87 Typical Mornings of the Fourth Miss

    The good news of the next morning was that Yujia didn't feel any hints of a hangover. The bad news was that she still needed to think of how she was going to face the founder of Lingxin from yesterday.

    Yujia slowly stirred at a bowl of white porridge that she typically had for breakfast along with some pickled vegetables. She knew that Young Master Bo was her new investor, and considering how complicated it would be to split investments between two individuals, she didn't really need the old man as her investor anymore. Still, though, there were some benefits in going through and calling him her master. She could go and take good use of the Lingxin marketplace.

    With that thought, Yujia decided that Bo Zhizhong would become her investor, and the old man would become her master. One night of the festival created two more new relationships for her.

    She supposed that her situation wasn't that bad now. Getting five-hundred taels by the end of the month shouldn't be that difficult.

    Her morning passed uneventfully, with just some painting and conversing with Hui'er, yet on the other side of the villa, without Yujia's knowledge, a young master decided to pay a visit.


    Yu Zixu walked into the Yang villa with his hands folded behind his back, followed by a few servants carrying presents.

    Today, he decided, would be the day where he would see for sure who he was engaged to, and whether or not the girl he knew was Yang Xiaoyi.

    When the Old Master of the Yang family heard of news that he was paying a visit, he swiftly arranged for them to meet in the front room of the main courtyard. With the Old Master sitting at the front of the room next to the Madam, Zixu sat towards the left and was served a courteous cup of tea.

    Once all formalities were exchanged, the Madam began, "Young Master Yu, what brings you here to Yang villa today?"

    Zixu smiled. People like the Madam were easy to deal with. They liked elaborate words of flattery, and he happened to be quite skilled in anything that involved words. "I simply wanted to visit my future parents-in-law. The Yu Household is still working on the betrothal gifts, but today, I brought a few gifts to show my sincerity. It's not much, but I hope that it can convey my dedication."

    He waved his hands, and the servants behind him moved forward, presenting their three veiled gifts. One by one, they took off the cloth veil covering each gift and revealed what was hidden inside, presenting the gifts forward.

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    The first gift, a green vase, drew the attention of everyone in the room. With details carved into the stone to gather together and form a long, slender vase, it was clearly a vase made for arranging the newly bloomed branches of next winter's plum blossoms or any other branched flowers. It gleamed in the faint sunlight streaming in the room that highlighted the curled details depicted on it.

    The second gift was a valuable painting that Zixu happened to chance upon in the market. It featured a scene of a long, coursing river cutting through layered mountains lined with trees. Anyone, no matter if they understood art or not, would be able to tell that it was a good painting from just one glance.

    The third gift were a pair of rooster statues made of carved red agate, the small statues lifelike and detailed. Each rooster stood facing each other with curled red feathers lining their bodies.

    As each gift was presented, Zixu could see the smiles grow more and more on the Old Master and Madam's faces. On his own lips, a collected smile remained, unchanging as each gift was revealed.

    To a small family like the Yangs, these three gifts may seem priceless, but it wasn't that valuable to Zixu. The vase and statues were both gifts he received once from other people, but due to the quality of the stones being not pure enough for the Yu villa standards, they were always kept in the storage room, untouched. For the painting, it was only a painting of a master that Zixu had collected countless works of, and this painting wasn't even one of the best ones. So, Zixu didn't feel too heartbroken to give it away either.

    Gifts like these, which seemed nearly worthless to him, were such treasures in the eyes of others. Giving them out actually added more worth to them than if they were just gathering dust in the storage room. As long as he could win over the hearts of the two in front of him, giving them even more gifts like these wouldn't be any more difficult.

    Though, based on his predictions, three gifts would be enough. And, based on the expression currently displayed on both of their faces, three gifts was more than enough to gain their good opinion. Next time, one would be the right amount to deal with people like them. He didn't want them to feel like they were indebted to him- he just wanted them to agree with his upcoming demand.

    The Old Master thanked him graciously for the gifts, and the three of them chatted for a while about business, how he was doing with his career, and how the Old Master of the Yu family was doing. The conversation slowly moved to the topic of Zixu's engagement, which led him to the question that he came here for this entire time.

