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“Third Uncle sold our family’s wheat!” Xu Dawa repeated as he gasped for air.
“Who did he sell it to?”
“The Zhang family from our village. He sold it for nine Yuan.”
In this age of low-priced, low-income era, nine Yuan wasn’t a small amount!
Xu Zuocheng immediately dropped the broom, and rushed towards the Xu family home in rage.
Xu Youcheng followed closely behind when he saw this.
Dawa and Erwa also followed behind.
The four people saw Xu Zhao and Xu Fan standing at the entrance gate from afar. It appeared that they had just sent off Uncle Zhang and Auntie Zhang.
“Xu Zhao,” Xu Zuocheng shouted as he strode to Xu Zhao’s side.
Xu Zhao smiled and greeted them. “You guys are back. Perfect timing. I have something to give you.”
“Is it money?” Xu Zuocheng said with a stiff expression.
“Money?” Xu Zhao asked instead.
“The money you got from selling wheat.”
“What does that money have to do with you?”
“That wheat belonged to the Xu family!” Xu Zuocheng shouted with a raised voice.
Xu Zhao smiled and asked, “My four tenths mu of land belong to the Xu family?”
Xu Zuocheng was immediately stumped.
Xu Zhao raised his eyes to glance at Xu Zuocheng and said, “Since we mentioned this topic, I want to make things clear. In any case, our family has already split up and after we receive the new wheat, I plan to live separately with Xu Fan.
“How are you going to do that?”
“With my four tenths mu of land.”
Four tenths mu of land?
Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng heard “four tenths mu” and it shook their hearts. These past few years, land was very valuable. Numerous people fought over the smallest sliver of land because land represented food which represented life. The reason why Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng accepted the Xu parents’ proposal to divide the family properties but not live separately was actually because they were eyeing Xu Zhao’ one and four tenths mu, and they wanted to oppress him. Now hearing Xu Zhao say “four tenths mu” instead of “one and four tenths mu,” they both had their own thoughts in their hearts.
Xu Zhao had intentionally said it this way. In fact, he had no other choice but to say it like that. The reason being was that last year, the original Xu Zhao had taken the one and four tenths mu that was under his name and foolishly secretly registered one mu of it under the name of the other members of the Xu family. That was why when the team leader came earlier to bring the grain tax book, he had clearly written that Xu Zhao only needed to hand over four tenths mu’s worth.
Xu Zuocheng wasn’t aware of this matter.
Xu Youcheng also didn’t know.
It was most likely that the whole Xu family was unaware of this.
If Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng found out that it was clearly written in black and white that he only had four tenths mu of land, they would immediately chase Xu Fan and him out. That’s why he had to turn the tables for the original Xu Zhao so that there wasn’t too much of a loss.
“Your four tenths mu of land?” Xu Zuocheng asked.
“You only want the four tenths mu?”
“No, I also want something else.”
“I’m going to confiscate my share of the rice, noodles, oil, salted vegetables, cured meat, kerosene, chicken eggs, and duck eggs,” Xu Zhao said.
When Xu Zuocheng heard this, he turned to Xu Youcheng.
Xu Youcheng and Xu Zuocheng were of the same mind. They couldn’t wait to squeeze Xu Zhao dry to supplement their own families. No matter how little Xu Zhao and Xu Fan ate in a year, it was still more food than four tenths mu could provide. Now that Xu Zhao was willing to take Xu Fan and leave, it was exactly what they wanted. He turned to Xu Zhao and said, “Don’t regret it!”
“You’re the one who wanted to live separately. Don’t go crying to Mom and Dad later on!”
“Don’t worry, I won’t.”
“Alright, we won’t ask for the nine Yuan.”
“It doesn’t belong to you anyway.”
“Don’t come looking for us if you don’t have any food to eat.”
With a heart full of joy, Xu Youcheng looked at Xu Zuocheng.
Xu Zuocheng was also secretly pleased. He felt that he got a good deal.
Xu Zhao breathed a sigh of relief, but still didn’t dare give them the grain tax book. Instead, he waited till that night when Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng had sorted the rice, noodles, oil, picked vegetables and other foods according to the allowance and handed it over to Xu Zhao before giving them the grain tax book. Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng happily accepted the grain tax book when they saw that something wasn’t right.
“Huh? Eldest Brother, why does my family suddenly have four and seven tenths mu of land?” Xu Youcheng asked.
“Mine also says four and seven tenths mu,” Xu Zuocheng said. “Didn’t we both have four and two tenths mu before?”
“Xu Zhao transferred the land to us last year?” Xu Youcheng asked.
“Then why did we give him so many provisions?”
At that moment, Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng realized that Xu Zhao had tricked them. The land had already been transferred over. They could have forcefully kicked Xu Zhao out with confidence. Why did they have to lose out on so much rice and noodles, and they even acted like they were scared of the Xu parents. They lost out big time!
That damned Xu Zhao!
Xu Zuocheng was furious.
Xu Youcheng was full of hate, but there was no other choice, so what could he do about it? How could Xu Zhao give back what he already obtained? If they caused a fuss, then it wouldn’t end well for anyone. All Xu Youcheng could do was hope that Xu Zhao and Xu Fan starve to death on the streets.
However, Xu Zhao and Xu Fan didn’t starve to death on the streets. In fact, they were living very happily. The provisions they received made the small, dark hut full and cramped to the point that there wasn’t any room to walk.
