HAPPY NEW YEAR! Please take care of me this year as well! ( ´ ω ` )
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Xu Fan was the first to exclaim, “Wow! A big car! A big car!”
Da Zhuang followed and said, “What a big car! wow!”
Xu Fan was extremely happy and pointed at the car, he turned towards Xu Zhao and said, “Daddy, look! Daddy! Look! It’s a big car!”
“Xu Fan, it’s not a big car, it’s a small car,” Xu Zhao helplessly said.
“It’s a big car,” Xu Fan said.
“Small car,” Xu Zhao corrected.
“Daddy, it’s big. Look how big it is! Wow! Big car!” Xu Fan firmly said.
Since there weren’t any other cars there that could be used for comparison, Xu Zhao couldn’t explain to Xu Fan the difference between a big car and a small car. He would put this problem aside for now. They needed to push the cart forward a step, so they quickly blocked Xu Fan and Da Zhuang who were already trying to run towards the black car. He couldn’t help but glance at the window of the car, and through the window, he saw a handsome man who had a stern air.
Before Xu Zhao could get a clear look, the black car had already driven away from the grain supply station, taking a turn and disappearing from everyone’s view. However, everyone was still curious and envious, dreaming about what it would be like to ride in the black car.
Xu Fan stretched out his small hand to point to the front. “Daddy, the big car ran away.”
“Mn,” Xu Zhao replied.
“t ran before I could even ride in it,
Xu Fan said earnestly.
“…” Your skin is too thick.
Xu Zhao didn’t answer Xu Fan’s words, instead, he pulled Xu Fan and Da Zhuang onto the ox cart, then pushed the car forward a bit. Afterwards, they continued to sit on the ox cart to wait. He hoped the workers at the grain supply station could go a bit faster, and even faster than that so that he could finish handing in his grain taxes1Just in case there was any confusion, grain taxes are taxes paid by grains. Not taxes imposed on grains. and go earn some money.
However, the long line of ox carts still hurriedly moved forward at a snails’ pace. There were even some people who were pushing their wheats back from where they came from. After asking around, they found that those wheats didn’t sunbathe long enough. Either the water content was too high or they were too dirty, so it didn’t pass the inspection and the grain supply station didn’t accept them. They had to take the wheat home and redo everything. However, dragging it all the way back home was too wasteful, so there were plenty of people there sunbathing wheat, sifting wheat, and generally bustling about.
Xu Zhao was extremely anxious, and turned to Da Zhuang’s father to ask when it would be their turn to hand in their grain taxes.
Da Zhuang’s father was already used to this and said, “Probably in the evening.”
“Evening?” Xu Zhao asked in surprise.
“It’s early since we got here early. Look at the people behind us. They probably won’t be able to turn in their grains until eight or nine tonight.”
Xu Zhao looked at the long line and instantly wilted. He obediently sat on the ox cart, walking as the sun slowly rose. All the villagers had started sweating. His heart moved, and he suddenly got an idea. He turned his head to look at Da Zhuang’s father.
Da Zhuang was shocked and asked, “What is it?”
“Brother, can you help me with something?” Xu Zhao said.
“What do you need help with?” Da Zhuang’s father asked.
“Help me look after Sanwa,” Xu Zhao said.
“Where are you going off to?”
“A friend of mine sells popsicles. I see a lot of people here and I want him to come here to sell or I can help him sell popsicles here.”
“That’s great,” Da Zhuang’s father simply said. “Go ahead.”
Xu Zhao said a sentence to Xu Fan then ran in large steps to Cui Qingfeng’s house to tell Cui Qingfeng his idea.
“Sell popsicles at the grain supply station?” Cui Qingfeng asked with surprise.
Xu Zhao nodded and said, “Yes.”
“But we need to deliver this to the steel factory.”
“We can send it to the steel factory an hour later. If we start now, we’ll be able to make it in time. Give me the ones you have already finished making.”
“Then how many popsicles are we going to make today?” Cui Qingfeng asked.
“A thousand,” Xu Zhao replied.
“Won’t that be too much?”
“No, you stay at home and I’ll sell it! We’ll definitely be able to sell it all!”
