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Cui Qingfeng was still doubting the logic of being able to “sell 1000 popsicles the day after tomorrow.” 1000 popsicles was worth 30 Yuan. That was more than the monthly salary of some workers in the city. How would that be possible! However, seeing how confident Xu Zhao was, he thought that they could give it a try since the production cost was only seven Yuan, after all. If they lost it all, then so be it. He just couldn’t say no to Xu Zhao!
Cui Qingfeng gritted his teeth and said, “Okay, then we’ll completely invest it as the production cost!”
Cui Qingfeng finally made up his mind. Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Good. Let’s buy the ingredients now.”
Cui Qingfeng rode the bicycle and took Xu Zhao and Xu Fan shopping. Besides purchasing the basics like rice, glutinous rice, sugar, pigment, milk powder, and mung beans, they also bought red beans, corn, soybeans, and other specialized ingredients. They also got numerous popsicle molds, a foam box, a large quilt, and popsicle paper. After purchasing everything and returning to the Cui family house, they needed to grind the rice, glutinous rice, and corn into powder.
Therefore, Cui Qingfeng brought Xu Zhao and Xu Fan to several alleys before finally finding a pair of stone ovens. They put the rice, glutinous rice, corn, and soybeans into the open and used the round stone hammer to smash them into powder. Afterwards, they used the flour shift to filter the powder into fine particles, only then could it be used as special ingredients to make popsicles.
It was dark by the time everything was finished.
Xu Zhao pushed Cui Qingfeng’s bicycle and left the Cui family home.
“Ride slowly,” Cui Qingfeng repeatedly warned.
“Okay,” Xu Zhao said with a smile.
When they arrived at the intersection, Xu Zhao placed Xu Fan on the front handlebars of the bike. He stepped on the pedal hard, and when they took off, he stretched out his long legs while the front of the bike wobbled a bit before returning to normal.
Cui Qingfeng breathed a sigh of relief.
Xu Zhao turned the corner and rode towards South Bay Village.
Xu Fan sat on the front handlebars and excitedly said, “Daddy! You’re amazing!”
“How am I amazing?”
“You can ride a bike!”
Xu Zhao followed along with Xu Fan and said with a smile, “Daddy is amazing?”
“He’s the most amazing!” Xu Fan cheered.
“Haha.” Xu Zhao let out a huge laugh.
“Daddy,” Xu Fan called out again.
“Can I eat popsicles again tomorrow?”
“Do you want to eat it?”
“I want. Daddy, the popsicles you make are the most amazing and best ones of the whole village.” In fact, he wanted to say “whole world,” but the word “world” didn’t exist in his mind. To him, the village was the equivalent to the whole universe.
“Is that so?”
“Then I’ll give you some to eat tomorrow.”
“Okay.” Happiness filled Xu Fan’s heart and he continued to say, “Daddy, bicycles are amazing.”
“Why are bicycles amazing?” Xu Zhao asked.
“It can run and never get tired,” Xu Fan said in a crisp voice.
“It can also shout,” Xu Fan said with a serious tone.
“Shout?” Xu Zhao asked in confusion.
“Mn, the bell shouts.”
Sigh. It’s a bell, not shouting. However, Xu Zhao didn’t correct Xu Fan. In any case, a child’s world should be filled with unrestrained dreams.
Along the way, Xu Fan completely blabbed about his interest in bikes. When they arrived back at the Xu family home, Xu Zhao parked the bike outside the door of the thatched hut and left to make dinner. On the other hand, Xu Fan squatted next to the bike seat, his tiny hands grabbing at the seat and shaking it. He spun the back wheel and let it fly like he was the one riding the bike as he chuckled gleefully.
“Xu Fan, I told you not to play with the bike,” Xu Zhao said from the kitchen.
“Are you still going to play with it?”
“I’m not playing with it.”
“You say you’re not?” Xu Zhao carried the bowls out and glared at Xu Fan.
Xu Fan ran towards Xu Zhao with a giggle.
“Head inside and eat,” Xu Zhao couldn’t hold a serious face as he said.
