Chapter 444 - Winning the Competition

The ‘judges’ all minutely discussed each and every flower in detail. Not a single flaw escaped their eyes. However, they weren’t truly interested in any of the displayed pots because not a single specimen was one that caught their eye with its brilliance and grandeur. The two that Yu Xiaocao had brought, the ‘Two Qiaos’ chrysanthemum and ‘Cinnabar Purple’ camellia, made their eyes glow with admiration as they were perfect examples of rare and beautiful flowers. Unfortunately, those two pots of flowers were not here to participate in the competition.

Nevertheless, one was here as a gift to the hostess while the other was to open the competition. Since both were such rarities, didn’t that mean that Yu Xiaocao had brought over a flower that was even more precious and grand than those other two for the competition? All of the flower experts here were looking forward to her entry.

Finally, Yu Xiaocao took out her last pot of flowers and placed it on the judging table.

“Isn’t this...this a lotus-petal orchid? That’s not right, it...it looks like a combination of lotus-shaped petals that has harmonized with the simple elegance and character of the three most famous orchids! I’ve lived for so long yet I’ve never seen such an orchid like this. Could it be a new breed?” The judge who knew the most about orchids and who had personally thought that there wasn’t an orchid in the world she hadn’t seen was named Du Wenli. She was an esteemed flower expert but she almost thrust her head forward in an undignified manner to get a closer look at this pot of flowers.

Within the delicate porcelain pot, an orchid flower quietly bloomed. In between its slender leaves was a blossom of sparkling white petals that resembled the most high-quality jade. It looked like a simple and elegant court lady shyly revealing a sweet smile. Its lotus shaped petals had fine, delicate veins running through it that were tinted a light green. It made it seem as tender as a newborn child…

Another flora expert, Mei Fanghua, also praised this flower endlessly, “This is definitely an example of a lotus-petal orchid of the best caliber. Look at the flower petals, the length and width of them are perfectly proportional and balanced with each other. The ends of the petals come to a point like an arrow and make the petals come to the shape of an immortal peach. When that is added on to the delicate little tongue, no other lotus-petal orchid in the world could possibly compare to this one! It even has the superimposed colors of a bright red outline and pure white insides. One could truly say that this orchid is ‘something that can’t be sculpted by even the best artisan, a pure example of flowers blooming from the water’!”

“That’s absolutely right! Lady Mei’s assessment of this orchid is spot on and I believe that this specimen has increased the standards all flowers should be judged by. Truly something worthy of celebration!” Du Wenli had finally encountered someone who had similar inclinations with her. She pointed at this pot of orchid flowers, “Can you see the few strands of light-green traveling through the petals? I believe it truly accentuates the simple elegance of an orchid flower. Just like a top-notch beauty from the Tang Dynasty, it has clear features with a coquettish plumpness. Heavenly beauty and each open flower looks like it is surrounded by five heavenly peaches. Truly bewitches a person beyond comparison…”

Heavenly immortal peaches? Yu Xiaocao scooted over to take a closer look. Didn’t all of the petals on the flower look like they were just in the shape of a peach? She felt like these expert flower enthusiasts had imaginations that were a bit too outlandish. Expert Du must be a foodie! Her godmother had said that Expert Du was one of her good friends. Next year, when the honey peaches were ripe, she needed to give her a portion…

Just as she was lost in her thoughts, Expert Du’s voice suddenly brought her back to the present. Du Wenli noticed that the young girl was blinking her large eyes in confusion as if she had long stopped paying attention to the events around. She lightly chuckled and thought, ‘Lady Fang’s adopted daughter is really quite interesting. At such an important event, she can even get lost in her own thoughts. Is she very confident in the outcome or does she not care at all about this flower war banquet?’

“Miss Yu, does this pot of orchid have a name?” Lady Du gently made a few noises. Only when she saw that the little lass had finally looked at her did she quietly ask her question. 

Yu Xiaocao smiled at her and said, “My godmother said that this orchid’s flower, leaves, fragrance, demeanor, color, spirit, beauty combined with its lotus characteristics, simple and elegant atmosphere and other qualities makes it noble and refined. Thus, she gave it the name ‘Elegant Lotus Crown’.”

