There weren’t that many customers on the first floor at present, but neither was there only a small scattering of them. Even with her face veil in place and her maids helping her forward, Qin Yining could still feel gazes from everyone present.
Madame Lu was sitting primly in the middle of the hall at a spot next to the window. Though her chin was lifted proudly and a jeering curve graced her lips, it wasn’t hard to see jealousy glittering in her beautiful eyes if one took a closer look.
Being an exceedingly attractive person, the older woman loved most feeling men’s gazes resting on her. But when the Qin fourth miss descended the stairs just now, she’d heard firsthand how all conversation and chewing of meals had ground to a halt. No one so much as reached for another piece of meat, and even her respected second elder cousin  paused from refilling his wine cup.
It’s so nice being young! If she was ten years younger, it was a given that everyone’s eyes would cling to her instead. There would be no thought given to anyone else!
Qin Yining met Madame Lu’s dismissive and incendiary glare with a faint smile. The sheer gauze covered her dimples while her bright, almond-shaped eyes curved into waning moons. Hints of mischief sparkled in her bright expression.
“To think that we’d bump into Madame Lu here. Smooth Providence’s staff must have provided subpar service for big sister Lu’s maid to raise a fuss like this. I could hear the disturbance even on the third floor.”
Madame Lu snorted contemptuously. “Don’t try to pretend like we’re close. Aren’t you too high-and-mighty to befriend the Lu clan? I’m not worthy of you calling me big sister, oh no. Hurry up and leave with your people! I rented out this tavern a long time ago.”
The Qin fourth miss arched a slender brow, light rippling through her eyes. “Big sister Lu’s already rented out the place?”
“Yes! Do you need me to repeat myself? Hurry up and leave! Stop being an eyesore here.” Madame Lu was exceedingly unfriendly.
The younger girl nodded. “Big sister Lu’s memory must not be very good. I took pains to ask the manager just now and rented out the third floor only because it was empty. But big sister Lu says that you rented out the entire tavern a long time ago? Then, pray tell, why didn’t the manager mention this?”
“That old thing has a poor memory. Are you leaving or not?!” Urgency dripped into the Lu madame’s tone.
Qin Yining chuckled mockingly, the sound as crisp and pleasing as a silver bell. “Well now, isn’t that interesting? Big sister Lu is the one with a poor memory, but blames it on the manager. I ask only this: if you really had rented out the tavern a long time ago, then how did all the customers on the first floor make it inside? If the manager really does have a poor memory, allowing one customer inside is a mistake, but did he really let all of these people in because he has a bad memory? Surely you won’t say these are all your guests, big sister.”
The Qin fourth miss scanned the crowd of customers; the crowd sported varying body sizes and opulence of clothing. With Madame Lu’s temperament, she wouldn’t befriend anyone she deemed inferior.
The madame had nothing to say in return. She’d only wanted to deny Qin Yining face, but had forgotten the particulars of the situation.
The girl tittered softly, completely unperturbed by the madame trying to make things difficult for her. Her carefree laughter prompted the other guests to answer in kind, and an atmosphere that had been rather ruined by the madame’s maid lightened. The crowd’s impression of Qin Yining was thousands of times better than the domineering, spiteful Madame Lu.
As the Qin fourth miss laughed, she surreptitiously swept her gaze over the man standing next to the madame.
He looked roughly twenty five years old and held himself with an uncommonly refined air. His seated posture was lazily comfortable, a noble dignity suffusing every movement and gesture. Though his aura was out of the ordinary, there was nothing threatening about him.
He imparted the feeling of being as gentle and mild as water. One’s eye would be caught by his bearing, not his features. Just the former alone caused onlookers to unconsciously avert their eyes.
A saying rose in Qin Yining’s heart—the foundations of aristocracy are of nobility inborn.
Madame Lu was beet red with humiliation. Long accustomed to willful arrogance, she was someone that even the Princess of Anyang called ‘big sister’. She’d never been ridiculed in broad daylight like this!
“So it looks like you’re determined to be enemies with my clan!” she squeezed out through clenched teeth.
Qin Yining fluttered her long lashes with a smile. “The foundations of aristocracy have never been built upon bullying others from a position of strength, but are an accumulation of composure and masterful experience—as illustrated by the one standing next to you. As for you… loving and respecting yourself first is the key to the adoration and esteem that you’re so fond of. It’s absolutely not a function of a loud voice and threats.”
Madame Lu slammed her hand viciously onto a table and shot to her feet in abject fury. “Who do you think you are?! You’re just a broken piece of junk discarded by someone who’s gotten bored! Instead of finding a corner to hide in, you swan around in public! Stop making a fool of yourself outside when you’re just a dirty, rejected toy! The sight of you makes me sick!”
The look in Qin Yining’s eyes frosted over. Xiaoman and Xiaoxue were already posturing in front of her, Jiyun and Bingtang glaring ferociously from behind as well. Her servants were ready to feed Madame Lu to the dogs if Qin Yining gave the word.
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...wow. This Madame Lu is nasty.
And shout out to DCF readers, isn't this the name of the DCF male lead? XD