*Edited by LazyCat
Jia Fuqing settled temporarily in Gaoyou.
He always remembered his mission, but every time he brought it up, Song Shizhao would have countless excuses for him to wait.
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“These days Gaoyou and Taizhou are both busy with the autumn harvest.” Song Shizhao sat in Jia Fuqing’s room, calm and composed as he poured a cup of tea for Jia Fuqing and himself. He was wearing a scholar’s robe and a cloth hat on his head, which gave Jia Fuqing a favorable impression and made him feel closer to the other.
Jia Fuqing sighed: “Manager Song, we are all scholars. You should also persuade Lin Gongzi. Why give up a good life and instead live such an uneasy life? Is the imperial court so easy to provoke? The court is just overlooking it for now. But if the court really sends troops over, what are your chances of winning?”
“Yan Zi once said, ‘A person who knows the current affairs is a brilliant man, and he who knows how to adapt to the times is a hero.’ If Lin Gongzi accepts the court’s recruitment, the benefits will not be small.”
Song Shizhao shifted the subject and asked: “When is Lord Jia born?”
Jia Fuqing: “I was born in the first year of Yanyou.” (TN: the Yanyou era (1314 – 1320), a Chinese era name for Emperor Renzong of Yuan)
Song Shizhao smiled and said, “Thirty-five years old?”
Jia Fuqing nodded, and after a sip of tea, he finally felt that his throat was not so dry.
Song Shizhao asked: “Don’t know who is your respectful father?”
Jia Fuqing: “The former magistrate of Kaizhou Prefecture.”
Song Shizhao: “It turns out that Lord Jia comes from such an esteemed family background.”
Jia Fuqing raised his hand to make a humble gesture and said, “No, no, Manager Song you praise me too highly, Jia is just working for the court.”
Two generations of his family worked for the court of the Yuan Dynasty and were loyal to the court therefore they were able to live a good life. This was the education he received since childhood.
But after being a dog for too long, one could forget how to be a person.
Song Shizhao calmly, and without Jia Fuqing being aware of it, gathered all the information that Jia Fuqing knew. After Song Shizhao left the room, only then did Jia Fuqing realized that he had told a lot of truths. His original plan was to speak half-truths and half-lies, and meanwhile successfully persuade Song Shizhao, who looked like just a stuffy scholar, to his side.
Jia Fuqing drank a cup of cold tea regretfully, and said to himself: “I have made a bad move.”
On the other side, Song Shizhao told Lin Yuan everything Jia Fuqing had revealed.
Lin Yuan learned that Jia Fuqing was just a frontline scout. If they did not accept the court’s recruitment, the court would directly send troops to attack them by surprise.
To be precise, Jia Fuqing was just an expendable pawn, but he didn’t know it.
Lin Yuan smiled and said, “Isn’t this a good thing?”
“Whether he wants to or not, Lord Jia must get on our thief ship.”
Song Shizhao shook his head and said, “It’s hard to say. Looking at his appearance, I’m afraid he will prefer to die for the dog court.”
Lin Yuan: “This I’m not afraid of.”
People who were not afraid of death did not know how terrible death could be.
Lin Yuan said to Song Shizhao: “Before the banquet tonight, take Lord Jia to see the execution ground.”
Some people with conclusive evidence against them were sentenced to death. And in this time, the death penalty was decapitation, which was slightly less horrifying than to chop in half at the waist, but it was not much better. Lin Yuan said: “Have him see it all clearly.”
Song Shizhao understood: “I will definitely carry it out properly.”
So before Jia Fuqing could get over his slip, Song Shizhao once again showed up to take him out of the government office. He didn’t know where he was going and he was afraid that Song Shizhao would use torture against him, so he whispered, “Where are we going?”
Song Shizhao’s attitude was very friendly: “Today there are death row prisoners to be executed, and I was just thinking of taking you to have a look.”
Jia Fuqing wanted to say, “Isn’t it just people dying? What’s to see?” But after all, he was in someone else’s territory, and he was not so confident in speaking his mind. He could only nod his head to show that he was full of curiosity.
Jia Fuqing was given special treatment and was arranged to watch from the front row seat.
Apart from the executioner, he was the closest to the prisoner.
