It wasn't a difficult task for her, only a time consuming one. The hair especially took lots of time, as Yujia struggled to shade every small strand of Zhou Luowei's long and smooth hair. It reminded her why sketching portraits was never her favorite thing to do, simply because of all the small details and time consuming aspects of it that didn't appeal as much to her as her paintings.
That wasn't to say that Yujia didn't like the finished product though.
She was absolutely proud with how it turned out, especially the faint smile that she caught on Luowei's lips and the quiet emotion displayed in her eyes. Based on her memory, this portrait could be considered as a near replica of the girl herself, as far as Yujia observed and remembered.
With Hui'er at the side, Yujia carefully placed another piece of paper over the portrait and rolled both of them up in unison. This was to prevent the graphite from smearing and destroying the beauty of the overall work.
After doing so, she handed it to Hui'er with a calm smile. "Deliver this to Bo Zhiyuan, please."
Hui'er agreed and took it from her, heading out of the courtyard.
If it was any other situation, Yujia would go herself, but sadly, Hui'er was still insistent on her staying in her room due to her "weak body". Thus, she could only rely on Hui'er to deliver the drawing while she waited for the taels to roll in.
Based on their previous agreement, she would receive twenty-five more taels. With the seventy-three taels she had in her possession already, she would only need two more taels to reach her goal of a hundred.
Things were all about to go well again.
Having these thoughts in her mind, Yujia instantly cheered up. All she really worked on during the past two days was the portrait, and Hui'er watched over her the entire time. She never truly had the opportunity to go outside and to get a breath of fresh air. While Hui'er was gone, delivering the portrait, it was an excellent time for her to finally go outside and also a good thing to do to pass the time.
Yujia pushed her chair back and stood up, stretching her arms and neck a bit while she walked out the room.
Some time later, when Yujia already returned to her room, satisfied with the brief walk she took around her small courtyard, Hui'er returned as well.
She carried a wooden box in her hand, and her eyes reflected excitement. Hastily, she set the box down in front of her Fourth Miss.
When Yujia opened the box, she saw that it was halfway full with two layers of taels on the inside, each layer arranged with five by five rows.
Clearly, this number was not the twenty-five taels that Yujia expected.
Her eyes widened and she stared at the rows of taels, picking a few up and looking at them. If one layer had twenty-five taels, and there were two layers of them, wouldn't that mean that there was… a total of fifty taels in this box?
An excited smile bloomed on her face. She didn't expect Bo Zhiyuan to be so generous with the money. She wasn't even too sure if he would like the portrait in the first place, but seeing all these taels reassured her fears.
"Miss," Hui'er explained, "Young Master Bo really liked the portrait! He wanted me to tell you that it truly was lifelike, and that he wanted to give a little extra because of that, and the extra mountain painting you gifted him! Oh, and you left one of your 'pencil's over there last time, so he wanted to return that too."
Hui'er reached in her sleeve and returned the pencil to her.
"He is indeed benevolent person…" Yujia grinned slightly after taking back the pencil, still staring in awe at all of the taels. It wasn't like she hadn't ever seen that much money— she had seventy-three herself— but when unexpected surprises occur, the amount just seemed bigger than ever. "I'll have to go visit and thank him myself some time, don't I?"
For a few more moments, Yujia admired the rows of silver taels some more, but then she remembered the other taels she had. Swiftly, she stood up and walked to a nearby cabinet, bending down and rummaging through it for a few seconds, then taking a large box from within it.
Her seventy-three taels were located in the box. Although the number of taels within it was surplus, there was no lock on the box since Hui'er couldn't find a box like so. Yujia wasn't too afraid of anyone looking for money from the poor, illegitimate Fourth Miss who lived in the same courtyard as servants, but she was still wary. That was why she put it in the very back of the cabinet and covered the front of the cabinet with all sorts of miscellaneous things. No one should have been suspicious of any taels in her room.
Upon opening the box, Yujia took the taels that were messily thrown in there and picked each one up, filling in the rest of the elaborate box that Bo Zhiyuan gifted. There was perfectly enough space for fifty more taels to fit in it, yet when she closed the lid on it, it almost seemed like the hundred taels would burst out any minute.
Yujia pushed down on the lid of the box, closing it with a solid pat.
She originally thought that she had to do a little more work to earn two more taels. Those worries were unnecessary now. She had exactly one hundred taels to give and twenty-three spare taels left.
The more she thought about it, the happier she was.
One hundred and twenty-three taels.
She was too lucky to be in the possession of so many taels. One hundred taels would soon be used to buy her way out of an engagement, but it still felt good to know that she earned every tael in that box because of her own artwork.
Hui'er looked cautiously at the box, suggesting, "Miss, now that you have a hundred taels, how about we exchange it at the bank for a gold tael?"
A gold tael? Yujia never heard of that before.
Seeing Yujia's silence, Hui'er continued, "A hundred silver taels is equivalent to one golden tael. I think that it would be much more convenient to exchange it to a gold tael, and it would be safer too."
Hui'er did make sense. Yujia thought about her proposal for a few moments. If she exchanged this large box for one gold tael, she could keep the tael on her instead of trusting on an unlocked cabinet and an unlocked box to hold so much money until she decided that it would be the right moment to hand the money over to her father.
She didn't want to take any risks and planned to hand the taels over as soon as possible, but she still had a few things she wanted to buy with her twenty-three taels before doing so in case her father was against the idea and wanted to take away all of her taels through a room-search.
The matters she needed to take care of would likely take only a day or two, but what if during those two days, a thieving servant decided to look through her cabinets during the middle of the night and discovered the box of silver? What if a fire broke out to the kitchen and spread to her room, burning everything and not giving her a chance to carry such a large box of silver out?
A gold tael that she could keep in the fabric pocket at her bosom would be much safer, and there didn't seem to be any unnecessary risks of exchanging the money. Yujia could just disguise the box by having Hui'er take along a few other fabrics or items that perhaps she wanted to sell at the market. She could have Hui'er take the most secretive route in the villa too. That would avoid any possible suspicion or accidents.
Thinking that Hui'er had a decent point, Yujia pushed the box across the table to her. At most, it wouldn't hurt to exchange all of the silver for a gold tael.
"You're right. I don't want to take any risks."
Over the course of two more days, Yujia finished her portrait.