Viscount Bai Sheng struggled to see whom Viscountess Mu Yihua was staring at. He wanted to know but he couldn't because of Wen Jinkai's protective stance next to Li Chenyang who deliberately shielded the girl whom Bai Tianai was having a disagreement with.
Viscountess Mu Yihua took a hesitant step closer towards the familiar back but forced herself to stop. She had no right to walk any closer.
"Why are we discussing my second daughter when the discussion is about Bai Tianai? She was only looking out for Ning Huabing. Isn't that right?" Viscount Bai Sheng turned to Ning Huabing. He sighed on the inside. All of this for a woman as useless as her?
"So you do admit that you had another daughter." Li Chenyang raised a brow.
Viscount Bai Sheng narrowed his eyes.
"Interesting," was the only thing Li Chenyang remarked before his eyes shifted to Ning Huabing. "Did my sister offend you in any way?"
Ning Huabing's eyes slid to her father who instantly shook his head at her. He wanted to intervene but did not want to put himself in between two households.
"I didn't see the harm in her gesture," Ning Huabing said, watching as satisfaction filled Li Chenyang's features. He was pleased by her words and nodded.
"See? This could've been solved by asking that question." Viscount Bai Sheng frowned. "Why did you try to drag it more than necessary, Minister Li?"
"I didn't." Li Chenyang shrugged. "Your daughter was."
"My daughter would never—"
"Then you don't know your daughter well enough," Yu Zhen finally spoke up. He was standing silently in the background, observing everything the entire time. He wondered about Li Xueyue's sudden shift in her mood. Why did she look so terrified of this man? Did she know him? If she did, it would change the entire dynamic.
"Your daughter enjoys making a fool out of herself," Yu Zhen freely said, shrugging at the Viscount's aggravated expression. "She was deliberately trying to ruin two women's reputations at once while saving hers."
Onlookers exchanged meaningful nods. Indeed, they began to realize that this entire time, Bai Tianai was dragging Ning Huabing into the conversation even when the latter didn't say anything. What was the point of Bai Tianai mentioning Ning Huabing so many times when clearly, she was the one most offended.
"I didn't think Bai Tianai was like this."
"Viscount Bai has failed in raising her."
"Second daughter huh? How come we've never heard of her?"
"Well, if my first daughter was like this, I would be too ashamed to even introduce another one to society."
Viscount Bai Sheng stiffened. He was stuck between a rock and a hard place. He had to either apologize or make his daughter apologize. To the Viscount, his daughter was not in the wrong, but it would be better for his business if she took the fall.
"It seems my daughter is at fault, she will apologize." Viscount Bai Sheng finally relented, but unknowingly this was his biggest mistake. A father should always protect his daughter. Not the other way around.
"Hah, look at how shameless he is."
"They're both at fault but now he's making her apologize."
"Like father like daughter, I guess."
Bai Tianai glowered at the position she was in—a position that Li Xueyue was supposed to be standing in, but instead, the latter was being protectively sheltered. How nice it must be for her to whore around and have two men entangled in her sheets.
"If I have offended you in any way, I'm sorry," Bai Tianai managed to grit out, hanging her head in shame.
Li Chenyang tilted his head. "Originally, we weren't offended, but this pathetic apology is… quite disappointing. What gives you the right to offend a third-rank Princess? It can be counted as treason against the Crown"
"Clearly, the Viscount failed to teach his daughter any manners. What a shame." Li Chenyang heaved a sigh.
Viscount Bai Sheng's heart dropped to his stomach at the Minister's provoking words. He felt his confidence begin to waver, his eyes shaking and his palms sweating. He had forgotten this brat was a third-rank Princess.
The onlookers snickered and giggled amongst themselves, their whispers soft and inaudible, but to Viscount Bai and his daughter, they were shrilling screams. This gossip would leave a stain on their reputation.
"Wow, look at how shameless this Bai Tianai is."
"I heard she participated in the painting tournament to get suitors."
"How interesting, isn't she promised to Zheng Leiyu?"
Everyone gossiped amongst themselves, their words barely above a whisper but to the Viscount and Bai Tianai, it sounded like shrilling screams.
"Both of you are at fault anyways." Li Chenyang shook his head and said, "I see where your daughter's habit of using other people came from."
"I did nothing wrong. I only asked about the situation," Viscount Bai Sheng's voice trembled.
Li Chenyang sighed. These people were so easy to ridicule, he pitied their stupidity.
"We'll see about that." Li Chenyang shrugged before placing a guiding hand on Li Xueyue's shoulders. "Let's head home. Their ignorance might turn us stupid."
Marquis Ning Guahe instantly made moves to prevent this. His reputation was improving by just having the Li and Wen family here at once. It would be foolish to waste this opportunity.
"Wait!" he said. "Why don't we peacefully solve this?"
Li Chenyang briefly cast a disgusted stare towards Bai Tianai. "No need."
"I-I see…" Marquis Ning Guahe said. "Then how about this?"
He turned to Viscount Bai Sheng. "If you do not mind, Viscount, perhaps you can escort your daughter to elsewhere?"
"What? But my Tianai didn't mean any harm—"
"This problem all started because she spoke out of turn, isn't it? I understand that women love to chatter, but I was hoping a less… crowded area would clear her mind."
Where else would be less crowded aside from the front entrance and exit of this manor?
Everyone instantly understood his polite but discreet message. They were getting publicly kicked out of here. Like a bunch of hooligans.
"Xiao Hua, I'm sorry for ruining your party." Bai Tianai sniffed, "I hope you'll forgive me for this."
"Please don't disturb my daughter any longer." Marquis Ning Guahe frowned in disapproval. "You're dragging her into this mess when today is supposed to be a celebration for her."
Bai Tianai burst into tears as she remorsefully hugged Ning Huabing. "I'm so sorry Xiao Hua!" she cried, before harshly whispering, "You can redeem yourself by tossing whatever present that bitch gave you!"
Then she detached herself from Ning Huabing and hid her sobbing face behind her hands. She wept and walked off, purposely giving a show, hoping to garner some sympathy from the crowd. She received none.
Viscount Bai Sheng wanted to leave with his daughter, but he couldn't. He had to stay behind and network, then clear her mess.
Reluctantly, he bowed his head and said, "I apologize for this mess."
Marquis Ning Guahe was a good-natured man with a genuine heart. He couldn't help but pity Viscount Bai Shenng for this public humiliation. It would be difficult for the man to recover.
"I hope there won't be a next time for this," Marquis Ning Guahe said.
"I'll make sure my daughter never behaves this rashly ever again," Viscount Bai Sheng promised.
"So you acknowledge she was irrational? Fantastic. We are on the same page," Marquis Ning Guahe sniped. "Have a good day, Viscount Bai."
Viscount Bai Sheng blinked in disbelief. What was the problem? He had already forced Bai Tianai to apologize. He, too, had apologized as well! Now he was being escorted out?!
"Marquis Ning, you're aware—"
"I'm aware that you're upsetting my daughter and the guest by your presence." Marquis Ning Guahe knew there was nothing that could be done but to get rid of the entire problem.
Viscount Bai Sheng glanced around where all of his friends and acquaintances were watching him with wary and disapproving stares. They were embarrassed to even be his friend at this point.
"Very well." He held his head high as he guided his wife and son out the entrance, but this haughty behavior only caused the people to badmouth him further.
How would he possibly recover from this?
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