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72 The Fourth Miss Becomes a Teacher

    Seeing Xiaoyi, who tended to come visit her every morning to greet her except for this morning, Yujia naturally smiled, replying with a casual, "I'm doing fine."

    Xiaoyi helped herself to a seat by the table across from Yujia, starting, "I was going to visit you this morning, but I got a little busy. Anyways, I... have something to ask of big sister."

    "What is it?"

    Yujia was actually surprised Xiaoyi wanted something from her. Although both were on polite and friendly terms, they weren't exactly as close as sisters should actually be. Xiaoyi was just warm to everyone, and Yujia treated her as well as she treated Yujia back.

    "Well," Xiaoyi began, "I saw your painting skills the other day. I've been meaning to ask about it, but big sister seemed busy on all the other days, so I didn't until now."

    She was right. On the mornings that Xiaoyi greeted her after the things that went on with her father, Yujia was busily making her generic mountain paintings. Yujia tried to think of where this request was going.

    "I was just wondering since big sister is so talented at painting, could you teach Xiaoyi a thing or two?"

    After speaking her request, Xiaoyi looked at Yujia with a big anticipating smile.

    Teaching Xiaoyi how to paint? Yujia's own smile faded a little after hearing that. It wasn't that she wasn't willing to teach the Fifth Miss- it was just that she didn't exactly know how.

    All this time, Yujia painted by recalling paintings from the Song and Ming Dynasties. If that was the case, how was she supposed to tell Xiaoyi how to paint? Go copy a bunch of people who will exist centuries after you? She supposed that she could name some techniques, but now she doubted how much she knew about painting after taking the art exam in Lingxin.

    Yujia also wasn't sure how much time it would take up to teach Xiaoyi, especially since she still didn't know what sort of plan to take on to solve her current dilemma.

    All in all, teaching Xiaoyi wasn't something that would benefit her much, so Yujia was reluctant to agree to this request.

    Xiaoyi saw the obvious hesitance displayed on Yujia's face, so she quickly continued with, "Of course, if it's very inconvenient for you, you don't have to! I know that big sister is involved in... personal matters... but I promise I won't bother you too much! Just showing me some of your paintings and how you did it would be enough- no more than an hour a day and once a week!"

    Now that Xiaoyi worded it like that, Yujia felt particularly inclined to help. She couldn't say no after hearing all that, and one hour every week wasn't that much either as long as she wasn't going to go after the generic mountain painting factory route which she thought of earlier.

    So, Yujia gave a steady nod and smiled once more, standing up from her bed. "Since little sister worded it like such, don't I as a big sister have the responsibility to do so?"

    She gestured for Hui'er to go get her paintings for her while she put on an outer robe that went over her the white robe she wore under her men's clothes, then sat down at the table. "I actually don't know much about painting," she admitted, "It just so happens that I discovered some certain things that others haven't yet."

    Hui'er brought over her stack of twenty-four generic mountain paintings, clearing the table of the tea set and setting it down. Xiaoyi's eyes widened like saucers when she saw the twenty-four paintings, her hand reaching towards the pile and shifting through them.

    "Big sister," she said while flipping through them, her head tilting, "what are these?"

    "I call them generic mountain paintings. They may look pretty from a glance, but any who devotes themselves to enough time painting would notice that they lack something very important. Can you tell?"

    Xiaoyi kept her head tilted while she studied two side by side. "Is it... color? No. No, it can't be color. Maybe the fact that..." She bit her bottom lip before admitting with her head cast down, "I can't tell."

    Yujia smiled softly. "That's alright. Have you painted before?"

    "I have! Father bought me some books and painting to study, and even asked a master to come teach me a few things, but it's really been a lot of self-studying and just copying paintings to learn more." Xiaoyi looked back up.

    "Then, that great master must've not taught you this. All great paintings are worth nothing unless they have emotion in them. These paintings here," Yujia waved at them, "are called generic exactly because they lack the thing that decides the most in art: the emotion and message behind the painting. Emotion is what brings the viewer into the painting, to transfix them by a single moment." She passed her hand over one of the paintings, tracing the mountains depicted there. "There are many who disagree with this, who ignore the lack of emotion in a painting for the brilliant techniques or the precise style the painter used, and those people are simply ignorant."

    Honestly, Yujia didn't believe half of what she said. Yes, emotions were important, but back in the modern world, when she painted birds and scenery, she did it without much emotion just so she could earn money for how much she focused on the details. She didn't have some super deep message behind every little bird. That would've been ridiculous.

    She only said what she said because it sounded rather impressive to her, and she was very disappointed with getting nearly last place in the second exam at Lingxin too when she claimed one of the paintings didn't have emotion.

    Xiaoyi seemed to take her advice rather seriously though, nodding her head slowly and looking back at the paintings. "I see what you're saying now! These paintings of mountains may be complex and hold great technique, but they lack emotion!"

    "But," Yujia cut in, "for beginners at painting, capturing emotion isn't the most important step. First, one must learn how to paint properly to be able to convey things through their painting..."

    She went on to demonstrate some things she knew how to do with the art supplies Hui'er brought over next, explaining as she did so. Xiaoyi listened and watched attentively, being a good learner who caught on quickly.

    Yujia couldn't help but smile throughout the lesson. She didn't realize how soothing it would be to teach someone, but in the calm environment of her room while she enjoyed painting with someone else and forgot about her struggles, it was like a temporary break from the rest of the world. She hadn't been so relaxed in a long time.

    ...

    After around thirty minutes, Xiaoyi left, satisfied with the new knowledge she received. Yujia wasn't particularly worried if she came back, because now she knew somewhat how to teach and what to teach. She didn't think that she would run out of content soon either. If she had to, she would just begin teaching Xiaoyi about modern art, which would likely be fun.

    When she left, Hui'er sat down at the spot that Xiaoyi just sat at. "Miss, you know that I still don't trust the Fifth Miss, right?"

    Yujia pursed her lips, thinking back to what Hui'er told her on the first day of her transmigration. Supposedly, the Fifth Miss ignored Yujia's presence until two years ago, which was definitely questionable. Yujia recalled dismissing the fact back then, but things had changed since then. She had changed since then.

    She didn't know if there were any other ways to find out why the Fifth Miss chose to act like such, but through everything that happened with the First Miss and her story, Yujia knew that the best way in these scenarios were facing it directly, not to make rash assumptions based on vague facts.

    Sighing and pouring herself a cup of tea, Yujia said to Hui'er, "I'll ask the Fifth Miss tomorrow about it. Until then, I don't want to make any permanent decisions."
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