Transmigrator Meets Reincarnator
Chapter 206: Not Accepting the Loss (2)
This chapter has been stolen from volarenovels. Please read from the original source!
Lady Pan was so enraged that her hands started to tremble, hidden under the broad sleeves of her court dress. She tossed her sleeves and left the banquet area. When she reached the platform where the esteemed personages were seated, she bowed towards the Empress Dowager.
The Empress Dowager was already old, so she couldn't clearly see the person who had just walked up to the bottom of the platform and greeted her. It was a court lady off to the side who quickly informed her of the person's identity.
"Lady Pan? What business do you have?"
Although Empress Shen didn't know what had happened behind the scenes at the banquet today, she was happy to watch the drama unfold. She continued looking upon the scene before her with her eyebrows raised.
When Lady Pan heard the Empress Dowager personally replying to her, her excitement sparked. She respectfully answered, "Replying to Your Grace, for the sake of the Mid-Autumn Banquet's round cake competition, your humble servant started researching on new recipes for round cakes half a year ago. Thus, it's quite hard for your humble servant to accept today's loss. Might Your Grace be inclined to favour your humble servant with some of the winning round cakes of this year's competition? Your humble servant will be able to rest easy upon tasting them."
Lady Pan had a distinguished and powerful background, so she had the ability to speak this freely to the Empress Dowager. If it had been any other courtier's wife who had dared to cast even the slightest bit of doubt on the Empress Dowager's decision, they would have been accused of the crime of lese majeste.
However, even if it was Lady Pan who had brought forth such a request, her actions were still slightly inappropriate.
When the Empress Dowager heard the reason for this request, her expression turned stormy. Actually, the Empress Dowager couldn't care less for the judging of the round cakes. In her old age, she had simply wanted to enjoy some lively festivities at the Mid-Autumn Banquet. However, this doubting of her judgement had caused her mood to turn sour.
Although the Empress Dowager didn't take Lady Pan to blame for her request, her voice had lost all traces of kindness when she replied.
"Since that is so, I'll let you satisfy your uneasiness. Go, bring over House Jing'an's round cakes and let all the noble madams try some."
The court lady-in-waiting serving the Empress Dowager bobbed in acknowledgement before quickly leading away two handmaids to the area where the round cakes were on display.
The Chengping Emperor sat on the highest seat, casting his gaze over the proceedings below him without any change in expression, as if he hadn't been the one to pick the winner of the round cake competition.
When Lady Pan heard that the Empress Dowager had actually acquiesced to her request, she immediately relaxed. She turned to look in the direction of House Jing'an's ladies with a disdainful glare, as if she had already seen their terrible end.
The court lady serving the Empress Dowager was conscientious in her work. She split House Jing'an's round cakes into many portions and had them placed in pure white porcelain dishes. She then instructed a few handmaids to serve them up to Lady Pan, as well as the Emperor, his wives, and the extended imperial family.
A handmaid brought the porcelain dish up to Lady Pan's side. She knelt down and said, "Noble Madam, this is today's winning round cakes. Please have a taste."
By the time the handmaid finished speaking, the noble madams around her had already focused their gazes onto the dish in her hands. When they looked at the pastries being served in those porcelain dishes, they drew in their breaths in surprise.
It was a round pastry with a flowery pattern on top. The edges were repeating waves that formed a flower, while an exquisite 'fortune' character was carved into the pastry skin that had been baked a beautiful golden-brown. Each piece was only about the size of half an egg, and there were five in the dish.
Impossible! How could there be such a complicated pattern on such a small piece of confection? The amount of detail on it was comparable to a piece of embroidery!
Even before the noble madams had taken a single bite, their attention had already been stolen away by the sheer exquisiteness of the pastries.
Madam Zou stared at that small dish in disbelief. Where... where had these beautiful pastries come from? Why hadn't she seen or known of these before? When her mind led her to this thought, she abruptly turned to Chu Lian, who was standing next to Matriarch He. It was her! It was her younger sister-in-law again!
Actually, Matriarch He hadn't seen Chu Lian's replacements for the round cakes either, so her heart had been beating like a drum in her chest. Upon seeing them for herself, half of her remaining anxiety eased away.
She turned to Chu Lian with a warm gaze, and Chu Lian returned it with a faint smile.
However, Lady Pan's expression had turned for the worse. She picked up one of the offered pastries with a trembling hand. When she bit through the pastry skin, there was some soft stuffing inside that looked translucent. She couldn't tell what it was made of, but it was similar to the stuffing of traditional round cakes. There was even a thin layer of sweetened bean paste in the center. The pastry was very small, so it wouldn’t make someone feel bloated after eating one. The soft skin broke easily, and the stuffing within was slightly sweet and sticky with a hint of the fragrance of red beans. After finishing off one piece, even Lady Pan felt like snagging one more from the dish...
It was only when she had reached her hand out that she remembered what she had set out to do.
She gulped the saliva that had pooled in her mouth from eating House Jing'an's 'round cake'. Although she wasn't willing to admit it, the truth was staring her right in the face. Furthermore, everyone was about to get a chance to taste House Jing'an's round cakes, and the voice of the people would decide this match. She couldn't refute the judgement any further.
After Lady Pan had taken a mooncake, Lady Yang had immediately taken one for herself as well. After eating it up, she shot a satisfied look over at Chu Lian. The remaining mooncakes were split between the other noble madams, who all voiced their praise for the confections.
Princess Wei's table had also been given some mooncakes. When Royal Princess Duanjia looked at the confection placed before her mother, she commented on what she found strange about it. "Hmm? This pastry... Isn't this the same one I took from Chu Liu in the imperial gardens? Chu Liu told me these were called 'mooncakes' or something. How did they turn into round cakes?"
"Mm! Chu Liu said so. But whatever they're called, they're really delicious! Mother, try it now! The one I ate had some salty egg yolk inside."
Princess Wei smiled and bit into that exquisite little mooncake. Mmmm... This one was indeed actually salty. There was... ham in the stuffing? Wonderful. It suited her tastes perfectly.
In the grand hall of Ninghe Palace, everyone who had eaten House Jing'an's round cakes shot strange looks at Lady Pan.
Lady Pan had been completely disgraced today. She took the initiative to step up to the Empress Dowager and admit her wrong. As the banquet continued, she didn't say a single word, and when the banquet ended, she led her servants away and quickly left the palace. It seemed like she wasn’t going to bother with making small talk after the banquet today.
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