Chapter 447 - Choice

As a result, the people who Assistant Minister Li wanted to seek help from, either found various reasons to refuse or directly ordered the doorkeeper, “If Assistant Minister Li comes, just tell him that the master isn’t home!” 

Seeing that he was so filial, the Ministry of Revenue’s Minister Liu pitied him and reminded him one day after court, “Whoever started the trouble should end it. Official Li should go back and think about why Royal Prince Yang blacklisted your household. Did you offend him?” 

“Offend Royal Prince Yang? Who would dare?” Suddenly, he recalled that day that his oldest son got beaten up. He seemed to have said that his daughter had offended the Ministry of Revenue’s female official. During those few days, his daughter kept scolding that lass with the surname Yu… Could it be that Royal Prince Yang was targeting their family because of this? Assistant Minister Li finally understood the underlying problem. 

He disregarded going back to work at the Ministry of Appointments and hurried home. He had his wife wake up his daughter, who was still in bed, and asked for the details of what happened on the day of the flower competition. Li Meirou naturally made it seem like she was in the right. She described Yu Xiaocao as a crude and hateful country girl who was disrespectful and arrogant. She, on the other hand, became a pitiful person who was insulted, ignored, and ostracized. 

Assistant Minister Li had a good understanding of his daughter. Although she was somewhat arrogant, she still got along quite well with the noble young misses in the capital. Why would those girls unite to bully his daughter for the sake of a rural girl who just arrived in the capital? 

“Rou’er, tell me exactly what happened on that day. Tell me honestly! Don’t add things into the story and don’t recount it in a biased manner! This is very important to our family!!” This was the first time that Assistant Minister Li pulled a long face and spoke in such a serious tone when hearing his daughter’s complaint. 

Since she was the only daughter in the family, she had been pampered since young. When had Li Meirou ever seen her father with such a ‘stern’ expression? For a moment, she was stunned. 

Lady Li’s heart ached for her daughter as she pulled on her hands and said to Assistant Minister Li, “Husband, give the child some time to speak. Don’t scare her! Rou’er, listen to Mother. Just honestly tell your father what happened on that day. Didn’t Mother tell you this in the past? It doesn't matter if you caused trouble. The most important thing is for you to honestly tell us, your parents, the truth, so that we can help you solve the problem!” 

Seeing her parents’ anxious gazes, Li Meirou realized that there was some major issue related to the flower competition. She stopped pretending to be aggrieved and told them about her conflict with Yu Xiaocao that day, as well as how Royal Princess Minglan and the other noble young misses treated Yu Xiaocao. Although she still added some personal feelings in, she had recounted most of the details of what happened that day. 

Lady Li lightly gasped. From her daughter’s narration, she could clearly feel her precious daughter’s contempt and hatred towards the female official. She could also understand why Royal Prince Yang was targeting their family. He was helping the female official get some face back! 

“It’s all your fault! You always talk about how it’s disdainful and shameless for women to be officials. Your words have influenced the child’s view on the female official. Our daughter has a frank temperament, so she won’t hide her likes and dislikes. Well, isn’t it great now! She has seriously offended someone…” Li Meirou had a wronged and puzzled expression on her face that also showed a slight sense of unease. Seeing this, Lady Li couldn’t bear to say harsh words to her daughter, and got angry at Assistant Minister Li instead. 

At that time, he had voiced his opposition about women being officials before that official made an outstanding contribution. Since the big harvest of corn and the emperor decided to promote this high-yield crop in the north, had he ever said anything bad about that female official? Moreover, her greenhouse vegetables and fruits had become a trend in the capital—it was an honor to have them on the dining table. 

How could he complain about her when he was eating her food? At this time, he desperately wanted to be on good terms with her, okay? But, his ignorant daughter just had to go and offend the other party. What made him even more helpless was that she not only didn’t find fault in the other party but also got roasted instead! Ay! There were so many noble young misses at the flower competition, but why didn’t they come out to say anything? This child had been spoiled rotten by her mother, so she didn’t have any worldly wisdom at all! 

“What should we do now? There’s only five days until the patriarch’s birthday banquet! Even a good housewife wouldn’t be able to cook without the ingredients. Without the vegetables and fruits, how am I supposed to hold a banquet with over a dozen tables?” In the past two days, Lady Li couldn’t eat well and sleep well for the sake of the birthday banquet. She felt like her hair was going gray from worrying about the banquet. 

Assistant Minister Li looked at his daughter with a hopeless expression, snorted, and said, “What else? She’s the one who caused the trouble, so it’s natural that she’s the one who must clean up the mess! Tomorrow, bring our daughter to the General’s Estate. Make sure to bring enough gifts to show our sincerely…” 

“I won’t go! I won’t apologize to that boorish wretch! If I do that, then how am I supposed to hang out within the capital’s noble young ladies’ circle in the future? I’m not going. I won’t go no matter what!!” Without letting Assistant Minister Li finish speaking, Li Meirou screamed desperately with a look of pain and madness within her eyes. 

Assistant Minister Li was seriously angry now. If he had another choice, would he let his daughter be wronged? But the birthday banquet was already in the works. If there was a lack of vegetables and fruits on the tables, it was obvious that the Li Family would become a laughingstock for the entire capital! How was he supposed to lift his head in front of his colleagues in the future? 

