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59 The Unbelievable Fourth Miss

    Yang Xiaoyi was the first to speak.

    "Big sister... are you really speaking the truth when you say that you only began painting a week ago?"

    Yujia nodded an answer. "Essentially, yes. If you look at the records in the house, there should be a place where it's noted that I first took some painting supplies from the storage room a week ago."

    Steward Liu, who wanted to certify what she said, waved for a servant behind him to present the storage records of the villa that he brought over to originally prove his point of the missing items. Sure enough, when he flipped to the page documenting the time frame near a week, it was recorded that the personal maid of the Fourth Miss withdrew some paper, brushes, and ink a week ago.

    "She's telling the truth."

    "How, then-?" Xiaoyi murmured to herself, looking cautiously at the painting, then back at the Fourth Miss.

    She had studied art and painted for years now, and even so, there was no way that she would've accomplished any of the things that the Fourth Miss did within the length of an hour.

    All along, Xiaoyi carefully observed the work of great masters known for their painting, mimicking their work in the hopes of improving her skill in art. After all, many were like her and did the same. It was the easiest way to better her abilities.

    Yet now, looking at what the Fourth Miss painted, she couldn't match up what Yang Yujia painted with a single famed artist's style. She didn't share the same regard to dimension as Zhan Ziqian or Li Sixun's extreme attention to detail. All artists should've taken inspiration from some other person during some point and time, but here the Fourth Miss was, painting a work that didn't seem like it had any connections at all.

    Xiaoyi could only admit that after watching the Fourth Miss paint, she developed a newfound respect for her sister.

    What Xiaoyi didn't particularly know was that Yujia actually did take a lot of inspiration from quite a few artists, such as Guo Xi, Mi Fu, and Xu Daoning. Truthfully, if Yujia didn't study a bit of historical art in the past, her current work wouldn't look as good as it did now. Her luck was in the fact that she studied lots of art from the Song Dynasty of ancient China, and based off of the current time period now, the Song Dynasty had not came to pass yet, so all the artists she learned from were not even born.

    In other terms, Yujia simply earned lots of respect from her younger sister for being original when she wasn't original at all.

    If Yujia knew of what the Fifth Miss was thinking right now, surely she wouldn't be able to hold back some laughter.

    Seeing that no one really had anything to say and believing that she proved her point that she was a capable artist, Yujia walked back over to Hui'er, grabbing her arm and pulling her up from her kneeling position.

    "The one-hundred taels are mine." Yujia picked up the box off the floor as well, handing it to Hui'er for her to hold. She then gestured to the painting lying on the table as evidence. "My maid is innocent."

    Her eyes looked across the room, to where the other maid who was kneeling with Hui'er before was standing. Yujia noticed that this maid was looking back at her direction as well, brows furrowed deeply and lips slightly parted with disbelief at the events that just occured. Her hands were constantly unlocking and locking.

    She definitely looked strange, but Yujia didn't want to concern herself with anymore of the matters. She wasn't involved in whatever thievery that had been going on, so naturally, even if this maid was suspicious, she didn't want to say anything.

    Yang Qingxia, on the other hand, seemed to think otherwise. For the first time through all of these events, she spoke up and said, "Little sister, your painting skills truly are incredible," she paused, her eyes landing back at the taels, then continuing "but I can't help but wonder if that's truly enough to prove that the one-hundred taels are yours? Just because you can paint doesn't mean that you own these taels."

    Yujia flicked her eyes up. She didn't want to bring up some of the more specific details, but she supposed that now others were forcing her to, she had to.

    "The second young master of the Bo family. If you don't believe me, ask him if he had bought two mountain paintings and one of a rooster recently. He should agree that he paid quite a surmountable number of taels for them."

    The attitude of the crowd changed once more.

    The young master of the Bo family?

    Why, how wealthy and powerful was the Bo family? They were the number one merchant family in the capital, and perhaps in all of Xiang! Of course the Yang household would not dare to send over someone to ask about such a fickle matter of whether or not their second young master bought some paintings recently, but the amount of confidence and detail that the Fourth Miss claimed over this seemed truthful. If she was willing to say these things without fearing the consequences if they were lies, then surely she was telling the truth.

    Yujia noted the silent consensus of belief in the crowd. Now was a good time to deliver her last words before any more troubling questions came up.

    "With that being said, I think it should be fair enough for me to take my leave. I am not involved in any events regarding thievery, and therefore, whatever other matters don't concern me."

    Yujia spun around, heading towards the door and gesturing for Hui'er to follow her at the same time. Before she could leave, however, the Old Master seemingly found his voice and spoke up.

    "But why? Why painting? Why the hundred taels?"

    He had a point. If an individual did not deliberately wish to earn so much money within such a brief amount of time, then they would not be able to.

    Hearing that question, Yujia paused and thought for a few moments, her back still turned away from the crowd.

    Her original plan was to wait for a day where her father would be in a good mood- or do something for him that would put him in a good mood- and then offer the one-hundred taels as tribute. That would secure her chances of him agreeing with her plans.

    It didn't seem like she could go on with her original plan though. Things went out of her expectations, and now she had to make quick decisions that would alter her original calculations.

    She could say something along the lines of her birthmother being sick and that she needed to buy precious medicine that would cost a hundred taels. However, that wasn't too believable. He could likely uncover her lie by visiting her mother, since exactly how sick would that woman have to be for medicine to cost a hundred taels?

    Later on, it would still be suspicious if she offered him the one-hundred taels to buy herself out of the marriage. Once she came up with the lie that her mother was sick, she would have to stick with it. That meant that she would have to convince her father that the one-hundred taels she would offer him were a complete other set of taels than the original hundred. This also meant that she would have to claim that within such a short amount of time, she was able to earn two-hundred taels.

    Her original idea was to explain that it was sheer luck that caused her to meet a wealthy buyer who liked her paintings and gave her all of her money. That was a truthful explanation in the first place- Bo Zhiyuan was certainly exactly like that.

    Except now, if she went with her idea of using the one-hundred taels for something else, it wouldn't be that believable to say that a wealthy buyer would go to the extent of paying two-hundred taels, buying every painting that she made.

    The less money she claimed that she earned, the more believable everything would be. She didn't want more suspicion than needed.

    With those thoughts, Yujia spun back around once more, taking the heavy box of taels from Hui'er.

    She walked right to the front of her father and Madam, set the taels down at their feet, and dropped to her knees.

    The Old Master looked at her with confusion. "Daughter, this is...?"

    With firm resolve, Yujia looked at him in his eyes and bowed deeply, her head hitting the floor.

    "Father, I want to cancel my engagement."
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