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139 An Empty Sedan for the Fourth Miss

    Yujia let there be silence for a while. Both her and Yunhe needed some time to think and take in their own thoughts. When the timing seemed appropriate, she finally stated, "I don't think you know yet, but I'll be staying at Lingxin for a while."

    "Really?" He raised his eyebrows.

    Yujia nodded, then continued, "I... haven't told you the complete truth of everything. I was actually engaged to... um- the Yu's Old Master- as his concubine. I made a deal with my father that as long as I could earn five hundred taels by a deadline, I would be able to buy my way out of the engagement, but I guess that it didn't work out. So here I am now."

    Yunhe looked at her incredulously. "This is not... a joke?"

    "I'm afraid not."

    "Does Master know?"

    "I told him a few moments ago, before talking to you. So, yes."

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    "That's... shocking to hear. Truly shocking."

    Yujia shrugged. "I figured it would be. My bad for not telling Senior Brother sooner."

    "No, I understand." He shook his hands in front of him. "It's hard to find a good time, a good opportunity, to tell something. I'm glad I know now." Yunhe paused, then went on, "You can't be allowed to be here, right? Did you run away?"

    "Indeed."

    He folded his hands. "Well, you're smart for coming here. Your family won't search all the way here, and even if they receive word of your location, they wouldn't be able to barge into the academy either. Lingxin's not an easy place to force one's way in."

    "That's what I was thinking," Yujia agreed.

    "And you'll be staying at the residences?" He pointed a figure in the direction towards the north. "Did Master arrange a room for you yet? Do I need to?"

    "No need, Master has. But thank you, Senior Brother."

    He smiled gently. "That's good to hear. No need to thank me. I'm just afraid that you won't be used to living at Lingxin. It must be very different from the life you're used to back at home, and we don't have many female servants either..."

    Yujia let out a brief laugh. "A female servant is not the biggest worry of mine, Senior Brother. As long as I have a place to temporarily stay, I'll be fine with any conditions. Surely, Lingxin Academy has better conditions than the little run-down courtyard I was given in the Yang Villa? I didn't lead the most pampered life back then."

    She thought back to Hui'er. It would've been nice to have Hui'er with her right now, more of as the role of a companion than the role of a servant. But, considering that she was "on the run", her current conditions were nothing to complain about.

    "Since I'm here, if Senior Brother ever needs any help, I'll try my best to help!" she added on.

    "Then Senior Brother thanks Junior Sister for the thought." Yunhe sighed with a soft smile, standing up from the boulder he sat on and brushing his robes off. "I'll go tell my father about these living arrangements. He should know."

    "Of course."

    The two exchanged a few more words, then Yunhe left. Yujia watched his disappearing figure, then glanced down at her own hands.

    Lingxin Pavilion, Lingxin Academy, Lingxin.

    It was really going to become her temporary home now. She wondered how different her daily schedule would be now, simply because of the change in location. She also wondered how well the Yang Villa was faring at the moment.

    There may have been some panic and mess because of her sudden disappearance, but Yujia didn't expect anything too dramatic. She was only an illegitimate daughter, an insignificant concubine. Her running off was sure to cause inconveniences, but it wouldn't be anything too bad in the long run, she supposed. So, she hoped a little that the villa wasn't in too much chaos.

    ...

    The Yang Villa was in absolute chaos.

    At this point, things had descended into madness.

    There were, in fact, quite a few things on the line if the Fourth Miss couldn't be found.

    First, and perhaps the more insignificant part, was the Yu Household's relationship with the Yangs. It would be highly embarrassing for the public to know that the Yu's Old Master let his future concubine run away, and that he wasn't able to bring her back. As a result, the close relationship the Yu and Yang families had was sure to deteriorate, even if only by a little bit. The Fifth Miss and Young Master Yu's betrothal could become delayed as a result of the actions of today's event as well.

    Second, the matter that meant a little more to the Yang Family was their reputation. The Second Miss was already enough of an embarrassing matter to the family. Yang Yichen- or as she called herself now, Wu Yichen- ran away to join the army after a marriage. If the public knew that now the Fourth Miss, Yang Yujia, ran away as well, how much shame would that bring to the Yang Family? Wouldn't the other families in the capital know them now as the family with daughters who kept running away?

    With these two factors combined, it was needless to say that both Old Master Yang and Madam Zhang were not having a very splendid time.

    Two hours had already passed since the Fourth Miss was declared missing, and not even her shadow was caught by a single person. All the servants who went to look for her only came back without even any idea of where she could be.

    How was the Fourth Miss, so sickly and frail, able to run away and disappear from the capital so quickly?

    The Old Master and Madam looked at each other, struggling. A few more hours later, it would be time for them to send off the Fourth Miss. Except, how could they do that when all they had was an empty sedan?

    All of a sudden, Madam Zhang's eyes flashed. "That's it. The sedan. If by the time for the marriage, she still doesn't show up, then we can just send an empty sedan over as a last resort."

    "An empty sedan?" The Old Master shrunk his head back. Then, he gave it another thought, and nodded slowly. "You're saying that to cover up the fact that she's missing, we send the sedan over as if she was in it, and nothing was wrong?"

    "Exactly. I'm sure that Old Master Yu can be somewhat understanding of our situation, as long as neither of our reputations are damaged. To the public, it may seem like the Fourth Miss already became his concubine, but only the insiders to our two families would know the truth. It wouldn't be too difficult of a matter cover up, until we find the Fourth Miss. Besides, it's impossible for her to vanish forever- we'll find her eventually. We just need some more time."

    The Old Master nodded again. Madam Zhang had logic to her words. She always had good ideas, in his eyes.

    That was how it was decided that the marriage ceremony would proceed as normal, only with an empty sedan.

    ...

    While all of that was happening, a low rank government official followed by a few other officials was making his way to the Three Inks Shop, holding the Emperor's decree in his hand. When he arrived, he only saw a somewhat empty shop with a clerk at the front counter, fiddling with a brush in his hand.

    Clearing his throat, he stepped into the shop and declared to the man behind the counter, "Are you the manager?"

    The clerk, bewildered by the sudden appearance of this government official, immediately flicked his gaze over to the golden silk scroll held in the official's hands. His eyes widened, dropping the brush in his hand and walking around the counter, then dropping to his knees.

    "This small one- yes- I suppose can be considered something like a manager. But this small one is not the true owner, who has departed for the moment."

    The few customers in the store followed suit, dropping to their knees and knocking their heads at the floor as well at the sight of the golden scroll.

    "Well then..." The government official cleared his throat again, rolling out the scroll and reading the words written with careful calligraphy out loud. "Under the Emperor's proclamation, the invention known as the 'pencil' has brought something revolutionary to the history of Xiang. From this day, it shall be mass produced and spread throughout the empire, to promote its revolutionary properties. Furthermore, the inventor will be responsible for supplying the palace and officials with these pencils. As a reward, twenty gold taels will be issued. Three Inks Shop, accept the edict-"

    The clerk looked up, raising and taking the golden scroll, his hand trembling. He knocked his head against the floor three times.

    "Three Inks Shop is honored to receive this praise, and will do its best to carry out the Emperor's words."
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