In a narrow alley, the beggar siblings discreetly peeked their heads out to observe the entire scene. They waited until Lu Chengxiao had left. The little girl then asked her older brother in a hushed voice, “Brother, do you think that purse belongs to the sister who gave us the coins?”
The boy instinctively touched the paper-wrapped buns hidden in the chest pocket of his clothes. They were still warm and soft. He had obtained ten copper coins that morning but hadn’t spent them all. He had only bought two buns.
He nodded and sat down with his sister in the small alley. He took out a bun and divided it into two halves, giving the larger portion to his sister and keeping the smaller piece for himself.1What a good baby.
The Xiaoya2the name of the little girl had been craving the aroma of that bun for quite some time, but her brother had just bought it and hidden it in his pocket before he quietly took her to a nearby alley near the fabric shop. As a result, she hadn’t eaten it until now.
Holding half of the bun in her hand, she suddenly remembered the delicious smell of the hot meat bun she had eaten for lunch yesterday. Her mouth watered, and she eagerly looked at her older brother, saying, “Brother, when can I have another half of a bun?”
A meat bun costs three copper coins each, and the boy patted his pocket, with the hunger in his stomach also expressing a strong desire for the meat. He nodded reluctantly and said, “If we can earn some more silver coins from that lady’s hand tomorrow, we’ll buy one.”
Xiaoya’s gloomy face instantly brightened, her eyes shining as she enthusiastically nodded and said, “Yes,” as if she was certain she would be enjoying the fragrant meat bun tomorrow.
However, the boy nervously bent his fingers. The girl had dropped her purse. Would he be able to earn another ten copper coins tomorrow?
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Oyazu vbl dlmv xsadkdt, vbl uswdt pkczkdtp alnlkhle byzq sq yd ydpola obld Nw Fydzydt hkpkvle Nwqldt’p Wycakn pbsr sdnl ytykd.
Xwvpkel vbl vsod, Nkw Zw dsvknle vbl casvbla yde pkpvla sd vbl pvsdl caketl qasx iwkvl y ekpvydnl yoyu. Mblu olald’v oykvkdt sd vbl pkel dlya Ubydtqldt Msod cwv sd vbl pkel nzspla vs vbl xswdvykd asye, lytlazu zssjkdt kd bla ekalnvksd.
Ebld pbl pyo vblx, kv oyp lhkeldv vbyv vbl uswdt pkczkdtp bye yzps prsvvle bla. Mblu olal vss qya yoyu qsa Nkw Zw vs ekpnlad vblka lmralppksdp, cwv pbl nswze pll vbl vos sq vblx iwknjzu blyekdt kd bla ekalnvksd.
Gp vblu yrrasynble, okvbswv nyvnbkdt vblka calyvb, vblu aykple vblka blyep yde pvyale yv Nkw Zw, pyukdt, “Ykpp, yal usw pvkzz cwukdt kdqsaxyvksd vseyu?”
Gqvla ypjkdt vbkp, vblu nsdvkdwle vs tygl yv Nkw Zw okvbswv czkdjkdt.
Nkw Zw piwyvvle esod yde pxkzle, pyukdt, “Zlp, R yx, cwv usw’zz byhl vs oykv qsa xl vs plzz xu lxcaskelale tssep clqsal R nyd ryu usw. Uyd usw oykv y zkvvzl zsdtla, aktbv blal?”
Mbl csu’p lulp zkv wr, yde bl dseele lytlazu, pyukdt, “Fwal!”
Before he could mention Lu Sanlang’s whereabouts, Xiaoya, beside him chimed in with a clear voice, “Sister, did you lose your purse? Xiaoya knows where it is.”
The boy was too late to cover his sister’s mouth and looked at Liu Yu with a mix of disappointment and anxiety. He stammered, “I didn’t mean to follow you; I just happened to be passing by that alley.”
Clearly, he wasn’t skilled enough to tell a lie. He blushed as he spoke.
