Chapter 172: Departure Plan
“I was just checking,” said Jun Huang. “You don’t have to do this.”
“I’ve bought it already. Take it.” Nan Xun pushed the glass lamp into Jun Huang’s arms. Jun Huang debated over if she should accept the gift. Neither of them were willing to back down easily.
Rong’er was sick of being ignored. She reached out for the lamp and said with a smile, “If gentleman Feng doesn’t want it, I’ll take it. I like it quite a lot.”
She even blushed when she spoke.
Nan Xun retorted with a frown, “A honorable person should not lay a hand on someone else’s possessions. You are from a prestigious sect. You should know that.”
Resigned, Jun Huang took the lamp, ignoring Rong’er’s murderous glare. “This is enough,” Jun Huang muttered. “Don’t waste your money.”
“Do you think I was joking when I said I would pay a fortune to make you smile?” Nan Xun said with a grin. “I wasn’t.”
“A gentleman should refrain from running his mouth,” Jun Huang said with a faint smile before walking away. Nan Xun was pleased to see Jun Huang’s mood take a upturn. He caught up with her until they were side by side. He couldn’t care less about if Rong’er was still following them.
Rong’er tightened her fists. This Feng Baiyu was better at drawing men’s attention than most women! She had underestimated him. Still, she would not lose to a man.
Once she had decided on a plan, Rong’er jogged up to Nan Xun and tried to engage him in a conversation. She wanted Nan Xun’s attention. Every word out of her mouth was a discrete insult to Jun Huang. She was effectively calling Jun Huang a scourge.
Jun Huang didn’t care. For her, Rong’er was but a passerby in her life. She didn’t care how Rong’er saw her. She even forgot about Rong’er’s existence after a while.
It was said that few women could resist the temptation of shopping. Even someone as aloof as Jun Huang couldn’t help being drawn to the great variety of items. Every time something caught her fancy, Nan Xun would tell the guards to pay for it. It was embarrassing.
She had tried to tell Nan Xun to give it a break, but Nan Xun had made up his mind. He was dead set on making Jun Huang happy. Jun Huang sighed and let him be.
They made their way along the street slowly. Jun Huang’s gaze settled on a stand at a distance. Nan Xun followed her gaze and saw that the owner was selling jade. He was reminded of Jun Huang’s preference for jade. He dragged Jun Huang to the stand and started checking the wares.
Jun Huang had to admit that she was interested. It couldn’t hurt to have a look. She loved and knew about jade. She could easily tell how pure the color of the jade was, and how much it was worth. She wasn’t those noblemen who claimed to love jade, but in reality sought after only the luxurious types.
Jun Huang looked down at the jade pieces. Sunlight shone on her turquoise robe. She looked as if she was glowing. Her dark hair ran down her shoulders like waterfall. Her loose strands of hair made her look ethereal.
Nan Xun stared lovingly at her, his eyes filled with unfiltered affection.
Rong’er ground her teeth together. She knew Nan Xun had grown to hate her. It wouldn’t do her any good to offend him again. She stood on the side looking at the items. She was far from an expert in jade. In fact, she knew nothing about it.
In her sect, she spent all day training in martial arts. She didn’t have time to appreciate flowers and clothes and jade like regular women. The most exciting thing she had ever done was getting caught while vaulting over a wall and climbing up a tree with her senior brother. The memory brought up an overwhelming sense of melancholy.
Jun Huang was drawn to a piece of blood jade of fine quality. The jade was crimson red. Patterns of white could be seen over the stone, but the red was so pure the white could be ignored. Appreciation flashed through Jun Huang’s eyes. She was surprised that a little stand like this would sell something of such high quality.
Jun Huang’s fingers were long and pale. With the piece of blood jade in her hand, her skin appeared to be even more fair than the jade. She aimed the piece of jade at the sun and looked it over. The jade was translucent but smooth to the touch. It was a valuable piece.
Nan Xun could tell that Jun Huang liked the jade. The way her eyes lit up captivated Nan Xun. He wished he could occupy even a part of her attention. A smile tugged at his lips.
“Shopkeeper, how much for this piece of blood jade?” Jun Huang asked. She didn’t notice Nan Xun’s smile.
