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Ouch! It really was that—the good never came true but the bad does!
They all fell! Even the basin fell along with the person.
It really was amazing…
Xu Zhao hurried forward. Before he arrived, Xu Fan had already turned over by himself, her short arms and legs propped himself off the ground at the same time. He huffed and exerted himself to climb back up, wobbling a bit before standing firm. Afterward, he lowered his head to look at his own body, looked at his hands, looked at his new shoes, and saw it was all covered with water and mud. Without any warning, he started wailing, his voice very loud.
Shocked, Mother and Father Xu came out from the kitchen to see the situation. Xu Zhao hurriedly pulled a towel from the wooden rack and pulled Xu Fan into the main hall. Facing the kerosene lamp, he carefully wiped him.
“Alright, don’t cry,” Xu Zhao comforted. “It’s alright. You didn’t break anything, so don’t cry.”
Xu Fan had always been quick to cry and also quick to stop crying. Hearing Xu Zhao say this, he immediately stopped, smashed his lips to alleviate his sobs. He first looked down to look at his feet, and cried out, “Daddy, my shoes are dirty. So dirty.”
He was still worried about his shoes!
It must have been because he was showing off his shoes to everyone in the village earlier, and everyone praised him saying that the shoes looked good and that he was good looking, so this young and tender boy suddenly carried the “weight of an idol” on his shoulders. This made one really not know if they should laugh or cry.
Xu Zhao could only helplessly say, “Daddy will help you wipe them in a bit, okay?”
Xu Fan’s small head nodded and crisply said, “Daddy, you need to wipe them clean.”
“Okay.” Wipe them clean!
“Thank you, Daddy.”
He even thanked Daddy—
The polite words that Xu Zhao usually taught this little guy, he actually remembered them. This two year old—no, almost three year old. That was correct. Xu Fan, Xu Sanwa’s third birthday was coming up soon. Xu Zhao squatted beside the basin to wipe Xu Fan’s small shoes. He turned to Xu Fan, who was also squatting beside him, and said, “Xu Fan, Daddy will buy you new shoes in a few days, okay?”
“I’ll also buy you a birthday cake.”
Xu Fan opened his mouth and asked, “Daddy, what’s a birthday cake?”
“…” Xu Fan looked at Xu Fan then remembered that Xu Fan had never celebrated his birthday before or eaten a birthday cake. Of course he wouldn’t know what a birthday cake was. Therefore, the tender little chubby face had a flash of doubt.
He really was so cute.
Xu Zhao couldn’t resist kissing Xu Fan.
Xu Fan immediately laughed. He was a bit shy from being kissed. And when he saw that Xu Zhao wasn’t moving anymore, he quickly pointed his small meaty finger toward his shoes and said, “Daddy, wipe. Daddy, wipe. Daddy, wipe the shoes.”
“Let’s not wipe anymore. Let’s quickly go eat.” Mother Xu carried the dishes from the kitchen and said, “Xu Zhao, stop wiping. Quickly come here and eat. Sanwa, there’s savory egg custard tonight.”
Savory egg custard!
As the little food, Xu Fan instantly stood up and ran toward Mother Xu without saying anything. That wasn’t right, he ran toward the savory egg custard. He ran a couple steps when he suddenly remembered that his new shoes weren’t wiped clean yet, and quickly ran back toward Xu Zhao. He hadn’t even taken a couple steps before his thoughts returned to the savory egg custard.
Should he wipe his shoes or eat savory egg custard?
How to choose?
Xu Fan stood in the middle with his brows furrowed and very conflicted. He had no idea what he should do. At this moment, he heard Mother Xu say, “You can wipe your shoes after you eat.” Xu Fan wasn’t conflicted anymore and repeated, “Wipe after eating.”
Xu Zhao watched Xu Fan being conflicted and smiled as he stood. “I finished wiping them already.”
“Ah, it’s wiped!” Xu Fan’s eyes lit up, and his entire body relaxed.
