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Cui Qingfeng made five cents in two minutes, and happily collected the money. When he turned around, he saw Xu Zhao staring at him, and he curiously asked, “Xu Zhao, why are you looking at me?”
Xu Zhao returned to his senses and said, “Cui Qingfeng, I want to ask you something.”
When Cui Qingfeng heard that Xu Zhao had something to ask him, he couldn’t help but be filled with joy and enthusiastically asked, “What is it?”
“Where did you get the popsicles?”
“In the county town. Why? Do you also want to sell popsicles?”
Xu Zhao nodded.
“Do you really want to sell popsicles?” Cui Qingfeng asked in shock.
Xu Zhao considered it for a moment, then said, “Mn, that’s why I was thinking.”
Cui Qingfeng looked at Xu Zhao with surprise. These past few years, the whole country put all their efforts in developing agriculture to obtain a bumper harvest that they have prohibited and oppressed businesspeople. Even small businesses have been said to be speculative behavior and seen in a negative light. All transactions done by the common folk were done in private, and there no one was brazen enough to do business so openly.
It was only in the last couple years that a limited number of people went to sea to do business, and small businesses started to become popular in the market.
At first, Cui Qingfeng thought the same as everyone else and was affected by the “four classes”1Landlord, peasant, craftsmen, and merchant. and looked down upon merchants. However, his youngest uncle didn’t think this way. He said that the agricultural industry had developed to a certain degree already and that commodity businesses will inevitably come back. The industry didn’t care about who was rich or poor, they were all needed. Overall, people will do what is most convenient for themselves. Commercialization will become more and more widespread in the future, and if one wanted to become successful, they had to strike at the most opportune moment. This was the only way to impress the others.
At first, Cui Qingfeng didn’t understand what his youngest uncle was saying. However, after listening to his youngest uncle and striking out on his small business to make pocket money, those relatives and friends who once looked down on him for being bad at studying became much friendlier than him. Earlier, he thought that Xu Zhao would have similar thinking as the others and look down on his popsicles business. He didn’t expect Xu Zhao to actually be willing to stand on the same battlefield as him. This gave him a sense of belonging. He was extremely happy and thought that Xu Zhao truly isn’t like the others. He had a vision just like his youngest uncle!
“You can do it,” Cui Qingfeng excitedly said.
“Don’t you feel that I’m stealing your business?” Xu Zhao asked.
“How could that be! Even without you, there will be others who will enter the popsicles business.” Cui Qingfeng lowered his voice and said, “Xu Zhao, let me tell you. The factory price of one popsicle costs about two to three cents, and you can sell them for three to five cents. It’s very profitable. This year is a bumper year, so all industries are having a good harvest.”
“How many popsicles can you sell in a day?” Xu Zhao asked.
“A hundred or so. I can make about two dollars a day, and about fifty to sixty dollars a month. It’s more money than you can make in town.”
“That’s a lot, but you can make even more,” Xu Zhao said.
“Then let’s earn money together, and go on separately routes to hawk.” Cui Qingfeng was very happy that Xu Zhao praised him, and didn’t think too closely about the meaning behind Xu Zhao’s words. Instead, he anxiously asked, “When do you want to go with me to replenish stock?”
Xu Zhao thought about it then said, “I’ll need to wait two more days.”
“Why wait two days?”
“I need to gather all the wheat.” Actually, it’s because he had no money. His whole body didn’t possess a single cent.
“I’ll help you gather them.”
“No need. It’s only four tenths mu. I’ll finish cutting them in no time. You should quickly go sell your popsicles or else they’ll melt. You should quickly god.”
Cui Qingfeng happily pushed his bicycle away while hawking, “Selling iced popsicles.”
Xu Fan pulled back his line of sight, then turned to Xu Fan.
Xu Fan stood at the edge of the field, sucking on his fingertips. His eyes were unable to leave Cui Qingfeng’s box of popsicles, and saliva had already soaked his fingers like they were washing them. The sight was really too unbearable.