“Okay.” Xu Fan hurriedly stood and the sound of ripping was heard.
Xu Fan was dumbfounded.
Xu Zhao was also dumbfounded.
The father and son turned their gazes to Xu Fan’s pants at the same time. The pocket pants were hooked onto the metal part of the bike’s seat. When he stood, he ripped the pants from the pocket all the way to the thigh.
Xu Fan’s white buttocks were also exposed.
Xu Zhao’s lip immediately twitched.
Xu Fan gaze raised to Xu Zhao, his face full of terror. “The pants ripped.”
Xu Zhao felt a headache coming.
Clothes in this era were very precious, especially since the Xu family was so poor. For example, the tattered clothes on Xu Fan’s body were passed down from Xu Erwa who inherited from Xu Dawa. Xu Fan carefully took the pant’s pocket from the seat of the bike, his watery eyes timidly looking at Xu Zhao.
“Come here,” Xu Zhao said.
“But…” Xu Fan said.
“Daddy, don’t hit me,” Xu Fan timidly said.
“…I won’t hit you.”
Last time when Xu Fan burned a hole in his shoes, the original Xu Zhao had hit him.
“Liars will have to swallow a thousand needles,” Xu Fan said.
Xu Zhao nodded. “Mn, come here. I won’t hit you. Since the clothes were ripped, we’ll have to mend it.”
“Really. Come here and eat.”
Xu Fan covered his small butt and slowly wobbled towards Xu Zhao. When Xu Zhao raised his hand, Xu Fan squeezed his eyes in fright.
Xu Zhao was curious and found it to be hilarious. He pulled Xu Fan to his side and said, “The rip created such a big hole.”
Xu Fan honestly agreed with a hum.
“We’ll have to mend it.”
“Take it off and go eat first.”
Xu Fan ate dinner with his butt bare, and surprisingly, he didn’t speak that much either. He waited until Xu Zhao finished mending his pants with crooked needlework before saying, “Daddy.”
“What?” Xu Zhao replied in a bad mood.
“Daddy, you can sew very well.”
“Save it! These pants won’t be wearable anymore if you tear them again.”
“I’ll be careful in the future.”
“Mn, go to sleep.”
Xu Fan obediently closed his eyes.
Xu Zhao sat in front of the kerosene lamp and looked at the small pants laid out on the table. His needlework was truly horrendous. In fact, his hands were already pricked numerous times. He looked at the small cloth shoes by the bed. Besides the hole in the shoe, the soles were also rubbed thin and they were almost unwearable. He glanced at the child sleeping soundly on the bed. Raising a child sure wasn’t easy.
However, after interacting with him these past few days, he had developed a deep connection with Xu Fan. He already considered Xu Fan as the person closest to him. He stretched his hand to pat the eight Yuan sixty-eight cents in his pocket. Maybe he should buy Xu Fan a new set of clothes tomorrow? Or maybe it would be best to wait. Wait till the day after tomorrow when he’s certain that they could make money. Then, he’d buy Xu Fan two sets of clothes and two pairs of shoes for him to change into, so that he could satisfy Xu Fan’s love of beauty. Afterwards, he could buy himself some new clothes as well.
Then it’s decided!
Xu Zhao blew out the kerosene lamp and climbed into bed to sleep.
Since they had the bike, Xu Zhao and Xu Fan didn’t have to wake up as early as yesterday. When the first rays of dawn peeked through, Xu Zhao started dressing Xu Fan. It was then that he realized the legs of the pants he mended appeared to be different lengths when it was worn on Xu Fan’s body.
It wasn’t that it appeared to be, they really were different lengths.
Xu Zhao: “…”
Xu Fan didn’t notice and was still ecstatic that his pants were mended. And since Daddy didn’t hit him, he felt even closer to Xu Zhao.
“Daddy, let’s go.”
Xu Zhao lifted Xu Fan onto the front handlebars of the bike, then peddled out of the courtyard.
At that moment, Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng came out from the main hall.
Xu Youcheng rubbed his eyes and said, “Eldest Brother, wasn’t that Xu Zhao just now?”
“It was Xu Zhao.”
