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What was Xu Zuocheng planning?
To steal vegetables?
Trying to sabotage?
Xu Zhao didn’t believe that Xu Zuocheng was merely taking a walk because he was free. Even if he was on a walk, he wouldn’t have walked in front of the big greenhouse. He had doubts in his heart. He entered the big greenhouse to pick green onions and brought his shadow, Xu Fan, home.
Cutting and washing the green onion, he handed it to Mother Xu. The doubt in his heart grew even bigger, and he couldn’t help but walk back outside and directly to the big greenhouse. Out of the corner of his eye, he once again saw a glimpse of Xu Zuocheng “walking” again.
He really must be free!
Xu Zuocheng didn’t interrupt Xu Zuocheng’s “leisure walk” for now. Instead, he entered the big greenhouse and looked all around. When he returned home, he had lunch with his family. After lunch, everyone rested until evening. Xu Zhao called Da Zhuang’s entire family to head to the big greenhouse and harvest vegetables.
On the way to the big greenhouse, Xu Zhao saw Xu Zuocheng once again. Although Xu Zuocheng was chatting with others, his eyes kept glancing toward Xu Zhao’s side. Xu Zhao pretended he didn’t see it and entered the big greenhouse. He then asked Da Zhuang’s father regarding native dogs and decided right there that that night, he would borrow some dogs from Da Zhuang’s house and Zhuangzhuang’s house to watch the big greenhouse.
“Looking at the big greenhouse?” Da Zhuang’s father asked.
Xu Zhao nodded.
Da Zhuang’s father asked in shock, “You’re saying someone stole some vegetables?”
Xu Zhao nodded.
Da Zhuang’s father immediately asked on guard, “Who?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“Then we should bring the dogs here now.”
“We’ll bring them here tonight.”
“They’re more useful at night.
Da Zhuang’s father didn’t understand, but he completely trusted Xu Zhao. Therefore, he would support whatever Xu Zhao wanted to do. And so, he watched as Xu Zhao used straw to make two beds for the native dogs besides the big greenhouse, then watched Xu Zhao bring water from the sewer to sprinkle around the big greenhouse. He finally couldn’t help but ask, “Xu Zhao, why are you sprinkling water around here? It’s going to freeze soon.”
Xu Zhao replied, “I want it to freeze.”
“To catch the thief.”
“Will we catch them?”
“We will. We’ll head home first and when the thief comes out, we’ll come back.”
Da Zhuang’s father returned home only half understanding the situation.
Xu Zhao’s heart was like a mirror. After tucking in the sleeping Xu Fan, he blew out the kerosene lamps at home and quietly lay in bed to wait. Xu Zuocheng didn’t disappoint him. Not even an hour later, continuous barking sounded throughout the village. Xu Zhao immediately got up from the bed, grabbed the flashlight and exited the main hall. Da Zhuang’s father ran over with a grave expression.
“Xu Zhao, is the thief here?” Da Zhuang’s father asked.
Xu Zhao replied, “Almost.”
Da Zhuang’s father gritted his teeth and said, “I’ll beat them to death!”
Xu Zhao immediately stopped Da Zhuang’s father and said, “You can’t!”
“We already said that you would listen to me.”
“I’ll explain to you afterwards.”
As soon as Xu Zhao spoke, a dog whined from the big greenhouse. It rang loud and clear and violent. Xu Zhao and Da Zhuang’s father were both startled and broke into a run for the back door. They immediately saw a figure get close to the big greenhouse, then get chased by the two native dogs. However, the ground around the big greenhouse was too slippery, and the figure directly fell to the ground. As if afraid of being bitten by the dogs, the figure quickly crawled up, then started running again.
At this moment, Xu Zhao suddenly raised the flashlight in his hand and quickly walked toward that figure. The figure paused and used their hand to cover their face. However, it didn’t cover who he was.
Da Zhuang’s father immediately recognized him. He was completely shocked and just as he was about to shout, Xu Zhao stopped him and said, “Don’t shout. Listen to me!”
