At this point in time, Zhuang Zhong had become pretty well-known for not only exposing the groundlessness of blood tests but also solving many unjust cases. Due to this, all the students in the GuoZi Xue started paying special regard to him, treating him with greater respect.
Although the students there were arrogant, they still gave respect to those who were capable. After all, whether they were students of the Tai Xue or law college, they would most likely go down the path of an official career where they would be involved in settling cases. As the saying goes, the greater one’s skills were, the less likely they would face troubles with their life. Besides, even though many came forth for advice, Zhuang Zhong was not stingy and shared his knowledge, making him very popular among the students.
“It is a blessing for all the people in the world that Brother Zhuang has such intelligence. In my hometown, there was once a tragedy caused by this blood test. So, as soon as I learned about it, I wrote home immediately.”
Others agreed in succession. As the students of GuoZi Xue came from all corners of the country, many of them have heard of similar situations happening.
Zhuang Zhong sighed, “Initially, I was not aware of it either. Because this method has been around for a long time, it should have some grounds. I only got curious because I felt that the Yu family’s little boy was pitiful, and I heard my aunt mention that Madam Xue is not a frivolous person. So, I searched for some people to test it out and found out that such a method is really unreliable.”
As those present were curious, Zhuang Zhong went further and narrated the story regarding the Yu family to them. While listening, everyone could only sigh and subconsciously form a negative impression of Yu Ming.
“This Yu Ming is really something. I have not seen anyone being so insistent they were cheated on. Not only that, he even forsook his flesh and blood. He is truly indifferent.”
“Isn’t that so? Even if it was for the sake of filial piety, he should not have let his main wife bear such a reputation. It was also unexpected that he would do such a thing as someone who once held such great affection for Madam Xue. This is not the actions of a true gentleman.”
“Regulating the family and governing the country would lead to world peace. How can Yu Ming have the ability to be an official when his family is in such a mess?”
Like this, everyone present began attacking Yu Ming verbally. While saying that they sympathized with Xue-shi and Xue ZiAn, they looked down on his ability to govern his inner courtyard. Besides, many had heard previously that Yu Ming’s residence was taken care of by a concubine, which was utterly improper. So, when they heard about the recent developments, they felt that Yu Ming was truly not an able person. This, coupled with the fact that scholars liked to scorn each other, Yu Ming ended up being demoted to someone who was not worth a cent.
Even though Zhuang Zhong had only slightly put in some effort, Yu Ming was already pushed to the eye of the storm, gaining a reputation of having lousy conduct and being incompetent, which would no doubt affect his future official career.
Initially, Zhuang Zhong could not bear the sight of Yu Ming because he felt that the man was too irresponsible. In order to get Xue ZiAn back, Yu Ming even secretly said terrible things about Xue-shi in private, trying to stir up bad feelings between the mother and son. This caused Xue ZiAn to be extremely upset. After all, how could one not feel bitterly disappointed when faced with such a father? In the end, that was why Zhuang Zhong took such an action, as he could not bear to let such a person have a good life.
Besides, Xue ZiAn was now Zhuang Zhong’s disciple. Even though Zhuang Zhong might not have any other abilities, he would protect his own.
“Cousin, when will you take Xiao’An to an autopsy?” While asking, Lu XiaoBao’s big eyes were glistening with a face of anticipation.
Zhuang Zhong flicked XiaoBao’s big head. “He just learned a few days ago, and you dare to mention an autopsy?”
As Xue ZiAn was interested in forensic science, Zhuang Zhong had begun teaching him from the basics. However, what he shared was only superficial knowledge, as he did not take ZiAn too seriously. After all, ZiAn was still too young and could not understand the principles behind the knowledge. Zhuang Zhong had then felt that ZiAn could first cultivate this interest, and if he were truly willing to go down this career path in the future, Zhuang Zhong would still be very willing to teach. Besides, Zhuang Zhong also had no intentions of teaching others everything he knew, as his knowledge was too advanced, and he did not know the roots of it. Not daring to spread such principles everywhere, he could only phrase most things as phenomena. This way, it was inevitably very difficult for others to really learn and make a breakthrough.
