Casting Nets to Catch a Husband

Chapter 93: Before leaving

It was already dusk when the boat arrived at Xifeng Town. The Liu siblings disembarked and hired a carriage to return home, while Lu Chengxiao and his servant continued on the boat towards Anyi County.

Wei Shi had been worried for a few days. As the sky darkened, she finally saw the three children return. She asked if the journey had been smooth, and the siblings tacitly avoided mentioning the incident at the Li family’s house in Yuanzhou. They all said it had been extremely smooth. Wei Shi arranged for food while the siblings packed their belongings, sharing with Wei Shi what they could about their trip to Yuanzhou.

After a brief rest after dinner, everyone got busy again. Liu Yanping lit an oil lamp and kept a record of the expenses incurred during the trip to Yuanzhou. Lu Chengxiao had paid for everything upfront, considering it trivial expenses, and hadn’t mentioned accounting for it. However, Liu Yanping had to keep track of it. Once this business was completed, all expenses would be included in the costs and settled with Lu Chengxiao.

In the inner courtyard, Wei Shi went back to the main house to retrieve a money pouch for Liu Yu, which contained the payment received a few days ago from Cui Erniang for the embroidery work. After deducting the initial capital, there was a little profit left. Though not much, it still added to their income, giving the family some confidence.

Liu Yu also kept a record book for her dressmaking business, but she was still not very literate. So she asked Wei Shi to help with the records.


As she had been away for five days, Wei Shi and the daughters-in-law of Liu Daitian and Liu Chunshan hadn’t had any work to do for the past two days. Liu Yu started cutting and sewing by lamplight, aiming to have at least three tasks ready for the next morning. While cutting, she thought about hiring a few more embroiderers once the shop opened, otherwise she’d be tied up in the shop herself.

At this moment, she felt fortunate that the Lu family had separated. Although it would be harder for her to make a living on her own, she would have more freedom.

Wei Shi knew where Liu Yu kept her money box. She had often helped Liu Yu with the money while she was busy sewing. Today was no different. After recording the accounts, she took Liu Yu’s key to open the box and transfer the money from the pouch into it. The pouch had been given by Cui Erniang and would be returned to her with the next batch of embroidery.

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Tsolhla, obld pbl srldle vbl xsdlu csm, pbl oyp pwarakple vs qkde dsv sdzu vbl wpwyz xsdlu yde psxl alnldv lyadkdtp cwv yzps y dlo xsdlu rswnb. Mbkp dlo rswnb oyp sq lmnlzzldv iwyzkvu yde eked’v pllx vs clzsdt vs Nkw Zw. Mblal byed’v clld sdl clqsal, bye vblal?

Elk Fbk vwadle vs ypj, “Zw’la, obu kp vblal yd lmvay xsdlu rswnb kd vbl csm?”

Nkw Zw oyp cwpu nwvvkdt nzsvb, dlyazu nwvvkdt kv oasdt. Tso nswze pbl qsatlv ycswv vbkp?

Fbl lmrzykdle vbyv Nw Ubldtmkys bye zlqv shla 130 vylzp blal, okvb 100 vylzp kd pkzhla ckzzp yde vbl alpv kd pkzhla kdtsvp, qkzzkdt wr y xsdlu rswnb. Elk Fbk bye plld kv, yde Nkw Zw nswzed’v bkel kv yduxsal, ps pbl iwklvzu vsze Elk Fbk ycswv Nw Ubldtmkys ypjkdt bla vs jllr vblpl pkzhla nskdp pyql.

Elk Fbk cwapv kdvs zywtbvla wrsd blyakdt vbkp. Fbl bye dlhla plld yduvbkdt zkjl kv clqsal. Mblu byed’v lhld plvvzle vbl xyaakytl ulv, yde vbl esoau bye yzalyeu clld bydele shla.

Gqvla zywtbkdt qsa y obkzl, pbl yehkple, “Yyjl pwal vs zsnj vbl csm plnwalzu yde jllr vbl jlu okvb usw. Nspkdt ps xwnb pkzhla oswzed’v cl y fsjl.”

Nkw Zw dseele, “R’zz cl nyalqwz.”

