Mammy Chang had expected that someone couldn’t hold her breath and responded slowly, “Lady Chen, no need to hurry. Her Majesty said that Sixth Lady was the invigilator of this competition, she should announce the first place.”
“What?” Shi Qingxue blinked her big eyes. She didn’t expect that an invigilator could get such a benefit.
In the envious eyes of everyone, Shi Qingxue took the imperial decree cheerfully and opened it, but then she was stunned.
After a few moments, she calmly read, “The first place is Shi Baoning’s ‘Missing You’.”
“Impossible!” As soon as Shi Qingxue read the name, Chen Xiujiao retorted with angry instantly.
She glazed and didn’t believe that Shi Baoning would win the first place, “She lost her painting. How could she win the first place? You must make a fake declaration!”
Shi Qingxue silently gave Chen Xiujiao a glance, and rolled her eyes. She didn’t bother to care about her envy, and congratulated Shi Baoning happily.
However, Shi Baoning, who won the first place as she had wished, did not show joy. When Mammy Chang announced the second place, her expression began to look upset and she looked at Chen Xiujiao.
What was wrong?
Shi Qingxue was confused, and suddenly was reminded that Shi Baoning’s missing painting was named “Affection”.
Shi Qingxue looked at Chen Xiujiao again, and her sight suddenly sharpened. Mammy Chang also frowned at this time, and said solemnly, “Lady Chen, please be careful with your words! The decree was written by Her Majesty in person, and the rank was decided by Her Majesty. I was watching aside. Are you accusing me of expressing the wrong decree?”
Mammy Chang was favored by Empress Dowager, and even the Emperor should treat her politely. Chen Xiujiao didn’t dare to be rude to her and quickly shook her head to deny it.
But she couldn’t bear it, and muttered in a low voice, “Well, even if Shi Baoning really handed in her work, I don’t believe that her painting which was finished in a hurry can be better than ours?”
“Her Majesty said that last year it was a Go contest and the results were obvious, so it was hard to have disagreement. But in this painting competition, apart from announcing the top three, their paintings will also be shown to convince everyone.”
After that, Mammy Chang asked a servant to open and display the three paintings of the second and third places in front of everyone.
They admired those exquisite paintings. There used to be some noble ladies who were also unwilling to submit. But after they saw those paintings, they had to admit that those were better.
But Chen Xiujiao didn’t think so!
She looked at the other two paintings, and she was more confident. The so-called “her” work was much better than theirs in the aspects of artistic conception and skills. She asked proudly, “Didn’t Her Majesty say that the paintings of the top three would be displayed? Why is only Shi Baoning’s painting not shown? Is Her Majesty afraid that we would feel shameful?”
“Yeah! Xiujiao’s “Affection” has ingenious design and its artistic conception is extremely beautiful. Such masterpiece only ranks the second. Then how wonderful will the first place’s painting be?” Luo Wenmei echoed, but in her words, she was implying that Shi Baoning didn’t deserve the first place.
This made Chen Xiujiao more confident. She raised her eyebrow and looked at Mammy Chang, as if she was saying that she was waiting for her to display any painting that could be better than hers!
“Since you want to see it, Chang, you may take out Baoning’s painting and display it in front of them!” Ling Ruiyin also walked out at this time. She sat straight up in the main seat and waved to Mammy Chang.
Mammy Chang did as she asked to. She spread out “Missing You” in front of everyone slowly.
When only hearing the name of “Missing You”, everyone thought that Shi Baoning’s painting just describe that a girl missed her lover on Chinese Valentine’s Day. Such ordinary conception was similar to “Qiqiao” of Qin Yanyan at most. It was afraid to be not as creative and bold as “Miss When Facing Each Other” of Shi Baojin. Let alone to be compared with Chen Xiujiao’s “Affection”!
However, when the painting was really shown, everyone was quiet.
She only used black ink in the whole painting, “Missing You”, and it depicted a group of women in capital city walked out of the city gate together to wait for their lovers coming back from the war, and their lovers, who were the great soldiers of the Mo Dynasty, were walked here in array and the looks on their faces were excited and overjoyed, matching the expectations of the women.
And the word “Victory” on the waving flag raised the emotion of this painting to the winning of the country, instead of the love affair between boys and girls.
“Missing You”, on one side, painted the exciting gathering together of lovers. On the other side, it also showed that the soldiers of the Mo Dynasty put personal emotions aside for their country’s justice. It displayed their selfish emotions that they decisively went to the battle field and finally came back with victory, which made the somewhat solemn but humdrum scene become exciting and cheerful.
It showed the missing to both lovers and the men of the country!
Ling Ruiyin saw that everyone was stunned looking at “Missing You”, like they were not back to consciousness from the painting, and slowly said with a smile, “‘Affection’ of First Lady of Chen Family has a smart design, but missing to just a lover is not as good as to country’s business. So I decided that “Missing You” should be the first place. Do you still have any disagreement?”
The crowd were all silent for a moment, and then said together, “Your Majesty is correct. We are convinced.”
