Author: Su Youbing
In fact, Secretary Jin was also quite shocked at the moment.
He finally understood why Tao Mo particularly tolerated him. From the time that man stood up, he realized that his real purpose was to provoke Tao Mo. It may have been the case that he used himself as bait, and made a trap, awaiting Tao Mo to jump down into. It must be known that in Tan Yang County where litigants gathered, as long as the county magistrate had a few mistakes, there would absolutely be an endless stream of condemnation in speech and in writing. The reason why these county magistrates had been transferred, dismissed from the office, or even got their lives cut short, was that they could not afford this. He did not expect that Tao Mo had already prepared from the start. Using a four-liangs-deflect-thousand-jins  trick to turn things around, it was enough to let that man’s schemes go down the drain.
( A proverb that means “to solve a big issue with little effort.”)
Thinking of this, Secretary Jin gazed at Tao Mo with much complexity.
Secretary Jin did not expect that despite Tao Mo’s young age, his mind and vision had already reached this point. If given the time, it was very likely that the time when he marches through officialdom unhindered and rise rapidly in the world would be just around the corner.
How could Tao Mo know that in just a short time, Secretary Jin had already thought so far ahead? At the moment, he only had one thought in mind — and that was… was it true that Miss Tong really died from injustice? If she really died from injustice, why was there the least bit of rumor at the Tong’s residence? All parents’ hearts are dedicated to their children, how could Mr. & Mrs. Tong hound their daughter to death?
When Tao Mo came down from the court, this question kept on running around his mind. Hao Guozi even called him, but he never heard it.
“Young Master!” Hao Guozi finally pulled him before he hit a pillar. He wanted to scold him, yet he laughed instead, “Young Master, what were you thinking to be so lost in thought?”
Tao Mo regained his composure and replied, “I’m thinking about that Miss Tong.”
Hao Guozi was happy at first, “Young Master likes women now?” Then he immediately became sad, “But that woman’s already dead.”
Tao Mo replied: “I don’t have such inordinate ambitions toward her.”
“Even if you have, it’s too late.” Hao Guozi said, “But for you to like a woman, it’s always a fine thing indeed. Tan Yang County’s so big, there are many women who haven’t married yet. Young Master, you should look more, maybe there will be someone whom you’ll take fancy to.”
“Nonsense! How could you think of seeing women in their boudoir?” Old Tao berated. He had just heard from Secretary Jin about the things that happened in the court. Worried that Tao Mo would be overwhelmed with grief because he suffered from injustice for no reason, he immediately came over, “Go back and prepare the breakfast.”
Hao Guozi stuck his tongue out and ran away.
Old Tao said to Tao Mo: “We don’t know where that man came from, you don’t have to worry about it, Young Master.”
Tao Mo replied: “Since that man actually dared to go to the court, he must be telling the truth. That Miss Tong may have really died of injustice.”
Old Tao said: “Parents and children are kindred in this world. If that Miss Tong really died of injustice, they’ll definitely make a fuss for her. How can a strange man come roaring at the court?” In fact, he was somewhat dissatisfied that Tao Mo allowed that man to leave, but that was already the case, and it was not good to say more.
Tao Mo shook his head and said: “If what that man said was true that her parents might have joined hands to force her to die, then it could explain why they’re not making a fuss over her unjust death.”
Old Tao replied: “But Official Clerk Cui and the coroner had examined the corpse. There was nothing suspicious.”
Tao Mo thought for a moment, then said: “I might as well as personally take a trip to the Tongs.”
Old Tao was surprised, “Young Master, what do you want to do there?”
“Of course, I’m going there to inquire about the incident.” Tao Mo responded as a matter of course, “As Tan Yang’s county magistrate, I must personally deal with every case, and not let even a bit of careless omission get in the way.”
Old Tao frowned and said: “You shouldn’t.”
Tao Mo wondered and asked: “Why shouldn’t I?”
Old Tao replied: “Since we have dispatched Official Clerk Cui to investigate the case before and have concluded that she committed suicide, if we’re going to revoke the case decision hastily without evidence now, I fear that this would lead to the Tongs’ discontentment.”
“Then, we’re utterly helpless.” Tao Mo said, “Surely we can’t let Miss Tong suffer a grievous wrong with no hope of vengeance.”
“But the Tongs and Mr. Yi Chui have a relationship by marriage.”
Old Tao was forced to clarify what he had said, “Firstly, the Tongs and Mr. Yi Chui’s wife both had set their minds on the fact that Miss Tong committed suicide by hanging herself. Secondly, Miss Tong died unmarried, yet a man came to beat the drum for her. If this rumor goes out, it would damage Miss Tong’s name as an unmarried woman.”
Tao Mo suddenly came to his senses and said: “Oh no, I forgot to ask the man what’s his relationship with Miss Tong.”
Old Tao said: “If you want to know, it’s not difficult. Miss Tong’s case had created an uproar, but the man just came today to beat the drum, which means he isn’t a native. Perhaps, he rushed over from a different part of the country after he obtained the news. Young Master, as long as you dispatch someone to the city inns to inquire about him, more often than not, you’d be able to find him.”
“Fine, I’ll go right now.” Tao Mo hurriedly took a few steps, then turned about and asked, “How do I dispatch someone?”
Old Tao sighed: “Young Master, if you want to do something, hand it over to Secretary Jin and let him do it.”
“All right.” Like a streak of smoke, Tao Mo ran away.
Old Tao thought about it for a moment, but he was not at ease at all. He followed Tao Mo from behind and together, they went to Secretary Jin’s study.
