Casting Nets to Catch a Husband

Chapter 96: Half Hairpin

Lu Chengxiao returned just before Xu Shi (19:00 – 21:00), barely making it to the closing of the county gate of Anyi County, where the caravan was heading. After returning home, he couldn’t rest immediately. He had to pack his luggage, and Lu Xun was waiting for him, wanting to say a few words. These things didn’t need to be mentioned.

In Yangshan Village, Liu Yu had already washed up and lay down, but she couldn’t fall asleep no matter how hard she tried. As soon as Lu Chengxiao left, she started missing him.

In the darkness, she reached out to the side of the pillow and touched the half-pearl hairpin. Her lips couldn’t help but curl up. The scenes of being alone with Lu Chengxiao kept appearing in her mind. Liu Yu’s cheeks were burning, so she covered her face with her arm and hands to hide her embarrassment.

In the backyard of the Anyi County Lu Family Cloth Shop, Lu Chengxiao was also thinking about Liu Yu. Next to his pillow was the sachet he never let go of, and the half-pearl hairpin Liu Yu gave him was in Lu Chengxiao’s hand.

Every scene of their meeting today, every smile and pout of Liu Yu, kept replaying in his mind. He had never experienced such joy and satisfaction before. There was something throbbing in his chest. It was late at night, but he couldn’t sleep at all.


Thinking about Liu Yu, thinking about how quickly this trip could be over, thinking about when he could come back and propose to her, he even wanted to find an almanac to check the dates.

A few months ago, Lu Chengxiao never thought he would fall in love with a girl at the age of eighteen, and he never anticipated wanting to marry her so soon. He used to think that he should establish his career before getting married, maybe at twenty or twenty-two, or even later. He had never thought about what his future wife would be like.

But fate had its own plans. Just like when he first met Liu Yu, he almost stumbled into her arms. Once he caught her, he couldn’t bear to let go. Just thinking about marrying her made Lu Chengxiao’s heart full of sweetness, longing, and endless anticipation.

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Lu Chengxiao noticed Liu Yu also looking into the boat, so he said to Wei Shi, “It will take some time to load the cargo. Auntie, do you want to come aboard and take a look?”


Although Lu Chengxiao’s words were directed at Wei Shi, he also glanced at Liu Yu afterwards.

Both Wei Shi and Liu Yu wanted to see the boat they would be on for a long time, so they both nodded.

Lu Chengxiao escorted the two of them onto the boat. Seeing that there were cargo holds and cabins for living, he felt much more at ease.

Wei Shi went to inquire with the boatwoman about how they would eat and be supplied along the way. Lu Chengxiao, seeing that there was no one around, discreetly held Liu Yu’s hand under the cover of his sleeve and said, “I’ll be back soon.”

He just gently squeezed her hand and then let go.

Sending someone off a thousand miles away inevitably required parting. With six hundred bolts of cloth and more than ten people working together, it would only take a few trips. Liu Yu only had time to bid Lu Chengxiao farewell before she and Wei Shi disembarked.

As the mooring ropes were untied and the boat set off, those on board and those on the shore could only wave goodbye to each other. The six of them set sail for their distant journey.

Their first stop was Yuanzhou City. During the few days waiting for the dyehouse to deliver the cloth, as he had mentioned before, Lu Chengxiao invited Yang Cunxu, Wang Mingyun, and Li Zhongjue to meet again.

This year happened to be the year of the provincial examination. It was an opportunity that came once every three years. Wang Mingyun would be taking the exam in August, so now was the time to focus on studying. After a meal and exchanging blessings, they agreed to meet again after Wang Mingyun took the exam and when Lu Chengxiao returned from his business trip.

Yang Cunxu, being a bold person and having a good relationship with Lu Chengxiao, was quite courteous upon hearing that the two traveling with Lu Chengxiao were his future brothers-in-law and the other two were close friends. During the days waiting for the cloth to be delivered, he forged a strong friendship with them.

Lu Chengxiao asked, “Are you taking the exam in August?”

Yang Cunxu nodded but laughed, “Whether I take the exam or not depends on luck. You don’t know me. I’m like you, preferring archery and riding. As for scholarship, I’m just average. It’s too difficult for me to pass the imperial examination. I’ll have to find another opportunity to serve in the government after that.”


He chuckled and patted Lu Chengxiao’s shoulder, saying, “Thanks to the unexpected gain from helping you find someone last time, my father has a chance to move up. It should be easier for me to serve in the government in the future.”

Lu Chengxiao smiled, “That’s your own destiny. I’ll have to rely on you more in the future.”

Once the cargo was loaded onto the ship, Yang Cunxu escorted them to the dock and called for his servant.

The servant brought out a bow and a quiver full of arrows from the carriage. Yang Cunxu took them and gave them to Lu Chengxiao, saying, “I don’t know if you brought a bow and arrows for this trip, but when traveling outside, you never know what situations you’ll encounter along the way. It’s always good to have something for self-defense. This was given to my father by someone else, and it looks good. It’s just a decoration in the hands of a civilian like him. So I’ll give it to you.”

It was natural to bring something for self-defense when going out on a business trip, but this bow and arrow were a gift from Yang Cunxu’s father, and the sentiment behind it was more valuable than the weapon itself.

