Liu Yu knew nothing about her situation and had placed all her hopes on Lu Chengxiao.
On this day, when she returned to the Liu family, Liu Kangsheng, in an unprecedented move, personally asked about her progress in embroidery and inquired about Wen Shi’s progress.
As the conversation came to an end, he advised Liu Yu, “You should also teach your third sister-in-law diligently. Teach her as much as you have learned. It’s best to do it while she still has time to learn, because after she gives birth, she may not have the opportunity to learn anymore.”
To others, this may have sounded like a concern for Wen Shi, who was about to give birth and wouldn’t have time to study embroidery. But Liu Yu knew that it wasn’t about Wen Shi lacking time, but the limited time that Liu Kangsheng had left for her.
The next day, it started to rain.
Liu Yu held an oiled paper umbrella and went to the town as usual.
The young siblings arrived late that day, so Liu Yu, seeing the rain, decided to cross the bridge to meet them.
She waited by the bridge for a while, and eventually, she saw the two children, each carrying a round lotus leaf, running toward her.
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Nkw Zw qwaasole bla casop yde iwknjzu oldv vs xllv vbl vos nbkzeald. Fbl pblzvlale vblx wdela bla wxcalzzy yde vssj y nzspla zssj yv vblx. Omnlrv qsa vblka blyep rasvlnvle cu vbl zsvwp zlyhlp, vblka ldvkal cseklp olal ealdnble cu vbl pzydvkdt aykd.
Fbl rkdnble vblka pbyccu nzsvblp yde piwllgle oyvla swv sq vblx clvolld bla qkdtlap.
Nkw Zw altalvvle dsv vbkdjkdt xsal nyalqwzzu. Rd bla rwapwkv sq nsdhldkldnl, pbl bye rashkele sdzu vbkp zsnyvksd. Mblpl uswdt nbkzeald bye ds rspplppksdp yde olal ealpple kd olv nzsvblp. Rq vblu nswzed’v okvbpvyde vbl nsze okde, kv nswze zlye vs vaswczl.
Rq kv nyxl vs vbyv, kv oswze cl bla qywzv.
Fbl tzydnle yaswde yde ryvvle vbl nbkzeald’p qaykz pbswzelap. “Usxl sd, zlv’p tlv vblpl olv nzsvblp sqq qkapv.”
Mbl pkczkdtp csvb pllxle pwarakple. Mbl csu zssjle y ckv yojoyae, obkzl Dkysuy alrzkle psqvzu, “Fkpvla, ol esd’v byhl ydu svbla nzsvblp vs nbydtl kdvs.”
Nkw Zw oyp olzz yoyal sq bla qkdydnkyz pkvwyvksd. Fbl nswdvle vbl pkzhla nskdp pbl bye sd byde yde alyzkgle vbyv kv oyp dsv lypu vs vyjl sd rakhyvl osaj obkzl nsdnlyzkdt kv qasx bla qyxkzu. Ohld okvb vbl xsdlu Eydt Fbk bye ekpnallvzu tkhld bla ulpvlaeyu, kv oypd’v ldswtb. Lsv vs xldvksd cwukdt vos plvp sq nzsvblp, pbl nswzed’v yqqsae y pkdtzl swvqkv.
Gqvla psxl vbswtbv, pbl elnkele vs vyjl vbl vos nbkzeald vs vbl lxcaskelau pbsr.
The small town was deserted on a rainy day, and the female shopkeeper was puzzled when she saw Liu Yu, who had hesitated and brought two children under her umbrella. She asked, “Miss, what’s going on?”
She recognized the two children under the umbrella. They had been in Changfeng Town for several months and had visited her shop for food a few times. It was quite perplexing to see an elegant young lady and two beggar children together, as there didn’t seem to be any apparent connection between them.
Liu Yu didn’t go into too much detail, but she explained her intention, “I met them on the road, and I noticed that their clothes were completely soaked. It’s only the beginning of April, and rainy days and nights can be quite chilly. I thought about helping them get some dry clothes. However, I feel embarrassed because I only have about a hundred wen. It’s not enough to buy new clothes. Since I’m not very familiar with this town, and you are one of the few people I know here, I wanted to ask if you know of anyone nearby who might have some old clothes they no longer need. I would like to purchase two sets.”
The female shopkeeper genuinely praised, “Oh, Miss, you have a kind heart.”
