Chapter 450 - Mission Completed?

In actuality, what she was hinting at was quite different: my daughter is able to get along swimmingly with Royal Princess Minglan, Miss He and Miss Yuan, yet she’s unable to get along with your daughter. It was obvious; the problem did not lie with her daughter!

Lady Li glanced at her daughter and noticed that she had her head lowered obediently and wasn’t making a sound. She remembered that she was here to complete a mission. Despite the fact that the other woman had already served tea and was saying pleasantries, she continued on, “Miss Yu is magnanimous and we were unable to treat her properly. Is Miss Yu available to be seen so that we can clear the air on this misunderstanding?” 

In reality, Lady Li didn't believe a single word Lady Fang was saying. If she really didn't take any offense to the situation, why was she refusing to allow her daughter to be seen? Was this the way the Fang Residence received guests? If they didn't have a grudge against them, then why did they ask Royal Prince Yang to support them and cause so much trouble for them in the capital such that they had no face to see anyone else? However, she was here to ‘apologize’ to them today. Therefore, she could only suppress these questions within her heart.

“Eh? Did I not tell you that my Cao’er has gone out to the Imperial Plantations early this morning to overlook the affairs there? Aiya! My memory now has gone to ashes after chasing after that little disobedient boy all day everywhere. Lady Li, please don’t take offense! Just think, if my daughter was at home and a young miss came over, how could I not have her come greet the other maiden? That is not how my General’s Estate treats guests.” Lady Fang pretended to look frustrated but her eyes flashed with a mischievous light.

Lady Li’s expression changed suddenly and she slightly frowned, but, before long, she regained her serenity. She sighed, “It’s not easy for her to take care of court affairs!  It's getting colder with every passing day. It must be very difficult for her to run to the Imperial Plantation everyday!” 

Lady Fang also sighed along with her and stated in a tone full of approval, “That’s right ah! As a mother, how could I bear for my dear daughter to endure any grievance? After all, she did receive the imperial decree, and the emperor places great importance on this winter wheat. A few days ago, he even showed up himself with only Chief Steward Su along to inspect the fields! We won’t even get into her other responsibilities, but she has been fretting over her greenhouses full of vegetables. Ever since she got back from Tanggu Town, she had to personally go and check whether the people from the Ministry of Works had finished building the greenhouse pavillions. The vegetables have just sprouted, so she goes over every day to check on them to make sure that we will have green vegetables in time for the New Year's!”  

“Then Miss Yu must be working very hard!” Lady Li suddenly saw an opportunity when the topic of the conversation moved to the vegetables. She obsequiously began to flatter, “Speaking of the greenhouse grown vegetables, everyone in the capital knows how incredible Miss Yu is. In the years past, other than radishes and cabbages, it was already considered pretty good if we could have a few wilted green vegetables to eat at this season. Not at all like today, as long as you have money, you're more than able to eat some fresh green vegetables.”

Li Meirou sneered inwardly when she saw her mother giving flowery compliments to that disgusting, low-born girl. What was so great about her growing vegetables in the greenhouses? Was that low-born lass really that pure and great? They claimed that she was growing them for the sake of allowing people to have access to fresh vegetables, but how come they didn't talk about the immense amount of money that lass made from selling it? No matter how many vegetables she grew or how much money she made, that low-born chit was still a farmer! Muddy peasants were all the same. The low-born were always the low-born!

Lady Li was currently wracking her brains in praising Yu Xiaocao more and more beautifully. The words coming out of her mouth were so fake and obvious that even the personal maidservants attending to Lady Fang rolled their eyes in their hearts. No one paid attention to a young lady for no reason——there must be an ulterior motive! This wife of the Assistant Minister had already dawdled at the residence, chattering away, for almost half the morning, yet she still hadn't got to the crux of the issue. Did she really want to stay over and also eat lunch here too?