Lu Chengxiao took the bow and arrows and tried them out. “It’s a really good bow. It looks stronger than the one you use. Are you really willing to give it to me?”

Yang Cunxu laughed heartily, “There’s nothing I’m unwilling to give, especially since it’s from my father. Even if I wanted it, I couldn’t get it.”

This was a joke, but it also indicated that his father appreciated the good deed Lu Chengxiao had unintentionally done before.

Lu Chengxiao understood and smiled, “I really like it. It will come in handy on this trip. Please thank my uncle for me. When I return from the business trip, I’ll visit your house to express my gratitude.”

With that settled, Lu Chengxiao bid farewell to Yang Cunxu and boarded the ship bound for Zhejiang.

Liu Yu’s mind seemed to have been taken away as well. During the day, she was busy and didn’t notice, but occasionally she would get lost in her embroidery. When it got dark and it was difficult to do needlework, she and Wei Shi were facing each other, but all she could think of was the three people traveling outside.

She didn’t know if the cloth was dyed yet, if they had set off, where they were on their journey, and whether it was safe along the way. It was worrying about everything. When it got late, it was a relief that Liu Yanqing returned home.


The horse Liu Yanqing was using now was Lu Chengxiao’s. Liu Yu had only seen it from a distance before, and the Liu family didn’t have a stable, so the horse was kept in the backyard.

Thinking of Lu Chengxiao, she naturally cared more about the horse. Affection for one thing led to affection for another, and she became especially attentive to the horse, often feeding it soybeans or the grain bought by Liu Yanqing. In just a few days, the horse became particularly fond of her, and even the chubby gray rabbit that always followed Liu Yu around became more friendly towards it.

As time passed day by day, halfway through June had already passed. Liu Yu missed Lu Chengxiao more than ever. Every night, when it was quiet, there was only the half-pearl hairpin on her pillow to remind her of him, bringing her a little comfort in her longing.

Similarly, Lu Chengxiao, who was now in the waters of Zhejiang, also had thoughts of longing. Their journey had been smooth sailing so far, but because all six of them were inexperienced in traveling for business on their own, and each of them had invested a large portion of their own family’s capital in this cargo, they were cautious and alert. From the first day, they had arranged for two shifts of guards, with three people in each group taking turns resting.

Tonight, it was Lu Chengxiao, Liu Zhang, and Liu Yanan’s turn to guard. The three of them each occupied a position at the bow, stern, and cabin entrance of the ship, and none of them had slept. Their duty was to guard against any suspicious activities on the ship and along the way, as the boat was hired locally and was relatively reliable, so most of the time they just paid attention to any movements in the water.

When Lu Chengxiao was on duty, he always liked to fiddle with the sachet around his waist unconsciously. On this day, as the boat sailed into the early hours of the morning, the boatmaster suddenly pointed ahead with great excitement, saying, “We’re almost at the lock gate!”

Lu Chengxiao looked over and saw some faint shadows in the far distance under the cover of night. He understood immediately that it was the silhouette of boats and sails. He couldn’t help but stand up excitedly.

The boatmaster was quite happy and said, “Those are all waiting to pass through the lock. Let’s go over and line up. When the lock gate opens at dawn, we’ll enter Zhejiang Crossing!”

Liu Yanan and Liu Zhang rushed over upon hearing the news. “Have we arrived?” they asked.

“Yes, we have,” Lu Chengxiao nodded, his excitement evident in his voice.

After half a month of sailing, Liu Yanan was thrilled to hear that they had arrived. He hurried back to the cabin to wake up the already sleeping Liu Yanping. Since there was nothing to do on the ship and they weren’t tired, they didn’t sleep deeply. When Liu Yanan called out, Liu Yanping, Lin Huaigeng, and Babao all woke up.

Hearing that they had reached Zhejiang Crossing, they quickly got out of their bunk beds and left the cabin. By now, the ship was even closer, and they could already see the silhouettes of boats under the moonlight. Numerous large and small ships were anchored, most of them being merchant vessels.


Not to mention the Liu brothers who were seeing this for the first time, even Lin Huaigeng and Liu Zhang, who used to escort caravans, had seen the world in the past two years. However, most of the contracts their escort bureau received involved overland transportation, often crossing mountains and ridges. Seeing such a gathering of merchant ships was truly a first for them, and they couldn’t help but feel awestruck.

Seeing everyone standing at the bow of the ship, the boatmaster, who must have been used to the reactions of first-time traders, smiled and said, “Don’t worry. It’s easy to dock at small ports, but it’s not easy here at Zhejiang Crossing. There are too many cargo ships, and unloading at the dock takes time. After passing through the lock, there may also be situations where ships can’t dock for two or three days.”

Hearing this, everyone was somewhat incredulous. “So many ships and cargo?”

Lu Chengxiao had seen this scene before when he traveled to Zhejiang with the Li family. Although he hadn’t been to Zhejiang Crossing before, he knew it wouldn’t be much different. He explained, “The waterways of Zhejiang and Jiangsu are interconnected, connected to the Grand Canal. Merchants from all directions converge here, making the economy exceptionally prosperous. It’s not surprising to see such a scene.”

The boatmaster nodded with a smile. “That’s right. So relax and take a break.”

However, at this moment, whether excited or nervous, no one could rest.

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