Author: Su Youbing
Mr. Yichui and Secretary Jin praised him secretly in their minds: Impressive!
From other’s perspective, Tao Mo’s remark was quite abrupt. No matter how deep his friendship with Gu She was, it was fraying around the edges. How could Gu She make a final decision for a great event in his life? However, if one goes deep in their thoughts about it, this did not mean that he regarded Gu She as a bosom friend, and how could he even dare entrust his own marriage by means of a brief remark? Moreover, Gu She was Mr. Yichui’s outstanding disciple. Whether this Miss Tong person was more or less good or bad as what rumors say, this matter was certainly entrusted to him. There were also parts that needs to be questioned.
If one would think about it carefully, this seemingly unintentional remark actually had various benefits since he did not offend Mrs. Yichui by refusing her, nor did he give a word of consent and behave frivolously.
On the contrary, Mrs. Yichui was nothing like what they had speculated. She suddenly shifted her bright and charming gaze at Gu She, and in it her real intention was, nevertheless, self-evident.
Gu She looked sideways and saw two pairs of eager eyes looking at him. At the sight of this, he said indifferently: “You can consider it, too.”
Tao Mo was dumbfounded. Obviously, he thought that Gu She would turn the offer down politely in his behalf. Because of this, he could not help but reveal a little disappointment on his face.
Mrs. Yichui quickly said: “Don’t listen to She’er’s nonsense. He’s always like that, leaving some leeway in his speech. My niece’s appearance and personality are completely hard to come by. If it weren’t for Your Excellency Tao’s striking appearance, I’m even more unwilling to pull this string.”
Of course, her remark could only deceive the newcomer, Tao Mo. As for the local tyrant, Secretary Jin, he had long heard of her niece’s ‘stained achievement’ and what she called ‘unwilling’ was perhaps the other party’s unwillingness.
At first, Tao Mo wanted to refuse on the grounds of mourning for his deceased father. On second thought, he recalled Old Tao say that they could not let this matter out. He inwardly felt anxious, then he hesitantly answered: “This isn’t an urgent matter.”
“How can it not be urgent? If you two will get married one day later, she’ll have one day less to have fun painting her eyebrows.” Mrs. Yichui added, “How about leaving your Eight Characters  first? I’ll give them to the temple for matching. If it matches, you can give consideration to send the betrothal gifts in advance.”
( One’s birth data for astrological purposes, combined from year, month, day, hour, heavenly trunk and earthly branch.)
Tao Mo was taken aback. Somehow, this matter unexpectedly developed to the conclusion of a marriage.
Secretary Jin saw his Master’s dumbstruck look. Eventually, he could not bear it, so he started talking: “This is only the end of the year and Master has just taken the post. The county’s yamen is quite busy as of the moment. I’m afraid we won’t have free time for a while. Why not reconsider waiting ‘til next spring when spring’s in the air and hundreds of flowers are contending?”
“How come the county’s yamen has so many matters to work on?” She stared at Mr. Yichui, “Did you secretly cause trouble again?”
How would Mr. Yichui know that he had asked for trouble just by drinking tea. He quickly smiled obsequiously and said: “My brilliant wife, in the past few days this husband has followed you closely everywhere, every day, in and out. When did I have the leisure time attending to any hearing at the law court of the county’s yamen?”
Mrs. Yichui laughed grimly and responded: “You’re well-behaved, but who knows if your disciples and apprentices are well-behaved or not.”
Mr. Yichui glanced to Gu She, who sat indifferently at the side with a look on his face as if this matter was of no concern to him. Then Mr. Yichui said: “I’m not aware of this matter. Fortunately, there’s a disciple here. You can personally ask him.”
Mrs. Yichui stared at Gu She.
Before Gu She could reply, Tao Mo already rushed to say: “He never came to the court to cause any trouble.”
“I know he won’t go there.” Mrs. Yichui answered, “He’s notorious for not attending the court, but don’t just look at his sincere, kind and naive face. In fact, he’s got many evil tricks up to his sleeves.”
Secretary Jin almost sprayed the tea in his mouth. Gu She’s face is sincere, kind, and naive?
Mr. Yichui, who was drawn away as the source of trouble without a hitch, felt very relieved. He chimed in: “Yes, yes, yes. However, I can’t compare to him.”
Mrs. Yichui said: “That’s because you’ve been shrewish for decades.”
Mr. Yichui laughed dryly.
Finally, Gu She opened his mouth and said: “Farmlands are to farmers. Hunted beasts are to hunters. Spilled water is to a shrewish man . So, what is the wife of a shrewish man called?”
( 泼 as an adjective means “shrewish.” The Chinese characters for “spilled water” is 泼水 which contained the character for shrewish.)
Mrs. Yichui raised her eyebrows: “Are you brave enough to say I’m shrewish?”
Gu She answered her: “I didn’t say that.”
Tao Mo chimed in and whispered: “Indeed, he didn’t say that.”
Mrs. Yichui turned around and glared at Mr. Yichui, “Say something!”
Mr. Yichui hastily asked for forgiveness: “It’s all my fault. It’s me who spilled too much water that my wife got involved.”
Mrs. Yichui was in a good mood again, so she laughed. After that, she turned her head, extended her finger, and poked Tao Mo’s forehead , “If you get along with She’er more, you better be careful because before you know it, he might kidnap and sell you.”