Xu Zhao quickly packed up the previously prepared popsicles, placed them inside the foam box, then tied it to the back of Cui Qingfeng’s bicycle. He then pedaled away from the Cui family’s house, completely unaware of the black car that slowly stopped behind him or the gaze of the man from inside the car. With his speed, he quickly arrived back at the grain supply station.
Xu Fan was very happily waddled towards Xu Zhao and quickly rushed forward, but was riding too fast and directly passed him. He (XF) hastily stopped again, his tiny body wobbling a bit, then turned to happily run back while shouting out “Daddy.” When he finally ran in front of Xu Zhao, he lifted his small face and excitedly said, “Daddy, you’re back?”
Xu Zhao was gasping for breath and didn’t have time to pay attention to Xu Fan.
Xu Fan kept his head raised and said again, “Daddy, you’re back?”
It was only then that Xu Zhao reached out his hand to pat Xu Fan’ small face to indicate that he was back.
Xu Fan happily turned his head to Da Zhuang and said, “My Daddy’s back!”
“What did you Daddy bring?” Da Zhuang asked.
“Popsicles,” Xu Fan said.
“Can I have one?” Da Zhuang asked.
“No,” Xu Fan simply refused.
“Why not?” Da Zhuang asked.
“Because popsicles cost money,” Xu Fan said.
“How much for one?”
Da Zhuang didn’t have any money. He thought for a second, then said, “Xu Fan, you ate my corn cob last night.”
Getting shocked speechless, Xu Fan lost his confidence as he looked at Da Zhuang.
Da Zhuang looked at Xu Fan.
After a long while, Xu Fan finally said, “Fine, I’ll give you a popsicle.”
Da Zhuang immediately ran to Xu Zhao’s side and said, “Uncle Xu, Sanwa said he’ll give me a popsicle.”
“Okay, here’s one for you.”
Xu Fan grabbed a mung bean popsicle for Da Zhuang then grabbed a red bean one for Xu Fan. The two boys sat on the ax cart, happily eating their popsicles.
Da Zhuang’s father helped Xu Zhao sell the popsicles. Xu Zhao’s box of popsicles came just at the right time. Everyone was currently very thirsty. Before long, the 200 popsicles were completely sold out for 60 Yuan.
When Xu Zhao rode the bicycle to take the foam box back, Cui Qingfeng was surprised and asked, “You sold out? So fast?”
“Mn, we’ll go again tomorrow.” Xu Zhao gave Cui Qingfeng 30 Yuan.
Cui Qingfeng gleefully smiled and said, “Xu Zhao, you’re amazing.”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “I’m alright. It’s nothing. I can’t help you make popsicles today. I still need to wait my turn to hand in the grain taxes. Moreover, I need to deliver food to my mom now.”
“Sure, go ahead. I can do it by myself,” Cui Qingfeng said.
“You’ve worked hard.”
“It’s nothing. You should go.”
Xu Zhao rode Cui Qingfeng’s bicycle to send food to the County Town Hospital Center and gave Mother Xu two Yuan as well. Afterwards, she returned the bike to Cui Qingfeng, then planned to return back to the grain supply station. First, he purchased an enamel jar full of wantons from a vendor, as well as two lunch boxes of garlic chives, and carried them back to the grain supply station, giving half of it to Da Zhuang’s father.
Da Zhuang’s father couldn’t refuse, and his heart warmed. Although the people of this era were poor, they were very honest and sincere. Da Zhuang’s father wasn’t a smooth speaker and didn’t have any pretty words to say. Instead, he could only say, “Xu Zhao, let this brother2He refers himself as ‘older brother’ to show he considers them close know if you need anything in the future. I’ll help you.”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Thank, Brother Li. I’ll definitely come find you if I need you.”
“No problem. Here, have a taste of your sister-in-law’s3Since they consider themselves brothers, Da Zhuang’s father’s wife is known as ‘sister-in-law’ stir-fried string beans.”
“You should eat as well.”
And so, Xu Zhao, Xu Fan, Da Zhuang’s father, and Da Zhuang, these two father-son duos, sat under the shade of the tree and ate lunch. The other people waiting to turn in their grain taxes were the same. The scene didn’t feel the slightest bit poverty-stricken.
