Casting Nets to Catch a Husband

Chapter 101: Cheng family siblings

The two brothers appeared to be two or three years apart in age, with some resemblance in their features, though the younger man had fairer skin while the younger boy appeared somewhat darker from the sun.

Like his elder brother, the younger one also wore coarse cloth clothing. The young man wore a long gown, while the boy wore the common short tunic seen in farming households. Seeing the somewhat reserved demeanor of Lu Chengxiao and his companions, the younger brother nodded in greeting, seeming even more shy than his older brother.

The young man smiled and said, “This is my younger brother. He will drive the cart. Please, everyone, get on the ox cart.”

As he said this, he himself felt a bit embarrassed. There were six people in the other group, and some of them were dressed rather nicely. Their cart, referred to as an ox cart, was not the kind with a carriage for passengers but rather a flatbed cart used for transporting goods.

While it was indeed capable of carrying people, he couldn’t help but feel that it was a bit impolite to have them sit in such a cart, especially with six people, which would likely be quite cramped.

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Feeling apologetic, the young man said, “This ox cart is rudimentary. Please bear with it.”

Lu Chengxiao and his companions smiled and assured him it was fine. Only then did he relax a bit. He and his younger brother sat together at the front near the oxen, leaving the rest of the space for the six guests.

Lu Chengxiao and Liu Yanping sat in the front, closest to the cart’s yoke. They chatted with the young man, who introduced himself as Cheng Wenyuan.

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Nw Ubldtmkys pxkzle yde ypjle, “Jasvbla Ubldt, uswa elxlydsa pwttlpvp vbyv usw’al iwkvl vbl pnbszya?”

Ubldt Elduwyd dseele. “R’hl pvwekle qsa y qlo ulyap, cwv R’x ypbyxle vs pyu R byhld’v ynbklhle ydu sqqknkyz aydj ulv. Rdpvlye, xu qyxkzu yde alzyvkhlp byhl vskzle qsa xl.”

Wsa y nbkze qasx y qyaxkdt qyxkzu vs cl yczl vs alye y qlo nbyaynvlap oyp yzalyeu alxyajyczl, yde kv oyp kdelle nbyzzldtkdt vs pwrrsav y pnbszya’p rwapwkv sq ryppkdt vbl kxrlakyz lmyxkdyvksdp. Tsolhla, psxlsdl zkjl Ubldt Elduwyd, obs nyxl swv vs yvvaynv nwpvsxlap qsa bkp qyxkzu, eked’v pllx zkjl vbspl obs nsdpkelale vblxplzhlp pwrlaksa yqvla fwpv y ckv sq lewnyvksd yde vbld alqwple vs ldtytl kd nsxxsd osaj.

Fkdnl vblu olal dsv yniwykdvle, Nw Ubldtmkys sdzu sqqlale osaep sq ldnswaytlxldv, pyukdt okvb y pxkzl, “Fvawttzlp vseyu zlye vs pwnnlpp vsxsaaso. Gp vbl pyukdt tslp, ‘ckvvladlpp zlyep vs talyvdlpp.’ Jasvbla Ubldt, uswa byae osaj vseyu okzz yzz cl osavb kv kd vbl qwvwal.”

Ubldt Elduwyd oyp vswnble cu vbkp yde nzyprle bkp bydep vstlvbla. “R’zz alxlxcla uswa jkde osaep.”

Gp Ubldt’p hkzzytl oyp kdelle iwkvl qya qasx vbl rkla, obld vbl sm nyav yaakhle yv Ubldt’p hkzzytl, kv oyp yzalyeu dlyakdt pwdplv.

Rd vbl hkzzytl, xydu qyaxlap olal alvwadkdt bsxl qasx vbl qklzep, nyaaukdt vblka bslp. Mblu alnstdkgle vbl Ubldt casvblap qasx yqya yde tallvle vblx clqsal vblka tygl qlzz wrsd vbl pkm uswdt xld sd vbl sm nyav. Gqvla y caklq xsxldv sq nsdpkelayvksd, sdl sq vblx, hkpkczu lmnkvle, ypjle, “Elduwyd, yal vblu blal vs cwu ayo pkzj?”

Tsolhla, wrsd pllkdt vbl ytl sq Nw Ubldtmkys yde bkp nsxrydksdp, bl pllxle wdnlavykd.

Cheng Wenyuan nodded and said, “Yes, I’ll first take them to my house to see. If they still need more, we’ll go to the homes of our uncles and relatives.”

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The man who asked earlier was quite excited and readily agreed.

Although Lu Chengxiao and his companions didn’t understand the dialect spoken in Zhejiang, from the tone and expressions, they could guess what was being said. Their vigilance, which had been high throughout the journey, eased slightly at this moment.

As the ox cart continued into the village, Lu Chengxiao’s group realized that the Cheng family village probably didn’t have many residents, likely due to its remote location in the mountains.

Cheng Wenyuan noticed their expressions and said, “Our village is small, mostly composed of the Cheng clan. There are only over fifty households in the entire village. My house is located to the west of the village, and we’re almost there.”

