Constructing a city wall was not a simple matter. You needed bricks and cement but now there was no place to buy bricks, let alone cement. Nowadays, building a house only used a mixture of mud which might look alright but in truth it was not very sturdy.
As a humanities major Lin Yuan did not know the formulation for cement but even if he did, where would he even find the materials needed to make it? In this kind of desolate countryside, there wasn’t even a sight of plaster.
He was sighing to himself when Yang Zi’an passed by, sitting down next to him on the field. Yang Zi’an was different from brother Dao and the others, he knew how to read and write. Although he might not have studied the books of sages and scholars but he could not be considered illiterate. A couple days before when Lin Yuan first taught the people of the farmstead how to recognize simplified characters, he began ignoring Lin Yuan.
But it was a good thing Yang Zi’an wasn’t part of an aristocratic family or literati family and was just a son of a landowner. His irritation at Lin Yuan ‘butchering’ the words of sages soon passed.
In any case, these farmers wouldn’t be going to take civil examinations and becoming officials. Knowing a few wrong words was not a big deal.
“Fourth brother, why are you sighing? Did you come across a problem?” Yang Zi’an asked.
Lin Yuan scratched the back of his head: “I’m thinking on the city wall issue. Although here we are surrounded by mountains but it is still not considered safe. The only weapons are just a dozen hoes. What will we do if something does happen? We will be finished if refugees come, let alone bandits.”
Yang Zi’an: “City wall?”
Lin Yuan said without expecting the other to give a good solution: “Bricks can’t be bought, even if there are bricks being sold we won’t be able to afford it anyway.”
“I had thought it was a big problem.” Yang Zi’an waved his hand, “it’s just making bricks, right? This I know.”
The bricks used in his old home were made by his family’s workers, but they were just mud colored bricks, not as handsome as the blue grey bricks that were used by the wealthy and officials.
Lin Yuan’s expression when he looked at Yang Zi’an instantly changed, becoming exceptionally ardent and warm.
Yang Zi’an rubbed his chin feeling a bit satisfied. As a boy he used to watch his family’s workers make bricks and even made some himself.
“We’ll set up a brick making team!” Lin Yuan decided, “second brother you’ll be the leader!”
Yang Zi’an was quite willing. Recently brother Dao became the leader of the hunting team. Even though they were at first unsure on what a team leader was but they soon realized the position had advantages.
Yang Zi’an currently managed farming but he didn’t want to farm forever. The team leader of the brick making team sounded much more important.
After all it was a leader position and not just one of the managers of the farming team.
“We still need to find more people.” Lin Yuan said, “our manpower is too little.”
Currently the farmstead had about 100 grown men and about 100 women, children and the elderly.
The number of children was the least. Including Gou zi, Er Liang, and Guo er in total there was not even near ten.
Lin Yuan didn’t want to see this large group of bachelors harm the women, so normally they were separated when working.
But the relations between women and men could not be completely controlled. In these turbulent times etiquette and tradition were no longer as important. If a woman and man become attracted to each other then nature would take its course. Now there were already 3 women pregnant.
The ancient times didn’t have much entertainment, when the sky darkened then there wasn’t much to do. Bed affairs became the only activity left.
Lin Yuan now understood why ancient people had so many children.
Without any contraception and with bed affairs as the only entertainment, it would be a strange thing if there weren’t that many children.
But because the bodies of these people were currently still weak, there were not as many pregnancies.
Especially the women since most were malnourished and hadn’t improved much even after this long.
Yang Zi’an: “I’ll bring people to go buy some more.”
The safest choice was still buying people. Allowing refugees to come could result in trouble if there was even one or two who harbored errant thoughts.
There were some refugees who had human life on their hands.
A thing like murder, so long as there was a first and the heart had lost any reverence and respect for human life then one would become increasingly twisted.
Therefore, modern soldiers who had been on the battlefield must receive psychological checkups afterwards.
In the ancient times, soldiers who didn’t heed the orders of their commander and massacred cities during war was not out of the ordinary.
“Fine.” Lin Yuan knew that now using money to buy people wouldn’t work anymore, the currency having already lpat its value. He said quietly, “Use food to buy.”
Yang Zi’an nodded: “I understand.”
Lin Yuan: “Bring some more people and take the ox cart. Take a couple hoes along too. If you could buy some kitchen knives and metal pots it would be great as well.”
After all, that was all metal. After melting, it could be made into weapons.
Yang Zi’an also recalled this issue. Different from brother Dao and Jiang Gui, he thought that they must have weapons and a city wall. His family had been landowners but when the bandits came they couldn’t even put up a fight.
After all, whether they were servants or workers they all had their own families and didn’t dare to use their life to fight. If their families lost their breadwinner then staying alive would be a problem for the whole family. But bandits were different, they lived with their heads tied to their belt, as if there was no tomorrow.
Even if bandits did not eat or live better than them, when they put their lives on the line no one would be their opponent.
“Alright.” Yang Zi’an, “I will try to get as much as I can.”
When Yang Zi’an left he took with him 20 grown men who did not have families. In addition to having eaten well the whole year every one of them had gained muscle mass and would present a good intimidation.
Lin Yuan even made a mobilizing speech.
“If you come across bandits, fight back if you can, but if you can’t then just run away.” Lin Yuan said, “running away is not shameful!”