This was especially the case for Xu Fan. Everything looked beautiful after a delicious meal.
“It’s delicious!” Xu Fan ate a bite of wanton with a healing smile on his face.
“There’s meat inside!” Da Zhuang pretended to say in a serious tone.
“Mn, a lot of meat.”
“There’s meat in each one of them.”
“My Daddy bought it.” Xu Fan had a face full of pride.
Xu Zhao and Da Zhuang’s father watched the two kids and laughed.
A black car parked in the distance finally moved at this time and slowly drove away from the grain supply station, driving all the way to Cui Qingfeng’s house. When Cui Qingfeng heard the noise, he turned his head and called, “Youngest uncle, is that you?”
“It’s me. What are you doing? Are you still making popsicles?”
Cui Qingfeng smiled and said, “Mn, we needed to make extra today.”
“I’ll help you.”
“No need. You should rest. Where did you drive off to earlier?”
“To see your friend.”
“Which friend?” Cui Qingfeng asked.
Cui Qingfeng immediately became nervous and asked, “Why did you go see him?”
“To see what kind of person he is?”
“And what do you think?” Cui Qingfeng asked.
“Not bad. You can continue doing business with him. Alright, you should continue making your popsicles. I’ll go see your dad.”
“Okay. By the way, Youngest Uncle, are you dating someone?”
“But there’s a pretty man who has asked for you a few times.” Cui Qingfeng knew that his youngest uncle liked men, and pretty ones at that. In fact, it hasn’t always been this way. More than two years ago, he suddenly liked thin and refined men.
“Okay, I got it.”
“Then you should go see Dad.”
Once Cui Qingfeng finished speaking, he busied himself with making popsicles. He thought of the assessment his youngest uncle gave to Xu Zhao: Not bad. His youngest uncle rarely praised others. “Not bad” was already very, very good. Happiness filled his heart, and the speed of his hands quickly tremendously.
Aware that Xu Zhao was handing in his grain tax, Cui Qingfeng took the pass to the steel factory and delivered the popsicles to the steel factory by himself. Afterwards, he went to the countryside to sell popsicles, then went to the intersection to continue selling popsicles. In the afternoon, Youngest Uncle was accompanying his dad to watch TV, so he finally had time to go to the grain supply station to visit Xu Zhao. After searching for a while, he finally found Xu Zhao at the entrance of the grain supply station.
Cui Qingfeng happily walked forward and called, “Xu Zhao.”
“Qingfeng, what are you doing here?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Came to see if you had handed in your grain taxes yet,” Cui Qingfeng said.
“Not yet, but soon. There’s still two ahead of us,” Xu Zhao replied.
“It should be soon then. By the way, did you see my youngest uncle earlier?” Cui Qingfeng asked.
“Your youngest uncle is back?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Yes. He said he saw you.”
“Saw me? Why don’t I know that?”
“That is strange.”
While they were speaking, it was finally Xu Zhao and Da Zhuang’s father turn to hand in their grain taxes.
Xu Zhao and Da Zhuang’s father suddenly became nervous.
“What’s wrong?” Cui Qingfeng inexplicably asked.
“Nervous,” Xu Zhao said.
“Nervous about what?”
“If we don’t pass the inspection, we’ll have to drag out wheat back home to sunbathe and filter again. It’s very troublesome. And if we don’t pass the inspection, we’ll have to pay a fine.”
“Is it that serious?” Cui Qingfeng also became nervous.
Just as Xu Zhao spoke, an inspector holding a grooved stick poked inside the sack before pulling out again, the grooved stick bringing out a number of wheat grains. The inspector teased them first, then looked to inspect the cleanliness of the wheat. The loudspeaker sounded “Civilians handing in grain taxes, you cannot mix in fake materials.” For this reason, the inspection was very serious as the inspector reached out to pinch a grain and slowly tasted it.
Seeing the inspector slowly taste it, Xu Zhao, Da Zhuang’s father, and even Xu Fan and Da Zhuang all held their breath in anticipation, waiting for the inspector to speak.