While the servant boy left for the bank to exchange money, Lin Yuan stayed at the abandoned temple to pack up their belongings. Actually, there wasn’t much to pack but he had nothing better to do.
His body was currently weak as when he first arrived in this body was when the fever was at its highest. The original owner could not presevere till the end, passing away. So when he occupied the body he had no choice but to continue to fight against the fever in the original owner’s place. Although he endured in the end, the surroundings and his situation was simply too harsh and hardly good for expediting his recovery.
Lin Yuan actually felt quite glad this was the Yuan dynasty where cotton garments were already available otherwise he and his servant wouldn’t have presevered until finding this abandoned temple and instead freeze to death on the way.
“Young master!” Servant boy had run back to their temporary shelter. He even redeemed their cotton coats at the pawn shop.
After putting back on his cotton coat Lin Yuan finally dared to leave the ragged cotton blanket. They had been sleeping on the floor the past week and the blanket was already extremely dirty. It was only him and the servant boy, not even beggars were willing to stay in the abandoned temple, broken down as it was, it did not protect against the bitter cold winds. Thankfully, they could now leave the place and stay at an inn instead. Once he fully recovered, Lin Yuan planned to buy the most suitable property.
200 taels was no small amount, the average three member family’s yearly budget was only two taels and that was already considered well off.
To tell the truth, Lin Yuan felt lucky not to have arrived at the beginning of Yuan dynasty. That period was hell. Yuan dynasty officials at the time were completely illiterate, having just conquered center China on horseback. They had no knowledge of governance, ten year old children were able to receive governmental posts. As a result, minor officials were left to their own devices and corruption became rampant.
Although the current time period was also difficult, but in comparison to the earlier years of Yuan, so much better off.
“I already asked around, there is an inn located in the northern part of the city, said to be the cleanest.” The servant boy supported Lin Yuan as they walked, “the top rooms are 200 coins.”
Lin Yuan shook his head: “Not the top rooms, how much are the lower rooms?”
Servant boy: “80 coins.”
Lin Yuan: “Then one lower room, we can share.”
In any case, the past week was much of the same, sharing a living space despite the crampness.
The small city they were currently in was called Wu City, rather close to Jiangnan. Lin Yuan made plans to buy his property in the area after fully recovering his health. Jiangnan was off limits though, with it being the location of where Chen Youliang, Zhang Shicheng and Fang Guozhen were gathering their power. Jiangnan was the epicenter of many battles and for a small fish like him it’s better to stay away.
The inn’s lower rooms weren’t very big but at least quite clean. The waiter even brought in a pail of water for them to clean up with. Lin Yuan ordered meal for two and tipped the waiter in return for his help buying two new change of clothes for them.
“Leave it to me.” The waiter left smiling, the errand left some space for him to make a small profit, not a lot but it was still something.
Their meal arrived in a timely fashion, a plate of greens and a plate of meat, both used pig oil to cook. Tasty enough but they must eat quickly, otherwise once it cooled the food would become oily lumps.
Though only two plates, the amount was more than sufficient. With a side of rice Lin Yuan only stopped when completely stuffed.
Servant boy went to buy some medicinal herbs for the inn to cook. Though illness comes upon you fast and furious as a landslide and leaves as slow as spinning silk, but with the proper necessities of warmth and food Lin Yuan recovered quite quickly, taking only three days at most.
Wu City could not be considered large, its population only around 10 or 20 thousand. Street vendors were not a lot either, understandable with the weather cold as it was. Although he glimpsed manual labor workers and beggars on the street, shivering in the cold winds.
Whether they could make it past the winter was unknown.
“Customer, have a bowl of jellied tofu! Hot and steamy! Warm your stomach!”
“Customer, our flat cakes are known to be the tastiest in Wu City, have a try.”
The vendors with pasted on smiles, their cheeks chilled red but still continued hawking their wares.
Lin Yuan walked with servant boy, looking rather out of place amidst the poor civilians around them. After all, the original owner was born into a landowner family and since birth never experienced poverty or harshness. And it was only during the earlier years when learning to read and write had he experienced any toil. His normal everyday life was staying indoors unsubjected to the sun rays or harsh wind, thus growing up into the appearance of a wealthy young master.
As for servant boy, despite his servant origins, in actuality he began to serve at Lin Yuan’s side since the age of seven. Daily chores only included taking care of the young master’s needs. He never lacked for food and warm clothing and even recognized some words. Compared to some children of commoner families his situation was much better.
Their appearance on the street was practically as obvious as carrying a sign labeled with the words “wealthy people.”
Lin Yuan only just passed a block when his leg was gripped by a woman in rags. There was much to be said for her appearance, extremely dirty and smelly, hair covered in oil and dirt, and if looked closely the presence of lice could be seen. One hand gripping Lin Yuan’s leg, the other pulled a child forward.
“Young master!” The woman cried, “Please buy him, buy him, for free!”
“He is very capable! Will do all the work for you! He is strong!”
Saying so, she began to kowtow, so thorough and not the least bit of pretense that Lin Yuan could hear the dull thuds of her forehead hitting the ground, hard enough that blood seeped out. All the while crying: “Young master, buy him, buy him!”