Liu Yu, while suspecting the boy’s motives, didn’t want to push the issue further. She probably thought he was just concerned that following someone might lead to trouble, so she chose not to unravel the truth. She lightly chuckled and removed a piece of grass stuck to the little girl’s hair, saying, “Thank you, Xiaoya, but there’s nothing valuable inside. It’s not a big deal.”
The little girl, unaware that she inadvertently exposed her brother, blushed and shyly moved closer to him.
Liu Yu then turned her gaze towards the boy and said, “Weren’t you going to sell me some information?”
The boy blushed and said, “Well, Lu Sanlang didn’t go anywhere else. He went to his family’s fabric shop.”
Having gone to the fabric shop yesterday and again today, he felt extremely guilty about the ten copper coins he had earned. He was also worried that Lu Sanlang might continue to visit the shop in the coming days. This made him wonder if this lady will still need him to gather information. His thoughts were in disarray, and he was anxious about being caught following someone. All these worries and the stress were vividly visible on his young and innocent face.
“Alright,” Liu Yu responded, “Let’s meet here in half an hour, and I’ll give you today’s payment.”
With that, she started to walk away.
The boy couldn’t hold back any longer and called out to Liu Yu, “Miss, your purse was dropped outside Lufeng’s Fabric shop yesterday. Lu Sanlang found it. I saw him waiting there for quite a while before leaving.”
Liu Yu smiled; it was something she had expected. However, hearing the confirmation eased her mind even more. She nodded and said, “Thank you for letting me know.”
She then turned and headed toward Changfeng Town but deliberately avoided the location of Lufeng’s Fabric shop. Instead, she visited the embroidery shop where she had left a purse there yesterday. She had hurriedly retrieved it and exchanged it for money on her way out.
Due to her rush to exchange the purse and the relatively low cost of living in this small town, the embroidery pattern on the purse she sold at the embroidery shop wasn’t particularly intricate. The shopkeeper offered her a price of twenty-five copper coins, which wasn’t much, but it would be enough to support her for the next two days.
After leaving the embroidery shop, she headed out of town and went straight to the meeting place where she handed over the ten copper coins.
She gave the money to the young siblings. The whole process, including the time spent with them, took less than two quarter-hours. If you added the round trip to and from the embroidery shop, did she actually need today’s information?
The boy took the ten copper coins and was about to speak but remained silent until Liu Yu had walked away, unable to voice the questions in his mind.
Xiaoya shook her brother’s arm and asked, “Brother, can I have a meat bun now?”
The boy finally averted his gaze, looked at his sister, and nodded with certainty, “Yes, you can.”
With this almost effortless money, the young siblings had collected it for two days in a row. Lu Chengxiao, who kept Liu Yu’s purse, had stayed in his shop for two days. The street was always bustling with people, but the one he hoped to encounter had never appeared.
On the first day, he had only wanted to return the purse and check on the shop’s operations, which should have been a straightforward task. However, the day passed without the person showing up. On the second day, as he returned from the shop without finding that person, it started to weigh on his mind. It became a vague and unspoken concern, one that was hard to articulate but deeply felt.
He had been sitting by the study desk in the outer room, with his hand on his forehead for who knows how long. The pages of the book on the desk had not been turned for a long time, and the main culprit causing his inner turmoil sat beside the book.
He had been staring at that purse from sunrise to sunset.
Babao entered the room and lit a lamp. He had already circled around to the back of the desk, but Lu Chengxiao was still unaware of someone entering the room. It wasn’t until the lamplight cast a warm glow throughout the room that he finally realized it. He quickly used his broad sleeves to cover the purse.
His actions were swift, but Babao had come too close. He blinked once, then blinked again, at this inexplicably familiar scene…
Suddenly, Babao remembered the day he had returned. Yes, that day, outside the shop, Third Young Master was also holding something of the same pinkish-white color.
Even though it was just a glance, he had clearly seen it moments ago. It was a purse, pink and white, with an embroidery of a plump fish, clearly a young lady’s belonging.
His mind was shaken like thunder, and his already round eyes widened another circle. As a result, his mouth also formed a round shape.
