“The girl never needs to say thank you to me.”
Lu Chengxiao’s voice was light, like the fluttering of a butterfly’s delicate wings, softly and gently landing.
But in Liu Yu’s heart, it felt as if something lightly nudged her, a completely unfamiliar palpitation spreading from her heart to every inch of her breath, eventually engulfing her chest in a tumultuous rush of emotions.
Who gives without expecting anything in return?
Liu Yu had never known before, because no one had ever been kind to her without expecting something in return.
Liu Kangsheng and Wang Shi raised her, and in the end, sold her off. The red lady (of Liuxian Pavillion) provided her with fine clothes and food fit for a queen, treating her like a money tree. If there was anyone else, it might have been Liu Yanzheng1this character was the one she was waiting for to bid for her at the beginning of the story, but he bought another girl instead, but in the end, she was still the one abandoned.
In Liu Yu’s limited life, these were the only people she could come into contact with.
It wasn’t until this lifetime that she truly experienced kindness without expectations. The first came from her eldest aunt and several cousins. Liu Yu knew it was because of blood ties.
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Jwv obyv ycswv Nw Ubldtmkys?
Fbl zssjle yv Nw Ubldtmkys, yde kd vbl lmnbydtl sq tyglp, pbl nswze pvkzz ekpnlad vbl pwcvzl lxsvksdp okvbkd. Mbl ydpola kd bla blyav oyp yzalyeu yrryaldv.
Mbl vos sq vblx nsdhlaple y nswrzl sq pvlrp yryav, vbkdjkdt vblu olal xykdvykdkdt elnsawx, cwv wdyoyal vbyv vbl pzktbv vbswtbvp clvolld vblx olal clvayule cu vblka ldvokdle tyglp, y jkde sq pldvkxldv lmnzwpkhl vs lynb svbla vbyv ds sdl lzpl nswze rldlvayvl, yde vbyv ydusdl nswze pll.
Mbswtb kv pllxle zkjl vbl nsdhlapyvksd oyp clvolld Nw Dwd, Nkw Zydikdt, Ubld Fbk, yde Elk Fbk, kd alyzkvu, lhld vbl rlakrblayz hkpksd oyp qsnwple sd vbkp pkel. Ebld Elk Fbk bye plld ldswtb, pbl nyzzle qsa Nkw Zw vs csyae vbl nyaakytl.
Mbl xwzl nyav xshle pzsozu, dso yv vbl lde sq vbl yzzlu, Nw Ubldtmkys oyp pvkzz oyvnbkdt.
Ubld Fbk nbwnjzle, yde obld vbl nyav qkdyzzu ekpyrrlyale, pbl oyhle bla byde kd qasdv sq Nw Ubldtmkys’p lulp, “Usxl cynj vs uswa pldplp dso?”
Nw Ubldtmkys, blzrzlpp, oyvnble yp Ckd Fbk yde Nw Fbwydt, obs olal scplahkdt qasx vbl pkelzkdlp, yzps zywtble. Ohld vbl vos nbkzeald obs byed’v alynble vbl blktbv sq yd yewzv’p jdll zywtble tzllqwzzu. Nw Dwd yzps fskdle kd vbl qwd, “Mbl Nkw qyxkzu kp kd Dkqldt Msod, qya qasx blal. R pwrrspl usw osd’v cl yczl vs pvyu kd vsod yqvla vbkp. Tso ycswv nsxkdt cynj vs vbl nswdvu okvb xl vsxsaaso?”
Nw Ubldtmkys oypd’v sdl vs zspl qynl yv vbkp xsxldv, bl csole vs Nw Dwd, “Wyvbla jdsop xl olzz. R okzz ynnsxrydu usw cynj vs vbl nswdvu vsxsaaso.”
Chen Shi spat at him and laughed uncontrollably.
At this point, Lu Chengxiao regained his composure, “If I am going to the county, I’ll need Mother to look after the two children for me.”
Chen Shi had only caught bits and pieces of the conversation, asking, “Are these the two children that Yu’er wants to go see?”
Lu Chengxiao nodded, “Actually, it’s two beggar children who ended up in our town, a brother and sister. The brother looks about eight or nine, and the sister is about six. I’ve encountered them a few times before; they’re very clever children. Miss Liu used to take care of these siblings a lot, and even though she’s far away now, she still remembers them. I was thinking since we have around ten-year-old apprentices in our shop, could we ask Mr. Yan to take in another one? These children don’t have any family here, and if there are too many people in town, they could learn some skills and go to our shop in the county.”
