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Xu Zhao and Cui Dingchen were by his desk, one sitting and one standing, and they softly spoke. Their faces had slight smiles, causing Cui Dingchen to feel pain.
Cui Qingfeng relaxed a bit and steadied his thoughts again. He had been thinking a lot these past few days regarding Xu Zhao and his youngest uncle. What his youngest uncle said was true. No one was allowed to hold a grudge against the other. It was based on their ability if they won, and they would have to accept it if they lost.
But he hesitated again. When he was about to lift his hand to push open the door, a sound came from the east wing.
Turning his head, he saw Mother Cui carrying Xu Fan from the east wing. Xu Fan’s small meaty hand was holding a bottle of milk as he chatted with Mother Cui about sitting on a train to go to the imperial capital. Mother Cui smiled and turned to Cui Qingfeng and asked, “Is what Sanwa said true?”
“Huh?” Cui Qingfeng aske.
“The matter about Xu Zhao going to the imperial capital with your youngest uncle.”
“It’s true,” Xu Zhao, who had just come out of the west wing, said.
Mother Cui hurriedly asked, “Why are you going to the imperial capital?”
Xu Zhao replied, “To learn greenhouse vegetable technology.”
“That’s very good.” Mother Cui was more enlightened than the average woman, mainly from Cui Dingchen’s influence. She was more open minded. She then looked at Cui Dingchen and asked, “Dingchen, didn’t you just go to the imperial capital before the new year? Why are you going again?”
Cui Dingchen replied, “Mn, I’m going again.”
Hearing this, Cui Qingfeng looked at Cui Dingchen.
Cui Dingchen’s expression was the same as normal.
Mother Cui asked again, “When are you guys leaving?”
Cui Dingchen replied, “After the 15th.”
“Sanwa is going as well?”
“When are you going back?
“Depending on the situation, probably around half a month.”
Mother Cui let out a long sigh, then told Xu Zhao that it was good to go to the imperial capital and see the world. When he came back, he could earn more money. He could also move to the city when he came back and life would become a lot easier for him. Xu Zhao nodded and agreed. He didn’t stay at the Cui residence for long. He grabbed Xu Fan’s hand and left the Cui residence, saying that he was going to buy Xu Fan spring clothes.
As a result, Cui Dingchen and Cui Qingfeng both said at the same time, “I’ll go with you!”
Xu Zhao was stunned.
Mother Cui also looked at the two and asked, “What’s going on with you two?”
Cui Dingchen expressionlessly said, “I need a shirt.”
Cui Qingfeng added, “I also need to buy some clothes.”
Mother Cui looked suspicious.
Xu Zhao smiled and said, “Then let’s go together.”
And so, Cui Dingchen and Cui Qingfeng followed Xu Zhao and Xu Fan to the county town’s pedestrian street. They said they needed to buy their own clothes, but in fact they didn’t buy any clothes. They followed Xu Zhao and Xu Fan to shop at the children’s store. There weren’t that many children’s stores and they were finished in about ten minutes. Xu Zhao bought two sets of clothes for Xu Fan.
When they were ready to go home, Cui Dingchen and Cui Qingfeng fought again on who would send Xu Zhao home. One with a black compact car and the other with a bicycle… As Xu Zhao was hesitating, Da Zhuang’s father, who had just finished buying clothes for Da Zhuang, took Xu Zhao and Xu Fan home.
Neither Cui Dingchen nor Cui Qingfeng was able to send him home.
However, Xu Zhao still thanked the two, then left home to South Bay Village with Da Zhuang’s father. Xu Fan sat on the bicycle, waving his small meaty hand to Cui Dingchen and Cui Qingfeng as he said, “Second Grandpa Cui, Uncle Cui, bye.”
Cui Qingfeng naturally smiled and waved, “Bye.”
Cui Dingchen also wanted to say bye to Xu Fan, but Xu Fan had already turned his small face. And so, he wasn’t able to say anything. He looked at Cui Qingfeng and lightly smiled.
Cui Qingfeng said, “Youngest uncle, I’m also going to the imperial capital.”
Cui Dingchen sighed for a moment then said, “Fine, you can come up with the money to buy the ticket yourself.”
After a while, Cui Dingchen also said, “Do you want me to help you get the ticket when I get mine?
“Sure.” Cui Qingfeng nodded.
“Okay. Let’s go home then.”
