Zou Yuanqin had been expecting Chu Lian to start worrying about how to repay the thousand taels; she hadn’t thought that Chu Lian would actually start suspecting the value of the longevity peach buns instead. Her face immediately flushed red from her anger.
Zou Yuanqin was just a twelve-year-old girl after all. She was also a favoured legitimate daughter in her house, and Imperial Princess Leyao’s companion. She was usually pampered by everyone, and the one thing she hated the most was when anyone challenged her authority. Chu Lian’s comment had sparked the fuse on her firecracker temper.
“Chu Lian! How dare you doubt my words! Don’t think that you can accuse us like this just because you’re too poor to pay us back! Let me tell you now, I don’t care about the thousand taels!” Zou Yuanqin’s face was completely red by now.
Madam Huang hadn’t expected her daughter to lose her calm after a single sentence from Chu Lian. She frowned and shot a look at Zou Yuanqin. Unfortunately, Zou Yuanqin was currently blinded by her rage and didn’t notice the look from her mother.
Madam Huang suddenly regretted agreeing to her daughter’s request about using that plate of longevity peach buns to make things difficult for Chu Lian. However, now that her daughter had spoken, it wasn’t appropriate for her to step in. If she stepped in now, it would seem as if she was bullying a junior. Chu Lian was still a young lady who had just come of age, after all.
In Zou Yuanqin’s rage, she had actually called out Chu Lian’s full name. In a public event like this, calling out someone’s full name, especially a married woman’s, was extremely rude.
Zou Yuanqin’s sudden flare of temper caused the spectating noble madams to frown. She was already twelve this year. In another two years, it would be time for her to be engaged. By being this unruly in such a public place with so many noble madams watching, she was actually spoiling her own chances of finding a good husband.
Chu Lian smiled inwardly; it was a hundred years too early for this little brat to think of trapping her.
“Fifth Miss Zou, a thousand taels isn’t a small sum for me. Of course I’ll have to ask a few questions to understand what’s going on. Please excuse me.”
Chu Lian had generously admitted to her own shortcomings. Yes, she was poor. Although her maiden family had a noble title, they were already on the decline. This was common knowledge, and there wasn’t any need to hide it. At this point in time, if she tried to pretend to be rich and flaunt her wealth, that would simply draw their ire.
She already knew that these stupid buns had definitely cost a thousand taels. If they were trying to humiliate her, Madam Huang definitely wasn’t going to lie! However, she had purposely brought up this line of talk in order to make Zou Yuanqin get angry.
By freely admitting her financial situation, Chu Lian actually garnered the admiration and respect of quite a few spectators. Not everyone had the courage to admit their shortcomings in front of a crowd, since most people were conceited creatures.
Compared to Chu Lian, Zou Yuanqin seemed even more willful and arrogant, like a bully on a power trip.
The slender finger that she was pointing at Chu Lian began to shake out of rage. However, Chu Lian appeared unperturbed. She stood her ground and serenely gazed forward, like Zou Yuanqin was the one at fault and was making a fuss out of nothing.
Imperial Princess Leyao glared unhappily at Zou Yuanqin.
When Zou Yuanqin saw Imperial Princess Leyao’s glare, her heart clenched. Even if she didn’t want to continue this farce, she had to.
Zou Yuanqin hardened her stance and said, “Chu Lian! No matter what, you have to account for this to my mother! There’s only an hour left until we have to serve the longevity peach buns at the outer court. If we miss the lucky hour, my grandfather’s feast will be ruined! I’ll make you go to the banquet hall and ask for forgiveness from my grandfather right then and there!”
Upon hearing Zou Yuanqin’s ultimatum, Imperial Princess Leyao finally let the dissatisfied expression on her face disappear. She watched the cornered Chu Lian with renewed interest.
Let’s see if she can get out of this now!
Chu Lian, meanwhile, was listening to the discussions of the spectating noble madams.
“It must be House Jing’an’s Third Young Madam’s unlucky day today. Those longevity peach buns weren’t made by just anyone; they were made by De’an Restaurant’s Mr Wang! That chef has a really strange temperament. He only makes them once per person! By now, the people in the banquet hall must have heard that Mr Wang’s longevity peach buns are being served today. It’ll be tough for House Jing’an’s Third Young Madam to settle this incident.”
Chu Lian’s mind blanked out a little, and she felt the urge to laugh. If she had the chance to, she would like to meet this Mr Wang someday! Although he didn’t make very good-looking longevity peach buns, he had plenty of rules to go around!
However, the more rare something was, the more valuable it became. By setting such a rule, this Mr Wang had guaranteed that there would be people coming after his peach buns based on its rarity alone. They would be more willing to fork over as much as they could afford to.
Chu Lian recalled that there was an engagement ring company who only allowed men to buy a single ring from them in their lifetime. This Mr Wang had done something similar and his business was booming; could he possibly be a transmigrator, too?
Chu Lian tilted her head to the side. Her eyes were as clear as glass, and a pretty colour to boot. Her honest expression generated plenty of goodwill for her amongst the crowd. If this continued, there wouldn’t be a single person who would believe that she had knocked over that plate of buns on purpose.
Chu Lian’s brows knit together. She sincerely said, “Fifth Miss Zou, I don’t have a thousand taels of silver.”
She really didn’t have a thousand taels, or anything close to it. Even if she included the ruby ornament she was wearing right now, she wouldn’t even have half of that amount.
Hearing her reply, Zou Yuanqin cast a contemptuous look at her. She smirked. “Then go to the banquet hall and plead for forgiveness from my grandfather!”