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Mother and Father Xu were stunned. The two elders had lived here for most of their life. From a grass hut to a thatched hut to a tiled house. Finally, after Xu Zuocheng and his brother made a fuss, they returned to this small courtyard. They never thought about moving before.
“Move to where?” Mother Xu asked, flabbergasted.
“Move to the county town or beside Da Zhuang’s home,” Xu Zhao replied.
“How could villagers like us move to the county town?” Mother Xu feared moving to the county town a bit.
Xu Zhao retreated a bit and said, “Then we can move next to Da Zhuang’s house first.”
“The land beside Da Zhuang’s house is uncultivated land,” Mother Xu reminded.
“That’s perfect. It’s the perfect place to build a house,” Xu Zhao answered.
“But it costs a lot of money to build a house. We—”
“Mom, I have money.”
“It costs too much money to build a house. Besides, your dad definitely won’t agree. He—”
Mother Xu hadn’t spoken yet when the cries of the children came from next door again as well as the scolding from Xu Zuocheng and the Xu family’s second sister-in-law. They didn’t dare come over here to make a cuss, but they did it all they wanted from their side. Saying it was for the “18 generations” or “teachings start at the root” or “scolding will make them better.” It was clear that they were just using Xu Dawa and Xu Erwa to scold Father Xu and the ancestors of the Xu family.
Father Xu’s face turned green. He was unwilling to move. He had so many emotions and attachments to his courtyard that he was unwilling to leave it. However, after hearing the insistent yelling from next door, he immediately said, “Move. Let’s move. We won’t live here. We’ll leave this place!”
Mother Xu was stunned from hearing this. She clearly knew that regardless of how Xu Zuocheng and the other brother acted, they were still Father Xu’s biological sons. Father Xu hoped the two brothers would be good. However, seeing as how Xu Zuocheng would even curse his ancestors, could Father Xu not get angry?
Mother Xu quickly tried to calm down Father Xu.
“Alright. I’ll make a plan first,” Xu Zhao continued.
Mother Xu nodded and agreed.
Cui Dingchen raised his gaze to look at Xu Zhao, not saying anything. He was entertained by Mother Xu during the meal instead. It wasn’t until the meal had finished and cleared up that Cui Dingchen said to Xu Zhao, “Didn’t you say you would move to the county town?”
“I don’t have enough money,” Xu Zhao said bluntly.
“How much are you missing?” Cui Dingchen asked.
Xu Zhao teased and asked, “Are you going to lend it to me?”
“I can,” Cui Dingchen honestly said. In fact, as long as Xu Zhao said the word, he could even buy a small courtyard in the county town for him.
However, Xu Zhao had always strived for self-improvement. He smiled and said, “No need. I can earn money by myself. There’s no rush right now. Besides, I have other plans for staying in the village.”
“What plans?” Cui Dingchen asked in bewilderment
“It’s still just an idea. I’ll tell you once I actually formulate the plan,” Xu Zhao said.
Cui Dingchen didn’t keep insisting. They chatted until they walked in front of the black compact car. Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao and asked, “Are you guys going to the county town?”
“We’ll go tomorrow. I have to handle some matters at home today. I’ll go tomorrow to calculate the money from the mooncakes as well as Old Liu’s travel expenses and fee for his hard work,” Xu Zhao said.
“Okay, then I’m leaving.” Cui Dingchen had just opened the car door and hadn’t gotten on yet when he sensed a small and plump ball by his leg. He lowered his head and saw the little chubby child, Xu Fan. His voice was a lot gentler than usual when he asked, “What do you want?”
Xu Fan lifted his small plump face and said, “Second Grandpa Cui, I also want to ride the big car.”
“Get on,” Cui Dingchen didn’t refuse.
“I can’t open the door.” If he was able to open the door, he’d have climbed in a long time ago.
Cui Dingchen reached out and opened the car’s back door.