Essentially, if Xue ZiAn was interested, Zhuang Zhong could start by teaching basic knowledge that he was not afraid to release and would not cause the suspicion of others.
Xue ZiAn’s ears were red. “Master, don’t listen to XiaoBao’s nonsense. This disciple had no such intentions, as I have not learned anything yet. How can I be that frivolous?”
However, Lu XiaoBao refuted, “It is exactly because you did not learn anything that you should go and have a look. Otherwise, wouldn’t it be a waste of effort if you faint upon seeing a corpse after learning everything?”
After hearing that, Xue ZiAn began to hesitate. Lu shiyiniang, who was in one corner, added, “That wouldn’t do. Xiao’An’s body is still weak, so he should not come into contact with those dirty things. It would not be good if those harmful agents enter his body.”
Lu XiaoBao’s eyes widened, and he quickly took back what he said before. “Cousin, let Xiao’An recuperate for a few years first. Also, do not rush to take him to an autopsy or give up on this discipleship.”
“Don’t worry. Do you think your cousin is someone who does not know how to consider the situation? Look at you being so anxious. Are you really treating Xiao’An as your wife already?”
Lu XiaoBao puffed up his chest and said, “Of course, Lu XiaoBao’s words will always be followed through!”
“You-you, don’t talk nonsense!” Xue ZiAn’s face turned completely red. Ever since the day Lu XiaoBao said this, others would make such jokes whenever they were playing together. Even his mother had made fun of him, saying that she wanted to embroider his dowry.
Hearing that, Lu XiaoBao was not happy. “Do you not like me?”
Xue ZiAn’s reply was as soft as a fly buzzing. “It is not like that.”
“Then why are you unwilling to marry me?”
“I am not a woman!”
“So what? We have seen two men being married to each other before.”
At this moment, Xue ZiAn was almost steaming, and there was practically smoke coming from his head.
Zhuang Zhong, who could not stand it anymore, knocked Lu XiaoBao on his head. “You are too young to think about these things. Besides, I, your cousin, have not even progressed further in that area.”
Lu XiaoBao replied straightforwardly, “Then you can marry my sister! Since you are a little frail, you can get some protection from the marriage.”
As Zhuang Zhong spluttered, Lu shiyiniang directly grabbed Lu XiaoBao’s ear. “If you dare to talk nonsense again, I will tell Xiao’An the story about how you wet your bed at five years old!”
“Sister, I have already said those words! Ah ah, it hurts. Can you be more gentle? Don’t think that you can act like that cause you are a woman! Aiya, Sister, spare me!”
While Xue ZiAn covered his mouth with his small hand and chuckled, Zhuang Zhong could not help laughing.
After that, when Zhuang Zhong was about to enter the Central Judicial Office, he was stopped by a woman. “May I ask if you are the expert of solving cases, Lord Zhuang?”
Zhuang Zhong sweated with embarrassment and replied, “I am indeed Zhuang Zhong, but I am not an expert case solver…”
Nonetheless, upon hearing that, the woman fell on her knees and kowtowed heavily. “Lord Zhuang, please redress an injustice for me!”
“Madam, there is no need for you to do so. Please get up before speaking.”
The woman cried, “My lord, my brother had died unjustly!”
After saying that, Zhuang Zhong led the woman into the Central Judicial Office and questioned her further.
The woman dried her tears and said slowly, “I originally had a brother named Jin Jiang, who died suddenly ten years ago. As someone who had been in good health, my brother was still working in the shop the day before, and I even talked to him when I passed by. However, somehow, he died the next day! Not long after, his wife also soon married her secret lover, Guan sanlang1 Here, “Guan” is probably the surname of the man while the “sanlang” denotes his position in the family. Like Lu balang where “balang” refers to the eighth child of the Lu family, “sanlang” here probably meant that the man was the third son or something along that line. Do note that anything with “-lang” behind is just a form of addressment., and took away all my brother’s property! How could my brother die suddenly when he had always been healthy? My lord, there must be injustice somewhere!”
Sun ChaoYang, who was passing by, heard the woman and came over. “You are talking about the Jin Jiang case?”
The woman nodded repeatedly. “Yes, yes.”