“They’re wiped. Let them dry first and you can wear them again tomorrow. Let’s go eat first!”
“Let’s go eat first!” Xu Fan followed suit.
Afterward, the entire family surrounded the small table to eat. There were simple stir-fry bean sprouts, salted vegetables, multi-grain steamed bun, sweet potato porridge, as well as a bowl of savory egg custard.
Xu Fan’s small meaty hand held the spoon and was currently scooping the savory egg custard and munching on it. He would occasionally say, “Daddy, I want to eat bean sprouts.”
Xu Zhao would then pick two pieces for him.
Mother and Father Xu watched Xu Fan with love on their faces.
Xu Zhao then handed a small multi-grain steamed bun, then turned to Mother and Father Xu to say, “Mom, Dad, I’m going to renovate the old courtyard tomorrow.”
“What for?” Mother Xu asked.
“I want to build a small greenhouse to grow potatoes.”
“Potato seeds are hard to grow,” Mother Xu said.
“I know, that’s why we’re going to plant the actual potato.” Xu Zhao reached out to pinch the grain from the multi-grain steamed bun off of Xu Fan’s face before pushing it past Xu Fan’s small lips. He then continued to say to Mother and Father Xu, “In any case, our old courtyard is currently empty, so why not plant some potatoes? The courtyard isn’t very big, and we still have leftover bamboo and film from when we built the big greenhouse, so it would be perfect to build a small greenhouse with them to plant some potatoes. Potatoes are a very easy crop with high yields. It’ll be perfect to sell them right before the new year. At least, it’ll be better than leaving the place empty.”
Hearing this, Mother Xu looked at Father Xu.
Father Xu immediately said, “Okay. Your mother and I will turn over the dirt tomorrow.”
Xu Zhao quickly said, “Dad, you should take it easy. Don’t tire yourself out.”
Father Xu smiled and said, “It’s just a bit of land. It’s fine. Your mother and I can watch Baobao while we turn over the land tomorrow. That way, you can head to the county town and buy potatoes.”
Xu Zhao nodded and agreed.
The whole family went into action, doing what they said they would. The next morning, the weather was yet another few degrees colder than before. When Xu Zhao crawled from under the quilt, Xu Fan still hadn’t woken up yet. When he had just about packed everything, he gave Xu Fan’s plump little face a kiss, then told Mother and Father Xu before riding the bicycle to the county town. He bought half a sack of potatoes, then went to visit Cui Qingfeng.
Cui Qingfeng had been very busy lately. Not only did he have to acquire stock to sell, he also had to sell vegetables. That was correct, it was the vegetables Xu Zhao grew. Xu Zhao’s goal was to let everyone know that Fan’s Little Shop also sold vegetables. And so Cui Qingfeng very diligently sold them.
However, compared to when he could spend all day with Xu Zhao, he could now only see Xu Zhao once a day. Some days, Da Zhuang’s father came to deliver vegetables, so he couldn’t even see Xu Zhao once. Therefore, seeing Xu Zhao so early in the morning, he was ecstatic and couldn’t resist asking, “Xu Zhao, how long will you grow the vegetables before selling them?”
“Aren’t they already selling now?” Xu Zhao retorted.
“I meant selling them on a large scale. We’re only selling a little bit right now. It’s not enough.”
Xu Zhao smiled. “No rush. We’ll wait a bit longer and continue selling them unhurriedly like this. In any case, we’ll be making money. We’ll deliver some to the steel factory in a few days, and wait until the solar new year or the Minor Spring Festival to completely bring out the rest.”
“Will you be able to make a killing then?” Cui Qingfeng asked.
“Just about,” Xu Zhao smiled and said.
Cui Qingfeng rubbed his hands and said, “Oh, I can’t wait.”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Be patient. Oh, right. Do you know where I can buy a cake in the county town?”
“You want to buy a cake? For what?”
Although everyone’s lives were a bit better this year, if it wasn’t new years or a festival, people normally wouldn’t buy something like cake, unless they were really rich.
