Chapter 28: Poisoned: Qing Hu and Qing Liu
Nyoi-Bo Studio Nyoi-Bo Studio
“Remind me, who is Xing Hua?” Ye Jiuge’s eyebrows creased slightly. She thought that it was Fifth Concubine and Ye Ruyi who had been robbed.
“Elder Sister Xing Hua is a high-ranking maid staying in the same room as us,” Qing Liu answered quickly.
“Bring her to me. I want to see for myself where this high-ranking maid comes from that makes her so important.” Ye Jiuge looked at Fifth Concubine with a sly smile.
Then, Fifth Concubine ordered Qiu Mama, “Bring Xing Hua here.”
“Right.” Qiu Mama nodded grudgingly and summoned Xing Hua.
Ye Jiuge had assumed that Xing Hua must be an attractive, quick-witted maid. She had never expected a very plain woman with a square face, coarse eyebrows, and thick lips. Far from having a lovely appearance, it was as if Xing Hua were a villager that had sprung up from a lump on the ground.
As soon as Xing Hua saw Ye Jiuge, she was so frightened that she dropped into a kneeling position. She sputtered, “Eldest Miss, please spare my life. I have no idea how my golden butterfly hairpin appeared in Younger Sister Qing Liu’s chest.”
“You are only a high-ranking maid. Where did you get such a fine golden hairpin? Was it a reward from Fifth Concubine?”
Ye Jiuge could not believe that Fifth Concubine would be so generous as to reward a maid with such a luxurious gift.
“It was not her. Old Master gifted me this golden butterfly hairpin,” Xing Hua hurriedly clarified.
Ye Jiuge’s shock was considerable. She eyed Xing Hua again: the maid was slightly pudgy and ordinary-looking. No matter how Ye Jiuge sized herd up, she was not Ye Yuxuan’s type.
“Eldest Miss, Old Master really did gift this golden butterfly hairpin to Xing Hua,” Fifth Concubine said, guessing Ye Jiuge’s thoughts. Feeling slightly awkward, she then told the following story:
Xing Hua’s father had been Ye Yuxuan’s personal escort. One year, when Ye Yuxuan was traveling regularly deep into the mountains to gather medicinal herbs, he accidentally provoked a pack of stage one white-furred wolves, who hunted him down. To protect him, Xing Hua’s father had sacrificed himself. Before he died, his daughter, Xing Hua, was his only concern. Ye Yuxuan had wanted to appear compassionate, so he took in the girl and allowed her to remain at the residence. If Xing Hua had been more alluring, he might have conferred the position of concubine on her. Unfortunately, since Xing Hua’s face was as unsightly as her father’s, Ye Yuxuan simply gave her a golden butterfly hairpin and ordered her to work under Qiu Mama.
Xing Hua had cherished this precious treasure ever since. She flaunted it every chance she got. When Qing Hu and Qing Liu moved in, she went out of her way to retell the story of the hairpin.
“At that time, Younger Sister Qing Hu and Younger Sister Qing Liu kept gushing about how beautiful my hairpin was. All the maids in the residence heard them,” said Xing Hua softly.
Qing Liu really wanted to mention that she merely had said these things out of politeness. However, she knew that it was useless to argue. If she made a fuss, she would only embarrass Eldest Miss. She believed that Eldest Miss and Qing Mama would prove her innocence.
“Since you put it that way…you’re saying that you did not personally see Qing Liu steal your hairpin?” Ye Jiuge asked with an arched eyebrow.
“I did not, I did not!” Xing Hua shook her head quickly, then said, “Last night, I discovered that my hairpin was missing, so Qiu Mama helped me search. In the end, we found it in Qing Liu’s chest.”
“And then?” As she asked the question, Ye Jiuge’s face fell.
“Then, then what?” Xing Hua asked stupidly, dazed. The word “idiot” was almost written on her square face in large letters.
Right now, Ye Jiuge was sure that Qiu Mama had single-handedly arranged this cheap ploy. To her, Xing Hua was simply a tool.
