Babao was overjoyed. On the third day, Young Master was finally willing to go out.
He replied energetically, “Young Master, you go have your meal first, I’ll prepare everything.”
He rushed to get a basket and harness the horse-drawn cart.
Lu Chengxiao, on the other hand, picked up a dagger and a bow and arrows from the wall, then took the basket from Babao and headed outside.
“Young Master, the cart! I haven’t harnessed the horse yet!”
Babao yelled as he chased after, even startling Chen Shi, who had come out of the backyard kitchen to prepare breakfast. When she appeared, there was no sign of her son anywhere.
Chen Shi stomped her foot and couldn’t help but mutter a few words.
Meanwhile, Lu Chengxiao had already left the alley and was heading north towards the town. With his tall stature and long legs, he took large strides, and Babao had to jog to catch up.
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“Zswdt Yypvla, zlv xl nyaau vbkp cypjlv yde vbl cso yde yaasop,” bl pyke, yzalyeu xshkdt vbl kvlxp qasx Nw Ubldtmkys’p pbswzelap vs bkp sod.
Jycys eked’v eyal vs ypj obu vblu olald’v vyjkdt y xwzl nyav. Tkp kdpvkdnvp vsze bkx dsv vs cakdt wr vbl osaep “Nkwfkynwd.”
Yypvla yde plahydv oyzjle kd pkzldnl, yde clqsal zsdt, vblu alynble vbl dsavb sq vbl vsod yde naspple y pvsdl caketl.
Jycys nyalqwzzu scplahle Nw Ubldtmkys’p lmralppksd yde osdelale obu vblu olal oyzjkdt kdpvlye sq vyjkdt y nyav vs Nkwfkynwd. Rv oyp sdzu yv vbl kdvlaplnvksd vbyv bl alyzkgle Nw Ubldtmkys bye ds kdvldvksd sq vwadkdt zlqv. Rdpvlye, bl nsdvkdwle pvayktbv yzsdt y pxyzz ryvb vsoyaep vbl xswdvykdp yv vbl lde sq Lsavb Msod Fvsdl Jaketl.
Jycys poyzzsole byae, vbkdjkdt vbyv vblal xktbv cl oszhlp kd vbl xswdvykdp. Tsolhla, kd Grakz, vbl oszhlp pbswze pvyu yoyu qasx vbl swvpjkavp qsa qsse. Tl vktbvldle bkp takr sd vbl cso yde yaaso, dlahswpzu qszzsokdt kd Nw Ubldtmkys’p qssvpvlrp.
Ekvb vbl lmrlakldnl qasx vbl ralhkswp eyu sd vbl xswdvykd, Nw Ubldtmkys oyp dso iwkvl qyxkzkya okvb vbl rzydvp wple qsa eulkdt. Tl eked’v dlle vs nsdpvydvzu nsdpwzv bkp dsvlp, ps vbl rastalpp oyp xwnb qypvla vbkp vkxl. Rd zlpp vbyd vos bswap, Jycys’p cypjlv oyp qkzzle, yde vblu vwadle cynj, ralryakdt vs zlyhl vbl xswdvykd.
Rd vbkp yaly dsavb sq vbl vsod, kv oyp kdelle ayalzu hkpkvle cu rlsrzl. Mbl dyaaso ryvb oyp shlatasod okvb okze taypp, yde vbl vallp yde hyakswp pbawcp olal zwpb, nalyvkdt y eldpl nydsru vbyv nshlale vbl pju.
Mblu nswze yzalyeu blya vbl qzsokdt oyvla sq vbl Zw Skhla kd vblka lyap, cwv clqsal vblx, yzz vblu nswze pll oyp vbl zwpb talldlau.
A clear, young voice came through the foliage, “Sister, Master Lu Sanlang left early this morning and entered this nearby mountain.”
Lu Chengxiao’s steps paused.
Babao stared in amazement.
Lu Sanlang, how many Lu Sanlangs were there in Changfeng Town?
He looked at Lu Chengxiao, and it dawned on him that the Lu Sanlang who had entered this mountain at the break of dawn was none other than…???!!!!