“‘Elegant Lotus Crown’? Very good name. It truly describes the half-lotus and half-orchid characteristics of this orchid plant! This Elegant Lotus Crown orchid is simple and elegant, pure beyond comparison, so it is definitely one of the best orchids out there! Do you happen to know where Lady Fang got this plant?” Lady Mei also praised the name of this orchid unstintingly and she was very envious of Lady Fang’s good fortune.

Lady Fang had loved orchids ever since she was a young girl. At that time, Matriarch Xia had also spoiled her and spent lots of money to buy precious orchids for her. After she married General Fang, she didn't have any children after twenty years of marriage. Consequently, she paid even more attention to her orchid flowers. General Fang also searched throughout the country to help her find rare and precious orchid flowers. Every time she had a flower banquet at her residence, her collection of orchids always dazzled everyone there. She truly had a collection that was hard to find.

Only half a year had passed since she last saw Lady Fang, yet the other woman had gotten her hands on another precious orchid flower. This orchid was particularly special and unique. It was unlikely that any of the other orchids in her collection could even hold a candle to this one in terms of rarity and value.

No one was the least bit surprised that the ‘Elegant Lotus Crown’ orchid that Yu Xiaocao brought was the winner of this flower war. Li Meirou felt very aggrieved at this outcome. However, in front of these flower experts, who were all complimenting this orchid without stopping, she couldn’t say anything. Although the look on her face was slightly ugly, she wasn’t so stupid that she would refute these expert opinions.

In fact, for the sake of gaining some prestige at this flower war party, Li Meirou had begged her mother to use her connections to get Lady Feng to lend a famous camellia flower to her. Naturally, how could someone who loved flowers bear to lend out her most precious flowers to another person? Despite that, even Lady Feng’s least outstanding flower from her collection was still more than enough to outshine the specimens from the young maidens who only had a hobby of raising flowers.

However, the result was contrary to her hopes. A girl from a farmer's family, from who knows where, had actually brought over a pot of flowers that even the flower experts had never seen before. Furthermore, this new variety was also one of the rarest orchids too. It really ticked her off that someone else had stolen her thunder!

Li Meirou remarked in a dissatisfied manner just as everyone was in good spirits, “This pot of rare orchid isn’t something from your own collection. So what’s the point in you feeling so happy and proud about this? So unexpected that you have such an ambitious personality that you would bring out a rare orchid from Lady Fang to show off. You just wanted to stomp everyone else in the ground!”

When she finished speaking, Yu Xiaocao didn’t deign to reply but many of the other young maidens in the room had their expressions change. Out of the two dozen or so young ladies here, just how many were true flower lovers? Most of them were only participating for the fun and took the flower war party as an excuse to spend time with each other in a lively situation. The vast majority of them had brought over some rare specimens from their older relatives to attend this party for the sake of saying a few flattering words to the royal princess. Now that their actions had been brought to the forefront, how could any of them be happy? Flushes of anger and shame appeared on their faces.

Every young maiden here had a different personality. Some of them swallowed down their fury and seethed inwardly. Others, on the other hand, ignited as if they were a firecracker and brought the conflict out into the open, “Li Meirou, just what are you trying to say? You’re shameless enough to scold other people, ah? What about that pot of ‘Crane Feather’ camellia you brought over? Do I need to say anything more?”

“Yesterday, your paternal aunt visited Lady Feng’s residence and didn’t bring anything along. However, when she left, she came out with a flower pot. I’ve known you for so many years but I've never seen you take much interest in flowers. Yet, you suddenly appear at this party with a rare species of camellia. And this all happens after your paternal aunt called upon Lady Feng, the renowned lover and collector of camellias. What do you have to say for yourself?” Another young maiden took advantage of the situation to sling some mud at her.

Li Meirou had originally been trying to target that lass, Xiaocao, but she didn’t expect her actions to draw the ire of the others. After being confronted with the pointed remarks of her previous friends, her eyes immediately turned red as if people were bullying her. She choked out, “You guys...why are you guys speaking up for that stupid lass? Were you truly just bought over by a little handmade soap and methods to nourish the skin? Or are you guys thinking of other benefits you can get from her so now you’re targeting me instead…”  

When she said this, everyone else was even more offended by her words. From what she was claiming, everyone here was only using others for their own advantage and were stepping down on her!

