“Young master.” The round-nose boy servant held up a chipped bowl, tears and snot covering his face, shirt ridden with dirt and fingers red with the cold. He spoke in hiccuping sobs, “couldn’t, couldn’t get any, hic, no one would give me, hic…”
Lin Yuan could see the little guy was about to cry himself sick, quickly saying: “Come sit, quickly.”
Saying so, Lin Yuan lifted up an edge of the ragged blanket wrapped around him to admit the boy into its folds. The abandoned temple did not protect against the wind and cold, master and servant could only rely on the single ragged blanket to keep warm.
It had been a week since he first arrived. The entire week’s duration he hardly moved, not for a lack of trying.
The original owner of his new body was the son of a northern landowner who owned quite a lot of land and businesses. As a result, he was unable to leave easily and instead had his only son travel to the south in his place to start a business, buy a farmstead and some land. In the future, if the northern political situation worsened, the entire family would still have a place to retreat to and backup funds to start over.
However, the old landowner could not have expected to miscalculate so badly. His only son and heir was a naive idiot.
Truly a naive idiot, leaving with only a servant boy and a carriage driver. And even saying to his dad, taking more people would only create a larger target. Not only that, he convinced his dad that the north was not peaceful currently and thus required more people to stay and protect his family and their assets.
Original owner had read and studied quite a lot, a pile of books by sages. His dad was completely convinced when he heard that these were justifications spoken by sages. What was left to do but listen?
As a result, the original owner stepped onto a road of misfortune.
The boy servant was only twelve, master and servant also lived in a sheltered environment since young. Every step on the road to the south was accompanied by the emptying of their wallets.
Original owner could not refuse beggars on the side of the road but his actions only turned them into targets.
The carriage driver had a strong physique and was willing to stay behind and hinder the hoodlums, in the end alive or dead no one knew.
When Lin Yuan arrived in this body and time, original owner was already robbed of all his wealth. Because of guilt and regret, in addition to the cold weather and lack of proper shelter, he came down with a fever.
Cold and fever during ancient times were common causes of death, not to mention in combination with lack of healer service and medicine. Therefore, original owner easily passed away.
Lin Yuan couldn’t help but sigh, the original owner was also just a boy of only fourteen. The life expectancy during ancient times was short, the common boy of twelve was already considered a fully grown adult and ready for marriage. A fourteen year old child with a kind heart was a good thing originally, only pity was that the turbelent era did not allow for kindness and goodness.
The servant boy used the back of his hand to wipe away tears and snot unsuccessfully, his small face looking dirtier than before the cleaning attempt. He sobbed: “Couldn’t get any medicine.”
The child was originally a stubborn one, in addition to the fact that he grew up in the Lin family and educated with loyalty pledged to the master, he was completely brainwashed to be a loyal servant.
“Then there’s no need.” Lin Yuan ruffled the boy’s hair, trying to make the best of the situation: “It’s fine, look at me, I’m almost recovered anyway.”
It was a silver lining that the group of bandits were only desperate peasants who only took wealth and not lives. Or else, it was very likely they wouldn’t be alive now.
During the last few days, Lin Yuan searched through his belongings, he didn’t believe the Lin family only gave silver ingots and banknotes. Back in the modern time of his previous life, he had a habit of hiding money in the inside layer of his shirts when traveling. Therefore, was it not possible that making backup plans would be the wise choice of action especially in this period of time fraught with danger and unrest?
However, he had searched everything multiple times and came up with nothing.
The servant boy’s sobs had stopped, his emotions calming enough to realize he was siting in his master’s embrace. Since misfortune hit them, master and servant escaped in a hurry, only snatching a blanket. He had originally planned to not touch the blanket but since his young master awoke they had been sharing it together.
This thought caused him to break out into sobs again. His young master was such a good person, why must he face such misfortune!
“It’s my fault!” The servant boy started to blame himself, regretfully saying, “Old master told me to be careful but I’m such a fool, even implicating young master! Wu~, it’s all my fault! I don’t have any brains! A useless failure!”
Following the rant, the servant boy was about to give himself a slap.
Lin Yuan quickly grabbed his hand, patting his back in comfort: “It’s alright, we’re safe aren’t we?”
The servant boy spoke through stuffy nasals: “It’s all my fault! Everything’s my fault!”
“Let’s look again.” Lin Yuan once again prepared to search his clothes, undressing down to his pants he searched through the linings while shivering in the cold.
The servant boy helped in the searching. Even though it was something they did everyday but they always worry they weren’t careful enough in the previous searches.
Money for meals came from pawning Lin Yuan’s coat, the only valuable item left.
His shoes were made of cloth but the soles were very thick and warm. It had took lady Lin quite a lot of time and spools of thread to make.
The original owner’s birth mother was a servant girl, not even a concubine. In this day and age, giving birth was a life threatening business, and in addition to his mother being a frail fifteen year old girl, it was nearly a given that she passed away during childbirth.
As a result, the original owner was given to the lady master who did not have children of her own to raise. She came from a literary family and had nothing in common with the landowning class. Therefore, there was no love lost between the old master Lin and lady Lin. However, she did treat the original owner well, teaching him to read and write from a young age.
And because original owner could write and do maths, was an educated person, his father assumed that he could carry a greater responsibility.
