Jin Shiyue made a hand gesture to Tao Mo, signaling him to knock on the wooden block.

Tao Mo took it and struck it heavily. “Liu Bao, if you don’t speak the truth, then I have no choice but to…”

Jin Shiyue saw him pause and quickly mouthed the words “use torture.”

Tao Mo glanced at him but shook his head. “I can only revoke the previous ruling that ordered Yang Tianyuan to return the dowry. I will no longer interfere in your family affairs.”

Upon hearing this, Yang Liusi, Liu Bao, and Zou Qiong all exclaimed in unison, “Absolutely not!”

Tao Mo said, “I am the magistrate of Tanyang County, but I am not your puppet. If you have a valid reason, I will naturally assist you. But if you are hiding something and trying to exploit me for personal gain, I will never let you succeed. Think carefully about what you want to do.”

The courtroom fell silent.

Yang Liusi, Liu Bao, and Zou Qiong exchanged glances and various eye signals.

Zou Qiong suddenly whispered, “Sir, I am willing to bring my mother back.”

Yang Liusi curled her lip, seemingly reluctant to agree, but she remained silent.

Tao Mo shook his head. “Liu Bao has not explained the meaning of the words he said earlier.”

Liu Bao said, “I simply misspoke and did not mean…”

“Since you are unwilling to tell the truth, I can only retract the previous ruling,” Tao Mo picked up the wooden block, about to strike it when he noticed a familiar face in the crowd outside the courtroom. He gestured to Jin Shiyue.

Jin Shiyue asked, “Sir?”

“Is that person Yang Tianyuan?” Tao Mo said.

Jin Shiyue looked for a while and sighed, “Sir, I am getting old, my eyes are dim, and I can’t see clearly. If you want to confirm, it’s not difficult. Just summon him to the court.”

Tao Mo struck the wooden block and said, “Summon Yang Tianyuan to the court.”

Indeed, that person was Yang Tianyuan. He had specially rushed here upon hearing that the case would be retried. When he heard that the dowry ruling would be invalidated, he was overjoyed and eagerly knelt down in the court.

“Now that all four of you are present, speak clearly about the matter. If you don’t, I won’t force it. I will simply revoke the previous ruling,” Tao Mo said and waited patiently for their decision.

Liu Bao gritted his teeth and said, “Sir, the idea of claiming the dowry was suggested by my mother-in-law. She was afraid that Yang Tianyuan would take the dowry and marry another woman, so she instigated us to stage this act and file a complaint. She also said that if it succeeded, we should split half of the dowry with her.”

Yang Liusi trembled and remained silent, unable to speak.

Angered, Yang Tianyuan couldn’t help but curse, “Despicable woman!”

Tao Mo struck the wooden block, saying, “Do not use offensive language!”

Yang Tianyuan suppressed his anger but couldn’t help saying, “Sir, it’s not that I am greedy or lustful. I have my reasons for doing this. For over ten years, Yang Liusi has not given me a child, and the daughter I painstakingly raised is someone else’s. Since she married Liu Bao, she hasn’t spoken to me. Sir, tell me, how can I not plan for my future? Am I supposed to accept a childless fate after marrying her?”

Tao Mo hesitated, “This…”

Liu Bao saw Tao Mo wavering and quickly said, “Sir, please don’t be swayed by his words. The dowry originally belongs to the Zou family, and if he refuses to return it, he is simply robbing us.”

Yang Liusi also pleaded, “Sir, since I married into the Yang family, I have always been faithful and have not done anything wrong.”

Yang Tianyuan’s anger flared up even more, and he couldn’t help but burst out, “Despicable woman, what are you saying?!”

Tao Mo saw them in chaos, feeling a splitting headache. He struck the wooden block three times and said, “Silence!”

Yang Tianyuan and the others finally quieted down.

Tao Mo looked at Jin Shiyue.

Jin Shiyue also looked troubled.

In the courtroom, Gu Xiaojia gestured to him.

Tao Mo’s eyes lit up, and he cleared his throat. “I’ll leave for a moment, please wait.”

“Sir…” Jin Shiyue wanted to suggest temporarily adjourning the court, but Tao Mo had already vanished, leaving him to awkwardly smile at the four people still kneeling there.

In the back hall, Tao Mo anxiously asked, “Does Xianzhi have any ideas for resolving the case?”

Gu Xiaojia shook his head. “No. The Young Master said there’s braised pork that you like waiting for you at home. He wants you to come back early.”

“Ah?” Tao Mo was stunned.

Gu Xiaojia said, “When will Madam Shao decide to return?”

Tao Mo thought for a moment and said, “First, let’s finish the case.”

Gu Xiaojia nodded. “Understood, I’ll go inform the Young Master.”

As Tao Mo watched Gu Xiaojia turn around and run off, he couldn’t help but call him back. Seeing Gu Xiaojia’s puzzled expression, he shyly asked, “Did Xianzhi really not say anything else?”

Gu Xiaojia earnestly replied, “If Madam wants to hear sweet words, you should ask the Young Master in person. He never asks me to relay such messages.”

