Author: Su Youbing
When Old Tao found out that Tao Mo had returned from Gu She’s place, he immediately came to inquire.
Tao Mo thereupon told him everything that had happened today, one by one.
After Old Tao finished listening to him, he heaved a long sigh of relief, then he said, “Such outcome’s actually not bad at all.”
Tao Mo’s eyes opened wide, then he said, “Is two lives still not bad? Master Tong and Madam Tong saw their own child die before themselves. It can’t get any more tragic than this.”
Old Tao forced a smile, then he replied, “Young Master, what you said is right.”
Tao Mo thought for a moment and said, “But Gu She’s opinion is actually very much similar to yours.”
Old Tao asked, “Young Master, you’re praising me?”
At a loss, Tao Mo asked, “Praising you?”
“Gu She is Great Master Yichui’s outstanding disciple. His reputation in Tan Yang is noteworthy. Myself, having the same view as with him, won’t that be benefiting from his prestige?”
“In my heart, Old Tao‘s quite amazing, too.” Tao Mo said sincerely. Old Tao quietly did a lot of things. Even if he never said it, it did not mean that Tao Mo did not know. He actually knew more about the painstaking efforts that Old Tao had expended behind these things.
Old Tao‘s face revealed a gratified look. “These two cases are neither easy nor difficult and neither light nor heavy. Even if the whole truth will be revealed, you still need to be cautious when judging the case, Young Master. You must make sure to take into account the prestige of the Tongs’ residence.”
“Prestige?” Tao Mo was dumbfounded. Soon afterwards, he woke up to reality and said, “You can rest assured that I certainly won’t let the matter between Miss Tong and Cai Fengyuan spread out.” This matter had nothing to do with other people, so why should he let them gossip about it. He just went for a trip to Mr. Yichui’s residence, then rumors rose from all directions. If this matter really spreads out, would it not disturb Miss Tong underground and make her unable to get peace?
He muttered to himself irresolutely for a long time. Won’t it be better if I’ll deal with these two cases separately? Anyway, the outsiders don’t know the relationship between Cai Fengyuan and Miss Tong, and the Tongs’ residence will naturally cover up this matter and absolutely not spread it out.
He looked at Old Tao and was about to speak out what he had in mind, but then he thought better of his appointment with Gu She tomorrow, so he immediately swallowed it back and vaguely said, “This matter, I still have to consider it.”
Old Tao smiled and said: “Young Master, it’s natural that you’ll consider this matter slowly. I’ll go to the kitchen first and check on something.”
“All right.” After he left, Tao Mo secretly heaved a sigh of relief. He and Gu She did not have much to talk about. Perhaps, they could talk more about this matter.
He spent a night and half a day waiting for their appointment.
After high noon, Hao Guozi went back and forth between the entrance and the study.
By the hour of the Monkey , Tao Mo’s buttocks could not stand it anymore, so he stood by himself in the courtyard and gazed into the distance to the entrance.
( 申时 – period of the day from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in former times)
Hao Guozi saw him standing alone. Afraid that Tao Mo would get tired, he said, “I’m not certain as well when that Young Master Gu will come. Young Master, how about if you sit down in the courtyard, brew a pot of tea, and leisurely wait?”
“Leisurely wait? I’m terribly anxious. How can I be leisure?” Tao Mo scratched his head.
Upon seeing this, Hao Guozi continuously shook his head. “Young Master, you can’t be like this. If you’ll get taken advantage of by Young Master Gu later on, there’s no turning back.”
Tao Mo muttered, “But he’s smarter than me.”
“In spite of that, you mustn’t be so obvious.” Seeing that he was deaf to his words, Hao Guozi changed his wording and persuaded him by saying, “If you‘ll rely on Young Master Gu for every matter, he will think you’re boring, Young Master.”
“Boring? Will he?” Tao Mo became really worried.
Seeing that he was persuaded, Hao Guozi repeatedly nodded, then he responded, “Young Master Gu, that man‘s quite difficult to read.”
“But when I refuted him last time, he didn’t look happy.”
Hao Guozi’s eyes opened wide. “Young Master, you refuted him?”
Tao Mo was very upset. “I didn’t mean to do that.”
“Haha…” Hao Guozi stroked him palm and said, “Young Master, you did a great job. You can rest assured. Young Master Gu never shows his joy and anger. Even if he‘s in a cheerful mood, it‘s also difficult to read him.”
Irresolute, Tao Mo asked, “That was a cheerful mood?”
“Yes, a cheerful mood is a cheerful mood.” Hao Guozi said, “So be sure not to be polite to him, Young Master.”
Although Tao Mo felt something was wrong, he was unable to point out it was.
Hao Guozi turned and leapt back to the entrance again. “I‘ll go and take a look if he’s already here.”
Tao Mo still pondered over it for a moment, then he suddenly talked to himself, “He didn’t see Gu She’s expression at that time. How did he know that he was in a cheerful mood?”
After a short while, Hao Guozi came in leisurely.
In despair, Tao Mo asked, “Still hasn’t arrived yet?”
“No, he already arrived.” Hao Guozi was still very nonchalant when he responded.
Tao Mo was dumbfounded. He dashed off to go out at once, but he was stopped by Hao Guozi.
“What are you doing?” He was astonished so he asked.
