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Cui Qingfeng looked at Xu Fan’s red forehead, and his first thought was that there was a problem with the clothes. He turned his head to the shopkeeper and said, “Owner, there are germs on your clothes.”
“What?” The shopkeeper didn’t understand.
“There are germs on your clothes,” Cui Qingfeng repeated.
“What are germs?” the shopkeeper asked.
Cui Qingfeng thought about it then said, “It’s something dirty.”
The shopkeeper quickly refuted, “Nonsense. My clothes are very clean.”
“Then why does my Sanwa have an allergic reaction?”
“Allergic reaction? This is a heat rash.”
“Heat rash!” the shopkeeper decisively said.
He got a heat rash?
He was muddle headed because he was too worried, so Xu Zhao only now reacted. Heat rash. It really was heat rash. He thought Xu Fan had gotten bitten by a bug or something and was terrified.
Cui Qingfeng finally recognized it and asked, “How did he get a heat rash?”
“It’s hot and he basked under the sun. It’s fine. He’ll be alright after applying some heat rash powder,” the shopkeeper said.
Cui Qingfeng breathed a sigh of relief, then said, “Then you must sell the clothes to us for ten cents cheaper.”
“We agreed on 2.50.”
“Our child has a heat rash.”
The shopkeeper feigned anger and looked at Cui Qingfeng. “Heavens, you’re even blaming me for this. Young man, I’ve seen through you. You just want a discount. Fine, fine. 2.40 then. If the clothes are comfortable, come back to buy more next time.”
A smile fell off Cui Qingfeng’s face as he said, “Don’t worry, Owner. Since you’re so good at doing business, we’ll definitely buy from you next time!”
After relying on Cui Qingfeng’s “Shamelessness,” they were finally able to purchase Xu Fan’s clothes for 2.40. With the ten cents they saved, they used it to buy two meat buns for Xu Fan.
Xu Fan held one in each small hand as he obediently sat in Xu Zhao’s embrace. He put a big steamed stuffed bun by Xu Zhao’s mouth and said, “Daddy, you eat as well.”
Xu Zhao took a bite and said, “It’s delicious.”
Cui Qingfeng moved closer and said, “Sanwa, give a bit to Uncle as well.”
Xu Fan’s small hands clutched the meat buns as he twisted his small body to the side, guarding against Cui Qingfeng as he said, “None for you.”
The corner of Cui Qingfeng’s mouth twitched.
Xu Zhao laughed.
When they left the clothes street, they went to specially buy some heat rash powder. Returning to the Cui family home, they used the iron basin of hot water Mother Cui had warmed in the sun to wash Xu Fan. They washed his forehead, neck, shoulders, and back before putting on a layer of heat rash powder. His whole body was covered in white, and only his small pretty face was exposed. It was especially cute.
“Daddy, do I still look good?” Xu Fan asked.
“Yes, very good looking. However, you need to sit on the summer mat under the ceiling fan while naked. You can’t move.”
Xu Fan tilted his head and asked, “Why?
“Because you have heat rash, you’ll start itching if you’re in the sun. I already washed your new clothes and they should be dry by this evening.”
“But I’m going to sell popsicles with Daddy.”
“I’m going with Daddy.”
“You can’t. You stay here with Grandpa Cui.” Grandpa Cui was Father Cui.
“I want to follow Daddy.”
“You can’t!” Xu Zhao patted his face.
Xu Fan was at his wit’s end and angrily tilted his small face to one side and let out a “hmph” sound.
Xu Zhao also ignored him. Once the popsicles were ready, he carried them with Cui Qingfeng to tell at the intersection. Because they had accumulated popularity from the last two days, Xu Zhao and Cui Qingfeng didn’t need to shout much and there were still workers who came to purchase. Xu Zhao and Cui Qingfeng were busy collecting money, getting change, and distributing the popsicles. While busting away, Xu Zhao and Cui Qingfeng realized that everyone was looking behind them.
Xu Fan and Cui Qingfeng turned their heads in doubt and saw Xu Fan.
Xu Fan wasn’t naked and was wearing clothes, although they were old clothes. The short-sleeved shirt and pants were worn inside out. He was wearing adult shoes as well, and leather shoes at that! His forehead and neck was covered in a layer of white heat rash powder. When he saw Xu Zhao, a smile that could heal hearts was revealed. His voice was filled with joy as he called, “Daddy! Daddy!”
Xu Zhao: “…”
Cui Qingfeng: “…”
“Who told you to come here?” Xu Zhao had a serious expression.