Xu Fan quickly moved his short legs and happily climbed into the back seat while puffing and huffing. Before he could climb up, he suddenly stopped and looked inside the car. It was empty. Daddy wasn’t inside. And so, he quickly slid out of the car, stood by the door, and looked everywhere before seeing Xu Zhao standing by the road. He worriedly asked, “Daddy, why aren’t you getting on?”
Xu Zhao was immediately amused by Xu Fan’s actions and asked instead, “Why would I get in the car?”
Xu Fan blinked his watery eyes and answered, “To go to the county town.”
Xu Zhao smiled and asked, “Why would I go to the county town?”
“It’s too cold. No one is eating popsicles anymore.”
Xu Fan choked up a bit, and he thought before saying, “T-t-then let’s just ride the big car.”
“We’re not riding in it. Come here,” Xu Zhao said with a smile.
Not riding the big car?
Xu Fan was definitely unwilling, his small hand clutched against the car door as he said, “I want to ride the big car.”
Xu Zhao waved to Xu Fan and said, “We’re not riding. Come here and let Second Grandpa Cui go home. We’ll go to the county town tomorrow.”
Xu Fan was still leaning against the door. “I want to ride the big car.”
“We won’t ride it today,” Xu Zhao said.
“I want to ride,” Xu Fan said.
Xu Zhao relented a bit and said, “Then how about you go to the county town with Second Grandpa Cui.”
“No. I want to go to the county town with Daddy.”
“Daddy isn’t going to the county town.”
“Daddy is going.”
Xu Zhao and Xu Fan threw out line after line. Cui Dingchen, who was sitting in the driver’s seat actually didn’t find it annoying. Instead, he felt it was very soothing. Once Xu Fan reluctantly walked to Xu Zhao’s side, Xu Zhao wished him (CDC) a safe trip back. A flash of reluctance to leave them flashed through his heart before he started the car and left South Bay Village. From the rearview mirror, he saw South Bay Village getting further and further. He stopped the car, and felt the middle console for his pack of chienmen cigarettes, and saw there was only one stick left.
He pulled out the last stick, lighting it with a lighter, and with the rising smoke, his heart finally calmed down and his thoughts drifted far away, and further still. Once the cigarette was about to burn out, he finally returned to his senses.. He put out the cigarette in the ashtray, and continued to drive the car toward the county town. He pulled outside of Fan’s Little Shop and saw Cui Qingfeng. Cui Qingfeng was anxiously looking all over.
“Qingfeng,” Cui Dingchen called.
“Youngest uncle.” Cui Qingfeng only just saw Cui Dingchen. “Youngest uncle, you’re back.”
“Mn. Give me a pack of cigarettes.”
“Okay.” Cui Qingfeng gave Cui Dingchen a packet of cigarettes, his line of sight couldn’t help but move to look back on the road.
“What are you looking at?” Cui Dingchen asked.
“Looking for Xu Zhao. Xu Zhao said he was coming to the county town today. Why didn’t he come?” Cui Qingfeng answered.
Cui Dingchen took the pack of cigarettes and put it in the center console. He gave Cui Qingfeng a Yuan and said, “He’ll come tomorrow.”
“Why?” Cui Qingfeng asked, “Why won’t he be coming until tomorrow?”
Cui Dingchen said in a normal tone, “His two older brothers caused some trouble last night. The second brother was arrested and taken to the police station. So he (XZ) is currently at home handling the situation. That’s why he won’t come here until tomorrow.”
“Arrested by the police?” Cui Qingfeng was startled, and worriedly asked, “Is Xu Zhao okay?”
“He’s fine. He told you to watch after the shop. That’s how it is. I’m heading back.”
After Cui Dingchen drove away, Cui Qingfeng finally came back to his senses. How did his youngest uncle know about Xu Zhao’s situation? Thinking about it, it seemed there wasn’t anything his youngest uncle didn’t know, so he didn’t worry about it anymore. Instead, he listened to Xu Zhao’s words and watched the store. He couldn’t help but wonder what Xu Zhao was currently doing.
