14 The Fourth Miss Goes On a Shopping Spree

    At the moment, there could be nothing that made Yang Yujia happier than the heavy satchel of thirty-five taels in her hand. She slowly made her way from stall to stall, tossing the bag up and catching it mid-air continuously, earning lots of concerned looks from Hui'er.

    "Miss, you're going to attracts lots of attention from thieves if you keep doing that."

    "Oh, hush, Hui'er."

    She had lived in one of the biggest cities in the twenty-first century. What sorts of pickpocketing methods had she not seen? Snipping bags from straps, pulling wallets from unaware backpacks, grabbing entire suitcases... Yujia knew all the tricks and trades from the numerous videos online showing the methods of street thieves for entertainment as well as witnessing these methods in person herself.

    Yujia was also not particularly concerned because she doubted that there were many thieves who would dare to steal from her in broad daylight. Besides, most of her concern was finding a vendor who offered custom wood carving, so all her attention was on that.

    "Skewered candied fruit! Hawberry and more!"

    "Fresh steamed buns! Both sweet and savory. Excellently fluffy and tasty!"

    "Trinkets and jewelry! Colors and shapes of all types!"

    As she passed by stall after stall, Yujia had to continuously remind herself that she only had one goal today, and that was finding the proper mold for her pencils. It was almost too tempting to spend all her silver on the millions of interesting things that were being sold in the market.

    After a while of browsing, Yujia's eyes caught on one particular vendor who displayed brushes and paints. Her gaze made contact with the middle-aged man who was selling the supplies, and with a broad smile, he gestured at her and then at his goods.

    "Young miss, are you interested in the arts?"

    Putting a sweet smile on her face, Yujia nodded, stepping closer to the stand. "Yes. I've been running out of supplies lately, so I've been looking with different types of ink to experiment with."

    "Oh, then you are definitely at the right place." The smile on the middle-aged man only grew larger. "You see here, although I am only a small merchant, my supplies are definitely top of the class, no less than the things they sell at the art academy."

    Yujia's eyes widened at his statement. "There's an art academy?" She didn't expect there to be things such as academies in this empire.

    "Of course, young miss! Have you not heard of it? You must be a beginner to painting, then." The man nodded thoughtfully, and Yujia didn't bother to correct him about the fact that she was not a 'beginner' to painting- she was just a 'beginner' to this entire world. "All prospecting artists will head over to the art academy- which, Lingxin Pavillion is the greatest one- to learn of painting, and although most will not allow females like you to enter as students, they still sell art supplies to everyone. People generally only buy from them since they're the most 'trustworthy', but I doubt that they really have much besides their name."

    As far as Yujia could remember, there was no such thing as an art academy back in history lessons in the modern world. But, according to this man, these academies were actually quite an important thing?

    "Anyways, miss, are you still interested in buying from me? I promise my prices are reasonable and there is nothing flawed about the quality of the materials used to make these."

    With a examining gaze, Yujia picked up a brush and twirled it around in her fingers. She liked the weight of the paintbrush- it was not too heavy or too light- and the simplistic design carved into the wood was quite beautiful too. "I like this brush." She held it for a few more seconds, then picked up another longer brush with fine hairs for the tip. "And this one too."

    "I make them all myself," boasted the vendor.

    Yujia stared for a few more minutes at the materials. It wouldn't be bad to have a few more painting supplies on hand, would it?

    "Well then, I'll take these two. And a few sheets of paper for painting, one or two scrolls as well, and one of every inkstick and inkstone you have, except for black ink. Give me two of those" She passed her fingers over the different materials displayed. "Will twenty taels be enough?"

    Hui'er stared with horrified eyes at the Fourth Miss.

    The vendor stared with horrified eyes at his customer.

    Twenty taels? Was she kidding? Even if she was buying a large amount, twenty taels was overpriced. Did she even understand how money worked?

    "Young miss, that is far too much." The merchant quickly backed away, waving his hands. "I cannot take that much. Seven taels will be enough for all these things."

    "Seven?" Yujia frowned, thinking that it was truly litle for all these supplies. "Alright then. If you say so."

    She pulled a few taels out of the satchel and exchanged them with the man while he wrapped up and handed over the items she bought. Yet after she accepted the bag he handed over, Yujia spent a few more moments looking at the items he had on display.

    Originally, she decided to buy these painting materials since she figured that it was still a good idea to have some higher quality supplies on hand. However, her goal for going to the market in the first place was to discover places where she could buy things to make pencils out of, and even though her secondary goal was met, her initial motive was not fulfilled.

    "I have one more question." With a hesitant voice, Yujia picked up another one of the brushes he hand on display, longer than both of the ones she previously bought. "Earlier, did you say that you made all of these yourself?"

    "Yes, I did."

    An uncertain smile traced Yujia's lips. "I like the things you make. Would it be possible to ask for a custom order?"

    The man looked taken aback, as if he was never asked the question before. Which, considering that he was such a small merchant that he was simply selling at a stall, that was a very likely situation. "Why, young miss, I would be honored to. What sort of brush are you looking for?"

    Now that she received confirmation from the vendor, Yujia became slightly more confident. "Then, here." Quickly, she gestured at Hui'er, who pulled out the pencil model she asked for her maid to carry. "I have this... invention in mind. Something I will call a pencil."

    "A pencil?"

    "Essentially, it's just something that resembles a brush, but instead of a brush at the top, the handle here is going to be hollow inside, sort of like a- circular hollow center? And inside the center, there is going to be a mixture of, say, graphite and other things that I will pour in. When it solidifies and you sharpen the point," Yujia points at the top of her pencil model, "you will be able to write with it."

    The vendor looked doubtful. "That's an interesting idea you have, young miss."

    "I don't need you to do all the graphite and things. I just need you to take one of these brushes you have and remove all the hairs, and then hollow out the center. Would that be a big task?"

    He thought for a moment, then replied, "No, not at all."

    "Good." Yujia grinned cheerfully. "I will need around ten of these."


    "Yes. And if you could, have five extra molds that aren't extremely fancy. I will need to use those to test out the graphite mixture." She paused, then continued, "Could I also get the raw materials you use to make the inksticks? You do use graphite, right?"

    "Well, graphite is a bit rarer now in making inksticks," explained the man, "since they don't produce the highest quality ink. There are still some sellers who do use it though, so I can ask around and buy some for you."

    "That would be great. Thank you so much for your help." Yujia gratefully pulled out her satchel of silver again. "How much would this commission cost? Will twenty-eight silvers be enough? That's all I have on me at the moment."

    Hui'er stared with horrified eyes at the Fourth Miss.

    The vendor stared with horrified eyes at his customer.

    Young miss, if you're going to be buying things, at least understand how currency works! Twenty-eight was not a small sum. In fact, ten would be all that the vendor needed!

    Why did this girl throw around money like it was useless? How wealthy- or idiotic- could she possibly be?
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