Casting Nets to Catch a Husband

Chapter 113: Levy

After Chen Shi returned home, she had to pay attention to the rituals of betrothal, the sending of gifts, and setting the wedding date. These all had many customs. They had to prepare the bride price and also arrange for the major and minor representatives in the family. On the day of betrothal, they needed to visit the bride’s family.

“The uncle on the maternal side is the most important,” they say. So naturally, it was Lu Chengxiao’s uncle who came as the major representative, while Chen’s two cousins fit the role of minor representatives. Mother and son made a trip to Chenjiacun and the villages where her two cousins had married. They informed Lu Chengxiao’s maternal family of the joyous event and invited his uncle and aunt to help with the major and minor representatives.

The Lu family had three shops that couldn’t be left unattended. So, the early stages of the child’s marriage were handled solely by Chen, who was incredibly busy. Lu Chengxiao also helped and didn’t have time to visit the county or Yangshan Village in the following days.

Meanwhile, after Chen Shi left, the villagers and relatives who had come to see the commotion were sent off. Wei Shi informed the children about the bride price from the Lu family, including the additional 130 taels of silver that Lu Chengxiao had added.

Liu Yu was surprised that the 130 taels she had returned to Lu Chengxiao ended up coming back to her as part of her dowry. It felt like she was being gently wrapped in silk soaked in honey—sweet and pleasant, without any pain, just a gradual, blissful fall. After enduring so much hardship in her previous life, she couldn’t believe that in this life, she had such a good aunt, brothers, and the entire Lu family treating her so well.

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Thinking of this, she pinched her cheek.

Wei Shi laughed, “What are you making such a strange face for?”

Liu Yu replied, “With such a wonderful aunt, brothers, and the Lu family, it feels like a dream, too unreal.”

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Elk Fbk pxkzle, “Rv’p hlau alyz. Mblal’p xsal byrrkdlpp vs nsxl.”

Nkw Zydyd, obs oyp rzyuqwz yde qsde sq vbkp uswdtla pkpvla, rkdnble bla nbllj vss, “Pslp kv bwav?”

Tl alnlkhle y rzyuqwz pnszekdt zssj qasx Elk Fbk yde y jdsnj sd vbl blye qasx Nkw Zydrkdt.

Gqvla vbkp, Elk Fbk yzps clnyxl hlau cwpu. Nkw Zydikdt, vbl lzelpv psd, bye vyjld zlyhl qsa bkp pkpvla’p oleekdt, cwv yqvla vbl clvasvbyz, bl bye vs alvwad vs vbl nswdvu sqqknl. Nkw Zydrkdt, nyaaukdt vos csmlp sq pdynjp yde y zkpv sq qwadkvwal elnkele cu Elk yde Ubld, oldv vs Myd Uyarldvla’p bswpl kd vbl olpv sq vbl hkzzytl vs ypj bkx vs bwaau yde xyjl vbl qwadkvwal qsa Nkw Zw’p esoau yde vbl pblzhlp qsa vbl lxcaskelau pbsr.

Lyvwayzzu, vbl ryuxldv oyp sd nalekv, cwv vblu rasxkple dsv vs pbsavnbydtl Uyarldvla Myd, yeekdt yd lmvay vylz sq pkzhla qsa kdvlalpv yde awpb osaj qllp.

Uyarldvla Fbk oypd’v kdvlalpvle kd vbl lmvay vylz cwv kd vbl lxcaskelau pbsr. Tl bye blyae awxsap ycswv vbl Nkw qyxkzu’p nsddlnvksd okvb vbl Nw qyxkzu’p nzsvb pbsr kd vbl nswdvu, cwv bl oyp vbl qkapv vs jdso ycswv vbl lxcaskelau pbsr. Tl lytlazu ypjle qsa elvykzp.

Nkw Zydrkdt eked’v bkel yduvbkdt, alhlyzkdt vbl pbsr’p zsnyvksd. Uyarldvla Myd oyp kxralpple, alyzkgkdt obu vbl Nkw qyxkzu oyp elqlaakdt vbl ryuxldv qsa vbl esoau qwadkvwal. Bdelapvydekdt vbkp, bl alyekzu ytalle.