Being in this line of business, she could estimate the approximate price of ready-made clothes with a single glance at the two children. For children of this size, with slightly cheaper fabric, two sets of new clothes would cost around three to four hundred wen. However, buying old clothes for a hundred wen was a good deal for those households whose children had outgrown their clothes and could use some extra silver coins.
“I don’t have any suitable old clothes to give, but I can inquire around the neighborhood to see if anyone has some for sale at a good price. Please wait in the shop for a moment, and I’ll go to the back alley to ask the neighbors for you.”
Liu Yu admitted to herself that she wouldn’t typically involve herself in such matters for strangers. However, she had known these two children for more than ten days, and they weren’t complete strangers to her. Moreover, they had been caught in the rain because of her, so she felt compelled to offer help within her means.
As for how she became acquainted with the two children, the reasons were not something she was ready to share with others. Liu Yu gave a polite nod and said, “Thank you, sister.”
The female shopkeeper exited through the shop’s back door. Inside the shop, there were only two working women, who couldn’t help but glance at Liu Yu from time to time. She was simply too good-looking, and as fellow women, they couldn’t help but feel a bit envious. They wanted to strike up a conversation, but they noticed that Liu Yu, despite her rustic clothing, carried herself with such an air of grace and dignity that it made her look sophisticated. As a result, the two women hesitated to speak.
The two siblings, who were thoroughly soaked, had originally been standing under the eave outside the embroidery shop. When they heard that Liu Yu was buying clothes for them, the boy held his sister’s hand a bit tighter, and he subconsciously reached for the hidden pocket in his clothes.
One hundred wen – he had heard that figure earlier.
As the female shopkeeper brought two sets of old clothes, the boy bit his lip and finally gathered the courage to stop Liu Yu as she was about to pay. “Sister, I have one hundred wen,” he said.
He had earned more than one hundred wen from Liu Yu, so he had the money. Even though he could afford it, he didn’t want to take money from her without good reason. He reached into his clothing pocket and pulled out a string of copper coins, handing it to the female shopkeeper.
The female shopkeeper seemed somewhat surprised by the boy’s actions, glancing between him and Liu Yu. Liu Yu smiled and said, “Keep that little bit for yourself.”
She handed her money to the female shopkeeper, maintaining her familiar attitude with the two children, leaving the female shopkeeper a bit puzzled. However, the shopkeeper didn’t pry and accepted the money. She then told the two children to go to the backyard storage room of her shop to change their clothes.
Being a good Samaritan, she decided to provide hot water and offered an old towel for the two children to dry themselves. She also cooked two steaming bowls of ginger soup with a bit of red sugar, which the brother and sister were only allowed to drink once they had changed their clothes.
Liu Yu couldn’t help but feel that this shopkeeper was truly a compassionate person.
When the female shopkeeper led the two children out, Liu Yu thanked her and the two young ones before leaving the shop.
She, along with the two children, left the shop, and the two kids stayed under the shop’s eaves. Liu Yu considered buying them an oil-paper umbrella, but her financial situation didn’t allow for it.
“You can take shelter here under the eaves. We’ll wait for the rain to stop, and next time it rains, don’t go out,” she said, genuinely worried that they might get sick.
The young boy’s nose was running, and he carefully rubbed his wet clothes against his dry ones, holding back a choked, tearful sensation for a while. He then said, “Thank you, sister.”
Liu Yu smiled and didn’t say much.
The child looked around cautiously and lowered his voice, “Lu Sanlang went to the cloth shop early this morning. I don’t know if he’s still in the shop after you took us to buy clothes.”
There was a hint of guilt in his words.
Liu Yu nodded and replied, “It’s okay.”
The young boy seemed to understand that Liu Yu was eager to meet Lu Sanlang, so he didn’t say much and waved goodbye to her.
After bidding farewell to the two siblings, Liu Yu went straight to Lufeng’s fabric shop. She expected to see Lu Chengxiao soon, but when she looked inside the shop from the outside, she couldn’t spot him anywhere.
She couldn’t help but wonder if Lu Sanlang had really gone back home or if she just couldn’t see him from the outside.
Given the weather, she didn’t want to linger outside. She pretended to browse the fabric selection and put away her umbrella, heading into the shop. The shop assistant greeted her, and Liu Yu indicated that she was just taking a look.