Elk Fbk qlzv xsal alyppwale dso. Mbl Nw qyxkzu bye przkv, cwv Nw Ubldtmkys pvkzz zlqv psxl nyrkvyz qsa cwpkdlpp, pbsokdt nsdpkelayvksd yde zlyhkdt assx qsa xydlwhla. Fbl zsnjle vbl xsdlu csm cynj kd vbl vawdj yde alxkdele Nkw Zw dsv vs osaj vss zyvl clqsal alvwadkdt vs bla sod assx.

Liu Yu looked at the locked money box, thinking of Lu Chengxiao, and couldn’t help but smile before getting back to work.



Over the next few days, Lu Chengxiao made deals with several weaving workshops near Anyi County to purchase cloth. He, Lin Huaigeng, and Liu Zhang collectively bought 250 taels of silver worth of cloth, with Lu Chengxiao contributing 200 taels, Lin and Liu each contributing 20 taels, and Lu Chengxiao also helping Lin Huaigeng with an additional 10 taels.

He still had nearly ninety taels on hand, which would definitely be more than enough for dyeing the cloth and expenses on the road. Initially, he had only planned to take two hundred taels worth of goods for his first trading trip. Making less profit wouldn’t matter much, as stability was the priority, and the remaining amount would serve as backup funds.

In order to depart as soon as possible, Lu Chengxiao had made separate arrangements with two weaving workshops for these fabrics. Nevertheless, it would still take a few days for the cloth to be delivered.

Meanwhile, on the second day after returning from Yuanzhou City, the Liu brothers, Yanping and Yanan, began preparing to receive the goods.

Indeed, in the outer courtyard of the Liu family, two tables were placed together in the yard, equipped with writing materials, for on-site receiving of the goods.

After knowing the cost of dyeing, Yanping had discussed with Lu Chengxiao on the return journey, knowing that Lu Chengxiao was planning to purchase two hundred taels worth of cloth, at a price of three hundred and thirty wen per piece of fabric. This would amount to more than six hundred pieces of fabric. Therefore, Yanping decided to buy six hundred pieces of fabric on credit, also worth two hundred taels, with the expenses on the road evenly split between her and Lu Chengxiao. As for the fifty taels worth of goods jointly bought by Lu Chengxiao’s two friends, Yanping considered it as additional assistance during the journey and thus shared the expenses equally with Lu Chengxiao.

With more than six hundred pieces of cloth to be received and the dyeing costs estimated, Yanping decided to set aside about twenty taels for dyeing. The remaining forty taels or so would be carried with her, after discussing with Wei Shi and Liu Yu.

Although Lu Chengxiao had said that he would cover the expenses on the road, no one knew what might happen during the journey to Zhejiang. It was always good to have some extra money on hand. Perhaps they might come across some opportunities where having money would be advantageous.

With the quantity of cloth to be received decided, the Liu brothers officially began preparations. Yanan arranged two empty rooms to store the cloth, while Yanping went to inform the families they had agreed with previously and began receiving the cloth.

In these past few days, every household had been working day and night, with the looms never stopping. Knowing that other families in the village had also caught onto the benefit of earning thirty wen more per piece, people from the Liu family had been watching closely. Once the Liu brothers began preparing to receive the cloth, all the families started sending their cloth to the Liu family.

As the Liu family members took action, other families in the village also began to move. These families hadn’t made prior arrangements with Yanping, so they didn’t dare to directly bring the cloth to the Liu family. Instead, they came to inquire about the situation.


This was a situation Yanping had anticipated early on, so he knew how to deal with it. When asked whether they would accept the cloth, he naturally agreed but laid down conditions: they would only accept cloth of good quality and sufficient length. The two large tables in the courtyard were used for inspecting the cloth.

After hearing this, the villagers of Yangshan Village hurried back home, looking for cloth of good quality. Just like the Liu family members, they brought their cloth over using carts.

By mid-morning, not only was the Liu family’s courtyard crowded with people wanting to send cloth or check the situation, but the area outside the courtyard was also bustling with activity. People bringing cloth in carts kept arriving, amounting to dozens of households. Initially, there was some confusion, with people afraid that they would miss out if they arrived late and the Liu family would have no time for them.

It was Yanan who came out several times, explaining that they intended to receive six hundred pieces of cloth. Moreover, since they were selling it jointly with the Lu family, the quality couldn’t vary too much. Although the latter part wasn’t entirely comprehended, the villagers did remember the former part — that they wanted to receive six hundred pieces of cloth.

