'Everything always takes longer than you think it will'
Translated by Regina & Sunsa
LOVE IS MORE THAN A WORD
Chapter 1 [Part 2] - The Arrival of the New Magistrate
LOVE IS MORE THAN A WORD
Chapter 1 [Part 2] - The Arrival of the New Magistrate
Cold sweat started to build on Choi Jiu's back.
Ever since the old magistrate had become bedridden, he'd had control over the whole office and had access to anywhere he'd liked. Having gotten used to such a privilege, it'd completely slipped his mind that he had to alert anyone of his arrival, especially since he'd just rushed over.
Even worse, it didn't help that the apparently the guards by the gate had forgotten as well. He'd just been caught red-handed by the new lord, how horribly unlucky!
Dipping his head, his mind spun with a thousand thoughts.
In the end, he dropped down to his knees instead, "You are correct, my lord. My actions have been greatly disrespectful. Please forgive my thoughtlessness." he said.
Shocked by this stranger's action, Tao Mo was about to question the man's abrupt behaviour, but was distracted instead as he caught sight of Lao Tao and several more people walking in. "Lao Tao, where have you been, so early in the morning?"
Choi Jiu began feeling uneasy, seeing that Tao Mo had brushed him aside to tend to his follower. Here in Dang Yang, his reputation easily rivalled that of a magistrate who'd served for many years, and you could even say he had the city in the palm of his hand.
Every single newly appointed magistrate so far would go all out, flattering him, buttering him up, trying to get on his good side. Offending him was the same as making their lives hell. Yet, this time, this new guy dared to stay seated on his high horse. Fine, whatever you do, then I shall return it fifteen fold.
For a while, he stayed there on the ground, trying think up a way to recover his dignity.
Walking into the inner courtyard, Lao Tao was stunned to see a man kneeling in the middle of the hallway.
"Who is this?"
"The county bookkeeper, Choi Liu." Tao Mo replied instantly.
Choi Liu was so embarrassed he was started to get flustered. In all his years of being a book keeper, it was the first time he'd had to kneel for so long in front of others.
"Why is he on his knees?" Lao Tou asked, surprise colouring his voice.
With a shake of his head, Tao Mo replied honestly, "I don't know either."
Internally, Choi Liu let out a huff.
Even though he was aware there reason behind the man's odd actions, he couldn't just straight out ask for it right then, so instead he politely said, "Quick, help Choi Xiansheng to his feet."
Tao Mo turned to help the man. However, before his fingers could touch the kneeling man's arms, he had already stood up by himself. Seeing that he was no longer needed, Tao Mo turned toward the group of people behind Lao Tao and pointed at them. "Who are they?"
"New servants." Lao Tao replied, "the court also needs people to take care of it."
"Why so many?" Tao Mo asked sadly.
"It's too much work if we hire any less."
Tao Mo sighed, "I wonder when I can receive red money." 
Choi Liu started burning up inside upon hearing money being mentioned.
As according to the law, every year the palace gave out silver and red to celebrate the New year. However, as the former magistrate had died earlier this year, and Tao Mo had yet to be officially appointed, they'd gotten none of it. A few days ago he had asked at the Lin District's office of Finance and they'd told him the money had already been sent to them a while back. Obviously, since they had nothing, the silver had disappeared into someone else's pocket.
Lao Tao then abruptly lead the servants away, leaving Tao Mao and Choi Liu in the lurch.
After a moment, Tao Mo broke the silence, "Have you eaten anything yet?"
"I have, yes."
"Well, I haven't. Why don't we eat together?" Tao Mao asked, sighing.
Choi Liu's lip twitched, "but I've already eaten."
"Well what about lunch?" Tao Mo insisted.
Choi Liu paused before continuing, "…not yet."
"Then let's go."
They had combination porridge with pickles.
Choi Liu slurped his porridge slowly. Contrary to his breakfast of soy milk and bagel twists, this time his stomach felt like it was trying to escape his body as fast as it could.
Meanwhile, Tao Mo looked excited.
"Young master, how does it taste?" Guo Zhi stuck his head through the door way, and asked.
"Ask Choi Xiansheng." Tao Mo replied.
Choi Liu, who was completely stuffed by this point, struggled to stop mechanically shoveling into his mouth and spouted, "Not bad, not bad at all."
Feeling satisfied with the answer, Guo Zhi closed the door.
"Who was that just now?" Choi Liu asked.
"My personal assistant." Tao Mo said.
"My lord, you must be the scion of a noble line, well taught and of high morals." Choi Liu commented. 
"Are you speaking in Fu?"
"Ah? You don't understand Fu?"
"No, I don't."
"You're being too humble, my lord."
Of course, Choi Liu was well aware that Tao Mo's position had been earned through money, but since the man had dared to start the fight, it's no one's fault but his own if he gets stabbed in the leg.
"There are a lot of Fu proverbs I have read, but I can only remember one."
"Which one is that?"
"Neither good deeds, nor good accomplishments come out of scholars."
Choi Liu agreed wholeheartedly, for he was from a family with a martial arts background. However, he wasn't good at fighting, and had settled for a different line of work. Not being in a scholar's family though, getting his book keeping position had required help. Even though his own position was also bought, he still believed that his talents and knowledge were genuine.