“It’ll be Xu Fan’s third birthday soon. I want to celebrate it with him and buy him a cake to celebrate,” Xu Fan said.
Cui Qingfeng was immediately happy. “Yo, our Sanwa is turning three. He’s growing up.’
Xu Zhao patted Fan’s Little Shop’s window sill and said, “Back on the topic, is there anywhere I can buy cake in the county town?”
“No,” Cui Qingfeng seriously said. “You need to go to the city. My youngest uncle is currently in the city. He can help you bring back one.”
“Why is your youngest uncle in the city again?” Xu Zhao asked curiously.
“What do you mean by again?” Cui Qingfeng asked. “Don’t you know? He’s always been in the city.”
“Didn’t he come back yesterday?” Xu Zhao asked.
“No,” Cui Qingfeng plainly said. “He didn’t come back. He’s so busy, so how could he come back? Do you know how difficult it is to open a new route? He probably doesn’t even have time to eat or sleep right now, so how could he come back?”
Xu Zhao didn’t continue, doubt blooming in his heart. While riding the bicycle back to South Bay Village, he was still thinking about Cui Dingchen’s matter. Cui Dingchen had clearly come back from the city twice now. The first time was to deliver books and the second time he (XZ) had delivered vegetables to him (CDC). He didn’t look very busy.
Xu Fan was pondering over this matter and couldn’t figure it out and the bicycle arrived back at South Bay Village’s entrance. He lifted his gaze and saw two chubby kids sitting on the rock in front of the old courtyard’s entrance. It was Xu Fan and Da Zhuang. The two little guys were wearing the same new little shoes, and were currently comparing them.
“My daddy also bought mine,” Da Zhuang’s face was full of excitement as he said, “My daddy went to buy them for me t-this morning.”
“My looks good,” Xu Fan said.
“Mine also looks good,” Da Zhuang didn’t back down and said.
“Mine are clean.”
“Mine are also clean.”
The two pairs of shoes looked exactly the same. They were both good looking and clean. Xu Fan really couldn’t find something to compare with and changed the topic, “T-t-then we can’t g-get them dirty.”
“They won’t look good if they get dirty,” Da Zhuang said.
“We can’t wear them anymore if they get dirty,” Xu Fan added.
The two kids who were usually dirty all day long actually said that they could get their shoes dirty? It really was strange. Xu Zhao smiled and called, “Xu Fan!”
As soon as Xu Fan looked up and saw Xu Zhao, he instantly became happy and padded his short legs to run over, asking Xu Zhao to carry him. Xu Zhao smiled. “I won’t carry you, we’re already home.”
“Hold hands,” Xu Fan changed his request.
And so, Xu Zhao held Xu Fan’s little meaty hand and entered the old courtyard. He saw Da Zhuang’s father help turn over the soil, and Xu Zhao went over to join them.
In less than two hours, a layer of the soil in the old courtyard had been tuned over. In order to let the dirt air out, Xu Zhao didn’t immediately build the greenhouse. He came back in the afternoon to turn the soil over again, making the soil soft before letting it sit for two days.
Afterward, he began using the bamboo to build a small greenhouse. They finished building it in a day, and it also happened that the cubes of potatoes he had cut previously had also sprouted. The four adults and two children used two hours to plant all the potatoes into the holes before covering them up. They added some commercial fertilizer and the potatoes were finished being planted.
Xu Zhao let out a long breath of relief.
Xu Fan learned from Xu Zhao and also breathed a sigh of relief.
Xu Zhao lifted his leg to gently kick Xu Fan’s butt. “Little guy, why are you sighing? Little boy.”
Knowing that Xu Zhao was teasing him, Xu Fan giggled and hugged Xu Zhao’s leg.
At this moment, two unknown men walked on the dirt road carrying cloth bags. They looked all over while walking, and when they saw Xu Zhao and the others, they came forward and asked, “Excuse me, do you know where Xu Zhao’s house is?”