It was none other than their young master!!!!
Babao’s expression suddenly turned cold. He quickly turned to face the direction from which the voice had come. If his gaze had the power to penetrate, the branches and leaves blocking their path in front of them would have surely been burned through by his stare, allowing him to rush out and see who was following their young master.
However, he couldn’t. So, he turned to look at Lu Chengxiao, seeking a solution.
Lu Chengxiao had already taken big strides. He didn’t follow the path down the mountain but instead veered toward the side of the mountain.
His steps were large, and he moved like the wind, yet he remained completely silent.
After turning a corner, they arrived at the edge of the mountain. There was only one last barrier in front of them. Lu Chengxiao extended his hand.
With a simple push of the branches and leaves, everything would become clear and understandable.
The truth was right at his fingertips, but his hand paused, and his fingertips gradually closed, forming a tight fist.
“Did he enter this part of the mountain?”
A soft and pleasing female voice.
However, Lu Chengxiao wished he had never heard it.
Babao had caught up by now. He was in the dark about what was happening but reached out to push aside the branches and leaves before him. The scene several yards away unfolded before their eyes, and he recognized the beggar siblings who often loitered near the Lu family. However, his attention was mostly drawn to the young woman.
Where did this angelic girl come from, inquiring about his family’s third young master’s whereabouts?
Babao looked at Liu Yu, then turned to glance at Lu Chengxiao, his face a mix of astonishment and curiosity.
Lu Chengxiao pulled him back, narrowly avoiding Liu Yu’s eyes when she turned her head.
Liu Yu suddenly felt her heart pounding and instinctively looked towards the northern mountain. She only saw a few sparrows fluttering away.
The boy, seeing her looking towards the mountain, advised, “Sister, don’t go into the mountain. I heard there are wolves there.”
Liu Yu withdrew her gaze, nodded in gratitude for his advice, and took ten coins from her purse, handing them to the boy. “Go on, take your sister to buy some food.”
She waved them away.
Lu Chengxiao watched this scene through the disturbed branches and leaves but didn’t know what to make of his feelings.
Should she be praised for being capable, or should you praise her for being cunning?
It turns out that her pretending to have a foot injury wasn’t the only act. All their encounters and connections were carefully calculated, one after another.
Something in his heart shattered completely, and no matter how hard Lu Chengxiao tried, he couldn’t piece it back together.
For a brief moment, he considered going out there, standing in front of her. Seeing her expression when the lie was exposed, and her mask was shattered, how dazzling would it be?
But his legs felt as heavy as the mighty mountains themselves, growing thousands of roots that seemed to have taken root deep into the earth.
The two children had left, leaving this place in silent solitude.
The sounds of nature were the only things left – the chirping of insects and the songs of birds. In the mountains, Lu Chengxiao remained still, concealed among the foliage. Outside the mountains, Liu Yu wandered, occasionally glancing at the path leading out of the mountains.
One inside the mountain, one outside, separated by several layers of trees and a mountain path, yet both standing there, neither of them leaving.
Babao stood by Lu Chengxiao’s side, looking at one and then the other. He finally sensed something subtly amiss.
He tugged at Lu Chengxiao’s sleeve and, speaking in a hushed tone, asked with his lips, “Aren’t we going out?”
Yes, why not go outside?
Lu Chengxiao also asked himself internally, why was he hesitating? Was it because he didn’t want to experience another one of her “chance encounters”? Or did he not want to see her embarrassed? Perhaps it was because he couldn’t face her, or maybe it was a combination of all these factors.
Lu Chengxiao could only feel that he was both pitiful and ridiculous. He remained silent, and Babao dared not ask further questions. They stood there together in silence.
He couldn’t take a single step, as his thoughts raced. If he couldn’t see any connection between his Young Master and the girl down the mountain at this point, he’d have spent three years trailing behind Lu Chengxiao in vain.
The only thing Babao was uncertain of was when this had happened, and why he hadn’t noticed anything. He wracked his brain, thinking back on everything that had happened since they returned to Changfeng Town. Suddenly, a memory came to him – the pouch he had seen on Lu Chengxiao’s desk!
