Cao Xueke suddenly opened her eyes. “Mommy, I’m fine. I don’t need to go to the hospital. There’s no need to spend money on me.”
Li Xiang stroked Cao Xueke’s head. “Alright, Xueke, you are a good girl. You don’t have to worry about the family matters. Have a good sleep.”
The couple stopped discussing the topic with Cao Xueke awake. They did not wish for her to hear any of that.
The next day at dawn, Cao Can went out. In fact, work began in the mines at nine in the morning. However, Cao Can went early every morning, and even began mining ahead of time. With regards to this, his boss did not say anything. Instead, he liked Cao Can’s work attitude. He had commended Cao Can several times at town halls, and Cao Can had indeed obtained more salary as a result.
But today, Cao Can was called to his boss’s office before being sent to the county city to purchase some items. Cao Can followed someone to the county city by car. His boss had been generous to him, giving fifty yuan for lunch. There were only two people, with each person getting twenty-five. That was not considered a small amount. It was noon by the time the duo finished purchasing a batch of items.
“Brother Cao, are you eating?” asked the driving Xiaozhao with a smile. He often went to the city to make goods purchases, so he was very familiar with the area. He was also very bohemian and not as restrained as Cao Can was.
Cao Can shook his head. “If we leave, who is to watch the goods? You go on ahead. I’m not hungry.”
“Don’t worry. No one will steal goods like ours. Besides, the crime rate in the county city is very low. Are you really not going?” Xiaozhao asked.
Cao Can shook his head. Helpless, Xiaozhao left alone.
Cao Can did not bring his pancakes with him this time. His stomach growled hungrily and not far away, there was a mantou shop. A large basket of steamed mantous happened to come fresh out of the oven. The shop employee shouted, “The lid is opening!”
The moment he shouted, he opened the basket’s lid, letting steam billow out of it. Simultaneously, the fragrance of white mantou flitted over, making Cao Can’s stomach growl even louder. Cao Can turned his head away and did not watch. He lowered his head to look at the ground.
Moments later, a woman passed by with a young fatty. A moment later the fatty took a bite from a mantou before he waved his hand and threw the mantou away. He exclaimed, “It doesn’t taste nice! Mommy I want KFC!”
“You darn brat, there you go wasting food again! You were the one clamoring to eat this, and now you don’t want it?!”
“It smells good, but it doesn’t taste nice. I’m not eating it. I want KFC!”
“Alright, alright. I really have to give in to a little ancestor like you.”
The woman was very exasperated as she walked off with the fatty.
Cao Can looked at the mantou on the ground before looking at the departing duo. He immediately picked up the mantou from the ground, wiped away the dirt on it and bit down at it. But after taking two mouthfuls, someone was standing in front of him. It was the shop employee who sold mantous.
“Is something the matter?” Cao Can appeared very apprehensive, as though he was a thief being caught red-handed.
The employee smiled and brought forward a bag of mantous from behind him. In it were some pickled vegetables and a bowl of porridge. “My boss said that we made too much for lunch and it can’t be finished. Why don’t we eat it together”
With that said, the employee looked towards the stall. Sitting there was a chubby middle-aged man. When he saw Cao Can look over, he waved in a friendly manner and shouted, “Brother, it’s too hot outside. Come in to eat!”
Cao Can stood up when he heard that. He bowed at the boss and employee and said politely, “Thank you, but my clothes are dirty. I won’t take up your offer.”
The employee chuckled. “What do you mean your clothes are dirty. You are just sitting. We just need to wipe the seats. Let’s go.”
Cao Can refused to go as he bowed again, expressing his gratitude. The employee felt resigned and gave up. He returned to tell his boss something. His boss scratched his head and shouted, “Brother, you can come to me if you are hungry in the future. We always make too many mantous. Since no one buys those, we can eat them together.”
Cao Can bowed once again to express his gratitude. He sat by the side to continue eating the mantous and pickled vegetables. This was the best meal he had had in months!
At that moment, he heard someone converse behind him.
“For real? Jiang Ting, is what you said for real? One Finger Monastery is that godly? Childless couples who pray there end up having children? Furthermore, it’s a place with so many miracles?”
“Of course. Do you think I’ll lie to you? But this is something that few will believe even if you tell them. Anyway, it’s something I witnessed for myself. I’m telling you, that One Finger Monastery is really miraculous. At the very least, I know that many things science cannot explain have happened there several times.” The person speaking was none other than the nurse, Jiang Ting.
“I heard about it too. There were quite a number of posts on my WeChat Moments that mentioned this matter. I’m not sure if it’s real, but if I have the chance, I really wish to take a look. Isn’t it quite miraculous for there to be bamboo growing in the northeast?”
“I even saw someone with a face covered in moles and hair”
As they spoke, they departed.
As the saying goes, a casual remark reveals much to an attentive listener. Cao Can looked up, his eyes shimmering with hope as though he had seen a straw to clutch at.
The scene changed once again. Early in the morning, Cao Can carried his daughter, Cao Xueke, out the door before dawn. He borrowed a motorcycle and dashed straight for Mt. One Finger.
Upon seeing up to this point, Fangzheng sighed. He finally understood why the two would come so early every day. Cao Can still needed to rush back to earn money by mining. Therefore, he could only come early and leave early.
At that moment, Cao Can was kneeling in the temple hall in his dream. He was silently praying, “Bodhisattva, please bless my daughter. Please let her recover from her illness. For her, I’m willing to give up my life. If it doesn’t work out, please bless that my future plan will be carried out perfectly. In the future, when I’m not with her, please bless her with a peaceful life.”
Fangzheng shook his head slightly. Cao Can had long made preparations. He was visiting One Finger Monastery for that last bit of hope. If his wish did not come true, he would definitely embark on that road of no return.
However, Fangzheng still did not do a thing. He dispelled A Golden Millet Dream and continued chanting as he struck the wooden fish.
Cao Can was slightly taken aback. He did not understand why he had recalled so much. In any case, he shook his head, got up, and left with Cao Xueke.
Just as Cao Can was about to step out the monastery, Fangzheng finally spoke, “Patron, This Penniless Monk has a question for you.”
Cao Can was taken aback. He pointed at himself, “Venerable One, you have a question for me?”
Fangzheng smiled and pressed his palms together. “Yes.”
“Venerable One, I didn’t attend school.”
Fangzheng ignored him and continued, “Yesterday, This Penniless Monk saw a pair of mandarin ducks who are known to be lifelong couples. The female mandarin duck drowned, causing the male mandarin duck to be very depressed. Following that, he drowned himself. Do you know why?”
“Venerable One, how can a mandarin duck drown? Also, we have mandarin ducks here now?” Although Cao Can had never attended school, he had a grasp of general knowledge.
“This Penniless Monk saw it in the animal world. As for whether they can drown or not, what do you think? If a living man dies because of a matter that is not hopeless, what is going on with the mandarin duck drowning even if it can swim?”
Cao Can was stunned. Fangzheng’s words agitated him a little. However, he was unsure if Fangzheng was referring to him. He pondered over Fangzheng’s question before saying, “I feel that in the male mandarin duck’s heart, the female mandarin duck is his everything. With her dead, his heart dies as well. Without her in his life, he thus follows her in death.”