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Xu Zhao drove the tractor, bringing Xu Fan and Da Zhuang’s father to the county town. After calling Cui Qingfeng, they all headed to the vegetable market to sell the vegetables. However, they didn’t go to East Street’s vegetable market today, but headed to West Street’s vegetable market. Regardless of which vegetable market they went to, the vegetable markets of this era and time were very lacking. Therefore, before they were even able to set up, their entire tractor full of vegetables were completely sold out.
Xu Zhao happily brought Xu Fan and Da Zhuang’s father home. Once they arrived home, he heard Mother Xu say that Xu Zuocheng’s illness was very serious.
“How did it get even more serious?” Xu Zhao asked in surprise.
“I heard someone say that he would need ten to twelve days to recover,” Mother Xu said.
Xu Zhao was a bit guilty as he said, “That’s not bad.”
Mother Xu said, “It’s Chinese New Year. To be sick on Chinese new years. He won’t even be able to eat any meat. Who knows how he got sick. I heard someone say that he got sick from the cold. It’s not like he isn’t wearing clothes. He’s a grown adult. Doesn’t he know if he’s hot or cold? How could he get a cold and catch a fever and a cough? In my opinion, he must be because he’s too evil hearted. When he was walking at night, he must have encountered something nasty.”
In South Bay Village, this “something nasty” meant evil ghosts and stuff like that. They were very superstitious.
Xu Zhao was silent. Regarding yesterday’s incident, Mother Xu was in the same boat as the other villagers. She only knew that there was a thief that stole vegetables but didn’t know that the thief was Xu Zuocheng. She also didn’t know that Xu Zuocheng got sick because he was stuck in the sewer.
Mother Xu didn’t dwell on Xu Zuocheng’s illness for long and changed the topic, “Oh, right. Xu Zhao, I want to talk to you about something.”
Xu Zhao looked at Mother Xu and asked, “What is it? Tell me.”
Mother Xu asked, “The villagers want to buy our vegetables. Do we sell to them?”
“Yes,” Xu Zhao said, “It’s all money. Why wouldn’t we want to make money?”
“How should we sell it? How much for one catty?”
“We’ll sell it half off,” Xu Zhao said.
“Isn’t half off too much?” Mother Xu was a bit reluctant.
Xu Zhao said, “Then 20% off. We sell more vegetables during the new year than usual anyway. We’ll still make a lot if we discount it by 20%. If anyone wants to buy it, you can just sell it at the 20% discounted price.”
“Okay.” Mother Xu nodded and asked, “What should we eat for lunch?”
“Ask Xu Fan.”
“Where is Sanwa?” Mother Xu asked.
Xu Zhao looked around and said, “He’s with Dad and the others by the entrance listening to the radio. I’ll go ask.”
Xu Zhao walked out of the courtyard. Outside of the courtyard, Father Xu and Da Zhuang’s grandpa were looking after Xu Fan and Da Zhuang. They were all sitting on top of a rock, listening to the radio. They were listening to The Yang’s Saga, and the four people were listening very attentively. Xu Zhao called Xu Fan, and Xu Fan didn’t even hear it. He was very earnestly listening to it.
When Xu Zhao walked out, the first sequence of The Yang’s Saga had just finished, and it was followed by the weather forecast. He heard that there would be a blizzard on the 29th.
After winter arrived, it had snowed twice. However, it snowed lightly. Moreover, the vegetables hadn’t fully matured during that time. It was fine as long as they looked after them. But now, they had to go to the county town to sell the vegetables. The road from South Bay Village to the county town was a dirt road that was full of mud. When the weather was bright and sunny, it didn’t feel inconvenient. But once it stormed or if there was a blizzard, the tractor might get stuck in the mud or snow. How would they sell the vegetables then?
Father Xu and Da Zhuang’s grandpa also knew about this problem. They both glanced at Xu Zhao at the same time.
Xu Zhao was also stunned. There was actually going to be a blizzard on the 29th.
Father Xu used the crutches to stand up and asked, “Xu Zhao, we’ll probably still have a cart full of vegetables that haven’t sold yet on the 29th, right?”
Xu Zhao nodded and said, “That’s right.”