“He was riding a bicycle.”
Bicycles were a rare item. In the entire South Bay Village, there were only two bicycles, and one of those bikes was given by the higher-ups to the village committee to be used by the staff. They usually treasured it very much, and only the village chief, secretary, and the director could ride it. Even the team leader didn’t have the privilege to ride it.
“Where did Xu Zhao get the bike?” Xu Youcheng asked.
“I don’t know.”
“He’s been getting up early and going to sleep late recently. Do you think he’s doing something bad? He’s not stealing, right?”
“Even if he does try to steal or rob someone, he won’t do a good job anyway, so just let him be. In any case, our family has already separated. If he wants to act like a hooligan, he better not get us involved.”
Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng were both scheming on casting Xu Zhao aside in case he got them involved in his trouble. After they had made up their minds, they began their farm work. Meanwhile, Xu Zhao had already biked to Cui Qingfeng’s house. When he arrived, he and Cui Qingfeng began making popsicles. They made 400 popsicles in one go.
Three hours later, the 400 were wrapped in popsicle paper and stacked inside two foam boxes. One foam box held 180 popsicles, while the other held 220.
Xu Zhao gave Cui Qingfeng the box containing 180 popsicles.
“You gave me the wrong one,” Cui Qingfeng said.
“I didn’t. You sell 180 and I’ll sell 220.”
“You should sell 180 and I’ll sell 220.”
“You sell 180 and I’ll sell 220!” Xu Zhao persisted.
After disagreeing for a bit, Cui Qingfeng lost to Xu Zhao. He used his bicycle to carry the two boxes of popsicles and a chair. He did as Xu Zhao instructed and sent Xu Zhao, Xu Fan, the popsicles, and the chair to a tree by the steel factory.
“Will you be able to sell it here?” Cui Qingfeng curiously asked.
“Yes,” Xu Zhao said.
“But there’s no one here.”
“They haven’t got off work yet.”
“Alright, it’s getting late. You should quickly head to the countryside.”
Cui Qingfeng glanced at Xu Zhao, then turned to look at Xu Fan who was clinging to Xu Zhao’s legs, and said, “Alright. I’ll come find you once I sell out.”
“Okay. Get going.”
Cui Qingfeng rode his bicycle away.
Xu Zhao sat under the shade of the large tree.
Xu Fan sat next to Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao glanced at Xu Fan’s pants. My God, those pants are really unfit to be worn. You could even see his little pee pee.
Xu Fan appeared to have also noticed and used his small hand to cover his small pee pee.
Xu Zhao was embarrassed and said, “Once Daddy makes money, I’ll buy you new clothes, okay?”
“Okay, I’ll help Daddy make money,” Xu Fan happily said.
“Alright. Then you’ll have to sell popsicles with Daddy later. You can’t run about.”
“Mn.” Xu Fan ferociously nodded.
Xu Zhao thought for a moment, then asked, “Do you know how to sell popsicles?” He would teach him if he didn’t.
“Yes, I do!” Xu Fan immediately replied.
“How do you sell them? Tell me,” Xu Fan asked with a smile.
“I learned it from Daddy. I just have to ask people if they want to buy popsicles. The popsicles are sweet and tasty.”
Yes, good job. Just like that.”
Xu Fan lifted up a single finger and said, “T-then Daddy, can I eat one now?”
“I want to eat red beans. I want the one with all the red beans on the surface.”
After Xu Fan grabbed the popsicles, he sat under the big tree with his legs closed to prevent his small pee pee from being exposed. While slowly sucking on the popsicles, the sound of the retractable door of the steel factory was heard, and numerous middle-aged women came out from the factory. Xu Zhao didn’t have a chance to speak yet when Xu Fan suddenly grasped the popsicles and jogged over. He lifted his small face and said in a milky voice, “Auntie, do you want to buy a popsicle? My Daddy’s popsicles are very sweet and tasty!”
Several middle-aged women stood in shock.
Xu Zhao immediately burst out in cold sweat. He was supposed to ask passersby if they wanted to buy popsicles, not run up to people and ask them.