The girls did come as foretold. As they were splashing about and having fun, the cowherd rushed out of the reeds and grabbed the Weaving Maid's clothing. In panic, the sisters dashed to their clothes, hurriedly put them on, and ran away.
The Weaving Maid, deprived of her clothes, stood on the riverbank and tried to cover herself with her hair as best as possible. The cowherd told her that he would not return her clothes unless she promised to be his wife. After a little hesitation and with a mixture of shyness and eagerness, she agreed to his request and they married.
The cowherd and the Weaving Maid lived happily together and had two children before the Queen of Heaven discovered the Weaving Maid's absence. She was so annoyed she had the Weaving Maid brought back to heaven.
Seeing his beloved wife flying back to the sky, the cowherd was terrified and sad. He caught sight of the cowhide hanging on a wall. The magical ox had told him before dying of old age: “Keep the cowhide for emergency use.”
Putting the cowhide on, the cowherd, with his two children, went after his wife.
With the help of the cowhide, the cowherd was able to follow the Weaving Maid into heaven. He was about to reach his wife when the Queen showed up and pulled off her hairpin to draw a line between the two. The line became the Silver River in heaven, or the Milky Way.
The Weaving Maid went back to the heavenly workshop, going on weaving the clouds. But she was so sad and missed her husband across the Silver River so much that the clouds she weaved seemed sad. Finally, the Queen showed a little mercy, allowing the couple to meet once every year on the Silver River on the double seventh.
Magpies were moved by their true love and many of them gathered and formed a bridge for the couple to meet on the evening of Qixi.
It's said that it's hard to find a magpie on Chinese Valentine's Day in China, because all magpies fly to make the bridge for the Weaving Maid and the cowherd. The one thing to prove that is the feathers on the head of the magpies are much lesser after the Chinese Valentine's Day. And if it rains heavily on Qixi night, some elderly Chinese will say it is because the Weaving Maid is crying from happiness over meeting her husband on the Milky Way.