T/N 1: Go to the translations page for the June 2020 (and future) updating schedule.
T/N 2: I’ve picked up two new BL projects recently: Male Lead 2 and Male Lead 3 Happy Ending! and Transmigrated into a School Idol and Forced to Do Business. They’re both transmigration stories with a modern setting.
Chapter 100.2 – Scholar
Fu Wu Tian, who came up from behind, noticed his line of sight. He immediately took out some money and bought four steamed crab dumplings. The dumplings were freshly made and slightly hot, because there was a lot of soup inside. Without a straw to drink the soup inside, they could only wait for the dumplings to cool down a bit first.
Translations by Vanilla Muse.
An Zi Ran glanced at the dumplings and forced himself to look away. They bought it already but couldn’t eat it right away, because it was too hot. Even though he wasn’t a foodie, he still itched to eat it.
After a while, the two walked to a deep-fried tofu stall. The fresh tofu was fried until golden and the scent wafted in the air. One whiff was enough to cause one to drool.
An Zi Ran’s attention abruptly shifted from the dumplings to the fried tofu. For the first time, he discovered that he might have the potential to eat.
“Want to eat it?” Fu Wu Tian’s low voice sounded in his ear.
An Zi Ran hesitated and then nodded. He finally had time to stroll around Jun Zi City. Naturally, he had to indulge and eat all the junk food that he didn’t normally eat.
Fu Wu Tian immediately went to buy fried tofu. As the god of war in Da Ya, this was his first time mixing with a crowd of defenseless little people in order to buy fried tofu. If his subordinates knew about this, his image would definitely take a nosedive, but he would still gladly do this.
“Hold it.” Fu Wu Tian handed him the fried tofu he bought.
An Zi Ran was about to take the tofu when he felt a scorching line of sight. After looking around, he found the person staring five or six meters away from them across the street. The other party did not expect that he would suddenly go over and quickly retracted his line of sight.
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It was a young scholar. He held a book in his hand and there was a small stall in front of him, which seemed to have some calligraphy and paintings on it, but there were almost no customers in front of his stall. Compared to the other lively stalls around, by contrast, his stall was too deserted.
With just a glance, An Zi Ran could guess the probable reason.
Coincidentally, the woman and the middle-aged man manning the two stalls nearby were having a conversation that immediately caught his attention.
“How many paintings did Zhuo gong zi sell today?”
“From morning till now, it seems that he did not sell a single one.”
“Aye, really, this fellow. Obviously we all know that the majority of people prefer copybooks for calligraphy, so why is he only selling paintings, furthermore, they’re all portraits of people.” The woman sighed.
“He’s so stubborn, no one can help it!”
Da Ya values literature, so many people actually liked to draw, especially portraits of well known figures, which were more sought after in Da Ya. The most common was landscape paintings, while portraits were relatively rare. Unless they were master level, people were more willing to buy landscape paintings. But what this scholar was good at was painting people. There were almost no scenery paintings, so his booth would become more deserted day by day.
“Let’s go over and see.”
An Zi Ran said to Fu Wu Tian and walked over.
The young scholar did not expect that the person who he was just watching would come to his booth and suddenly became nervous. Was he found out?
An Zi Ran didn’t seem to realize his distress. He looked at the paintings at the booth seriously. He couldn’t help wondering. He thought that even if this scholar only painted people, the subjects should all be the good looking types, but his paintings were not like that.
The subjects in the paintings looked like people one could find in their neighborhoods, like playing children, faltering old people, kind mothers, and so on. They were all varied and lifelike images.
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No wonder his paintings wouldn’t sell. Few people were willing to buy such ubiquitous paintings and hang them in their homes, but… it was undeniable that this young scholar had great skills in painting.
Under his brush, the expressions and movements of each subject were very expressive and the details were also handled very well. A small movement, a small change seemed to remind people of reality, as if there were really two children playing in front of them. One could almost hear their laughter.
An Zi Ran’s thoughts stirred. Under the nervous eyes of the young scholar, he gently scratched the corner of his mouth. “What is the price of this gong zi’s paintings?”
There was a hint of confusion on the face of the young scholar.
An Zi Ran was not surprised, and asked again.
The young scholar finally reacted, already blushing, and said sloppily, “One… one painting for ten copper coins.”
“So cheap?” An Zi Ran frowned.
The young scholar studied for a moment, and his eyes became inexplicable. This was the first time that someone said that his price was cheap. In the past, every customer who came to his booth either said his paintings were not good or were too expensive, but it was really not expensive at all.
The drawing paper cost a few copper coins, but there was also his hard work put into the painting. If it were not to make a living, he would not set such a low price. The price was already so cheap, but there were still no customers. He was even considering lowering the price by one or two more copper coins.
An Zi Ran picked up five paintings at will.
Next to him, Fu Wu Tian pulled out fifty copper coins and placed it on the stand.
Probably because the young scholar’s booth had not been patronized by customers for too long, their actions immediately caught people’s attention. When they saw that they wanted to buy scholar’s paintings, many people showed incredulous expressions. Buying five was a miracle.
The young scholar stared at the fifty coins. He didn’t reach out to take them and also did not utter a sound.
After buying the paintings, An Zi Ran didn’t leave immediately. “You paint very well. Among all the artists* I’ve seen, you are the most…”
[*T/N: 画师 The word he used here doesn’t just mean artist, but implies a mastery of the subject, like a teacher or an expert.]
“…you are among the top. I want to invite this gong zi to come and be my artist. Is gong zi interested?”
The young scholar looked up abruptly, expecting to see the other’s joking expression, but An Zi Ran looked serious.
On the third day, there was one less scholar selling paintings in the West District, and an exclusive artist was added to Tian Long Gambling House.
Later, the neighboring stall owners discovered that the scholar who had lived on the stubborn sale of portraits was gone.
An Zi Ran didn’t just invite the scholar back in order to find an artist. In his opinion, a person who has been unwilling to change something must be a very principled person. In his most difficult time, An Zi Ran reached out to him. This kind of kindness will be one that the scholar would never forget.
The young scholar did not expect that the young man would hire him to be the painter for a gambling house.
He had also heard about Tian Long Gambling house. The market was a noisy place. He set up stall in the street every day. Even if he didn’t take the initiative to inquire, he often heard the voices of people around him. The most talked about topic during this time was Tian Long Gambling Hall.
Despite his surprise, he did not have even the slightest prejudice against this job.
Seven days ago, he couldn’t even imagine that his paintings would sell for fifty silvers. And it was that young man who had given him all this.