"My daughter is still young and isn’t worthy of Lady Li’s compliments!” Lady Fang couldn’t stand it anymore and didn’t want to interact with her anymore. She interrupted the other woman and said, “Lady Li, if you only came here to apologize, then I can receive this apology in my daughter's stead. She absolutely didn't take this misunderstanding to heart. However...is there anything else you need today, Lady Li?”

Lady Fang had already made it this obvious, so Lady Li didn’t try to beat around the bush anymore. She slightly frowned and got to the point, “To tell you the truth, this time when we came to visit, other than giving an apology to Miss Yu, we also had another matter we wanted to discuss.”

“What sort of matter do you want to discuss right now? Just directly say it. As her mother, I can definitely speak in her stead at certain times!” Lady Fang had already a good inkling on what this other lady was hinting at but pretended to be clueless on purpose.    

Lady Li was inwardly thinking that Yu Xiaocao was a commoner and had only become a puny little sixth-level official recently. In the capital, there were the scores of sixth-level officials just walking around the streets. If Lady Fang didn’t manage her matters, then how could that lass be able to work in the capital without any problems? However, these were thoughts that she could only think of and not say.

“You also know that my family’s patriarch will be celebrating his seventieth birthday in a few days. Everyone says that to reach the age of seventy is a very rare thing. My husband is very filial and wanted to make sure that his birthday celebration goes very well, so he started preparing very early. However, recently we have come across a small problem…” Lady Li raised her head to look at Lady Fang and stopped for a moment.

“The fact that Patriarch Li has reached an old age is a cause worthy of celebrating!” Lady Fang said a few words of congratulations as she inwardly roasted the other lady, ‘Your family's patriarch is celebrating his birthday, but we haven't even received an invitation here. Can't you tell that our two families don't have much to do with each other? Do you really think that coming here to ask for favor is truly suitable at this point?’

Lady Li noticed that the other woman wasn’t taking a hint and felt even more vexed inside. However, she had already reached this point. She could only go ahead and shamelessly continue, “You also know that scholars are distressingly direct and can often inadvertently offend someone with their speech. I'm not sure when my lord husband has offended Royal Prince Yang but his fruit and vegetable stores refuse to give my family any service. How can we have a birthday banquet without any fresh vegetables? However, other than Royal Prince Yang's own vegetable and fruit stores, there are no other stores in the capital that are selling any fresh vegetables! I heard that when Miss Yu was in Tanggu Town, she had helped Royal Prince Yang handle many things. Thus, she does have some ability to ask him for a favor. You see...can’t Miss Yu help say a few words in our favor and let Royal Prince Yang allow us to…” 

“I was wondering what such a big problem was! Isn't it just some fresh vegetables?” Lady Fang acted as if she didn't understand her true meaning but she continued, “Patriarch Li's seventieth birthday celebration is a very important event! We absolutely cannot let him have a poor time then! Don't you worry, I will take care of all the fresh vegetables needed for his birthday celebration! Linglong, tell the kitchen to not touch any of the vegetables that will be sent to us in the next couple of days. On the day of the birthday celebration, we will send them all to your residence!”  

Before Lady Li could interrupt, Lady Fang continued, “As one of the younger generation, I should actually visit your residence on the day of Patriarch Li’s birthday. However, you have also seen how many things I have to manage at the General's Estate. In addition, my family’s little rascal is very clingy and needs me at every moment! So just take these vegetables as a sign of my respect to your patriarch. Please don't take it to heart!”

Lady Li did not expect that the result would turn out like this today. On the surface, she had completed her mission. In actuality, they were only treating the symptoms and not the root cause! They were able to get a supply of fresh vegetables for the birthday celebration, but what about in the future? Lady Fang had already said that these vegetables were being sent to show her respect to the patriarch for his birthday. What about after the birthday celebration? Was their entire residence going to have to go back to eating only radishes and cabbages for the rest of the winter?

