The family looked at the bright red fruits on the table and, for a second, the whole entire room was silent. Even the youngest, Li Haoming, didn’t start clamouring to eat the tomatoes. At this time, Official Li from the Ministry of Ceremonies walked in. He revealed a perplexed expression as it was currently lunchtime but there were no food dishes on the table.
When he noticed the small tomatoes and strawberries on the table, Official Li’s expression lightened and he smiled, “Looks like our luck was pretty good today and we were able to buy such rare fruits. What a coincidence, tomorrow I’m inviting a few of my colleagues over. I can use such valuable fruits to serve them then.”
Unexpectedly, his youngest son, Li Haoming, pouted unhappily when he heard this, “Father, these fruits weren’t bought by the servants from the kitchens. Fifth Older Sister had gone to Official Yu’s residence as a guest today and these are her gifts!”
After he finished, he stared pitifully at his father and the expression on his face clearly said, ‘These fruits are considered to be the property of Fifth Older Sister. Father, you don’t even say a greeting before taking them over, is it really right?’
“Ru’er?” Official Li stared at his normally silent and taciturn concubine-born daughter with a flabbergasted expression. He would have never expected that she would catch the eye of Miss Yu and even be able to get some gifts from the other person.
After his daughter explained what had happened, he was silent for a moment before he stated, “Our ancestral background, if we go back three generations, is also from a farming family. We cannot use our backgrounds to humiliate other people! Assistant Minister Li’s family is a great example of what could go wrong, so you must keep this in mind! This Miss Yu is very young but has already shown such talent at farming and agriculture. In the future, the emperor will clearly view her with great importance. Since Ru’er has caught her eye, then collaborate well with her. Do not use your background and talents to bully the other person!”
“I will listen and obey Father’s instructions!” Li Mengru seldom had the chance to talk to her own father, let alone receive any personal teachings from him. She was quite moved by this change.
Li Mengqi grinned, “Father, you don't know what type of personality younger sister has? If she was an arrogant and willful person, even if she had talent, Miss Yu might still not decide to work with her. Earlier when this daughter attended a banquet to admire the plum blossoms, I heard a rumor that Miss Yu is planning on opening a flower tea store and to sell her peach blossom tea that is able to improve a person’s appearance. Even without Younger Sister’s rouge and face powder, she wouldn’t lack for business.”
Official Li muttered to himself for a bit before he finally said, “You’re normally just messing around when you make your rouge and face powder, so there’s usually not a whole lot when you’re done. It’d be hard to manufacture enough with your current process——how about this, have your mother take some money from the residence’s budget and give it to you. If you need any particular materials, please tell your mother. Before the shop opens, you need to practice more in order to avoid ruining Miss Yu’s business venture!”
“Yes! Thank you, Father!” Li Mengru’s normally reserved expression revealed hints of happiness. If she had access to top-notch ingredients, she was sure that she would be able to make cosmetics that were much better than the ones sold by Full Spring Fragrance.
When he saw how obedient and sweet his daughter was, Official Li felt his heart relax a few fractions. He looked at his sons and daughters in the room and felt a bit of pride rise up——his children were all so obedient and understanding, so they definitely wouldn’t do anything like Assistant Minister Li’s daughter to bring calamity to their whole family!
His oldest son was only ten this year but he had already read through and knew the Book of Songs and the Book of History  . In the future, he naturally was going to become an official. His younger son was lively and clever. Although his personality was not as steady as his oldest son, he wasn’t a stupid child either. His wife was virtuous and generous. People always said, ‘a virtuous wife will reduce harm to her husband’, and this ancient saying wasn’t wrong! Wasn’t Assistant Minister Li’s wife short-sighted and lacking in knowledge? After all, she had spoiled their daughter to the heavens, which caused them now to be the laughingstock of the whole capital.
“Hm hm…” Official Li looked at the valuable fruits on the table. There were even strawberries to be had in this season? Only Miss Yu’s residence was able to bring out such rare fruits in this season so easily to give to other people, right? He looked at Li Mengru and then asked in a somewhat awkward manner, “Ru’er, what do you plan on doing with these fruits?”
Although Li Mengru had a weak and timid personality, she wasn’t an imbecile. She hurriedly stated, “Whatever Father decides is best…”
“There are no outsiders here, so there’s no need to be so cautious. In my heart, you, Qi’er, Ming’er, and Yu’er are the same. You are all Father’s good children!” Official Li raised the status of this unassuming concubine-born daughter of his to the level of his legitimate children. This showed how much importance he placed on the recent events.
Lady Li was very skilled at guessing her husband’s intentions and hurriedly interjected, “Ru’er lost her concubine-mother when she was young and has always been a sensible and clever child. I quite pity her. Husband, how about we record Ru’er’s name under me. In the future, she can also get a good marriage because of this!”
“Then we will do as my wife says!” Official Li admired his wife’s generosity and wisdom in this situation and now regarded her with even more importance.
Li Mengru almost couldn’t believe her own ears. Being recorded under the legitimate wife’s name was a very big honor for concubine-born children. This meant that, in the future, she would be of the same status as her legitimate born older sister and younger brothers and would be considered a legitimate born child under the legitimate wife...
She couldn’t help but exclaim in happiness and repeatedly cried, “Thank you Mother for being so loving and generous…”
The smile on Li Mengqi’s face didn’t change at all as she said, “In the future, I will have a new legitimate younger sister! We’re close in age so we should be more intimate together. Mother, the courtyard next to my Qinglan courtyard is still empty. How about we move Younger Sister Ru into that courtyard? That way, us sisters can easily spend more time with each other.”
“Okay! We will do as Qi’er suggests!” Lady Li naturally wouldn’t refuse to go with her daughter’s wise decision.