However, Xu Zhao was very happy. He finally didn’t have to fight Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng for food.
Xu Fan was even happier. He looked at the thatched hut with gleaming eyes and said, “Wow! Daddy, we have so many things. Wow!”
Xu Zhao: “…”
This was a lot? He’s so innocent.
“Daddy, is this all ours?”
“Wow. Daddy, you’re amazing.”
“Daddy, there’s meat.”
“Mn. Do you want to eat it?”
“Then we’ll eat it tonight, alright?”
That night, Xu Zhao made steamed meat for Xu Fan. Each piece was thinly sliced and dripping with oil. Xu Fan chowed them down with huge bites, his tiny mouth glistened with oil. When the Xu family smelled the meat, Xu Zuocheng and Xu Youcheng almost broke their molars from gritting their teeth. However, the two thought it over again and questioned what the use of four tenths mu was? Let Xu Zhao eat as he likes for now. Xu Zhao and Xu Fan won’t have anything to eat before long. Then, they would have to ask the Xu family for help, but none of them have a good opinion of Xu Zhao or Xu Fan.
If they wanted to join them for meals again, it’s possible! But he needed to revert back to his old self and do double the work and eat less.
As for now, there was no rush. They would wait to see Xu Zhao cry!
However, not only did Xu Zhao not cry, he was able to eat very well. After the meal, he lit a kerosene lamp and sat by the desk to do the accounts.
“Daddy, what are you doing?” Xu Fan asked.
“Doing the accounts,” Xu Zhao said.
“What are accounts?”
“I’m calculating what we need to make money.”
“Oh, Daddy, how do we make money?”
“We’ll use our hands to make money.”
“I’ll also use my hands to make money.”
Xu Zhao raised his head to look at Xu Fan.
Xu Fan only had one set of patched up summer clothes. After his evening shower, the clothes needed to be washed, so he could only go without clothes. His naked body highlighted his pitiful skinny body. However, Xu Fan naturally had an active and positive personality, so he was very happy. At this moment, he giggled happily when he faced the gaze. He was really good looking. His appearance was a bit different from Xu Zhao’s, and that part most likely came from the other man.
And that man was… Forget it. Let’s not think about that, and focus on the present. Xu Zhao smiled as he said, “Alright. We can make money together.”
“Okay! I want to make lots of money so that we can eat meat every day.”
“You want to eat meat every day?”
“Mn! I also want to eat ice cream every day.”
“Alright. We’ll get ice cream tomorrow.”
Xu Fan immediately widened his eyes and asked, “Daddy, are we really getting ice cream tomorrow?”
“Do we have any money?”
“Mm. That’s why you should be good and go to sleep early. We’ll buy ice cream tomorrow.”
Xu Fan obediently lay on the bed and closed his eyes.
Xu Fan continued to calculate the accounts under the kerosene lamp. He was able to obtain 120 catties of wheat from his four tenths mu of land. He already sold 60 catties, grain taxes was 18 catties, so he had 42 catties left. 40 catties of wheat would be turned into flour and that would be enough for Xu Fan and him to eat for a while. During this time, he needed to make money or else forget about buying fall clothes for themselves, they wouldn’t even have enough money to eat. That’s why he had to make money as soon as possible.
He now had nine Yuan as capital. If he wanted to sell ice cream, he needed to buy a foam cooler, rent a bicycle, and make a quilt to cover the ice cream. These would need at least three Yuan. That meant he still had six Yuan left over. If he sold them for the set price of four cents per popsicles, then if he sold 150 sticks each day, he could earn a profit of three Yuan a day. That would be 30 Yuan in ten days and 90 Yuan in thirty days.
In fact, 90 Yuan wasn’t a small amount of money, but it was still a bit too little to Xu Zhao. The reason was that popsicles could only be sold for about a month. After the month, there wouldn’t be any income.
Therefore, if he was going to do this, then what was the next step?
The pale yellow light from the kerosene lamp flickered and cast a faint glow inside the thatched hut. The moonlight also flowed in from the wooden window, and the insects behind the hut began to chirp. It was clear that tonight was a peaceful night.
Xu Zhao finally gathered his thoughts during this peaceful night. Standing up to walk towards the bed, he realized that the mosquito net wasn’t pulled down. Two large mosquitoes had landed on Little Xu Fan’s face, and he quickly walked over to kill those mosquitos with a “slap.” Xu Fan continued to snore in his sleep.
However, the next day, two red bumps had appeared on Xu Fan’s face. Xu Fan picked up the scrap mirror fragment they had found and took a look at his appearance before turning his head to angrily say to Xu Zhao, “Daddy, I’m so ugly!”
“What’s wrong?” Xu Zhao asked.
“The mosquitoes bit me and made me ugly. I’m so mad.”
“That’s not true… You’re still very handsome.”
“You’re very handsome,” Xu Zhao insisted.
Xu Fan was angry.
“Alright. Drink this soup quickly. We’re heading to the fields after.”
“What are we gonna do there?”
“Wait for someone.”
Xu Zhao waited until around noon time before taking Xu Fan to the fields. However, he wasn’t there to work, and there wasn’t any work to do anyway. He found a tree to sit under the shade with Xu Fan, and used a tree branch to draw small cartoons for Xu Fan while keeping an eye towards the village. They waited for about half an hour before the person they were waiting for finally arrived.
Xu Zhao looked into the distance with a faint smile on his face.