*Edited by LazyCat
The sun was high in the blue sky, and Lin Yuan was sitting in the government office holding a cup of hot tea. Since arriving in Taizhou, the tea he could drink was no longer inferior tea dregs. The government office was the largest manor that Lin Yuan had lived in since transmigrating here.
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“All here?” Lin Yuan turned around and asked.
Chen Baisong drank a sip of tea, and almost overturned the teacup when he burned his tongue. He did not draw attention to his blunder and pretended to be calm, nodding as he said, “Hnn.”
Lin Yuan informed the servants next to him: “Let them come in.”
The wine and dishes were all ready, set up in the courtyard behind the government office. The banquet would be held in the open and served by the chefs of several big restaurants.
Zhao Pinghou was a small merchant. He was originally just a hawker who walked the streets and lanes. After making some fortune, he started to be a merchant. He had his own caravan and was originally a merchant in Suzhou and Hangzhou. But he didn’t earn much money yet possessed high ambitions, so he naturally wanted to do big business.
Then he heard that many businessmen were going to Taizhou. After careful consideration, he also chose to follow.
Taizhou was not under the control of the imperial court now. By going there early he could develop a good relationship with Taizhou which would be beneficial in the future. With Taizhou now having a new owner it naturally needed more things. If he went over there first, he would be able to eat meat. Those who come later would only have soup.
When he first arrived, he was also a bit uneasy. After all, he had never dealt with rebel thieves. His decision to come was one of hot-blooded impulsivity.
When he actually walked into the city gates of Taizhou, it was then he began to feel anxious and frightened.
“I have been a merchant for so many years, and this is the first time I have received this kind of treatment.” The middle-aged man sitting next to him, wearing a huge jade ring on his finger and a smile on his face, said to Zhao Pinghou, “I did a lot of business, but usually when it comes to the imperial court, one must act like a grandson, nodding and bowing, and even sending money to them. But even then there were times you wouldn’t even hear back from them.”
Zhao Pinghou had never done business with the court. He didn’t know the circumstances, so he asked, “How much does the court ask for?”
The person said: “In the early days, the tax was only 30%, but later it was 50%. In the past few years, they even dared to ask for 80%.”
Zhao Pinghou was taken aback, and he stuttered: “80%?”
The man smiled and said, “And there are still the gifts and benefaction, what official doesn’t want benefaction?”
Zhao Pinghou swallowed in shock.
It was true businessmen earn money, but that was hard money. How much effort does it take to travel all over and negotiate business?
For a small businessman like Zhao Pinghou, he usually paid 50% of the tax, paying half for the tax and leaving half for himself. Like this the days were still passable.
But 80%? If so then it would only be slightly better than farming.
Zhao Pinghou sat on a chair in the hall with other businessmen. They were brought over when they entered the city and all their goods were detained. Zhao Pinghou was anxious, but found that besides him, everyone else was calm and chatted amongst themselves. They would laugh when something amusing came up.
After all, he had not experienced much as a small merchant so Zhao Pinghou asked the people next to him again: “Our goods are all detained, aren’t you anxious? If they kill us, those goods……”
The person next to him was taken aback and was obviously amused by Zhao Pinghou’s words. He couldn’t help but smile and said, “Little brother, if they are truly greedy and covet our things, our heads would have already fallen before even entering the city, how would we still be waiting here? Eating good food and drinking good tea?”
Zhao Pinghou still didn’t understand, so he looked at the other.
That person probably thought that an honest person like Zhao Pinghou was not suitable for business. When looking at him his eyes took on a little bit of pity. Don’t know if it was pity for his timidity or pity for his ignorance.
“You don’t have to worry, just wait.” The man said, “I have been traveling north and south for so many years, and I have seen all kinds of people. Since we are here, just be at ease.”
While he was talking, a person walked in from outside. This person was wearing a dark robe with a smile on his face. He was old and looked like he would not live for many more years. He had just walked in but many businessmen had already stood up, knowing that this was the higher ups wanting to see them.
This was also the first time Song Shizhao would be dealing with businessmen. He was not a traditional scholar. His childhood education was more along the lines of overthrowing the Yuan Dynasty and reestablishing Song Dynasty. He had no stereotyped prejudice against businessmen and merchants. Now when Lin Yuan asked him to entertain these businessmen, he did not refuse. Lin Yuan asking him to do this task meant that he was giving him an opportunity. He only needed to seize this opportunity and prove his ability. Only then he would have a more important position in the future.