As for the exact days when each household harvested the hemp, there was some variation. It had been only about ten days since the hemp was harvested, and in the first few days, they had been busy cutting, soaking, and pre-processing the hemp. The actual weaving had not even started for seven days.

To ensure good quality, families worked day and night, with everyone pitching in to process the hemp. Some families could produce about fifteen pieces of cloth a day, while women, who were slower, could only weave around ten pieces. Then there were those who hadn’t heard about the Liu family’s cloth collection and hadn’t been working round the clock; they had only been weaving during the day. Even now, they only had six or seven pieces of cloth in hand. With this situation, it was estimated that these six hundred pieces of cloth would come from about fifty or sixty households.

For these fifty or sixty households, the news that only good quality cloth was accepted when they arrived at the Liu family’s place put their minds at ease. They stopped pushing to get in and cooperated with Yanan’s request to line up in order of arrival. They even spontaneously maintained order, not allowing latecomers to cut in line, regardless of whether they were from the Liu family or not.

The line of people delivering cloth stretched far from the Liu family’s place, attracting a crowd of curious onlookers. The continuous inquiries made it difficult for people to move in and out of the Liu family’s gate, as it was completely blocked.

In the courtyard, the cloth was placed on the big table for quality inspection. Only after confirming that the length and quality were satisfactory were the pieces recorded by Yanping, who then provided a slip with the quantity received and the payment due, along with her fingerprint. When they returned from Zhejiang, villagers would use this slip to collect their money. This task required careful attention to detail, so even Wei Shi came out to help.

The remaining cloth was moved by Yanan to the two rooms specially cleared in the outer courtyard.

During the cloth collection, there were both good quality and less desirable pieces. Some clever sellers would bring one piece first to inquire, while others, confident but eager to sell, would send their cloth without asking questions.

Encountering such situations, refusing to accept the cloth would offend people. Fortunately, Yanping was good at talking. He explained that they didn’t dare to take too much inventory for this trip since it was their first time trading and they wanted to be cautious. Once they were familiar with the market, they could handle different qualities at different prices in the future. He apologized and politely asked for understanding. If there was an opportunity, they could cooperate again on the next trip.


Many villagers had a good idea of the quality of the cloth. The cloth vendors who came to collect cloth would also inspect the quality. The Liu family offered a price of three hundred and thirty wen per piece, without forcing people to accept a higher price for medium-quality cloth. The interactions were generally polite, with no major disputes.

Those who were still observing realized that the Liu family indeed only accepted good quality cloth and didn’t bother coming to ask anymore. Of course, there were some murmurs about people being in a hurry to sell despite not having the cash on hand, but no one paid much attention to them.

The cloth collection lasted for three days. On the first day, they received less than five hundred pieces, but by the afternoon of the third day, several dozen households who had already delivered cloth came up with a few more pieces each, totaling to six hundred pieces.

Yanping didn’t dare delay. That same day, he went to the county town to meet Lu Chengxiao. Lu Chengxiao had already arranged for the goods from the weaving workshops to be delivered. He had actually been looking for Yanping when they coincidentally met.

After discussing, they decided they could depart for Yuanzhou the next morning. Yanping asked about the boats, and Lu Chengxiao had already arranged. Unlike the small boat they had taken to Yuanzhou with a few people, this boat was much larger, capable of carrying over a thousand pieces of cloth.

The boat was extremely important; transporting cloth was not like transporting porcelain. Moisture and water resistance were top priorities, and any negligence in this area could be disastrous. After inspecting the boat with Yanping, Lu Chengxiao arranged to meet the next morning at the wharf to deliver the goods from the weaving workshops. Then they would head to Xifeng Town along the river, where Yanping’s cloth would be loaded onto the boat.

With the departure set for the next day and over six hundred pieces of cloth to be transported, Yanping also needed to return to Xifeng Town to negotiate with the cart merchants, calculate how many carts to hire, and arrange for the cart drivers to come to the Liu family early in the morning to transport the cloth to the town’s wharf.

Another matter was to inform the county office and his elder brother, Yanqing. This trip to Yuanzhou, once the cloth was dyed, they would take the water route directly to Zhejiang and wouldn’t return to the county. They had to inform their older brother so that there would be someone to take care of things at home.

However, Lu Chengxiao stopped him. “I’ll escort you.”

Yanping: “?”

After a moment’s thought, Yanping understood. This trip would take one or two months, and he wanted to see his little sister.

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