Only now did Official Li point at the two types of fruits on the table. Under the anxious gaze of his younger son, he proclaimed his decision, “These two fruits are indeed very difficult to get. If I took them both, I would be ruining everyone’s mood here. How about this? We’ll leave half of each fruit here and use them at the end of our noon meal! Ru’er, from today going forward, you should stay in the main courtyard and take all of your meals with your mother!”
Before Li Mengru could reply, Li Haoming already let out a scream of delight and had the servants bring a clean plate over. He personally divided the fruits by half and placed them on the plate.
Li Mengru felt like she was in a dream today. First she had been invited by the famous Official Yu and had signed a collaboration contract for a new business with her. Then, her father and mother started regarding her with importance and even, for some reason, elevated her status and made her a legitimate born daughter under her legitimate mother’s name!
While the main courtyard of Official Li from the Ministry of Ceremonies were happily enjoying their tomatoes and strawberries, at Count Zhongqin’s Estate, General Fang’s residence, Royal Prince Yang was currently holding a bright scarlet fox pelt in his hands and showing it to Yu Xiaocao.
“This type of red fox fur is very warm. Winter in the capital is different than in Tanggu Town as it tends to be very dry and cold. You should take it to make a long coat. You’re always going back and forth between the capital and the Imperial Plantation. How could it be okay if you don’t wear warm enough clothing?”
Lady Fang sat on the side with a smile on her face as she looked at the chests full of furs in the hall. Her satisfaction towards Royal Prince Yang had gone up a few fractions. Originally, when she discovered that Royal Prince Yang liked her twelve year old daughter, she was quite opposed to this. Years ago, Royal Prince Yang’s ‘bad reputation’ had long spread throughout the capital. The rumors made him seem more vicious than a wild beast and he couldn't be easily controlled.
Her daughter was weak and soft. If Royal Prince Yang exploded in temper, she would have no way to defend herself. She would rather find a more ordinary family for her daughter to marry into as long as the man was gentle and responsible then send such a weak lamb into the lion’s den.
However, after observing for some time, she discovered that while Royal Prince Yang may still treat other people with a cold and lofty manner, he was as gentle as a tamed colt with Xiaocao. Her normally clever and obedient daughter quarreled, contradicted, ridiculed and even acted willful around the prince at times. It was as if she was a tiny naughty kitten using her claws to tease a gentle and honest large dog. That large dog could obviously eat the tiny kitten in one gulp but couldn’t even bear to show his teeth to the small kitten when she dragged her claws over him. He was so good tempered that he allowed her to do whatever she pleased.
Recently, Royal Prince Yang’s bad reputation was not as horrible as it was in years past, especially in these past two years. The prince hadn’t lost control of himself and harmed anyone in recent times. It seemed like that wild beast within his heart had finally calmed down. The emperor also regarded him with increasing importance. Furthermore, every time he finished the tasks assigned to him, the emperor was always pleased with the outcome. Even if his tasks took him far away from the capital, Royal Prince Yang always thought of her daughter. For example, when he left to quell the rebellion in the north this time, he still remembered to buy Xiaocao tons of winter furs during the chaos of war.
The room was currently filled with top-notch furs and even people with money to spend in the capital wouldn’t be able to buy them. Because of this, Lady Fang’s heart relaxed perceptively.
When she came back to reality, Lady Fang could hear her daughter complaining, “It’s such a bright red color. Using it to make a scarf or hat is fine, but if it’s used to make an entire long coat, won’t I resemble a red packet at the end being clothed from head to toe in red?
“What’s wrong with being clothed in red from head to toe? It’s almost the New Years and red is such a festive color, right? If you wear a long red coat, you’ll resemble the good luck child in the New Years pictures and everyone will find you adorable!” Royal Prince Yang did his best to persuade the little lass from the side.
Yu Xiaocao wasn’t moved by his opinions. She frowned as she stared at the red fox pelt in her hands and shook her head, “What type of aesthetic do you have? What do old men know about beauty? It’s better to use this to make a nice cloak. I can line the edges of the cloak with some white fox fur. This is the biggest compromise that I’ll make!”
“Cao’er, how can you speak to Royal Prince Yang in that way? He’s giving you furs out of the kindness of his own heart!” Lady Fang was afraid Royal Prince Yang would become unhappy and hurriedly pretended to scold her daughter.
Zhu Junyang noticed that Xiaocao was a bit upset as her lips were pouting and hastily interjected, “No worries, this prince is already used to her mannerisms. If she treated me with complete politeness, then I would find it too weird! Lady Fang, this chest of furs is for you and General Fang. You should go through it and see if there’s anything else you want, okay?”
Oh ho, looked like he considered her an eyesore and was trying to send her off! Lady Fang was helpless at this and had Linglong stay in the room. Furthermore, before she left, she gave a few knowing looks to Xiaocao’s other maidservants. With so many maids around, there was no way they could do something improper ah!
After the older generation ‘eyesore’ left, Zhu Junyang turned up his ‘lady killer charm’ and gently stroked the little lass’s head. The smile on his face was extremely gentle and the destructive power of his devilish looks came out in full force as he said, “These two chests are all for you to pick through. Whatever you want to do with them is fine. This prince just got back from the battlefield and didn't come here to argue with you. You little lass, why are you like a fighting chicken day in and day out? Is there anyone else besides me who can handle your little temper all the time?”
Yu Xiaocao felt a bit embarrassed by his words. A few days ago, when she didn’t have any news about him, she felt deeply concerned and worried all the time. It didn’t matter how delicious the food she was eating, none of it seemed to have any flavor. Her face, which had originally plumped up under the care of her godmother, had returned to its usual slender and oval shaped structure.
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Sanguine’s thoughts: I’m glad Li Mengru’s status in her family has risen!