The bag of foodstuff was left with the beggars. Lin Yuan saw them directly eating the old grains hungrily and could not explain the feeling he got. Sometimes he thought that the collapse of Yuan dynasty was heaven’s will. The later stage of Yuan was simply too miserable with drought, famine, and plague all happening at the same time. It would be unreasonable if it did not collapse with so many years of natural disasters.
The beggars who had been only able to see food before finally became clearheaded with a few bites to relieve their hunger. They would not be able to win in a fight against Lin Yuan’s people but they were still covetuous, following the procession for several miles before leaving when it was clear Lin Yuan was not willing to take them in.
No one knew what would wait for them when they left.
Lin Yuan also didn’t know.
Lin Yuan only knew that his ability had limits. If he could help he would, but it would be impossible to help this many.
Zhu Zhongba was a young man and was quite familiar with pulling the cart, putting his energy into it and causing Lin Yuan to become absentminded. The future emperor was pulling the cart for him, who would even believe it?
After all, he was a newcomer so at his side someone asked him: “Zhongba where are you from?”
Zhu Zhongba: “Zhongli, Hao Province.”
The person at his side sighed: “That is quite far.”
Zhu Zhongba smiled: “Not too far.”
“How old are you?” The person asked.
Zhu Zhongba: “How old do I look?”
Lin Yuan suddenly answered: “19.”
Zhu Zhongba paused, then he raised a thumb: “What a correct guess.”
Wasn’t it? Lin Yuan looked at the road ahead. He was considerably aware of Zhu Yuanzhang’s historical facts and knew that he joined Guo Zixing’s Red Turbans when he was 25 years old. And then married Guo Zixing’s adopted daughter Ma shi. Ma shi could be considered Zhu Yuanzhang’s lucky star.
Everytime Zhu Yuanzhang was framed by others and locked up by Guo Zixing it was all thanks to Ma shi who had to contend with the situation. After gaining military power, all the documents and accounts were managed by Ma shi. There was also a legend that during a lost battle, Ma shi relied on her big feet to carry Zhu Yuanzhang as they fled from the enemy army.
Lin Yuan sighed, ai, such a good woman was Zhu Yuanzhang’s wife, he dared not even think of stealing.
Considerate, gentle, cultured and could even provide support for her husband’s career. Able to face hardships as well as share wealth together.
Lin Yuan envied Zhu Yuanzhang a bit in his heart.
Besides, big feet was not much of a flaw. In the modern times, his office had two female coworkers who wore size 42 shoes (TN: 42 EU size, 11 US), and it didn’t look all that strange.
Lin Yuan sighed again, this kind of woman, in these sorts of times, you could only meet by chance and not by request.
Just being cultured was something that could filter out a lot of people.
“My dad died from starvation, my oldest brother and oldest nephew as well.” Zhu Zhongba recalled his past and his eyes flickered with dark unclear emotions, “my sister married and my third oldest brother married and lives with his wife’s family.”
The people near him did not continue to ask, who didn’t have a painful past?
Dying from starvation, it was too normal an occurrence.
The money for disaster relief provided by the imperial court was exploited at every government level. In the end, the actual sum received by the common people was not even one percent of what they should have got.
The scent of wine and meat come from behind vermillion doors, but the roads outside were covered with the bones of the frozen (TN: a line from Tang dynasty poet Du Fu’s poem that mocks how the scent of wine and meat drifts from behind the vermillion doors of the rich while just outside the poor are dying from the cold and starvation). It described what was reality on earth, occurring everyday.
“It will be better.” Lin Yuan said suddenly, “it will become better.”
It would just take a long time.
Zhu Zhongba smiled: “Us poor people, being able to eat fully is enough.”
