It was drizzling the day brother Dao and Zhu Zhongba left. Luckily, it wasn’t too cold and they didn’t spend too much time making farewells before they slipped inside the woods——the leaves could keep the rain from hitting them directly and there was no lightning to worry about on drizzling days.
But Lin Yuan did not have the people work on the walls today since there was no shelter from the rain on the farmstead. If they caught a cold, with the lack of medicine they would just have to rely on their immune system. But some people might have a good immune system and could recover after a few days but others had a weak immune system and would not make it through the fever. Lin Yuan was not willing to ignore lives for just one day of work.
So, this day was a rare resting day.
When the rain stopped, quite a lot of people gathered out in an open field and set up a fire. They chatted while around the fire pit. No matter the difficulty experienced, so long as they endured it, the people’s faces would still have smiles.
The men even competed on leg balancing for fun. The soil had yet to be turned so it was quite hard, if they were to fall it would indeed hurt.
People were social creatures, gathering together made them feel safer.
“Young master.” Er Liang brought over a cotton coat, “put on another just in case.”
Lin Yuan did not refuse, putting on the coat he asked Er Liang: “Are there wilds in the area?”
Er Liang often followed the hunting team up the mountains so he knew: “Yes.”
Lin Yuan asked again: “Are there people?”
Er Liang nodded again:”Yes, they are all refugees, both men and women who live in shacks they put up.”
Lin Yuan nodded: “Call over second brother Yang, tell him I have something I need to discuss with him.”
“Accept people in from the wilderness?” Yang Zi’an rubbed his chin, thinking for a bit: “It’s not impossible, only they might not be manageable.”
Currently the people in the farmstead had either been following brother Dao and Yang Zi’an originally or people with dependents. And for their families they would not dare to have errant thoughts.
Another type was of servant origins and they didn’t care for anything but eating fully, dressing warmly and having work to do. They wiuld do anything they were told to.
But the people in the wilderness was different.
Some could even be of bandit origins and that could only bring trouble.
Lin Yuan said: “I will personally discipline them.”
He had managed people under him before. But dealing with these people required a different method.
Shift their attention and hate, push out a target. The target being the least compliant out of all of them. Have him manage the rest.
The people under him would curry favor with him, some would be afraid, others would have resentment.
Once the resentment had reached a breaking point, Lin Yuan would then be able to step in.
Of course, he hoped that there wouldn’t be uncompliant people.
At least not at the time being where everyone must be on the same side and tightly tied together into a rope.
Once there was any loosening, the rope would break.
Lin Yuan also knew that in times of upheaval, to keep his hands clean completely was not possible. But he hoped that day would come much later.
Yang Zi’an looked in puzzlement at Lin Yuan. In his belief Lin Yuan was not someone who could harden his heart. Have him discipline the people?
Lin Yuan only sighed: “It’s not like I want to.”
But he had no choice.
In the end they took 20 people with them to the wilderness. The wilds, or wilderness were places where the imperial court did not govern over. The people who fled their hometowns and become refugees could not enter cities. Some stayed outside the city walls waiting for the wealthy to provide charity for them or the day they might finally enter the cities.
Some people could not handle living outside the city walls and treated like pests that needed to be shooed away. They couldn’t even dig up wild herbs outside the gates so they went into the wilderness. Other than winter, during other seasons they could find food to eat. If they were lucky they could even catch a wild animal.
Yun Niu was one of the people in the wilderness. She forgot how old she was already. She thought it might be 15 or 17, she was unclear.
Her parents were both dead and so in order to survive she sold herself to different men. Some men would give her some wild herbs. Some just pulled on their pants and left. She grabbed their leg and reminded them they did not give food. But those men unwilling to give food would just kick her away.
But she survived.
Her fellow villagers who fled with her were almost all dead.
Now only one was left, lying in their shack and relying on the food Yun Niu brought back to struggle on whilst at death’s door.
Yun Niu fed her some tree bark and some water, saying to the woman: “Today no one hit me.”
The woman’s voice sounded like worn out bellows: “That’s good.”
Yun Niu thought of something and smiled: “Today someone told me, when his shack is set up he wants me to live with him.”
The woman said: “That is also good.”
Yun Niu chuckled softly.
“Yun Niu!” A man shouted from outside, “I brought some grass roots for you!”
That was something edible! Yun Niu’s eyes glowed, and went outside.
The man likely resisted a long time, seeing Yun Niu he immediately pulled her pants down and carried out the business on the ground.
Around them people passed by. Some would pause and watch, thinking once the man finished they could also get a piece, and they didn’t need to give food. Some people were already used to these sights, walking by without much expression.
When the man got up Yun Niu pulled her pants up and grabbed tightly on the grass roots, baring her teeth at the watching men: “What are you looking at? If you want to do it bring food! Or else I’ll bite off your thing!”
The men were not afraid of her but they also didn’t want to waste energy on her either, so they left now that they discovered no advantages to be had.
Yun Niu once again went inside her shack. It was given to her when she slept with one man for several days and did not ask for any food from him.
She hummed a song from her hometown as she chewed on the grass root. She also fed some to the woman laying.
The woman coughed twice: “Yun Niu, leave me out in the mountains.”
Yun Niu also lay down. She shook her head: “If I leave you there you will die.”
The woman smiled with difficulty: “I will die anyway, if you don’t put me there I will just waste your food.”
Yun Niu was upset: “Young lady, Yun Niu should be caring for you.”
The woman fell silent and did not say anymore.
Yun Niu had always been protecting her. She was the daughter of a landowning family and Yun Niu was her servant girl. When fleeing, her parents ran ahead holding onto her younger brother and she became separated from them.
After she was raped, her lower parts became numb and began discharging lochia. Yun Niu carried her on her own back and hid in the mountains. The whole way avoiding others in search of a place to settle.
With a place to settle, Yun Niu began doing business.
Yun Niu often got hit, sometimes there was not a piece of unblemished skin on her body.
The woman thought sometimes, why were they still living, why not just die cleanly.
Yun Niu said: “My parents told me, it’s better to hang on to living than die.”
So the woman forced herself to endure.
She didn’t want to make Yun Niu sad.
“Young lady, Yun Niu can’t eat anymore……” Yun Niu talked in her sleep.
A tear fell from the woman’s eyes. Yun Niu must be dreaming of before. Before when she was still a young lady of the landowning class with servants who served her and endless fine grains and meat to eat. She always had Yun Niu eat more, thinking her to be too skinny.
The woman held in her sobs but the tears could not be stopped.
TN: A bit depressing in this chapter, but it’ll get better when Lin Yuan comes!
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