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10 More Taels For the Fourth Miss

    The young man waited by the market stall where he agreed to meet up at with the girl who sold the painting. While he waited, he hoped that the agreement worked out with her old master. Although he was not the best at deciphering paintings, his close friend, Yu Zixu, certainly was, and spending enough time with Zixu allowed him to understand some bits and pieces. This, of course, meant that part of the reason why he was willing to pay so much was because he didn't understand much about paintings in the first place- otherwise, he would surely be one of the people amongst the crowd that called the work a "fraud".

    He was one of those nouveau riche that didn't understand any true perspectives and instead believed that the more money one spent on an item, the better it must've been. Therefore, when he heard that there was a painting in the market sold for fifty taels, regardless of what others told him, he thought that there must've been a reason for why it costed so much, secretly thinking that the person who painted this must be a legendary artist living in recluse until now.

    As the young man waited, his fingers tapped against each other until he finally saw the familiar-looking girl who was selling the painting this morning. She looked worried and in a rush, her eyes scattering around the market until they landed on him.

    When she reached him, she brought over an unfortunate piece of news.

    "My old master- he's a bit... greedy, so do forgive him- but he said that for the commission... eighty-five taels will be the price."

    Hui'er, on the inside, was panicking, expecting the young man to instantly drop the deal. Who ever heard of a painting by an unknown artist to sell for eighty-five, commission or not?

    However, the reaction of the young man made Hui'er doubt her own beliefs. Instead of becoming irritated, his eyes lit up, almost sparkling. "Eighty-five! That is no problem. True art- yes, true art must be paid with a good amount of silver."

    Hui'er blinked.

    Was her opinion wrong this entire time? Was her Fourth Miss's art really worth near a hundred taels? This- this was utterly unbelievable!

    She didn't understand that all the young man was thinking in his head right now was that he had truly struck a good deal. He believed that since the man was looking for a price this high, surely this old master was an extremely talented and professional artist! It was just his luck that the man was actually willing to paint specifically for him... today was a lucky day!

    Oh, if Hui'er knew what the young man was thinking in his head, she would burst into tears. This man was certainly too gullible... willing to throw away near ninety taels simply because someone he didn't know claimed to be a master professional artist.

    Eighty-five taels... that was a tremendous amount! In this day and age, twenty-five silver taels would be the dowry of a common-citizen bride and eighty-five taels could be considered as an extremely good dowry only reserved for good merchants and a few low-tier government officials! Peasants would be satisfied for the rest of their lives with eighty-five, and it would take months and months for a common farmer to earn even ten silver taels, much less a whole eighty-five.

    And, plus the thirty-five taels given for the first painting, the Fourth Miss would have one hundred and twenty taels in her possession! One hundred and twenty whole taels!

    She could certainly buy her way out of the marriage now. Hui'er understood what the Fourth Miss was saying in the morning now, about buying her way out.

    The Old Master only learned fifty taels a month from his busy work, selling his spices and grain. Hui'er wasn't sure how much the Yu family's old master earned, but she was sure that it couldn't be more than one hundred and fifty or two hundred taels a month. For a small concubine like the Yang family's Fourth Miss, they couldn't have paid more than a hundred taels as a bride price...

    But here, there was a man willing to pay one hundred and twenty silver taels for two paintings, one of them which only took a few hours in the morning and the other which wasn't even painted yet!

    How much money did this young man actually have?

    ...

    Yang Yujia began carving indents into the sharpened stick of wood, trimming the size down until it resembled the length of one of the brushes lying on the table above her.

    She hadn't carved very much in the past before, so she was surprised at how well things were working out. Humming a small tune, she happily scraped at the stick, wood shavings spread on the floor beneath her messily.

    She was almost complete.
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