“Young Master Pei, whom did you say you were interested in?” Madam Lin was certain that she’d misheard.
“Her!” In front of everyone, Pei Ziao once again pointed at Huahua. “What’s the matter, Madam Lin? Surely you’re not unwilling?”
“Ah?” Madam Lin felt a little dazed. “Ah! Oh, Young Master Pei, how could you joke with me like that? My goodness, to think I almost believed you!”
It wasn’t only Madam Lin who thought Pei Ziao had been joking: all the women, patrons, servants, and even bouncers, regardless of whether they knew Pei Ziao or not, were certain that he couldn’t be telling the truth.
Even those who could stand looking at Huahua’s disfigured appearance for more than three breaths were considered strong of mind. For someone to be interested in her… that person was either addled in the head or joking.
And Pei Ziao didn’t look one bit like he was addled in the head!
“Madam…” Huahua whispered to Madam Lin, “Young Master Pei told me he wanted to spend a night together with me!”
“What?!” Madam Lin exclaimed. “Repeat yourself!”
No one present would believe Huahua’s words.
“Is this ugly girl crazy? She really thinks she can snag someone like Young Master Pei?!”
“Not even toads would want to copulate with her!”
“I can’t believe she’s taking Young Master Pei’s joke seriously. Isn’t she aware of her own appearance?”
Criticism and nasty comments from the women and patrons swept through the brothel as Huahua gazed innocently at Pei Ziao with her small, beady eyes.
As if responding to Huahua’s gaze, Pei Ziao immediately stood up and walked toward her. While the crowd watched on in stupefaction, Pei Ziao put a hand on Huahua’s sturdy shoulder and announced, “Miss Huahua’s absolutely right! I do plan on spending the night with her!”
Pei Ziao’s words were met with a deafening silence.
Those women that were infatuated with Pei Ziao, but whom he’d never chosen, could hear the mournful tinkling of their breaking hearts. Someone as handsome as he was, choosing to sleep with as monstrously ugly a servant as Huahua? How could that be?!
“Madam Lin,” Pei Ziao broke the silence, taking out a sheaf of banknotes and holding it in front of her. “I expect Miss Huahua’s still a virgin. Will this be enough to buy her first night?”
When Madam Lin saw the sheaf of banknotes in front of her, she subconsciously reached out for it even without understanding the situation fully.
“Is it enough?”
“Ah?” Madam Lin was still somewhat dazed. “Ah! Yes, of course!” Far more than sufficient!
Even without counting, Madam Lin could tell that this sheaf of banknotes was worth at least four hundred taels of silver, enough to buy the virginity of even the most dazzling woman of the Yichun brothel. Huahua had been a gift, and Madam Lin had only raised her in order to ward off evil spirits… she’d never thought that Huahua would ever end up making money for her!
Madam Lin’s brain cleared up as soon as she thought about money. That’s right—wasn’t the Yichun brothel meant to be a place for men to do what they wanted? With enough money, any man could spend a night with Madam Lin herself, let alone Huahua!
“Young Master Pei, your taste is truly extraordinary.” Madam Lin waved the kerchief in her hand, extolling Huahua’s virtues as she would any other woman of the brothel. “Huahua’s indeed a virgin.” No one would want her! “She has an incredibly… resilient body, a broad, welcoming face…” This time, however, Madam Lin’s gift of gab failed her. How was she supposed to praise someone like Huahua?!
“Madam…” Huahua bashfully twisted her body, successfully disgusting most of the crowd looking on in interest.
But Huahua didn’t mind; after all, the dashing Young Master Pei still seemed enthralled with her. Although Huahua was largely uneducated, she had seen enough of the goings-on in the brothel that she could mimic the dialogue between the other women and their guests. In a coarse, grating voice, she called out for Pei Ziao, “Young Master Pei…”
“Shh!” Pei Ziao held an outstretched finger to her pursed lips. “Miss Huahua, are you excited?”
“Yes, Young Master Pei!”
Pei Ziao had successfully enticed the ugliest woman in the brothel, as Yun Ruoyan had commanded. With the soul-stealing pill still in effect, Pei Ziao next had to carry out Yun Ruoyan’s second command.
“Miss Huahua, I look forward to spending the night with you.” His dreamy eyes swept over Huahua’s body.
“M-Me too, Young Master Pei.” Huahua had never felt her legs so jelly-like, and it was taking all her focus not to fall to the ground.
Pei Ziao attempted to grab Huahua’s thick waist to lift her up, but failed the first time. The second time, infusing spiritual energy into his body, he finally lifted Huahua up.
“Young Master Pei, follow me!” Madam Lin immediately guided him forward. “I’ve prepared you a room right here.”
With Madam Lin leading the way, Pei Ziao carried Huahua urgently up to a lavishly decorated guest room on the second floor. After Pei Ziao’s departure, the flock of women finally broke out of their reveries and mourned for each other.