Although he thought that dead people were common and there was nothing to fuss about, but, as a scholar and an official, Jia Fuqing had lived this many years but he really had never seen such a bloody scene before. What he saw was just a person being beat with a wooden board and then dragged away. When the news of their death came the next day, he would just nod, not affected at all.
But now, he actually saw death happening in the form of a human head landing on the floor in front of his eyes. The decapitated head rolled a few times and rolled to his feet, the blood spurting all over the floor. He looked down and found that the human head still had an opened mouth, as if he wanted to say something, or just wanted to plead for mercy.
Jia Fuqing stood there, motionless, as if someone had fixed him to the spot. He wanted to move, but couldn’t control his body, cold sweat dripping from his forehead. The sky was blue and bright, but he felt that it was darker and more frightening than the darkest night.
Song Shizhao looked at him not far away with a smile on his lips.
Birds who lived in captivity were bound to be at a loss when they encountered unexpected circumstances.
“Lord Jia.” Song Shizhao walked to Jia Fuqing again and said softly, “Have you been frightened?”
Jia Fuqing denied it, unwilling to show his timidity: “How can this frighten me? The dead I have seen……”
“I don’t know how the imperial court carries out executions.” Song Shizhao said, “Is it decapitation or chopping in half at the waist? The decapitation is better, but it also depends on the executioner’s skills. If the executioner’s skills are clean and agile then just one cut is enough. If it is a newbie executioner then that’s very unfortunate. If a person’s head could not be cut with a single stroke, there would need a second and a third stroke. Imagine how painful that would be.”
“The waist cut is even more miserable right? Your upper and lower bodies are separated, but the person will not die immediately, it’s possible they can live for another hour.”
Jia Fuqing shuddered. He did not speak, his courage was already frightened away.
When had he seen such a gruesome scene?
Song Shizhao asked: “When will Lord Jia communicate with the court?”
Jia Fuqing might be afraid, but he was still vigilant, he kept his mouth closed and refused to answer Song Shizhao’s question.
Song Shizhao also said: “I don’t know if the court cannot get Lord Jia’s reply, or if they think that our Boss has rebellious intentions, will they directly attack here? When that time comes I’m afraid Lord Jia will not be able to escape either, yes?”
“I wonder if Lord Jia will be beheaded or separated at the midsection? Or hanged?”
Jia Fuqing couldn’t help but swallow nervously.
He said with a trembling voice: “Of course the court will not……”
Song Shizhao interrupted him and said meaningfully: “What happens with the court depends on what you will do, Lord Jia.”
Jia Fuqing lowered his head along the way back. He appeared calm, but his trembling fingers gave him away.
He cherished his life and did not want to die.
At the evening banquet, Jia Fuqing sat in the seat under Lin Yuan. The table in front of him was filled with snacks and fruits. The courtesans also surrounded him. These women were all women from the brothels in Gaoyou City. Selling their bodies was the only livelihood they had for survival. Even if Lin Yuan told them before that they could survive without having to prostitute themselves any more, but they still refused.
Unlike the women who were rescued from the bandit den before, they have long been accustomed to this kind of life. They have been living in brothels since childhood. The brothels and their clients were the only components of their world. In this world, they felt at ease.
They have been taught by the teachers hired by the old brothel keeper since they were young. They must not only learn about the ways of the bedroom, but also learn poetry, song, music, chess, calligraphy and painting. Lin Yuan even thought that their level of education was probably the highest in Gaoyou.
Unfortunately, what they learned had nothing to do with philosophical thinking.
They have never learned Confucianism and never heard of Mencius.
The knowledge they learned was not for themselves, but for men.
Lin Yuan also knew that even if he forced them to leave the brothel, it would be difficult for them to integrate into society.
So Lin Yuan transformed the brothel into a high-end clubhouse.
It was now a place for chatting and discussing things. The courtesans have also become waitresses. They could still entertain guests, but they could not engage in transactions of the more intimate nature with the guests. This meant the brothel had become a place to just accompany guests in eating, drinking, and playing.
The courtesans have adapted well, and even felt that this could better reflect their charm. Under the premise that they wouldn’t be sleeping with guests, they competed with each other to attract customers, and the club’s turnover was actually even increasing.