People only have this one lifetime, and it would be a waste not to achieve something. He wasted the first half of his life. Now that he was old and had few years left to live, he naturally had to seize every opportunity.
And let Lin Yuan know just what abilities he, Song Shizhao, actually possessed.
“Everyone.” Song Shizhao greeted with cupped hands.
Everyone also hurriedly greeted back.
Song Shizhao smiled and said: “This incompetent Song is the business manager in charge of merchants and commerce.”
Everyone didn’t know what the business manager was. This was the only bad thing about the Taizhou of now. Unlike with the officials in the rest of Yuan, one often didn’t know how to call someone here, but Zhao Pinghou called out, “Manager Song!”
Song Shizhao chuckled again: “You are all tired from the travel here. My Lord said, it would be good to give each other conveniences, so we had you all come to enjoy together. Come with me this way, we have food and good wine in the backyard.”
Someone said: “Manager Song, what need is there to be so courteous? We’ll just follow Manager Song.”
Song Shizhao took them through the garden. All the way, they saw that the servants who came and went all walked lightly and silently. They were all very well-behaved, and bowed to them as they passed.
Zhao Pinghou had believed that he was also a person who had seen much, but this was the first time he had seen such well-behaved servants.
Well-behaved might not be the right word, but no matter what for all servants, being honest and obedient was the most basic thing. But it was rare to be so well-behaved and well-mannered.
They didn’t seem to be servants……but soldiers.
Song Shizhao noticed the merchants’ eyes on the servants, and said: “These are people brought from other places. Our Lord has said that without rules things will not last, everything must be done according to the rules.”
The merchants hurriedly responded: “This is natural, as merchants we also have rules that we must follow when doing business.”
After they walked through the corridor, they came to the backyard. The courtyard was filled with many round tables which were placed with wine and cold dishes. When people were seated, only then did the hot dishes begin to be served.
These were all the chefs’ signature dishes, all made with the utmost effort in order to impress Lin Yuan. If they could impress the higher ups, their worth would also increase.
Lin Yuan also discovered that although there were no celebrities now, but, the celebrity effect still existed.
For example, tributes, and things offered to the Emperor, were often sold at sky-high prices among the people. This was the celebrity effect.
Though he was not the Emperor, but he was the leader of Taizhou. Anything or person that he had complimented would be taken as the model and imitated by the people under his rule.
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Lin Yuan and Chen Baisong went over after hearing that the merchants had all arrived at the banquet.
As soon as he arrived, the merchants all stood up quickly. Their eyes were sharp, with just a glance they knew that Lin Yuan was the head of Taizhou. Seeing Lin Yuan, they all gave out praises and flattery. When merchants flatter people, their tongues were not comparable to ordinary people. After being flattered for a while, Lin Yuan almost came to develop the illusion that he was indeed a Bodhisattva here to save the suffering people.
“You all come from afar, I can only prepare meager wine as a sign of my sincerity.” After saying so, Lin Yuan drank a cup first. These wines were all rice wine, and the alcohol content was not high, afraid that the strong wine might botch things up. After he drank the wine, the people below naturally couldn’t stay still, and they all drank from their wine cups.
Lin Yuan said with a smile: “We don’t talk about business at the wine table. Everyone eat well, we will talk afterwards.”
However, after Lin Yuan sat down, many people came to toast. They also said a few words, the main purpose was to leave an impression on Lin Yuan.
“It is often said that the South Bodhisattva treats the people like children, born with a Buddha’s heart. He is the hope of the people.” The person who spoke was a middle-aged man in his early forties, but he was born with handsome features, thick eyebrows and big eyes. If he was younger he would likely be a romantic figure. But although he was old, his eyes were quite attractive. When he looked at people, it always gave people the impression that he was deeply focused on them.
Lin Yuan held up the wine cup with a smile at the corner of his mouth: “Don’t know how to address you?”
The person said: “My name is Xie, Xie Zichang.”
Lin Yuan: “Xie Gongzi.”
Xie Zichang also said: “I have heard of the sage name of the South Bodhisattva even in my hometown, and my heart developed admiration. This is how I hurried over and I am willing to dedicate all my support.”
This was announcing loyalty.
He also said: “I don’t have any special talents, but there are some worthless things in my hands. They are all useless things. I offer it to the South Bodhisattva, and I am only afraid that it will be unusable.”
Lin Yuan waited for him to finish his polite remarks before asking, “Don’t know what it is?”
