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Once half the popsicle was eaten, half of Cui Dingchen’s depression also disappeared. However, he still silently sat on the big bench in front of the table, which made Xu Zhao very confused. He couldn’t help but call out, “Youngest uncle?”
Cui Dingchen turned to look at Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao asked, “What’s wrong?”
Cui Dingchen answered truthfully, “I’m not happy.”
Xu Zhao asked, puzzled, “Why not?”
Cui Dingchen didn’t speak.
Xu Zhao sat beside Cui Dingchen and asked again, “Is it related to work?”
Cui Dingchen replied, “No.”
“Then is it—”
Before Xu Zhao could finish speaking, Cui Dingchen grabbed his hand, which was on the table. Mother Xu also happened to walk into the main hall from the courtyard. Xu Zhao was so frightened and withdrew his hand. When he turned to look at Cui, Cui Dingchen’s expression had darkened. Xu Zhao was a bit embarrassed as he called out, “Youngest uncle.”
Cui Dingchen didn’t reply.
Xu Zhao whispered, “My mom is here. It wouldn’t be good if she saw.”
Cui Dingchen looked at Xu Zhao, his expression gradually softened.
Xu Zhao immediately realized that his words were ambiguous, as if he was telling Cui Dingchen that “If my mom wasn’t here, it was okay.” This… This made Xu Zhao slightly embarrassed. He was unable to think of a solution for a while, then asked, “Youngest uncle, do you want water?”
Cui Dingchen nodded.
Xu Zhao quickly got up and left the main hall to pour a cup of warm water. He placed it in front of Cui Dingchen, then sat by the table and “earnestly” read his book. In fact, he was paying attention to Cui Dingchen in the corner of his eye.
Cui Dingchen sat beside Xu Zhao. A book was placed in front of him, but he didn’t read it. Instead, he stared at Xu Zhao intently. It was currently afternoon and the cicadas within South Bay Village chirped nonstop. Not only was it noisy, but after a few minutes of noise, there were a few minutes of quiet. The clucking of the two hens as they ran around came from the courtyard. They were looking for a nest to lay eggs, but were chased out by Mother Xu. The afternoon was extremely lively.
Cui Dingchen especially liked it because Xu Zhao was there. Xu Zhao’s ears were red when he looked at them, so he called out, “Xu Zhao.”
Xu Zhao turned his head and looked over.
Cui Dingchen asked, “It feels different.”
Xu Zhao asked back, “What feels different?”
“It seems that you’re not rejecting me at all.”
Xu Zhao felt even more embarrassed.
Cui Dingchen was happy as he laughed. His laughter was full of joy.
Xu Zhao was a bit embarrassed but also a bit happy. He didn’t know how to deal with Cui Dingchen’s charming laugh. His gaze was attracted to the little guy on the bed.
Cui Dingchen followed his gaze.
He saw Xu Fan turn over and sit up on the bed. He was sleepy-eyed as his small meaty hand scratched his small arms. He looked very cute.
Cui Dingchen whispered, “Awake?”
Xu Zhao said, “Mn.”
“What is he doing?”
“He’s still sleepy. He’ll call me in a second.”
As soon as Xu Zhao’s words fell, Xu Fan actually called out, “Daddy!”
Cui Dingchen sweated a bit.
Xu Zhao replied with a smile, “I’m right here.”
Only then did Xu Fan look toward Xu Zhao. He stretched out his little arms for a hug.
Xu Fan walked over and picked up Xu Fan and asked, “Awake?”
Xu Fan was still in a daze as he asked, “Awake.”
“Do you need to pee?”
“Will you go by yourself?”
“Daddy, carry me.”
Xu Zhao took Xu Fan outside. When they returned, Xu Fan’s small arms were wrapped around Xu Zhao’s neck, his head obediently laying on Xu Zhao’s shoulder. He looked like a very obedient baby. He was placed beside Cui Dingchen, his small body immediately straightened as his small meaty hand pointed to the table.
Xu Zhao asked, “What is it?”
Xu Fan immediately replied, “Popsicle stick. I also want to eat popsicles.”
He even noticed that!
Xu Zhao started sweating.