Babao passed through the shop from the back room holding several rolls of fabric. When he saw Liu Yu examining the fabrics, he was startled and quickly turned back toward the back yard, making a remarkably fluid and rapid set of movements. Without even processing it in his brain, he carried the rolls of fabric back into the storage room in the back.
While learning to identify different fabric qualities in the storage room with the shopkeeper, Lu Chengxiao noticed that Babao had brought back the items he had previously taken away. Lu Chengxiao asked, “What are you doing?”
Babao looked at him, then at the shopkeeper, and for a moment, he didn’t know how to respond. The shopkeeper, being shrewd, smiled and found an excuse to leave.
Once the shopkeeper left, Babao immediately regretted his actions. He shouldn’t have allowed the young master to sense anything was amiss. However, it was too late to backpedal now, and he didn’t have the courage to lie.
Lu Chengxiao glanced at him but didn’t say anything. Babao pointed in the direction of the shop, admitting, “It’s… It’s the girl from yesterday morning, at our shop.”
Lu Chengxiao understood. He had been followed by those two children earlier in the morning, so it wasn’t surprising that she would be here. He just suddenly realized that Liu Yu should probably recognized Babao as his servant, given the effort she put into his disguise. So, he asked Babao, “Did she see you?”
Babao shook his head vigorously and said, “No, no, my face was all covered with these fabrics. When I saw her, I immediately turned away and didn’t dare to enter the shop. She was looking at the fabrics and didn’t see me.”
He blurted out this response without thinking, and after he finished speaking, he realized something wasn’t quite right. He appeared to be particularly afraid of that girl.
Upon further reflection, he realized he was indeed afraid, afraid that his young master would be upset. Understanding this, Babao mentally scolded himself for his foolishness.
He thought to himself, “Why didn’t I just pretend I didn’t see her? Why did I have to bring it up and involve my young master?”
Babao carefully observed Lu Chengxiao’s expression but found that he showed no emotional fluctuations. Lu Chengxiao appeared indifferent, focused on the task at hand and didn’t ask him to continue moving items.
Babao contemplated this in his mind and finally got the message.
Third Young Master probably doesn’t want to see that girl again. Not seeing her is for the best, as it spares him from heartache and disappointment. His behavior in the past few days had been quite concerning.
Babao came to this realization and felt relieved. Third Young Master remained true to himself. He wasn’t easily swayed by emotions.
Babao also stopped moving items to the front but continued working in the back. He added a touch of cunning to his actions and discreetly whispered to a young apprentice. He instructed the young apprentice to keep an eye on Liu Yu, the young woman who had just entered the shop.
“It’s the girl who recently came into the shop, the one who looks the most beautiful. Find out when she leaves and where she goes after exiting the shop. You must inform me.”
“Be clever about it and don’t get caught.”
The young apprentice left with his task. Babao felt quite pleased with himself, thinking, “You’re keeping an eye on our Third Young Master, so I’ll keep an eye on you!”
He felt that he had done something quite clever.
However, even though he ordered someone to keep an eye on her, Liu Yu didn’t say a word to reach out to Lu Chengxiao both inside and outside the shop.
Third Young Master wasn’t willing to see her, so Babao had to become the barrier blocking any communication!
In the storage room, Lu Chengxiao was unaware of his servant’s determination to act as a barrier.
He remained in the same spot, but his thoughts were no longer focused on the various silks and fabrics.
The sound of raindrops hitting the roof was continuous and dense.
Lu Chengxiao’s emotions grew increasingly complicated and agitated with the sound of the rain.
He was well aware of how the dirt road by the mountains would turn out in this kind of rainy weather. This knowledge only added to his frustration.
It seemed that nothing could deter her from marrying “Lu Sanlang.” Yes, she wanted to marry “Lu Sanlang,” not him, Lu Chengxiao.
If Babao or anyone else was “Lu Sanlang,” they would probably be her target..
How ridiculous it was that he would entertain such thoughts at this moment.
He leaned back against a nearby wooden beam, trying to release a deep sigh, but all he could hear was the short breaths coming from his own nose. His chest felt like it was filled with a lump of cotton, or perhaps soaked wet cotton from the cold rain, blocking his ability to breathe smoothly.
Lu Chengxiao closed his eyes, thinking that he just needed a bit more time.
Sansukini: Time is what she lacks.
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