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78 A Product Pitch From the Fourth Miss

    To Yujia's delight, the boy agreed. They sat down at a table in the inn, and Yujia ordered the best tea they had in the house, which costed a tael, but it was a tael well spent. She poured a cup of tea for him and for her, then began with, "So, I think it should be very clear that I haven't invited you for tea just to apologize."

    Truthfully, she still didn't feel like she should apologize. She didn't see anything wrong in her previous actions. The only point was that she felt like it would be a bad decision to not apologize when the boy was somewhat upset over this matter, and she didn't want to anger her potential investor.

    "What else do you need to say?" The boy took a sip of the tea, sampling the taste and setting it down, as if he didn't appreciate the taste that much even though it was the most expensive tea in the inn.

    "Well..." Yujia said, "you mentioned that you have a wealthy merchant family background. And I just so happened to invent a new art supply that I believe will change the entire course of classic painting. If you're interested in investing in the market of art, I also happen to be in need of some funds to bring this invention to the public. What do you say? Are you interested?"

    The boy's lips parted a bit in slight shock. He likely didn't expect this proposal to come up. "You're... asking me... to invest in your invention as a merchant?"

    Yujia nodded. She thought her words were fairly straightforward and simple.

    "I don't think that's a good idea," he replied immediately, shaking his head, "First, you're a girl. What does your family think about this? How can a

    girl

    be doing business?"

    Vexed, Yujia pressed her lips together. "Is that the only reason you have? You only think that women should just spend their time preparing to be a wife and then marrying off to care for her husband and children?"

    "Well, no- I'm also not even...

    that

    wealthy. I mean... I'm not the First Young Master or something, so my father doesn't really expect me to do that much business. He wants me to go... studying to work for the government... instead of inheriting the family business." He scratched his neck.

    "Is that so? What family do you come from in the first place?"

    It took the boy an unnatural, almost suspicious, amount of time to give her an answer, which stood out to Yujia to be interpreted in many ways. Could it be that he didn't trust her with his identity? Or could it be that he was thinking of some lie to tell her?

    Finally, he replied with slow words, "I'm the Third Young Master of the Bo family."

    Yujia's eyes lit up. The Bo family? What a coincidence that she ran into someone from the same family as Bo Zhiyuan. Either that, or what a coincidence that he came up with a family she actually had connections to.

    "Ah, really? I just so happen to have a history of business with your older brother, the Second Young Master. If you're not willing to invest in my product, I'll just go ask him about it."

    She stood up, but before she could go anywhere, the boy quickly stood up and held a hand out, panic appearing on his face. "Wait- no- don't go to him- just... tell me about your product right now. I'm interested to see how great this is if it can change everything about art." A shaky smile settled on his lips.

    This nearly confirmed Yujia's suspicion about the fact that this boy could be very much lying about his identity if he suddenly showed interest in her invention when before, he didn't care that much at all.

    "I don't have it on me right now," she admitted, "though I call it a 'pencil'." Her hands gestured as she explained. "It resembles a brush, but instead of a brush, the top is sharpened to a pointy tip. There's a core of graphite inside of it, and as long as one keeps sharpening them, you won't have to dip it into ink or anything of that sort to write with it. One pencil lasts for quite a while too. It's very convenient, and besides art, it can also be used to write letters and notes, so it's all travel-friendly too if one just wants to slide a pencil in their pocket."

    Hearing her explanation, curiosity began to show in the boy's face. "You created that? Is it easy to write with?"

    "Fairly easy. I created a rather crude version of it, and it's already easy to use. If I can employ some artisans to create higher quality pencils, then that'll be even more effortless to use. That's why I'm looking for an investor," she explained.

    A few moments passed where the boy thought about her proposal. Then, he set his hands on top of each other on the table and said, "I'm going to be honest here: although I am definitely interested in this- my father always liked art- I don't think I'm going to invest in this."

    "Why?"

    "I'm very busy. I have other responsibilities, and like I stated before, my father doesn't want me to spend time learning business," he confessed, "And, I don't even know you that well. How do I know that your product will succeed in the market? Why should I make an investment in something that no one had ever seen before when it would be much less risky to invest in things that I know will bring me quick profit, like silk? You shouldn't ask my brother either. Based on what know of him, he wouldn't be that interested."

    As much as Yujia wanted an investment from him, she agreed that he did have some logic to what he was saying. "Fine," she said, a sigh coming out along with her words.

    Getting an investor sure wasn't as easy as she thought it would be, especially since she didn't have any good connections and was, in the end, female. Society was definitely rough to women in this time period. No one expected that the things she could do would succeed simply because of the person she was at birth.

    The boy stood up and saluted politely, then left. It turned out that when it came to less joking matters like business, he still had a genuinely serious side to him. Even though she never managed to get him to invest in her work, in comparison to her previous two encounters with him, this one turned out surprisingly well.

    Yujia remained sitting alone at the table, staring at the nice pot of tea. She wasted a tael for nothing.

    Her mind drifted back to the fact that Hui'er was still selling paintings. Now would be a good time to check out how she was doing.

    Right. Yujia still had her generic mountain paintings to earn money for her! It wasn't the end of the world when she couldn't get an investor on her first try. She still had a solution no matter what. Having her own independence to manage her profits was much better than relying on someone else and having to split all her income with them.

    Her expression brightening, Yujia stood up and left the inn too, heading out to check on Hui'er.
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