“My goodness, what’s going on? I don’t want to live anymore! Put me out of my misery!”
“Was I dreaming? Sister, pinch me!”
“Ouch, it hurts! It’s not a dream—oh, I don’t want to live anymore either!”
The women had gone crazy, but the men were a little more clear-headed.
“Was that Young Master Pei just now? His silhouette seemed familiar, but I couldn’t quite tell.”
“It’s him, alright! I see him around here frequently.”
“H-He really bought that Huahua’s first night? What incredible fortitude!”
“The nobles all want to try something different, don’t you know? But it’s true that it’s the first time I’ve seen someone with such… unusual tastes.”
From then on, Pei Ziao’s name spread far and wide across the capital.
The next day, Yun Ruoyan woke up early in the morning, washed up, and dressed up as a man. Because she was disguised, she left the Yun manor by leaping over the back wall, rather than through the front doors. She gracefully jumped over the wall, brushed away the dirt on her robe, and strode toward the alleyway. Past the alleyway, she headed directly for the Yichun brothel.
A carriage brushed by Yun Ruoyan’s side. Yun Ruoyan herself didn’t notice a thing, but the person in the carriage had been taking a breather with her head out the window, and it just so happened that she had seen Yun Ruoyan.
“Miss, what’s the matter?” Cui Ju asked her mistress when she saw her staring out the window.
“Tell the driver to stop the carriage. I want to get off,” Yi Qianying turned around and exclaimed.
“Ah?” Yi Qianying’s sudden command made Cui Ju hesitate.
“Didn’t you understand my words?” Yi Qianying snapped impatiently. “Are you deaf? I want to get off the carriage. Get the driver to stop the carriage!”
“Oh, yes, yes, Miss.” Cui Ju immediately stuck her head out the other window to communicate with the driver.
Yi Qianying sniffed as she stared at Cui Ju’s back, exasperation filling her mind. After He Xiang’s punishment, she had recruited and dismissed three servants in a row, each more stupid than the last. None of them were to her taste.
At the moment, Yi Qianying was heading back to the Yi manor. Her wedding to the crown prince was imminent, and the Yi family, from which she had long since fallen out of favor, was now trying to badger her to get in her good graces.
They had sent a carriage for her early in the morning, telling her that they’d prepared a dowry for the wedding for her to inspect. If she was dissatisfied, they were perfectly willing to change it.
But just now, when Yi Qianying was looking out the window, she’d seen her dear cousin Yun Ruoyan dressed as a man. Although Yun Ruoyan had veiled her face, Yi Qianying recognized her immediately.
If Yun Ruoyan was putting on a disguise so early in the morning, there had to be something amiss! Yi Qianying jumped out of the carriage and followed behind Yun Ruoyan, telling Cui Ju and the carriage driver to wait by the roadside for her. What was Yun Ruoyan up to now?
Because it was early in the morning, Yun Ruoyan walked leisurely to the Yichun brothel without interruption. The doors to the brothel were tightly shut. Because brothels didn’t tend to operate during the day, there were no patrons around.
Yun Ruoyan craned her head to look to the second floor—as yet, there wasn’t a commotion. After a whole night of activity, the guests of the Yichun brothel were still asleep.
Yun Ruoyan wasn’t in a hurry. She entered a restaurant by the other side of the street and ordered a plate of steamed dumplings and red bean congee. After removing the veil from her face and storing it in her sleeve, she slowly began to eat her breakfast.
Yi Qianying, hidden by the other side of the restaurant, stared at her in suspicion. Was the breakfast at the Yun manor so bad that she had to sneak out all the way here? There were so many restaurants along the way that she’d passed over. Why had she deliberately chosen a restaurant right opposite a brothel?
When Yun Ruoyan finished her plate of steamed dumplings and found that there was still no commotion, she ordered a few deep-fried breadsticks.
“Uncle, when does the brothel opposite usually open for business?” Yun Ruoyan asked the old man who served her.
When he saw that she was disguised as a handsome youth, albeit one with a somewhat ugly birthmark on his right cheek, the old man frowned. “Lad, why’re you inquiring about such things at such a young age?”
“Uncle, you misunderstand me,” Yun Ruoyan explained. “My brother hasn’t been home the entire night, and my sister-in-law’s in a rage at home. My parents had me come over to see if he’s here, but the brothel doesn’t seem to be open yet.”
Only then did the old man stop looking so critically at her. “It’s almost time. Some of the guests leave before dawn while no one’s awake, of course, but the others tend to head out at around this time. Most of them will head straight over for breakfast before returning to their own homes.”
Just then, a shadow suddenly flew out of the second floor of the Yichun brothel, accompanied by a piercing scream that grated at her ears.Previous Chapter Next Chapter