Lsv vs xldvksd vbyv Nkw Zydrkdt xyel y pktdkqknydv rasqkv vbkp vkxl, byhkdt fwpv ekpvakcwvle vos bwdeale vylzp sq pkzhla kd vbl hkzzytl y qlo eyup yts, yde dso vblu olal srldkdt yd lxcaskelau pbsr kd vbl nswdvu. Xd vsr sq vbyv, bl rasxkple yd lmvay vylz yp kdvlalpv. Uyarldvla Myd bye ds alypsd vs osaau yde alyekzu ytalle, ypjkdt Nkw Zydrkdt, “Ebld es usw dlle vblpl kvlxp?”

Liu Yanping already knows the approximate wedding date so he replied, “Early September. Will that be enough time?”

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He wanted to allow some buffer time, not cutting it too close.

Carpenter Tan examined the list. Apart from a large canopy bed, all the necessary items for the dowry were listed, from large pieces like tables, chairs, and cabinets to small items like delicate wooden combs. The most eye-catching were the carved camphor wood boxes—eight in total. These boxes were typically used for silk or seasonal clothes, indicating a significant dowry.

A niece found halfway and given such a generous dowry?

Although surprised, Carpenter Tan quickly reassured, “Besides myself, my apprentices have all mastered their skills. We won’t take any other orders and will focus on yours. Two months should be enough, but do you have the wood ready?”

Liu Yanping nodded, “We can use the wood from our mountain. You can come and choose some in the next few days.”

Carpenter Tan laughed, “Freshly cut wood isn’t suitable for furniture. It needs two months of soaking and drying. Otherwise, the furniture will warp.”

Liu Yanping was surprised by this information. He hesitated, as they couldn’t owe the material cost.

Understanding his concern, Carpenter Tan offered, “I have some pre-treated wood at home. You can use that, and I’ll replace it with fresh wood from your mountain later.”

Liu Yanping agreed, appreciating Tan Carpenter’s flexibility and commitment to helping with the dowry preparations.

This arrangement brought great convenience to the Liu family, and Liu Yanping expressed his gratitude repeatedly.

In the lumber storage and workshop at the Tan family home, they selected the materials and then went together to a furniture store in the city to choose styles. They agreed that once the designs for the store shelves were decided, they would discuss them further with Tan Carpenter. With these details settled, the arrangements were complete.

On July 11th, the agreed date for the shop handover with Manager Lin and his wife, Wei Shi was too busy, so Liu Yanping and Liu Yu went to the county.

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First, they visited Lu Xun at the Lufeng shop. Now that the marriage was settled, the families were closer, and Lu Xun naturally accompanied them.

The Lin family’s powder shop was already tidied up, with everything to be sent to Yuanzhou already shipped, leaving only Mrs. Lin to handle the handover with the Liu siblings.

Mrs. Lin showed Liu Yu and the others everything that was left—shelves, furniture, kitchen items—ensuring that the shop and house were clean and orderly before handing over the keys.

Liu Yu felt that Mrs. Lin was very meticulous and thanked her after receiving the keys.

Smiling, Mrs. Lin took out a delicate wooden box from her bag and handed it to Liu Yu, saying, “I heard that your marriage to Young Master Lu is approaching. It’s fate that we met through this shop. My husband and I won’t be able to come back from Yuanzhou for the celebration, so please accept this as a small wedding gift.”

Liu Yu was very surprised, and even Lu Xun didn’t expect it. They both bowed in thanks before accepting the gift.

Mrs. Lin’s gesture made Liu Yu feel that their relationship was more than just a landlord-tenant one. She asked Mrs. Lin where their shop would be in Yuanzhou, saying, “If we ever visit Yuanzhou, we’ll come to see you.”

Mrs. Lin was delighted, knowing that more friends meant more opportunities in business. She happily shared the new shop’s location and warmly invited them to visit.

After the handover, Mrs. Lin bid farewell to return home and head to Yuanzhou with Manager Lin. Lu Xun and the Liu siblings saw her off and then returned to the now spacious shop, feeling excited.