Secretary Jin was helping Tao Mo manage the affairs of the county’s yamen. To be precise, he was handling them on Tao Mo’s behalf. In fact, he was sorting them out, then one by one, he would report them to Tao Mo.
“Secretary Jin.” Tao Mo rushed in like a gust of wind.
“Your Excellency.” Secretary Jin had anticipated his appearance, so he put his pen aside and stood up leisurely.
“I want to dispatch you to help me find out that man’s identity.”
“Dispatch me?” Secretary Jin was dumbfounded. He said inwardly: Isn’t it that such task should be done by a county servant? Why do you want me to go?
Old Tao followed Tao Mo from behind. He walked in and said: “What Young Master meant is, he’s hoping that you could pass it on his behalf, Secretary Jin.”
“I see. All right, I’ll go right now.” Secretary Jin agreed to go, yet he still felt a little uncomfortable. This kind of errand should not be done by him. He did not know what this magistrate was thinking. Was it because he was glaring at him at the court today, so Tao Mo wanted to show him his authority?
Tao Mo said: “Oh, by the way, Secretary Jin, do you know if that Miss Tong was hounded to death or not?”
Secretary Jin’s foot had crossed the door sill when he heard him ask this question, so he was forced to take a step back and say: “This…I also don’t know.”
Tao Mo asked: “But, aren’t you the yamen’s secretary?”
Secretary Jin put on a fake smile and responded: “I’m the yamen’s secretary who deals with criminal cases, but not the God of law.” If he wanted to know if the other party was killed or committed suicide, then he did not need to work as a secretary here. He would directly work as a minister at the Imperial Court of Justice or at the Ministry of Justice.
Tao Mo sighed and asked: “Who knows then?”
Secretary Jin replied: “There’s definitely one person who knows it.”
Tao Mo’s eyes lit up, “Who?”
“Miss Tong.” Secretary Jin thought, since you wanted to make fun of me, then I’ll do the same to you.
Tao Mo suddenly clapped his hands and said, “That makes sense.” Before Secretary Jin could even respond, Tao Mo turned around and ran away again.
Secretary Jin looked blankly at Old Tao, “Did I say anything that makes sense?”
Old Tao smiled and replied: “Secretary Jin, you’re hiding a gully in your chest, how can a person like me be able to guess?”
Secretary Jin looked at his back as he departed, then asked himself aloud, “What gully did I hide?”
Tao Mo went out of the county’s yamen. He asked for directions as he ran toward Gu She’s mansion.
The hour of the Horse  had not arrived, yet he was conspicuously walking around the streets, dressed in his official robe, which attracted the passerby’s attention.
( Time between 11am and 1pm in the modern clock.)
Before he could even enter the Gu’s residence, the news about the new county magistrate looking for Gu She had spread widely in the streets and lanes.
Gu She heard of this as well.
While he was eating the porridge that was prepared by Gu Xiaojia, a servant reported that Tao Mo was looking for his house all over the streets.
“He finally came.” The corners of Gu She’s mouth slightly raised.
Gu Xiaojia asked with doubt: “Young Master, did you know beforehand that he was going to come over?”
Gu She replied: “To say that the Tongs incident is troublesome is not troublesome and to say that it’s not troublesome is somewhat troublesome. He’s a newcomer, of course he’s got no clue.”
Gu Xiaojia suddenly asked: “If that’s the case, that county magistrate’s here to consult with you, Young Master?”
Gu She only smiled and did not speak.
“Hmm, then I’ll go with the gatekeeper to greet him, but I can’t let him come in so easily.” Gu Xiaojia looked at Gu She’s face. Seeing that Gu She did not stop him, he rushed to the gate.
Who would have thought that he miscalculated Tao Mo’s steps. When he just arrived at the gate, Tao Mo had also arrived. On top of that, Tao Mo rushed over with a smile on his face, “I know you! Take me to see Gu She.”
Gu Xiaojia pouted and said: “You know me, but I don’t know you. Our household’s young master isn’t someone who you can see easily.”
Tao Mo was stupefied and said: “We met before, at the gate of the Lu’s residence.”
“Lu’s residence? Which Lu’s residence?” Gu Xiaojia pretended to be puzzled. “For someone like you who profess to be someone’s kin or friend, I’ve met a dozen of them every day. Who knows if it’s true or not?”
Tao Mo thought that he really did not remember him, so he responded: “Then, take me to see Gu She.”
“Visitation card?” Gu Xiaojia spread out his hand. In the end, he was the county magistrate, he also did not want to make too much trouble.
Tao Mo awkwardly replied: “I came in a hurry, I forgot to prepare it.”
Gu Xiaojia was secretly delighted. He deliberately opened his eyes wide and said: “Forgot to prepare? The thing is, our household rule is that you must present a visitation card before you can meet with our young master.” When he saw reluctance on Tao Mo’s face, he said with a mischievous smile, “Shall I help you prepare the four treasures of the study ?
( The essentials of calligraphy and scholarship — writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper. Gu Xiaojia knew that Tao Mo is illiterate, so he deliberately ridiculed him with this idiom.)
“No need.” Tao Mo took a step back, “I’ll come next time.” After saying that, he did not wait for Gu Xiaojia’s reaction and immediately ran away.
When he ran away, Gu Xiaojia was dumbfounded. That one was still waiting inside the residence. Although Gu She did not say anything earlier, even a blind man could see that he was looking forward for Tao Mo’s arrival.
When Tao Mo’s figure disappeared around the corner of the alley, Gu Xiaojia came back to his senses and quickly caught up to him, “Hey, wait!”