Was this response better or worse? Better Worse Same

“No, it’s not,” Tao Mo’s face grew even redder, waving his hand. “It’s nothing. You can go.”

Gu Xiaojia suddenly chuckled and took out a piece of paper from his pocket, placing it in Tao Mo’s hands. “Although Young Master doesn’t ask me to convey such words, he can ask me to deliver this message.”

A blush spread across Tao Mo’s face and reached his ears as he unfolded the paper. While reading, he realized it wasn’t a love message, only four words: Grant their requests.

Grant their requests?

Tao Mo returned to the courtroom, still thinking about those words.

Jin Shiyue hurriedly approached and asked, “What did Young Master Gu say?”

Tao Mo showed him the paper.

Jin Shiyue pondered for a moment. “Liu Bao and Zou Qiong are seeking the dowry.”

Tao Mo nodded.

Jin Shiyue continued, “Yang Tianyuan is seeking support in his old age and someone to take care of him after his death. And Yang Liusi…”

Tao Mo suddenly whispered, “Actually, what Yang Liusi is seeking is not different from what Yang Tianyuan wants.”

Jin Shiyue turned to look at him and saw a smile slowly appear on his face. “I know how to rule now.”

Tao Mo sat upright and said, “Let the court listen to the ruling.”

The four of them bowed their heads. The tension in their rigid bodies revealed their nervousness.

“The dowry originally belonged to the Zou family, so it should rightfully belong to Zou Qiong,” Tao Mo said. “Yang Tianyuan and Yang Liusi are a couple. The saying goes, ‘A couple is affectionate in the beginning.’ After being married for over ten years, how can you let material possessions damage your relationship? I order you to reconcile and avoid further conflicts.”

Yang Tianyuan moved as if he disagreed.

“Furthermore,” Tao Mo continued, “filial piety is the duty of children to support their parents. Even though Yang Tianyuan is not Zou Qiong’s biological father, he is her stepfather, and he deserves gratitude for raising her. From now on, you must give thirty percent of your monthly income to Yang Tianyuan and Yang Liusi to support the elderly, fulfilling your filial duties as children.”

Liu Bao and Zou Qiong hurriedly stood up, wanting to say something, but Tao Mo slammed the wooden block and shouted, “Court adjourned!”

After leaving the courtroom, Tao Mo hurriedly changed clothes and rushed to the Gu residence.

It was already late, and lanterns were hanging both inside and outside the Gu residence, illuminating the way.

Tao Mo jogged to the hall and saw Gu She sitting behind a table full of delicacies, looking indifferent. His heart skipped a beat. He had taken a breath outside before entering. “I could smell the aroma of braised pork from afar. It’s so fragrant!” he said, looking at Gu She’s expression.

Gu She raised an eyebrow. “Oh? It’s fragrant?”

Tao Mo nodded. “Fragrant, fragrant, fragrant…” He walked up to the table, his smile suddenly freezing because there was no braised pork on the table.

Gu Xiaojia couldn’t help but laugh beside him.

Tao Mo scratched his head awkwardly. “I smelled it wrong. It’s actually braised tofu.”

Finally, a slight smile appeared on Gu She’s lips. “Sit down and have a meal.”

“Yes.” Tao Mo breathed a sigh of relief, picked up the chopsticks, and started eating eagerly. After a series of events today, he was truly hungry.

Gu She picked up several bites for him. He didn’t care what it was and accepted everything.

After finishing the meal, they usually played chess, but for a change, Gu She didn’t ask Gu Xiaojia to set up the chessboard. Instead, he took Tao Mo’s hand and led him to the bedroom for a bath.

After bathing, Gu She lay on the bed and beckoned to him with a crooked finger.

Tao Mo’s heart raced. Even though they had been married for quite some time, he still couldn’t help but feel dry-mouthed and tongue-tied in the face of Gu She’s allure. He sat on the bed, slowly lying down as Gu She gently covered him.

In fact, neither Gu She nor Tao Mo had much experience in this matter. They were just assuming ordinary positions, but every time Tao Mo felt a wonderful sense of beauty that words could hardly describe. Although he felt sore and tired afterward, he couldn’t help but look forward to the next time.

This time was no exception.

Afterward, Tao Mo reluctantly leaned against Gu She’s chest.

Gu She suddenly said, “We shouldn’t overindulge in this matter. You’re a man, after all, different from a woman. We have a long future ahead, so let’s take it slow.”

Tao Mo was stunned but soon detected the playfulness in his words. He felt embarrassed, shy, and moved all at once. He couldn’t help but lift his head and tentatively peck Gu She’s chin with his lips. He was naked and still had a lingering look of spring in his eyes. In Gu She’s eyes, this posture was nothing short of an inviting display of shyness.

Gu She’s eyes deepened, and he pressed his hand against Tao Mo’s shoulder, lowering his voice as he chuckled, “Occasional indulgence is also fine.”

The spring atmosphere in the tent grew stronger, but then they heard hurried footsteps outside. Hao Guozi called out, “Lord Tao has returned!”