Xu Zhao was in the middle of pacifying Xu Fan who wasn’t able to ride in the big car. Xu Fan was very unhappy and needed coddling before he felt better. And so, Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan as they strolled around the village. He called it a stroll, but he was actually examining the uncultivated land beside Da Zhuang’s house. It really was uncultivated land and it was full of potholes and bumps. Since a lot of people walked through it, it had also become a road.
After Xu Zhao finished examining it, he carried Xu Fan to Da Zhuang’s house to look for Da Zhuang’s father. Since Da Zhuang’s father was injured, he very simply told him his plan of building a tiled house. Afterward, he carried Xu Fan out for another stroll, and they walked around until Xu Fan was happy. When they arrived home, it was already evening, and the kerosene lamp inside the kitchen was lit.
Xu Zhao inherited Mother Xu’s frugality. He moved a chair over, held his small notebook, and started balancing his books under the kerosene lamp in the kitchen. He calculated the total, the costs, labor costs, profits, as well as Cui Qingfeng’s portion. Cui Qingfeng had previously very clearly stated that they could equally split the profits from Fan’s Little Shop, but they couldn’t equally split the profits for the mooncakes. He didn’t put forth any strength, ideas, or time into this, so Cui Qingfeng only needed a bit of wages. The rest should belong to Xu Zhao.
Therefore, after calculating everything, Xu Zhao made a total profit of 4,185.67. While in the city, he saved 380 Yuan, so he still had over 380 Yuan on hand.
The maximum denomination in this era was ten Yuan. Xu Zhao took over 380 Yuan from under the bamboo mat and placed it on the chair. While he was counting the money one by one, Mother and Father Xu were completely startled.
“Wow! So much money!” Xu Fan was the first to exclaim.
After Mother and Father Xu were startled, pride suddenly swelled up thinking that their own son was so capable. Their hearts couldn’t help but feel relaxed and joyful. Mother Xu especially warned Xu Zhao, “Quickly put the money away so you don’t lose it.”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Mom, don’t worry. We won’t lose it. We’ll spend it tomorrow.”
“Why will we spend it tomorrow?” Mother Xu doubtfully asked.
“To buy clothes.”
“What kind of clothes needs this much money?”
“For you, Dad, and Xu Fao to pass the winter. We’ll buy some sheets and other things as well,” Xu Fan said.
“Don’t spend so much. Once the soybeans are sold in a few days, I’ll buy them.”
“No, I’ll buy it.”
“I’ll also buy,” Xu Fan added at this time.
Mother Xu looked at Xu Fan and asked, “Little fellow, what do you want to buy?”
“I want to buy clothes. Pretty clothes! I want to look as good as Daddy,” Xu Fan said.
“You stinky vain little guy.” Mother Xu smiled.
Xu Fan immediately added, “I smell good and look good!”
Mother Xu laughed.
Father Xu lovingly pinched Xu Fan’s small plump face.
Xu Fan happily drilled into Xu Zhao’s embrace.
In the midst of the family’s happiness, Xu Zuocheng and his wife’s fighting came from next door. Their voices were extremely loud, and they also pulled Xu Zhao, Mother Xu, and Xu Fan into their fight. Although they didn’t explicitly say it, the sentence “the child that came from one’s own belly is more precious” weren’t they talking about them? Mother Xu was furious and wanted to go next door to yell at them, but Xu Zhao pulled her back.
“Mom, don’t lower yourself to their level. There’s no need,” Xu Zhao said.
“Her words are too offensive,” Mother Xu angrily said.
“Pretend you didn’t hear it.”
“Alright, Mom. Sit down and eat.”
Xu Zhao persuaded Mother Xu and secretly decided in his heart. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. They would start preparing to build the tiled house tomorrow to quickly get far away from here. Moreover, he also needed to take Mother Xu and Father Xu to the county town tomorrow so that he didn’t have to worry. While he was thinking of this, a wail came from next door again. Someone was crying again.