Chapter 290 - The Wonderful Finishing Touch
Behind the door was a small hall that resembled a narrow, restaurant reception area. There was an extremely big wooden table in the middle with a middle-aged woman in her forties sitting behind it.
Seeing Wei Xingyue and Shi Lei walk in, she only looked up and smiled at them without a word.
Wei Xingyue walked over herself and smiled like a child, which made Shi Lei think she was acting cute. “Sister Nü, did Old Bai make you greet the guests here again?”
The woman smiled and nodded while Shi Lei wondered: Exactly what kind of name is Sister Nü? Is there Sister Nan(1) too? And how is that greeting the guests? She doesn’t stand up, doesn’t greet anyone, and only smiled when Wei Xingyue talked to her.
But Shi Lei didn't look at the woman too much, since he knew that it was impolite to stare at a woman for too long, no matter how old she was.
The woman didn’t speak, but Wei Xingyue wasn’t angry. She smiled even brighter as she reached out to grab the thing in the woman’s hands. “Let me see. What is Sister Nü writing this time? You’re writing the same sentence again? It looks like you never write anything other than this.”
Because Wei Xingyue was holding the piece of paper in her hands, Shi Lei craned his neck to look at it. Although he didn’t understand the technique, he was touched by the profound meaning of the characters. If he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes, he would have definitely believed that it was written by a man instead of a woman because the writing was filled with power and force and lacked elegance and gentleness.
The sentence on the paper was a line from a poem. Shi Lei remembered it to be Du Mu’s(2) poem.
Of the four hundred and eighty temples built in the Southern Dynasties,
Many towers and terraces are now there, shrouded in mist and rain.
This line in the poem described the spectacular scene of the many shrines and temples in Jiangnan during the time of the Southern and Northern Dynasties.
“Perhaps it is because Sister Nü has always been writing this line from the poem that Old Bai was able to receive the copy of Zhang Sengyou’s painting from the Song Dynasty.” Shi Lei said casually with a smile.
Wei Xingyue and the woman both froze at his words, but quickly understood. Although Shi Lei had been very subtle, they were both clever women and quickly comprehended his meaning.
Du Mu’s poem described the scenery of Jiangnan in the late Tang Dynasty. By using the past to allude to the present, he used the ruins of the shrines and temples from the dynasty in the present day to describe the scenery of autumn leaves falling off of a tree in the late Tang Dynasty. The Southern Dynasty and the shrines and temples subtly pointed to Zhang Sengyou’s paintings. Zhang Sengyou was from Chaoliang in the Southern Dynasty and his paintings were mainly renowned as Buddhist paintings. Although Shi Lei’s words seemed far-fetched, they had been thought of in advance.
Wei Xingyue smiled at the woman. “Sister Nü, do you think that what he said is correct?”
The woman lowered her head in embarrassment. She waved her hand, but pointed at Shi Lei before pointing at her eyes again.
“Sister Nü wants to say that he has a wonderful finishing touch, just like Zhang Sengyou’s paintings?” Wei Xingyue asked.
The woman nodded slightly and gestured “please.” Wei Xingyue smiled as she grabbed Shi Lei’s arm and walked toward the corridor on the left.
Shi Lei understood that Sister Nü was mute, but could hear and see. It wasn’t that she was too arrogant and ignored the guests, but that she couldn’t speak.
There was a turn at the end of the corridor. Wei Xingyue brought Shi Lei to the innermost part. Then she said, “The majority of the people aren’t here yet. Do you want to take a look outside?”
Shi Lei looked at his thin clothing and Wei Xingyue’s exposed shoulders. “It was cold when we were next to the lake. Do you still want to go out?”
Wei Xingyue smiled. “It’s outside, but it’s just without anything covering it. That doesn’t mean it’s the same as just then. It’s too boring to go in early. Going out and taking a look at the scenery is better.”
Wei Xingyue grabbed onto Shi Lei and pushed open a door. Their vision became clear. It was a platform built on top of the lake, but was as warm as it was inside the building and without any chilly wind.
Shi Lei immediately understood why when he glanced around. The platform was enclosed by glass. Their vision wouldn’t be blocked by anything, but the place was still separated from the outside.
“He really put a lot of effort into this. No wonder you said this lounge costed more than a billion yuan to build,” Shi Lei exclaimed.
Wei Xingyue laughed as they walked to the very front of the terrace. Although it was only a platform, it seemed to hug the entire Lake Baishui, giving them a feeling of excitement.
“You noticed Sister Nü’s condition, right?”
Shi Lei nodded without speaking, pointing at his mouth.
Wei Xingyue also nodded. “She is an unfortunate person. At a young age, she was abandoned by her parents and taken in by a kind couple who treated her as their own child. But when she was thirteen, that kind couple was beaten up so badly that they eventually died. My father and Old Bai found out about it. Eventually, Old Bai adopted her. Sister Nü wasn’t willing to change her surname and didn’t want Old Bai to give her a name. She insisted that others call her Yanü(3). The name on her residence registration is Chen Yanü, so I call her Sister Nü. Sister Nü is very smart, and she’s especially sensitive and outstanding with paintings and art. Perhaps this is God’s way of making it up to her for her inability to speak. Old Bai’s children aren’t interested in paintings, so Yanü is the one who accompanies him. Her attainment in art comforts him, making him think that he has finally found a successor. So he passed all of his research on paintings to Sister Nü. Sister Nü is usually a director at the Wudong Arts Museum’s office and is very famous in the arts circle.”
Shi Lei fell silent. There were many strange people in the world and Chen Yanü was one of them. However, her childhood had been extremely difficult, not to mention the couple who gave her life, yet abandoned her. She had met a couple who treated her as their own child, but that kind couple did not live for long…
Wait, beaten to death?
“Beaten to death?” Shi Lei asked, confused.
“They encountered two drunk, local ruffians who asked Sister Nü’s parents for money. During the fight, they stabbed her parents a few times when they saw her screaming for help. By the time they were sent to the hospital, it was too late.”
Shi Lei nodded. “Did they catch the criminals?”
“They did, and they died,” said Wei Xingyue.
Shi Lei wanted to ask more, but someone behind them called out in laughter. “Xingyue, your father isn’t feeling well, but why didn’t he tell your younger sister to come instead of making you come?”
Wei Xingyue turned around and smiled at the middle-aged man. “Uncle Xu, you are looking down on me. Although Puti knows more than I do in this area, it’s not like I don’t know anything, is it?”
The man surnamed Xu smiled, but his gaze shifted to Shi Lei, studying him.
As soon as she saw that, Wei Xingyue knew that his man definitely had nothing to do with Shi Lei.
“Pardon my bad eyes, but whose child is he?”
Shi Lei didn’t know how to introduce himself, so he could only look at Wei Xingyue. “He’s just a good friend of mine. I couldn’t find anyone to come with me, so I dragged him along.”
Shi Lei realized that something was wrong. “You lied to me when you said that everyone needs a partner,” he whispered to her. “That doesn’t seem like the case to me.”
Wei Xingyue turned around and gave him a grimace before returning to a serious expression. “Uncle Xu, don’t stare at him. He hasn’t been to this kind of big event before and if you keep staring, I’m worried that he will jump into the lake in fear.”
“Hahaha, well aren’t you being protective? It seems like I have something to talk to your father about.”
“My dad knows that he is here with me.” Wei Xingyue subtly retorted.Sister Nan: “Nü“ means female while “sister” is also female. The double female is strange to Shi Lei, so he thought of “Nan,” meaning male. Du Mu: Famous poet in the later Tang Dynasty Yanü: means “mute girl”