Chapter 177: Gifting a Jade Bangle (1)
The female manager made a sound of agreement and quickly brought back quite a few sets of jewellry with the help of a maidservant. She placed them all in front of Chu Lian, one by one.
This time, the accessories that the manager brought over were cheaper than the previous three.
The moment Chu Lian picked up a gold ring and glanced over it, she realised these new accessories couldn’t compare to the three that the House Ying sisters had chosen. Without exposing the manager’s actions, she gently set the gold ring back down. However, Chu Lian didn’t continue browsing through the new selection.
Instead, she stood up and walked over to the counter. Everyone else exchanged glances. Even the manager didn’t know what this plainly dressed Honoured Lady Jinyi was thinking. It wasn’t until Chu Lian’s soft voice rang out again that the manager regained her senses.
“Manager, take these jade rings out. I’d like to have a look at them.”
The manager quickly strode over to the counter and slipped behind it. When she saw exactly what Chu Lian was pointing at, she was rendered speechless.
The manager recovered a moment later. She swiftly removed the exquisite wooden box and laid it out for Chu Lian.
Chu Lian had pointed to a pair of green Hetian jade thumb rings. One was larger while the other was smaller. It was clear that they formed a matching set.
Green Hetian jade was a prized type of jade. Whatever the form, it was viewed as extremely valuable. Wearing rings on the thumb had not yet come into fashion in the Great Wu Dynasty. In court, only military officials would wear rings on their thumbs, which helped in drawing bows.
When Jinshi Pavilion had received this piece of Hetian jade back then, they hadn’t planned on making thumb rings out of them. Unfortunately, there was a flaw in the raw material, so after much consideration by the master craftsman, they decided to make a pair anyway. It was the best usage for that particular piece of jade they had. However, not many people were interested in buying thumb rings, so the customers had always passed over this pair… until now.
Thus, Chu Lian ended up reaping the benefits today.
This exact pair of green Hetian jade thumb rings had appeared in the original story as well. ‘Chu Lian’ had also chanced upon this set of rings, though it hadn’t been at Jinshi Pavillion, and she had also bought them. The larger ring that was clearly sized for a man had ended up on Xiao Bojian’s hand.
Xiao Bojian had been a literary official. It was thanks to his wearing of this green jade thumb ring that thumb rings turned into a status symbol and a fashion trend.
When held in hand, the Hetian jade rings felt slightly warm to the touch. The jade was of extremely high quality; its lustre and colour were top-notch. The smaller ring seemed to have been made for Chu Lian. When she put it on her thumb, the vibrant green of the jade complemented her fair fingers. It was beautiful.
Even the ladies from House Ying were a little dazed from the sight. They had never thought that an accessory that only roughshod military men wore could look this good on a woman’s hand. If it was matched by a full set of riding clothes, then the effect would be greatly magnified.
Chu Lian was satisfied, of course. She looked at the manager and indicated with her eyes that she would like an explanation about the rings.
After the manager got over her surprise, she calmed down and stated, “Madam, this one doesn’t dare to hide anything from you. What you’re holding now is a pair of thumb rings. It’s made from the highest quality green Hetian jade. The amount of jade we received back then was limited, so all we could make was these. But hardly anyone is interested in buying thumb rings; they’ve been on display for quite some time now without any buyers. If Madam would truly like to buy these, this one will take the initiative and make an offer of three hundred taels of silver for you. Is this agreeable to you?”
Chu Lian nodded as she listened. It was the same as the novel. This pair of rings was much cheaper than normal Hetian jade accessories, as expected. Jinshi Pavilion’s manager was rather honest and had given her a fair price for them.
However, three hundred taels wasn’t a small sum, either.
Chu Lian didn’t make any mention of buying them, but she didn’t let the manager put the rings away. Instead, she took a look at some other accessories.
Miss Fu was right behind Chu Lian. At an angle where no one could see, she sneered as she thought, ‘If you can’t afford it, why bother asking at all? Does she think that she can buy some time and wait for someone to pay up for her instead?’
Miss Yuan was also starting to become impatient. “Sixth Sister, after looking at so many accessories, are you finally done browsing?”
Chu Lian turned to glance at her. She set down the orchid-shaped jade hairpin in her hands and actually pulled out a smile for Miss Yuan.
“Is anything the matter? It seems like Eighth Sister is more anxious than I am.”
Without waiting for Miss Yuan’s angry rebuttal, Miss Fu took the initiative to speak up next. Her smile concealed a certain hidden meaning as she said, “Sixth Sister, you couldn’t have possibly left your house in such a hurry that you forgot to bring any money with you, right? It’s alright, we can forgo those accessories.”
Miss Su was angered. “Eighth Sister, Ninth Sister! That’s enough from you two!”
Miss Fu was keeping a close eye on Chu Lian’s expression. Although Chu Lian seemed calm on the surface, there was a hint of panic in her almond-shaped eyes. Thus, Miss Fu was satisfied by the effect of her provocation.
She was inwardly thinking, ‘Let’s see how she tries to recover from this now!’
The manager maintained her silence and secretly peeked at Chu Lian. She didn’t really believe that the plainly dressed Chu Lian had more than a thousand taels to spend on these accessories.
Chu Lian looked at Miss Su and reassured her. “Fifth Sister, there’s no need to worry. I think that jade bangle is a good choice. It will look good on you.”
Then, she turned and shot a look at Miss Yuan and Miss Fu. A bright spark shone in her black eyes. The sudden difference in her expression made Miss Yuan and Miss Fu uneasy for a moment; they couldn’t speak.
The traces of reluctance and worry had completely disappeared from Chu Lian’s eyes. Instead, they shone bright with humour and cunning, as brilliant as the stars in the night sky.
She turned to face the stunned manager and said, “Manager, please pack up the three accessories that these ladies picked out just now and this pair of thumb rings. Wenqing, follow the manager and settle the bill.”