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81 The Fourth Miss Enjoys Herself At the Festival

    Once Yujia returned to her own room and got dressed, she headed out with Hui'er and a satchel of ten taels, eight of which came from her painting-selling profit, while the other two came from the money she had before all the painting sales. It would be best if she didn't spend all of them, but it was a nice feeling to know that she still had money that she

    could

    spend if she really wanted to.

    The moment she stepped out of the front doors of the Yang villa, it was as if she entered a whole new world.

    People bustled up and down the streets, some wearing masks while others carried little trinkets they purchased from vendors lining the sides. Festive music played from every corner. Red and orange round lanterns were strung in rows on strings and hung up between walls and doors, lighting the people below them.

    When Yujia walked a little further, she saw many more peculiar acts of fire-breathers and jugglers, and even further down as she walked through parts of the city, she noticed many people sending lily-shaped lanterns down one of the stream canals that ran through one of the sections of the capital. Even though there were already lots of people going around in the city during the day, the festival during the night revealed so much more people with smiles on their faces and happiness threaded through the air.

    Yujia headed down, exploring all the attractions with Hui'er. With a few copper coins she got from converting a silver tael to change, she bought sticks of candied hawthorns for her and Hui'er, the red fruit glistening with sugar under the moonlight and lanterns.

    She couldn't help but smile while she enjoyed the festival. Back in the modern world, she had never experienced anything like this before. She didn't think that she would like loud noises and so many crowds of people.

    Yet now, breathing the fresh night air and sweet aroma of candies, pastries, and wine, surrounded by authentic lights and fires, Yujia decided that there was not another moment where she was happier in this world.

    Perhaps it was the rustling of the wind that carried the laughter of others to her. Or, perhaps it was the energy that connected every individual to each other, letting them share a sort of mutual exhilaration. It was a night where people forgot about all their struggles and simply celebrated to find their own happiness.

    While Yujia set out a lily lantern into the water along with Hui'er, in her heart, she wished that after all the fun and joy finished tonight, she would still be able to find this same happiness in the future.

    After eating candied hawthorn and treats, admiring all the sights, and setting lily lanterns, Yujia and Hui'er passed by a parade travelling throughout the city. Seeing the parade was definitely entertaining too. They were performing theatrical acts while they walked through with loud drum beats and musical instruments trailing behind them. The two paused for a few moments to watch the whole parade pass through, and then they continued walking through the city, their stomachs stuffed with all the little treats that Yujia bought them throughout the festival.

    And then, somehow Yujia found herself standing at the open gates of Lingxin Pavilion, staring at the structure that she had tried so hard to get into yet ended up voluntarily leaving on her own a few days ago.

    "Do you think they're going to have good deals because of the festival?" Yujia mused to Hui'er.

    Hui'er walked a few steps closer, looking in. "There's lots of people selling stuff, so maybe."

    "Then let's go!"

    Yujia didn't even bother to look at the section with students selling paintings. She was still a little bitter over the fact that she wasn't one of them today, selling all her great, generic paintings and easily earning five-hundred taels that way.

    Instead, she looked through everyone selling art supplies, purchasing extra paper and black ink for only three taels because there was somewhat of a discount and a buy-one get-one deal. Sales like these would be too good to miss, especially if she was planning on selling paintings as a back-up route.

    She looked through a few more tables at all the art supplies they sold. In the midst of it all, she caught the familiar face of an old man who was still selling colored paints like the last time she saw him.

    Upon seeing her, he burst into his typical sales pitch. "Young Miss, are you interested in some of the finest quality colored ink in the market? Because if you're looking for them, here's the spot!"

    "I don't need colored ink- I already have enough of them!" At her words, the old man's face dimmed, but Yujia continued, "Remember? I bought thirteen sets of your ink last time. How could you forget such a good customer like me so quickly?"

    The old man raised his eyebrows and leaned in, looking at her face carefully. Yujia watched as recognition passed through his eyes, replacing the foreignity he had before.

    "Ah! Could you be that Young Miss from the other day? Who said she had a friend named Yu and asked questions about the examination!"

    "That's me," Yujia affirmed.

    "Pardon me- the lighting was simply too dim, so I couldn't tell that it was you. Plus, last time, you had a veil on," the old man chuckled, "How could I forget my best customer so easily? Even at my age, the things I want to remember stick with me for a while. Though... since you don't need more ink, is there anything else I can help this Young Miss with? Did your friend pass?"

    Yujia bit her bottom lip. Yu Ziyang- of course "he" passed. But more accurately, "he" refused to stay in the academy since "he" couldn't benefit off of it.

    "To tell you the truth... he both passed and failed at the same time. In the end, he decided that he didn't want to stay at Lingxin even though he passed all the exams," she answered.

    "A pity, then."

    "If I were to be completely truthful though, the 'friend' I was talking about was actually me," Yujia continued.

    "Ah?" The old man tucked his chin in and looked at her with interest. "What are you saying?"

    "Well, I disguised myself as a man, impersonated the Second Young Master of the Yu family, nearly failed the first two exams, somehow got first place on the last exam, passed overall, and ended up dropping out because I thought my disguise was too dangerous. That's what I'm saying."

    The old man was silent for a few moments. Hui'er tugged at Yujia's sleeve from behind, as if she was asking why Yujia was saying all of this. Truthfully, though, Yujia didn't even know why she was saying this herself. Why was she? Was it to have someone who understood art to rant about this topic with?

    To her disbelief, the old man started laughing, his voice loud and gathering some attention from passersby at this sudden eruption of laughter.

    "That- was- you?" he gasped between laughter, "My- disciple- ah, you have no idea-" He took a deep breath, steadying his laughter. "He was so angry because of what the Second Young Master of the Yu family said about his painting in the second portion of the exam. You should've seen his face when he read the response! And I was wondering exactly who this Second Young Master was! Yu Ziyang- is that the name of the person you impersonated?"

    "Yes," Yujia nodded, confusion spreading through her brain. "Your disciple? What do you mean by that?"

    The old man clamped a hand over his mouth as if he suddenly realized that he let slip something that he shouldn't have. His eyes darted around frantically, and then he leaned forward, lowering his voice. "I didn't mean to say that... but I guess now that I've already messed up, I might as well give away my identity. Come a little closer." He beckoned his finger.

    Yujia tilted her head, waiting for his response.

    "I'm the founder of Lingxin Pavillion."
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