At the teahouse, Madam Zhong faced Li Bo and his two lackeys, her eyes blazing with fury while her hands trembled. “You killed my husband!”
Faced with her accusation, Li Bo’s servants both took a step back. Shit! This wasn’t supposed to happen! They had just wanted to teach that guy a lesson because he didn’t take them seriously. How had he suddenly died?!
“That …” Xiao Guo looked at the other servant. “It wasn’t us!”
“How was that not you? Everyone here saw!” Madam Zhong motioned to the women in the back of the room.
Xiao Guo gulped, but Xiao Nuo refused to give up that easily. “We might have kicked him once but, obviously, one wouldn’t die just because of that.”
“You kicked him and now he’s dead! How can you say these two things have nothing to do with each other?!” Madam Zhong didn’t know who these men were but she could guess that the identity of this Li Bo was extraordinary considering how he dressed and behaved. She had to chase them out now or this would get even worse. She didn’t even dare to think of making them pay for what they had done to her husband.
She only hoped that she could save herself and her son and avoid further trouble for now. It wasn’t what her husband deserved but what could a lone widow do? Especially if she had only come to the capital for a few months? She didn’t know anyone besides her husband’s family. She had no way to make them pay however much she would have liked to do so.
“That …” Xiao Nuo looked at his Master. There was really no way to counter what she said. It wasn’t like someone would just fall down and die without cause.
Li Bo pressed his lips together. He also hadn’t expected the situation to turn out like this. He didn’t worry too much though. Who was he? He was Li Bo, someone related to the emperor! He’d really like to see if this woman would dare to go and tell on him. Well, even if she did, nobody would try to bring him to justice. Hmph, what justice? In this capital city, justice was whatever the emperor said! And as long as people thought the emperor would speak on his behalf, they wouldn’t dare to anger him.
Thus Li Bo raised his chin and smiled patronizingly. “This Madam, how can you make such irresponsible remarks? Has anyone actually seen that my servant kicked your husband?” He looked at the women hiding at the back of the room. He had seen most of them at some sort of gathering before and knew their families. Would any of them dare to rat him out?
Unfortunately, Li Bo was right with his assumption. None of the women dared to speak up. They liked the Zhongs but not enough to endanger their own families. Li Bo smiled and looked at Madam Zhong smugly. “You see? It’s all your misconception, Madam. But it’s alright. I won’t blame you. You just lost your husband. It’s expected for you to be a little … muddled right now. I’ll give you some time to adjust to your new circumstances. After that, I’ll return and we can calmly talk about how you’ll compensate me for the loss of my horses.” He smiled, waved at his two servants and turned around, leaving the teahouse behind.
Madam Zhong looked at the guests accusingly. All of them had gotten to know her and her husband over the last few months. Some had come to the teahouse every single day and talked to them and their son for a good time. But now nobody stepped forward to help even though it would only have required a few words.
Madam Zhong shook her head and knelt down beside her husband again, smoothing his hair that had just started to gray.
I’m sorry, Ah Lei. I wish there was anything I could do. Letting you die unjustly … How can I let that happen? How will your soul rest in peace like this?
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. As much as she wanted to bring these men to justice, what could she do about it? If the guests didn’t want to help, she could plead however much she wanted. They still wouldn’t do it. She could only silently bury her husband and hope that that man wouldn’t remember her and her son.
Unfortunately, Li Bo was dead set on ruining her. After leaving the teahouse, he sat inside his carriage complaining. “Aiya, all this trouble for one small child! You better be right about him being able to boost my business, Xiao Nuo!”
The servant nodded eagerly. “Don’t worry, Master! It’s definitely accurate. That Zhong Gang had a good and steady income with his restaurant before but the teahouse became an instant success and even furthered his earnings from the restaurant after some days. The child is the only explanation. There’s nothing else that makes the teahouse special and the people I asked all said that the women mostly talked about the children. So having that boy in your restaurant would definitely help you a lot, Master!”
“Mn.” Li Bo nodded. “I’m just afraid that woman won’t give him up so easily. And with how good their business has been until now she might be able to pay enough. Even the justice court can’t do anything about it then.”
The servants exchanged a glance but didn’t know how to help.
Li Bo pondered and finally waved at them. “Go spread the message that they’re at odds with me. Let’s see how long these guests will dare to go there. If business dwindles down, she won’t have any other choice but to do as I say. Heh heh.” He laughed and rubbed his thighs. He could already see all those coins entering his pockets. And getting that boy shouldn’t be difficult when the family started losing money.