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“Daddy, Dawa is crying.” Xu Fan was able to recognize Xu Dawa’s voice.
“Mn,” Xu Zhao answered.
“Why is Dawa crying?”
“I don’t know. Don’t worry about him and come here to wash your hands.”
Xu Zhao put away the over 300 Yuan, then pulled Xu Fan to squat beside the porcelain basin and used fragrant soap to wash his hands. They then gathered around the chopping board to eat dinner.
Meanwhile, noise could be heard nonstop from next door. However, it didn’t seem to affect Xu Zhao in the slightest, and Xu Zhao didn’t allow Mother or Father Xu to do anything else so that they don’t fall for Xu Zuocheng’s scheme.
It wasn’t until dinner finished that next door finally settled down. Xu Zhao then gave Xu Fan a bath. In the past, he could bathe Xu Fan in the courtyard, but now that it had gotten colder, he could only carry Xu Fan, who was sitting in the wooden basin, into the thatched hut to be washed.
“Daddy, Dawa isn’t crying anymore,” Xu Fan’s hand clutched the edge of the basin as he said.
“Mn,” Xu Zhao replied.
“Don’t speak anymore and don’t move. Let’s wash up.”
“You’re still talking.”
“…” Xu Zhao wasn’t courteous with Xu Fan and directly tickled Xu Fan until he was giggling nonstop. Even until after he climbed onto the bed, he still very mischievously said, “Daddy, come. Daddy, come and tickle.”
Tickle, my ass!
Xu Zhao directly put the torn Dudou on Xu Fan, put him on Mother Xu’s bed, then washed himself. He went to the courtyard to wash their clothes and washed Cui Dingchen’s handkerchief as well.
After washing, he sat in the courtyard, thinking. It was already autumn. Although South Bay Village was hot during the day, it was cool at night. They stopped selling popsicles a week ago, and their revenue will be halved in the future. However, he still had the contacts he’d accumulated. Just because they weren’t selling popsicles or mooncakes anymore, that didn’t mean he could lose these markets. As he was thinking this, a milky voice came from inside the thatched hut.
It was Xu Fan again.
“What is it?
“Come hug me to sleep.”
T-this was such a sweet burden. Xu Fan stood up and quickly entered Mother and Father Xu’s thatched hut. He carried out Xu Fan, who was wearing the torn Dudou, and before he could even enter his own thatched hut, a cool breeze blew over. Xu Fan shivered and immediately hugged Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao quickly hugged Xu Fan and entered the thatched hut. As they were laying on the bed, they heard the wind whistling outside the window. They could feel the taste of winter. It was time to buy new clothes and quilts.
And so, the next morning after they ate breakfast, not only did Xu Zhao bring Xu Fan with him, he also brought Mother and Father Xu. When the family arrived in the county town, he had Mother and Father Xu watch the store for a bit while Xu Zhao and Cui Qingfeng went to the Cui residence together.
Mother Cui hadn’t seen Xu Fan for half a month. She quickly hugged him in her embrace as she fed him food.
Xu Fan chatted with Mother Cui as he ate.
Mother Cui’s gaze was gentle as she asked, “Sanwa, did you think about Grandma Cui?”
“Yes,” Xu Fan replied.
“What did you think about me?”
“I thought about Grandma Cui… thought… I can’t remember.”
Mother Cui laughed when she heard this. She hugged Xu Fan in her arms and kissed him lovingly.
Cui Qingfeng listened and laughed along.
Xu Zhao didn’t pay attention to Xu Fan and followed Cui Qingfeng into the main hall instead. Just as they entered, Cui Dingchen, who wore a white shirt, came out from the west wing. Since he had an outstanding appearance and he was tall, he looked especially good.
“Youngest uncle, why haven’t you gone to work yet? You usually leave really early. What happened today?” Cui Qingfeng asked in doubt.
“I’m going now,” Cui Dingchen asked expressionlessly.
“Are you coming back home for lunch?”
