Chapter 224: Inciting Awe
Le Baiyi unenthusiastically said, "Hmph, anyone can act decent and solemn! Even if he has a bit of status and background, but perhaps he's just so-so in painting. As spirited and vigorous as a young man could be, he's just intentional, wanting to show off by challenging a love rival in exchange for his love interest's attention. Just wait when he loses, only then will he know that he's just disgracing himself."
"You're really pessimist, aren't you?" Professor Hu chuckled.
Sneering, Le Baiyi said, "Why should I feel optimistic about him? What qualification does he have for me to feel optimistic about him? If he really can win against Zhu Xiang, I'll agree to sell him my Wintertide Fluorite and Star Fragment Stone! No... I'll give them to him for free!"
Professor Hu forced out a smile and said, "Old Le, you shouldn't let yourself be affected by your emotions in taking a decision."
Le Baiyi sneered, "Old Hu, you know me. I always mean what I say. If he really win against Zhu Xiang, I'll immediately return to Shanghai and take my two ores and give them to him."
Upon seeing Tang Xiu's rapid painting appearance, Bai Yu and the ten painting experts of the appraisal committee also shook their heads. They thought that Tang Xiu was only putting on an act, trying to look mysterious, but in fact had neither truly learned nor was genuinely talented.
The balance of victory in their mind was inclined toward Zhu Xian, including Bai Yu, who was very sick of him along with several other painting experts.
Around a quarter of an hour later.
Tang Xiu put his painting brush away and lightly drew two patterns on the landscape painting. He then pulled out a piece of white paper and tiled it on top of the painting scroll.
"I'm done!" Tang Xiu looked around, his eyes finally landing on Bai Yu's face.
"The time isn't up yet. We'll wait for Zhu Xiang." Bai Yu nodded and said.
"Alright!" Tang Xiu replied and then stood in front of the table, waiting quietly.
After nearly 30 minutes, Zhu Xiang finally painted the scenery he wanted to draw. He raised his hand to erase the sweat on his forehead, showing a contented smile on his handsome face. He then said with a clear voice, "I've painted a good one. This painting can definitely be called as one of my best works."
"Two of you, which one who will take the first chance to show your painting to everyone?" Bai Yu nodded and asked.
Zhu Xiang answered haughtily, "I'll showcase my painting to these experts first! Wait until I show mine. I want to make him realize the truth, that looking at paintings is as much the same as eating food. After you eat the good one and then eat the poor one, you'll absolutely feel bored and feel that's not worth it."
"Mr. Tang, how about you?" Bai Yu asked.
"Have it your way!" Tang Xiu said indifferently.
Bai Yu nodded and brought the ten judges to the center. They stood in a circle around Zhu Xiang's drawing table and began to appraise his painting.
"The skill's basic foundation is solid. The lines are very clear, with distinct and clear textures. The green mountains and waterfalls are beautiful, with birds springing up and standing on the branches. The most distinguished and best part of all is the deep lake at the foot of the hill in which a beautiful lotus is in full bloom. Looking at this painting can suck people into a world of imagination of the landscape in this beautiful scenery."
"Yes! Take a look at the color gradation and assortment. It's delicate and exquisite; the tone is especially dazzling. The birds on the branches have their beaks opened, giving off the vibe of singing folk songs. I've seen a lot of paintings, and only a handful are better than this one. If I have to mark it with a number, I can give this one at least 80 points."
"It's elegant. This painting gives me a sense of elegance, unexpectedly. It's really good. I it give 81 points."
Bai Yu's face showed a complex expression along with the judges' evaluations. Zhu Xiang's character might be very poor, but the foundation of his painting skill was truly solid. There were a lot of paintings in her Lotus Blossom House, but no more than ten could be said as better than this painting.
At this moment, she couldn't help but secretly feel worried for Tang Xiu.
Bai Yu secretly sighed inside. She then looked at Zhu Xiang and said, "Take your painting and let everyone else to have a look! Wait until everyone has seen your work and the one done by Tang Xiu. Only then will we give you the assessment of the outcome of this contest."
Zhu Xiang picked up his painting and slowly walked in front of the onlookers. It took a few minutes as he returned back to the table and put back his landscape painting on the table. He looked at Tang Xiu with ridicule and said, "No matter how bad your painting is, it has to be revealed, because any attempt to hide it will be futile in the end. I have showcased mine in front of everybody. Now is your turn. Of course, if you really feel that you have no chance to win, I'm willing to give you some face. If you directly admit that you lost to me, we won't see your painting."
Tang Xiu shook his head and smiled, "Zhu Xiang, I'm really clueless as to where you got your confidence from. Have you learned the common principle of truth?"
Zhu Xiang raised his brows and sneered, "What truth?"
"The higher you stand, the harder you'll fall. You're clamoring in jubilation now. But in case that you lose, the shame you will face might even be beyond redemption!"
Zhu Xiang contemptuously replied, "Hmph, wanting to defeat me relying on only you? Dream on! Cut the crap and take out your painting. Let everyone take a look at it!"
Tang Xiu paced backward. He turned toward Bai Yu and made an 'invitation' gesture.
Bai Yu came to the front of Tang Xiu's table and gently lifted the white paper that was covering the canvas. When her eyes fell on the painting, her eyes froze and her hand trembled. Her pupils suddenly contracted and shrunk as disbelief flashed from her eyes.