“You’re the one who caused this mess. If you don’t go, who’s going to go?” When faced with his daughter, who kept shaking her head and was extremely resistant, Assistant Minister Li felt very exhausted. His precious daughter, who he had doted on for a dozen or so years, was actually so selfish that she only cared about herself and neglected the overall situation. 

“Mother, I’ll become a laughingstock if I go apologize to that wretch! I definitely won’t go! If you guys force me then…I’ll go kill myself!!” Li Meirou recalled that last year, there was a noble young miss who encountered a similar situation, in which she had to bow her head to her rival. At that time, she had taken the lead to ridicule and humiliate her. That night, that noble young miss hung herself with a white silk. She shivered at this thought, and the air around her became suffocating.   

Seeing her daughter’s pitiful appearance, Lady Li couldn’t help but say, “Husband…why don’t you ask your colleagues to see if anyone has a hot spring manor or grows vegetables in a greenhouse? We can buy them at a higher price…” 

When Li Meirou heard this, she fixed her expectant eyes on her father. Assistant Minister Li sighed and slowly shook his head as he said, “Think about it. Would those who could afford a hot spring manor lack money? It’s better not to mention money. Otherwise, the other party will get irritated! Also, those who own greenhouses are people with literary pursuits. Their greenhouses are used to raise valuable plants and flowers. Have you seen anyone grow vegetables in their glass greenhouses?” 

Li Meirou’s hopes were completely shattered. She hugged her mother’s arms and silently wept. Assistant Minister Li went up to her and gently stroked her hair. He said, “Rou’er, Father knows that you feel wronged! However, Father really doesn’t have any other choice ah! Think about it. If you attend a gathering with those noble young misses and there’s a lack of fruits and vegetables at the banquet, what would you think?” 

‘What would I think? I will definitely gossip about them being stingy and shabby with other noble young misses in private. Since they can’t prepare a high-class banquet, they shouldn’t pretend to be capable and make a fool out of themselves!’ It was going to be her grandfather’s seventieth birthday in five days. Originally, her family had made great efforts to gain some face through this birthday banquet. If they couldn’t get the vegetables and fruits, then it wouldn’t be gaining face. Instead, it would be getting slapped in the face—slapping themselves in the face! 

But, it was worse than killing her to have her lower her head in front of that low-born and vulgar lass, admit that she had offended the other party, and ask for her forgiveness. 

Seeing her daughter silently weeping, Lady Li’s heart ached as she said, “Why don’t…I go visit Lady Fang alone? I don’t have a close relationship with her, but after all, both our husbands are officials of the imperial court. Lady Fang is the female official’s godmother, and they allegedly have a relationship that’s closer than real mother and daughter. If I can persuade Lady Fang, that female official wouldn’t not give her godmother face, right?”

Li Meirou raised her head again, sniffled her nose, and a spark of hope flashed through her eyes. Assistant Minister Li thought about it carefully and still felt that it wasn’t right, “This is our last hope. If we mess it up, our family won’t be able to raise our head in the capital anymore. I think that it’s better to bring Rou’er along, just in case.” 

Seeing the slightly desperate look for help within her daughter’s eyes, Lady Li showed a troubled expression and said, “But…” 

“No buts! I’m someone with no backing, so do you think that it was easy for me to get up to this position step by step? If you feel bad for our daughter, then let’s just let it be and not care about losing face. Anyway, my term for this position will end next year. I’ll just apply for a post outside the capital. When we move to a new location, no one will know us…” 

Before Assistant Minister Li had finished speaking, he was interrupted by Li Meirou. She anxiously said, “Don’t! I’ll just go apologize to Yu Xiaocao, so don’t apply for a position outside of the capital!” 

When Li Meirou was younger, she had grown up in that environment. Although it was true that she had a higher status among the noble young ladies in that place, it was still a much lower status than in the capital. Hanging out with a bunch of ignorant country bumpkins had pulled down her class. 

Although she wasn’t very famous in the noble young misses’ circle in the capital, she was the subject of flattery among the young misses, who came from families of fourth-ranked and fifth-ranked officials. If her father transferred to a position outside of the capital, then she could only interact with those unpresentable people in the future.   

Moreover, she was fifteen this year, and had reached the marriageable age. Had it not been for the fact that her parents doted on her and wanted her to stay with them for two more years, she might have already gotten engaged like many of the other noble misses. But, if her father transferred out of the capital, he would have to go for four years. By then, she would be nineteen years old. Even if she didn’t get married to a local at that place, she probably wouldn’t be able to find a good marriage partner when she got back to the capital. There was also a big possibility that she would get married to a local and not be able to easily return to the capital. She didn’t want that to happen! 

Thus, she made a decision to stay in the capital and lower her head to the other party. 

Lady Li’s heart ached for her daughter, so she got someone valuable from the dowry and gave it to her daughter. When Li Meirou’s eldest sister-in-law found out about this, she privately grumbled to Eldest Young Master Li, “It seems like they’re the only ones who are related by blood and you, the eldest young master, was picked up from the streets…”

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Translator: Myst