The one to raise doubt was not limited to just Liu'er. All of the people in the crowd almost leaped simultaneously to question the man.
Why was such a large sum of money hanging there?
Who would want to do such a thing?
A show of wealth?
"... This is a reward," said the man watching the lantern, gripping his stick. "If you can get this lantern to light, the five thousand taels will be yours."
The observers were sent into an uproar.
Five thousand taels.
It should be known that the Fang Family's prize for the most stunning lantern was just one thousand taels.
"Of course it is real. This is a banknote from De Sheng Chang. Don't tell me you think it's fake." The man vigorously gestured at the glass bowls. "Take another look at this glass bowl. This is a genuine five thousand note."
"If you win, it's truly yours?" The person who was asking the question breathing was almost ragged, his whole body trembling.
Five thousand taels.
"Of course," said the man watching the lanterns.
At this, the man who asked violently charged forward.
"Slowly." The man watching the lantern pushed him back with his stick again.
He seemed very frail and the stick in his hands was also thin, but when the stick hit the person's shoulder, the man was actually forced to stop.
A person that was hired to watch over a five thousand tael banknote was, of course, capable.
Miss Jun nodded. As expected, Manager Gao was very reliable.
"Did I not say it earlier? To try to see whether or not you can light this lamp, you must first take out your money." The man watching the lamp pointed at the other bowl and the scattered banknotes within. "One try costs ten taels of silver."
Ten taels of silver!
What were ten taels of silver? It was enough for a family of three to eat for a year.
"This is too expensive!" cried the crowd immediately.
"Expensive?" The man scoffed. "Of course it is expensive. It is the same price as a box of the finest cosmetics for a cosmetics store, the same price as a Ding-made decorated tea set, equivalent to a top-notch banquet meal at the Luyang Hall, equivalent to a northern weasel hair writing brush."
These words forced the people around into silence.
For the poor, ordinary people, ten taels could guarantee their livelihood. For the rich, the list that the man enumerated were just decorations in their lives.
These ten taels could be said to be expensive or cheap, depending on the person talking.
It was difficult to hear that you had to have money to play; if you didn't, you had to shut up. It was your problem that you weren't able to have cosmetics, writing brushes, or eat fine meals. The cosmetics, writing brushes, and meals weren't the problem.
Miss Jun looked at the man and nodded again.
"Let me put it this way." The man watched the people who had retreated with a smile, then rapped his stick against the glass bowl with the banknote. "You pay ten taels to win five thousand. Isn't this transaction way too lopsided? This is the only time you'll meet such an opportunity in your life."
That's right. Ten taels may return five thousand. This transaction was simply overbalanced.
The people who were backing away again started to breathe heavily as their eyes sparkled.
"I'll do it," said someone while brandishing their sleeves.
It was a rich man whose silk clothes draped unflatteringly over his chubby frame.
"I am a man of business, and I wish to engage in this transaction," he said, tossing his ten taels into the glass bowl. "Sometimes transactions are a gamble."
The man watching the lantern verified the silver thrown into the bowl.
"Pretty good. If you win, the money in these two bowls will be returned to you," he said. He then pointed to the lantern Go board. "Please."
The chubby businessman fixed himself firmly before the lantern and scrutinized it carefully. After what seemed an excruciatingly long time, he finally placed one black piece onto the board.
At that moment, the piece fell in through a crack on the board.
It made a sound as it fell, but the lantern still did not light.
Sighs sounded all around.
The business man shook his head, shaking his sleeves angrily as he stalked off.
"Who's next, who's next?" The man watching the lantern procured another black stone and continued to wave his stick around. "Ten taels one chance, ten taels one chance."
The audience talked among themselves hesitatingly. For the majority, ten taels was too extravagant a sum. There were not many people who could and would exchange ten taels for an uncertain chance.
But there also weren't many people who could resist the allure of a five thousand tael reward.
Very soon, another person came forward. Casually tossing ten taels into the glass bowl, he proceeded to make his move much faster than the man before, seeming like he was not thinking as he laid down his piece.
Could he be an expert?
The crowd held their breaths unconsciously, waiting for the moment the lantern would light.
Sadly, the lantern remained unlit.
"Che." That person flicked his sleeves in anger. "Is this real? Can it actually be lit? Aren't you just tricking people?"
The waiting throng immediately scoffed.
So it was a trick.
"How could that be? Of course not," said the man with a snort. "Is this not a gamble?"
That's right, this is a gamble.
It was just a elegant gamble, and the stakes high. Of course, winnings would also be high.
The crowd once again stared at the lantern. The pitch-blackness seemed to resemble an endless cave, making people both frightened and eager to grab the treasure hidden within.
"Come and see!"
The people on the street started to swarm, shoving the young men trying to make their way through to the side. Some of their lanterns were knocked to the ground.
"What's happening? Has the cripple not gone home yet?" said a young man grumpily.
"Come and see, there is an amazing lantern over there. Whoever can light the lantern will win money," answered someone who was running past them excitedly.
Light the lantern and win money? Was the lantern very hard to light? Now this was interesting.
The young men exchanged glances.
"It is getting late. We should go back," Ning Yunzhao said.
This talk was too disappointing and immediately rejected by his companions.
"It's the best time now. How can we go back?" they said, following the rest of the crowd.
It was the best time because of the news of the lantern, but for Ning Yunzhao it wasn't good because of what he had just encountered.
He looked at his hand, at the lantern the girl had stuffed into his hands. Seeing that lantern made him inexplicably nervous.
This of course, was not like he was a young man who would become all soppy like a girl who received a lantern. He looked at his companions, whose hands and shoulders were full of lanterns, swaying as they passed through the city.
Today was the Lantern Festival. Everyone was carrying lanterns like this, especially them, high-spirited young men at their peak.
Ning Yunzhao was nervous because he didn't know how to deal with this lantern.
He wanted to throw it away somewhere, or give it to someone else.
But he felt that it was no good, that he was unwilling to do so.
That game of blind Go was much too marvelous, so much so that he thought he wouldn't have another such encounter in his whole life.
But if he could get to know that girl, he would be able to have another such battle.
When he thought of this, his face heated up slightly.
But if that girl was using that method to try to get to know him, it would also disappoint him.
No matter if it were discussing matters of officialdom with his uncle or interacting with his classmates and friends, Ning Yunzhao maneuvered such social situations with ease. However, he didn't think he'd be so awkward because of a lantern.