An shi did not think that Feng Yu Heng would place her suspicion there, thus she continued to speak on her own: “During that period of heavy rain, the elder madam’s mood was not too good. She said that she wanted to embroider an image of Buddha to calm herself down. She insisted on having this concubine go to the shop to retrieve some thread. On our way back, our carriage was in an accident, but the other girl was quite magnanimous and did not argue with us. Sister Jin Zhen even got out of the carriage to accompany her for a while, and the matter was concluded like that. Oh right, I heard that the girl also formed a relationship with sister Jin Zhen, and she came to our manor a couple times. This could be considered a friendship blooming from an initial discord.”
While An shi spoke, Jin Zhen, who had been burning joss paper for the matriarch suddenly began to tremble. By the end, she was no longer able to remain kneeling and fell to the ground.
Feng Zi Rui saw it and asked in confusion: “Concubine mother, what happened to you?”
Jin Zhen’s teeth were chattering, and she was unable to say a single word.
An shi was smart. How could she not see what had happened. Letting out an “ah” sound, she then looked at Jin Zhen with a deeply inquisitive look.
Cheng Jun Man also furrowed her brow and said after thinking: “Something like that did indeed occur.” After thinking some more, she added: “It seems that the girl came to the manor again after the elder madam was beaten by that group of troublemakers.”
Jin Zhen’s complexion turned a pale white, and everyone was able to see that she was clearly feeling guilty. Feng Yu Heng did not ask too much, only patting An shi’s shoulder and gently saying: “It’s fine. I will bring third sister back to rest for a while. After two hours, we will need to prepare to attend court.”
After she said this, she turned around and left. Xiang Rong held Zi Rui’s hand and followed behind her but found that Jin Zhen, who had been kneeling next to the incense burner, had stood up stiffly before hastily chasing after Feng Yu Heng.
Xiang Rong slowed her pace and quietly said to Zi Rui: “There must be a reason that concubine mother is looking to speak with seocnd sister. Let’s move a little slower.”
They did indeed walk slowly, but Feng Yu Heng did not stop. Jin Zhen’s legs were weak and looked to be in a poor state behind her. Only when Feng Yu Heng nearly reached the entrance of the manor did she finally manage to grab Feng Yu Heng’s sleeve; however, she was pushed away in irritation.
Fortunately, Feng Yu Heng also stopped. Turning around to look at her, she feigned ignorance and asked: “Concubine mother Jin Zhen, what is the reason for chasing after this county princess?”
Jin Zhen was unable to worry about too much. It was still late into the night at this moment. There were few people in the manor, and the gatekeepers had gone to sleep. Only one person was left to stand guard. She gritted her teeth and dropped to her knees in front of Feng Yu Heng, saying: “Second young miss, this servant did this all for you!”
Feng Yu Heng looked at Jin Zhen then looked at the unfamiliar maidservant behind her. She suddenly asked: “Where’s Man Xi?”
Jin Zhen was stunned. She did not think that Feng Yu Heng would not answer the first part, instead asking this question. She mumbled a little, not knowing how she should reply.
Feng Yu Heng did not wait for her reply. Instead, she tilted her head and asked the maidservant: “Where is the former maidservant, Man Xi, that had accompanied your concubine mother?”
The maidservant was a little nervous. Twisting the handkerchief in her hand, she spoke with a trembling voice: “Man Xi is… is in the courtyard taking care of some other matters. Presently, she is not concubine mother’s personal servant.”
Feng Yu Heng nodded and did not ask any further; however, she did make a statement: “Since you do not like Man Xi, have her come to the county princess’ manor to work then.” After saying this, she gave Wang Chuan a look. Without another word, Wang Chuan turned and walked in the direction of Ru Yi courtyard.
Jin Zhen panicked and shouted: “Wait a moment!” She then looked up at Feng Yu Heng and said with a begging voice: “Man Xi is just a servant. She made a mistake, and this servant took care of her. Second young miss, how about… you don’t pursue this matter?”
