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Xu Zhao’s house—
Mother and Father Xu appraised those two unknown men. One of the men was tall and the other was short. Although they looked ordinary, they were wearing clean and tidy clothes that didn’t even have a single patch on them. The two elders confirmed that they didn’t recognize them, and they couldn’t help moving their gaze to Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao had already looked over the two men and confirmed that he didn’t recognize them either and asked, “You guys are looking for Xu Zhao?”
“Yes, yes,” the two unknown men replied together.
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “That’s me.”
“That’s you?” A flash of surprise passed through the two unknown men’s faces, as if they never expected Xu Zhao to be so young.
Xu Zhao nodded. “Mn, I’m Xu Zhao. Are you two here to look at the vegetables?”
“Yes.” The two men nodded together.
To the sudden arrival of the two men, Xu Zhao wasn’t surprised at all, but accepted it very calmly as if he was aware of their visit beforehand. He handed over Xu Fan, who was by his leg, to Mother Xu, then led the two men to the greenhouse. They took a look around the greenhouse, conversed a bit about the vegetables, then sent off the two men before returning to the old courtyard.
Mother Xu walked up and asked, “They left?”
Xu Zhao nodded. “Mn, they left.”
“Did they buy vegetables?”
“Then why did they come?”
“To look at the vegetables.”
“They came all the way just to look and didn’t buy anything? How annoying.” Mother Xu didn’t look happy.
Xu Zhao smiled and explained to Mother Xu. Regardless of whether the two men had bought anything or not, Xu Zhao was still very happy. At the very least, it made him aware of something. And that was that all the advertisements he did in Fan’s Little Shop had some effect. If that was the case, he would be able to sell more vegetables in the future.
Mother Xu dubiously asked, “Is that the case?”
Of course! That was why he wasn’t a bit surprised when the two men came earlier since he had expected it. He just didn’t expect his advertising to take effect so quickly, which made him really happy. “There might be more people coming to see the vegetables in the future. It’s a good thing,” he said with a smile.
Hearing Xu Zhao’s words, the imbalance in Mother Xu’s heart dissipated. He followed Xu Zhao inside the small greenhouse to finish work. They were busy until noon before the small greenhouse in the old courtyard was completely finished. The two families went home full of joy to cook.
There wasn’t anything to do in the afternoon. Someone from the county town came over to install the phone in Xu Zhao’s west wing. After it was installed, Mother and Father Xu and Xu Zhao all stared at the phone for a long time. Mother Xu looked at the phone with terror as if she was afraid it would break from bumping into or dropping it. He specially pulled out the new cloth from the chest and lavishly cut out two pieces. One was placed under the phone and the other placed above the phone. He specially told Xu Fan to not bump into the phone, and finally the whole family eased down enough to finally eat.
while eating, the phone suddenly rang. The entire family around the table stood up.
“Daddy, I’m going to pick up the phone!” Xu Fan was very enthusiastic.
“Go on,” Xu Zhao said.
Xu Fan immediately ran over, got on his tip-toes, and picked up the phone and said in his milky voice, “Hey, I’m Sanwa. Who are you?”
Xu Fan stopped talking.
Xu Zhao came up and asked, “Who is it?”
“Second Grandpa Cui,” Xu Fan replied.
Xu Zhao took the phone and told Xu Fan to go eat before placing the phone beside his ear. He gently called, “Youngest uncle? Is that you?”
“It’s me. The phone is already installed?” Cui Dingchen’s pleasant voice sounded from the other side.
“Mn, you called as soon as it was finished being installed.”
“I really called at a good time.”
“That’s right. Youngest uncle, did you eat yet?” Xu Zhao asked Cui Dingchen as if it was an everyday occurrence.
“Yes, you?” Cui Dingchen lightly said.
“I’m eating now.”
“Okay, you eat first. I’ll call you again once you’re done.”
Calling again after finished eating?
Was there something wrong? If he needed something, why didn’t he directly say it?
Without waiting for Xu Zhao to ask, the phone was disconnected. Xu Zhao returned to the dining table and continued eating.
After dinner was finished, Xu Zhao grabbed the flashlight and took Xu Fan to the large vegetable greenhouse to take a look around. They then went home to wash up, and then he stuffed Xu Fan under the blankets. However, Xu Fan wasn’t sleepy at all. He lay in bed, his eyes opened wide as he called, “Daddy! Daddy! I want to talk on the phone!”
“Who are you going to talk to on the phone?” Xu Zhao sat at the table and read a book beside the kerosene lamp.
“I want to talk with Daddy on the phone,” Xu Fan said in a clear voice.
“Your Daddy is right here. You don’t need to talk with me through the phone,” Xu Zhao replied without raising his head.
“I-I want to talk with Grandma Cui through the phone.”
“We’re going to the county town tomorrow. You can talk to her in person. Don’t need to talk on the phone.”
Xu Fan scratched his little head with his small meaty fingers. He thought about it and then said, “T-t-then, I want to talk on the phone with Second Grandpa Cui.”
The child kept rambling and it really wouldn’t end. Especially since Xu Fan was currently learning more words, he really could talk endlessly. Xu Zhao was about to persuade Xu Fan when the phone suddenly rang. Xu Zhao reached over to pick it up.
“It’s me.” It was Cui Dingchen’s voice.
“Mn. Have you slept yet?” Cui Dingchen’s voice was more languid than he was earlier that evening, sounding very special and nice to listen to.
“Not yet,” Xu Zhao answered.
“What are you doing?”
“Reading the books I brought you?”
Xu Zhao was like a teacher and said to Cui Dingchen, “Mn. It helped me a lot. I’m trying to finish it and read it again.”
“It’s good that it helped you. What about Xu Fan? Is he asleep yet?”
