The combination of the white-sand rice paper and the white-goat hair ink brush increased the difficulty of this task. No wonder nobody dared to have a try. Those who had lived in the capital city just stood back while those who didn’t live here dared not to try first as they found nobody volunteered and they feared that there might be some traps. Thus they were careful of this task. As a result, an awkward silence appeared.
Qin Wanru felt the shopkeeper smiled awkwardly.
“Nobody won presents last year?” asked Qin Wanru.
“No. Nobody would know the shopkeeper would be so cunning. How could they combine these two things together! Nobody would practice writing with these papers! It couldn’t improve your writing but also it is quite expensive!” Di Fenglan popped her head up and explained.
Although it was expensive and hard to write on, it was easy to preserve!
Qi Baiyu’s eyes twinkled. He had always been quick-witted so an idea occurred to him. “Who wrote that? Can’t anyone find something similar? They just said that they would reward those who sell them sheets of calligraphy in the same style of writing!”
“Nobody knows who wrote it. Many people once checked and found out that they have never seen it before. Moreover, they thought that this sheet of calligraphy is not written by a noble man. A general? Nobody could figure out who the general is. It is hard to recognize!” Di Yan shook his head and sighed.
So, the shopkeeper just lied to them for fun!
Seeing nobody have a try, some scholars decided not to wait and quickly volunteered as they felt confident of their writing skills. Since someone started the challenge, there would be many followers waiting to have a try. Soon five tables were put on the stage and there was one challenger behind each table.
Once they got on the stage, they quickly took the ink brush and began to copy the sheet of calligraphy carefully. The audiences got silent and were waiting to see their works.
As soon as they started to write, they noticed the troubles brought by the particular ink brush and paper. Then their hand shook badly when holding the ink brush, which made them put the first wrong stroke on the paper. However, once they made mistakes, it would be hard to retrieve the error. The audience burst into laughter.
Those challengers were bold and professional. However, once they were laughed at, not to mention the difficulties caused by the ink brush and paper which embarrassed them, they felt nervous and then wrote badly. When they finished, they felt extremely awkward and got off the stage when comparing their funny copies to the original sheet of calligraphy.
The audience burst into laughter again when the shopkeeper hung their funny writing on the stage. It was so hilarious. How could those scholars write something like this? It just looked like those works which was created by babies who just began to learn writing.
Some people even asked, “Who is that? Who writes that? The middle one is extremely hilarious! How funny it is!”
“Yes! My servant girls would definitely be much better than them in calligraphy!
The scholars who just volunteered hurried to leave by feeling embarrassed among the ceaseless laughter. However, because of this, nobody would dare to have a try again. Those who looked confident now all hesitated. They were ready to show off their talent in the capital city. How could they be laughed at before they passed the exam! How embarrassing!
No matter how the shopkeeper persuaded the audience to have a try, everyone hesitated and kept quiet when seeing those challengers’ works. Nobody would like to be laughed at by others. Even though it did not matter too much, they always would be willing to laugh at others while unwilling to be laughed at.
The audience gradually dispersed. Somebody found there was no amusement and then pushed their way through the crowd and hurried to leave. Seeing everyone was leaving, Di Yan talked to Qin Yuru, “Cousin Yu, let’s go. It is boring here.”
Then he tried to take her hand.
Qin Yuru stayed away and avoided being touched by him expressionlessly. She nodded in agreement, “Okay, let’s go.”
Then they began to walk outward. When they didn’t go too far, Qi Tianyu suddenly turned around and found Qin Wanru who should follow him disappeared! He was shocked and immediately stopped.
“Master Qi, what’s wrong?” Noticing his shocked face, Qin Yuru also stopped and asked in a low voice.
“Second Lady Qin is not with us!” Looking around, Qi Tianyu only saw the crowded street but found no trace of Qin Wanru.
“What, what should we do? How would she disappear?” Qin Yuru also flustered and hurried to look around. She said to Qi Tianyu hurriedly, “Let’s find her now! Second Sister played in the capital city for the first time. She has never seen so many people before. I am afraid that she is too scared and hides somewhere.”
“Big Cousin, I heard that many criminals would commit kidnaps at this time of every year. They would especially prefer those young girls. Once they are kidnapped, they would be sold to those, you know, those places. Then their whole life almost got screwed up. There were some similar cases in the city before. A lady from an aristocratic family was kidnapped and found in the place, you know.”
Di Fenglan covered her nose and said disgustingly.
Standing next to Qin Yuru, she also heard the talk between Qi Tianyu and Qin Yuru. Seeing Qi Tianyu cared about Qin Wanru so much, she sneered and said.
“Hey! You! What the hell are you talking about? Can’t you say something as a human?” Qi Baiyu was ahead of them. Seeing everyone stopped, he quickly walked to them and got angry when hearing what Di Fenglan said.