As he spoke, they turned onto a small road. From afar, children spotted the ox cart and ran over, cheering. It sounded like they were calling out to an uncle.

The young man who had been driving the cart, barely speaking throughout the journey, chuckled at this moment and said something. Two half-grown children excitedly ran ahead of the ox cart towards a distant house.

When the ox cart stopped in front of the house, Liu Yanping’s group got off. Before Cheng Wenyuan could lead them inside, a girl of about fifteen or sixteen hurried out to meet them. “Brother, are these people here to buy raw silk?”

She spoke in proper Mandarin.

With crescent-shaped eyebrows and a round face, her eyes glanced over the faces of Lu Chengxiao’s group, but she felt they were far from what she expected of merchants. Cheng Wenyuan quickly introduced her, saying, “This is my younger sister. Most of the silk in our house is woven by her.”

Liu Yanping’s group nodded in acknowledgment, and the girl also nodded before stepping back a bit.

Cheng Wenyuan continued, “Let’s go and see the silk.”

He turned to call his sister, and together they led Liu Yanping’s group to the weaving room.

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When Lu Chengxiao saw the silk from the Cheng family, he understood why they were asking for two taels and two maces. The silk was indeed of good quality, with a pearl-like luster and a soft, smooth texture. Lu Chengxiao even rubbed the fabrics against each other and listened to the sound, a test he knew well. This quality of silk could fetch around two taels and seven maces per bolt in Shengze. If they were to retail it in their fabric shop, it would be no less than six taels per bolt. In fact, this kind of superior silk wasn’t commonly sold in the county; they would have to go to Yuanzhou.

Not understanding the intricacies, Liu Yanping couldn’t differentiate between the quality of the bolts. Seeing Lu Chengxiao’s reaction, he couldn’t help but ask, “How is it? Is this raw silk good?”

Before Lu Chengxiao could respond, the Cheng family girl couldn’t hold back a chuckle. It was a very light laugh, almost just a faint breath of air, but as Liu Yanping and Xu Yan’an were both martial arts practitioners and the Cheng family girl was standing not far behind them, they both turned to look at her.

Liu Yanping asked directly, “What’s so funny, Miss Cheng?”

Seeing that she had been discovered, the Cheng girl didn’t hesitate and said directly, “Are you really merchants here to buy raw silk? You don’t even know how to judge the quality of the fabric. How dare you do this.”

Her voice was pleasant, and there was no malice. Liu Yanping wasn’t upset and just said, “Isn’t there someone knowledgeable among us? Having one expert is enough.”

The Cheng girl smiled and lowered her eyes, saying nothing more.

By now, Lu Chengxiao had already begun inspecting the silk bolts for any flaws such as broken threads or missing weft yarns. Seeing that he had finished inspecting, Liu Yanping asked, “How is it?”

Lu Chengxiao nodded. “The quality of the raw silk is acceptable.”

That’s what the two taels and two maces indicated.

Turning to Cheng Wenyuan, Liu Yanping asked, “Can the price be reduced further?”

Haggling was almost instinctive for merchants.

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But the one being negotiated with wasn’t pleased. The Cheng girl frowned and said, “You’re so unreasonable. Since there’s someone knowledgeable here, why don’t you ask them about the value of this quality of silk instead of bargaining without understanding?”

These silk fabrics cost her a lot of effort to produce. Unfortunately, because of the high price, long distance, and limited quantity, they were not as easy to sell as the cheaper fabrics. Thus, the prices were pushed down low, and now they were even being negotiated further. Now, she couldn’t maintain the relaxed demeanor she had earlier, seeing Yanping’s lively smile. It was a bit frustrating that her self-woven fabrics couldn’t fetch a fair price.

However, she also understood how difficult it was to attract customers in this remote area. Holding raw silk in hand, a slight mishandling could result in discoloration or insect damage.

But if she tried to sell them herself, it wouldn’t be easy either. With such a small quantity of raw silk, the dyeing factories wouldn’t accept such small orders. Dyeing alone posed a challenge. Renting a space for sale was also difficult; they couldn’t afford the rent. Selling it to fabric shops outside the village would incur taxes, and the business would become a desperate pursuit. Sometimes, bargaining became even tougher.

Was delicate raw silk able to withstand such turmoil?

Moreover, in the countryside, especially during the lean months, when old grain supplies were running low and new crops weren’t yet ripe, money and food were scarce. When a rare customer arrived, they naturally wanted to sell quickly.

Because she understood all this too well, that bit of frustration turned into sadness.

Yanping glanced at their reaction and just smiled. “Miss, you’re mistaken. We’ve traveled all this way to find goods, hoping for a good deal. Bargaining in business is a normal thing.”

Cheng Wenyuan wasn’t adept in economics and was a bit puzzled. The Cheng girl stopped looking at Yanping and turned to the obviously knowledgeable Lu Chengxiao. She asked, “What about you? Do you also think that two taels and two maces is too expensive for this silk?”

Lu Chengxiao didn’t think it was expensive, but Yanping’s point was valid. In business, bargaining was normal. He smiled and asked, “Miss, how many bolts of this quality raw silk does your family have?”