The smile on Xu Fan’s small face instantly froze. He placed his small hands on the side of his mouth, his watery eyes blinking at Xu Zhao. His voice was as soft as a mosquito as he said, “I wanted to find Daddy.”
“What?” Xu Zhao walked over and asked.
“Wanted to look for Daddy,” Xu Fan said.
Xu Fan understood his meaning, then carefully looked Xu Fan up and down and asked, “Who helped you wear these clothes?”
“I did,” Xu Fan said.
“Whose leather shoes are those?”
“I dunno either.” In any case, he didn’t know how to wear shoes anyway. When he saw this pair of shoes by the door, he put them on.
“It’s my youngest uncle’s,” Cui Qingfeng added.
“You youngest uncle’s?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Mn. He’ll probably come back in a couple days, that’s why my dad helped him polish his shoes with shoe polish today.”
Xu Zhao received a fright. Although he had never seen Cui Qingfeng’s youngest uncle, he learned from Cui Qingfeng that his youngest uncle was an intelligent and proud person. Moreover, Cui Qingfeng’s youngest uncle’s room had always been spotless and tidy. He also occasionally heard Mother and Father Cui say that Cui Qingfeng’s youngest uncle was a bit demanding and had an obsession with cleanliness, and he also seemed like he didn’t like young children. if he learned that Xu Fan wore his leather shoes, then he may not even want the leather shoes anymore.
“It’s okay, my youngest uncle won’t find out,” Cui Qingfeng smiled and said.
“Still, that doesn’t mean he should have worn someone else’s clothes to come here.”
Xu Zhao quickly picked Xu Fan up. The leather shoes fell off, and he gave Xu Fan a fierce look. Fortunately, they already finished selling the popsicles, so he carried Xu Fan back to the Cui family home, severely reprimanding Xu Fan along the way. Without the permission of the owner, he was not allowed to take their clothes, shoes, or any of their items. Besides, how can a child run around on the streets by themselves? What if he was kidnapped?
Xu Fan was scolded and his head drooped.
“Do you know what you did wrong?” Xu Zhao asked.
Xu Fan nodded.
“What did you do wrong?” Xu Zhao asked.
“I wore someone else’s shoes and I didn’t listen to Daddy,” Xu Fan replied.
“What about next time?”
“I won’t touch other people’s things and I will listen to Daddy.”
Xu Zhao crouched next to Xu Fan, and took off Xu Fan’s clothes. He had Xu Fan sit on the summer mat while he carefully examined Cui Qingfeng’s youngest uncle’s leather shoes. Afterwards, he placed the leather shoes by the bed inside the west wing room. He then sat on the summer mat with Xu Fan to coax Xu Fan. Not long later, Xu Fan was lively and jumping around again.
The afternoon heat was waning, so Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan and followed Cui Qingfeng to the market to purchase popsicles ingredients. Afterwards, they began to make preparations for tomorrow. When they were finished, it was already evening.
Xu Zhao rode Cui Qingfeng’s bicycle and took Xu Fan home.
Xu Fan, wearing the new clothes and shoes, sat on the front handlebars, his two small legs happily swinging back and forth. “Daddy!” he called.
“I’m wearing new clothes.”
“The new clothes look so good.”
“I look very good wearing these new clothes.”
It was dark when they returned home.
Xu Dawa and Xu Erwa had just come home from playing when they saw Xu Fan wearing new clothes, they immediately stared straight ahead.
“Sanwa, where did you get the new clothes?” Xu Dawa asked.
“My daddy bought it for me!” Xu Fan replied with pride.
“How much was it?”
“2.40? Where did your dad get the money?” Xu Dawa asked unhappily.
“He got money from selling wheat.” Xu Zhao told Xu Fan to say this.
Just as he thought.
When Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng heard this, the two began laughing, not planning to bother Xu Zhao about this. Instead, they opened their mouths to call Xu Dawa and Xu Erwa to eat.
“Since you sold your wheat, you won’t have anything to eat! You’re gonna starve!” Xu Dawa huffed to Xu Fan.
“You’re the one that’s gonna starve!” Xu Fan retorted.
“Say that again.”
“You’re gonna starve!”
Xu Dawa immediately raised his hand to give a slap.
Xu Fan quickly blinked, his eyes filled with fright as he said, “You hit me! I’m gonna bite you!”
“You dare bite me?”
“I’ll bite you!”
“Dawa, are you going to eat or not?” Xu Zuocheng roared.