Having followed him for four or five years, Lu Chengxiao could tell at a single glance that Babao had noticed something. He wondered what was going on in his mind at this moment. He blamed himself for being absent-minded. Why had he become so entranced by this purse?
Rubbing his temple as he had a headache, Lu Chengxiao explained, “It’s something lost by someone else, and I’m waiting to find the owner. So, don’t let your imagination run wild, and don’t gossip about it.”
Babao nodded mechanically, giving a few more nods in a manner resembling a chicken pecking at grains. Then he remembered something, and his chubby index finger pressed against his lips, mimicking a zipper. His cheeks puffed up like a fat frog in the field.
Lu Chengxiao couldn’t help but burst into laughter, and immediately, Babao came to life. Tentatively, he asked, “So, Third Young Master, have you been going to the shop these past two days to wait for the owner of the purse?”
Seeing Babao’s curiosity despite his teasing, Lu Chengxiao playfully kicked him, “You’re so nosy. You’re not needed to serve me here. Do whatever you have to do. If there’s nothing to do, go back to your room and get some rest.”
Babao quickly begged for mercy, “But how can I rest? I’ll go feed the mules and horses.”
Without taking more than a couple of steps outside, Babao clung to the door frame and turned back, “But Third Young Master, aren’t you going to the county town? It’s been four days, and I think Master is getting anxious.”
Lu Chengxiao was taken aback. It had been over four months since he left home, and his father was probably eager to know the details of his trip to Suzhou. It was indeed time to make a trip to the county town.
“Alright, I’ll go there early tomorrow morning.”
Babao was overjoyed, “Then I’ll harness the carriage early tomorrow morning.”
However, Lu Chengxiao said, “No need, I’ll ride the horse there. You can stay at home, no need to accompany me.”
“Alright, then I’ll get the horse ready early tomorrow morning.”
Lu Chengxiao gestured for Babao to go on ahead, and once the servant had left, he removed his hand, revealing the purse that had been hidden by his sleeve. He paused, realizing the impropriety of his actions.
Carrying a young lady’s belongings like this wasn’t proper, especially when it had been left on the study desk. It was clear that his recent preoccupation with the purse had caused him to lose his concentration on his studies, which wasn’t behavior befitting a gentleman.
He felt a sense of self-disgust, as if he had become a different person. His gaze was almost burning, and he opened the drawer by the study desk to place the purse inside.
After closing and locking the drawer with a copper lock, the invisible but tangible complexity of his thoughts seemed to be contained within the locked drawer, allowing him to regain his composure.
Lu Chengxiao thought that if he were to encounter her again, he would explain the situation, ask her to wait for a moment, and return home to retrieve the purse to return it to her. That would be the right course of action.
He considered it somewhat unbelievable; their encounter had been so brief. Although he had never opened the purse, he could tell from the feel of it in his hand that there were probably just a dozen or so copper coins inside. It wasn’t anything particularly valuable. Why had he become so fixated on returning it and waiting for her?
He lightly tapped his own forehead with a clenched fist, and the candlelight from the silk lamp flickered. It settled again, freezing with a hint of a smile in his eyes, as if he, too, found his behavior perplexing, even amusing.
Sansukini: Lu Sanlang is Lu Chengxiao. It’s love at first sight for both of them but much stronger for him. She’s hanging him, much like what Wen Yu does to get a girl in After Rebirth, I was Entangled by a Second Generation Rich Guy Again.
P.S. I’ve been getting some inquiries for Interstellar Dad and I already planned to translate it after Hello, Mr. Zhou which has 10 chapters left. The poll before was to determine what to translate first. Because I just finished reading Casting Nets that time and I really want to translate while the feeling of satisfaction was still fresh. Originally, Interstellar Dad should have been the next one. I always have a hard time choosing when given options. I finished Interstellar Dad a long time ago, and I’ve always remembered it so there’s no way I’ll let it go. So it will be scheduled on Saturday, Sunday and Monday(Taking over Hello, Mr. Zhou. The best schedule, imo coz you don’t have to wait a day in between 3 chapters.)
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