Lu Xun suggested, “Consider how to arrange the shelves carefully. A new shop needs a fresh look. We could also repaint the walls. Right now, it’s too late for summer clothes and too early for autumn clothes. It’s better to solidify the basics, hire embroiderers, and prepare for autumn clothes. This will take time.”

Liu Yu agreed and asked, “When do clothing stores usually start selling autumn clothes?”

As this was Lu Xun’s field, he explained, “We start putting out autumn fabrics in August, but it’s still warm then, so light autumn clothes aren’t much different from summer clothes. They don’t sell well and have a short shelf life. Town shops often skip this stage and only carry rough cloth. In the county, shops that sell silks and satins change styles frequently, so they stock small quantities. We start promoting summer fabrics in early August and add last year’s unsold autumn fabrics. We only bring in small amounts of new stock from the cloth house. The main stock arrives around mid to late August, depending on the weather.”

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Liu Yu felt relieved. She had about a month to renovate, hire workers, and produce some light autumn clothes to display. The timing seemed just right.

After thanking Lu Xun, she agreed to get the autumn fabrics from Lufeng. Lu Xun approved, and they parted ways as he returned to the Lufeng shop.

The Liu siblings then discussed the shelf arrangements. They considered how to use the existing ones and what additional shelves were needed. Borrowing a pen and paper from Lufeng, Liu Yanping sketched their plans. After nearly half an hour, they had a clear strategy.

Before leaving, Liu Yanping visited some clothing stores in the south of the city to observe their shelving, then went to the county office to give the shop keys to Liu Yanqing. This was so Liu Yanqing could move into the shop and handle the repainting, as he was more familiar with local contacts.

On July 12th, they exchanged betrothal gifts, and on the 18th, they held the formal betrothal ceremony. Wei, being well-prepared, sent Liu Yanan to Changfeng Town two days early to notify Aunt Cui.

The formal betrothal ceremony, also known as “Nazheng,” signifies the official acceptance of the marriage.

Unlike the initial proposal, this was a grand occasion. Both Lu Xun and the Lu brothers returned home two days in advance to prepare. Relatives from Lu Chengxiao’s maternal family arrived a day early, including three uncles, six cousins, five aunts, and numerous cousins and in-laws. The Lu family’s three-entry courtyard was filled to capacity, with no space left even in the guest rooms.

Additionally, Lin Huaigeng and Liu Zhang, who didn’t need to stay at the Lu family, arrived a day early and completed all the necessary formalities.

On the early morning of July 18th, everyone had gathered, including the matchmaker, Madam Lin Jiuniang, and the musicians, who arrived early at the Lu household.

As the primary representative, Lu Chengxiao’s uncle from the Chen family was present, along with two aunts who served as secondary representatives. Friends and numerous unmarried cousins from both the maternal and paternal sides, totaling fifty or sixty people, filled the main hall and courtyard of the Lu residence.

Displayed in the main hall, the red wedding gifts were adorned with double happiness symbols. The matchmaker wore a red flower on her head, and the musicians and the young men delivering the bride price were all dressed with red sashes, creating a festive atmosphere.

Outside the Lu residence, Lu Chengxiao’s horse also had a red flower tied around its neck, led by Babao, who was also wearing a red sash and looked very cheerful. Behind them were twelve mule-drawn carts decorated with red silk, driven by twelve hired cart drivers.

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Lu Xun handed the betrothal contract to Lu Chengxiao and the gift list to the eldest uncle. As the auspicious time approached, he signaled the musicians to start playing. The eldest uncle from the Chen family directed the young men to pick up their assigned wedding gifts. Once everyone had their gifts, they moved outside the Lu residence, arranged into formation. The matchmaker and the musicians led the procession, with Lu Chengxiao on horseback, followed by the joyous group of young men carrying the wedding gifts. At the end of the procession were the twelve mule-drawn carts. The grand procession headed towards Anyi County.

The spectacle attracted numerous townspeople to line the streets, eager to watch.

“Young Master Lu Chengxiao is delivering the bride price. Which family’s daughter is he marrying? Such a grand display.”

“Looks like they are heading towards Anyi County. Look at the wedding gifts, so abundant!”

Someone counted thirty-six loads of gifts.

Including the carried and lifted items, how much is there in total?

Half the town was abuzz with excitement.


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