“Depends on the situation. It’s a bit busy today.”
“If you’re coming back, call us beforehand,” Cui Qingfeng said.
“I will.” Cui Dingchen’s gaze shifted to Xu Zhao. He then nodded a greeting to him before leaving.
Xu Zhao turned to Cui Qingfeng and discussed Old Liu’s wage with him first. He then gave Old Liu’s wage to Cui Qingfeng, asking him to give it to Cui Dingchen.
Afterward, Xu Zhao and Cui Qingfeng calculated the income from the past few days. Fan’s Little Shop’s income was split in half, the wages from the Mid-Autumn Festival, and the 200 that was borrowed previously all added up to a total of 425.60. He handed it all to Cui Qingfeng.
Cui Qingfeng didn’t act unreasonable and accepted it. However, he knew that besides the popsicle business in which he did together with Xu Zhao, everything else Xu Zhao had done by himself. Therefore, Fan’s Little Shop’s business in the future, he won’t take a share in it. He really didn’t play a big role, he only put forth some effort. It didn’t matter how Xu Zhao tried to convince him, he wouldn’t take advantage of Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao looked at Cui Qingfeng with doubt and asked, “Why would you think you’re taking advantage?”
Cui Qingfeng smiled and said, “I didn’t think of it.”
“Then who did?”
“My dad. My dad said that brothers should have clear accounts between each other, and that one should have self-awareness.”
“Your dad is right.”
“Of course or else how did he teach me and my youngest uncle to be so exceptional?”
Xu Zhao smiled and nodded. Cui Qingfeng and Cui Dingchen were very exceptional, both in their appearance and thoughts. Especially Cui Dingchen; he was very worthy of the word “exceptional.”
“However,” Cui Qingfeng switched the topic, “If you have any good ideas and need any manpower, I can help you any time and earn some income.”
“Okay,” Xu Zhao agreed.
“Then what do you plan to do next?”
“Buy clothes?” Cui Qingfeng immediately became serious.
“It’s fall. I want to buy new clothes for my whole family. As well as quilts and other things,” Xu Zhao said.
“…So that’s it.”
“Mn. As for business, I’ll think it over some more. Once I’ve thought it over, I’ll discuss it with you.”
“Alright. I’ll help you watch Fan’s Little Shop. You guys go buy some clothes.”
After the accounts were settled, Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan to Fan’s Little Shop. Then they went with Mother Xu to the county town’s Middle Street to buy clothes. Once they finished buying his and Xu Fan’s clothes, Mother Xu said that she didn’t want anything and it was a waste of money to buy clothes for her and Father Xu. She said they had enough clothes to wear, and after discussing it, Mother Xu said she wanted to buy cloth and she can just make the clothes for themselves at home.
Xu Zhao wasn’t able to persuade Mother Xu, so he agreed.
Xu Zhao then carried Xu Fan to buy two more cotton quilt, cotton batting, men’s overcoats, a thermos flask, blankets, corduroy fabric, a pair of leather shoes, a pair of sturdy shoes, a radio, some batteries, and a brand new bicycle. While shopping, Mother Xu constantly pointed out what they didn’t need and to not buy this and that. However, Xu Zhao bought it all. Moreover, he clearly told Mother Xu that all these things were very useful and that he didn’t randomly purchase them.
“What’s the use of a radio,” Mother Xu asked.
“To hear the weather forecast,” Xu Zhao said.
“What about the bicycle?”
“I can’t always ride Qingfeng’s bicycle.”
Mother Xu had nothing to say.
As a result, after buying these things, Xu Zhao bought even more. He bought vegetables and meats, resulting in the ox cart being completely full. In order to prevent Xu Zuocheng from seeing all the things inside the ox car and becoming greedy, Xu Zhao didn’t return home right away. Instead, he stayed in Fan’s Little Shop until it got dark. Afterward, Xu Zhao had Father Xu and Xu Fan ride the ox cart while he and Mother Xu pushed it together.