“Just you wait!” Xu Dawa glared at Xu Fan, then turned to run to the tiled house.
“Just you wait as well!” Xu Fan huffed as he stomped his tiny feet. He turned to enter the thatched hut beside the pigsty. When he saw Xu Zhao open the window, he asked, “Daddy, what are you doing?”
“Opening the window to get some fresh air,” Xu Zhao replied.
“Why do you need fresh air?”
“The fresh air will help you recover from your heat rash faster.”
In order to prevent Xu Fan from getting heat rash again, not only did Xu Zhao open the window, he even opened the door facing the bed.
Although the thatched hut he and Xu Fan lived in wasn’t as clean or cool as a tiled house, the good thing about the thatched hut was that it was surrounded by dense Chinese scholar trees on all four sides. There was also a small pond behind the thatched hut, and the back window was opened, a cool breeze would blow away the summer dry heat.
“Wow! It’s so cool!” Xu Fan lay on the bed and said with happiness.
“Feel cool?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Is your forehead still itchy?”
“It’s not itchy. It stopped a long time ago.”
Xu Zhao reached out his hand to feel Xu Fan’s forehead and felt that he was just a little bit better than earlier. He predicted that if he prevented Xu Fan from running around for now, he should get better soon. “Xu Fan, grandma and grandpa will be back in a couple of days. You’ll stay with your grandparents then, okay?” Xu Zhao said.
Xu Fan immediately replied, “No, I want to follow Daddy.”
“Daddy’s going to earn money.”
“I’ll earn money with Daddy.”
“You already got a heat rash today.”
“I won’t get it tomorrow.”
Previously, Xu Zhao didn’t have much contact with children and thought that they didn’t know anything. Now he realized that kids did understand a lot. They had their own special way of viewing the world. They were sincere, pure, and naive. Adults had no way of predicting what kind of pleasant surprise they would hear from kids or what they would say to leave them speechless.
In any case, he was persuaded by Xu Fan’s nonsensical logic.
“Daddy, look at the moon. It’s so big!” Xu Fan suddenly pointed at the moon and said.
Xu Zhao looked at the moon and suddenly missed the 21st century. “Xu Fan, how about Daddy teach you a poem?” he said.
“Repeat after me. Bright moonlight before my bed.”
“Bright moonlight before my bed.”
“I suppose it is frost on the ground.”
“It’s frost,” Xu Zhao corrected Xu Fan.
“Is ross,” Xu Fan repeated.
Xu Zhao missed the 21st century a bit in his heart, but it was quickly shattered by Xu Fan. He concentrated on teaching Xu Fan. “Look at my lips—frost.”
Xu Zhao breathed a sigh of relief, then said, “Yes. Let’s continue. I raise my head to view the bright moon.”
“I raise my head to view the bright moon.”
“Then lower it, thinking of my home village.”
“Then lower it, thinking of my home village.”
“This is a poem1The poem they are reciting is called ‘Quiet Night Thoughts,’ and its one of the most famous Chinese poems. Li Bai is also one of the most famous Chinese poets. It’s a beautiful poem, so I highly recommend looking it up! about homesickness written by the poet, Li Bai. While traveling, he looked at the moon and missed his home,” Xu Zhao gently explained.
“I don’t miss home.”
“…You’ll still need to learn the poem. I’ll repeat it to you three more times and then you try by yourself.”
The moonlight was like water, enveloping the leaves of the dense Chinese scholar trees, making it appear like an inexhaustible spring. The cool breeze carried around a slight chill into the thatched hut, the inside of the thatched hut reflecting the soft moonlight. Xu Fan’s head pressed against Xu Zhao’s arm. In a milky voice, recited, ,”Bright moonlight before my bed, I suppose it is frost on the ground. I raise my head to view the bright moon, then lower it, thinking of my home village.”
“Mn, not bad. You’ll recite it again tomorrow. Let’s sleep.”
“Daddy, hug me to sleep.”
“I’m not hot. I’m cool.”
Before long, Xu Fan fell asleep.
Xu Zhao patted Xu Fan’s small face. Seeing that Xu Fan wasn’t sweating or hot, he relaxed and fell asleep. He slept until there was a “knock knock knock” sound from the main hall. It was four in the morning as he climbed out of bed in a daze. He closed the wooden door of the thatched hut, then went back to sleep. When he was awoken again, it was from the urgent voice that shouted while slamming on the door.
“Xu Zhao! Xu Zhao! Wake up! Something happened!”
Xu Zhao sharply sat up.
Xu Fan also woke up.