Cui Dingchen was speechless. He was too fond of eating!
Xu Fan spoke again, “I also want to eat popsicles.”
Xu Zhao could only say, “Okay. When we go to the county town to sell watermelons, we’ll go to your Uncle Cui’s place to buy two, okay?”
Now that it was the busy farming period, Cui Qingfeng had started selling popsicles again. The difference was that Xu Zhao was there to help last year. This year, it was only him. With the steel factory and Fan’s Little Shop, the popsicles were selling very well.
Xu Fan nodded and said, “Okay.”
“Then let’s get dressed to sell watermelons, okay?”
Xu Zhao gently spoke to Xu Fan, then dressed Xu Fan in clothes and shoes. He fed Xu Fan some warm water, etc. Cui Dingchen witnessed all of this. Cui Dingchen was used to parents yelling at their children. Those like Xu Zhao were really rare. He liked Xu Zhao even more and liked Xu Fan a bit more as well.
While silently watching Xu Zhao and Xu Fan get ready, Cui Dingchen stood and asked, “Can we go now?”
Xu Zhao found a small straw hat and put it on Xu Fan and said, “Yes.”
“Then let’s go.”
Xu Zhao carried Xu Fan and placed him at the front of the ox cart. When he lifted his gaze, he saw Cui Dingchen pulling the ox cart. Xu Zhao quickly said, “Youngest uncle, you don’t need to pull it. I’ll do it.”
Cui Dingchen smiled and said, “When I first started pulling ox carts, you hadn’t even been born yet.”
Xu Zhao: “…”
“Make sure Xu Fan is sitting tightly. Let’s go.”
Seeing Cui Dingchen pulling the cart, Xu Zhao didn’t stop him. He took care of Xu Fan while doing his best to help Cui Dingchen. And so, the two adults, one child, and an ox cart full of watermelons exited the courtyard. They headed to the entrance of South Bay Village. They happened to meet the villagers who were still cutting wheat or pulling the wheat.
The villagers saw the ox cart full of watermelons that were big and round. They were surprised. They admired Xu Zhao for being capable even more in their hearts. They glanced again at Cui, who was pulling Xu Zhao’s ox cart. They all knew Cui Dingchen drove a compact car. He was seduced by Xu Zhao, who already had a child. Xu Zhao really was amazing.
They scrambled to greet Xu Zhao, acting extremely enthusiastic.
Xu Zhao also had a gentle personality. He also greeted the villagers with a smile and automatically ignored awkward Xu Youcheng within the crowd. He then left South Bay Village with Cui Dingchen and walked toward the county town.
While walking on the right under the shade, they weren’t burned by the sun. And so, Xu Fan took off his small straw hat. He wasn’t sleepy anymore at all. His small mouth started chattering nonstop again. However, Xu Zhao didn’t pay attention to him and chatted with Cui Dingchen instead. They talked about life’s trivial matters like how to prevent summer heat stroke or Cui Dingchen’s health, etc.
However, Xu Fan was unwilling and shouted, “Daddy!”
Xu Zhao turned to look at Xu Fan and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Xu Fan loudly complained, “You’re not paying attention to me!”
Xu Zhao said, “Go ahead. What do you want to tell me?”
“You just want Daddy to talk with you?”
“Mn.” Xu Fan nodded.
Along the whole way, Xu Zhao spoke a sentence to Cui Dingchen then spoke a sentence to Xu Fan until they finally arrived at the county town. Xu Zhao first ran to Fan’s Little Shop to drip a sip of soda, then followed Cui Dingchen and Xu Fan to the vegetable market.
It was the busy farming season, so the vegetable market wasn’t divided into morning and evening markets. If anyone needed anything, they would go to the vegetable market when they had time. Xu Zhao had rented a stall at the vegetable market in advance, so they didn’t need to be exposed to the sun at the entrance of the vegetable market. They pulled the ox cart full of watermelon and entered the vegetable market. He saw a lot of people selling watermelons. Xu Zhao wasn’t in a hurry to place his watermelons onto the stall.