    "I hope this isn't too much of an outrageous request," he started, putting on a sheepish smile and scratching the back of his neck to make himself seem more sincere, "but since the Fifth Miss and I will be married within the year, yet we haven't even met yet, may I have the permission of meeting her, under your supervision?"

    "Of course!" the Old Master answered, "It's only natural that you would request something like this."

    Zixu thanked him politely after the Old Master sent out a servant to fetch the Fifth Miss. With the Yang villa being rather small, it didn't take long for the servant to go and for the Fifth Miss to arrive.

    When the Fifth Miss first arrived, Zixu noticed her clothes first. They were a shade of peach and embroidered with lotuses, the exact robes that he saw last night at the festival. So, it really was her?

    But then, his eyes traveled up to her face.

    The girl who was wearing the exact robes wasn't the person he was expecting at all. In contrast to the face he knew with a slender nose, arched willow brows, and pale lips that curved like a crescent moon, the face that he saw now had a rounder nose, blushing pink skin, and a doe-eyed look on her face. He could still spot a few similarities between the two, such as the curve of their jaw and the long eyelashes over their ink-black irises, but there was no denying that they were two different individuals.

    His guesses were wrong. They were different people.

    Almost instantly, Zixu lost most of the interest he had in the previous girl he thought to be Yang Xiaoyi, turning to analyze his true fiancée.

    She had a delicate smile on her lips and a faint blush on her cheeks while she walked up, bowing to her parents first, and then turning to Zixu. Her eyes depicted pure curiosity as she observed him for a second before bowing as well. Zixu stood, returning the bow.

    The Madam gestured and said, "Xiaoyi, have a seat to the right!"

    Following her words, Xiaoyi sat down across from Zixu, taking another look at him before their eyes met. Almost embarrassed, she flushed a little redder and darted her eyes away, choosing to look down at her hands.

    Seeing her flustered actions, Zixu couldn't help but chuckle a little to himself. The Fifth Miss, in comparison to the girl he thought was her, really was much more charming.

    Their small exchange of eye contact seemed to have caught the notice of the Madam. She laughed silently and explained, "Xiaoyi isn't usually this shy. When she's with her sisters, you should see how much more lively she is." The Madam tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "Oh, and Xiaoyi, haven't you always liked painting? Young Master Yu does too, right?"

    Zixu kept on his composed smile, replying, "Yes, I've always enjoyed painting. May I ask the Fifth Miss, do you have particular masters that you admire?"

    "Yes!" Speaking of the topic of painting, Yang Xiaoyi perked up, though she hastened to cover her enthusiasm. "There's plenty of masters that I've looked up to."

    She went on to list quite a few that Zixu knew of, which he replied to with mild interest. Now that the topic of painting was picked up, they conversed for a while about it, though Zixu found himself gradually losing interest.

    Yang Xiaoyi did know a lot about painting, but there were still more things that Zixu knew of that she didn't, leading to many moments where he would mention something, and she would follow up with brief silence and an explanation that she wasn't sure of what he was speaking of. This wasn't quite out of Zixu's expectations. Only people like Ye Yunhe knew as much as he did about art.

    Still, though, it didn't make for a valuable conversation on Zixu's side. What could he get out of the conversation? Pointless affection that he wasn't particularly searching for? Now that he found out the identity of his fiancée, and he no longer had questions, he lost all amusement in the conversation and the presence of the three people around him.

    While he talked with the Fifth Miss about painting theory, not showing a bit of his true thoughts, his mind trailed off to the girl he had mistaken as the Fifth Miss before.

    Somehow, just


    , she managed to score higher than him by a rank in the third exam of Lingxin Pavilion, which was the only one that mattered. How did she do it? How great did her painting have to be to surpass his despite her poor scores in the past two rounds?

    He knew that her surname was Yang. But which young miss was she?

    Zixu discovered, in the midst of his thoughts, that perhaps, his original question should've been who exactly the person who surpassed his work was, not if she was the Fifth Miss that he thought she may have been.

    A calm smile remaining on his face, Zixu waited for the conversation to end already.
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