Gu She raised an eyebrow, seemingly surprised by Tao Mo’s frankness. He then relaxed his body and looked with interest at Mr. Tong’s uncertain expression.

Mr. Tong seemed to feel his gaze and after a long pause, he said, “You’re joking, sir. The young lady has never been married.”

Tao Mo replied, “That person said his name is Cai Fengyuan.”

Mr. Tong furrowed his brow. “Cai Fengyuan? I have never heard of such a person. Rumors cannot be easily believed. As an official, how can one blindly follow the crowd without distinguishing right from wrong?”

Tao Mo said, “But Cai Fengyuan spoke with great emotion.”

“Emotion?!” Mr. Tong’s eyes flashed with a cold light. His hand instinctively lifted, but slowly formed a fist and lightly rested on his thigh as he said in a low voice, “This Cai Fengyuan has defamed the reputation of the young lady and harbors malicious intentions. I hope you can see through it, sir.”

Tao Mo tried to say something, but Mr. Tong interrupted him.

Tao Mo’s heart skipped a beat as he stared at him.

Mr. Tong continued, “Since Cai Fengyuan is so confident, let him come to my house for a confrontation!”

A servant from the Tong residence suddenly ran in and said, “Master, there’s someone named Cai Fengyuan requesting an audience outside.”

Mr. Tong was taken aback but suppressed his anger and said, “Let him in!”

Tao Mo looked at Mr. Tong’s expression and felt a sense of unease. He turned to look at Gu She, who remained calm and composed.

As if sensing his gaze, Gu She’s gaze lightly swept over. Tao Mo’s unease instantly dissipated, replaced by a restless feeling in his seat.

After a while, footsteps finally came from outside.

Tao Mo craned his neck and indeed, it was Cai Fengyuan.

At this moment, he was dressed plainly, his head lowered, and his steps slightly awkward. He almost stumbled when crossing the threshold.

Mr. Tong sneered.

“Young Cai Fengyuan pays his respects to Mr. Tong.” He bowed deeply with clasped hands.

Mr. Tong sat high in the hall, motionless. “Young Master Cai, there is no need for such formalities. I have never met you before, so how can I accept such courtesy?”

Cai Fengyuan’s body trembled slightly. After a long while, he said, “I have come to beg for forgiveness.”

“What crime have you committed?” Mr. Tong’s tone was rigid.

Cai Fengyuan suddenly knelt down on the ground and cried out, “I violated the proper procedures and secretly made a lifelong commitment to Miss Tong…” He blushed and couldn’t continue speaking. Tao Mo, unable to bear it, interjected, “They are mutually in love.”

Mr. Tong’s gaze swept over.

Tao Mo’s face turned cold, and he dared not say anything more.

Cai Fengyuan suddenly fell to the ground, sobbing, “It’s my fault that Yinghong suffered, it’s all my fault!”

Mr. Tong’s face turned ashen, his arm trembling slightly. He loosened and clenched his fist on his thigh for a while before finally squeezing out a sentence. “You… you, scoundrel!”

Tao Mo wanted to speak but seeing his expression, he dared not and could only seek help from Gu She with his eyes.

Gu She lazily said, “Perhaps there’s a misunderstanding in all of this.”

“Misunderstanding?” Mr. Tong suddenly grabbed the teacup next to him and threw it at Cai Fengyuan’s head.

The teacup grazed Cai Fengyuan’s cheek and scalding tea splashed onto his left face, causing him to shudder.

“If it’s a misunderstanding, how did Yinghong become pregnant for two months!” Mr. Tong’s hatred finally broke through the ice, and his words hit Cai Fengyuan mercilessly.

Tao Mo suddenly realized, “Pregnant?”

“You did such a thing!” Mr. Tong, unable to vent his anger, stood up and kicked Cai Fengyuan.

“Stop!” Tao Mo exclaimed in shock and quickly rushed over.

Cai Fengyuan felt a cold gust of wind pass over his head. When he looked up, he saw Tao Mo holding down Mr. Tong as they both fell forward to the left. “Mr… Tong?” He looked at Tao Mo, at a loss.

Tao Mo struggled to remember.

“Don’t move!” Mr. Tong nearly had his bones shattered, and even speaking felt like there was blood in his throat.

Tao Mo dared not move.

Mr. Tong breathed heavily and slowly said, “Get up.”

Tao Mo struggled to get up.

“Don’t move!” Mr. Tong suddenly shouted.

Tao Mo broke into a sweat.

Mr. Tong said again, “Quick, get up.”

