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95 Negotiations and the Fourth Miss

    Along the way, as the two walked back to the inn, Yujia began conversing with Zhizhong about what he was saying before as a proposal.

    "I'm sorry, but I can't just claim that you're the inventor like that," Yujia started, "Even if you have your personal reasons you can't tell me about, I can't let you claim the inventing rights."

    The corners of Zhizhong's lips tipped down. "Why? What's your reason behind that? How much would it take for you to sell the invention rights to me? Even if it's ten gold taels, I'll pay for it."

    Ten gold taels...

    For a second, Yujia hesitated. Ten gold taels would make her set for life. It was a tempting offer, and she was sure that Bo Zhizhong knew how convincing that number was.

    But then, her pride reminded her of the reason why she couldn't just hand over the invention to him. First, she didn't want to solve all her problems relying on others. She already relied on Bo Zhiyuan to purchase her paintings to earn her first hundred taels. She didn't want to rely on another Young Master Bo to buy her way out of her marriage. It would make her feel too indebted to the entire Bo Family if the majority of the money she ever earned was from the two young masters.

    And second...

    Looking him in the eyes, she replied, "It's always men who are inventing things. Why not, for once, allow a woman to have her invention? Throughout all this time, people are always telling me that I

    can't

    do things. I can't be a student at some posh art school because I'm female. I can't sell art for good prices because I'm female. I can't invent things because I'm female. My beliefs conflict with that. Why can't I be held equally with everyone else? If I just handed the invention to you, that's another thing that I let another person take the rights of."

    She was fully aware that she wasn't the actual inventor of the pencil. But some part of her kept nagging at her to want to prove everyone she had met in this time period wrong so far. Wrong, perhaps, so that she could change the course of history itself and pave a path for the other women who had their dreams crushed by society's expectations. Simple paintings wouldn't be enough to prove them wrong. She had to use something that was revolutionary, such as the small pencil that she put all her trust on.

    The Second Miss, Yang Yichen, could do it. Why couldn't she then, as the Fourth Miss?

    The two arrived at the front of their destination. Zhizhong stopped in his steps, and so did she.

    "How do you know then..." he said with a careful tone, "... that I'm not going to just run off with your invention and call it mine? You told me what was in it and its structure. With the amount of gold I have on hand, I could put out your 'pencil' in a large store within two days. Everyone else in the world would believe that I was the inventor of the pencil, and then, who would believe your protests and claims?"

    "I guess I just trust you. I trust that you're a kind-hearted person. From when you stopped the thief who stole from me to when you gave me the cloak to cover myself at the spring, you never seemed like someone who takes advantage of people." Yujia gave him a soft smile. "Though... if you turned out to be different than how I thought you were, that's not a big deal either. Who said pencils were the only revolutionary invention I have in mind?"

    She was from the future! There were plenty of things she could create as long as she worked hard enough.

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    Zhizhong raised his eyebrows. "You have other inventions? What are they?"

    "Not telling you," she hummed, "How else would I get you back if you betrayed my trust?"

    A grin spread across his face. "Alright then. I'll make sure that I don't betray your trust, then, so in the future, we can be good business partners for all your other inventions."

    It was at that moment that she realized that Bo Zhizhong understood her. He didn't understand her in the past, but now he seemed to have gained a sort of understanding of her goals and beliefs. It was likely that he wouldn't ever share the exact beliefs that she did, but as long as he understood her purpose, it would be enough. That was all that Yujia asked for.

    She gestured in front of her, to the entrance of the building. "Let's go and talk some business then, shall we?"

    He nodded with a smile, and the two walked in together.
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