Qiu Mama stood on the sidelines, looking unconcerned as if she had nothing to do with the current situation. Intentionally, she had picked Xing Hua’s golden butterfly hairpin to set up Qing Liu, so that the quarrel would escalate. She hoped for the best outcome—namely, that Old Master would hear about it. When the time arrived, even if Ye Jiuge helped Qing Hu and Qing Liu clear their names, they would not be able to stay in the Ye Residence.
“Qiu Mama, Qing Liu’s room is not made of impenetrable walls. If someone entered her room to frame her, you would have wrongly accused a good person of a crime, since you have so quickly declared her guilty,” Ye Jiuge told Qiu Mama coldly.
“Eldest Miss, Xing Hua’s hairpin was, without a doubt, found in Qing Liu’s chest,” Qiu Mama said respectfully.
Ye Jiuge did not want to waste her breath talking to this sly old servant. Her mouth curved into a sneer as she asked Fifth Concubine, “Fifth Concubine, what is your opinion about all this?”
Fifth Concubine felt inexplicably ashamed. She avoided Ye Jiuge’s gaze and coughed lightly, then said, “Qiu Mama, this must be a misunderstanding. Perhaps, Xing Hua accidentally lost her hairpin, and Qing Liu picked it up then kept it in her chest for a time, forgetting to return it.”
Actually, she knew that Qiu Mama had planned today’s incident as a sorry excuse to drive away Qing Hu and Qing Liu. If this had happened in the past, she would have definitely protected the two maids.
However, Madame had come to visit Ruyi the day before yesterday, and she had personally promised that she would permit Ye Shanshan’s teacher to instruct Ruyi in elixir-making. Since Ye Yuxuan was usually busy, he did not have any time to teach his daughter. Therefore, he had hired an extremely knowledgeable female teacher to come to the residence and tutor Ye Shanshan. For the sake of Ruyi’s future, she had no choice but to disappoint the two young maids.
“I see. Qing Liu, you are such a foolish girl. When you picked it up, why didn’t you inform me at once? You have made me misunderstand your actions,” Qiu Mama immediately capitulated to Fifth Concubine’s explanation.
Qing Liu had not expected Qiu Mama to change her tune so abruptly. She was at a loss and looked to Ye Jiuge.
Ye Jiuge was about to call out Fifth Concubine for her nonsense when she suddenly realized that Qing Liu was acting strange. She scrutinized her and detected a thin, black line between Qing Liu’s brows, similar to someone who has been poisoned. Her eyes flitted to Qing Hu, who was standing beside Qing Liu; her forehead bore the same black line. If Ye Jiuge had not recently cultivated the skill of using her Spiritual Eye and developed keen sight, it would have been unlikely that she could have detected the marks at that moment.
“It seems that this was truly a misunderstanding. My two maids did not know any better. Fifth Concubine, they have inconvenienced you. If I let them remain, they will only be an embarrassment. Farewell.” Ye Jiuge did not wait for Fifth Concubine’s reply. She stood up and instructed Qing Mama, “Bring them back.”
Then, she walked out of the door. Qing Mama quickly took Qing Hu and Qing Liu with her, following Ye Jiuge.
When they returned to the Zhilin Residence, Qing Mama vented her indignation.
“Eldest Miss, if I had known before that Fifth Concubine was on Qiu Mama’s side, I would have never sent over Qing Hu and Qing Liu to suffer such unjust treatment.”
“Qing Mama, Eldest Miss, my older sister did not steal anything. She did not take that hairpin. Their accusations were false,” Qing Hu spoke on behalf of her sister with reddened eyes.
“I am aware that they framed you. However, what I can’t understand is why they wanted to poison both of you,” said Ye Jiuge gravely.
This was why she had not made a fuss earlier; she had agreed with Fifth Concubine so that they could leave.
“Poisoned? What do you mean, poisoned?” Qing Hu and Qing Liu exchanged blank looks.
“Sit down and place your hands on the table!” Ye Jiuge commanded, pointing at the chairs.
Qing Hu and Qing Liu perched on the edge of the chairs obediently, before resting their hands on the table.
Ye Jiuge checked their pulses. The poison in their bodies was potent. It was the colorless, tasteless poison known as the Yin Yang Poison.
Although this poison was not as rare as the False Dream, which Ye Jiuge’s mother had created, it was nevertheless worth a decent amount of silver taels. This decision to use it on two maids was rather wasteful!