Currently, apprenticeships are taken in at around the age of ten, and there’s no need to pay them a monthly wage, just provide three meals a day and accommodation, with generous shop owners also providing clothing for two seasons each year. The Lu family’s business is originally a fabric shop, and they are particularly generous in this regard. They manage clothing and shoes for all seasons and even give out some extra money and gifts during festivals, which they can bring home. Being able to become an apprentice in the Lu family is seen as a good opportunity in the eyes of the people around Changfeng Town.
Lu Xun nodded, “Then let’s not rush tomorrow. Bring the person back first for me to see.”
For shops like theirs, having good looks is essential, as well as being clever and, most importantly, having good character. So Lu Xun wants to assess the person first.
However, Lu Chengxiao has dealt with those two children before and knows they’ll pass his father’s scrutiny. He agreed to bring the person back early tomorrow morning.
Liu Yu didn’t know that Lu Chengxiao’s casual remark about taking care of someone had almost arranged everything for the Ge siblings’ livelihood before they reached adulthood.
As the mule cart left the alley where the Lu family resided, Wei Shi looked at her niece’s blushing cheeks with a mix of joy and reluctance. She was happy that her niece had encountered a good marriage, but she was also reluctant, knowing that she might not keep her for long before marrying her off again. Her emotions were quite complicated for a moment.
When the mule cart stopped outside the Cui family’s embroidery shop, Cui Erniang initially thought it was for business. But when she saw Liu Yu getting out of the cart, she was stunned. After a moment of hesitation, she rushed out, “Sister, sister, you… you’re back. I heard from Master Li that you were sold. Are you safely back?”
She held onto Liu Yu, her words a bit disordered.
“Sister, I’m fine.” Turning around to introduce Wei Shi, she said, “This is my eldest aunt. Today, she brought me here to thank you for your help back then.”
Cui Erniang was sharp and capable. Upon hearing that it was Liu Yu’s elder relative, she didn’t address her as “aunt”, but directly followed Liu Yu’s lead, “Aunt Liu, come, come inside, let’s talk.”
Seeing Liu Yanqing, who didn’t seem like a coachman at all, she asked Liu Yu, “Who is this?”
Liu Yu smiled, “He’s my eldest cousin.”
Cui Erniang couldn’t tell whether she was older or if Liu Yanqing was older, so she compromised and called out, “The Liu siblings, come inside and have some tea.”
She called for the embroiderer in the shop to help Liu Yanqing and Liu Yu take the carriage to the backyard, then led Wei Shi and Liu Yu into the shop, busy serving them with snacks and tea.
When Liu Yanqing came in from the backyard, he brought out a few boxes of gifts from the cart and handed them to Wei Shi, who placed them on Cui Erniang’s table. He smiled, “My sister had so much to thank you for last time, saying she found herself an elder sister. So I followed her to acknowledge this relationship. I’m here to formally acknowledge you as my niece too, and to look around.”
His words embarrassed Cui Erniang, who said, “Please don’t say that. To be able to acknowledge a sister and an aunt is my great fortune. In fact, all I did was give a couple of taels of silver. I didn’t do much, really. When I heard about the trouble in the Liu family, I even cried.”
Wei Shi said, “Cui Erniang, don’t underestimate yourself. In this world, it’s more common to add to the splendor than to lend a hand in times of need. The precious thing isn’t those two taels of silver but your sincerity. If you hadn’t abandoned our poor family, just like with Yu’er, calling me Auntie, from now on, we’ll consider each other relatives.”
Cui Erniang readily agreed and said, “Then I’ll be bold and call you Auntie.”
Wei Shi smiled and said, “Our family is in Yangshan Village, Xifeng Town. If you ever come by, just ask for Wei Shi of the Liu family.”
She then pointed to Liu Yanqing and said, “This is my son, Yanqing, who works as a constable in the county office. Treat him like your own brother. If you ever need his help, just go to the county office and find him.”
Liu Yanqing nodded, “Yes, if Cui Erniang ever needs my assistance in the future, feel free to look for me. No need to be polite.”
Cui Erniang couldn’t believe her luck and said frankly to Wei Shi and the others, “Being acknowledged as relatives by you is indeed advantageous for me. I’m just a woman doing business. Whether or not I’ll need Yanqing’s help, just knowing that I have a brother who’s a constable in the county will save me a lot of trouble.”
Wei Shi smiled, “It’s fate.”
She then asked Cui Erniang about her age and, hearing that she was twenty-three, said, “Then Yanqing is a year younger than you. You can just call him little brother.”
Cui Erniang smiled and agreed. Finally, she could inquire about the matter of Liu Yu being sold back then, saying, “Sister, please tell me quickly. Everyone in the Liu family’s village says you were sold. What exactly happened? I’m still a bit confused.”
