Author: Su Youbing
Gu She raised his brows as if he was surprised by the outspoken manner of the blunt Tao Mo, then he relaxed, and looked at Master Tong’s black and white face with great interest.
Master Tong seemed to feel that Gu She was gazing at him. He could only say a word after a long time: “Your Excellency, you must be joking. My daughter never got married.”
Tao Mo replied, “That man said he’s called Cai Fengyuan.”
Master Tong’s brows knitted. “What Cai Fengyuan, Ruo Fengyuan. I’ve never heard of this name. Rumors couldn’t be easily trusted. Your Excellency, as a parental official, how could you echo the views of others and make no distinction between right and wrong?”
Tao Mo responded, “But that Cai Fengyuan spoke with extreme passion.”
“Passion?!” Master Tong’s eyes suddenly shone with a sharp glare. He instinctively lifted his palms up, yet he slowly grasped them into a fist and gently placed them on his thighs. He said with a deep voice, “Cai Fengyuan…this man destroyed my daughter’s reputation, has ulterior motives, and even asked for Your Excellency’s penetrating judgement.”
Tao Mo said, “But…”
“Your Excellency!” Master Tong shouted to stop him.
Tao Mo’s heart did not jump, but he stared at him with wide eyes.
Master Tong said, “Since that Cai Fengyuan made a solemn vow, let him come to my house to confront him!”
All of a sudden, one of the Tongs’ household’s servants ran in and reported, “Master, there’s someone called Cai Fengyuan outside who’s begging for an audience.”
Master Tong stared blankly, then he immediately suppressed his fury with great difficulty when he said, “Let him come in!”
Tao Mo looked at his complexion and faintly felt uneasy. He turned to look at Gu She; nevertheless, he was unperturbed.
As if he felt Tao Mo’s gaze, Gu She’s gaze faintly swept over to him. The uneasiness in Tao Mo’s heart suddenly disintegrated and turned into restlessness under his buttocks.
After a short while, the sound of footsteps finally came through from outside.
Tao Mo craned his neck and looked into the distance and it really was Cai Fengyuan.
At this moment, he was dressed in white clothes that drooped on the path and his footsteps were slightly ill at ease. He almost stumbled and fell when he strode through the doorstep.
Master Tong coldly snorted.
“I, Cai Fengyuan, sees Master Tong.” He cupped one of his fists in the other hand and made a deep bow.
Master Tong sat on a bench in the hall motionlessly. “Young Master Cai is modest. This old me and you have never met before. How could I accept such grand greetings?”
Cai Fengyuan trembled. He said after a long time, “I came to beg for forgiveness for my sins.”
“What sins do you have?” Master Tong’s tone was stiff.
Cai Fengyuan knelt down with a flop on the ground. “I haven’t gone through the Three Letters and Six Etiquettes ceremony, yet…yet I pledge to marry Miss Tong without her parents’ consent…” After saying that, he was red in the face and could not speak. Tao Mo could not bear with it, so he chimed in with him, “He and Miss Tong are each other’s sunshine.”
Master Tong swept his gaze over to him.
Tao Mo was discouraged and dared not say more.
Cai Fengyuan suddenly bent over on the ground, crying, “Yes, I hurt Yinghong, I did Yinghong wrong!”
Master Tong was livid and his arms were slightly shaking. The fists that were on his legs loosened and tightened, then tightened and loosened. It took quite a while before he could say the line, “You…this scoundrel!”
Tao Mo wanted to speak, but he dared not to look at him, so he had to look at Gu She for help.
Gu She lazily spoke, “There’s a misunderstanding here.”
“Misunderstanding?” Master Tong suddenly grabbed the tea cup at hand and threw it toward Cai Fengyuan’s head.
The teacup brushed past Cai Fengyuan’s cheek, and the hot tea splashed on the left side of his face, making his whole body tremble.
“If it’s a misunderstanding, how did Yinghong’s two-month pregnancy come?!” Master Tong’s hatred finally broke through the solid ice and with the ice shards, he shot Cai Fengyuan who felt too ashamed to show his face.
Tao Mo reacted after a long time, “Pregnancy?”
“You did a great job!” Master Tong did not work off his anger. He banged the table, then he rushed to the dazed Cai Fengyuan, and raised one foot.
“Keep your foot away from that man!” With great alarm, Tao Mo dashed over.
Cai Fengyuan only felt a cold wind blow on the top of his head. When he looked up again, Tao Mo was holding down Master Tong and both of them fell to the left side. “Master…Tong?” He helplessly looked at Tao Mo.
Tao Mo struggled to get up.
“Don’t move!” Master Tong almost broke his bones from the fall and now as he talked, it felt as though there was blood in his throat.
Tao Mo instantly did not dare to move again.
Master Tong took a deep breath and said, “Get up.”
Tao Mo attempted to get up again.
“Don’t move!” Master Tong suddenly shouted loudly again.
