Chapter 35: Understanding
The discussion continued while the examiners on stage showed the crowd the paintings to view and to display the fairness of the results.
Fan Liu-er’s and Zhao Yan’s painting was a road of a blooming garden scene. In all fairness, it was pretty but was too ordinary thus they naturally were ranked the lower.
Qin Qing painted a large ‘red fairy’ Chrysanthemum. Most probably she was mostly familiar with this breed of Chrysanthemum and the entire painting only depicted this one. Every fibre of it was drawn, making it look exceptionally lifelike. It can be considered that in a way that she totally ignored the artistic conception and focused entirely on her drawing ability. A ‘red fairy’ drawing that appeared vividly on the paper was very beautiful, but the academy examinations weren’t just to test one’s painting techniques but also to examine the intention of the painting. Thus no matter how beautiful this Chrysanthemum was, it could only be ranked third.
Very quickly it was Shen Yue’s piece. Shen Yue bit her lips as she sat by Chen Rou Qiu’s side, with a barely maintained smile on her face but her fist was firmly tighten. If it was the usual, she would definitely smile lightly like clouds and breeze as she accepted everyone’s sincere praise and envy. But now, this ‘second rank’ was like a deep sarcasm which made her feel that everyone was looking at her with eyes filled with taunts and ridicule.
Shen Yue’s painting was on residual Chrysanthemum. The rain and wind came and many of the Chrysanthemum petals had fallen but there were still sporadic petals that were firmly attached to the bud and the stem still remained straight, as if it was the integrity of a great person. There was also two sentences at the side, ‘Would rather die with fragrance on the branch, than fly away with the Northern wind.’
This painting’s thoughts were considered lofty. Generally, painting was an extension of a person and as the residual Chrysanthemum was noble, one could tell that the person drawing it definitely had a lofty integrity. The chief examiners’ favourite was such people with talent and character, thus if Shen Yue’s painting was unable to achieve ‘first rank’, it was really impossible to imagine what Shen Miao had drawn.
“The painting is that good? How was this at second rank?” Bai Wei cried out, “I really do not understand at all.”
Chen Rou Qiu also did not comprehend. Initially she thought that Shen Yue was somewhat nervous and strayed off the path. Who knew that when the painting was brought out, she now knew that her own daughter did not do anything wrong. As in previous years, this would be indeed be a well-deserved first rank. But why was there a different result this time?
Ren Wan Yun was somewhat rejoicing in their misfortune. Shen Yue was outstanding in her talents and would suppress Shen Qing in the academy examinations in every category thus to see Shen Yue suffering this time, even though Shen Miao winning first rank made her unhappy, it also did not matter to her. She was overall happy to watch the fun in front of her.
The examiner on stage instructed the two pages to open the painting scroll and the noises stopped short.
The drawing paper was very large and Shen Miao’s painting had many white areas. Her drawing skills were originally not outstanding so she only painted a vague scene but unexpectedly it had a magnificent atmosphere on it.
In the scroll, the yellow sand was endless with a bloody setting sun that seemed to overflow and a broken sword stood up in the middle of the yellow earth with a white Chrysanthemum at the end of it.
In there, the Chrysanthemum was just for show as it was so small that one cannot even see the flower petals. However in this picture it was like painting a dragon and dotting the eyes, making it bring out the desolate sense of desired gorgeousness.
Everyone present quieten down for a moment. The paper and ink separated it but one could feel the desolation and misery of a powerless struggle.
That was war.
Chen Rou Qiu and Shen Yue trembled at the same time. Seeing clearly what was painted in the scroll, they knew that in this match there was definitely no possibility of a comeback for them.
It was indeed true that Shen Yue’s piece was indeed elegant, the strength of her piece flowed throughout without being gaudy and it has character and felt noble. But Shen Miao’s painting was like it has stripped the ‘person’ away. If one were to say that Shen Yue was borrowing the Chrysanthemum to sing to other, then Shen Miao was borrowing the flower to speak about one’s purpose. How could a person’s emotions be compared to the brutality of war?
