The moment Madam Huang caught sight of Lady Yang, she gritted her teeth. Although she clearly hated Lady Yang, she had to put on a fake smile and say, “How generous of you, Lady Yang. Since you’re betting on Chu Lian being able to make better longevity peach buns, what if she fails? It wouldn’t make sense if you just take back your wager, am I right?”
Lady Yang harrumphed, “Oh? Then what do you think we should do if she fails, Madam Huang?”
Madam Huang shot a look at her daughter, Zou Yuanqin, before she removed a gold bracelet from her arm. Threaded on it were two rare pink pearls. They were shaped differently from normal pearls; instead of the usual sphere shape, they looked like water droplets. Rounded with a lustrous shine, they were quite a rare sight.
Those familiar with Madam Huang all sucked in a breath. That was Madam Huang’s favourite bracelet; it was said that her maternal grandmother had passed it on to her.
After placing the pearl bracelet on the tray, Madam Huang said slowly and surely, “Since Lady Yang wants to interfere with this matter, why don’t we do it like this? These accessories will become the wager for today. If House Jing’an’s Third Young Madam has the skills, then everything on this tray will become hers, as compensation for the shock she has suffered. If she fails to carry out her task, then she’ll have the same punishment I mentioned earlier: begging for forgiveness from my father in front of everyone in the banquet hall. Furthermore, Lady Yang, all the accessories you’ve bet will become ours.”
Lady Yang smirked. Her answer came without hesitation. “Heh! I didn’t know that Madam Huang has an interest in games like these. Why not?”
The moment she agreed to the wager, a few madams walked out from behind Madam Huang and offered up accessories of their own.
When one of the madams was about to place a gold hairpin she had plucked from her head into the tray, Imperial Princess Leyao reached out and stopped her.
Imperial Princess Leyao raised her chin proudly. She glanced secretly at Chu Lian once, and then arrogantly declared, “How could I possibly miss out on such a fun game?”
After saying so, she took off a little golden qilin statue hanging from her waist and placed it on the tray. “This is a golden statue that Mother Empress gave to me. Is this enough for the wager?”
The Empress had given her the little golden statue on her eighth birthday. Imperial Princess Leyao loved it a lot and wore it everywhere she went. The golden kirin had two bean-sized ruby eyes, and looked very realistic.
Madam Huang wanted to stop Imperial Princess Leyao, but this princess had been spoiled rotten in the palace and was used to getting her way. Furthermore, she was favoured by the Emperor. This was supposed to be a fight amongst madams, but now that an eleven-year-old princess had suddenly cut in, it seemed a little strange.
Lady Yang cast a glance at Imperial Princess Leyao; even though she was the wife of an important official and a first-rank titled noble wife, it wouldn’t be good for her to interfere with the princess’ actions.
Imperial Princess Leyao was part of the imperial family after all.
It was never a good thing to interfere in the imperial family’s matters.
Just as everyone thought that the wager had been set, Royal Princess Duanjia stepped out of the crowd.
Royal Princess Duanjia was about the same age as Chu Lian, and was the legitimate daughter of Prince Wei, the brother of the current Emperor. She was much loved by the Emperor and Empress Dowager; the moment she had been born, she had been conferred the title of royal princess.
Her influence wasn’t any less than Imperial Princess Leyao’s.
“Since Sister Leyao could bear to put up her most beloved treasure, how could I not participate with mine?”
Without looking at Imperial Princess Leyao’s expression, Royal Princess Duanjia took out an item from the purse at her waist. It was a completely white jade ring with some words engraved on the inner side. From the quality of the jade alone, you could tell that it was top-quality white jade, and wasn’t inferior to Imperial Princess Leyao’s golden qilin statue in any way.
A smug look flashed across Imperial Princess Leyao’s face and she purposely shot Chu Lian a look; it seemed like she was either showing off or mocking her. However, the moment she noticed Royal Princess Duanjia placing that jade ring on the opposite side from her golden qilin statue, her expression changed.
Without any hint of concern for the rage on Imperial Princess Leyao’s face, Royal Princess Duanjia tilted her head and declared cheerily, “I bet on House Jing’an’s Third Young Madam winning.”
Royal Princess Duanjia’s action stunned half of the people present. What was going on? Wasn’t Royal Princess Duanjia on the same side as Imperial Princess Leyao? Why was she helping House Jing’an’s Third Young Madam?
Chu Lian also found it strange. She had no relation to this Royal Princess Duanjia at all, not in the story or as her current self. Why would she be standing on her side?
Due to her curiosity, Chu Lian couldn’t help but look twice at Royal Princess Duanjia. When their gazes met, Royal Princess Duanjia raised an eyebrow and actually smiled at Chu Lian.
Chu Lian shifted away her gaze and felt the urge to scratch her head from confusion.
Since two respected members of the imperial family had just joined in the bet, the excitement of the crowd had been ramped up to the maximum.
These noble madams and young ladies usually passed their days in boredom. Just by attending a simple longevity feast at Marquis Dingyuan’s estate, they had bumped into such a spectacular show. Everyone was inwardly shouting with excitement. Something like this would surely become the talk of the capital amongst the upper class! No matter what the result was, everyone would be talking about it within two days’ time.
Feudal Princess Anmin wanted to have her turn too, and thought of stepping out to add her contribution to the pot. However, she was held back by Zou Yuanqin.
Zou Yuanqin had received a hint from her mother, and shook her head at Feudal Princess Anmin.
Feudal Princess Anmin could only give up the idea of joining in. She was an imperial princess’ daughter, so she ranked a step lower than Imperial Princess Leyao and Royal Princess Duanjia. Since there were already two daughters of the imperial family taking part, it wasn’t appropriate for her to join in as well.
Madam Rong gripped a jade amulet tightly in her hands, hesitating and thinking hard. In the end, when she saw that Imperial Princess Leyao and Royal Princess Duanjia had joined the wager, her courage shrunk even more.
Under these circumstances, if she added to the pot, she would be going directly against Imperial Princess Leyao.