Tao Mo perspired as he came down.
Master Tong said again, “Hurry, get up.”
Tao Mo carefully moved up.
“Don’t…move!” Master Tong’s voice began to weaken.
This time, Tao Mo was prepared. He quickly came down again and remained still.
Master Tong took a deep breath and slowly said, “Get up, but don’t press my waist.”
“…Oh.” Tao Mo measured both their postures with his eyes and eventually, they rolled over. He flipped over with Master Tong and stayed underneath him.
Master Tong heaved a long sigh of relief and felt alive again. He saw a hand stretched out next to him and unexpectedly took it. He took the opportunity and made use of that person’s strength to stand up. “Many thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” The other party clearly felt extremely flattered.
Master Tong suddenly shook off the person’s hand. He turned and stretched out his hand, slapping the person in the face.
The crackling sound was so fierce that it shook the entire hall.
Tao Mo slowly got up and whispered, “Master Tong, calm down.”
Master Tong looked away with indignation.
Tao Mo tried to stand upright and said, “Everything can be settled through discussion. No need to resort to violence.”
“Can be settled through discussion?” Master Tong clenched his teeth and sneered. “My daughter’s dead, how could I afford to discuss? If he was willing to visit and seek a marriage alliance, definitely, my family wouldn’t have the fate of seeing our daughter die before ourselves. Have pity for my thirty-year-old daughter, whom we’ve loved dearly like a treasure, but ended up old and left no successor! This is all caused by him!”
Cai Fengyuan stammered with half a swollen face, “I only wanted to succeed in the imperial examination someday and marry Yinghong in style.”
“In style?” Master Tong turned and glared at him fiercely. “You spoke of marrying her in style, so for your sake, she should feign to be pungent to scare away those who came to ask for her hand in marriage? Or would she rather induce an abortion and refuse to reveal your identity?!”
Cai Fengyuan’s neck was almost sunk into his shoulders. “I…I don’t know…”
“I don’t know?” Master Tong stretched out his finger and jabbed the tip of his nose. “This ‘I don’t know’ line ruined and put Yinghong’s life in vain. Do you know how much Yinghong had sacrifice for you? Even though it’s…she also never blamed you for anything!”
Cai Fengyuan’s eyes were open wide, yet he had no tears left to shed.
Tao Mo went to Gu She’s side and quietly asked, “Now, how good am I?”
Gu She said leisurely, “Your Excellency, you handled it quite well.”
“Did I?” Tao Mo’s eyes were shining.
“Very heroic.” Gu She was referring to him, pouncing on Master Tong.
Tao Mo shyly said, “As the country magistrate, this is my duty.”
“Your Excellency!” Master Tong suddenly shouted.
Tao Mo’s shoulders shrank and asked at a loss, “What’s the matter?”
Master Tong was shaking in anger. “I want to sue him! I want to sue Cai Fengyuan!”
Cai Fengyuan stood still, as if he used up and lost his mind.
Tao Mo looked at him, then he looked again at Master Tong and whispered, “Master, for what reason do you want to sue him? Sue…sue him for committing adultery?”
Master Tong suddenly trembled and his reddish complexion suddenly paled.
Tao Mo’s heart was unable to bear with it. “In fact, this matter…”
“Stop it!” Master Tong vented out his fury and waved at Cai Fengyuan. “You, get lost! I don’t want to see you again. From now on, you’re not allowed to step into Tan Yang County again. I don’t want to hear any groundless talk that could harm Yinghong’s unblemished reputation.”
Cai Fengyuan’s eyes were expressionless and it seemed like he did understand it.
“Master!” A cry came from outside. “But that scoundrel came to visit.”
When that person had hardly finished speaking, a haggard looking woman came in. She looked around the hall. When her gaze fell upon that Cai Fengyuan, she rushed up to him and shouted, “It was you…it was you who killed Yinghong?!”
“My wife.” Master Tong’s tears fell and seized his wife by the waist from behind.
“It was him who killed Yinghong…it was him who killed Yinghong…” Madam Tong made threatening gestures and desperately charged at Cai Fengyuan.
Cai Fengyuan foolishly said, “It was me…it was me…”
“Cai Fengyuan.” Tao Mo worriedly took a step forward.
Cai Fengyuan suddenly bent on his knees toward Master and Madam Tong, kowtowed three times, and left without a word.
Tao Mo was surprised and chased after him.
However, Cai Fengyuan was frantic at the moment. His speed was fast, even faster than a flying fireball.
Tao Mo chased after him until he reached the residence’s entrance, but he had already disappeared without a trace. Tao Mo quickly asked Gu Xiaojia, who was guarding at the entrance.
Gu Xiaojia pointed to the east and before he could even speak, Tao Mo had already dashed away.
At loss, Gu Xiaojia looked at Gu She who followed suit and asked, “Young Master, what happened?”
Gu She sneered and said, “Appropriate retribution.”