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Dropping off the books?
Xu Zhao was a beat too slow in replying. It was books related to crops. He had only asked him in the afternoon, yet Cui Dingchen had actually brought them over in the same evening. This really surprised him. He looked at Cui Dingchen in surprise, and asked in disbelief, “Youngest uncle, are these books related to crops?”
“Mn.” Cui Dingchen nodded.
“So fast?” Cui Dingchen’s speed in doing things was really too quick.
“I just so happened to find these books on the way,” Cui Dingchen calmly said.
“Thank you, Youngest uncle,” Xu Zhao happily said.
“Mn. Here you go.”
Xu Zhao immediately reached out to accept them. He quickly used the light from the headlights to read the general titles.
Cui Dingchen very politely greeted Mother and Father Xu.
The two elders enthusiastically invited Cui Dingchen inside the courtyard.
Xu Zhao hurriedly placed the books in the west wing, and had the two elders take Xu Fan back to continue eating. He grabbed the flashlight and took Cui Dingchen to look around the new house. Then, under Cui Dingchen’s request, the two walked toward the greenhouse. Xu Zhao used the flashlight to help illuminate the path for Cui Dingchen so that Cui Dingchen didn’t trip or something. He was very attentive.
Cui Dingchen couldn’t help but look at Xu Zhao.
“Youngest uncle, what’s wrong?” Xu Zhao asked with doubt.
Cui Dingchen said with a deep voice, “I’m not Little Fatty. You don’t have to look after me like this.”
Xu Zhao was helpless and defended Xu Fan, “Youngest uncle, he’s not Little Fatty. He’s called Xu Sanwa. Also, he’s not fat. He’s the perfect size. Don’t call him Little Fatty in the future. It’ll give him psychological shadows.”
Cui Dingchen was dazed for a moment before saying, “You’re really protective of him.”
“…” Of course. If he didn’t protect his son, then who would?
Cui Dingchen no longer dwelled on this problem, and strode toward the greenhouse.
Xu Zhao followed with the flashlight.
When they arrived at the greenhouse, Cui Dingchen took the flashlight and carefully examined the inside before walking the perimeter once. “Did you dig the ditch to protect against the cold?” he very professionally asked.
“Yes,” Xu Zhao answered.
“Of what size?” Cui Dingchen asked.
“60 centimeters deep and 50 centimeters wide,” Xu Zhao replied.
“What did you put in it?”
“Sawdust, weeds, straw, and cow manure.”
Hearing this, Cui Dingchen nodded, then continued to ask, “Did you buy all the seeds?”
Xu Zhao replied, “Yes. I did a test run and planted them as well. They grew very well.”
“Test run?” Cui Dingchen was a bit surprised.
Next up, Xu Zhao brought Cui Dingchen to the utility room. There were three foam boxes inside, and the top of those three foam boxes was a small version of a greenhouse. Eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, and Chinese cabbage were planted inside those greenhouses, and tiny seedlings had sprouted from all of them. Of them, the Chinese cabbage had already grown as tall as a finger.
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao with amazement, “You did all of this?”
Xu Zhao nodded and said, “I was worried I bought fake seeds or that there was a problem with the moisture content of the spoil and other things like that. That’s why I made this to do a test run.”
Cui Dingchen had been smart since he was young, and through hard work, he had improved himself. To someone who had always been outstanding since his youth, it was rare to encounter someone else who would make him feel appreciation and admiration. But the current Xu Zhao had made him feel extreme admiration once again, and he couldn’t help but stare at Xu Zhao.
“Youngest uncle, what’s wrong?” Xu Zhao doubtfully asked.
“I just realized that you’re a bit excellent,” Cui Dingchen said.
It turned out that excellence was divided into a bit and a lot?
Xu Zhao lightly smiled and said, “Thank you for the praise, Youngest uncle.”
“The Chinese cabbage is growing well,” Cui Dingchen said.
“It’s also very delicious.”
“Delicious?” Cui Dingchen asked Xu Zhao.
“Delicious.” Xu Zhao nodded, and once he finished speaking, he suddenly realized that Cui Dingchen had come over during mealtime. Perhaps he hadn’t eaten yet, so he could only ask, “Youngest uncle, it can’t be that you haven’t eaten yet, right?”
Just as he thought!
“Are you hungry?” Xu Zhao sheepishly asked.
“How about I cook some noodles for you?”
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao, and using the light from the flashlight, he took a closer look at Xu Zhao’s face, which the more he looked, the more beautiful he found it to be. His once calm heart had finally started to tremble, and the reasoning for that had mostly been because of Xu Zhao. His heart trembled and ripples had appeared. He nodded and said, “Okay.”
“We’ll use these Chinese cabbage for the noodles, okay?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Okay,” Cui Dingchen replied.
And so, Xu Zhao pulled a few Chinese cabbages and went to the kitchen. He lit up the stove, washed the vegetables, and grabbed the noodles. He turned his head and saw Cui Dingchen sitting by the stove in his clean and tidy clothes, trying to start the fire. Although it looked very incompatible, Cui Dingchen was still as handsome as always. Xu Zhao knew that Cui Dingchen was also someone who was accustomed to the impoverished and difficult life, so he didn’t stop Cui Dingchen from lighting the fire, and went back to his work instead.
Once the scallions were cooked and added to the boiling water, the water in the pot rumbled and boiled. Xu Zhao put a small handful of noodles inside the pot and added the small Chinese cabbage. He also cracked open an egg, and not long later, a bowl of fragrant egg noodles was complete.
Placing it on the chopping board, Xu Zhao asked Cui Dingchen, “Youngest uncle, not bad, right?”
“Mn.” Cui Dingchen nodded.
