Author: Su Youbing
When Hao Guozi received the gatekeeper’s report that Gu She was outside, he almost fell out of his chair.
“Gu She? Are you sure it’s Gu She?” He opened his eyes wide.
The gatekeeper was shocked by his reaction and thought that his Master had done something unforgiveable to Gu She, so he cowered as he replied: “This servant has been a gatekeeper for several years. I’m certain, it is, indeed, Gu She.” He paused for a moment and realized he was like getting paid to save someone from disaster, then he continued to say, “The county’s yamen has a backdoor. If you walk out from there and turn into an alley, you’ll reach the West Main Street. You can let Master leave from there.”
Hao Guozi foolishly asked: “Leave to where?”
“Wherever you want to go, you can go. I know that based on that Gu She’s personality, he wouldn’t pester you. If Master isn’t around, he will eventually leave.” The gatekeeper devoted himself to advise his Master. Although he and Hao Guozi were not thinking the same thing, they still had the same intention.
Listening to him, Hao Guozi was a little bit moved. He then reconsidered and thought to himself: Young Master’s so concerned with Gu She. If he finds out that he himself had shunned Gu She, I’m afraid Young Master will be sulking. Although Young Master said that it won’t affect him, he just recovered from a serious illness. In case this matter makes him depressed, then it will be my big mistake.
While Hao Guozi was irresolute about this, he caught sight of a young chap in fine clothing, who passed through the arch door and walked toward his side.
“Who are you?” Hao Guozi jumped out.
The young chap in fine clothing raised his eyebrows, “Gu She.”
“You’re that Gu She?” Hao Guozi was shocked and could not help but look at Gu She carefully. Gu She was really good-looking and more graceful than those other chaps at Qun Xiang Lou, which added Hao Guozi’s anxiety for his Young Master. In the past, because of Young Master Yi Yu, his Young Master had ended up in such a sorry state. Now, he did not know what kind of trouble this Gu She, who in just one look was clearly a hundred times more powerful than Young Master Yi Yu, would make.
Gu She was used to being sized up by others from an early age, so he did not feel strange. He looked around and asked: “Where’s Tao Mo?”
“He’s listening to Secretary Jin’s teachings right now.” Hao Guozi answered subconsciously.
Hao Guozi was about to answer again, but he was immediately alerted so he responded, “Why should I tell you?”
Gu She narrowed his eyes.
Hao Guozi felt a sudden chill, yet he said brazenly: “When Young Master’s studying, no one can disturb him. If you have any matters with him, you can relay the message to me.”
“Studying?” Gu She’s eye were drifting away. No one could tell what was in his mind.
Hao Guozi was inwardly not happy. He himself was a grown man, how could Gu She just ignore him? Moreover, they were still talking right now!
“Let him come here.” Gu She said and started to enter the study where Hao Guozi was staying in. He found a seat where he could bask in the sunlight and sat down leisurely.
Hao Guozi looked at him with amazement. From childhood until today, it was his first time seeing such a spontaneous person who enters into another’s residence as if it was his own family’s backyard.
“Serve the tea.” Gu She lightly tapped his index finger on the table.
“Yes.” The gatekeeper answered, turned around and ran off.
Hao Guozi wanted to shout at him, but when he thought about it, he felt that he was being too mean. In the end, he said: “Please wait here, I’ll go and report to our household’s Young Master.”
Gu She did not pay him any attention, as if he was meditating.
Hao Guozi turned around and ran off, not to look for Tao Mo as he said, but to look for Old Tao.
Old Tao was also surprised to hear that Gu She personally came. In the past few days, Old Tao had been intending to inquire about the situation in Tan Yang County, and he had a general understanding about this disciple of Mr. Yi Chui. He knew that Gu She usually did not like to deal with others and would only occasionally entertain his fellow disciples and brothers. Old Tao also knew that Gu She was proud and more talented than others, to the point that he had already obtained Mr. Yi Chui’s legacy. Although he never became an official, when his fellow disciples would encounter a difficult lawsuit, they all liked to consult with him and never returned without success. Since this kind of person actually came by with his own initiative, how could it not make Old Tao think about this matter over and still be confused?
“What did he say?”
“He said he was looking for Young Master.” Hao Guozi hesitated. In the end, he still told Old Tao about him being asked by Tao Mo to go to Gu She’s residence to relay a message.
Old Tao frowned and said: “Young Master really wants to associate himself with him.”
Hao Guozi whispered: “That Gu She’s looks are really good.”
Old Tao gave him a look, “Don’t talk nonsense!”
“Just go and report this matter to Young Master.”
“…yes.” When Hao Guozi was about to leave, he was stopped by Old Tao.
“In the future, you don’t need to ask me about this kind of matter. Just tell it to the Young Master directly.” Old Tao paused and looked at Hao Guozi with a profound meaning, “Don’t forget, Young Master is the actual master of this household.”
