Fangzheng was immediately amused by the adorable girl. However, the girl no longer had the smile she had had previously. There were more hints of sadness on her face. Clearly, the young girl knew of her father's execution. He rubbed Xiaomi's head and said, "You are welcome. Patrons, if you are feeling troubled, you can go to the temple hall and confide with Bodhisattva. Perhaps, Bodhisattva might be able to relieve your troubles. At the very least, Bodhisattva is a very good listener."
Lu Shuangshuang nodded and said, "Master, sorry for disturbing you. Please help me take care of Xiaomi."
Fangzheng looked at the wide-eyed and adorable Xiaomi and nodded slightly, "Patron, rest assured."
"Okay," Lu Shuangshuang nodded, stood up, and walked towards the temple hall.
However, Lu Shuangshuang clearly did not think the same as Fangzheng. She was not religious, and she was a graduate of a famous college. From her point of view, Buddha and God were just crutches that humans created to rely upon in their fantasy. These beings only existed if one believed in them. However, such an existence was a fake existence. Only by pretending that there was such a being would one be able to transfer one's secrets and sins to the imaginary being. By obtaining the being's forgiveness, it allowed one to psychologically desensitize and forgive oneself.
Therefore, she did not think much about praying or relating her problems. She entered the temple hall without thinking that Buddha could help her. All she wanted was to find an opportunity to be in silence and cry.
Without a stout pair of shoulders to rely on, she had to shoulder the responsibility of her daughter and everything with her weak shoulders. She felt strained by the pressure and found it exhausting. She even felt a little lost and did not know what the future had in store for her. The only thing that kept her going was the thought of having to provide for her daughter until she grew up. She had no idea about anything else.
She wanted to cry, but as the pillar of support for the family, she absolutely could not cry in front of her daughter. All she could do was bear with it.
Han Xiaoguo's crimes were too severe, so severe that even his family found it difficult to forgive him. They even drew a line between themselves and the mother-daughter duo. She no longer could find a second place in the world to confide in, relieve herself of her worries, be silent, and cry.
Finally, she had come here. In fact, she had no idea why she came.
Perhaps her sole goal for coming here was simply to cry. She still had to continue her days even if what lay ahead was a dull and dark world.
However, at the instant Lu Shuangshuang stepped into the hall, she felt her mood alleviate without reason. The repressed thoughts that plagued her instantly diminished greatly. It felt like the straw that broke the camel's back. Her sorrow surged out as Lu Shuangshuang knelt on a mat and instantly bawled.
Fangzheng stood at the door with Han Xiaomi. As Lu Shuangshuang's back was facing them, Han Xiaomi did not know that Lu Shuangshuang was crying. However, Fangzheng knew. The trembling shoulders spoke volumes.
"Big Baldy, what is Mommy doing?" asked Han Xiaomi.
Fangzheng smiled and ruffled her hair. "She's thinking through some things, some very important things. Little Baldy, you now have hair, so I'll just call you Xiaomi from now on. Xiaomi, do you like small animals?"
"Yes. When Daddy was around, he would frequently bring me to the zoo. However, Songwu County's zoo is really small. There's only a lizard that never moves, and two wolves that look like dogs. Oh, and there's a goat," grumbled Xiaomi.
Fangzheng was instantly rendered speechless. He had been to that zoo when he was young. He never expected that it would have remained the same despite so many years with its three animal mainstays... That was quite ridiculous. Especially that lizard. When he was young, he thought that the lizard was alive and just too lazy to move. He later learned that it was only a taxidermy. There was no hope of seeing it move this entire life.
However, Fangzheng did not tell Xiaomi that. Instead, he brought Xiaomi to the bodhi tree and knocked on the trunk.
A moment later, Squirrel protruded his head out and squeaked, "Stop knocking. There are no pine nuts today!"
Fangzheng was instantly left embarrassed. Thankfully, Xiaomi did not understand squirrel speak, saving him from an awkward situation. Fangzheng beckoned the squirrel with his hand and said, "Amitabha. Little fellow, come on down. Play with this young Patron."
"No, don't you try to fool me. You are here to steal my pine nuts!" said the squirrel. He looked as though he had cleverly seen through Fangzheng's ploy.
Fangzheng's eyes immediately lit up. This fellow was indeed keeping a private stash!
The squirrel instantly realized that he had let the cat out of the bag. He looked warily at Fangzheng.
Fangzheng said, "Come on down. I have something to tell you. If not, I'm not providing you with any meals today."
The squirrel was still shaking his head initially, but when he heard about not having his meals provided, everything changed. That was absolutely not allowed! Now that the Crystal Rice had become the best food on his palate, he absolutely could not allow it to be taken away!
Hence, the squirrel came down under Fangzheng's threat.
Fangzheng whispered into the squirrel's ear about Xiaomi's story. The squirrel scratched his head and looked at Fangzheng warily. "I'll play with her, but you are not allowed to steal my pine nuts!"
"Look at how petty you are. Can't you be a little bit more generous? You can at least take two out to entertain the guest, right? Just treat it as though I'm borrowing them from you. I'll go out with you one day to pick up more, alright?" Fangzheng felt speechless. The hoarder truly left him helpless at times.
The squirrel cocked his head and thought about something. It was unknown what was going on in that little head of his. Finally, he gave a disparaging look and said, "You are too stupid. You do not know which pine nut is good or bad."
Following that, the little fellow ran up the tree and came down with pine nuts shortly after. When Fangzheng saw this, he was rendered completely speechless. The darn fellow had only taken out two!
As for Xiaomi, she was watching Fangzheng and the little squirrel the entire time. To be precise, she was looking at the little squirrel! Fangzheng's conversation with the little squirrel made her large eyes brighter, especially when she saw how clever the little squirrel was, she loved it even more.
However, the young lass was a little shy and was too embarrassed to squeal at the squirrel. All she could do was look at the little squirrel with her large watery eyes with immense desire and hope.
When Fangzheng saw this, he rapped the little squirrel and said, "What are you looking at me for when you are the one giving the gifts? Aren't you going to give it?"
The little squirrel crawled down with the help of Fangzheng's clothes. When he reached Xiaomi's height, he took out the two pine nuts and handed them to Xiaomi.
Xiaomi excitedly exclaimed, "Are these for me?"
The squirrel looked at Fangzheng, who signaled that dinner would be reduced if the pine nuts weren't given. The little squirrel looked at Xiaomi before steeling his heart to place the two pine nuts on Xiaomi's hand.
Xiaomi was immediately overjoyed. She held them like she had received a treasure. She said to the squirrel, "Thank you!"
Then, Xiaomi lifted the two pine nuts high to show to Fangzheng. "Big Baldy, look! The little squirrel gave me these! They are so pretty! This is the first time I'm receiving a gift from an animal."
Fangzheng said with a smile, "Xiaomi, this is given to you by the little squirrel. It represents your friendship. Isn't that so, little guy?"
Fangzheng prodded Squirrel's fat belly. Ever since he joined the monastery, he was becoming fatter.
Squirrel flicked his tail at Fangzheng and jumped onto Xiaomi's shoulder. Then he squeaked, badmouthing Fangzheng about how unreasonable he was and how he was going to reduce his dinner.