Da Zhuang’s father was stunned.
Xu Zhao didn’t have time to explain. He grabbed the flashlight and walked toward Xu Zuocheng as he shouted, “Who is it? Trying to steal my vegetables? Thief! There’s a thief!”
Xu Zhao’s voice wasn’t low, and especially during the silent night, it was exceptionally clear. The shouts quickly made Xu Zuocheng flustered. He was originally running back to his home, but at this time, he quickly turned to the opposite direction, not thinking that there was a small sewer beside him. The reason Xu Zhao chose to build the greenhouse here was not only because it was close to his home, but also because it was close to the sewer, making irrigation convenient.
However, Xu Zuocheng was too flustered and didn’t see it. As he took a step, he ran head into the freezing cold sewer.
Da Zhuang’s father witnessed this and wanted to catch the person.
Xu Zhao once again pulled back Da Zhuang’s father.
Da Zhuang’s father looked at Xu Zhao with questions.
Xu Zhao grabbed Da Zhuang’s father’s arm as he held the flashlight with the other hand. He then acted afraid as he shouted, “There’s a thief! A thief! Catch the thief!”
Immediately after, he deliberately stood on the road toward Xu Zuocheng’s house and “looked helplessly” as Xu Zuocheng crawled out of the sewer drenched in water, who then rushed to run down the endless fields. It was then that Xu Zhao pulled Da Zhuang’s father to chase after him. Not long later, he returned to the village with Da Zhuang’s father. There were numerous people who were woken by the noise. They carried kerosene lamps as they inquired about the situation. This included the village chief.
“Xu Zhao, where’s the thief?” the village chief urgently asked.
Xu Zhao had a face full of anger and fear. He relayed the incident again. He didn’t mention Xu Zuocheng’s name and only said that the thief took a large pumpkin that was planted beside their house’s door. This caused the villagers to gasp.
“Did you see who it was?” the village chief grimly asked.
Da Zhuang’s father was about to say something when he was pulled back by Xu Zhao. Xu Zhao replied, “No.”
“You didn’t see if it was a fellow villager or an outsider?” the village chief asked again.
“It was too dark to see clearly,” Xu Zhao deadpanned. “However, I believe that everyone from our village are good people, so it was probably an outsider.”
“How despicable! How dare they steal from our south Bay Village!” the village chief gritted out. He took a few burly men to search the fields, and half an hour later, came back to the big greenhouse empty-handed. They discussed it with the crowd, and angrily decided that the next time they encountered someone trying to steal from the village, regardless of who it was, they would be beaten to death. They wouldn’t really be beaten to death, but would at least have their legs and arms broken before being thrown to the local police station!
This era was both simple and crude!
After the group cursed and comforted Xu Zhao, they all left one by one. However, Xu Zhao knew that this news would be dispersed and would be very effective.
At this time, only Xu Zhao and Da Zhuang’s father were left beside the big greenhouse. Da Zhuang’s father finally couldn’t hold it in anymore and asked, “Xu Zhao, I clearly saw that it was Xu Zuocheng. Why didn’t you let me catch him? It’s not like I wasn’t able to catch him or beat him. So why didn’t you let me give him a good beating?”
Da Zhuang’s father was puzzled.
Xu Zhao calmly asked back, “Is there any use with beating him up?”
Da Zhuang’s father fiercely said, “Why wouldn’t it be useful? If I personally catch him, what could he do? Can he fight back? I’ll beat that saboteur to death!”
Xu Zhao laughed.
It was a while before he asked. “Is it really useful though? What if he said he was just taking a walk? What if he said he came to help his younger brother take a look at the big greenhouse? Or what if he said that he saw the thief so he came over to catch the thief? And even if he did say he was here to take vegetables, he might say that we’re both surnamed Xu, and he was only here to take a couple vegetables. How would the villagers view me if I took him to the police station just because of a couple vegetables?”