However, because of Lin Yuan’s restrictions, there won’t be any more newcomers.
When these courtesans get old and could no longer work the trade, they could change their careers as well.
In this way the brothel would transition into a proper club.
These things had Lin Yuan extremely busy and hard pressed for time.
Now the courtesans were to serve Jia Fuqing. These courtesans may not be very beautiful, but they definetely possessed high emotional intelligence. They knew how to play and manipulate men. Once they understood the key points, they could strike up a conversation with ease, chatting with Jia Fuqing and constantly persuading him to drink.
One of the courtesans was called Hong Xiu. She was from the south of the Yangtze River and was sold to Gaoyou since she was a child. She was a classic beauty, with a small cherry mouth, elegant willow leaf brows, hair like a waterfall of ink, thin waist, oval face and even her breath smelled sweet. Her body also emitted a slight fragrance that tempted the senses. She leaned on Jia Fuqing, holding the wine cup with her pale and slender fingers to Jia Fuqing’s lips, and gently persuaded: “Lord Jia, have another cup.”
Jia Fuqing was surrounded by warm jade and fragrant scents. He was a normal man and had the common problems of all men. At first, he was worried that Lin Yuan would find fault with him so he did not dare to do anything. But seeing that Lin Yuan was not paying attention to him, he put his arms around Hong Xiu’s waist, and said: “Be good, feed it to this lord.”
Hong Xiu took a sip of wine and fed him mouth to mouth. Her face was blushed and her eyes were misted. Jia Fuqing’s mouth went dry.
If it weren’t for this being a public place, and Jia Fuqing still had some shame, it was likely he might have thrown himself at Hong Xiu.
Starting from this day, Jia Fuqing would visit Hong Xiu at the clubhouse whenever he had the time.
Hong Xiu chatted with him but also flirted with other guests at the same time. She flitted among the men, seeming to love Jia Fuqing deeply, but also seeming to disregard Jia Fuqing.
Jia Fuqing was completely bewitched by her.
Hong Xiu sat in the room, and while she was brushing her hair and putting on makeup, she complained in a soft and gentle voice: “He smells bad.”
Lin Yuan sat on a chair beside her, peeling melon seeds in his hand, and smiled at Hong Xiu: “Then you can block your nose next time?”
Hong Xiu covered her mouth and smiled: “That’s not elegant at all.”
Hong Xiu pursed her painted lips and looked at herself in the bronze mirror. She touched her face and sighed: “Why does Boss care about that kind of person, and making this slave always see his ugly face.”
Lin Yuan: “You have suffered a grievance, what compensation do you want?”
Hong Xiu walked to Lin Yuan’s side, leaned her head on Lin Yuan’s shoulder, and hooked a finger in Lin Yuan’s belt. She said softly, “Will Boss stay with this slave for one night?”
With a beauty at your side, it would be false to say that he was not tempted, but Lin Yuan said: “Except me, you can choose whoever.”
Hong Xiu pursed her lips: “Forget it.”
Hong Xiu understood men. While they call her a slut in private, in front of her they still fawned on her and tried to ingratiate themselves with her. Sometimes they say “I will definitely marry you” but then soon after pulling on their pants they completely deny any responsibility. They praise her as this world’s most beautiful woman, but also call her a slut who would spread her legs for anyone.
The men speak honeyed words that were also laced through with poison.
While the thirteen-year-old Hong Xiu was always in tears, the sixteen-year-old Hong Xiu could sit beside different men with a smile that appeared sincere. Her lips had kissed countless men, and her bed had seen countless men.
Hong Xiu leaned on Lin Yuan’s shoulder and did not move, her eyes closed.
Lin Yuan didn’t move either. Hong Xiu looked more like a little girl in his eyes. She was only sixteen years old. She was only one and a half meters tall. Although she was no longer childish and full of feminine charm, he could not think of her as a woman.
Sometimes Lin Yuan himself felt that perhaps because there were too many people calling him the South Bodhisattva, he actually even developed a heart of a bodhisattva.
The room was quiet for a long time before Hong Xiu said softly: “Boss, do you want Jia Fuqing’s life?”
Lin Yuan shook his head and explained the matter to Hong Xiu in detail.
Hong Xiu nodded and said: “This slave understands.”