Ling Ruiyin nodded with satisfaction, and looked at Shi Baoning for a long while. She asked curiously, “Xue isn’t calling a bluff this time. But Ning, how could you come up with the idea to paint ‘Missing You’?”
She had already called Shi Baoning by Ning, and it was enough to see that Ling Ruiyin had changed her attitude towards Shi Baoning. It could be said that she admired Shi Baoning so much!
But Shi Baoning didn’t show any of her excitement. However, her hands sweated and she was extremely nervous.
Shi Qingxue was afraid that it led to bad results, and took the initiative to answer, “Your Majesty, haven’t you seen it? I find out at the first glance!”
Qingxue attracted Ling Ruiyin’s attention as she expected. Ling Ruiyin asked with a smile, “Well? What have you found?”
Qingxue glanced at Duchess Dong Hui sitting with other madams, and said, “Of course it was because our mother missed our father too much and hoped him to come back with victory that my sister painted it to comfort our mother!”
Saying that, she nodded in a serious look to show that she guessed it right.
Hearing that, Ling Ruiyin burst into laughter, and she looked at Dong Hui with everyone. Dong Hui was so embarrassed that her face turned red, and then Ling Ruiyin praised, “Duchess Shi is so fortunate. One of your daughters is smart, and the other is elegant. And they both have filial piety. You really make others jealous, even including me!”
It was the first time that Dong Hui had been called alone by Empress Dowager, and she became nervous. She hurriedly bowed and thanked, “Thanks for Your Majesty’s praise. Qingxue is willful, and likes to joke around. Thanks to Your Majesty being merciful, she is not blamed for it.”
“Yes! Grandma, Qingxue’s words are so mean. How could you praise her?” Seeing that Shi Qingxue was so proud narrowing her eyes, Mo Yuzhen became indignant and came up to Ling Ruiyin to “thrive” for favor.
Ling Ruiyin also loved this outgoing granddaughter, and of course she complimented, “Yuzhen is also great.”
Mo Yuzhen laughed, and made faces towards Shi Qingxue, and the latter also pouted her tongue as response.
Ling Ruiyin saw all of the two little girls’ cute behaviors, and she loved to watch the junior rollick. She didn’t care much about their secrete movements. And she called Shi Baoning next to her, and asked her some things in details.
Shi Baoning answered all those questions.
At this moment, Shi Baoning became the favorite person of Empress Dowager.
Seeing that, Chen Xiujiao sneered, “Somebody spared no efforts to stand out just now, but in the end, someone else took all the benefits, and she got nothing!”
They thought that Shi Qingxue’s answer for Shi Baoning was to show off.
“Don’t say that. What if they are really in a good relationship and would like to even give away Empress Dowager’s favor?” Luo Wenmei also ridiculed.
Chen Xiujiao twitched her mouth and sneered, “Make sense. Now as she wishes!”
Those noble ladies thought that Shi Qingxue was not favored any more, and started to make efforts to laugh at her.
Shi Qingxue saw her sister calmer in front of Empress Dowager and she was being joyful. But she didn’t expect that these annoying flies came to her again.
Especially Chen Xiujiao, was she certain that Shi Baoning would let go of her missing painting?
And she dared to come to bother them again. How shameless was this person?
Shi Qingxue smiled and pretended not to hear what they said. She deliberately talked with Mo Yuzhen, “Yuzhen, everyone has their own habits and styles while painting, and as time goes, sometimes you can recognize the painter by a painting, let alone girls sometimes like to make some secret movements. Do you agree?”
Hearing them laugh at Shi Qingxue, Mo Yuzhen was angry. She was confused when she suddenly heard those words, and she nodded with doubt, “I like to add some my own signs in the paintings to make others recognize my paintings…Wait, Qingxue, why are you saying this?”
Others thought Shi Qingxue changed the subject because she couldn’t argue, but once Chen Xiujiao heard, her face became pale. Seeing that Qingxue was looking at her smiling, she said in a serious look, “Why are you looking at me? I don’t know anything.”
Saying that, she still felt scared. She was so afraid that Shi Qingxue would reveal her secret in public, and hurriedly grabbed Shi Baojin, who was also silent, and implied with a smile, “Baojin, when we were painting just now, we were always together and didn’t separate. We even shared the same ranking at last. It’s our fate. You can’t leave me!”
If Shi Qingxue revealed the truth that I stole the painting, then you were in the same team with me and you couldn’t get away with it!
Hearing that, Shi Baojin trembled, and felt regretful in her heart.
She was not untalented like Chen Xiujiao, who stole someone else’s painting and handed it in because she couldn’t paint. She was just unwilling to see Shi Qingxue and Shi Baoning be so outstanding and wanted to make them lose face. But she didn’t expect that she dug a hole and buried herself.
If it was revealed, it would be a matter of virtue.
Suddenly she was anxious, and looked to Shi Qingxue for help. They were in the same family!
Shi Qingxue found it ridiculous that these people were really shameless! She didn’t realize that they were in the same family when she stood by and watched her being laughed at, but at this moment, she came to beg her when she was in trouble.
Qingxue spread her hands and showed that she could do nothing with it.
It was impossible for her to let others cheat and lie with her sister’s painting!
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