Tang Xu met Tang Cuo when he went to the mountains to support education at the university, and Tang Cuo was brought out from there.


Tang Xu’s grandfather was a veteran cadre with a lot of military merit, but his patriotism was greater than his military merit, and he was compassionate throughout his life.
Tang Xu has had a good life since he was a child.
Even though he was influenced by his grandfather, he was far from inheriting his grandfather’s Feeling of compassion.
When his grandfather ordered him to go to school, he complained to his friends for a while.
But there is no way out; his grandfather is the oldest in the family, and Tang Xu, who was 20 at the time, had to pack his bags and travel to that remote mountain village where even ordinary missionary volunteers were hesitant to go.


A girl named Han Zhimei was also travelling with him.
Unlike Tang Xu, Han Zhimei has done a lot of teaching work and has travelled all the way here with Tang Xu out of goodwill and responsibility.


The village was located deep in the mountains; there was no road access.
The two of them had to travel on a tricycle to get there.
The whole ride was like shaking briquettes.
Tang Xu was so twisted that he nearly cursed his mother.
When they arrived, their internal organs had been turned upside down by eight hundred somersaults.


Tang Xu thought this incredible road trip was shocking enough, but after getting off, not only Tang Xu but even Han Zhiwei, who has travelled to many poor mountainous areas to teach, was stunned.
They really couldn’t believe such a place would exist in this era of common prosperity.


The best building in the village is a brick house, and the rest are earthen houses, and some places can hardly be called houses because of the materials used to make them.
That could be described as barren if not for a few weeds stubbornly growing along the roadside.


A village party secretary named Wei An, a village official who is also a college student, is assigned to settle them down.


Tang Xu’s dormitory is in that brick building.
The brick house only has one room.
The middle is separated by a thick curtain and divided into two rooms.
On one side, Han Zhiwei lives; on the other, Wei An and Tang Xu.


After entering the room, the three of them exchanged glances before Han Zhiwei said, “This is more difficult than I imagined.”


Wei An sighed as he closed the door.
“It’s better.
When I first arrived, there wasn’t even a road where I could ride on a tricycle.” He picked up the kettle from the ground and asked them, “Do you have your own cups? You won’t need the ones here if you do.”


They both nodded and poured water into their cups.
Tang Xu took a sip of water, didn’t swallow it, put it in his mouth, rinsed it, and spit it into a dirty hole on the ground, which was considered to flush dirt from his mouth.


Wei An talked with them for a while and mostly talked about the situation in the village.
They were about the same age, and when they talked, they became casual.
Wei An told Han Zhiwei, “Tang Xu should be fine.
We’re both men, but you might have a lot of inconveniences; I have never had a girlfriend, and I don’t know girls well.
If you need anything or have any difficulties, just let me know.
Don’t be embarrassed.”


Han Zhiwei is a girl with a bold personality.
After all, not everyone has the courage to come to this kind of place to teach.
She said with a smile, “Okay.”


After the two of them settled down, Wei An led them to the classroom and said as they walked, “I usually teach them something, but this place is too backward, and I’m the only village official here.
I have a lot of work to do, and I couldn’t do it all by myself.
Now that you’re both here, I can give these children an explanation.”


It’s said to be a classroom, but it’s actually a broken thatched cottage.
Wei An, standing at the door, said with some embarrassment, “I originally used our brick house as a classroom, but the old cadres in the village refused to let me use that room as a classroom.
The kids were scared to go in after just one lesson.
They said that people in the big city were too delicate to stand the leaky room, and they couldn’t treat the university students badly, otherwise no one would want to come here in the future.”


Wei An pushed the broken door open after speaking.


Tang Xu was shocked that day, and even though he was a tough guy, under the cautious eyes of the children in the back room, he couldn’t help but get upset.


More than a dozen small and large children were seated inside.
Everyone is sitting on a bench that they made themselves.
No one is the same as another, but they are all the same.
The children’s bodies were not neat, and they all looked equally dirty.
Tang Xu, on the other hand, noticed Tang Cuo curled up in the corner at a glance.
Even if it was a very simple bench, all of the children sat on it, except Tang Cuo, who sat on a large rock.


He was a little thinner than the other children, and his face was a little dirtier, but his barely clean skin was three shades whiter than the other children’s.
On top of that, those big eyes stared at Tang Xu with curiosity.


It is human nature to judge people based on their appearance.
It’s just that well-cultivated people can abandon this nature after learning knowledge and culture, accepting high-level thinking, and understanding that the soul under the skin is more valuable.
But Tang Xu hadn’t reached this level yet, and he couldn’t help but pay more attention to this child in the days that followed.
Not only him, but Han Zhiwei as well.


He discussed this with Han Zhiwei and decided to teach the children basic Chinese and arithmetic first, followed by some geography and history.
Except for a few naughty ones, most of the children were serious about their studies.
Every time Tang Xu asked a question, they would raise their hands and shout, “Teacher, I know.” However, Tang Cuo always shrank in that corner, looked at him without blinking, but never raised his hand to answer questions.