Royal Princess Minglan sent a scathing glare at her, hinting at her to stop talking. Then she came out to relieve the pressure, “Miss Li’s words were a bit rash. Everyone has known each other for many years, so we should all be familiar with her personality, right? That being said, this flower war party was for the sake of having some fun and I only did it as an excuse to have everyone come together. Does it really matter where we got the flowers from and who actually owns them? Despite that, my eyes have truly been opened by today. Apparently, there were many species of precious flowers that I have never seen before so I have grown in knowledge. In the future, if we continue to have more flower banquets, it’s likely that all of us will become much more knowledgeable in flowers!”

After receiving Royal Princess Minglan's warning, Li Meirou didn’t dare to show that she was upset despite the grievance she felt in her heart. If she ruined the royal princess’s party, then in the future, it was unlikely that she would be invited by any of the noble young maidens for other gatherings. She squeezed out a smile on her face and tried to show her friendliness to the other girls present. However, she still somehow managed to neglect Yu Xiaocao in her apologies. 

Yu Xiaocao didn't take any of this little girl’s petty actions to heart and continued to sit peacefully at the main table. She was currently in a lively discussion with Yuan Xueyan, who was very interested in the Elegant Lotus Crown orchid.  

“Older Sister Yuan, if you like this flower, then when the flower starts diving into a second stalk, I’ll give you that one!” This pot of Elegant Lotus Crown orchid was actually one of the other stalks that had split from the one she had given to her godmother two years ago. However, she had used the excuse of borrowing this pot at the banquet already, so she naturally couldn’t just give it to someone. Thus, Xiaocao could only promise that in the following year, she would give a stalk that split from the main plant to Yuan Xueyan.

Yuan Xueyan sincerely liked this orchid that was pure and elegant. It was really to her taste and fit her temperament. However, she could tell that this Elegant Lotus Crown orchid was extremely rare and valuable from Lady Mei’s assessment of the flower and the older woman’s envious tone. This was the first time they met. Although their personalities got along and she truly liked this younger girl, she really couldn’t accept such a valuable gift so shamelessly.

He Wanning, who was sitting at the side, could tell her good friend’s misgivings and hurriedly interjected, “Younger Sister Xiaocao, this orchid is extremely valuable and precious and must be the treasure of your godmother. Is it alright for you to so easily promise that you’ll send a pot out without asking your godmother first? What if she has other plans for it?”

Li Meirou, who was sitting at a neighboring table, had been eavesdropping this entire time in an attempt to catch Xiaocao at a disadvantage. How could she possibly let go of such a good opportunity? She coldly laughed and sneered, “Looks like some people here throw caution to the winds in order to flatter the noble daughter of the prime minister! I wonder how Lady Fang would feel if she found out that her own goddaughter promised to give out her treasure to climb onto others. A piece of dog meat cannot stick onto a sheep. Some people are so shameless that they’ll try to grab onto anyone. However, doing so will never change the truth of their lowly background!”

Just who was the dog meat and who was the sheep? Yuan Xueyan lightly frowned. Just how did the Right Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Appointments teach his daughter? She never thought before she spoke and acted impulsively and arrogantly. She was narrow-minded and only concerned with the superficial. How could this type of person be also considered a noble young maiden?

Li Meirou didn’t realize that while she was trying to point out Yu Xiaocao’s flaws and flatter the daughter of the prime minister, she actually ended up offending said daughter of the prime minister. Furthermore, Miss Yuan now considered her to be a person she absolutely could not interact with in the future. She had truly bitten more off than she could chew! 

Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes and, under the concerned gaze of Yuan Xueyan, easily refuted the other girl’s accusations, “Miss Li, it is of no concern to you whether or not I have the authority to give out this Elegant Lotus Crown orchid. I am well aware of what I can and cannot do. However, some people did their utmost best to borrow a valuable plant from others yet clearly have no idea how to take care of it. If that flower got damaged by frost or even destroyed, I don’t know how you’ll make it up to the original owner, right?”

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Myst's Thoughts

Sanguine’s Thoughts: I thought describing pretty men was torturous. Describing pretty flowers is even more torturous. I actually do like flowers quite a bit but I’m no expert.

Translator: Sanguine