Chu Lian put the lid back on the wooden box and placed it to one side. “Are there any other matters, Grandmother?”
If the matriarch had only wanted to pass the gift to her, she could have waited until the next day, when she gave her morning greetings. Since she had called her to Qingxi Hall alone, Matriarch He must have something to say to her alone.
As expected, Matriarch He happily continued speaking. “Sanlang’s wife, I’ve heard about what happened today. It must have been tough on you. Luckily, our Lian’er is smart enough to outmaneuver any trickery. Grandmother heard that you’ve gotten quite a few accessories from those madams. What are you planning to do with them?”
The old matriarch watched Chu Lian’s expression as she waited for her reply.
Chu Lian stared back at Matriarch He with wide eyes, appearing as if she was confused. Inwardly, she smiled.
Matriarch He was trying to test her!
Chu Lian already had a plan for her spoils.
“Grandmother, I couldn’t have gotten these accessories without Lady Yang’s help, so I can’t just take their accessories. Granddaughter-in-Law will write letters and prepare gifts in return tomorrow. Then I’ll instruct some servants to send the accessories and gifts back.”
The slightly imposing expression on Matriarch He’s face softened into kindness in an instant.
Chu Lian continued, adding, “As for the others, I won them fair and square, so they’re mine! Well, Imperial Princess Leyao might come asking for her golden qilin statue back… As for Madam Huang’s precious pearl bracelet, I’ll help to safeguard her treasure! She doesn’t like me anyway, so I don’t want to give it back to her!”
“Pfft…” Matriarch He couldn’t hold back her laughter.
Chu Lian’s somewhat childish tone made her want to pamper her even more.
Although she had spoken in a childish manner, there was nothing wrong with the way she had chosen to take care of things. She had heard that most of the accessories were top-quality treasures, and very few girls would bear to send them back again once they had them, especially someone without many accessories herself, like Chu Lian. It was good that Sanlang’s wife hadn’t been blinded by greed and had chosen the right way to handle those ‘prizes’ of hers.
Although she had been a little juvenile on some of the finer details, Chu Lian had a good grasp on how to please everyone involved overall. She had called Chu Lian over to knock some extra sense into her and make her more aware of the intricacies behind such dealings, but she hadn’t expected that Chu Lian had already properly planned everything out.
Matriarch He felt even more gratified that she had such a good granddaughter-in-law, but at the same time, she felt even guiltier about Chu Lian’s situation.
That heartless brat Sanlang had abandoned such a wonderful wife! What a waste!
Matriarch He knew about the conditions that Chu Lian had grown up in back at the Ying Estate, more or less. She wanted to wait and observe for a while longer, but after He Changdi’s sudden departure and the events at the Dingyuan Estate today, Matriarch He felt that there was a need to push forward her plans.
“Sanlang’s wife, it’s getting late. Why don’t you return to your courtyard and rest a little earlier? Tomorrow, come over to Grandmother’s place a little earlier. Grandmother has something else to say to you.”
“Understood.” Chu Lian agreed and bowed to Matriarch He before leaving Qingxi Hall.
The next day, Chu Lian made her way to Qingxi Hall early in the morning for her daily greetings.
Matriarch He had also gotten up earlier, seemingly on purpose. When Chu Lian arrived, the matriarch was already sipping some tea in the parlour.
Chu Lian shot a glance at the sencha on the table and frowned a little.
At the matriarch’s advanced age, it wasn’t good for her to drink tea that contained such a strange mix of spices.
When Matriarch He saw that she had arrived, she waved her hand to indicate that Chu Lian should take a seat by her side.
Once Chu Lian had settled in, Matriarch He passed a thin account book to her.
“Sanlang’s wife, open it and take a look.”
Chu Lian opened the account book curiously; within moments, she understood what it was. This was an account book for a restaurant. ‘Guilin Restaurant’ was written in tidy lettering on the first page.
“Grandmother, this is an account book for Guilin Restaurant?”
Matriarch He smiled as she nodded. Guilin Restaurant was part of her dowry. It had already been in business for more than fifty years by now, and it could be considered one of the capital’s long-established shops.