Sophie beckoned him over and Crispy Noodles ran to her. On the way a tomato fell out of his pocket. He went back, grabbed the tomato and ran back again.
The raccoon stopped in front of Sophie, stood up and gave her the little tomato. Then he went to Li Du, used his front paw and showed him the little gifts inside his pocket.
Seeing that, the lady doctor pretended to be angry and said, "Hey! Crispy Noodles, only one tomato for me and everything else for Li? I'm not going to like you anymore."
Crispy Noodles turned to blink at Sophie. Then he took out a stick of grilled corn for Li Du and showed Sophie his little gifts.
Sophie was amused and giggled. The people around her were amazed.
"What a sweet little raccoon!"
"If all raccoons are so well behaved, I wouldn't ever chase them away from my backyard!"
"This animal must have undergone extensive training. Otherwise, it would be impossible for it to perform an action like this."
The act of Crispy Noodles asking for gifts was a small episode in the parade. The parade proceeded smoothly without any hiccups. The crowd took one and a half hours for a two-mile journey.
After returning to the square, Mayor Thompson took the stage and gave a short speech.
The speech was all about blessings and well-wishes for everyone. The mayor thanked everyone for coming to the autumn harvest festival, and gave his congratulations to the all the farmers and ranchers for the harvest.
After the speech, a band came up to the stage and began to perform.
Li Du saw Mr. and Mrs. Martin had also come to the celebration. He wanted to greet them but both of them went straight for Mayor Thompson, so he gave up on going to them.
Watching from the side, he saw the Martins greet the mayor and point at him. It seemed that they were talking to Mayor Thompson about him.
Mr. Li didn't know what they were talking about with the distance and all the noise, so he waved and smiled at the three with a nod.
Mr. and Mrs. Martin smiled back at Li Du while Mayor Thompson nodded at him. Li saw the mayor pat his chest as if he promised something to the Martins.
Sophie tugged his sleeve and pulled him away. "Come, there are some shooting games. I saw a teddy bear and I liked it a lot. I wanna see if I can get it!"
Li Du glanced over and saw the commonly-seen activity in carnivals where one shot some targets to win prizes. There were a couple of such booths with walls filled with small balloons and people could choose between airguns, arrows or bolts to play.
Prizes were determined by the number of small balloons shot. Patrons could get different prizes with most of them being plushies of various designs, shapes and sizes. The toys were exquisite and lovely in the booth Sophie had spotted the bear. They were exquisitely crafted and had attracted many children, who all gathered around the booth.
The teddy bear that Sophie took a liking to was not a small one; it was close to the height of a small child. It was round and fat with smooth, glistening fur. It had a small tail and small hairy ears just like a real bear.
Sophie's eyes revealed her desire to get the bear. "How's your marksmanship?"
"Not really amazing," said Li Du with a somewhat bitter smile. "I've never used a gun. I mean a real gun." He felt that this might be too ambiguous and added, "I mean a real gun that fires bullets."
Sophie was not bothered by his words. She cheerfully replied, "Well, okay then. I'll try to get it myself."
It was ten shots for a game no matter the type of weapon used. The costs were different for men, women and children. A game cost a man ten dollars, which worked out to a dollar per shot. However, it only cost five dollars for a woman and two dollars for a child.
Evidently, the booth owner was very smart at keeping the risks to a minimum.
The crowd of children cheered and shouted. Business was good. Although there was no lack in people trying their luck with the shooting, most of them were empty-handed after using up all their shots. Even if someone was lucky enough to win a prize, they only managed to get a small prize.
Sophie paid ten dollars for two games, which was 20 shots. Her marksmanship was lackluster. The distance from the point of shooting to the wall of balloons was more than thirty feet. Most of her shots missed and she didn't manage to win a single prize.
She was frustrated and disappointed. She pouted and said, "Argh, I didn't get anything."
The children were less likely to hit the balloons. An Asian boy was the same as Sophie and didn't manage to win a prize. With a helpless expression on his face, he put down the airgun and stretched out a hand to touch the nearby hippo plushie.
When the black booth owner saw what the boy was about to do, he snapped at him. "Hey kid, don't touch that! You can't touch the toy if you didn't win it!"
"The child's hands are clean," Li Du said with a smile. "And it's just a touch. It shouldn't matter, right? After all, they're your customers."
The booth owner had a bad temper; he glared at Li Du and said, "Rules are rules. If he won in accordance with the rules, I would give him his prize and he could touch and hug it all he wanted. As for now? Just move aside!"
The owner's words were unpleasant and his tone was harsh. Li Du was somewhat irritated.
Sophie tugged his sleeve and whispered, "Don't be fooled by him. Don't be impulsive. He deliberately provoked you so you would spend money to buy more shots."
Li Du understood the situation after Sophie pointed that fact out. No wonder he felt that the owner had a short temper and that his attitude could drive customers away. His original intent was actually to try and provoke the children's guardians.
He smiled and asked, "You wanted the teddy bear, right?"
Sophie nodded. "Yeah, but what do you want to do? Didn't you say that you've never used a gun before?"
"Right, but I'm good with something else."
He handed a ten-dollar bill to the booth owner. He chose a crossbow and ten plastic bolts.
The booth owner quietly smiled to himself upon seeing that. Apparently he thought that his plan had worked on Li Du.
Li Du smiled as well. He loaded the bolts and lifted the crossbow. With a tilt of his head and his eyes, the crossbow and the balloon fell in one line before him.
An onlooker commented, "I have the feeling this dude is an expert in this area. Go for it!"
Swish! Li Du pulled the trigger. The bolt fired but it didn't hit any balloon.
The balloons on the wall were very small. From where he was shooting, they were the size of baby fists. The balloons were also somewhat far away from one another, so it was a quite a feat to burst a balloon.
Li Du continued to pull the trigger. Another bolt fired but it didn't manage to hit any balloons either.
Li could hear the children sighing around him. Sophie was anxious as well. She squeezed her fists and cheered him on.
Five bolts were shot but all five of them missed the balloons.
The booth owner laughed; his body leaned over the counter and teased, "Hey lad, you act like an expert but you sure don't shoot like one. You need to brush up on your marksmanship!"
Li Du reloaded the bolts and asked casually, "There's a prize for hitting five balloons, right?"
"Yes," Sophie said, "you get the grade E reward."
The plushie rewards were categorized by five grades:
Five balloons Grade E reward
Six balloons Grade D reward
Eight balloons Grade C reward
Nine balloons Grade B reward
Ten balloons Grade A reward
The size of the plushie was directly proportional to the reward. The higher the grade, the larger the plushie. The teddy bear that Sophie wanted was a Grade B reward.
Li Du nodded and lifted the crossbow again. He activated Time Deceleration in his mind and everything around him became slow motion. He adjusted his aim to perfection and pulled the trigger:
A bolt flew out of the crossbow and burst a balloon!
Sophie clapped cheerily. "Nice!"
Li Du's hands were as solid as rocks. He reloaded with one hand while the other pulled the trigger. Swish! Swish! Swish! Swish!Four bolts were fired and burst four balloons!