Jia Fuqing went to the club again at night. He eagerly chose Hong Xiu’s name and even when a beautiful woman brought in tea, he didn’t look at the other at all. He felt that he was in love with Hong Xiu. She was different from all the women he had seen before. She was prideful, beautiful, and sometimes full of smiles and affection. He felt that he could take Hong Xiu away and have Hong Xiu be his concubine. He could also enjoy the happy fate of the man from Qi. (TN: story of a man who had a wife and concubine and is an expression used to refer ironically to the joy of having several partners)
Probably because Hong Xiu had yet to arrive, his heart felt like it was being tickled by a cat.
“Jia lang.” Hong Xiu came late. She seemed to have just experienced something, her clothes were messy, and her face was flushed. (TN: lang was a familiar and affectionate way of calling a man that could be a lover or husband)
When Jia Fuqing saw her appearance, he couldn’t help becoming angry, and slapped the table, attempting to rush out: “Who touched you! I’ll kill him!”
Hong Xiu stopped him, sat down with her arms hugging his own, and said with tears: “What kind of person is this slave? How do I deserve for Jia lang to treat me this well? This slave is no longer chaste, and would be better off dead. But that I still linger in this world is just so I can look at Jia lang some more.”
Jia Fuqing’s ego was stroked so much by her words that he grabbed her waist and said: “When the South Bodhisattva accept the court’s recruitment, I will take you back to Kaizhou and take you as a concubine so that you can live a good life.”
Hong Xiu smiled and said, “Jia lang, this slave is afraid of the court.”
“If the court sent troops to attack here, wouldn’t we……”
Hong Xiu: “This slave is not afraid of death, but this slave does not want Jia lang to also……”
Jia Fuqing said: “What’s to worry, I am an official of Yuan, I will definitely be fine.”
Hong Xiu frowned: “But the weapons have no eyes on the battlefield. Those who serve as soldiers are bloodthirsty people. How do they know that you are Lord Jia?”
Jia Fuqing was taken aback for a moment, he himself did not expect this.
The people he brought were taken away by Lin Yuan, and he didn’t know where they were now. If the soldiers from the court really attacked here, he really couldn’t prove his identity, and he didn’t know how to stop those soldiers.
Moreover, he had no sway over the Mongolian generals at all.
Jia Fuqing swallowed, and comforted: “Be good, there’s nothing to fear, I will definitely protect you.”
Hong Xiu threw herself in Jia Fuqing’s arms, seeming to be deeply frightened. She whispered her fears and spoke of her past, and the more she talked the more tenderness and sympathy Jia Fuqing felt.
Chen Baisong was talking to Lin Yuan about the people of Gaoyou at this time.
Gaoyou had stabilized by now, and the people supported them sincerely. What the people wanted was simple. To be able to fill their stomachs and to not be mistreated.
The businessmen and merchants also reopened their businesses. Probably because too many big landowners were killed, the merchants became less daring. Their past shady business methods of cheating customers were no longer used, and when facing the poor they must also put on smiles and be cordial.
Gaoyou had become more harmonious than ever before.
Chen Bosong was now not only in charge of the military camp, but also more than one hundred bailiffs.
These bailiffs were all chosen from the soldiers. When they just learned that they were going to become bailiffs, they were so happy that they almost forgot their own surname.
After all, serving as a soldier their life was not guaranteed, but as a bailiff, that was a good job that many people could not even wish for.
Maybe Chen Baisong didn’t know how to be a government official or how to manage the people, but he definitely knew how to manage the soldiers. When the bailiffs under him were disobedient, and he learned about it, he would investigate and find out the problem. Once the reported bailiff was confirmed to have done something wrong then he would be punished.
Chen Baisong now had a bit of popularity and prestige, and all his subordinates obeyed him.
Lin Yuan leaned on the chair, holding a cup of tea, and said leisurely: “What are you worried about?”
Chen Baisong frowned and said: “Why doesn’t the young master directly claim kingship?”
Lin Yuan opened his eyes and looked at Chen Baisong: “Who told you to ask this?”
He did not think that Chen Baisong himself could think of this issue. Chen Baisong had a brain that belonged to the battlefield, but he was not blessed with other skills.
Chen Baisong did not conceal it from Lin Yuan: “The people outside say so.”
