Author: Su Youbing
Translator: xallisonjanex, chiangyushien
His heart that had just been eased instantly picked up again.
Tao Mo blankly looked at him. Soon, the far distance between them became near, then became far again. Tao Mo could not help but call out to him: “Young Master Gu!”
Gu She, who seemed to be paying attention to the one beside him, lazily turned his head.
After being swept away by his cold gaze, Tao Mo’s body stiffened, then he asked, “You didn’t eat?”
“What did you say?” Gu Xiaojia, who had been paying attention to Tao Mo, could not help but jump off the carriage and stare at him.
After Tao Mo took a glimpse at him, he soon realized that he sounded malicious when he asked Gu She that question, as if Gu She only came here to eat. His face turned red, then he said, “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Stupid.” Gu Xiaojia opened the carriage door and said, “Young Master, let’s go back.”
Gu She was about to get in the carriage when he heard Tao Mo call his name again, “Young Master Gu.”
Gu Xiaojia stared at him and said, “What the hell?”
Being asked like this, Tao Mo was at a loss for words. He just wanted to look at Gu She’s eyes a few times and did not want him to leave so early. As for an excuse, he could not think of anything.
Gu She finally turned around and looked at him, then he asked, “Do you need my help?”
Tao Mo was at a loss for words. He did not know where his words stemmed from, but it could also be considered he succeeded by a lucky stroke. It was exactly what he wanted so he conveniently said, “Yes, yes, indeed, there’s something I need your help with.”
“Small favor or big favor?” Gu Xiaojia suddenly interjected into the topic.
Gu She also did not oppose.
Wherever Tao Mo wanted to get something, he had to say: “There’s a big one and a small one.”
Gu Xiaojia frowned and said, “How can this person be so troublesome?”
Tao Mo also did not know why this flashed brightly across his mind. He responded with this sentence, “I need to answer the call of nature.”
“…” Gu Xiaojia was at a loss.
Gu She spoke. “Come and wait outside my manor tomorrow.”
Tao Mo did not find Gu She’s words and deeds savage. He joyfully watched them get into the carriage and drove off.
After Tao Mo spoke, the palanquin porters of the county’s yamen realized that he had come out, and at that moment, he was ushered in and carried back to his residence.
On his way back to the county’s yamen, Tao Mo continuously pondered over how he should talk about this matter with Old Tao. When he thought of Old Tao’s reaction, his heart went cold. However, the thought of seeing Gu She again tomorrow warmed up his heart.
This cool-to-warm changed into a warm-to-cool experience when he got back to the county’s yamen.
Hao Guozi suddenly rushed out from inside and he almost bumped into Tao Mo. He looked very excited. “Young Master, you mustn’t have known about this but, someone has handed over an indictment!”
Handed over an indictment?
Tao Mo was somewhat at a loss. It took him a while to recover. He stammered when he asked: “Then, then what am I supposed to do?”
Hao Guozi answered him, “I don’t know, too. Young Master, it would be better if you’ll ask Old Tao.”
Tao Mo did not dare to neglect it, so he rushed into the inner court.
Old Tao was doing the accounts. When he saw Tao Mo coming in, he said, “The paper’s on the table.”
Tao Mo embarrassingly stood still in his position, “You know that I’m illiterate.”
Hao Guozi jumped to the table, picked up the indictment, and began to read aloud: “The housewife failed to live up to their family name…”
“Failed to live up to their family name?” Tao Mo was at a lost.
Hao Guozi shyly said: “I don’t know this word.”
Old Tao looked up from the accounts books and said: “It’s Mrs. Liao, she’s taking her son to court for being unfilial.”
Hao Guozi said: “I never expected there’s actually a mother who’d sue her own son. What a fantastic tale.”
Old Tao replied: “In Tan Yang County, it’s not surprising for trivial matters to be brought to the court.”
Tao Mo asked: “In what way was Mrs. Liao’s son unfilial?”
Old Tao answered: “He didn’t obey his mother.”
Tao Mo asked again: “In what way did he not obey her?”
Old Tao replied: “He talked back.”
Tao Mo stared blankly. After a long time, he sighed and said: “Actually, being able to fight back is a blessing.”
Old Tao spoke: “If you don’t fight back when you got offended and always remain filial, wouldn’t it be a great blessing?”
Tao Mo was ashamed and did not speak anymore.
Hao Guozi asked: “Ah, that’s right. Young Master, what delicious food did you eat at the Lus’ residence today that you haven’t eaten before?”