The autumn night wind bought a cold chill that made them feel comfortable. Accompanied by family, even if they were surrounded by darkness, they didn’t feel alone. Xu Zhao was in a very happy mood.
At this time, Mother Xu couldn’t help but let out a sigh as she said, “Our country is so great!”
Xu Zhao smiled and asked, “Mom, why do you suddenly feel moved by our country?”
“Our country has let us have a good life.”
“Mn. We definitely needed to have our country first before we could have money.”
“And we don’t have to pay the grain tax on our soybeans this year,” Mother Xu said happily.
“We don’t have to pay grain tax on our soybeans?” Xu Zhao was very surprised.
Mother Xu smiled and said, “That’s right. Look how happy the people inside and outside the city are. They’re even starting to spend money extravagantly, and are willing to buy vegetables now. They’re probably taking advantage of the bumper harvest to eat more. They won’t be able to eat much in the winter.”
“Why can’t they eat much in the winter?” Xu Zhao asked curiously.
“Just look at yourself. Don’t you know what you ate last winter? Wasn’t it just salted vegetables and mixed buns? What other vegetables were there? There were no vegetables.”
This sentence echoed in Xu Zhao’s head. That was right. There were no vegetables in the winter. Yes, they couldn’t eat vegetables in the winter here. Xu Zhao suddenly became a bit excited. He wanted to talk with someone, but he couldn’t express his meaning in a couple words to Mother Xu.
So after returning home, he quickly found his own small notebook and wrote down his ideas. He even drew a picture and attached it to the house he wanted to build. He then took the drawing and went to find Da Zhuang’s father.
Before going to look for Da Zhuang’s father, he remembered that he bought some pork for him. So he went to the kitchen and brought it out. Just as he stepped out of the courtyard, Xu Fan pattered up and raised his small arms, asking Xu Zhao to carry him.
Xu Zhao could only carry Xu Fan to Da Zhuang’s house. He didn’t foresee Da Zhuang’s house having guests. However, it seemed that they had finished speaking and the guests were leaving. Xu Zhao handed the pork to Da Zhuang’s mother, and after shoving the meat back and force, Xu Zhao was finally able to extract himself and head to Da Zhuang’s father’s bedside. Seeing Da Zhuang’s father furrow his brows like he had on his mind, he was a bit worried.
“Brother Li, are you uncomfortable anywhere?” Xu Zhao asked.
“My heart feels uncomfortable,” Da Zhuang’s mother said.
“There’s no way to go out to make money, so we’re worried,” Da Zhuang’s mother said.
“What do you mean go out to make money?” Xu Zhao asked.
Da Zhuang’s mother immediately explained to Xu Zhao, saying that she had a relative who went out to work for half a year and made close to 200 Yuan. When they came back on August 15, they said that their factory was lacking workers, and he could take 10 people to work with him. Everyone was fighting to get a position, but considering our familial relationship, he came to find Da Zhuang’s father. Da Zhuang’s father wanted to go.
However, Da Zhuang’s father was injured, and Da Zhuang’s mother was heavily pregnant. Da Zhuang’s grandparents were old. He couldn’t leave and had no way to make money, so he was sulking.
After Xu Zhao heard this, he turned to Da Zhuang’s father and said, “Brother Li, don’t you know how to build houses? You can earn money by building houses. You don’t need to go to other places.”
“Who would build houses everyday? Besides, you don’t make that much. It’s almost winter. We have to pass the new year, and your sister-in-law will give birth soon after. Da Zhuang also has to attend school. Everything needs money. If I can’t earn some money, our days won’t go well,” Da Zhuang’s father said.
Xu Zhao thought for a moment, then said, “Brother Li, if you don’t mind, after you build a house for my family, why don’t you work for me?”
Da Zhuang’s father was stunned and asked, “Work for you? Doing what?”
Xu Zhao looked at Da Zhuang’s father and clearly said, “Growing vegetables.”
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