Lin Yuan: “But you cannot lead them to the farmstead, you must by-pass the area and disperse yourselves, understand?”
The men shouted: “Understood!”
Yang Zi’an left with the men, and didn’t return until 2 months later.
With no pressing matters, Lin Yuan focused his attention on Zhu Zhongba. Now, Zhu Zhongba farmed the fields everyday. Looking at his outer appearance he was just like any other normal farmer boy. He lived in the dormitories and quickly familiarized himself with everyone. When a person was smart he or she would be popular anywhere.
This was something Lin Yuan had no doubts about after all he would be the godson-in-law of Guo Ziyi. At that time, Zhu Zhongba also had nothing to his name.
Zhu Zhongba felt that the current days were quite good. He no longer needed to live like a vagrant and everyday after work he could rest. There were even women who, seeing him young and healthy as well as hardworking, made both subtle and obvious advances on him. They were all ignored by Zhu Zhongba.
His heart still remembered the hate and vengeance he had of the imperial court.
At times when Lin Yuan had conversations with Zhu Zhongba he would notice his difference from others.
He was more acute and more daring to challenge traditional views.
But also more extreme.
“Corrupt officials bring disaster on the people.” Zhu Zhongba said, “they should all be killed.”
Lin Yuan asked: “What if they do not embezzle much?”
Zhu Zhongba: “Embezzling is embezzling. There is actually a difference?”
Lin Yuan was silent for awhile, then asked: “Do you know how much their salaries are?”
Zhu Zhongba paused, he didn’t know but as an official it could not be low.
Lin Yuan: “Let’s say brother Jiang. He was a minor official in Wu c5ity who managed the land and property. I met him when I was planning to buy land.”
“He needed to support his wife and son as well as his parents. Later he also brought his parents-in-law to live with them as well. Think about it, how much must his salary be in order to support this many people?”
Lin Yuan said, “This is just the basics. There is also gift exchange with friends and relatives and preparations on holidays. If he just relied on his salary then his whole family would starve.”
Zhu Yuanzhang as an emperor, in order to eradicate corruption, had executed 150,000 people. But still corruption continued. When he died, Ming dynasty’s officials embezzeled the most out of all of the dynasties before and after.
He himself had suffered from corrupt officials so his methods became extreme. But during Zhu Yuanzhang’s reign, the salaries of the officials were very low. Some officials could not even compare in wealth with common people, let alone with the landowning class.
Even if they knew embezzling would lead to execution, the officials still continued, otherwise they could not support their families or maintain their dignity.
Likely, Zhu Yuanzhang could not understand why, despite executing this many people, they continued embezzling.
Did they not fear death?
Zhu Zhongba said sincerely: “But they shouldn’t embezzle!”
Lin Yuan: “When I was buying land I gave brother Jiang 10 taels and 1 guan of bribery.”
Zhu Zhongba: “…….”
Lin Yuan: “Do you feel brother Jiang is a bad man who leeches on the common people?”
Zhu Zhongba: “I…..”
Lin Yuan thought a bit and said: “The human greed is endless. When they are poor they will want to eat full and dress warm. When they can eat their full and dress warmly they will want to eat meat and fish and other delicacies. When they can eat all the meat and fish they desired they will want the respect of others, and then after that they will want power.”
Zhu Zhongba did not say anything.
Lin Yuan said: “Putting up a wall is not as good as clearing away obstructions.”
Zhu Zhongba suddenly asked: “Boss, if you were to sit in that seat (TN: the emperor’s throne) what would you do about corrupt officials?”
Lin Yuan thought, he was not a politician and only had superficial knowledge. Before he time traveled the country was currently undergoing a large scale anti-corruotion policy. From this, one could see that since ancient times a thing like corruption would continue despite repeated prohibition.
So Lin Yuan said with spread hands: “I am just a commoner, what kind of method would I have?”
But Zhu Zhongba fell into thought.
If it were him…..what would he do?
The sky was cloudy when Yang Zi’an returned. It did not rain but neither did the sun come out and made one feel depressed. Yang Zi’an walked in the front of the procession, the 20 men who left with him, only 12 returned relatively uninjured. There were 2 who had been injured and was laying in the ox cart.
“On the way we encountered bandits, half the people we bought died.” Yang Zi’an said, “6 of our men died.”
Lin Yuan almost stopped breathing.
“The 2 injured, I put some herbal medicine on them.” Yang Zi’an furrowed his brows, expression dark, “it will be their fate whether they can make it pass.”
The herbal medicines were just herbs picked from the side of the road. The wilds often had them and could stop blood loss when pasted on wounds.
But those two injured men already came down with fever.
Once the fever set upon you then you were basically on the edge between life and death.
The people who returned were all tired, every one of them had injuries. Against the bandits they were fearful and wanted to run but they could not; there were too many bandits every one of them with violence in their eyes.
Luckily, the bandits were all malnourished, otherwise they would not still be alive.
The people bought back were all extremely skinny and must recuperate a while before their health and strength improved.
Yang Zi’an said to Lin Yuan: “There are pots in the ox cart, and also weapons I took from the bandits.”
The bandits had originally been farmers, their weapons only being axes, hoes, and kitchen knives.
Lin Yuan asked: “The bandits all ran away?”
Yang Zi’an smiled at Lin Yuan: “All dead.”
Lin Yuan sighed, the world like it was, if you didn’t want to die then the other must die.
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