Sun ChaoYang shook his head. “I have seen the files before, and I did not discover any doubtful points. The case has also been passed through several hands, but nobody was able to solve it.”
Sun ChaoYang was a learned scholar of the law and a famous expert in settling cases. Zhuang Zhong admired him greatly, as it was through his guidance that he quickly mastered the laws of DaYou. Since Sun ChaoYang had said such words, Zhuang Zhong felt that the case would be fairly difficult to handle.
“Was an autopsy conducted then?”
Sun ChaoYang nodded. “The deceased has been examined, and the notes are still present, so you can read it later. I still remember that the deceased had no injuries, and there was no evidence that his wife, Ji ShuYuan and Guan sanlang, was the ones responsible for it. Even evidence of their secret relationship was not found. However, Ji-shi was indeed too indifferent. It was not long after Jin Jiang’s death that she remarried, which inevitably made people unhappy.”
“Where is Jin Jiang buried now?”
Jin Jiang’s sister Jin Hong replied, “At the suburbs of the capital.”
“If you want to find out the truth, we must open the coffin and conduct an autopsy again.”
Sun ChaoYang was surprised when he heard that. “This person was already dead for ten years and has turned into white bones. What else could we examine from it?”
“Although there are only white bones left, the information left before will still remain, and we only need to conduct a careful examination. If it was really a homicide, we should be able to find some clues. Besides, this is the only way. If we do not conduct an autopsy, it will be impossible to find out what happened in the past after so many years.”
In the end, Sun ChaoYang went along with him. He had heard that Zhuang Zhong was very skillful, but he had not seen it with his own eyes before.
Meanwhile, Jin Hong has been known to run around for her brother’s case these ten years. So, when others saw her heading to Jin Jiang’s grave with the officials, people started to gather and spectate.
“What else can one examine when he has already been dead for ten years?”
“You must not have been aware then. There was a case not too long ago where a man was found to have drowned instead of dying from an illness through a bone examination!”
“Ah? There is something like that happening? At that time, Jin Jiang died in a strange way, and I had long felt that it was a wrongful death. I only hope that they will be able to find out something this time. Besides, I cannot stand seeing that vixen. If it were not for Jin Jiang, she would not have anything. However, after his death, she was not sad at all and even lived a comfortable life.”
“That may be so, but this is still disturbing the deceased rest. It would be good if nothing goes wrong.”
As everyone discussed animatedly, Ji-shi had also arrived after hearing the news. With the coffin being in the process of being dug out, she immediately rushed up and cried, “What are you all doing? Why are you disturbing my husband’s rest!”
Jin Hong harshly pulled Ji-shi away. “Scram! You are the vixen that harmed my brother, and now, you want to prevent the young officials from redressing the injustice! Ji-shi, I am telling you, today is the end for you and your lover! This person is a reputable and great expert in solving cases. This time, we will find out the truth!”
Ji-shi cried prettily, and her originally beautiful face made others take pity on her. “Sister, your words are really ruthless. I love my husband the most, so how can I do such a thing to him? When he died, I was really heartbroken…”
“Bullshit! You and Guan sanlang have long colluded and committed adultery. I only hated the fact that my brother did not know and suffered under you! My brother had died unjustly, and all this while, he kept coming into my dreams at night, wanting me to address his grievance!”
Here, Sun ChaoYang gave the Yamen runners a look, and they pulled Ji-shi away, allowing them to finally open the coffin for autopsy.
Zhuang Zhong proceeded to put on his gloves and took the bones out of the coffin. Placing them on the table, he conducted some cleaning before inspecting them.
Sun ChaoYang, who saw Zhuang Zhong’s technique, could not help nodding his head.
As the sunlight today was of the right amount, Zhuang Zhong quickly discovered something unusual from the bones.
“Teacher, you should come and see…”
As someone who has read the next chapter, I would just like to say that the truth behind his death is really… 👀
- 1Here, “Guan” is probably the surname of the man while the “sanlang” denotes his position in the family. Like Lu balang where “balang” refers to the eighth child of the Lu family, “sanlang” here probably meant that the man was the third son or something along that line. Do note that anything with “-lang” behind is just a form of addressment.