“The gentleman has keen eyes,” the owner said with his eyes narrowed. There was a cunning edge to his smile that belonged to a businessman. “This is the only one of its kind in Northern Qi. You will not find another one elsewhere. If the gentleman wants it, you can have it by paying three taels of gold.”
Jun Huang frowned at the jade and shook her head with a snort. She returned the blood jade to its original place and said, “The shopkeeper said yourself that this gentleman has keen eyes. Then why did you give me an unreasonable price? No matter how pure the color of the jade is, it’s no match to the green jade found in the imperial city. This gentleman has been looking for a jade like this, but three taels of gold? That’s too much.”
Jun Huang spoke in a slow and deliberate fashion, adding a hint of disapproval to her polite words. The owner was rendered speechless, mortified. He struggled to come up with a response.
Finally, the owner broke the silence by giving Jun Huang another price. “The gentleman is a real expert. I can offer you a lower price - one tael of gold. That’s the lowest I can go. You can buy it for the object of your adoration and make her happy.”
Before Jun Huang could say anything, Rong’er bent down and picked up the piece of blood jade. She pretended to look if over before saying with a pout, “I think this jade is worth the three taels of gold.” She turned to the owner and lifted her chin. “Since he didn’t want it, how about I pay three taels of gold for this jade?”
The owner hesitated. He knew who the real expert here was. He looked at Jun Huang with a troubled expression.
Jun Huang quickly lost her interest. The jade was a fine one, but this argument had tainted it. If Rong’er wanted it, she could have it. As soon as Jun Huang opened her mouth, though, Nan Xun cut in.
“I’ll pay five taels of gold for it,” said Nan Xun. He could see Rong’er’s pale face and her tight grip on the jade, but he didn’t care.
Jun Huang frowned. What was Nan Xun thinking? She knew the right price should be one tael of gold, and yet Nan Xun offered to buy the jade at an even higher price. He truly did not know the struggle of peasants. Jun Huang didn’t know what to say.
She sighed in resignation. “Why did you do that? It’s not worth it. It’s only a piece of jade. Rong’er can have it if she likes it. I’m not that attached to it.”
“Haven’t you heard what the owner said?” asked Nan Xun.
Jun Huang looked at him in question.
Nan Xun beamed. “Fine jade is meant to be gifted to the right person. Centuries ago King You of Zhou fooled his nobles by lighting the warning beacons in order to make his beloved smile, why can’t I spend a fortune to make you smile?”
Rong’er’s face went pale when she heard Nan Xun’s words. Jun Huang blinked dumbly at him before looking away, trying and failing to hide her reaction.
Nan Xun, on the other hand, didn’t seem even a little embarrassed. He took the blood jade from Rong’er and turned it over in his hand. The more he looked at it, the more he liked it. Once the guards had paid for it, Nan Xun handed the jade to Jun Huang.
“I bought it and I’m not returning it,” Nan Xun said with a smile. “If you don’t take it, this piece of jade is going to fall in the hand of a crude man who knows nothing about jade - me. Won’t that be a pity?”
He knew how he could convince Jun Huang to take his gift. Any forceful approach would have been met with resistance from her, but she could be persuaded. A few more words, and Jun Hung would take the gift.
As he expected, Jun Huang was swayed. She knew that Nan Xun knew something about jade, and he was partial to white jade because of his matter-of-fact personality. Due to his years of experience staying at the border, Nan Xun didn’t usually have a lot of accessories on him. Even when he wore a jade pendant, it was usually one made of white jade.
“If so, I’ll accept your kind offering.” Jun Huang took the jade with her eyes lowered. She could feel the coolness of the jade in her hand.
Rong’er tightened her jaw at her. The owner was confused by the situation. Hadn’t Nan Xun said that he was going to give the jade to the right person? Why would Jun Huang be the receiver of the jade?
Nan Xun whispered into Jun Huang’s ears as she considered the jade in her hand. They looked at ease being this intimate. Rong’er couldn’t take it anymore. Fiery jealousy burned through her heart. She walked up to jun Huang and, before Jun Huang could react, tried to slap her.
Fortunately, Nan Xun caught Rong’er’s hand in time. His viselike grip prevented Rong’er from getting away. Nan Xun flung her backward. Rong’er stumbled and fell on the ground, grimacing in pain.
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