The yamen runners got a little hesitant, and since they were all natives of Tanyang, they knew well what status Jia Family enjoyed in Tangyang. However, compared with the status of Jia Family, Tao Feng looked even more terrible at the moment. Therefore, they just hesitated for a little while before they went up to slap Jia Yuanling in the face.
“Ah!” Slapped by a yamen runner, Jia shouted with pain at once.
These yamen runners were all strong, so they naturally got great strength. Just one single slap might not be serious, but with a couple of slaps, Jia’s mouth was bleeding heavily.
The butler of Jia family who had followed was frightened to kneel down on the spot to beg for mercy for Jia Yuanling.
Fang, the wife of Mr. Jia, rushed over a moment later; and when she saw his son being slapped, she almost staggered down to the ground. “Oh, my son!” she cried out.
Tao Feng raised his hand to let the yamen runner stop, who then returned to the queue with his hands stained with blood.
Looking at Jia Yuanling who was weak and limp and pinned on the ground with his face full of blood and tears, and Fang who was crying bitterly and loudly in excessive grief, Ling Zhang felt great relief in the heart.
“Silence.” Tao Feng ordered loudly.
Catching sight of Tao’s sharp eyes, Fang almost choked on her own cries, and it was not until quite a moment later that she restored her voice, and asked, “Your honor, why did you employ such cruel torture on my son?”
“He disturbed the court, threatened the eyewitness brazenly, despised me, and even refused to admit his guilt, so it was reasonable for me to punish him,” Tao got angry. “Fang, you have attempted to query, and hinder me in carrying out my duty over and over again. I wondered whether it is true that you have been too unbridled to?despise all the laws of our country just as Ling Zhang stated?”
Fang’s face went ghastly pale at once.
Ling Zhang was near to applaud for Tao Feng. The evidence Ling had given to Tao Feng had been applied by the latter more skillfully than he himself could.
“I don’t have any intention of despising the law. Your honor, please don’t get me wrong.” Fang responded. The lady, who just had attempted to behave aggressively shed tears now. Pretending to be delicate, Fang said, “I just took pity on my son. For the sake of my love for my son, please forgive my impulsion.”
“You honor, my lady didn’t intend to offend you, so please forgive her.” The butler pleaded.
“Your honor, my son just got confused temporarily, and he didn’t mean to slander Mr. Ling. Please judge carefully, your honor.” Fang cried.
“They four have confessed. It was Jia Yuanling who had instigated them to plant the adulterous affair with the dancing girl on me. Mrs. Jia, don’t quibble for your son any more.” Ling Zhang said.
Fang’s crying stopped suddenly in shock as her eyes fixed sharply on those four guys who lowered their heads in order not to meet her eyes.
Glaring at the four guys firmly, Fang grinded her teeth with rage, and said, “They lied.”
“I’ll make my own judgement whether they lied or not”, Tao Feng said at the moment, “Unless I ask, Fang, you will be punished with the crime of disturbing the court if you dare to speak again.”
“You four confess honestly how Jia Yuanling instigated you to slander Ling Zhang. What was the process?” Tao spoke to the four guys.
The four guys just looked at each other and hesitated. It was obvious that they didn’t dare to speak like a moment ago with the presence of Fang.
Ling Zhang frowned. What he wanted was the confession of the four guys. If they refused to identify Jia Yuanling, the matter would get much troublesome.
He looked at Tao, who gave him a veiled look. Slapping the gavel violently, Tao Feng shouted loudly, “Each of you will be flogged with sticks 20 times if you don’t confess.”
“Your honor, they might not have been instigated, and could have committed the crime on their own initiative just like Jia Yuanling did if they refuse to speak. They might be accomplices. Your honor, I beg you to give them a severe trial, and they should be sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment and three-thousand Li of exile just like Jia Yuanling.” Ling Zhang clamped down.
With the hint given by Tao, the yamen runners who stood in two lines in the court struck the ground with their sticks cooperatively, the sound of which reverberated throughout the whole court.
Under heavy pressure, the four guys blanched with fear. One of them couldn’t bear the tension any more, and said, “I’ll confess! It was Jia Yuanling who had told us that he would put poison in the sobering-up soup for Ling Zhang; and after Ling went into a coma, he would take off Ling’s clothes, and throw him beside the dancing girl.”
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