Da Zhuang’s father was suddenly quieted by Xu Zhao’s questions. He thought it over, and Xu Zuocheng was indeed the kind of person who would do that.
Xu Zhao didn’t conceal it from Da Zhuang’s father and said, “I acted like that on purpose.”
Da Zhuang’s father was amazed and asked, “You did that on purpose?”
Xu Zhao nodded. “Since Xu Zuocheng is too cunning, if we captured him directly, it would only be scratching the surface of the problem. He would definitely do it again and we wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. However, he was scared and frightened this time, so he probably wouldn’t dare to try again for two or three months.”
“Then what about two or three months from now?”
Xu Zhao smiled again and confidently said, “If he dares try to touch the big greenhouse two or three months from now, the entire village wouldn’t let him off.”
“Why?” Da Zhuang’s father asked again.
Xu Zhao glanced at Da Zhuang’s father and wanted to explain but found it very difficult to do so. Instead, he said, “I can’t explain it in a few words. You’ll understand when the time comes.”
Da Zhuang’s father smiled and said, “All right. I’ll understand when the time comes. Now that the ‘thief’ has run away, should we head back home?”
“There’s no rush,” Xu Zhao answered.
Da Zhuang’s father wanted to say something when he suddenly understood and said, “Xu Zhao, you can’t be wanting Xu Zuocheng to freeze outside while soaking wet, right? In the dead of winter, it’s cold even if you’re wearing cotton-padded jackets, not to mention if you’re soaking wet.”
“That’s right. Let him freeze,” Xu Zhao said with a smile. “This is his punishment.”
Da Zhuang’s father finally understood. He laughed out loud and couldn’t help but give Xu Zhao a thumbs up. Xu Zhao was too smart and knew how to take care of matters. Instead of capturing Xu Zuocheng, this would make Xu Zuocheng suffer even more! It was brilliant! And so admirable!
And so, Da Zhuang’s father stood in place along with Xu Zhao. They stayed there for an hour. When the two got a bit sleepy, they finally walked to Xu Zhao’s house’s back door. When they reached the back door, they heard the dog barking. Xu Zhao turned his head and saw a figure shivering in the darkness as they quickly ran from the road.
Da Zhuang’s father laughed and said, “He probably couldn’t stand the cold anymore. We haven’t even gotten home yet and he already couldn’t wait to head home as well.”
That was right. Xu Zuocheng was miserably frozen tonight. Xu Zhao calmly chucked, then entered the back door along with Da Zhuang’s father.
The next morning, Xu Zhao loaded the vegetables onto the tractor. Afraid that the diesel fuel for the tractor wasn’t enough, Xu Zhao deliberately grabbed some money and headed to the village secretary’s house. On the way, he bumped into Zhu Youlan and the village doctor. The two were chatting as they walked. Zhu Youlan whispered and said that Xu Zuocheng got sick from the cold, saying that he had almost fainted from the fever and so on.
Sick from the cold!
He really got sick from the cold!
Xu Zhao was in a good mood after this and told Da Zhuang’s father when he went back. Da Zhuang’s father admired Xu Zhao even more. “Xu Zhao, you’re really amazing! They even had to call the doctor. That means the sickness can’t be taken lightly. They probably won’t be able to make any trouble for at least the next ten days. Haha, he got sick from this. You really stand out from the masses.”
Xu Zhao replied with a smile, “Those who stand out from the masses must use means that are also different from the masses. I can’t always let others think that I can be easily bullied.”
Da Zhuang’s father immediately echoed, “That’s right. We can’t let others bully us.”
“Mn, all right. It’s getting late. Let’s go sell vegetables.”
“Let’s go sell vegetables!”
Xu Zhao added more diesel fuel to the tractor, then drove the tractor to South Bay Village’s main dirt road. Before, he would often see Xu Zuocheng boasting at the intersection. Today, there wasn’t a trace of his shadow there. Xu Zhao was in a great mood.
He could now finally sell his greenhouse vegetables in peace.