Chapter 22 – The Ugly Housekeeper
On their way back to East Park, Ji Yunshu was taciturn, not speaking a word. Her expression was also tense, which left Jing Rong at a loss as to what was going on in her head.
Yet, he followed after her into the guest house. When he saw that she was holding onto a box but didn’t place it down, he inquired, “What’s inside the box that could make you frown with worry?”
“I’m not frowning from worry. It’s just…” She shook her head. “Let’s stop here. Tomorrow, I’ll explain everything.”
“If you know who the murderer is, why are you waiting until tomorrow to act?”
“Your Highness, did you forget what I said before? There is a high probability that the murderer is actually two people. If I start something right now, it will be like beating the grass and scaring away the snake.”
“So, you already know who the murderers are among them?”
She hesitated half a second before nodding. “It should be them.”
Jing Rong smiled. With both hands clasped behind his back, he strode into the room on the right side. Without turning back, he said, “Then, I’ll wait for the good show tomorrow.”
The door closed firmly behind him.
Unexpectedly, he didn’t show further interest in who the murderers were. In the reception hall, Ji Yunshu took a seat, lightly tapping her slender fingers on the box found in Miss Zhou’s bedroom. As she nonchalantly tapped, the small chain on the box jingled in a lulling melody.
Not long after, she got up and left; her destination was the mourning hall where the corpse of Miss Zhou rested.
Several maidservants were guarding the place when they noticed Ji Yunshu’s arrival. They lifted their eyes and went to greet her. Then, they tactfully went out to guard the exterior.
Inside, the coffin was placed in the middle of the room. A black cloth gracefully covered the closed coffin lid. On top of the black cloth sat a block of green jade. In ancient times, there was a superstition related to green jade about how it warded away evil spirits.
At this moment, the old housekeeper with the crooked waist from earlier came in. In one hand he held a lantern, while the other was pressed on his abdomen. He slowly walked until he was in front of Ji Yunshu and asked, “Teacher Ji, coming here at such a late time, is there anything you want to order us to do?”
Ji Yunshu faintly shook her head. “No. I merely wanted to come here to take a look.”
“If Teacher needs anything, don’t hesitate to command us. Milord made it clear that we cannot neglect you.”
“You don’t need to trouble yourself. This humble one is used to doing things leisurely. A life of richness and indulgence doesn’t fit me.” Ji Yunshu smiled.
The old housekeeper lowered his head further, but at that instant, a cold wind blew in from the entrance and sent the mourning hat on his head flying. His aged face was immediately laid bare for a moment as the lantern light died out.
Skin of a murky yellow hue composed of densely packed wrinkles, adding to deeply sunken dark orbs for eyes, his face could only be described in one word: wretched. It was especially fitting as the left side of his face was marred by a scar that stretched from the corner of his eye to the corner of his mouth. It looked like it had been made by a knife, and due to inadequate treatment, the wound’s edges hadn’t closed properly, eventually turning into a sinister red scab.
The sudden glimpse of such a sight was enough to scare people! Ji Yunshu’s face slightly twitched when she saw his face.
The old housekeeper immediately lowered his head further. He put the mourning hat back on and bowed down. “This old servant is ugly. I have startled Teacher.”
“Please don’t misunderstand. I absolutely didn’t mean to disrespect you. It’s just that… the scar on your face seemed to date back to quite a few years ago.” Ji Yunshu cautiously showed her interest.
“Yes. A few years ago, I wasn’t careful and wounded myself, leaving this scar on my face.” The old housekeeper’s tone was dull and devoid of emotions.
Ji Yunshu blinked a few times, but she no longer questioned the old housekeeper.
The old housekeeper coughed and asked, “The sky has grown very dark, Teacher. I have a lantern; it would be better if I send you back so you could rest.”
Ji Yunshu shook her head. “There’s no need. There is light on the way, and I can go back by myself. The time is not early. You and the maidservants should also rest.”
She strode out of the mourning hall. Her face appeared to be serene, but that calmness was mixed with some apprehension and pity!
Although the thoughts rose to the forefront of her mind, no one was aware of it.
That night, a light drizzle fell until it was near the hour of the ox, then gradually the drizzling rain turned into snow.
Jinjiang city was situated at the northern end of Beiliang. Since they were just entering the winter season, snow was ever on the horizon. As the white snow fell, it covered the city in a layer of fine powder, making the city glitter with a silver glow.
However, once it fell on the snaking roads made of limestone, the layer of snow was swiftly broken and churned by each passing pedestrian.