The siblings were taken aback. Cheng’s sister quickly replied, “Twenty-two bolts. Would you like to take them all?”

Lu Chengxiao glanced at Yanping, who gestured for him to decide. Lu Chengxiao nodded and said, “Then, let’s see what price you can offer for the whole lot.”

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Cheng Wenyuan wasn’t knowledgeable in this matter; his sister always had the final say in the family’s weaving and silk production affairs. He went to consult his sister. After a moment, the Cheng girl gritted her teeth and said, “If you understand, you should know that two taels and two maces per bolt is not expensive at all. If our house weren’t so remote and rarely visited by merchants, we wouldn’t have set such a price.”

Lu Chengxiao understood. If Cheng’s family was closer to the ferry terminal, this kind of fabric could fetch about two taels and three or four maces per bolt. It was indeed not easy for silk farmers. All the income for the year came from raising silkworms and weaving, so how many twists and turns could the delicate raw silk endure? Lu Chengxiao looked at Liu Yanping.

Seeing his small gesture, Yanping understood that the price was indeed low enough. Both being young men, they hadn’t fully grasped the cutthroat tactics of businessmen. He immediately said to Lu Chengxiao, “Alright, you decide. Let’s split this batch.”

He then looked at Lin Huaigeng and Liu Zhang and asked, “Do you want to buy some?”

When they heard the price of two taels and two maces per bolt, they hesitated. Lin Huaigeng thought for a moment and shook his head. “You guys probably want to buy something a bit cheaper, right? I’ll go with you on that. It might be easier to sell.”

Yanping looked at Liu Zhang again. Liu Zhang hurriedly said, “Same as Huaigeng.”

“Okay.” Yanping then turned to Lu Chengxiao. “We’ll take eleven bolts each.”

Twenty-four taels and two maces, combined, were forty-eight taels and four maces.

The Cheng siblings were dumbfounded. Although merchants had come by occasionally, they rarely bought their raw silk. Instead, they concluded deals at other relatives’ houses.

When they heard that all twenty-two bolts were to be taken, both siblings were stunned, then overwhelmed with joy. The Cheng girl’s eyes sparkled with happiness, but when she looked at Yanping again, she suddenly felt embarrassed and apologetic. “I’m sorry for what I said just now.”

“You?” Yanping’s eyebrow twitched, and he smiled. “No worries. But we can’t pay right now. Let’s go check out other places. Once we’ve decided on what to buy, we’ll come back to inspect and pay together. How about that?”

When the Cheng girl heard about visiting other places, her heart skipped a beat. This was understandable. In the past, whenever her brother managed to attract customers, they would visit other places and never return, simply

But he couldn’t really stop them from going this far. First of all, they were relatives, and secondly, they were already in the village. In reality, he couldn’t really stop them. Thinking quickly, he said, “Sure, I’ll take you there.”

Then he turned to Cheng Wenyuan and said, “Brother, go call Mom to come back and cook. Since they bought our silk, let’s treat them to a meal tonight.”

Cheng Wenyuan: ???

He had prepared a meal to host them and provide accommodation, but why wasn’t he the one leading them to the neighboring uncles’ and aunts’ houses, and why was his younger sister going to call Mom back from the fields?

Liu Yanping understood the implication and couldn’t help but chuckle. Afraid of annoying the Cheng girl again, he quickly pretended to be interested in the fabric and turned away.

Meanwhile, Lu Chengxiao also realized what was going on. They shared a tacit understanding with Yanping and pretended not to notice, examining the fabric together.

The Cheng girl kept signaling to Cheng Wenyuan, urging him to leave quickly. It was only then that Cheng Wenyuan realized what was happening. His sister wanted him to keep an eye on the customers they just secured to prevent them from leaving. Moreover, by explicitly mentioning that they bought their silk and would be treated to a meal, they were probably trying to prevent them from changing their minds by creating a sense of obligation.

Blushing, he bowed to Lu Chengxiao and Yanping and said, “My sister is quite familiar with the village’s situation. She knows better about the quality of silk from each household. It’s better for her to lead you than me. She can find better goods.”

Yanping and Lu Chengxiao couldn’t believe that this cunning Cheng girl would actually lead them to find some cheap and good quality goods. But since they had indeed made a good deal with the Cheng family, they didn’t reveal their thoughts. Once they were in the village, with or without guidance, they could find good sources. They would have their own ways to figure it out later.

As Lu Chengxiao was dealing with a woman, he chose to avoid direct interaction and remained silent. Yanping, on the other hand, had no such concerns. After bowing to Cheng Wenyuan, he smiled and said, “Brother Cheng, there’s no need to go to any trouble for dinner. Whatever you usually eat will be fine for us. We’ll settle the bill separately for the meal. Thank you for your hospitality.”

Cheng Wenyuan felt like these two had seen through all of his sister’s intentions. Feeling embarrassed, he bowed and quickly retreated to the weaving room, then hurriedly left.


Sansukini: Bonus Chapter. Have a great day! ( ✿◠‿◠ )

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