Xu Zhao pulled Xu Fan’s fingers out of his mouth, and used his clothes to wipe them, then said, “Do you want to eat popsicles?”
Xu Fan nodded.
“Daddy will have money in two days and will buy it for you then, okay?”
“Go play under the shade of the tree for now.”
“Now, don’t eat your hands.”
Xu Fan didn’t make a fuss about wanting to eat them, and obediently sat under the shade of the tree, and started to pick up the surrounding wheat grains again. Each piece of grain was placed in his pocket.
Xu Zhao continued to bend over to cut wheat for more than two hours. After finally finishing, he called out to Xu Fan. When they were about to head home, Cui Qingfeng hurriedly rode his bike over and said to Xu Zhao with an apologetic look, “Xu Zhao, I’m sorry. I was so excited to see you earlier that I only just now realized that I didn’t give you guys any popsicles.”
Xu Zhao hurriedly refused.
Cui Qingfeng said he wanted to give some for Xu Zhao and Xu Fan to eat, and the two continued to push about this. In the end, Xu Zhao accepted the frozen treat for Xu Fan to eat. Afterwards, he urged Cui Qingfeng to hurry home to rest since it was too hot outside.
Xu Fan grabbed the frozen treat, his two watery eyes sparkling. In his two years of life, he was only able to watch Xu Dawa and Erwa2Probably his child name. Erwa literally means ‘second child.’ Although they’re not by the same fathers, the children of brothers will usually still be named by their birth order. eat popsicles. This was his first time personally eating frozen treats and he found it strange and he was really happy. After giving Xu Zhao a bite, he was reluctant to eat it, so he slowly took small licks, and licked the ice cream all the way home. There was still more than half leftover when they arrived home. As soon as they got home, Xu Dawa and Xu Erwa had their eyes on it. When Xu Zhao went to the bathroom, they took the chance to stop Xu Fan.
Xu Dawa said, “Kid, where did you get the frozen treat? Where did you steal it from? Hand it over!”
Xu Erwa said, “Little Xu Fan, give the ice cream to your second brother now.”
“No. This is my dad’s. My dad’s classmate gave it to me.” Xu Fan took two steps back and used his small hands to shield the ice cream.
Xu Dawa reached his hand towards Xu Fan, “Second brother, I’m not giving it to you or eldest Brother.”
Xu Fan twisted his body so his back was towards Xu Dawa. “Eldest Brother, I’m not giving it to you.”
Xu Dawa had a stiff face when he asked, “Are you handing it over or not?”
Xu Dawa raised his voice, “Kid, I’ll ask you one more time. Are you handing it over or not?”
Xu Fan gripped the ice cream and headed towards the bathroom. However, he was still only a small and skinny two-year-old child. He couldn’t compare to the tall and chubby seven-year-old Xu Dawa and five-year-old Xu Erwa. He hadn’t taken two steps before he was grabbed by them, and the ice cream was snatched from his hands.
“That’s mine! Mine! Ahhh, it’s mine!” Xu Fan grabbed Xu Dawa’s clothes and yelled, “It’s mine!”
“Move aside!” Xu Dawa pushed Xu Fan down and lifted his leg, getting ready to kick Xu Fan.
“Xu Dawa! What are you doing!” Xu Zhao yelled in a stern voice when came out of the bathroom.
“Xu Dawa was so startled that he never managed to land the kick. However, when he saw that it was Xu Zhao, he thought of how weak and incompetent Xu Zhao normally was, the fear he held disappeared.
Xu Erwa was even more ruthless and gave Xu Zhao the stink eye.