Xu Zhao glanced at Little Xu Fan, whose eyes were moving all around while he was under the blanket, and smiled and said, “Not yet. He’s lying in bed. He wants to talk to you.”
“To me? Okay, let him talk to me then.”
Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan to the desk and placed the phone beside Xu Fan’s ear. Once he heard Cui Dingchen’s voice, Xu Fan was stunned, then started asking Cui Dingchen if his family still had milk or not. The speechless Xu Zhao quickly stuffed Xu Fan back under the blankets then picked up the phone again and asked the main question, “Youngest uncle, why did you call?”
“…” Cui Dingchen was not in a hurry, and finally chose to speak on the topic Xu Zhao was most interested in, and that was greenhouse vegetables. And so he started speaking, “It’s nothing. I just wanted to ask how your greenhouse vegetables have been lately?”
“Very good. There two were people who came by today, referred by Fan’s Little Shop, just to look at the vegetables in the greenhouse.”
“Who?” Cui Dingchen asked.
“A manager of a Jiang Ping County restaurant on Middle Street in the county town,” Xu Zhao answered.
“Did they buy vegetables?”
“No, they just came to take a look. There’s no guarantee that they’ll buy some even if they like it.”
“They’ll probably buy some,” Cui Dingchen said.
“Even if they don’t, I have a new idea.”
Xu Zhao was very serious but his tone strangely had a hint of childishness in it as he said, “Once the tomatoes and edamame are ripe, I’ll sell them to the restaurants in the county town!”
Hearing this, Cui Dingchen suddenly laughed.
Xu Zhao was shocked and asked, “Youngest uncle, what are you laughing at? That isn’t good, is it?”
“Okay,” Cui Dingchen’s voice sounded very cheerful, and was more pleasant sounding than usual.
Xu Zhao was a bit embarrassed and asked, “T-Then what were you laughing at?”
“Laughing at how cute you are,” Cui Dingchen bluntly said.
Saying cute again! Xu Zhao was extremely embarrassed and said, “Youngest uncle, did you need anything else? If not, I’m hanging up.”
“Okay, let’s talk again next time. Rest early.”
After hanging up, Xu Zhao sat in place, stunned. He really couldn’t understand how he was cute? He was clearly a mature and reasonable adult, so how could he be called cute?
Forget it. He wasn’t going to think about it anymore. Everyone had their own views. For example, some people might get annoyed with Xu Fan, but people like him and Mother Cui thought Xu Fan was good and cute in all aspects. Therefore, it couldn’t be forced. He might as well go back to reading. In the end, he hadn’t read for long before Xu Fan had to drink water and pee again.
In the end, Xu Fan placed the kerosene lamp beside the head of the bed and sat inside the blanket. Xu Fan finally became obedient and crawled on top of Xu Zhao’s body and started listening to the radio. He learned as he listened, looking extremely cute. Xu Zhao thought about it, placed the book down, blew out the lamp, wrapped his arms around Xu Fan, and listened to the radio together with Xu Fan.
But not long later, the radio didn’t have any signal anymore.
Xu Zhao turned off the radio and had a heart-to-heart with Xu Fan. This was knowledge that he would sometimes learn during the 21st century. They said that chatting with the child at home would not only promote the parent-child relationship, it would lead the child into the correct mentality.
And so, Xu Zhao chatted with Xu Fan. After chatting for a bit, Xu Fan spoke up, “Daddy, I want some money.”
Oh! Xu Sanwa knew how to ask for money.
“Why do you want money?” Xu Zhao curiously asked.
“To buy pickled plum powder,” Xu Fan answered.
“What? Xu Fan originally spoke in a milky tone and didn’t know much about it. This was the first time Xu Zhao had heard of this so he didn’t know what it was.
“Pickled plum powder. Erwa had pickled plum powder before, but me and Da Zhuang haven’t,” Xu Fan continued.
It was about eating again!
“Okay, I’ll give you a penny tomorrow,” Xu Zhao said.
“Thank you, Daddy.”
“You’re welcome. It’s all because you’re my Baobao.”
“I’m Daddy’s Baobao.”
And so, the next morning, Xu Zhao gave Xu Fan two pennies. Xu Fan and Da Zhuang ran to the small shop inside the village and bought two bags of pickled plum powder. There was a small spoon inside the bag, and the two little guys sat inside the courtyard scooping out the pickled plum powder to eat. They looked very happy, and Xu Fan didn’t cling to Xu Zhao.
However, when Xu Zhao finished organizing the vegetables and was about to head to the county town, Xu Fan clung to him again. And so, Xu Zhao dressed Xu Fan in thick and warm clothes and brought Xu Fan to the county town. He delivered the vegetables to Fan’s Little Shop, then headed to the vegetable market to sell vegetables.
Xu Zhao had gained some popularity in the vegetable market. His vegetables were fresh and not expensive, therefore, whenever Xu Zhao appeared, he would sell out in less than half an hour.
Today was also the same. After he sold out, he rode the bicycle and brought Xu Fan to the furniture city. He recalled that except for the bed and the large table, he didn’t have any stools or anything at home. He thought of the three door wardrobe, five door cabinet, long narrow table, and the other furniture of this era, and especially the inlaid large mirror in the middle of the three door wardrobe. Xu Fan would definitely love it.
However, they didn’t have any money right now. He’d have to wait and wait a bit longer. Once he had money, he’d buy some furniture for their home. Xu Zhao’s gaze quickly withdrew from the furniture and looked to the front. He went straight home. In the next few days, he continued to stay busy.
On this day, once he returned home, Mother Xu happily rushed over and said, “Xu Zhao, it succeeded.”
“What succeeded?” Xu Zhao asked with doubt.