Lin Yuan smiled: “Don’t worry about them.”
Those who want Lin Yuan to be king were actually speculators. They believed themselves to know Lin Yuan, so they came up with this method to ingratiate themselves to Lin Yuan.
After all, in their eyes, the people above must be unwilling to admit their ambitions, and had to pretend at humility.
For example, Zhao Kuangyin, did he not want to be emperor? But still he had to make repeated refusals, and even cry a bit when the imperial yellow robe was worn on his body, as if he was so aggrieved that everyone was forcing him to be the emperor.
But in his heart he was definitely euphoric and overjoyed, and might even be thinking “you ignorants do have tact and intelligence.”
They felt that Lin Yuan was probably also the same. The reason why he did not become king was because no one was there to give him an excuse.
As long as the voice calling for his kingship had become louder, Lin Yuan would naturally become king, and they would be regarded as people who had done a great service for Lin Yuan.
Lin Yuan looked at Chen Baisong and asked, “How many new people have arrived in Gaoyou?”
After all, the city gate was still open. As long as there was no enemy attack, it would not be closed. People from many nearby villages and towns would come to Gaoyou. Some of them came after seeing that life in Gaoyou had improved, while some were refugees that had left their hometowns. No matter how many people came, Lin Yuan accepted them all.
There would never be too many people. Young and strong men could serve as soldiers, the old, weak and sick as logistics, while the women could farm and weave.
Of course, when the harvest period was busy, the soldiers also had to roll up their trousers and go to the fields.
Otherwise, there would not be enough manpower.
Many new granary cellars have also been constructed.
Lin Yuan was almost stunned by the amount of grain in Gaoyou and Taizhou after he no longer had to deliver grain to the court.
After all, Taizhou was known for its salt and infertile land, so if there was low grain output that would be expected. But Lin Yuan was surprised to see that the output was much better than he had thought.
As for Gaoyou, the land of fish and rice, enough said.
The farmers here have been serving the crops for a lifetime.
After Lin Yuan took 50% of the crops as tax, the farmers were still left enough grain to eat for more than a year, and it was without having to tighten their belts.
The more food there was, the more secure Lin Yuan felt.
However, there were also many new troublemakers in the city. Many of these people had regional accents from other places, pretending to be businessmen, or commoners living nearby. They were not necessarily all sent by the court, as some may also come from other parties.
The rumors about Lin Yuan’s claim to kingship were probably contributed by them.
Lin Yuan said to Chen Baisong: “Do you think there are benefits for me to claim kingship?”
Chen Baisong used the thinking of this era and said: “Naturally, that way your rule would be justified.”
Lin Yuan smiled and said, “What then?”
Chen Baisong did not understand: “What do you mean what then?”
Lin Yuan said: “After I have claimed kingship, the court will certainly not let me go, and what I have is still just Taizhou and Gaoyou. There are only disadvantages and no benefits. Why should I claim kingship?”
Chen Baisong was taken aback, having seemed to just discover this.
Lin Yuan sighed.
Chen Baisong was loyal and a natural war machine, but other than that, he seemed a bit guileless.
Lin Yuan said to him: “You don’t have to listen to what the outsiders say. When the rumors outside reach your ears, first think about who these people are. What do they plan to do with these words, what could be the intentions behind these words, who are they trying to incite? And who is their intended audience.”
Chen Baisong sat on the side, his posture casual as he said: “I listen to the young master.”
Lin Yuan felt helpless.
Chen Baisong also said: “Do you need me to deal with those people?”
Lin Yuan shook his head: “No, it would be alerting them in advance if we move now. Wait for a while to see what they are going to do.”
It wasn’t as if they just came to watch the excitement?
Lin Yuan even felt that some of the people who came over belonged to Fang Guozhen and Liu Futong.
Their purpose was still unknown, but they would naturally appear in front of him when it was time for them to emerge.
“The letters Jia Fuqing sent out have been read by Hong Xiu.” Chen Baisong said, “The letter says that he will persuade you over soon.”
You c an fi nd t he la te st cha pte rs at ( th e ir on tr ee bl oo ms. c o m )
Lin Yuan nodded: “You tell Hong Xiu, we must continue to delay.”
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