll stand witness.”
“I believe if Master Jiang was watching, he would be very grateful to you.” She spoke.
The old man nodded, but his body trembled even more than before. Ji Yunshu stood rooted to the spot for a while as she thought, If that old man was speaking the truth and the murderer really was the Madame’s younger brother, wouldn’t the case be considered solved once I draw out the portrait? Would it really be this simple?
The imaginary weighing scale in her mind was rather undecided! Once she had returned to the Ji manor, she tossed the thought of reapplying her medicine aside as she ordered Luan’er to fetch her some pottery clay. She was busy with moulding the clay models until night had long fallen.
Luan’er carried a bowl of piping-hot porridge in and placed it beside Ji Yunshu. Unable to continue watching her master neglecting herself like this, Luan’er spoke, “Miss, eat some porridge first. Ever since you came back, you’ve been so busy that you have not eaten dinner. I’m worried you’ll harm your body like this. Also, it’s time to change the bandages. Please lie down and let me change them.”
Once she started working, Ji Yunshu always lost the sense of time, so much so that she often forgot to eat! Stretching her neck, she was feeling a bit tired so she put down the clay model that was pretty much complete and she washed her hands before beginning to eat the porridge.
Luan’er continued speaking, “Oh right. Miss, I’ve already crushed the medicine that Prince Rong brought. I’ll apply it on your back in a bit. I think your back should be fine in no time.”
Hearing Jing Rong being mentioned, Ji Yunshu’s expression shifted a bit, “Luan’er, I remember you said that Prince Rong had burnt father’s whip?”
“And made him ascend Qing An temple, kowtowing at every step?”
“That’s right. The Master has already left for Qing An temple. Right now, he should still be at the foot of the mountain.” Luan’er’s expression was gleeful as she thought, Serves him right!
Her eyes lowered slightly as she muttered lightly to herself, “How coincidental that he sent medicine meant for treating whip wounds and also burnt father’s whip as well as teaching him a lesson? Could it be that he knows who I really am?”
Seeing that her Young Miss appeared to be mouthing some words, she got closer and asked, “Young Miss, what did you say?”
“Nothing!” Placing the bowl down, she straightened out her thoughts as she entered the inner chamber to let Luan’er change her bandages. Her clothes had just fallen off when something fell out from inside them. Luan’er picked it up and opened it before exclaiming in surprise, “Young Miss, where did this jade pendant come from? It looks really lovely.”
Ji Yunshu stretched out her hand to pluck it out of Luan’er’s grasp and chucked it beneath her pillow, “It’s nothing. Get on with changing my bandages.”
“Oh!” Luan’er did not question any further as she helped Ji Yunshu with her bandages. After the medicine was applied and the dressings changed, Ji Yunshu went back to moulding the clay. Due to the tight schedule, she stayed inside for the next two days until she managed to draw out the portrait of the deceased. Only then, did she leave to deliver it to the yamen.
That same day, it was confirmed that the man in the painting was indeed Master Jiang!
Ji Yunshu had originally thought that the old man would definitely come to the yamen to testify. However, he did not come.
Instead, a noblewoman in her forties arrived.
She brought with her two serving maids, as well as a slightly younger looking man. The four strutted into the yamen’s courtroom, and a hint of disdain could be seen from their gazes!
I’m the bloody magistrate and I’m not complaining about being in the yamen for decades, so what are you guys silently complaining about! Naturally, the magistrate recognised this middle-aged noblewoman. He stepped forward, “Perhaps, are you Madame Jiang? I was just about to send people over to the capital to inform you. Why have you come over all of a sudden?”
Madame Jiang swept a glance at the magistrate, “I just so happened to be returning to my hometown to honour my ancestors. Upon entering the city, I heard that my husband’s corpse had been discovered. Lord Liu, I am here to bring my husband’s body for burial, please grant me this request.”
She was straight to the point.
Grenn's Rants Corner
No teaser today.