Xie Zichang said: “It’s nothing special, just some salt.”
Xie Zichang also said the price again.
Lin Yuan was stunned, this was practically a free gift. At this price, it would likely not even cover Xie Zichang’s round-trip travel expenses.
To put it bluntly, the first time one must submit a show of loyalty. These businessmen were clever people, how could they not know what the first time doing business would be like? They definitely don’t expect to make money in the first five times even.
They were here for investment with long-term benefits in mind.
Many of them came to Taizhou, and after seeing what Taizhou looked like now, they all became ready to throw in their lots with Lin Yuan.
For them, business was actually a life risking matter. To make money, one must naturally be able to take risks.
Nowadays, there were constant sounds of rebellion from all over the place. But with the exception of the Red Turban Army, most of them were just loud thunder giving way to light rain (TN: unfruitful or not longlasting). Daring to claim kingship with just a gathering of 100 people. The imperial court only needed to send troops from a county and they would soon be suppressed.
If they could choose a side as soon as possible, they could also get the benefits sooner.
After the banquet, Lin Yuan still handed over the merchants to Song Shizhao and had Song Shizhao do the talking. If someone came with ulterior motives, then they would not be able to leave Taizhou alive.
After Song Shizhao finished the talk, he sent someone to tell Lin Yuan that one of the businessmen was not here to do business.
He was here to support Lin Yuan.
——In other words, to “fund” Lin Yuan for political “investment”.
Just like how Chen Wansan sponsored Zhu Yuanzhang in history.
Lin Yuan was really surprised now.
Did he attract Chen Wansan?
He wondered what Chen Wansan was doing now. According to history, he should currently be in Suzhou.
In history, Chen Wansan funded Zhu Yuanzhang, but he was also forced to do so.
At that time, Zhu Yuanzhang attacked the city of Suzhou and Zhang Shicheng defended the siege for eight months. He was able to do so for that long because of the support of the wealthy families in Suzhou. And Chen Wansan, as the head of the wealthy families, naturally contributed the most money and effort. Later, Zhu Yuanzhang used this very reason to exile Chen Wansan.
Lin Yuan could also understand, and even felt that Zhu Yuanzhang was quite merciful for just exiling him, and not beheading and quartering him by five horses.
Probably after standing in a high position for a long time, Lin Yuan felt that he could understand the “tyrants” in history more and more.
And why the Emperors need to have a sycophantic official by their side.
Sycophantic officials were very useful. If he wanted to deal with someone, but he couldn’t find a good reason to convince the public, then this was where the sycophantic official would come in handy.
Then as the court officials became more and more angry with the sycophantic official, he only had to execute him to solve all his problems.
At that time, he would still be an innocent white lotus, while all the crimes would be blamed on the sycophantic official. (TN: white lotus is slang for someone who pretends to be sweet and innocent while often engaged in manipulation and scheming)
Lin Yuan drank a sip of tea, and while waiting for Song Shizhao to bring someone over, his mind continued to diverge into various thoughts.
He was increasingly able to understand politicians and the collusion of officials.
When the Emperor was strong and the officials weak, then the court would be ruled only by the Emperor’s word. The less power the officials had, the more they had to attach themselves to the imperial power.
But sometimes the officials also want to stand up and become masters, colluding with each other and suppressing the king’s power.
As long as they could suppress, the officials would be the masters. In making the gamble, maybe they could even reach the pinnacle of power?
What he didn’t understand before, now seemed to all be crystal clear.
Lin Yuan thought, if he was an official under a tyrant’s rule, maybe he would have to find a way to form cliques and collude with other officials. If the Emperor has qualms, then his life would also be easier.
After waiting for about a quarter of an hour, the people from outside came in.
The person brought in by Song Shizhao was not young, 40 or 50 years old, but he had aged quite well. With just a glance one could distinguish his rich and wealthy background. He wore silk and satin and his face appeared well fed and had no obvious wrinkles.
The rich always looked younger than the poor.
This person’s name was Zhou Fu. He was from Huizhou. When he saw Lin Yuan, he immediately bowed respectfully. Lin Yuan had to help him up personally.
Zhou Fu’s eyes were not big, and would have looked shifty eyed, but because he was fat, he actually still gave people a sense of honesty and alertness. He first flattered Lin Yuan: “I knew that South Bodhisattva was a talented person before I came. Only seeing you now did I realize that there are some discrepancies in the rumors. The way I see it, South Bodhisattva has a natural benevolent look. How is it just a talented person, it is clearly a jade tree in the wind (TN: talented and handsome).”