Hao Guozi said, “Young Master, the last time I went to see him on your behalf, he put on airs for a long time. Now that he came right at the door, you mustn’t be too eager as well, Young Master.”
“But, I’m really very eager.” Tao Mo pried open Hao Guozi’s fingers with his hand and like a streak of smoke, he ran away and vanished.
Hao Guozi sighed, turned around, and followed after him at a slow pace. When he arrived at the entrance, he only saw that Gu She’s carriage as it pulled its shadow, with its wheels rapidly rolling as the carriage turned to leave.
“Young Master!” He shouted.
All of a sudden, a head popped out of the shaft of the carriage. Gu Xiaojia made a pig nose at him.
Hao Guozi stomped his feet with fury.
Tao Mo sat in the carriage, absentmindedly thinking of Hao Guozi’s words before. Since he got acquainted with Gu She, he rarely listened to Gu She’s words. Could it really be because he thought that Tao Mo was too boring so he was taciturn?
“What are you thinking about?” Gu She asked casually.
“You.” Tao Mo honestly replied.
Gu She raised his eyebrows, then he asked, “What specifically?”
Tao Mo replied, “I’m thinking…thinking about what I should say so I won’t be boring to you.”
Gu She slightly pursed his lips. “When did I ever say that you’re boring?”
Tao Mo’s eyes lit up.
Gu She followed it up indifferently, “But, I also never said that you’re interesting.”
At a loss, Tao Mo asked, “If that’s the case, in the end, am I interesting or boring?”
“Perhaps…” Gu She vaguely smiled. “…it’s between the two.”
Tao Mo appeared to be more at a loss.
Gu She changed the topic and asked, “How are you planning to close Cai Fengyuan’s case?”
Tao Mo responded, “Whether or not he died for love, he drowned himself in the pond. We can’t blame others for this.”
Gu She said, “He died a worthy death in the end.”
In Tao Mo’s mind, he was indecisive. He was wondering whether he should be “interesting” by refuting him or be “boring” by being reticent. He raised the curtain, looked at the scenery outside the window, and saw the street becoming more familiar. He could not help but ask, “We’re going to the Tongs’ residence?”
Gu She replied: “That’s right.”
Tao Mo probingly asked, “For Cai Fengyuan’s case?”
“Then…it’s for Miss Tong’s case?”
Gu She replied, “You can put it that way.”
When Tao Mo was about to ask another question, he was interrupted by Gu She, “Are you thirsty?”
“A little.” Tao Mo looked at him anxiously.
Gu She, however, did not pour him a cup of tea as what he had expected. “Such being the case, save some water.”
Save some water?
Throughout the journey, Tao Mo was bothered with this sentence. Not until the carriage arrived at the entrance of the Tongs’ residence, only then did it dawn on him that Gu She’s “save some water” was equivalent to “shut up,” so he could not help but blush.
Seeing that Tao Mo got off the carriage with a blushing face, Gu Xiaojia looked at Gu She with doubtful eyes. “Young Master, what did you…”
Gu She looked back at him indifferently.
“…never mind.” Gu Xiaojia turned around and went to knock on the door.
The gatekeeper of the Tongs’ residence was not surprised by their routine presence. After rushing in to make a report, he led them in.
When they were near the hall, they could see that there was a young woman sitting with the Tong couple.
Although the three sat facing one another, they were silent.
Gu She took the lead and strode to enter the door.
When the young woman saw him, her dignified look slightly toned down, then she nodded, and said, “Senior Brother Gu.”
As if awaken from his dream, Master Tong stood up and greeted, “Young Master Gu, Your Excellency Tao.”
Surprised, the young woman looked at Tao Mo and asked, “Could this person be the new county magistrate?”
Tao Mo replied, “Precisely.”
The young woman spoke, “I‘m Yang Chuiliu. My father‘s Yang Chuiyi.”
Seeing that Tao Mo did not respond, Gu She explained, “My teacher’s daughter.”
Tao Mo was surprised, so he asked, “You have another great teacher apart from Mr. Yichui?”
The young woman was dumbfounded. There was a smiling expression in her eyes. “My father’s surname is Yang and his given name is Chuiyi, but he’s better known as Mr. Yichui .”
( 杨垂一 or Yang Chuiyi is his real name but his sobriquet or assumed name is 一锤先生 or Mr. Yichui. Notice the difference between 垂 and 锤. These characters have the same pronunciation, but has different meaning.)
Tao Mo was ashamed and unable to show his face.
Gu She asked the young woman, “What brings you here?”
The young woman looked at Madam Tong. “I was about to ask my aunt for advice on a few matters.”
Madam Tong’s complexion turned pale.
Master Tong waved his hand and said, “These matters can be discussed later.”
The young woman responded, “It’s rare for my senior brother and His Excellency Tao to be present. Some matters are better explained clearly. What do you say? Aunt?”
Madam Tong did not respond.
Master Tong lowered his face and said, “I have to explain this matter later.”
The young woman narrowed her eyes. “Our Tan Yang County have always had rules. If there‘s an issue that can’t be clearly identified, it can be judged by the litigants. Otherwise, according to the law, it will be handed over to the local authorities.”
Hearing the two words “local authorities,” Tao Mo was faintly invigorated.