When she tried to interject, Lady Fang had already started to pretend that she was very busy. She had her maids go in and out of the courtyard to manage affairs as well as report to her what was going on today. Helpless, Lady Li could only say a few pleasantries before she finally said her farewells. There was always time for a second attempt. In the future, she would wait for when Miss Yu was at home and then bring her daughter along to see her then. She was very sure that Miss Yu, who was only around ten years old and also from the rural countryside, would be much easier to fool than the experienced Lady Fang! The two of them had just left the parlor when they saw a maidservant gleefully rush in. Following that, the sound of the maid's clear and crisp voice could be heard, “Milady, Modiste Jiang from Exquisite Garments is here to see us.”

“Quickly! Quickly invite her in! Zhenzhu, go into the greenhouse and pick a few ripe tomatoes. Hupo, tell the kitchen to cut some watermelon and some cantaloupe to bring into the parlor!” Lady Fang’s voice seemed much more inviting and welcoming.

Lady Li sneered. Was a mere seamstress and someone born of the merchant class worthy of everyone's compliments and praises? How did their current society turn out like this? Everyone rushed now to chase after some crude and rustic farmers and lowly people from the merchant class. Everyone tried to fawn over them constantly! Society was only getting worse and worse with each passing day!

As she raised her foot to leave, she heard that maid, who was named Linglong, speak, “Milady, Modiste Jiang is likely here to deliver the sets of clothing meant for winter and autumn. Last time, our young miss had worn a set of Qi-style clothing fit for the autumn season at the flower war banquet. The princess royal's granddaughter, Miss He, had asked about it constantly! Didn’t the prime minister's wife invite you over to appreciate the plum blossoms in a few days? If you wear some Qi-style attire over, I'm sure you’ll be the subject of all the matrons’ discussions then!”

“Stop that, stop that! I'm already of an advanced age, so how can I be like a young maiden, only preoccupied with showing off my clothing?” Lady Fang laughingly scolded the maid.

Linglong's voice was full of glee as she replied, “My lady! Let's not even talk about the newest style of clothing that Exquisite Garments has come out with. There's probably not even a second person in the whole capital who is able to have Exquisite Garments send her clothing that is handmade by Modiste Jiang for all four seasons...oh wait, I mean there’s probably not even a third person in the capital! Our young miss is the only other person in the capital to have such an honor!”

“Lady Li?” Linlang, who was sending off the guests, saw that the mother-daughter pair had stopped in their tracks and was shamelessly craning their heads to listen in on the conversation in the parlor. They didn't even try to hide the fact that they were eavesdropping. These two women were really too much! 

Only then did Lady Li lead her daughter to walk slowly down the hallway. As expected, before long, Modiste Jiang’s figure could be seen in the building.

After Jiang Siniang became famous, obtaining a set of personally handmade clothing from her was rarer than gold. It didn't matter how much money you had. She would only custom-make clothing for those who caught her eye. Assistant Minister Li's official position was not low, but his status could not ever compete with those families who had been rich and powerful for many generations. Lady Li and her daughter had long lusted after a set of clothing made by Modiste Jiang. However, every time they went to Exquisite Garments to see her, they were always sent away with some excuse or another. Even now, they had never even met Jiang Siniang in person.

This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Lady Li pasted a friendly smile on her face. Even Li Meirou, who had kept her head down this entire time since she had entered the Fang Residence, looked up with eyes shining with delight as she stared avidly at Jiang Siniang. It was as if the famous dressmaker was a piece of delicious meat that she was craving for.

They were just about to stride forward and find some way to speak to Modiste Jiang to make a good impression on her. However, they were blocked by Linlang. Out of the four personal maidservants of Lady Fang, Linlang was the tallest out of all of them and was likely around 1.7 meters tall. With her blocking the way, Lady Li and her daughter were unable to even see one glance of the famous seamstress. By the time the two of them were able to walk around the blocking maid, Jiang Siniang had already walked past them.

“Modiste Jiang!” Li Meirou was quite anxious and gently hollered a greeting.

Jiang Siniang didn't slow down her steps one bit. She only turned her head to nod at them when she rounded the corner.

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Myst's Thoughts

Sanguine’s Thoughts: Like mother, like daughter. Not surprising Li Meirou turned out like that from the way her mother thinks. 

Translator: Sanguine