It was half an hour past noon, and the boy was a bit anxious, fearing that Mr. Lu Sanlang might have already left, and the ten wen coins he was promised would slip through his fingers. He looked at Liu Yu with eager eyes and said, “Let’s hurry. I’ll take you there.”
Liu Yu knew what he was thinking but had no intention of letting the boy lead her. She took out her old purse from her pocket, retrieved fifteen copper coins, and placed them into her newly embroidered brocade purse. She gave the remaining ten coins to the boy, saying, “I trust you. Here are ten wen coins. Go and buy some food for you and your sister to fill your stomachs.”
The boy was overjoyed, taking the copper coins in his hands, his eyes shining brightly. The younger one also leaned in to see if they were real. Seeing that they were indeed copper coins, the two siblings were so excited that they didn’t know what to do. The boy tightly held the money in his hand, looking up at Liu Yu as if she were a living Bodhisattva radiating golden light. He forgot to address her as “Miss” and, in unison with the younger one, said, “Thank you, big sister.”
Liu Yu’s heart was filled with mixed emotions. They saw her as someone capable of alleviating their hardships, even if it was just a few meals. They looked up to her without realizing that she was once in the same boat, equally adrift and without support, perhaps even worse off than this young brother and sister.
Smiling, she waved at the two of them and watched as the older one led the younger one away. Liu Yu threw the old purse, which she had reported to Wang Shi and was supposed to have been stolen, into the Yu River. She then gathered her courage and headed towards Changfeng Town.
The river breeze rustled, causing a few strands of her dark hair to dance lightly on her cheeks. It seemed as if even the wind was eager for her to embark on a new journey and turn a new chapter in her life.
On non-market days, Changfeng Town’s streets were not as bustling as they were yesterday. However, despite the absence of vendors and hawkers, various shops along the main street still had occasional customers coming and going.
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Brsd blyakdt vbkp, Fbsrjllrla Zyd kxxlekyvlzu nyzzle sdl sq bkp yppkpvydvp vs blzr srld vbl cynjuyae tyvl yde wdzsye vbl tssep.
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Fbl iwklvzu pktble okvb alzklq, vbydjqwz vbyv bl bye dsv zlqv. Mbkp vakr bye dsv clld kd hykd. Ekvb y sdl-xsdvb elyezkdl zssxkdt shla bla, lhlau eyu oyp ralnkswp vs Nkw Zw.
Liu Yu watched as Babao, the young boy, drove the mule cart around the corner and headed towards the backyard of the fabric store. She found a secluded spot in a narrow alley where she could both conceal herself and observe the front of the fabric store and the entrance to the backyard. Standing too long in the middle of the street would surely attract attention.
She patiently waited, and her patience was rewarded when she noticed Shopkeeper Yan from Lufeng Fabric Store escorting a well-dressed gentleman out of the shop. The man wore a narrow-sleeved robe and was engaged in conversation with Shopkeeper Yan.
Although Liu Yu couldn’t see the man’s full face, the mere profile was enough for her to recognize him. It was indeed Lu Sanlang, whom she had seen from a distance yesterday.
She knew her opportunity had come. Taking a deep breath, she discreetly brushed her right hand against her left sleeve and, with her head slightly lowered, hurried toward Lufeng Fabric Store.
Lu Chengxiao had been escorted by Shopkeeper Yan to the store’s entrance and had just bid him farewell when he was unexpectedly bumped into by someone.
Something sank in his arms, and then quickly vanished. Lu Chengxiao lowered his gaze and saw a young woman in a plain dress, holding her forehead in alarm as she stepped back, apologizing softly. Her voice was as gentle as a heavenly melody, soothing his heart.
He wanted to say it was fine, but as he looked up, the young woman had already lowered her hand and raised her head to meet his gaze.
Their eyes met, and Lu Chengxiao found himself plunged into a pair of ethereal, watery eyes, like entering a realm more dazzling and colorful than the starry sky.
He couldn’t describe the shock he felt in that instant. It was as if the softest part of his heart had been lightly touched, and some enchanting sentiment quietly took root in the deepest, most secret corners of his heart. He didn’t know when it would sprout, entwine, and eventually bloom into the most beautiful and fragrant flower in the world.
Looking back, their fateful encounter felt destined, as if they were drawn together by some unseen force. Even if he later learned that she had set a net1trap for him, he still found himself helplessly entangled. It was impossible to determine who had captured whom, who had conquered whom; their fates had intertwined so deeply that there was no need to distinguish between them. Looking back, all he felt was a profound and enduring sweetness and gratitude. He was grateful to be the chosen one.
However, at this moment, Lu Chengxiao had no knowledge of the future. He didn’t know that the most precious person in his life was standing right in front of him. He simply stood there, momentarily stunned by her beauty, and her soft apology was lost in the chaotic beating of his heart.
At the age of fifteen, Liu Yu hadn’t yet fully developed the mature and ethereal charm she would possess two years later. Nonetheless, she already had the allure of a worldly peony. Her eyes were like round apricot kernels, and her lips, like half-smiling cherries.2LOL at these descriptions
She wore no makeup, yet she was already a stunning beauty.