Tao Mo cautiously moved away.

“Don’t… move!” Mr. Tong’s voice began to weaken.

This time, Tao Mo was prepared and quickly became still.

Mr. Tong took a deep breath and slowly said, “Get up, but don’t put your hand on my waist.”

“Oh.” Tao Mo assessed their positions and finally rolled over and got up from Mr. Tong.

Mr. Tong finally breathed a sigh of relief, feeling alive again. He saw a hand reaching out beside him and instinctively grabbed it, using the support to stand up. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” The other person seemed pleasantly surprised.

Mr. Tong suddenly let go of his hand, turned around, and slapped him.

The crisp sound was sharp, resonating throughout the hall, making it feel suffocating.

Tao Mo slowly got up and whispered, “Mr. Tong, please calm down.”

Mr. Tong turned around angrily.

Tao Mo straightened his chest and said, “Let’s discuss things calmly and avoid resorting to violence.”

“Discuss calmly?” Mr. Tong sneered through clenched teeth. “My daughter is dead. What is there to discuss? If he had come to propose properly in the first place, my Tong family wouldn’t have ended up in such a tragic situation, where the living sends off the dead. I cherished my daughter for thirty years, treated her like a precious gem, but now I have no one to carry on the family line in my old age! It’s all because of him!”

Cai Fengyuan, with half of his face swollen, stammered, “I just wanted to achieve fame and marry Yinghong with grandeur someday.”

“Fame?” Mr. Tong turned around, glaring at him fiercely. “Is the fame you speak of Yinghong pretending to be fierce and scaring away those who came to propose? Or is it her choosing to have an abortion rather than reveal your name?!”

Cai Fengyuan’s neck almost disappeared into his shoulders. “I… I didn’t know…”

“You didn’t know?” Mr. Tong pointed his finger at Cai Fengyuan’s nose. “Just ’not knowing’ is enough to cost Yinghong her life for nothing? Do you know how much she sacrificed for you? Even… she never blamed you for a single thing!”

Cai Fengyuan’s eyes widened, but there were no tears left to shed.

Tao Mo moved closer to Gu She and whispered, “What should we do now?”

Gu She leisurely replied, “Mr. Tong is handling it well.”

“Really?” Tao Mo’s eyes sparkled.

“He is acting righteously.” He referred to his swift action.

Tao Mo blushed. “As a local official, it’s my duty.”

“Sir!” Mr. Tong suddenly shouted.

Tao Mo flinched, looking bewildered. “What’s wrong?”

Mr. Tong trembled with anger. “I will sue him! I will sue Cai Fengyuan!”

Cai Fengyuan stood still, appearing completely lost.

Tao Mo looked at him and then at Mr. Tong. He whispered, “What does the master want to sue for? Sue… for adultery?”

Mr. Tong’s body shook, his face turning from red to pale.

Tao Mo couldn’t bear it. “Actually, in this matter…”

“Enough! Enough!” Mr. Tong’s anger subsided. He waved his hand at Cai Fengyuan. “Leave! I don’t want to see you again. From now on, you are forbidden from setting foot in Tanyang County. I don’t want to hear any rumors tarnishing Yinghong’s reputation.”

Cai Fengyuan had a vacant look in his eyes, as if he heard but didn’t comprehend.

“Master!” Cries came from outside. “That scoundrel is here.”

Before the voice even faded, a weary-looking woman entered. Her gaze swept around the hall and landed directly on Cai Fengyuan. She immediately rushed forward, shouting, “It’s you! It’s you who killed Yinghong?!”

“Madam.” Mr. Tong shed tears, embracing the woman.

“It’s him! It’s him who killed Yinghong…” Madam Tong bared her teeth, desperately charging at Cai Fengyuan.

Cai Fengyuan blankly said, “It was me, it was me…”

“Cai Fengyuan.” Tao Mo approached with concern.

Cai Fengyuan suddenly knelt down and kowtowed three times to Mr. Tong and Madam Tong, then without saying a word, he ran outside.

Tao Mo was shocked and started to chase after him.

But at that moment, Cai Fengyuan was crazed, running faster than a shooting star.

Tao Mo reached the gate but couldn’t find any trace of him. He quickly asked Gu Xiaojia, who was guarding the entrance.

Gu Xiaojia pointed to the east but couldn’t speak before Tao Mo dashed off.

Gu Xiaojia looked confusedly at Gu She, who had followed, and said, “Young master, what happened?”

Gu She sneered, “Reaping what he sowed.”