The child, seeing his mother kneeling, followed as well, including kowtowing.
Eight year old children were already aware of the world. His family had been tenant farmers, last year his dad made a mistake so the landowner took back the land alloted to his family. His dad had also been beaten to death. His mother escaped with him and his two older brothers. Unfortunately, they died on the way, one fron hunger, the other beaten to death for stealing from other villagers.
He and his mother roamed as vagrants, finally arriving to this small city. They no longer had the strength to continue, becoming this city’s beggars instead. But his mother’s health deteriorated over time and the food he managed to beg for was only able to sustain their life, not enough to abstain from hunger pains.
Originally, there had been an owner of a food store who would give them something to eat, but the store was now closed and their last hope was gone.
Last night his mother told him: “Be good, mama is going to sell you to a good family, you’ll be able to eat your fill.”
He asked: “Mama also, we can eat our fill together.”
His mother only smiled.
She was already this old and had given birth to three children. She was all rough hands and feet with no beauty to speak of. Wealthy families might buy home an eight year old child, but it was unlikely they would buy home an old female beggar not long for the world. She thought back to the time when she still had a home. Her husband was an honest man always ready to use his strength to finish work. Her oldest son resembled her husband, clumsy mouthed but the most obedient child. Her middle son was a little cleverer, always saying that when he grew older he would go do business in the city and take the whole family to live there and have a better life.
A family, gone in an instant.
If not for her youngest son, she didn’t believe she could have endured this long. During the most bitter period, she even thought of committing suicide with her son. Take a piece rock, first smash her son to death, and then end her own life by colliding with a hard surface.
But looking at the eyes of her young son, she could not bear it, the only choice was to wipe away the tears and continue on.
“Stop! No more!” Lin Yuan tried to block a few times, without success.
Only then did the woman and child stopped. With a forehead dripping with blood, the woman’s eyes were full of despair: “Young master, he truly has strength, can do work, he doesn’t need money, I sell him to you, sign a slavery contract, you have him do whatever you want, young master, please buy him young master!”
She was not pleading with Lin Yuan to buy her son, she was pleading with him to give her son an opportunity to survive.
“Stand up first.” Lin Yuan put a hand to his temple, saying with a building headache, “stand and talk.”
The woman’s knees had frozen stiff, still she struggled to stand. The boy also stood at her side, not daring to look up at Lin Yuan.
Lin Yuan asked: “What can you do?”
The woman’s eyes lit up, she immediately replied: “Gou zi can herd cows! Can farm the land! Can do heavy manual labor!”
Lin Yuan asked again: “Is he literate?”
The woman’s shoulders slumped: “Not, not literate…..”
Lin Yuan honestly wanted to be a good person, but in his previous life he never had the chance. After college graduation, he entered a company of medium size that was full of fighting and scheming behind smiles. His earlier days were hard, as being a newbie and the bottom of the ladder he had to do a lot of work for his senior coworkers on top of his own responsibilities.
Do the work well, his coworker and superior get praised and recieve bonus.
Do the work bad, only he was criticized and had his wage lowered.
He thought of changing jobs, but he could not find any better position. His college specialization was originally unpopular, his only choice was to stay.
So he found an opportunity, when helping his senior gather data he specially inserted mistaken numbers and only listed his senior’s name. Later when discovered by the higher ups, senior wanted to shift the blame to him but because the company had always been familiar with the senior bullying him at work and his own resigned facade, no one believed the truth and the senior was fired.
As for the superior, he first got him drunk and then used his cell phone to text the boss of a competing company of the business secrets of the project he was working on, leading to his downfall as well.
As for himself, he was promoted from just a regular worker to the head of a department.
In the workplace, Lin Yuan was like a fish in the water, winning over the support of subordinates, currying favor with the boss, and defeating his rivals. All of this could not be considered the actions of a good man. Even Lin Yuan thought that if he was a good man he would not be willing to be friends with someone like himself.
“Do you know how to farm?” Lin Yuan asked the woman.
The woman looked bewildered, but her son replied immediately: “Young master, my mama knows, she can farm! Please buy my mama as well!”
“Only meals! No money! Young master! We’ll work for you as hard as cows and horses!”
“Alright.” Lin Yuan signaled servant boy to take out ten coins, “Go buy something to eat. Three days later at noon wait for me here.”
Both woman and child knelt down again.
“Thank you young master, thank you young master.”
Servant boy was already used to his young master’s kindness so the only thing he was curious about was: “Young master, why give them ten coins, what if they don’t come? Wouldn’t we then lose out.”
Lin Yuan: “If they don’t come, then just think of the money as given to charity.”
After all, the first step after owning property was to hire more workers. He and servant boy were only two people which was hardly enough. Once ancient people signed slave contracts they would belong to the master, unable to leave so there was no need to worry about any lack of obedience.
In addition, he hoped to accumulate good fortune for the original owner through virtuous deeds so that he could be reborn in the peace of modern times and become a good person.
This was just for his own peace of mind and conscience.
TN: Comments are appreciated! 😉 It’s a little slow in terms of plot building but I promise it gets exciting further along as Lin Yuan fully steps onto the path of establishing an empire!
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