“Then what should we do?”
“It’s fine.” Xu Zhao’s mind quickly calculated as he said, “It’ll be fine. We’ll sell all the vegetables on the 28th.”
Father Xu asked, “How will we sell them?”
Xu Zhao pondered for a moment before answering, “We’ll work a bit harder to sell them all.”
“But we won’t be able to harvest all the vegetables.”
“How will we harvest them all?”
The reason Xu Zhao only went to the county town to sell vegetables once a day was not only to follow the county town’s vegetable market’s rules, but it was also because they could only harvest so many vegetables a day.
If they increased the amount, he worried it would exhaust the elders of the Xu and Li families and make them sick. Even he was a bit unable to endure it. However, since there would be a blizzard soon and the elders of the families couldn’t be overworked, that meant he had to work a bit harder. He would have to visit the county town twice a day. As for the problem of harvesting the vegetables, he would have to hire people from the village.
“Who would we hire?” Father Xu asked.
“We’ll hire some honest and diligent people,” Xu Zhao said.
“We’ll have to give them a wage, right?” Father Xu said.
“Of course. That would still be better than letting the vegetables rot. Moreover, it’ll be the 29th soon. We need to hurry up and sell or else it’ll be too late.”
Father Xu thought about it then immediately said, “Okay, I’ll go find some people.”
Father Xu insisted, “I’ll go. I’m more familiar with the villagers than you.”
“Okay.” Xu Zhao didn’t insist any longer.
And so, Father Xu clutched the crunches as he headed inside the village to hire people to harvest vegetables. Not long later, he found four young and strong men to come over. Xu Zhao told them the situation, and after the four young men agreed, they started harvesting vegetables in the big greenhouse that very afternoon.
After collecting the vegetables, Xu Zhao drove the tractor to the county town. He didn’t head to the vegetable market this time. Instead, he wandered the various streets of the county town to sell the vegetables. Since the vegetables were fresh and scarce, they were sold very quickly. It sold as fast as when they were in the vegetable market.
Two days later, it was the 28th. Xu Zhao, Cui Qingfeng, Da Zhuang’s father, and Xu Fan were selling vegetables when snowflakes started falling from the sky.
“It’s snowing,” Cui Qingfeng said.
“Didn’t they say it wouldn’t start until tomorrow?” Da Zhuang’s father cursed. “Dammit! The weather forecast is never accurate. We still have half a cart full of vegetables that we haven’t sold.”
“It’s fine,” Xu Fan said. “We can still sell them in the snow. It’s just Xu Fan…”
Xu Zhao looked at Xu Fan. Xu Fan was currently obediently sitting in the tractor. His head was lowered and his small meaty hands were peeling an edamame. He would peel a bean then put it in his pocket.
Hearing the two words “Xu Fan,” Xu Fan immediately raised his small face. “Daddy, you called me Xu Fan.”
“Yes, I called you Xu Fan.” Xu Zhao was unable to hold back his laugh. He raised his head and said, “Look, it’s snowing.”
Xu Fan raised his small face toward the sky to look and replied, “We can’t sell vegetables in the snow.” This was something he frequently heard from the adults.
Xu Zhao looked at Xu Fan and gently said, “We can. Adults can sell vegetables if it’s snowing lightly, but you can’t be snowed on.”
Xu Fan widened his watery eyes as he asked, “Why not?”
Xu Zhao explained with a smile, “If kids get snowed on, they will get sick. You’ll have to eat medicine and get a shot if you get sick. Therefore, follow Uncle Cui and go to Grandma Cui’s house.”
“I’m not going,” Xu Fan directly refused and said, “I want to stay with Daddy.”
“Daddy is selling vegetables.”
“I will also sell vegetables.”
How stubborn! Xu Zhao thought it over, then changed tactics and said, “But when Daddy finishes selling vegetables, I’ll be thirsty and want to drink water. There’s no water here. You go to Grandma Cui’s house and tell Grandma Cui to boil some water for Daddy to drink, okay?”
Daddy was thirsty and wanted to drink water!
Xu Fan was immediately tricked by Xu Zhao and nodded. “Okay. Boil some water for Daddy to drink.”