Cui Dingchen walked toward East Street.
Cui Qingfeng followed behind. His mind was on the matter of going to the imperial capital. The next day, he urged Cui Dingchen to go buy the tickets. After ordering three adult tickets with Old Liu and they were preparing to go to the imperial capital together, Cui Qingfeng’s grandmother suddenly fell and was admitted to the hospital. The entire Cui family rushed to go visit her, including Cui Dingchen.
However, the next morning, Cui Dingchen returned. He drove to South Bay Village to pick up Xu Zhao and Xu Fan.
Xu Zhao and Xu Fan were still packing up at home at this time.
However, Xu Zhao had already handed over the things that needed to be handed over. The leafy vegetables in the big greenhouse have all been planted and have already sprouted. Up next was to keep them warm, water them, use commercial fertilizer, pluck the extra seedings, water again, and use commercial fertilizer again. The matter of picking the seedlings didn’t need Xu Zhao to teach them. Mother and Father Xu and Da Zhuang’s father already knew how to do it.
As for keeping it warm, Xu Zhao especially taught the three. It would be spring soon and South Bay Village wouldn’t snow anymore. Mother Xu and the others just need to put on the grass curtain on the big greenhouse at night to keep it warm. They didn’t need to light the cold preventing shield to warm it up.
Mother and Father Xu and Da Zhuang’s father firmly remember it and told Xu Zhao to go to the imperial capital without worry. Xu Zhao was relieved.
However, Mother Xu wasn’t at ease. She was worried that Xu Zhao and Xu Fan would freeze, starve, or get thirsty. And so, he packed two burlap bags of luggage. One bag was full of cotton-padded jackets and food. The other bag was blankets and shoes.
She still thought it wasn’t enough and wanted Xu Zhao to also bring a thermos flask so that they could drink hot water… Xu Zhao helplessly explained to Mother Xu. He then took out the black bag he bought from the county town. He packed two sets of clothes and shoes, one for himself and one for Xu Fan, some feeding bottles, half a bag of milk powder, five packs of Tang Seng Meat, five packs of pickled plum powder, a double layered enamel box, and that was basically all.
However, Mother Xu wasn’t satisfied and also gave the sweet potato cakes they fried on the 29th, sangza, and vegetable meatballs to Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao hurriedly said, “Mom, that’s enough. There’s no need to bring this much. The imperial capital has everything. We can buy it there. I can’t bring this much.”
“Just bring it.” Mother Xu still placed the items into the leather bag. “We fried this ourselves. You can’t buy it. Just take it and eat it on the road. If you’re hungry at night, you can also eat it.”
“There’s really no need,” Xu Zhao said.
Mother insisted, “Take it all. Take it all.”
Xu Zhao’s black bag was once again stuffed full. Mother Xu still seemed uneasy. She walked back and forth through the main hall, east wing, and kitchen, worried that Xu Zhao would forget to bring something. At this time, a car horn sounded.
Cui Dingchen had arrived.
Xu Zhao quickly pushed the black bag, as if he was escaping, and said, “Mom, let’s not bring it. I’m leaving. Xu Fan, let’s go. The big car is here.”
And so, Xu Zhao and Xu Fan basically ran out of the courtyard.
Mother Xu held a flour steamed bun in her hand as she ran out and followed. She ran to the car and forced the flour steamed bun to Xu Zhao, who was sitting in the car. She then finally let it go, then said a few words to Cui Dingchen. She and Father Xu leaned against the car windows, telling Xu Zhao to be more attentive outside and be more careful, to come home early and whatnot.
“Don’t be reluctant to spend money.”
“Take care of Baobao. Don’t let Baobao starve or get thirsty or get cold.”
“You don’t get cold either.”
“Spend whatever money you need to.”
“Look after Sanwa well. Don’t let him run around.”
Mother and Father Xu both spoke at once, and they talked up until Cui Dingchen started the car and left South Bay Village. The two elders stood at the intersection of Sanwa, waving their hands as they called, “Xu Zhao, don’t try to save money. You have to call back often. Take care of Sanwa.”
“I got it. You guys should head back!” Xu Zhao poked his head out of the car door and called out to Mother and Father Xu, Da Zhuang’s father, and the others. Seeing everyone’s figures becoming smaller and smaller, Xu Zhao’s heart warmed as he turned to sit back right. He turned his head to look at Xu Fan, who had immersed himself with nibbling on the wheat steamed bun. He reached out and took it.
