43 Fourth Miss, What’s a Portrait?

    Yujia looked at the commission with a smug look on her face, knowing that she had won this time around.

    She admitted that it was a lie when she claimed that she was inspired by what she ate, because truthfully, she painted roosters because she created a concentration of bird paintings when she was in college. Due to the amount of time she spent observing birds and painting them, she considered herself quite skilled at it, and roosters also happened to be one of the birds she did paint since they were very auspicious birds.

    So, she figured that it would be good to play to her strengths, though it would likely add a little mystery and awe if she said the sentence of how her food inspired her, since, by coincidence, she ate some chicken previously as well.

    Looking at the commissioner, Yujia assumed that he was left left quite wordless by her actions and phrases, so she decided to continue on with her speech.

    "I don't have any need for this painting, so I suppose I'll sell it." She turned to look at the few people who gathered around her during the time it took for her to paint the picture. "Would anyone like to buy it?"

    Instantly, a young man who was about as young as the commissioner himself raised his hand, shouting out, "I don't have much on me, but I do have five taels. Would that be enough?"

    An older man stepped out, shaking his head. "Five taels? You fool, that is too little. Look at the flow of the painting- incredible, incredible. I would pay twenty-five."

    Yujia nodded thoughtfully at that. She wasn't very sure on how the currency conversion worked in this world when she first came, but it seemed like a single silver tael was worth quite a lot. Twenty-five was a good price. She might as well accept it. It would boost her total wealth to sixty-three taels.

    Before she could accept it, another voice traveled over from the side. "I'll pay forty."

    "Forty?" A delighted smile appeared on Yujia's face, and she turned to look. It was the commissioner himself, holding out the satchel of taels he gave the servant to buy art supplies before.

    He truly was impressed by her work, wasn't he?

    Rich people like him were truly lucky... to be able to spend forty taels with a single wave of his hand... Yujia was almost a little jealous.

    "Then, the painting is yours once the ink dries." Yujia held out her hands while Hui'er gawked a little at the side.

    The young man placed the heavy satchel into her palm while smiling back. He seemed to be glad that he was able to buy the painting. Yujia was also glad to pocket a couple extra taels.

    "Alright then." Yujia waited until the crowd, seeing that there was nothing interesting going on now, dispersed, then clapped her hands, moving on. "The commission. Let's talk about that."

    Nodding, the young man sat down and poured himself a cup of tea. "Yes. I wanted you to paint Guilin's scenery, but you can't. I don't doubt your art skill anymore, but all I truly wanted was a picture of Guilin to make my fiancée happy."

    "That's a reasonable request." Her eyebrows tightened a bit as she thought of it.

    Along with the forty taels, she would now have a total of seventy-eight taels. The number she had in mind to save up was one-hundred taels, something that she suspected would be enough to buy her out because there was no way the bride price that the old master of the Yu family paid was more than that number. Therefore, Yujia would only need twenty-two more taels to achieve that number, nowhere as more as the original eighty-five she wanted to get.

    She didn't want to go through the hassle of selling more paintings at the market, and she didn't want to lose this commissioner either... was it possible for her to bargain? Certainly, right? Bargaining was always a nice trick she learned back in the modern world, where she would haggle all the time for simple groceries or art supplies.

    The more she thought about it, the more Yujia was convinced that she had a solid plan to win the commission at the cost of losing a few taels.

    Sighing a bit, Yujia began, "Here's the thing... I have an- invention- if you want to call it that, and the problem is that I haven't had an actual reason to test it out yet." She caught a glimpse of the skeptical look on the young man's face, so quickly, she cut in, "Though it's legendary. I promise. It really is. It can change the scope of the concept of art itself."

    "That grand?" He raised his eyebrows.

    "Yes. I call it a... 'pencil'. It's an incredible way of not needing ink or water or anything. It's a brush that paints on its own. All you need is the pencil and an occasional knife to shave it."

    "And what will you do with this... 'pencil'?"

    Yujia folded her hands together. "I want to draw a portrait of your wife."

    Instantly, a peculiar look appeared on his face. "What? A portrait?"

    "Yes. A portrait."

    As far as Yujia knew, portraits were something that did exist back in the ancient times, but they were in a much different style than the black and white shaded portraits that she was thinking of since they were created with detailed painting. However, she was pretty sure that portraits were only used in paintings of the imperial royalty  or for honoring dead ancestors.

    That was why Yujia didn't think it was too surprising that the commissioner was taken aback by this idea. Portraits were not usually painted for citizens unless they were about to die, and their families wanted to remember them in some way.

    "You see here," Yujia explained, "My portraits are different than anything you've ever encountered. When you see them, it will be like seeing the actual person in person yourself. So, if you are ever going on a trip and won't be able to take your wife with you, looking at the portrait that I drew will allow you to be with her anytime you wish. Genius, isn't it?"

    She thought it sounded romantic enough.

    "Well..." The young man still looked uncertain. "I don't really... know... how I feel about that?"

    Swiftly, Yujia raised her hands up. "Don't worry! Since an opportunity like this is helping me as well, I will not charge as much for it. Fifty taels for the portrait. "

    "Fifty taels?" A frown could only appear on the young man's face again.

    Yujia returned the look disappointedly. "If that's... too much, I suppose I'm feeling generous today. How about twenty-five? You're my most valued customer, and since you've already bought two other paintings, I'll give you a discount. Plus, I'll throw in a bonus mountain painting as well. How is that?"

    A sly smile appeared on Yujia's face after she said the words.

    She knew that fifty taels would be an enormous price for something that the young man wasn't even sure about how it would turn out. That was why she brought it up in the first place. So now, offering her other deal of twenty-five, which was the original price she was going for, along with an extra bonus painting, she thought that the deal was too good of a one to not take.

    The young man had to be convinced to accept it.

    He had to.

    And certainly, as Yujia predicted, he did. The frown on his face vanished. "Sure. That sounds good to me." He thought a bit, staring at the painting of the rooster by the side. "I guess I've never made a proper introduction. I'm Bo Zhiyuan, from the Bo family... which, I'm sure you've heard about if you live in the capital?"

    Yujia blanked for a moment. The Bo family? She had only been in the world for a few days... the only two families she knew were the Yang and Yu families...

    Still, she nodded enthusiastically as if she knew what he was talking about.

    "Three days from now, you can come to paint the portrait," he explained, "Just ask for the second young master at the doors, and they will let you in. Does that work for you?"

    "Yes. Definitely." Yujia stood up, gesturing for Hui'er to come along as well. "I still have things to do, so I'll be going now. See you three days later."

    She spun around, ready to leave, but a few words from the young man- Bo Zhiyuan- stopped her.

    "Wait. You haven't told me your name yet."

    Yujia paused. Should she be honest? Or should she make up a name? Or should she keep it a secret? Was there anything to lose from telling him her real name? Surely, he didn't know a small family like the Yang family well, and Yang was such a common surname that she was sure that there were other families that shared the surname...

    Turning to face him, Yujia shrugged. She had nothing to lose.

    "Yang Yujia. That's my name."
Previous Index Next