Since Wei Fengzi had spoken, Madam Huang couldn’t do anything but admit to her defeat.
Furthermore, everyone had agreed on the taste of the longevity peach buns, so how could she go back on her word?
“I didn’t expect House Jing’an’s Third Young Madam to have such talent at all. We’ve expanded our horizons today.” After saying so, Madam Huang sent her personal maidservant to bring the tray of accessories to Chu Lian.
However, only she herself knew how conflicted she felt inside. That pearl bracelet was her favourite accessory!
When the maidservant held up the tray, Madam Huang narrowed her eyes purposefully at Chu Lian.
That look was a warning, loud and clear, telling her not to accept those accessories.
However, the young madam standing in the middle of the crowd had her head lowered, revealing her smooth forehead and her exquisitely fair nape. She reached out with her slender fingers and received the silver tray.
She didn’t lift her head at all from start to finish. No one could tell if she simply couldn’t feel Madam Huang’s threatening gaze, or if she really hadn’t noticed it at all.
Madam Huang wrung the handkerchief in her hands. She would’ve never expected Chu Lian to win the bet.
Imperial Princess Leyao couldn’t bear to part with her golden qilin statue. She wanted to ask for it back, but Wei Fengzi stopped her.
When Lady Yang saw how frustrated Madam Huang was at losing, she felt extremely happy.
“What’s wrong? Are you hurting for that pearl bracelet of yours, Madam Huang?”
Madam Huang was so annoyed she almost spat up blood. Although she really couldn’t bear to give up the bracelet, she had to pretend to be magnanimous on the surface. “What are you saying, Lady Yang? It’s just a bracelet after all. Didn’t you put in a coral bracelet yourself?”
Lady Yang’s eyes were crinkled up in a smile. She would give up any number of coral bracelets just to see Madam Huang eat her words like this.
Chu Lian gently smiled after receiving the silver tray and curtsied to each person in turn. “Many thanks to Imperial Princess Leyao, Royal Princess Duanjia, Madam Huang, Lady Yang, and noble madams for your gracious gifts.”
Haha! She had struck gold this time!
When she looked up slightly and caught sight of the madams’ unwilling expressions, the smile on Chu Lian’s face grew a little more pronounced.
She wasn’t the one who started the bet! They were the ones who offered up their treasures to her; not accepting them would be silly.
The crowd watched as House Jing’an’s Third Young Madam smiled with her eyes twinkling before she passed the whole tray to her maidservant for keeping. The madams felt a pang of loss and were envious to the point of bleeding.
Even though Chu Lian had taken the entire tray of prizes without any pretense at modesty, no one thought her greedy. Some madams even thought that she was being genuine.
The moment Chu Lian looked up, her eyes met with Royal Princess Duanjia’s gaze. Very strangely, Royal Princess Duanjia even smiled at her.
A maidservant dressed in green came rushing in from outside Mei Court. When she reached Madam Huang, she bobbed in courtesy before asking after the longevity peaches.
When Lady Yang heard so, she laughed and pointed at the remaining plate of longevity peach buns on the stone table. “Those are the longevity peaches that your Madam Huang has prepared. Bring them over.”
The maidservant looked at Madam Huang in surprise. Madam Huang just felt terrible after the whole ruckus, so she simply waved and let the maidservant take the peach buns off to the banquet at the outer court.
The servant dressed in green walked over to the stone table. The moment she saw the realistic-looking peach buns, her eyes almost fell out from her staring. She quickly recovered her senses and carefully placed the plate into a box before leaving in a hurry.
Now that the entire farce was finally over, the madams present all heaved a sigh of relief. They also got an interesting story to recount to their family once they got back!
Chu Lian bobbed in a junior’s greeting to Lady Yang before leading her maidservants out of the crowd and to somewhere less populated.
When Madam Rong saw that Chu Lian had come out of the crowd, she brought Miss Su and Miss Yuan over to welcome her.
Chu Lian frowned and bobbed in greeting to Madam Rong. “Eldest Sister-in-Law.”
Madam Rong held onto Chu Lian’s hand and, voice full of concern, said, “I’m glad you’re alright, Miss Lian. You’ve frightened Eldest Sister-in-Law to death.”
Chu Lian gently extracted her hand out from Madam Rong’s grip. “Thank you for your concern, Eldest Sister-in-Law.”
After saying so, she spotted Madam Zou rushing over with her servants in tow. Upon catching sight of Chu Lian, Madam Zou strode over quickly.
Miss Yuan’s eyes remained on the wooden box in Xiyan’s hands, greed shimmering in their depths. She tried to speak up, but was interrupted by Chu Lian.
“Madam Jing’an has come to look for me. Eldest Sister-in-Law, why don’t you bring Fifth Sister and Eighth Sister around a while longer?” With that, she curtsied to Madam Rong and went off to Madam Zou.
Madam Rong watched Chu Lian’s slender back as she left, the light in her eyes darkening. It looked like Miss Lian blamed her after all.
On the other side of the pond, Heir Zheng was laughing with praise. “Hah! Is that true? House Jing’an’s Third Young Madam actually made longevity peach buns that are better than Mr Wang’s?”
“Heir Zheng, it’s true. I heard that those buns looked exactly like fresh peaches, and even had the faint aroma of fresh fruit. After pinching them open, they even had some filling in them. They’re something that no one has ever heard or seen before!”
Heir Zheng had tasted Chu Lian’s waterdrop mochis before. Upon hearing the manservant’s description, he was almost drooling.
“Are they really that good?” Heir Zheng asked doubtfully.
The manservant chuckled. “This servant heard from the maidservants in Mei Court. They didn’t get to see them personally, but Lady Yang ate three of them in one go. They must surely be delicious.”