( For real? They’re not even that close. (｀_´))
Tao Mo chuckled and responded: “If he’s really willing to kidnap me, then I’ll let him kidnap me.”
Mrs. Yichui was taken aback by his foolish look.
Mr. Yichui gave a special profound glance at Gu She and said: “To be appreciated by the county magistrate is hard to come by. Don’t let others down.”
Gu She said indifferently: “Master, why did you give so much regard to these two words ‘let down?’”
Mrs. Yichui immediately swept away her unsatisfied gaze.
Mr. Yichui stared at him resolutely, and hastily showed the most elated smile at Mrs. Yichui, “My wife, the sun has started to set. Why don’t we go back to our room?”
Mrs. Yichui reluctantly looked at Tao Mo, “We still don’t know whether His Excellency Tao will come again or not.”
Mr. Yichui immediately glanced at Tao Mo with a pair of sharp and murderous eyes!
Tao Mo could only say: “I’ll…I’ll certainly come again.”
Mrs. Yichui felt pleased, then she said: “In that case, I’ll be at home, awaiting respectfully for Your Excellency after the Lantern Festival.”
Tao Mo looked at her leaning close to Mr. Yichui as they slowly left, but she did not even smile at all.
Secretary Jin consoled him: “Go back and discuss it again with Old Tao. Actually, Miss Tong…is also not bad.”
Tao Mo secretly glanced at Gu She. As if he was taking an oath, he said: “It’s better if I won’t get married.”
Secretary Jin was very surprised, “Why?” Originally, he thought that Tao Mo was discontented with Miss Tong’s intrepid reputation outside. Now, there seemed to be another reason.
Tao Mo looked at Gu She once again.
Secretary Jin rolled his eyes then said: “Could it be that you already have someone in your heart?” Of course, at this age, his interest in love should have started long time ago. “Since you have someone in your heart, you should’ve stated it clearly to Mrs. Yichui earlier, so you won’t make her rejoice too soon.”
Tao Mo’s cheeks slightly blushed. He smiled as if he was a bit intoxicated, “It’s not because I have anyone either.”
Secretary Jin inwardly said: Your smile clearly showed that you already have someone in your heart, but I don’t know which family the girl is from. You’re even too embarrassed to mention that person.
Gu She finished drinking his cup of tea and stood up lazily.
Tao Mo followed him to stand up. His eyes brimmed with reluctance to part with him, “Are you going to leave, too?”
Gu She replied: “Yes.”
“You’re going back home?”
“Do you have something on your mind?” A ray of brilliance flashed through Gu She’s eyes.
Tao Mo mustered his courage and responded: “I’d like to invite you for a meal. Will you honor me with your presence?”
Secretary Jin sighed. He had been very efficient and able but had never been invited for a meal!
“Is there something on your mind?” Gu She still insisted on these words.
Tao Mo racked his brain, yet he still shook his head.
Gu She wrinkled his eyebrows slightly. He seemed rather disappointed. He shook his head, turned around, and walked away.
Unexpectedly, Tao Mo followed him from behind and went out of the residence together with him.
Gu Xiaojia drove up in the carriage and casually blocked the main entrance.
Tao Mo watched Gu She get into his carriage. His heart was stirred. He blurted out: “Can you give me a ride?”
“Young Master!” Hao Guozi’s piercing voice could be heard from behind Gu She’s carriage.
Gu She put down the cord fabric with a wooden look on his face.
Gu Xiaojia cast him a sneering look and immediately drove away.
Before Hao Guozi could drive the carriage over, he had to wait until they left. At that time, he was still ranting about his resentment, “I wonder whose carriage it is. It’s so overbearing that the whole street’s occupied.”
Tao Mo went inside the carriage in a daze. Secretary Jin, who followed him from behind, seemed to be lost in his thoughts.
After the carriage had gone a long way, Secretary Jin asked Tao Mo: “Master, do you want to take Gu She in for your own use?”
At first, he thought that Tao Mo wanted to treat Gu She as a pier to travel on Mr. Yichui’s boat, but it turned out he was more interested in Gu She than in Mr. Yichui. Is it possible that he’s fathomed that Mr. Yichui’s been idle for a long time and that Gu She’s actually the one who’s really in-charge of making the decisions in Yichui’s network now?
If this is true, then this new county magistrate’s truly too terrifying. Not only was his response top-notch, but his knowledge on judging other people is surprisingly incomparable, too. Fortunately, he’s a county magistrate and not a litigant; otherwise, he’d also have a headache.
Tao Mo was in a trance. He only heard the word “take in” then he jumped up and replied with his face blushing: “Receive ? When did I say I wanted to receive?”
( 收 or shou means “take in” or “to receive.”)
Secretary Jin looked at him with doubt.
Tao Mo’s voice gradually faded, “How could I ‘receive’ him.”
It seemed that there was still some self-knowledge. Secretary Jin nodded.
Soon afterwards, Hao Guozi sent Secretary Jin off back to his home. They went back to the county’s yamen without talking about it.
Early in the morning, mist covered the sky.
Tao Mo was sleeping soundly when he was startled by a knock on the door. With great difficulty, he came out from the quilt which wrapped around his body, then he got up to drape his clothes over his shoulders and open the door. He saw Hao Guozi with trembling legs and a face that looked like he had seen a ghost, “De…dead!”
Tao Mo quivered, “Who died?”
Hao Guozi was taken aback. It took him a long time to remember, “Tong’s residence, Miss Tong…hanged herself!”