Hao Guozi quivered. Just thinking about Old Tao’s eyes was like being splashed in the face with cold water. He then hurriedly left.
Tao Mo was so dizzy when he listened to Secretary Jin’s teachings. When he heard of Gu She’s arrival, he straightened his back and rushed out.
About five or six steps outside the door, he felt that he was being too impolite, so he hurried back to Secretary Jin, who was leisurely writing a letter, then said: “Teacher, you said it quite well. This student benefited from it.” After he said this, he bowed sincerely, then slipped away again.
Seeing him bow shocked Secretary Jin, and just when he was about to return the bow, he was left awkwardly stiff on the spot.
Hao Guozi, who was standing to the side, tried to ease the atmosphere by saying: “Revered Master, I hope you don’t feel offended. In the past, Young Master also didn’t like studying, but he did well in respecting his teacher and his teachings.”
Secretary Jin hurriedly said: “I dare not. Humble me is a mere private adviser, who was invited back as a secretary and to occasionally read books. These two words ‘teacher’ and ‘teachings,’ I’m ashamed and dare not accept the honor of.” However, Tao Mo’s manners just now slightly reversed Secretary Jin’s previous views on him. Therefore, he could fathom that this Master was not acting dumb, truly naive, and also dared not to meddle in the affairs of the county’s yamen, and at most, would receive his salary, take down notes, and grow old.
However, what Secretary Jin thought was not what Tao Mo cared about.
Now, he was wholeheartedly thinking about Gu She. He forged ahead at lightning speed, and until he charged into the study, he was still unable to stop. He forcibly rushed out many times and it took him four to five times before he could stop, then he awkwardly turned to look at Gu She, who was sitting by the window.
“Young, Young Master Gu…you came?” Tao Mo gasped. With his brows raised in delight and eyes laughing, he called out to Gu She.
Gu She pointed the teacup on the table. His words were laced with disgust, “Bad tea.”
Tao Mo’s face was red. He hastily moved the teacup elsewhere then asked, “Shall I pour you another cup?”
It was but a simple word, yet it had made Tao Mo’s complexion redder, “Brew? …boil?”
Gu She was still speechless.
Tao Mo knew nothing about tea ceremony, so he said: “How about this, which tea would you like to drink? I’ll go buy and bring it back.”
“Why did you break the appointment?” Gu She changed the topic.
“There was a lawsuit yesterday, I need to rule the court.” Under Gu She’s gaze, Tao Mo’s momentum greatly weakened, yet he still said: “As the local magistrate, I should naturally prioritize the people’s problems more.”
Gu She continued to stare at him.
Being stared at made Tao Mo feel his body temperature rise, then his palm began to sweat.
Gu She said: “The matter you’d like to consult, does it have any relation with yesterday’s case?”
As a matter of fact, Tao Mo did not think about what to consult, so upon hearing Gu She’s words, he hurriedly nodded.
Gu She asked: “If that’s the case, who gave you pointers afterwards?”
“No one gave me pointers.” Tao Mo was somewhat nervous, so he asked, “But do you think I failed the trial?”
Gu She slightly pursed his lips.
Tao Mo’s heart jumped in disorder, “I know that I’m illiterate and only know a bit about the law, but I sincerely want to become a good official. If you think I’m not doing well in the trial, I’m willing to invite Mrs. Liao and Wang Pengcheng back for a retrial.” Gu She was reticent and this made Tao Mo even more fidgety, “Should I have not flogged him? I just couldn’t hold myself back. Or how about I invite him back and let him flog me back?”
Gu She saw that Tao Mo was so anxious that his eyes were fretting, so he said, “This is just a small case. Next time, if you have any problems, you can come and ask me.”
Tao Mo was relieved and his eyes could not help but reveal a tint of anticipation. However, when he saw Gu She get up and walk toward the outside, he hurriedly ask: “Are you leaving already?”
Gu She turned around with a cold look on his face, “Is there something the matter?”
“If you’re all right with it, how about if you stay and have a meal with me?” Tao Mo asked shyly.
From the corners of Gu She’s eyes, he looked at that cup of tea that he resolutely disliked.
Tao Mo immediately became listless.
From the county’s yamen, back to his own residence, Gu She spontaneously entered his study.
Gu Xiaojia was packing up. When Gu She came in, Gu Xiaojia picked up a piece of paper and asked, “Young Master, do you want to keep this?”
Gu She reached out and took it. There were four words written on it: Mother and Son’s Deep Affection.
Gu Xiaojia looked at Gu She, who looked as if he was absorbed in his own thoughts, then obediently stood aside.
After a while, Gu She slowly tore the paper and threw it to him.
Gu Xiaojia curiously asked: “Which litigant did you originally write this paper for?” He knew that their household’s Young Master often gave advises and suggestions to his fellow disciples.
Gu She lazily shot a glance at him.
Gu Xiaojia stuck out his tongue and dared not to ask again.