Tao Mo tried to recall the various foods at Lus’ residence and the more he thought about it, the more he could not recall. “There’s nothing to eat.” In that kind of situation, how could he remember what he ate.
Hao Guozi responded: “I didn’t expect that from Lus’ residence.”
Old Tao was quick-witted. Seeing Tao Mo’s expression, he knew that there was something strange so he asked: “What happened?”
“It’s nothing.” Tao Mo’s eyes met with Old Tao’s. He thought that this matter would come out sooner or later, so he had no choice but to confess, “Young Master Lu asked me to write a poem. I already told him that I’m illiterate.”
Hao Guozi asked in surprise, “Then, why did Young Master Lu ask you to write a poem out of nowhere?”
Old Tao said: “I knew all along that Lu Zhenxue isn’t someone who’s easy to deal with. All right, this matter will be known sooner or later anyway, so there’s no difference between revealing it now or later.”
Although these words were true, Tao Mo did not want to humiliate himself in front of Gu She.
Tao Mo recalled that every time he came across Gu She, he was not very presentable. The first time he met Gu She, he was ignored. The second time they met, it was when he recited ‘The Ruo River is three thousand li long.’ The third time… Fortunately, the fourth time would be very soon. Taking this into consideration, he thought up a good idea and said, “Mrs. Liao’s case is the first case that I’m going to take over. I mustn’t take it lightly. It would be better if I could consult a very able person.”
Old Tao looked at him quite unexpectedly, “Young Master, what you’re thinking of is exactly what I have in mind.”
Tao Mo’s face was filled with joy, but he heard Old Tao added: “Tonight, you should personally go to Secretary Jin’s house and make sure he will come to the court tomorrow.”
Tao Mo questioned, “Just Secretary Jin?”
Old Tao replied: “This is just a small case. There will be numerous similar cases each month. If it won’t be Mrs. Liao, in Tan Yang County, there are even some more prominent cases. Young Master, you simply don’t need to hold a court session for all of them.”
Tao Mo looked desolate.
“Young Master, do you have some other brilliant ideas?” Old Tao looked at him suspiciously.
Tao Mo was afraid of being discovered by him so he hurriedly looked for an excuse to escape.
When he walked back to his room, he pulled Hao Guozi, who was following him, and he confessed why, thus, and so was like this.
Hao Guozi looked at him in surprise, “Young Master, in any case, you’re a county magistrate, which is a grade seven official, why does it have to be you who’s going to wait outside his residence?”
Tao Mo did not think that there was anything wrong with it, “He said it like that so naturally. Of course, he’s got his own reasons. You do exactly as requested. Keep in mind that there should be sincerity in your tone.”
Hao Guozi unwillingly nodded, “But, Young Master, you’ll be holding a court session tomorrow. I won’t be able to see it.”
“There’ll be plenty of opportunities like this in the future.” Tao Mo said, he also felt nervous. He was new to this job and was also unlearned. I only heard Old Tao read the law and decrees once, and I’m not sure how much of it I can remember.
He could only hope for the best.
That night, he and Old Tao went to Secretary Jin’s house together. Contrary to what the two had expected, Secretary Jin unexpectedly did not refuse to take the post at an earlier date.
Tao Mo looked at Secretary Jin’s face that had been worn by the years, and he finally had some confidence in his heart.
The new county magistrate was going to participate in a trial. This was a great event.
In Tan Yang County, which had favorable weather, the commoners simply did not care about taxes, since it had not changed for a few years. They evaluated whether the county magistrate was wise or not, and they looked at how he held court trials. If one wanted to establish himself in Tan Yang County, where litigants gathered, to be unable to hold a court trial was out of the question.
Tao Mo sat in the court and looked at the court servants who stood there, forming two rows. Mrs. Liao and her son Wang Pengcheng were kneeling in the court. There were two litigants standing on both side of the court, one in the right and one in the left, and his head began to hurt.
Fortunately, Secretary Jin was always by his side when he turned his head.
“Your Excellency?” Secretary Jin saw that Tao Mo was reticent. He just opened his eyes wide and stared at Secretary Jin, which inevitably made Secretary Jin frightened.
The storm of ‘The Ruo River is three thousand li long, one only drinks one ladle worth of water from it’ has not yet subsided and now, does he want to be convicted for the crime of ‘Exchanging flirtatious glances at the Law Court?’ When Secretary Jin thought about this, he turned a blind eye and slightly raised his voice: “Your Excellency!”
Tao Mo was shocked, so he immediately looked away.
One in the left and one in the right, both litigants were looking at him with ridicule.