41 The Commissioner and His Thoughts

    Bo Zhiyuan admitted that he was a hypocrite.

    From the start, when he first bought the painting in the market, he certainly did judge it based on the assumptions that the painter was someone who was an wise, respectable master at painting, leaving that to be the reason for the insane price on the painting itself. He did admire the piece of art, but it didn't contribute as much to his decision to purchase it in comparison to the automatic assumptions he made.

    Truthfully, the words of the girl didn't mean much to him until she came to the end, where she asked, "Is the value of a person determined by their wealth, their appearance, and their age?"

    That was what changed his mind.

    He recalled the days where, as the second young master of the Bo family, he was never given as much credit as his older brother despite the fact that he was smarter. He worked harder. He exceeded his brother in every single way, yet his brother was still the one looked up to in the family, the one who was supposed to succeed the Bo family's fortune.

    That was what instilled the belief that money determined the value of someone or something inside of him, yet at the same time, even though he believed the same thing, he still hated it when people held him at a lower position simply because he was born younger and that he would never be the one who would lead the Bo family.

    So now, reflecting over it all, didn't that make him a hypocrite for judging the girl the same way?

    Besides, who decided in the first place that skill in art could be determined by age? Prodigies did exist as well. His closest friend, Yu Zixu- wasn't he a prodigy at painting as well? Zhiyuan witnessed Zixu's painting skills in the first place, and he admitted that his friend could compare to the old masters in terms of skill.

    That was why Zhiyuan decided to give the girl a chance. She was young and didn't appear too impressive at all, but who knew? Perhaps he misjudged her.

    Wringing his hands together, Zhiyuan asked, "If you are still willing... can we talk about the commission again?"

    He looked up at the girl, and saw that a smile appeared on her face, but it vanished as quickly as it came, replaced by a cold expression in her eyes.

    "Then, what do you want now?" She tapped her fingers on the table. "I clearly cannot do the painting of Guilin. You do not trust my skill either."

    Zhiyuan bit the inside of his lip. "Since that's the case... just so I know for sure... would it be too much to ask for you to demonstrate your painting skills here?"

    "Understandable." The girl nodded. "I don't happen to have supplies on me, so if that is what you want, you'll have to provide me with some."

    That was a reasonable request.

    Zhiyuan turned to look at the servant that followed behind him, then tossed a satchel of taels at the servant. "You heard her. Go buy some paper, ink, and brush."

    The servant nodded obediently, accepting the taels and backing away.

    While the servant was out, Zhiyuan observed the girl and watched as she used the tael that he had handed her earlier to buy herself a jug of fine wine and a full roasted chicken, then pocketing the change in her own satchel of coins. She seemed absorbed in her own world, not in the mood to strike up any conversation or to offer him any wine or meat while she slowly worked through it all, taking a sip of wine after every bite of chicken.

    The maid beside her looked at him apologetically, and Zhiyuan's stomach growled a little while he watched her devor the chicken. He forgot that he hadn't had lunch until now, but it didn't seem proper to order some himself. He didn't want to belittle himself to the point where he would ask her for some either.

    Still, he couldn't help but think that it was his money that he gave her in the first place. Wouldn't it be common courtesy for her to offer some for him?

    Zhiyuan decided to ignore his unsettled thoughts until the servant came back with the supplies after what seemed like an eternity. The servant, moving aside the girl's jug of wine and dish of near-finished chicken, rolled out a scroll of clean paper and laid the brushes and inkstone by the side.

    The girl cast a wary look at the supplies, almost as if she had never seen anything of the sort before. Zhiyuan caught the look, and instantly, he began to doubt his choice of trusting this girl.

    What if she didn't actually know how to paint? It was possible that the entire thing was just a long winded scam, and painting was a completely foreign subject to this girl. If that was the case...

    Zhiyuan gave an unsatisfactory glance at the girl, but she seemed preoccupied with her wine and chicken again by the side of the paper while her maid grinded the inkstick against the stone to create ink.

    Was the girl serious?

    He understood if she ate to pass the time while the servant was gone... but now, when the painting supplies were all brought to her, shouldn't she be more worried about the painting itself? She was supposed to try to impress him, wasn't she?

    Yet all that seemed to go on in the mind of the girl was finishing the roasted chicken and the jug of wine that she ordered...

    The more Bo Zhiyuan watched the girl eat, the more he regretted his past decisions.
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