In truth, the moment that she saw Jin Zhen’s new personal servant, Feng Yu Heng already realized that there was definitely some sort of conflict between Man Xi and Jin Zhen; however, she never thought that Jin Zhen would have the courage to do anything to Man Xi. Now that she heard that she had been taken care of, she felt a little agony. Man Xi was the first person in the manor to follow her. She had been placed at Jin Zhen’s side to help monitor; however, she never thought that she would become busier and busier, while Jin Zhen’s ambition became greater and greater. As this continued, she was actually unable to protect Man Xi’s life.
Unfortunate was unfortunate, but Feng Yu Heng knew that she did not have any right to investigate this matter in the open. After all, Man Xi was Jin Zhen’s maidservant. As the master, Jin Zhen had the right to kill any servant in her courtyard that she pleased.
But… she curled up the corners of her lips, bringing forth a gloomy appearance. She asked Jin Zhen: “What’s the point of you belonging to me?”
Jin Zhen knew that this matter could not be hidden from Feng Yu Heng. Moreover, she did not believe that Feng Yu Heng would speak up for the matriarch. That was why, even if she felt afraid, there was no horror or despair.
She raised her head and said to Feng Yu Heng: “Not to hide it from second young miss, but the elder madam’s death… was caused by this servant. It’s just as sister An said earlier. It was that girl that we met on the road that gave me that poison. She said that the elder madam could not continue to live. To assemble a crowd to bash the second young miss was already a grave crime, but the second young miss could not kill her because of her own status, and you must have been feeling rather depressed. If I wanted to do something good for second young miss, I should help second young miss. Only with the elder madam dying could young miss’ anger be vented.”
In a single breath, Jin Zhen revealed everything that Feng Yu Heng had wanted to know relating to the cause of the matriarch’s death. She then gasped for air, as though she had just completed a marathon, gulping down large mouthfuls of air.
She then looked at Feng Yu Heng. Not only did the earlier gloomy appearance not improve, but there was also a sudden cold look that came from her eyes, as she stared fixedly at her. It was as though she was staring at a dead person.
Jin Zhen’s heart trembled, as she remained kneeling on the brick ground. An ice-cold feeling crept up from her knees and reached her heart.
“Second young miss.” She tried to call out to her; however, she found that the sharpness in Feng Yu Heng’s eyes became even more severe.
Jin Zhen suddenly realized that she must have done something wrong. Feng Yu Heng did not want for the matriarch to die. She had been more of a hindrance than help. But why did Feng Yu Heng not want the matriarch to die? That girl had worked so hard to sell her on the idea of poisoning the matriarch. Could it be that there was some sort of plot hidden here?
Her mind thought about this repeatedly; however, Feng Yu Heng did not remain idle. She had been thinking the entire time about “that girl,” but it did not require too much thought. Back when Yao Xian had told her that the Feng matriarch died from a poison that was not from the central region, she immediately thought of Yu Qian Yin. For Yu Qian Yin, she, Feng Yu Heng, not only ruined an engagement that had already been agreed upon, but she had also broken Zong Sui’s iron essence, which had been Zong Sui’s pride for over 100 years. As a princess of Zong Sui, Yu Qian Yin had a reason to hate her. But this did not mean that a girl could extend her reach so far. Her original plan was to have the Feng matriarch die of old age; however, who knew that in a moment of carelessness, her plan was ruined by Yu Qian Yin.
Feng Yu Heng let out a cold laugh that caused Jin Zhen’s scalp to turn numb. When she finally opened her mouth once more, she heard her say: “The girl that you spoke of, do you know what sort of activity she participated in?”
Jin Zhen shook her head, “This servant does not know.” But her heart began to panic.
Feng Yu Heng told her: “That girl is a secret agent of an enemy country. Last night, she was caught outside the city and brought back. Do you know how she came back?” She slightly bent at the waist and stared at Jin Zhen. Not waiting for her to reply, she continued: “She was tied up by a rope, which was tied to a horse, then dragged back. There are cuts and bruises all over her body. Do you know who it was that initiated this torture? It was his Highness the seventh prince.”