No wonder those examiners were disputing just now and delayed reaching a verdict. They mostly likely did not think that such a magnificent painting was actually drawn by the hands of Shen Miao, an idiot.
The chief examiner, professor from the government cabinet, Zhong Zi Qi spoke, “Student Shen Miao, come up and speak of the rationale of drawing this painting.”
Every student who achieved ‘first rank’ would have to talk about the sentiment before the event. However today the main reason for letting Shen Miao talk about the origin of the painting was naturally because everyone did not believe that she could come out with such a painting and feared that it was an idea she heard about.
Shen Qing smiled and whispered to Yi Pei Lan, who was sitting beside her, “The cat will be out of the bag.”
“Is this really not her painting?” Yi Pei Lan was puzzled, “Just now we have all seen that she herself drew every single stroke.”
“Her drawing skills were not outstanding and as for the intention of the painting, who knows if there was someone advising her.” Shen Qing looked in disdain towards Shen Miao as she walked to the stage, “I have been living with her for so many years, I still don’t know what she can do. The examiners want her to speak about the origins of the painting and if she is unable to say anything, I fear that she will lose all of her face there.”
Yi Pei Lan also laughed when she heard it, “I’ll say, how can it be possible to become a talented female. I am afraid that it was all done to attract that person…” Her eyes ambiguously swept towards the area where Prince Ding was sitting, “To request guidance of someone superior, Shen Miao has left no stone unturned for him.”
Shen Qing’s expression stiffened as she suppressed the unhappiness in her heart and said, “Just watch.”
Up on stage, Shen Miao quietly looked at the opened scroll. Her hand slowly reached out and stroked the picture, surprising everyone.
“The reason for painting this scene was only because of listening to what my father previously said. Every year in the battlefield, there was countless number of brave warriors’ corpses that were wrapped in cloth as they perished on the yellow sand that they fell. The distant was far-flung thus they could only bury them in the battlefield and at that time there were no Chrysanthemum in the North-western desert and the Northern plains. Chrysanthemums blossoms in the warmer south, bloom in the flourishing Ding capital. The songs and dances were of peace and happiness and where food and clothing were not a thing to worry about but this was at the cost of the lives of the soldiers that were protecting the borders.”
As the discussions gradually stopped, everyone’s eyes were gathered on the purple clad young lady.
Her eyes were calm and she spoke like she was telling a story, “My father once spoke that because of the war, the soldiers that had perished would not have a single Chrysanthemum. There would not be any flower blooming in the battlefields and the soldiers would not even have the time to grieve. And their wives and children can only be separated far away and wear a white Chrysanthemum on their head while white Chrysanthemums are presented to them.”
“I was thinking that for everyone to could calmly enjoy and appreciate Chrysanthemum today, the reason was because there are brave warriors that are guarding the borders. It is a pity that I am unable to do anything for them but to paint a white Chrysanthemum in a scene of the yellow soil to comfort their brave souls.”
The young lady stood in the wind with a pair of clear eyes and resounding voice, as if in the heaven and earth only her words were sweet sounding but were like a morning bell and evening drums, beating in everyone’s heart.
Shen Miao’s eyes slightly droop down.
Didn’t the Heavenly family of Ming Qi want to deal with the large and influential aristocratic families and deal with the Shen family? But the world was large and everyone’s eyes could see and everyone’s ears could listen. Stopping people’s mouth was more difficult than damming rivers so she would preemptively strike first. Since the Heavenly family want to use the General residence as an example, then she would want the entire world to watch.
Look, the Shen family risk their lives to achieve meritorious services, the Shen family used their lives to defends the walls of Ming Qi. The peace and prosperity that you noble youths were enjoying now were all built on the blood and flesh of those that were cut down in the battlefield!
Trampling on the blood of the soldiers, did the Ming Qi Imperial family still dared to suppress them with great fanfare?
If you dared then don’t be afraid of the eyes of everyone in the world!