“Yes. You go back first and tell Grandma Cui. Daddy will go over to drink some water soon.”
“Okay.” Xu Fan nodded.
Xu Zhao smiled. “Go on. Our Xu Fan is so amazing! Go on ahead with Uncle Cui. Daddy will come find you soon.”
“Daddy, you have to come quickly.”
“Okay. Daddy will be quick. You have to be good when you’re at Grandma Cui’s house.”
“Mn. I’m very good.”
“Our Xu Fan is different from others. You’re amazing.” Xu Zhao once read from a book that one had to praise children often so that they could cultivate confidence. Although Xu Fan had enough confidence in himself already, Xu Zhao still wasn’t stingy with the praises.
After Xu Fan was praised, he willingly left with Cui Qingfeng.
Xu Zhao turned to Cui Qingfeng and had Cui Qingfeng return to East Street with Xu Fan first.
Cui Qingfeng agreed, “Okay. Where are you heading off to now? I’ll bring you an umbrella.”
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “No need. It’s just a bit of snow. I’ll be fine. I’m just worried Xu Fan will get sick from the cold. Oh, right. Xu Fan loves to run around. Help me look after him. I’ll go find you once I sell everything.”
“Okay, don’t worry.”
Cui Qingfeng carried Xu Fan from the tractor. He watched Xu Zhao drive the tractor around a corner and disappear before carrying Xu Fan from East Street. He hadn’t even taken a few steps when he noticed Xu Fan frowning like he was about to cry.
“What’s wrong?” Cui Qingfeng asked.
Xu Fan flattened his small lips and said, “Daddy left.”
“…Your Daddy went to sell vegetables.”
“I’ll also go sell vegetables.” Xu Fan continued to frown. One could see that he was about to cry.
Cui Qingfeng quickly followed Xu Zhao’s trick and said, “If you go sell vegetables, how would your daddy drink water?”
Xu Fan immediately stopped frowning. His watery eyes looked at Cui Qingfeng.
Cui Qingfeng said, “We should hurry and have Grandma Cui boil some water for your Daddy to drink, okay?”
“Okay, let’s quickly head home!”
“Mn,” Xu Fan ferociously nodded.
Cui Qingfeng carried Xu Fan in the light snow as he quickly walked toward East Street. When he entered the courtyard, he quickly brought Xu Fan to the main hall. Grabbing a towel, he brushed off the tiny snowflakes from Xu Fan’s body. When he looked up, he saw Cui Dingchen wearing a black sweater. His body stood tall as he walked out from the west wing. He immediately called out in surprise, “Youngest uncle! Youngest uncle, you’re back!”
“Mn.” Cui Dingchen softly smiled. “I’m back.”
Cui Qingfeng’s face was full of smiles. “When did you get back?”
Cui Dingchen was also in a good mood. “Just now.”
“I thought you wouldn’t be back until the 30th.”
“There’s a blizzard tomorrow and it won’t be convenient to travel. Therefore, I came back earlier.”
After Cui Dingchen finished speaking, his eyes traveled down and looked at Xu Fan who wore so much clothes that he looked like a ball. Xu Fan hadn’t seen Cui Dingchen in over a month and almost couldn’t recognize him. He was also instinctively pressured by Cui Dingchen’s aura, so he hugged Cui Qingfeng’s leg. His small meaty face pressed against Cui Qingfeng’s pants, and only his water eyes staring at Cui Dingchen were revealed.
Cui Dingchen: “…Xu Sanwa, do you not recognize me anymore?”
Xu Fan didn’t speak and continued to look at Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen continued,” I have milk. I also brought back pig trotters.”
Xu Fan’s eyes lit up.
He should recognize him now. Cui Dingchen slightly leaned over and asked, “Do you know who I am now?”
Xu Fan thought for a moment then said, “I know. My Daddy also knows.”
Cui Dingchen gently said, “Then who am I? If you’re right, I’ll give you milk.”
Xu Fan quickly added, “I also want to eat pig trotters.”
“If you get it right, I’ll give you the milk and pig trotters.”
Xu Fan immediately happily replied, “You drive the big car!”
Cui Dingchen: “…”