When Lu Chengxiao was stunned, Liu Yu had a chance to take a closer look at his face for the first time, she too was momentarily stunned.
The young man was tall, imposing up close, and Liu Yu had to take a few steps back to get a clear view of his features.
In that moment, Liu Yu suddenly understood why Lin Jiuniang had been surprised that she didn’t recognize Lu Chengxiao yesterday. She also understood the lingering sentiment in the phrase “how many young ladies in Changfeng Town wish to marry.”
The young man, around eighteen or nineteen, had sharp eyebrows, a straight nose, eyes like cold stars, naturally upturned corners of his lips, and a chiseled facial structure that blended the qualities of a handsome gentleman and an outstanding hero into a remarkable presence.
It was a face that could easily stir the hearts of many.
Liu Yu believed that even if Lu Chengxiao didn’t come from a prestigious background and wasn’t the son of a wealthy family in Changfeng Town, with this face and demeanor alone, he could captivate the hearts of countless young ladies from respectable families.
Liu Yu’s gaze at him had been brief, maintaining proper decorum, and she quickly averted her eyes. With a slight bow and an apologetic expression, she started to move to the left to leave.
Unexpectedly, when Lu Chengxiao regained his senses, he too was about to step aside, and both of them unconsciously chose the same side, then simultaneously changed direction to the opposite side.
This happened twice – two instances of avoidance and two moments of facing each other. Lu Chengxiao felt a rush of heat rise from behind his ears to his cheeks. Despite his usual social grace, he found himself blushing and hesitant, unsure of where to place his hands, feet, or gaze, reluctant to take another step.
Liu Yu didn’t expect such an unexpected outcome. Seeing the once-confident Lu Chengxiao gradually turn red in the face, the tall and imposing young man now seemed flustered and unsure of how to move, making her can’t help but smile.
This smile was both charming and graceful. Coupled with the subtle blush on her cheeks, her face seemed to radiate a radiant aura, captivating to anyone who looked at her.
That heart-pounding feeling surged again, and Lu Chengxiao dared not look directly at her. He hastily averted his gaze, gestured politely, and finally managed to make way for her, though the intense blush on his face gave away his nervousness completely.
Liu Yu suppressed a smile, nodded in acknowledgment, and quickly departed. After she had gone for a while, Lu Chengxiao remained standing in place, his gaze focused on the end of the street.
The young servant boy, Babao, who had been handling the mule cart, came out from the alley behind the shop and called out from a distance, “Third Young Master.” It was only then that Lu Chengxiao snapped out of his daze. When he turned to look in the direction from which Bao was approaching, he noticed a purse lying on the ground near his feet. With a sudden thought, he bent down to pick it up.
The purse was a pale pink color, made of very ordinary fabric. However, the embroidery on it depicted a vibrant scene of koi fish and lotus flowers, with vivid shades of red and green. It was clearly a woman’s possession.
Could it be hers?
But just the thought of it made the delicate purse feel as if it were burning hot in his hands. Nevertheless, he couldn’t bring himself to leave it on the ground, especially considering it belonged to the young woman he had just encountered. It wouldn’t be right to let someone else pick it up.
Babao, handling the mule cart, approached, pulled the reins to stop the mule, and then hopped off the cart to offer assistance to Lu Chengxiao. This young boy of fifteen or sixteen had a pair of lively and observant eyes. Before he said a word, he had already noticed the pale pink item in his young master’s hand.
Sensing the servant’s scrutiny, Lu Chengxiao instinctively tightened his grip on the purse, holding it securely in his palm.
Without waiting for any questions, Lu Chengxiao dismissed Bao, saying, “I still have some matters to attend to. You can go ahead and drive the cart back. If my mother inquires, tell her that I’ll be delayed a bit longer at the shop. I should be back before lunch.”
Babao found it a bit odd but didn’t press further. A competent servant didn’t need to be overly curious, especially when it came to matters his master preferred to keep private. So, he obeyed and departed as instructed.
Lu Chengxiao dismissed the servant and remained where he was, not in a hurry to leave. To avoid arousing suspicion, he didn’t dare to open the purse but could roughly tell by its weight that it likely contained silver coins.
If she noticed she had lost her silver coins, she should come back to search for them, right?
He stood there for about a small quarter of an hour, but the person he was waiting for didn’t show up. Eventually, he beckoned the shopkeeper, Mr. Yan, to join him, wearing a puzzled expression as he asked, “Why is Young Master still here? Is there something else that needs to be done? You can tell me, and I’ll handle it.”
Lu Chengxiao couldn’t possibly explain that he was waiting for a young lady, as that might tarnish her reputation. Furthermore, he didn’t want to hand over the woman’s personal belongings to Shopkeeper Yan and ask him to wait for her. So, he quickly made up an excuse to dismiss any further inquiries and said his farewells to him.
As for the purse he held in his palm, his gaze couldn’t help but drift towards the end of the street. Longfeng Town wasn’t very large, so he hoped he might still encounter the owner of the purse.
Sansukini: The fishing for a husband has begun.
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