He stared wide-eyed, almost in disbelief, at the girl down the mountain.
Fifteen-year-old Babao was no longer entirely naïve. With the snippets he’d heard from her conversation with the beggar siblings and the unusual behavior of Lu Chengxiao lately, he started to form a troubling suspicion.
Could it really be what he thought?
He cautiously glanced at Lu Chengxiao.
Lu Chengxiao’s gaze, however, wandered absentmindedly through the gaps between the leaves, seemingly landing nowhere in particular.
The object of Lu Chengxiao’s gaze appeared to be neither the people on the bridge nor anything specific. It was as if his eyes were adrift in the void with no place to settle.
Babao sighed inwardly, still reluctant to fully believe it.
Staring at the exit of the northern mountain, Liu Yu contemplated the likelihood of encountering Lu Chengxiao today. She didn’t know why he frequented the mountain so often, but considering the last time he returned so late, her intuition told her that the chances of seeing him were slim.
Technically, she should have been on her way to the candle shop in town by now, buying some candles and paper money to offer her respects to the biological father she had never met at the side of the Yushui River. However, her concerns about her stepfather Lao Liu and Wu Shi’s recent behavior had left her feeling far from at ease.
She ran her fingers over her sleeve, inside of which was a delicately crafted pouch, far more exquisite than the products typically sold in the embroidery shop.
It was something she had worked on secretly for the past two days.
With only eighteen days left until the day she was to be sold, her anxiety grew as the deadline approached.
Liu Yu was eager to see Lu Chengxiao, and she had even considered that it would be best if he came to propose to her soon. If he were a timid type, well, her affection for him had already grown significantly. Or perhaps, straightforwardly asking for his help was also a viable option.
As she mulled over all these thoughts, she waited for over half a watchful period.
As the time grew later, Liu Yu became more anxious, frequently glancing at the sun in the sky.
Around the middle of the second period (approximately 9:30 AM), still not having seen him, Liu Yu dared not linger any longer. Both her father and stepbrother were at home today, and she didn’t want to add more trouble if she returned too late.
She gave one last look towards the northern mountain exit and finally began her journey back.
Lu Chengxiao’s gaze was almost uncontrollable, watching everything clearly. Yet when he watched her receding into the distance, an indescribable uneasiness lingered. Something seemed to be invading his heart, a sensation he couldn’t define as pain, but it was a jumbled, stifling discomfort. He curled his fingers into a fist, as if trying to alleviate the discomfort, allowing the sharp pain in his palm to provide some temporary relief from the overwhelming numbness.
Baobao watched this scene and felt like the sky was about to fall.
Especially when he saw the direction in which the girl had left, leading towards Liujiacun, the only remaining fraction of disbelief in his heart was shattered.
Their Young Master had fallen for a girl for the first time, and they had to encounter a situation like this.
When the girl disappeared from their sight, and Lu Chengxiao remained motionless, Baobao finally trembled as he hesitantly asked, “Young Master, should we go back?”
Lu Chengxiao took a moment before responding and managed to produce a barely audible chuckle, saying, “Let’s go back.”
It seemed as if they were really considering standing there forever.
Baobao observed that faintly sorrowful smile and his face turned as bitter as a gourd.
This was not the kind of smile a young man should have; it would have been better if he cried instead.
The return journey was marked by profound silence, and Lu Chengxiao didn’t utter a word throughout the entire trip.
It wasn’t until they entered the alley, and Baobao saw the beggar siblings squatting in a corner, sharing a bun, that he carefully glanced at Lu Chengxiao and noticed his complete lack of expression.
Hesitating for a moment, Babao whispered, “Young Master.”
Lu Chengxiao’s steps barely faltered, and then he continued to walk straight ahead.
Babao hesitated but ultimately didn’t take any action. After all, if the master didn’t speak, he didn’t have the courage to take matters into his own hands. He could only quickly catch up to him.
Sansukini: She got busted previously, but now it’s confirmed. I feel so sorry for Liu Yu. She only has a couple of days left.
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