“You, you are not a human!” Di Fenglan also got irritated by being shouted. Holding Di Yan’s hand, she waved her handkerchief and said, “Big Brother, let’s go! Qin Wanru’s missing has nothing to do with us. She does not come out with us. I just hope she would not be found in those places!”
Then she was ready to go by taking Di Yan’s hand.
“What’s wrong?” Di Yan was also ahead of them and now he turned around and walked to them.
“My Second Sister is missing! What should I do? If father and grandma know she disappears, they would not let go of me easily!” Qin Yuru looked scared and tearful. Grabbing her handkerchief, she looked at and said to Qi Tianyu helplessly.
“I will find her!” Qi Tianyu said and he quickly turned around.
“I will go with you. If I lose my sister, I fear, I fear that…” Qin Yuru looked more and more pitiful. However, she wiped her tear and followed Qi Tianyu quickly.
Di Yan tried to hold Qin Yuru’s hand as she now tried to follow another man, making him feel uncomfortable. However, he was late and only to find Qin Yuru had followed Qi Tianyu and gone away.
“I will also go with them!” said Qi Baiyu. He didn’t care about Di Yan and other people and just left quickly.
“Is that your fiancee, Master Di Yan?” One master who came with Di Yan pointed at Qin Yuru’s figure and asked smilingly.
Di Yan’s face turned livid but he just nodded, thinking that how Qin Yuru could embarrass him.
Qin Yuru not only stayed close to that man in front of Di Yan but also left with that man without caring about Di Yan! So embarrassing!
“Her sister disappeared! She is looking for her!”
“That one? Although she looked young, she is a beauty! I am wondering whether she is engaged with someone?” another master asked. He just stood beside Di Yan. When he saw Qin Wanru, he was shocked by Qin Wanru’s beautiful face and even was unable to speak. Now he finally calmed down.
“Maybe not. She is only a kid! Let’s go. She must be here still. I suppose someone just pushed her to the edge of the crowd!” Di Yan felt impatient when talking about Qin Yuru so he suggested.
“I will help!” This master was kindhearted. He even pushed his way through the crowd and began to look for Qin Wanru with his servant, seeming that he had decided that he must find Qin Wanru.
Actually, Qin Wanru decided not to follow them on her own. She went behind the stage. Staring at the shop, Qin Wanru hesitated for a while and then she walked in the shop directly.
Seeing a lady walking in, a shop-boy hurried to greet her with a bright smile.
Pointing at the stage outside, Qin Wanru asked curiously, “Who wrote that sheet of calligraphy? I haven’t seen it before.”
“Not a famous calligrapher. My boss just prefers his style of writing and still keeps looking for the general’s works. If you have any pieces of the general’s writing, please sell us. My boss would offer a higher price than others to buy it and send a present to you!”
The shop-boy was talkative. He answered fluently, seeming that many people had asked him about the same question before and that was why he would answer in such a fluent way.
“Who is that general?” Qin Wanru felt much more curious.
“Well, it, it is hard to say. My boss only says that it belongs to a general but he never mentions who the general is. So I think the general is not famous enough!”
The shop-boy shook his head and answered.
“Where did your boss get this?” Qin Wanru asked smilingly with her shinning eyes blinking.
“I… I really have no idea about his. I guess my boss just received it by chances.” The shop-boy smiled bitterly. “I never read books so I don’t know what the advantages the calligraphy possesses and don’t know why my boss likes it!”
His answer made Qin Wanru unable to ask more!
Looking the shop-boy up and down in an expressionless way, Qin Wanru gave a sweet smile on her fair face. “Actually, I own some pieces of calligraphy but I am not sure whether they are…”
She said hesitantly and looked uncertain. However, her words excited the shop-boy. He quickly showed Qin Wanru the way to the inner room and said, “Your grace, please take a seat. My boss would ask you about this in person. If you really possess any true pieces of this general’s works, my boss would definitely buy it! Please wait for a moment!”
After leading the way for Qin Wanru, the shop-boy advised a seat near a window for her. When Qin Wanru sat down, he quickly made some tea for her. Everything was arranged perfectly.
“Your grace, hold on please. I am going to inform my boss!” The shop-boy put down the pot and said after pouring tea for Qin Wanru.
Qin Wanru nodded and smiled but she didn’t taste the tea.
Then the shop-boy ran out. Qin Wanru looked outside from the window and found that the evening was so beautiful and prosperous. With the light, the river looked shinning. The position was perfect as people outside would not notice who sat there inside while people inside could watch outside clearly.
She saw Qi Tianyu walking by with Qin Yuru hurrying to follow him and trying to take his hand. It seemed that Qin Yuru did this voluntarily. However, Qi Tianyu got rid of her hand. It was so obvious that Qin Yuru was pestering Qi Tianyu. How dare Qin Yuru with Di Yan still being here…
“Your grace. My boss is here!” The shop-boy’s voice suddenly came up!