Xu Zhao ignored the two brats, and strode forward. He picked up Xu Fan and quickly carried him away. He also snatched the ice cream in Xu Dawa’s hand back and quickly walked away. Everything happened so fast that Xu Dawa didn’t have time to react before the ice cream in his hand had already disappeared. He had just received a scolding from Xu Zhao who was also now staring knife-like daggers at him. He was immediately angered and started crying and wailing about how Third Uncle had stolen his ice cream. Afterwards, he left the yard to look for Xu Zuocheng.
Xu Erwa saw Xu Dawa crying as he left, and he also started wailing as he left.
Xu Fan also cried.
Xu Zhao anxiously asked, “Xu Fan, what’s wrong?”
Xu Fan’s tears fell as he used his small hands to rub his lower leg, “It hurts.”
Xu Zhao rubbed his hand against Xu Fan’s trouser legs to take a look. Xu Fan’s leg was already rubbed dry and the skin had broken with blood dripping down.
Xu Dawa was too ruthless!
Xu Zhao’s heart started hurting. This poor household didn’t have any kind of disinfectant medicine or any cloth to wrap it up. Xu Zhao could only use fresh water to clean the wound and hoped that the wound would quickly scab and not get infected.
“Does it still hurt?” Xu Zhao asked.
Xu Fan sat on the small stool inside the thatched hut, and licked his ice cream while saying, “It doesn’t hurt anymore.”
“Is the ice cream good?”
“Good. Daddy, you eat too.”
“Daddy had it before. Eat it by yourself.”
“Daddy, have another bite. It’s really good.” Xu Fan rose the ice cream to Xu Zhao’s mouth, his clear eyes didn’t have a trace of impurity.
Being kind is difficult.
Xu Zhao took another bite. Truthfully speaking, the ice cream in this era didn’t taste good. The flavors were too strong, and the ratios of the milk, rice, and flavoring were incorrect. However, Xu Fan and the others were eating it with relish. If it was made according to his ideas, then wouldn’t it be even more popular? Another idea popped into Xu Zhao’s heart, and as he was thinking, Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng’s shouting came from outside the door.
“Xu Zhao, come out!”
Xu Fan was scared and started shivering as he climbed up Xu Zhao’s body.
Xu Zhao reached out to pat Xu Fan’s back and said, “It’s alright. Don’t be scared. Daddy is here.”
Xu Fan timidly said, “Eldest Uncle and Second Uncle are scary.”
“Don’t be scared. Daddy is even scarier. Stay here and sit. Daddy will go out and see what’s going on.”
“I’ll go too.”
“Listen to Daddy.”
“Then, come back soon, Daddy.”
Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan to the bed and had Xu Fan slowly enjoy the ice cream. He then adjusted his own mood. Because of attending school and giving birth to a child while unmarried, the original Xu Zhao suffered too many grievances, and he had to endure a lot. It was enough already.
Xu Zhao always thought that the original Xu Zhao had never done anything wrong. Even if they did spend a lot of money to send Xu Zhao to school, not to mention the fact that of the three Xu brothers, Xu Zhao was the only one who liked studying. Moreover, the money the family spent to send the original Xu Zhao to school for those couple of years, the original Xu Zhao had already paid it back. As for having a child out of wedlock… The only thing that can be said is that the original Xu Zhao was the victim. If they wanted to blame anyone, the only person that could be blamed was the bastard playboy who knocked him up. Why did Xu Zhao have to endure this? And why did Little Xu Fan have to endure it with him?
Xu Zhao wasn’t one to endure things! And he wasn’t planning to put up with anything.
Since God arranged for him to come here, then God must have a plan for him. He won’t continue walking the path of the original Xu Zhao. He will walk his own path.
He fixed his clothes, walked to the door of the thatched hut and opened it. He slightly bowed his head to exit the low thatched hut. When he stood outside of the hut, he stood straight, his eyes were clear, and his face calm. For some unknown reason, he gave off a light that made others unable to look straight at him.
When the overbearing Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng saw this, their imposing pressure was inexplicably cut down by half.
Oho, shit’s about to go down. (￢‿￢ )