Xu Fan raised his watery eyes, licked his small red lips, and giggled. He also probably thought that it wasn’t appropriate for him to steal food either. He bluntly changed the topic. “Daddy, we’re sitting in the big car!”
“Big cars are so fast!”
Xu Zhao packed up the wheat steamed bun, then finally turned to Cui Dingchen, who was driving, and asked, “Youngest uncle, where’s Qingfeng.”
Cui Dingchen said, “Qingfeng isn’t going anymore.”
“Why not? Wasn’t his ticket already purchased?”
“It was returned.”
“Why was it returned?” Xu Zhao asked in shock.
Cui Dingchen replied, “His grandmother fell yesterday and was admitted to the hospital.”
Xu Zhao quickly asked, “Is it serious?”
“It’s not serious but she’s old and needs someone to take care of her. His uncle’s family is out of town right now and my sister-in-law needs to work. My brother’s body has only just healed, so Qingfeng has to stay behind to take care of her.”
Xu Zhao breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Oh, it’s good that it isn’t anything serious. Falling is very dangerous for the elderly.”
Cui Dingchen agreed, “Mn. Once she’s discharged from the hospital, we’ll bring her over here to live. It’ll be easier to take care of her then.”
“Why wasn’t she brought over sooner?”
“She said she likes the village. Said she can live at ease there.”
“That’s true. Our ways of thinking differ.”
“Mn,” Cui Dingchen responded.
Xu Zhao stopped talking and pulled Xu Fan, who was pasted on the car’s window, back to his seat.
Xu Fan turned his head and asked, “Daddy, what are you doing?”
Xu Zhao said, “Sit properly.”
“I can’t see if I sit properly.”
“See the cows and sheep.”
“Don’t you see them at home everyday?”
“But I still want to see.”
“Stop looking. You can look again after we get on the train.”
“Will there be any on the train?”
Xu Fan finally obediently sat properly in his seat. He happily hummed a children’s song. The tune was off and the tone was off as well, but he still hummed without stopping. Cui Dingchen glanced at him a few times through the rearview mirror, and he even directly looked back a few times as well
“Second Grandpa Cui, why are you looking at me?” Xu Fan asked.
Cui Dingchen smoothly replied, “Because you look good.”
“Mn!” Xu Fan said without any shame. “I look very good. I rubbed on fragrance today.”
Cui Dingchen: “…”
Knowing that Cui Dingchen didn’t like children, Xu Zhao quickly intercepted and conversed with Xu Fan, letting Cui Dingchen drive in peace. Not long later, they arrived at the West Prefecture City’s train station. Old Liu, whom they hadn’t seen in a long time, came over and gave Cui Dingchen the two train tickets. After accepting it, he took the keys Cui Dingchen offered him and drove Cui Dingchen’s black compact car away.
Xu Zhao carried the black bag with his left hand and held hands with Xu Fan with the left one. As they were about to head toward the waiting room, he felt his left hand become lighter. He turned his head to see that the black bag was now in Cui Dingchen’s hands.
“I’ll hold it. You carry Xu Fan,” Cui Dingchen said. “He looked very dazed. We don’t want him to get lost.”
Xu Zhao lowered his head to look at Xu Fan. Everytime Xu Fan saw something or someone new, he would always first stare blankly at it to assess the situation before becoming very excited. Just like how he was with the big car before.
“Xu Fan,” Xu Zhao called.
Xu Fan raised his small meaty face. “Daddy.”
“I’ll carry you.”
Xu Fan obediently let Xu Zhao carry him. He wrapped his arm around Xu Zhao’s neck and said in a milky voice, “Daddy, t-there’s so many people here.”
“Mn, there’s a lot of people,” Xu Zhao softly agreed.
“What are they doing here?” Xu Fan curiously asked.
Xu Zhao replied, “They’re waiting for the train to ride it.”
“They’re also going to the imperial capital.”
“Some are going to the imperial capital and others are going somewhere else.”
Xu Fan sat in Xu Zhao embrace as he looked about. He was very obedient.
Xu Zhao looked for Cui Dingchen’s figure then found Cui Dingchen carrying a small leather suitcase in his left hand. His right hand was holding the black bag that was three times larger than the leather suitcase. That black bag was his and it was even bigger than Xu Fan.
It was like Cui Dingchen had come to be a laborer for him.