On New Year's Eve, Li Du video called Sophie to show her how his family was making preparations to welcome the Spring Festival.
Knowing that their future daughter-in-law was going to see the family home via the video call, Mr. and Mrs. Li had cleaned the house again that evening.
At this time, Mrs. Li reproached him. "Should have bought a new house earlier so that it at least looks decent when the son brings our daughter-in-law back. Just look how shabby our house is now!"
Mr. Li was annoyed. "Buy, buy, buy! All you say is that we should buy a house for our son, but is that up to us? Do we let him choose it himself? But I guess it really is high time we bought a new house."
The place they were living in was the village within the city, with the old house having been built more than 20 years ago. Although a new level had been added on, it was meant for seeking additional relocation allowancesit was actually not meant to be living quarters.
Li Du turned the screen over. "Dad and Mom, don't worry so much. Sophie doesn't want to see what our house is likeshe just wants to experience Chinese culture and customs."
Mr. Li said, "Bring her back next year. Oh, the video call is still going on?"
As soon as he saw Sophie on the mobile phone's screen, he tidied his clothes in a hurry.
"Offering you new year greetings," Li Du said light-heartedly.
At this time, Sophie clasped her hands together and shook them, while smiling and saying fluently in Chinese, "Uncle, Aunty, happy new year. I am offering you new year greetings for a long life and abundance"
"Japanese son of a b*tch!" Hans looked over and grimaced. Then he waved enthusiastically. "Little Sophie, happy new year!"
Sophie chuckled upon seeing him and said, "What did you say just now?"
Hans said, "I found myself a teacher to teach me Chinese here at Li's. This is a slang phrase I just learned. When the Chinese say that to each other, they get into each other's good books."
Li Du pushed him aside. "Move aside, Big Fox, don't fool around."
After Mr. and Mrs. Li heard her greetings, the wrinkles on their faces were all stretched out in joy. They chorused, "Happy new year, Sophie. Our best wishes to your parents. What a good girl."
After the video call ended, Mr. and Mrs. Li fired at Li Du, "Why didn't you tell us earlier that we were going to be on the video call? So that we could have at least changed into our new clothes."
Li Du laughed nonchalantly. "Sophie wanted to offer you her new year greetings, not to see what you're wearing."
"You're making excuses," Mr. Li grumbled. "Chairman Mao said that details determine the difference between success or failure. We have to make sure the details are done well."
Li Du said, "Chairman Mao was the one who said it, not me. Ha, ha."
Mrs. Li smacked him then praised Sophie. "The girl's got a honeyed mouthso smart and so good at talking. I tell you, little Du, if you marry, you have got to marry a smart girl and all will be well."
Mr. Li interrupted, "But how is it that Sophie can speak Chinese so well?"
Li Du explained, "She has been learning how to speak Mandarin these past two months.She memorized those few sentences at her Chinese tutorial."
"This good girl is really committed." Mr. Li also started to praise her.
Fireworks lit up the night sky unceasingly, and the smoky smell of fireworks filled the airit finally felt like new year's eve.
With Mrs. Li's "get ready to eat" shout-out, Godzilla and Big Quinn perked up. They washed and dried their hands before helping to serve the food.
Li Du asked, "You guys can understand this Mandarin phrase already?"
Godzilla said, "Hmph, understand many."
"What are they?" asked a curious Li Du.
Godzilla racked his brains. "Time to eat, get ready to eat, eat lunch, eat dinner, eat fruit and drink beer.'
Li Du was speechless.
It was really much livelier when there were more people eating together. Both Godzilla and Big Quinn ate and drank heartily, stimulating everyone's appetite, while Hans showed off his half-baked Mandarin from time to time.
Ah Meow had learned to act cute to win favor from Mr. and Mrs. Li. Mr. Li, who had made him a pile of fried fish, said, "Come, do a back-flip."
Ah Meow's ears trembled, and then he did a back-flip on the spot, showing off his excellent springing ability and amazing flexibility.
Mr. Li chortled and gave him a fried fish. "Come on, do a catwalk. This little thing can do an enchanting walk."
Mrs. Li gave him a hard slap. "Old nag, aren't you embarrassed?"
The TV was on, and the Spring Festival show came on. Except for the grand opening dance, the other programs were lackluster and so it was just accompaniment to the new year's eve dinner. No one watched, it was just left on for the noise.
On the first day of the new year, the neighbors started to come visiting.
This was the advantage of having the village in the city. They enjoyed the resources of the county town while retaining the village traditions. Relations between neighbors were very good, unlike that in tall buildings where neighbors of years were only acquaintances who nodded at each other from time to time.
This year, there was an exceptional crowd at Li Du's house. Many families in the village were actually relatives in some way or another, so it made sense for them to visit to offer new year greetings.
Obviously, while they had said they were offering new year greetings to Mr. and Mrs. Li, they were actually there for Li Du.
News of Li Du having earned a lot of money from his overseas stint had spread throughout the village.
His helping Yao Zhi Bo convert a seemingly useless copper coin to a million dollars had become legendaryat least half the people in the county knew about it.
Early in the morning, Yao Zhi Bo came to the door on a motorcycle, dressed in a jacket in camouflage print. Someone who knew him asked, "Big Bo, how did you spend your million bucks?"
Yao Zhi Bo grinned. "Repaid debt, rented land and bought machinery. Next year, we will do some planting in the greenhouse. Then we'll invite everyone to eat organic vegetables with no pollutants."
Upon hearing this, everyone knew that the rumor about the copper coin being sold for a million dollars was indeed true.
Not only had Yao Zhi Bo come visiting, Du Hang also came in a Nissan.
Seeing Yao Zhi Bo's motorcycle, Du Hang joked, "Yao Sir, since you're rich now, can't you change your ride? A man's gotta show what he's worth."
Yao Zhi Bo smiled. "I did change. I changed the oil for my motorcycle and got myself a new jacket. Can't you tell?"
Du Hang was speechless:
Mr. and Mrs. Li served them drinks and dried fruit snacks, and Yao Zhibo thanked them profusely. Then he asked, "Brother Hang, why are you here today? I'm catching up, but are you here to get something out of Li?"
Du Hang gave him a shove. "What? I'm here to help Li on official matters."
As he snacked on a melon seed, he opened the briefcase he'd carried with him and handed a pile of data-sheets to Li Du. "Li, have a read. It's all done up according to your request.
"With its own entrance and courtyard, an expansive view, beautiful environment, and accessible by transportation. Most importantly, property management is excellent with 24-hour uninterrupted security patrol. It's also located next to our county's police bureau. Absolutely no issue with public security."
"What is this?" Mr. Li asked out of curiosity.
"Information on the villa," Du Hang said. "Information on our county's best villas are all in here."
Mr. Li looked at Li Du in surprise and said, "What's all this for?"
Looking at the data-sheets, Li Du said, "Buying you a house."