One day, when they returned to the dormitory after teaching, Han Zhiwei told him, “That kid named Tang Cuo seems to be very quiet and out of touch with others.
I usually play games with the children, but he shrinks in the corner and doesn’t participate.
When I talk to him, he doesn’t respond.”


Tang Xu thought about it, and it was true.


Han Zhiwei said again, “You can talk with him tomorrow; the boy may be more willing to talk to you.”


Tang Xu nodded.
When Han Zhiwei took a group of children out the next day, he walked up to Tang Cuo.
Tang Cuo was squatting on the ground, writing the Chinese characters he had just learned on the ground with branches.
The characters were ugly.


Tang Xu squatted down next to him, but Tang Cuo only paused for a moment before continuing to scratch on the ground without looking up.


Tang Xu didn’t speak; he only watched him write.
Tang Xu has never been a patient or a good-tempered person.
He can even be classified as a hooligan who “fights if someone disagrees with him.” But after coming here, getting along with the children every day has dispelled the hostility of those young people in Tang Xu’s heart, so he wasn’t in a rush to confront Tang Cuo.


When Tang Cuo wrote “future,” Tang Xu suddenly held Tang Cuo’s hand, led him to draw a line under the word Wei and said, “The horizontal line below is ‘Wei’, and if it is written short, it means ‘end’.
‘Wei’ means that it isn’t over, and ‘end’ means it is over.”


Only then did Tang Cuo raise his head and glance at him.


In order to get closer to the child, Tang Xu raised his hand to touch his head, but Tang Cuo shrank his neck to avoid him.

Tang Xu didn’t care and kept his hand on his head.
Tang Xu sighed inwardly after putting it on; his hair hadn’t been washed in several days.


Tang Xu asked him, “Have you mastered the words taught just now?”


Tang Cuo buried his head in his knees once more, and after a long time, he whispered, “Yes.”


Tang Xu, who hadn’t expected a response, was taken aback by his sudden response, and something called a sense of accomplishment rose in his heart.


Taking advantage of his victory, he asked, “Why don’t you go out and play when you know everything?”


Tang Cuo fell silent again as soon as the question was raised.


The silence was longer this time.
After a long time, Tang Cuo said in a voice that Tang Xu could barely hear, “I hurt.”


Tang Xu was stunned for a moment, and after realising it, he thought that Tang Cuo was sick and was not feeling well, so he hurriedly asked, “Where does it hurt?”


Tang Cuo completely silenced his voice this time and kept his little head there again, writing ‘Wei’ over and over.


Tang Xu lowered his body and tilted his head, trying to speak softly.
“Be obedient.
If you tell the teacher if you are uncomfortable, the teacher will take you to see a doctor, and the pain will go away after the treatment.”


Hearing this, Tang Cuo stopped and looked up at him.
He said hesitantly, “Really?”


Tang Xu nodded.
At that time, he didn’t realise that there wasn’t even a decent doctor in this poor village.


With a rustling sound, Tang Cuo put the small wooden stick beside him.
He rolled up his oversized trousers, looked at Tang Xu, and said, “My body hurts.
It hurts the most here.”


Tang Xu was so frightened by the exposed ankle that he cursed.
Tang Cuo’s ankle was already swollen and protruding a lot, and there was a wound on it that looked like it was festering.
This wound was on Tang Cuo’s thin leg due to malnutrition.
Tang Xu gasped as he examined the wound, and his first reaction was to pick up Tang Cuo, who was squatting, and place him on his lap.


His tone was a little anxious, almost scolding: “Why are you still squatting when your ankle hurts like this?!”


Tang Cuo didn’t seem to understand what he was saying; he just sat in his arms and stared at him blankly.


Tang Xu didn’t care about anything else.
He picked him up and walked out, saying to Han Zhiwei, “This child is injured.
I’ll take him back to our place to deal with it.”


Along the way, Tang Xu thought that the child he was holding had fallen and hurt his foot.
He didn’t realise how naive he was until he took Tang Cuo to the dormitory and undressed him to see if the child was injured—there was almost no normal-colored flesh on Tang Cuo’s body, which was bleeding bloodlessly, with blue and purple bruises and large and small scars all over the body.


With just one glance, Tang Xu’s anger was about to burst through his head.


Perhaps his eyes had become too terrifying.
Tang Cuo, who was sitting by the bed, suddenly crawled into the bed, whimpering loudly.
He crept into a corner, his eyes wide with horror at Tang Xu.


Tang Xu took several deep breaths before

before restraining his anger.
He said softly, “Don’t be afraid; I’m not angry with you.”


Tang Cuo didn’t move; he remained shrunken in place but blinked.


Tang Xu leaned forward slightly and extended his hand to Tang Cuo and said, “Come here.
let me see your injury.”


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