Instead, he cut up a watermelon and divided it into small pieces. He placed those at the front of the stall so that everyone could taste them for free. He then sat with Cui Dingchen and Xu Fan at the side to cool down.
“There’s a lot of people at the vegetable market,” Cui Dingchen said.
Xu Zhao added, “Mn. Since it’s the busy farming season and it’s also hot, there are a lot of people who don’t have time to cook, so they’ll just come to the county town and buy some ready-made melons, fruits, vegetables, steamed buns, and things like that to fill their stomachs. I originally planned on driving the tractor down to the countryside to sell, but Da Zhuang’s father is also busy with the farming season and can’t step away. So I’ll delay it for a couple more days.”
“You’re going to drive the tractor again?” Cui Dingchen asked.
“My daddy is very good at driving the tractor!” Xu Fan, who was eating the pickled plum powder, widened his eyes as he glanced at Cui Dingchen and said. It was as if he was directly telling Cui Dingchen this. Since he drove a big car, he couldn’t look down on someone who drives a tractor.
Cui Dingchen stretched to press the center of his eyebrows. Did he say anything bad about Xu Zhao? This little chubby kid was too defensive.
Xu Zhao touched Xu Fan’s little head and said with a smile, “Mn. I can bring more if I drive the tractor. The body of the car was specially made by the villager’s carpenter, which is twice the size of the ox cart.”
Cui Dingchen said, “But tractors are very bumpy.”
“I’ll spread out more wheat when the time comes.”
“Why don’t you use my truck?”
“That’ll be overkill.”
“It’s fine. In any case, I’m not busy lately. I’ll be your driver. If you care that much, you can just give me a salary.”
Xu Zhao smiled and agreed.
At this time, the passersby who had tried the watermelon suddenly returned to buy Xu Zhao’s watermelon. One passerby, two passersby… There was a constant flow of passersby coming to buy watermelons. Xu Zhao used the scale to calculate the price, and took the money. At first, Cui Dingchen only watched, but later on, Cui Dingchen helped sell watermelons.
Xu Fan finished eating his pickled plum powder and spontaneously started yelling.
“Selling watermelons! Big watermelons!”
Although he was small, his voice was loud and full of a milky tone. It made everyone present laugh out loud. Xu Fan was embarrassed at being laughed at, so he quickly hugged Xu Zhao’s thigh and buried his little face into Xu Zhao’s pants.
“Sanwa, what’s wrong?” Xu Zhao asked with a laugh.
Xu Fan revealed the lower half of his small face and said, “T-they’re laughing at me. I won’t shout anymore.”
Xu Zhao persuaded, “It’s fine. Their laughs are kind. Go ahead and shout again.”
Xu Fan tightly hugged Xu Zhao’s legs. “I won’t shout.”
“Go shout. It’s fine. Quickly. When we sell all our watermelons, we can go buy popsicles and meat. You don’t want to eat them anymore?”
“Then continue shouting. Good luck. Daddy supports you.”
“T-then, Daddy, you can’t laugh at me.”
“Okay. I won’t laugh at you.”
Xu Fan released Xu Zhao’s leg and looked toward Cui Dingchen and said, “Y-you can’t laugh at me either.”
Cui Dingchen, “…Okay. I won’t laugh at you.”
Xu Fan walked out from behind the stall and stood in front of the stall. He held his little belly and shouted two sentences. After he finished, he returned to hug Xu Zhao’s leg. Xu Zhao found time during the business to kiss Xu Fan’s small meaty face and said, “Baobao, you’re amazing!”
Xu Fan’s small meaty hand held his face as he said, “Oh, my. I’m amazing!” Xu Fan then ran out to shout again.
With Xu Fan shouting, along with the fragrance of the watermelons, Xu Zhao only had two watermelons left over when it was almost evening. Xu Zhao was ready to pack up the stall and head home. He turned to Cui Dingchen and said, “Youngest uncle, you worked hard.”
Cui Dingchen said, “I really did. Will you give me a reward?”
Xu Zhao asked, “What kind of reward?”
Cui Dingchen smiled and deliberately leaned close to Xu Zhao.
Xu Zhao smiled and turned his head. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Cui Qingfeng’s figure.