When Lin Yuan found this in his memory, he couldn’t help but feel speechless at old father Lin’s reasoning.
It was at that moment, a lightbulb switched on. Taking off his shoes, thankfully the winter cold kept it from being smelly, he took the soles out.
“Young master..…” Servant boy piped up uneasily, “Why are..…”
He wanted to ask why his young master looked like on the verge of tears.
But before he could finish, he saw Lin Yuan taking out a silver banknote.
It was a silver banknote worth 200 taels.
Exchanged to copper coins worth 200,000 guan. This was no small amount. Original owner’s father had given 500 taels in total and that was the limit, more and the Lin family businesses would not have enough funds to run on.
He reckoned lady Lin must have taken out all her savings, afraid that the original owner might happen upon unexpected situations.
The heart of a caring mother!
As an orphan in his own time, Lin Yuan could only sigh wistfully.
Looked like old father Lin’s task won’t be fulfilled in the near future. First things first was to find a proper shelter and fully recover his health.
As for doing business, Lin Yuan didn’t dare to even think about it. Since he found out the current era was the Yuan dynasty, the emperor being Yuan Shun, he gave up on the whole idea. He at least knew of the story of Chen Wansan, a prominent business man nearly richer than a country who even supported the right person, Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of Ming.
But the result? When Ming dynasty was established not long afterwards, his wealth was confiscated and he himself exiled. His wealth alone greatly richened the new dynasty.
Later in the Qing dynasty, did emperor Qianlong not know He Shen accumulated great wealth through corruption? He knew, so all of his wealth eventually ended up in the emperor’s pockets.
Therefore, Lin Yuan prepared to honestly follow old father Lin’s advice to buy some land——in a remote place away from the battlefield. Have a farmstead built so that once the Lin family came to the south they would have a place to stay. And of course stock up on food supplies.
What was the most valuable commodity during turbelent times? Gold, silver, jewels? Wrong. It was food.
Once war broke out, civilians would be unable to farm and produce crops. Less and less food to the point people were peeling tree bark and eating it to stave hunger. Foodstuff was the source of life, cheap during prosperous times and expensive during turbulent times.
“Young master.” The servant boy chuckled, rather foolishly, “Let’s go exchange money.”
Lin Yuan currently was too weak to get up and could only hand the banknote to the servant boy, reminding him: “Only exchange 50 taels, two guans of paper money, one paper money per guan.”
“Tomorrow go, go early.” Lin Yuan looked at the darkening skies, “It’s not safe now.”
Servant boy nodded: “I listen to the young master!”
In the servant boy’s eyes, his young master was able to read and write, was smarter than him and understood everything.
Before drifting away into sleep, Lin Yuan happily thought, once he had land and property he’ll be able to display his talents. Wasn’t there a saying, turbulent times create heroes? He’ll follow in the footsteps of his time travelling seniors and invent cannons, tanks, airplanes, etc in addition to gathering some followers, maybe even…maybe even…heihei!
Lin Yuan at this point had yet to realize, he was a humanities major, his life till now, the closest he got to inventing technology was fixing his computer. And even that he had done so unsuccessfully. He ended up buying a new computer instead, almost spending all of his scholarship money on it.
But as a person, we must have dreams and ambitions.
The next day at the crack of dawn, the servant boy poked a small head out of the warm blankets, unwilling to leave.
But the servant boy quickly pulled himself together as his young master cannot yet leave bedrest.
Before leaving Lin Yuan reminded him, “If you are stopped by hoodlums, give them the paper money, you hear?”
Servant boy didn’t understand: “No way! That’s young master’s money!”
Lin Yuan explained: “If you don’t hand it over they will just take it by force. Can you win against them in a fight? Compared to the two guans, the 48 taels are worth more.”
Servant boy looked down at his toes: “It’s my fault I’m so useless, if brother Chen was here, those people definitely won’t be able to win against brother Chen..…”
The mention of brother Chen, the carriage driver willing to leave for the south with the original owner, caused Lin Yuan to feel downhearted.
Brother Chen was the son of the original owner’s nanny and grew up together from a young age. He had a strong physique and loyal to a fault. Their relationship was close enough to even sleep together and compare each other’s ‘assets’.
Brother Chen was older than original owner by five years, had no given name, only a pet name Niu Dan. He stayed behind to block the bandits and give them a chance to run.
Dead or alive unknown.
Lin Yuan sighed. People from the ancient times were simple and honest. Lin Yuan put himself in brother Chen’s shoes and honestly thought he could not do the same of sacrificing himself for another.
Yuan dynasty supported trade and commerce, agriculture not as much. However, merchants were taxed the highest and farmers were taxed the least in comparison to other dynasties.
But this did not mean that regional governments and officials accept low taxes. An official’s salary could not support a luxurious life so their only other source of income came from oppressing the civilians under their regional government.
There were more and more exhorbitant taxes, oppression from the landlord class was also on the rise. As a result, the people had no means to make a living and support their livelihood, their only option was to become refugees and criminals.
Those bandits that robbed them, perhaps had been honest farmers in the past and a full belly was enough to satisfy them and feel content about.
In order to survive, they indirectly caused the death of a good person like the original owner.
When your state of survival was in question, virtue and justice could be abandoned at any time.
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