He felt that scholars who spent their entire day spouting nonsense, and claiming to be genii, weren't worth respecting. Especially here in Dang Yang, a city that seemed to be flooded with the same type of people. Not only that, but all sorts of people here regarded themselves as well educated scholars, and had silver tongues sharper than knives.
"What's wrong?" Tao asked, as Choi Liu had yet to say anything in reply.
"Nothing, I was just thinking of a homicide." Choi Liu said quickly.
"A homicide?" Tao Mo brightened up, "Which one?"
In all honesty, Choi Liu had panicked, and said the first thing that had popped into his mind, when in actuality he hadn't been thinking of a case at all.
Now that he'd piqued Tao Mo interest, he didn't have anything to say. After thinking a bit, "It's a case from a few years ago. A lady had committed adultery then proceed to kill her own husband." he says.
"Why were you suddenly reminded of this one?" Tao Mo asked skeptically.
"The husband was a criminal, while the other man was a respectful diplomat. When the case was brought to the court, a lawyer friend of his helped him escape being involved, and in the end only the wife was charged while her accomplice walked out a free man."
"Maybe he didn't know about the situation?" Tao Mo frowned.
"How could the wife, a small lady, kill a fully grown man - who had a criminal history - with her bare hands? Obviously the lawyer was helping him fake his innocence to dodge the punishment." Choi Liu grunted. "The thing is, just because he reads a lot, and is pretty good at debating, he thinks he can just do whatever he wants. Disrespecting the court by manipulating the law using fancy words. How despicable!"
The bitterness was obvious in Choi Liu's tone, yet Tao Mo didn't understand. "Who are you talking about?"
Choi Liu awkwardly shut his mouth, "My lord, once you are more familiar with this place, you will understand." Then he tilted his head back, gulped down the rest of his porridge, and quickly excused himself before Tao Mo had a chance to hold him back.
After he was gone, Lao Tao knocked on the door, before entering.
"Young master, I have investigated the place. All of the governing positions in the district are still unfilled at the moment, so the book keeper has been managing all of it." Lao Tao glanced at the empty bowl on the table and continued, "But why was he kneeling in front of you?"
"I don't know either."
Tao Mo recapitulated the event.
Lao Tao frowned after he heard the whole story, "I think he might have misunderstood something."
"Nothing." Lao Tao flicked his hand dismissively, "It's not important. What is important is this high barrister."
"Yes. Right now, the most well-known high barristers in the Dang Yang district are Masters Lin Zheng Yong and Yi Chui, who are both laying low here."
Tao Mo eyes sparkled.
Lao Tao only shook his head at his reaction.
"Young master, please don't forget your father's last words. If you can become a good and well-loved magistrate, then god must indeed exist and have answered my prayers."
Tao Mo seemed disheartened at that.
"When the two Masters went into hiding, it lead to other barristers coming here to fight for the open positions. Eventually, this city became the largest gathering place of barristers across the country."
Lao Tao, when he had heard this news, had suddenly understood. It was no wonder that Tao Mo was able to get a position in such a rich district without any sort of qualifications. No one was willing to grab the hot potato, for fear of burning their hands.
"So these barristers fought against the local magistrates?"
"You can assume the same for everyone." Lao Tao paused before continuing, "a good barrister working together with a good magistrate is ideal."
"I see. So if it's like that, then having both in the district would be a blessing."
Lao Tao gaped, though he didn't dare to destroy the young man's spirit.
Despite that it may be true that having both a good barrister and a good magistrate was the best situation for the court, by the time Tao Mo became respectable and acknowledged as a magistrate, good barristers would no longer stand by him, but instead work to suppress him instead. Just like Master Zhang Wen, who resigned due to long term discrimination and personal injustices.
Lao Tao sighed. They were already too deep in the game, and there was naught to do but only carry on each step at a time.
Lao Tao introduced Tao Mo to the new servants, and, leaving Guo Zhi to deal with organizing their work rosters, took Tao Mo to visit the town.
To be a magistrate, it is of great importance to be familiar with every single corner of the area under their control. So the two of them took a walk through all the roads and streets of the district. By the time they finally covered the whole area, the sky had already darkened completely.
Tao Mo face was whiter than a ghost's when they finished, and Lao Tao berated himself for forgetting that he was still recovering from journeying in the cold.
"How about we find a restaurant for supper before heading home?"
Tao Mo, whose stomach felt like it was eating his insides, instantly agreed.
The two of them entered a busy restaurant nearby.
Just as they walked through the door, they heard a man yelling out in the middle of the room, "For only 3 silvers, you could see the new magistrate's face now!"
 Red pockets are given out at the start of the new year by people to those below them. For people in the government, the palace would be responsible for giving them this "gift money", which would be used however the office or court specified would like to use it.
 This sentence is spoken in the ancient poetic style of speech called Fu, and uses a lot of rhyming and similes, plus metaphors as a way of exposition, whose meanings are lost when translated into English. It was the main literary form during the Han dynasty and so often used by people with money, who could afford to be taught to read and write.