Jin Zhen was no longer able to remain kneeling, as she dropped her butt to the ground. Her face was an ashen grey.
Feng Yu Heng snorted coldly once more, turning to Wang Chuan to say: “Since there is no need to go to Ru Yi courtyard, head back to the mourning hall. Tell the two madams about the crime that concubine mother Jin Zhen willingly admitted to. Then have the two madams advise the master. Let’s see how the master handles this matter.”
Wang Chuan nodded and quickly walked toward the mourning hall.
Jin Zhen reacted to Feng Yu Heng’s words and was almost driven insane by fear, “Second young miss! You can’t! You can’t tell husband!” She knew that Feng Jin Yuan valued his mother greatly. If Feng Jin Yuan was allowed to find out that the matriarch was killed by her, he might very well end up removing her skin! Jin Zhen desperately grabbed Feng Yu Heng’s clothes and begged: “Second young miss, this servant really did this all for you. I am begging second young miss to allow this servant to live!”
Feng Yu Heng felt irritated and flung Jin Zhen away, saying in a cold voice: “You clearly knew my relationship with Man Xi. Before you went to take care of her, you should have thought about today’s bad ending. Moreover, you harmed the elder madam. I will tell you, this county princess did not want for her to die. This county princess had intended for her to peacefully die of old age. Also, you absolutely should never have collaborated with Yu Qian Yin. This county princess has never liked people that believed themselves to always be right while deciding things for themselves. You keep on saying that you were thinking of me, but were you making this decision for this county princess? Jin Zhen, I will tell you that a person like you cannot be kept by any master!”
After saying this, she raised her foot and kicked toward Jin Zhen’s chest, sending Jin Zhen flying two zhang away. Upon landing, she coughed up a mouthful of blood. But when she coughed up this blood and raised her head to look up, Feng Yu Heng had already brought Huang Quan out of the manor. Even Xiang Rong and Zi Rui who were following behind her did not spare her a single glance.
Not long later, Wang Chuan brought the Cheng shi sisters to the front yard, as Cheng Jun Man walked while saying: “Jun Mei, go to Pine courtyard to find husband. Tell him everything that happened.” She then increased her pace and walked over to Jin Zhen.
Jin Zhen looked up with a bit of blood hanging from the corner of her mouth; however, she found a trace of sarcasm and murderous intent in Cheng Jun Man’s eyes. She was so scared that she did not dare to continue looking, so she simply dropped back down onto the ground.
But she did not continue feigning death for very long. Very quickly, the sound of footsteps came over. Feeling curious, she opened her eyes to look and saw Feng Jin Yuan walk over while putting on an outer robe. To his side was Cheng Jun Mei. Cheng Jun Mei’s mouth was moving, and it was clear that she was talking to him about this matter.
Feng Jin Yuan’s face sank until he looked like the king of hell. When he arrived in front of Jin Zhen, he had already finished hearing about everything. He looked down at his most favored little concubine and coldly asked: “Was what the second madam said true?”
Jin Zhen did not know how she should respond. She had already admitted to everything on her own to Feng Yu Heng. Even if she refuted it now, was there any point?
She did not reply, but Cheng Jun Man said: “That Yu girl did indeed come to the manor before the elder madam passed away. She always came to look for concubine mother Jin Zhen. I heard that she was a secret agent from Zong Sui, and she has already been brought back to the capital by his Highness the seventh prince. She is currently locked up in the imperial palace.”
These words made it clear to remind Feng Jin Yuan that Jin Zhen was cooperating with an enemy of Da Shun. What good was there in keeping this sort of person?
Sure enough, Feng Jin Yuan was very decisive this time. The matriarch’s death together with Yu Qian Yin’s harm of Da Shun caused him to feel no pity for his concubine, as he frankly said: “Concubine Jin Zhen, you have served me for one year and were once pregnant. On this relationship, I will not hand you over to the government to be taken care of. You… will accompany the elder madam in her grave!”
TN: 1 Zhang = 3.333 meters