The common people did not want much. To be able to eat fully and dress warmly, no worry of taking a beating, and having a family was enough to satisfy them. Once such things were not possible then their requests would decrease to just having something to eat so long as they didn’t die from starvation. Once the lowest condition could not even be met, then they would stand up and shout out the ancient saying: Are the lives of aristocracy, officials, and generals naturally more precious and noble than ours? (TN: first said by Chen Sheng and then later used as a slogan for rebellion)
The Zhu Yuanzhang of now perhaps had already learned to hide his hate and anger at the imperial court deep in his heart. He could calmly speak of his past, as if he had no emotions, but Lin Yuan was clear, this kind of hate was burrowed deep in your bones and could never be dug out.
“Right, brother Lin.” Zhu Zhongba said as he pulled the cart, “how come you have so much foodstuff?”
The surrounding people also perked their ears, they all wanted to know!
Lin Yuan: “I have a farmstead with a population of about 100. Now that the times are hard, the harvested grains are not enough so I left to buy some from outside. I cannot let the people following me suffer hunger.”
Zhu Zhongba looked at Lin Yuan with different eyes, strange emotions roiling in them. In the end, he sighed: “Brother Lin, I have never seen a boss like you.”
His previous boss would not even let him bury his family’s bodies. Without the landowner’s permission, he could not find any land to give them a burial.
It was only another landowner who gave him a piece of land to bury them under, but even then it was without any proper coffins.
What landowner would be concerned whether their tenant farmers were able to eat fully? If it was possible they would have them be animals who could be used for physical labor and didn’t need to eat at all.
Zhu Zhongba suddenly came across a peculiarly different landowner that his expression when looking at Lin Yuan became more respectful and solemn.
“It is almost winter.” Lin Yuan tucked in his neck, having felt the lowering temperature. In these times there were no electrical heaters, only cotton blankets which not everyone could afford.
Zhu Zhongba did not say anything, no one said anything.
Jiang Gui sneezed: “Fourth brother, do you want to add on another coat.”
Lin Yuan only then remembered he had packed another two thin cotton coats. He had the two coats given to two women who were carrying children. The women themselves wrre thin and yet they were trying to block the wind from their children.
A mother’s nature…..
“Thank you boss, thank you boss!”
“Boss is kindhearted, I will give boss kowtow!”
The two women wrapped their children in the coats and immediately kneeled, kowtowing three times with sincerity.
Lin Yuan looked at the other people who watched with longing and said: “If you gave birth to children then I would have the coats given to you as well.”
The men paused, then all laughed out loud.
“How can we have such ability.”
“Hahaha, maybe if you find a man to do it, it might just happen.”
“Why are you looking at my behind?”
“I see your behind is big, it can definitely bear children.”
With the group of men telling each other vulgar jokes, the depressed atmosphere from before warmed up.
Zhu Zhongba was also smiling. He pulled the cart but did not feel it to be too heavy since three other men were also pulling it with him. In the back there was also the families of these men pushing at the cart. The cart was ladened with foodstuff, no matter how heavy they would not complain.
Jiang Gui lead the ox cart, saying to Lin Yuan: “Don’t let brother Dao see this fellow.”
Lin Yuan was confused: “Why? Brother Dao would not be against…..”
“Ai, what are you thinking!” Jiang Gui said lowly, “I see this fellow may have an ordinary appearance but his eyes are clear and his body strong. I’m afraid once brother Dao catches sight of him he will want to become sworn brothers with him.”
Jiang Gui: “Then you will become fifth brother.”
Lin Yuan: “……”
I actually forgot something like this.
A cold breeze blew past and brother Dao who was currently tending to the fields sneezed. Rubbing his nose: “Who, who is scolding me?”
Yang Zi’an chewed on a piece of grass on the side, expressionless but with a disdainful look in his eyes when he glanced towards Li Congrong.
If not for his prevention, Li Congrong almost became sworn brothers with another two strong men. The fellow truly does deserve a scolding.
AN: Li Congrong: “Not swearing brotherhood is not possible, relying on swearing brotherhood as a means of livelihood.” (TN: In Chinese this is written like a tongue twister but it loses its tongue twister qualities when translated into English ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )
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