At the moment, no one could understand her shock. Her eyes were glued to the canvas. Her heart jolted and throbbed faster than usual.
The ten judges, who saw her expression, each and every one of them revealed puzzled expressions. They approached the table. But when they saw the painting on the table, similar expressions as Bai Yu's immediately appeared on their faces.
It was a deathly stillness! The whole scene turned extremely quiet that everyone present could hear if a needle fell on the floor at this moment. However, the ten judges and Bai Yu were all trembling at this moment, with disbelief bursting out from their eyes.
Finally, a middle-aged man asked aloud amid the waiting onlookers outside the platform.
In a split second, the trembling bodies of the ten judges and Bai Yu turned more intense, even though they also came up to their senses again after the daze. These eleven people, as though they had a tacit agreement between them, glared angrily at the man who just spoke a moment ago.
That middle-aged man was bewildered. He raised his hand and scratched the back of his head. He was clueless as to how he offend the ten judges and Bai Yu. Why would they look at him with such angry expressions?
Bai Yu took a deep breath and looked at Tang Xiu with a complex expression. Then, she said, "It's truly unexpected. Never in my dreams have I ever imagined of being able to see such a landscape painting! I dare say that it's not a shock I've gotten from this, but a fright. I'm pretty much shivered down to the core by your painting."
One of the ten judges, also with the same bitter expression, said, "I'm also frightened! I can't believe that anyone in this world would be able to draw such a landscape painting."
Zhu Xiang was bewildered upon seeing the ten judges and Bai Yu's reactions. He didn't even hear anything as to whether Tang Xiu's painting was good or bad in the end. After hesitating for a moment, he said aloud, "Manager Bai and ten judges, is this kiddo's painting so appalling to look at? If so, loudly announce it and let him disgrace himself!"
"Shut up!" A judge angrily shouted.
"Uh..." Zhu Xiang's face froze. A bad premonition spontaneously rose in his heart.
Bai Yu looked at Tang Xiu deeply and asked, "Mr. Tang, can you let me showcase your painting to everyone?"
"Please, and I'm sorry for the trouble!" Tang Xiu answered with a nod.
Bai Yu nodded. She carefully picked the picture scroll of Tang Xiu's painting as she walked slowly step by step. Not only that, she slowly walked and stopped for every two steps for half a minute. It took her a full seven to eight minutes for her to finish showcasing it around.
Everyone present turned extremely silent after they saw the landscape painting drawn by Tang Xiu. They even looked at Zhu Xiang with complex expressions on their faces.
Professor Hu, Le Baiyi, and Mu Wanying-the first famed beauty in the capital, were also no exception!
Eventually, Bai Yu carefully put back the landscape painting on the table in front of Tang Xiu. After a moment of hesitation, she asked, "Mr. Tang, might I ask if you're willing to sell this painting? Please open your price. As long as I can afford it, I won't haggle over it with you."
Tang Xiu indifferently shook his head. He looked at Mu Wanying and said, "Since she chose to trust me and willingly lent me Wang Xizhi's authentic work for this contest's bet, I would like to give this painting to her and put a closure in this contest. Actually, it's very easy for me to draw this kind of painting; I can draw thousands of them if I want to. However, I'm very lazy and moody. So my paintings are very few and rare, not only for the time being but also in the future."
Mu Wanying was struck dumb, "Y-you... y-you want to give this painting to me? N-no, no. This... t-this is too precious!"
Tang Xiu said with calm and tranquil expression, "Expressing the mood by the brush and playing with the inks to express it elegantly. This is what I understood in accordance with those scholars. That's why painting is just the spice of life. But don't let it become the main path in life, much less become obsessed with it. Otherwise, the rest of your life will be very plain and boring. Take it! Everything this Tang has given is not supposed to be taken back."
A splendorous light flashed from Mu Wanying's eyes. Tang Xiu's remark caused an indescribably jolt inside her heart. After a few moments of silence, only then she nodded and slowly said, "Thank you very much!"
Standing at the side, Zhu Xiang, that hadn't yet seen what kind of landscape painting was drawn by Tang Xiu, had a bad feeling at this moment, which was getting even more intense. He took a deep breath, looking at Tang Xiu and Mu Wanying who basically ignored him. Fuming with anger, he suddenly snapped, "Who lost and won has yet to be decided, what the hell did you clamor for? I want to see what kind of trashing junk you have painted!"
Having said that, he strode to the table in front of Tang Xiu as his eyes landed on the painting he had drawn.
"This is..." Coldness struck down his heart the moment he saw the painting. The chill came not from the outside, but rather deep down from his innermost soul.
It was a good painting! Perfecto!
He had seen thousands of paintings, but he had never seen a better one.
The towering mountain peak was as though a giant dragon, endless and spreading across, with a palatial palace on the summit. The magnificently decorated palace was shrouded by faint mist and clouds, with cranes dancing and white-feathered birds chirping and jumping ecstatically under the white clouds in the blue sky.
A leaf boat drifted along the stormy surging river, whereas an elegant young man sat alone in its bow, quietly reading a book as he traversed downstream.
When translating Chinese literature, sometimes I translate the true meanings of the idioms, proverbs, common sayings, whereas sometimes, I also include part of the literal ones into the line. Oftentimes the meaning behind those lines changes (either small or big) because of the nuances of the situations.