Liu Yu picked out what she could say and told her, only mentioning that she was taken away by her mother when she was young, and her stepfather and stepbrother sold her. When she tried to escape in the county, she was rescued by her uncle’s wife and cousin from her father’s side and stayed with them afterward.
Listening to this, Cui Erniang sighed with emotion, “Sister, you’ve gone from bitterness to sweetness. You suffered for fifteen years in the past, but from now on, your whole life will be sweet.”
She paused here, thinking of Master Li, who had come several times before.
Liu Yu was also thinking about how to ask Cui Erniang to pass a message to Master Li. When Cui Erniang paused slightly, she understood, and with a glance, Cui Erniang understood too. Cui Erniang pretended to need help with choosing some new fabrics in the shop and couldn’t decide how to match them nicely, so she asked Liu Yu to help her in the front of the shop.
It was only then that Liu Yu asked about Master Li. She heard that he had come several times and that he had learned about her being sold, which he had told Cui Erniang about. She was very grateful. Due to the privacy of the transaction, she didn’t mention to Cui Erniang about her intention to pretend to be married back then, only saying that she had begged Master Li at the time, thinking that she had no other choice but to sell herself to protect herself.
“I’m asking Sister to pass a message to Master Li for me. I’m safe now, back with my father’s family, and everything is fine now. Thank him for his willingness to help earlier. I remember this kindness. If there’s ever a place where he needs my help, I won’t hesitate.”
Cui Erniang agreed, and at this point, Liu Yu took out a purse from her sleeve, which was the one Cui Erniang had given her as travel expenses before. She said, “This was the travel money Sister gave me back then. Now that I’m back with my uncle’s family, I don’t need it anymore. I appreciate the thought, but I’ll return this money to you today.”
Cui Erniang saw it and pushed the purse back into Liu Yu’s hand, half annoyed and half smiling, “That won’t do. Let me do this good deed once. Letting me gain a little sister, an aunt, and a brother who’s a constable in the county for free, how can I take the money back? What if you change your mind later? Take it, consider it a gift from your sister to you. You can use it to buy clothes or jewelry for yourself.”
Liu Yu didn’t lack clothes or jewelry, but Cui Erniang was particularly firm. She refused to accept even this little bit of stuff, saying that she wouldn’t regard her as a sister if she didn’t take it. Helpless, Liu Yu smiled and took the purse back. She glanced around Cui Erniang’s shop seriously, looked at the ready-made clothes, and then at the various fabrics in the shop. She even pointed out a few pieces of fabric and gave Cui Erniang some serious advice on how to match them to make beautiful clothes.
At first, Cui Erniang just casually made up an excuse, but after listening carefully to Liu Yu’s words and comparing those fabrics on herself, her eyes lit up more and more as she listened!
“Good sister, I always thought you were very talented in embroidery, but I didn’t know that our tastes in aesthetics are also so similar.” She then urged Liu Yu, “Please help me look at a few more styles.”
Liu Yu didn’t refuse either. Dressing up had always been a crucial skill for her in the past, so she immediately pointed at the fabrics in Cui Erniang’s shop and helped put together four or five options.
The selection of fabrics in the small town’s clothing store was actually quite limited, but even these options were enough to delight Cui Erniang. Her eyes sparkled as she said, “When I make a few sets of sample clothes later, I guarantee that business will improve by at least thirty percent compared to last month!”
Not wanting to leave Wei Shi and her son sitting there for too long, they took Liu Yu back to the backyard. As they walked, Wei Shi praised, “Sister, do you know that you have exceptional talent? It would be a shame not to use it. I think you are more suited for this line of work than even I am.”
Looking at Liu Yu’s beautiful face, Wei Shi quickly shook her head, “No, that’s not right. Sister, you will definitely have a good marriage in the future. You won’t need to earn a living like I do.”
Liu Yu’s eyes flickered, and she stopped in her tracks.
Seeing this, Cui Erniang asked, “What’s wrong?”
Liu Yu smiled and said, “I think Sister makes a lot of sense.”
Cui Erniang still hadn’t fully understood, so Liu Yu continued, “Having your own means of earning a living, isn’t that the best security? I think someone like Sister is the epitome of what a woman should be.”
Because of Cui Erniang’s unintentional remark, Liu Yu vaguely knew what to do with the forty taels of silver that her Aunt had given her. She just needed to think about it a little more carefully.
Sansukini: A business opportunity. Happy Spring Festival! 春节快乐 chūn jié kuài lè
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