“Eat,” Xu Zhao said.
“Let’s eat together,” Cui Dingchen said to Xu Zhao.
“I already ate,” Xu Zhao said.
“It seems you didn’t finish dinner and accompanied me to see the greenhouse instead,” Cui Dingchen exposed Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao could only grab another small bowl, serving himself a bowl of noodles, and sat in front of the chopping board inside the kitchen with Cui Dingchen, eating noodles together. His chopsticks had just touched the noodles when an egg was placed inside his bowl. Xu Zhao raised his head to look at Cui Dingchen.
“You eat,” Cui Dingchen said.
Xu Zhao: “…”
Cui Dingchen didn’t return Xu Zhao’s gaze, and after eating a mouthful of noodles and Chinese cabbage with his head lowered, he said, “It tastes good.”
“Is the Chinese cabbage flavorful?” Xu Zhao asked.
“Yes. The noodles were nicely cooked as well.”
“Mn. Hurry and eat.”
Just as Xu Zhao was about to eat his noodles, he heard Xu Fan’s cry coming from the main hall, “Daddy! Daddy!”
Xu Zhao immediately replied, “I’m here.”
“Daddy, where are you?”
“In the kitchen.”
As soon as Xu Zhao finished speaking, Xu Fan ran over carrying his toy car. Seeing Xu Zhao, warmth instantly bloomed across his small face along with a healing smile as he happily said, “Daddy! What are you doing here!”
“Cooking.” Xu Fan smiled and rubbed Xu Fan’s small face, then asked, “What are you doing?”
“I was listening to the r-radio with Grandpa.”
“Why aren’t you listening anymore?” Xu Zhao asked.
Xu Fan snuggled against Xu Zhao’s leg and said, “Grandma won’t let me listen anymore. Grandma said it’s a waste of batteries and won’t let Grandpa and me listen. She said the radio was so that Daddy could listen to the weather.” Listen to the weather forecast.
This line was very much in line with Mother Xu’s frugal tendencies. Xu Zhao smiled and asked, “And that’s why you came to find Daddy?”
Xu Zhao smiled and asked, “Do you want to eat noodles?”
Xu Zhao immediately grabbed the smallest bowl from the kitchen cabinet, and after giving Xu Fan a few noodles, he put the entire egg into Xu Fan’s bowl. The entire action was just so happened to be caught by Cui Dingchen. Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Fan, then looked at Xu Zhao again and asked, “You gave it all to him, so what will you eat?”
“I still have more in my bowl,” Xu Zhao said.
Cui Dingchen didn’t say anything else and picked a few noodles with his chopsticks to give to Xu Fan.
Xu Fan’s milky voice immediately said, “Thank you, Second Grandpa Cui.”
Cui Dingchen made a movement with his hand, and soon after, his movements were much smoother. His tone was also a lot gentler as he said, “Eat. Once you finish eating, take a walk to aid in digestion.”
“Okay,” Xu Fan said.
After the meal, in order to prevent Xu Fan from getting indigestion, Xu Zhao really took Xu Fan for a walk. Cui Dingchen accompanied them. The three walked around the village, and from time to time, attracted the calls from cows, sheep, dogs, ducks, and geese. Every time there was a call, Xu Fan would copy it. And so, beside Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen came the milky call of various animals:
“Woof! Woof! Woof woof woof!”
As they walked, they suddenly heard a noise in front of them. Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen quickly walked forward and saw two families from the village arguing. A lot of villagers were attracted and surrounded them. And the more the two families were surrounded, the fiercer their arguing became. Xu Zhao was worried that the crowd would push Xu Fan. He turned back around and saw Xu Fan held in Cui Dingchen’s arms.
The stiffness in Cui Dingchen’s posture as he held the child was a bit hard to explain.
Xu Fan’s small body was even stiffer. Xu Fan was normally very enthusiastic toward Cui Dingchen, but that was because his brain was very fanatical over his big car. And since Xu Zhao was there, Xu Fan dared to be that enthusiastic. If Cui Dingchen didn’t have the big car or if Xu Zhao wasn’t there, Xu Fan would have stayed far away from Cui Dingchen.
Because Xu Fan, or more accurately all children, were subconsciously afraid of serious men like Cui Dingchen. Therefore, to be carried by Cui Dingchen, Xu Fan’s entire body didn’t feel good. He looked at Xu Zhao as if he was being wronged and was about to cry. His small arms opened wide and his entire body was leaning toward Xu Zhao, “Daddy, hold, hold me.”
Xu Zhao quickly took Xu Fan in his arms.
Cui Dingchen immediately brushed the dust off of his body.
“Youngest uncle, thank you,” Xu Zhao said.
“It’s nothing,” Cui Dingchen expressionlessly said.
“Then, let’s go.”
Xu Zhao held Xu Fan and followed Cui Dingchen back home. As they walked, they suddenly heard the group of people discussing Xu Zhao’s vegetable greenhouse:
“Why did Xu Zhao build that greenhouse?”
“He said he’s going to grow and sell vegetables.”
“Grow and sell vegetables? He must be joking. He’s going to plant vegetables on such a large plot of land? Just wait. He’ll definitely make a huge loss.”
“He’ll definitely make a loss. He won’t be able to pay the grain tax next year.”
“That’s not necessarily true. I think Xu Zhao is very capable. I heard his eldest sister-in-law say that he wasn’t a decent person. Since he was beautiful, he loved hooking up with people while he was in school. And now he’s struggling. Did you guys see? A man drove a car here earlier to see him. Xu Zhao must be hooking up with him now.”
He was hooking up with Cui Dingchen—Xu Zhao immediately looked at Cui Dingchen with embarrassment.
Cui Dingchen also happened to be looking back.