Lin Yuan almost laughed when he heard the phrase jade tree in the wind.
He was reminded of a doggerel from a TV series, and was instantly jarred from the present scene.
However, Lin Yuan still smiled and said, “Zhou Laoye (TN: respectful form of address to older men, can mean lord or master) don’t need to praise me, if there is anything, just say it straight.”
Zhou Fu immediately climbed up the ladder handed to him: “Zhou knew that the South Bodhisattva was a straightforward person. Now Zhou sees the current situation and feels that the people are not easy. Only Taizhou is the place where the people live and work in peace and contentment. One would even think it was heaven on earth. So Zhou also wanted to do his best for the South Bodhisattva, so that more people could live like this.”
Er Liang came over with the tea. He first tested the temperature with the back of a hand, and then put it at Zhou Fu’s side.
Zhou Fu quickly said: “How can I trouble this brother?”
Er Liang was taken aback, and looked at Lin Yuan. He hadn’t experienced many things, and he didn’t know the ways of these businessmen.
He only hurriedly withdrew when Lin Yuan signalled him.
Lin Yuan asked Zhou Fu: “Don’t know what is going on in Huizhou now?”
Zhou Fu said: “In recent years, it has become more and more dysfunctional. The harvest is very little but there is a lot of taxes every year. The people don’t have enough to eat. If it weren’t for this, Zhou would not leave his hometown. If one can have a livelihood in their hometown, no one would leave it.”
Lin Yuan asked again: “I wonder how Zhou Laoye can help me?”
The smile on Zhou Fu’s face became a little more sincere: “South Bodhisattva is too kind, how can you say that Zhou is helping you. Zhou is just giving a benefaction, and will have to rely on your support in the future. Anything Zhou has, you only to need speak a word, and if Zhou does not obey, Zhou will not be a person.”
Lin Yuan nodded, he had to act aloof and not show too much amiability to people.
This had much particularity. When you are too affable, others think that you would be easy to fool. But if you were too aloof then others dare not say much to you.
Sometimes one can judge a person by listening to what they say.
Lin Yuan said to Zhou Fu: “Zhou Laoye’s intentions, I naturally can’t refuse. Stay here for now, and if you have anything you need just order the servants.”
Zhou Fu quickly thanked him sincerely and with trepidation.
In the end, when Zhou Fu was led out by Er Liang, he even wanted to kowtow to Lin Yuan, but Lin Yuan stopped him.
In fact, Lin Yuan had never believed that people had a natural servile side. It was not so much servility as habit.
Some people have been servants since they were born. The education they have received since childhood was to be loyal to their masters, day after day and year after year of brainwashing. Everyone around them thought and acted this way, so they naturally believe in it without even questioning it.
Just like when he was in junior high school, when all the boys in his class went to play online games after school, talking about the game every day, so he also ended up trying it out and integrating into the group.
People were gregarious animals, and this cannot be changed.
“What did he bring?” Lin Yuan asked Song Shizhao.
Song Shizhao sat in the seat under Lin Yuan with a smile on his face. He was obviously in a good mood. This was the first time he had done something like this, and received a lot of flattery by a group of people. He was still feeling the pleasant after effects. He said, “He brought some gold and silver objects, and some things like saltpeter and sulfur.”
Lin Yuan understood, saltpeter and sulfur were all raw materials for making gunpowder. Zhou Fu’s move really scratched his itch.
Sure enough, there were smart people everywhere, it all depended on whether these people were willing to make the effort.
“Then accept it all.” Lin Yuan said, “I don’t think Zhou Fu is an idle person. You can ask someone who can be trusted to contact him, and give him some work after a while.”
Song Shizhao nodded, as for what kind of work? The businessman, naturally, was for doing business.
Money was never too much. Now paper money was useless, and it was either, use copper coins——which was not very valuable either——or use gold and silver which were the only currency valuable nowadays.
This was the current market.
One coin of silver used to be able to exchange 1,000 copper coins, but now it can exchange more than 1,300.
There was not much copper in the copper coin, and it was common to see it break when thrown on the ground.
In fact, Lin Yuan also knew the benefits of banknotes. But to promote banknotes, what was needed was a sound market and anti-counterfeiting printing methods.
Now that there were none of these two, it was naturally better to use gold and silver.
