91 A Nice Portrait From the Fourth Miss

    After the mini-ceremony, and all three of them were seated in the pavilion around a table, Yujia's master pointed out the box of pencils she brought along. "Child, what's in that?" he asked.

    Yujia picked it back up from the floor and opened it, revealing her pencils both to her master and Ye Yunhe- or, should she say, Senior Brother Yunhe.

    "Since I have a meeting with my acquaintance over investments, I figured it would be good to bring my invention to show him since he hadn't seen it in person before," she told her master, extending her arms so that he could have a closer look.

    He picked a pencil out of the box, spinning it in his fingers. "This thin stick? Can it really draw efficiently? What do you call it?"

    Yujia grinned at his uncertainty. "Yes, Master, it can draw very well. I call it a pencil."

    Yunhe raised an eyebrow and pulled over a sheet of paper from the stack of papers at the side of the table. "Can you demonstrate how it works, then?"

    It seemed like all his animosity from before over the matter of her calling his work useless vanished, replaced by sheer curiosity and interest in her art tool. Ye Yunhe didn't seem like one to hold grudges for very long, and when he realized that he was in the wrong, he quickly forgot about fights too. Yujia predicted in the future, as long as she was polite to him, it wouldn't be too hard to get along with him despite their rough start.

    "Of course." Yujia tilted her head to the side, taking a good look at her senior brother who was sitting next to her. "Senior Brother, I'll draw you, then."

    "Hm?" He folded his arms and leaned back. "Do I need to stand up?"

    Typically, portraits of this time period of the upper class were mostly full-body paintings, not portraits cropped at the chest, like Yujia was used to. It seemed like portraits weren't also the artistic trend in this time, so Yujia could understand how her senior brother was slightly put off by this.

    "No, no; you don't have to stand," Yujia laughed, gesturing for him to stay seated. "I'll move across though, so I can have an easier view." She looped around the table to the other side, where her master sat. "Master, you don't mind if I sit next to you, right?"

    He shook his head. "That's even better- now I can see what you're drawing in the right direction!"

    Yujia gave a cheeky smile and set the paper down as she sat in her new spot. She spent a few seconds observing Yunhe's features, calculating his proportions before starting. The moment she began, though, she shielded her work at the front with her left hand while she created the first initial sketches of the general placement of his features. This way, Yunhe wasn't able to see what she was creating, and with her right hand sketching and blocking the view of her master, he couldn't see either. Her work was in complete secrecy.

    A few moments passed, and then her master, truly wanting to see what she was making, leaned over to look. Yujia immediately slammed her hand down on the face that she started to form, blocking his view completely.

    "Master, I have a bad habit where I can't stand it when people see me draw," Yujia apologized, "If you don't want Senior Brother turning out like a disfigured monster, I suggest that you don't look."

    Actually, Hui'er, Xiaoyi, Bo Zhiyuan, and the like have seen her drawing process numerous times. Yujia just wanted to mess with the two, and give them a mysterious big-reveal which was sure to be more astonishing than if she let them see the entire process.

    Her master replied indignantly, "Child, the only reason why I agreed to let you sit here was so that I could see you draw better! If you cover it up, how can I see how you do it?"

    "I'm not purposefully trying to hide it from you... I just really can't draw when others are watching me! I get nervous easily." Yujia gave a pitiful, teary-eyed look towards her master, then to Yunhe as she slowly dragged her hand down the paper. "Senior Brother, I guess Master really wants you to turn out hideous in this portrait. If you look super grotesque in the end, don't blame me; blame Master for forcing me to ruin my invention and art skills."

    "Master, come on. Just let her have her privacy," Yunhe requested.

    "Fine," he huffed and relented, turning his head away from her picture.

    Yujia smiled a smile of triumph to herself. These two were too easy to mess with.

    Now that her master wasn't intent on seeing how she drew, Yujia could pay full attention to her sketching. It would be a rough sketch since she promised to meet up with Zhizhong in less than two hours, but she was confident that she could capture Yunhe's features quite clearly.

    Yunhe had very gentle features without any sharp lines at all, making him seem a bit feminine and also much younger. With his features so distinctly different than the average man, and the fact that Yujia practiced only female portraits up until now, it made it easy for Yujia capture his appearance under her pencil.

    Even if she really was someone who got nervous when others were watching them, Yujia didn't think that she would be able to draw someone like Yunhe in a hideous manner. His face was too pretty for her to do so.

    She started with a light sketch of placement with the lightest pencil value she had, then began to define his eyes with a medium shade pencil. In the corner of her vision, she saw someone pass by the pavilion- a servant, maybe?- and they were called over by her master. He said one word to the servant, "lunch", and then the servant ran off.

    By the time that Yujia was finished with the eyes, in not more than ten minutes, the servant came back, bringing a platter of sliced roasted duck drizzled with aromatic sauces and spices and a large jug of wine. Once the dish of duck was delivered right in front of him, her master began eating by himself without saying a word.

    The aroma of freshly roasted duck tickled her senses, and Yujia couldn't help but gulp as she looked at the juicy platter of duck, glistening from the sauce and oil. It was cooked to a perfect shade of dark red, and the mouth-watering scent of meat floated to her in wave after wave, constantly reminding her that there was a plate of delicious food next to her.

    Then, her master uncorked the jug of wine, pouring a cup for himself. The sweet and delicate aroma of wine combined with the aroma of meat, teasing her even more now.

    It was then that Yujia decided that she couldn't take it anymore. She flipped her paper over and looked at her master with a wistful gaze.

    Senior Brother Yunhe seemed to have the same thought too, his eyes fixed on the jug of wine that his master repeatedly poured out of.

    "What?" Their master felt the stares of both of his disciples. "Are you hungry?"

    Yuija nodded.

    Her master picked up a duck leg, dangling it in front of her. "Do you want this?"

    Yujia nodded.

    "Well, too bad." A devilish grin spread across his face while he took the leg back, biting a chunk out of it. "This is my lunch, and I happen to not enjoy sharing." He ate another bite of the duck right in front of her. "Ah, this tastes so good! Mmm."

    A horrified look appeared on Yujia's face. "Master, what's wrong with you?" she exclaimed loudly in protest.

    Offering her food and taking it away from her had to be some sort of sick, twisted torture!

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    "You don't like it when people watch you draw, and I don't like to share my food. It's as simple as that!" he declared.

    Ah, was her master purposefully irking her just because of the way she teased him earlier? Not showing her drawing process versus denying someone of food was two very different forms of torture on totally different scales, alright?

    Sometimes, this master of hers really was childish even though he was so many decades older than her!

    Across the table, Yunhe started, "Master, can I have a cup of wine? I didn't anger you in any way, right?"

    "No!" he proclaimed, pouring himself another cup of wine just for good measure. "Don't think I forgot what you were going to say to me around an hour ago when we were arguing! No meat for her, no wine for you! Let this be a lesson to you disciples to respect your master more!"

    Yujia's eyes met with the defeated gaze of Yunhe. She was only her master's disciple for half an hour, but she could already form so many emotional bonds with Ye Yunhe because of the unreasonable attitude of their master.

    She took a deep sigh, and went back to her portrait, determination shining in her eyes. So what if she didn't get duck now? She was going to have lunch with Bo Zhizhong, and then she could get all the duck she wanted then! But as for this portrait, when she was finished, she would only show her senior brother! Her master didn't deserve to see it if he was going to deny her food, and then, who was the true winner?
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