Song Shizhao asked Lin Yuan: “Do you think Zhou Fu is credible?”
Lin Yuan shook his head: “Trustworthy or untrustworthy, there are still methods that can have him be useful. Now there are only useful and useless people.”
Song Shizhao was taken aback, and said, “Boss is right.”
Now the original people under Lin Yuan still called him Boss in person. As for my Lord, it was used outside.
Hearing himself be called that made Lin Yuan feel a little awkward, and even thought why not have them call him governor?
However, the province was an administrative unit, and there was no paperwork given by the court. It would be strange to use it, so there was no change in the end.
After Song Shizhao left, Chen Baisong walked in and said to Lin Yuan, “It’s time to put on the medicine. Take off your pants.”
Lin Yuan nodded, and he readily took off his pants. The abrasion on his thighs was still not healed. He had been putting on medicine for a while now. At the beginning, Er Liang applied it for him. Recently, Chen Baisong also came to help when he was free.
“Your skin is too tender.” Chen Baisong smeared the ointment on carefully, and said, “I have never gotten abrasions like this.”
Lin Yuan grimaced and said: “You have rough skin and tough flesh, how can I compare with you?”
Chen Baisong patted Lin Yuan’s ass, and looked as it shook twice, and smiled: “I have rough skin and tough flesh, cannot be compared with you.”
Lin Yuan: “You are obviously full of envy and jealousy.”
Chen Baisong grinned and did not continue to talk nonsense with Lin Yuan.
After rubbing the medicine, it had to be dried first, and you couldn’t wear pants right away. Lin Yuan only felt that his buttocks were too cold, so he turned his head and asked Chen Baisong, “How are the salt people training now?”
Those were all his soldiers.
Chen Baisong raised his eyebrows and said, “I thought you wouldn’t ask.”
Lin Yuan cleared his throat: “Do you have complaints about me?”
Chen Baisong: “Naturally not.”
Lin Yuan was getting along with Chen Baisong more and more naturally now, without the unfamiliarity and restraint at the beginning. It seemed as if they had returned to the days when the original owner and Chen Baisong were in their hometown. They could also chat and joke together now. Lin Yuan said, “They must train hard, otherwise the ones being beaten at that time would be us.”
Chen Baisong sat on the side, glanced at Lin Yuan’s bare butt, and couldn’t help but laugh. After the laugh, he felt bad, and said, “The training is not bad. It’s still done the old way. The best one in each squad is rewarded. All of them are working hard to take the spot.”
Lin Yuan: “That’s how it should be.”
Lin Yuan closed his eyes to rest his mind, and said: “The court has no energy to deal with us right now. If we don’t take this opportunity to develop and grow, when the court finally has energy, we won’t even have the ability to protect ourselves.”
Chen Baisong’s expression became solemn now, and he said to Lin Yuan: “You can rest assured that I haven’t been complacent for a moment, nor did I let them become complacent.”
Lin Yuan said: “The combination of work and rest is still necessary.”
Chen Baisong looked at Lin Yuan and didn’t quite understand it.
Lin Yuan waved his hand and said: “It is necessary to rest when it is time to rest.”
Chen Baisong continued to look at Lin Yuan.
Lin Yuan: “……Anyway, don’t be too tired and let them catch their breath.”
Chen Baisong: “Understood.”
Nowadays, the weapons they had in their arsenal had increased a lot. Lin Yuan had found a few blacksmiths before and told them about the idea of crossbows. That was, ordinary crossbows, not Zhuge crossbows, that don’t need to be so big, but compared to ordinary bow and arrow it had a longer range and lower requirements for archers. Blacksmiths have also heard of it since the weapon already existed. (TN: Zhuge crossbows were invented during the Warring States period and was named after Zhuge Liang, the Three Kingdoms strategist)
But the cost was too high, so it was not widely used.
Now Lin Yuan didn’t care about the cost, and he had them try making it first, and if they could make it then it would be mass produced.
The cost was big, but it was still necessary.
After all, archers were very scarce, requiring both wrist and vision superiority.
Not everyone could become an archer.
But a crossbow was different. It had the lowest requirements for users, and its lethality and range were much stronger than ordinary bows and arrows.
Since Lin Yuan got this idea, he naturally wouldn’t look back until he hit a hard wall.
As long as it could be obtained, it must be obtained.
He wanted people and he also wanted weapons.
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Lin Yuan felt that he was really getting more and more greedy.
TN: two monster chapters today😎😫
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