*Edited by LazyCat
Because he was not an agricultural expert, Lin Yuan only knew that sweet potatoes were annual crops, only maturing once a year. They were usually sown in the three months of March, April and May, and harvested in October. Sweet potatoes entered China through Fujian province in the 21st year of Wanli (TN: Wanli Emperor, personal name Zhu Yijun, was the 14th Emperor of the Ming dynasty, reigned from 1572 to 1620). It not only tasted good, but also adapted easily to barren land. It could be eaten raw or cooked, and the output was very large. In ancient times, there was a saying ‘one mu and dozens of shi, 20 times better than planting grain.’ (TN: mu=classifier for fields; unit of area equal to one fifteenth of a hectare; shi=dry measure for grain that is equal to one hundred liters)
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As for potatoes, they were now already growing seedlings, just in time for the end of November. Then from January to March of the following year the potatoes could be harvested.
However, the planting time and harvest time of potatoes were different in different places. In some places, potatoes planted in April and May would end up harvested in autumn.
Lin Yuan could only plant a small portion at the end of November. If it did not work out then they would switch it to April and May.
As for the remaining potatoes and sweet potatoes they were all stored in the cellar with people checking up on it everyday as they must be kept dry to avoid mold.
However, those old farmers knew these things better than Lin Yuan, so Lin Yuan basically handed all responsibility over except for making the occasional visits.
The farmers were old farmers who were found by Lin Yuan. Most of them were over forty years old. They had been serving crops almost from the time they could walk. They had experience and their own ways of removing insects or fertilizing. However, since Lin Yuan created the ‘Agricultural Bureau’, their exclusive methods were all made public.
They were all asked to sort out all their experience and knowledge; it didn’t matter if they didn’t know how to read and write as someone would record it for them.
Then Lin Yuan sent people to the villages to carry out propaganda and teaching activities.
In the past, people did not have the conditions to spread planting experience and technology because the transportation was not developed and the villages were relatively closed off. Now Lin Yuan was forcibly breaking the barriers between the villages, and each village had to send people to the demonstration village to learn the farming experience and methods.
Lin Yuan would give rewards for all those who learned well.
Lin Yuan also encouraged the animal husbandry industry. Most people chose to raise ducks, few raised chickens or geese.
There was no feed at this time. The maturing period of ducks was the shortest at 3 to 4 months, whereas it was 14 months for chickens and 7 or 8 months for geese.
Farmers have their own wisdom. Whether it was ducks, chickens, or geese, it was all still raising livestock. Of course, it would be best to raise the one that took the shortest period of time.
As a result, Lin Yuan could only gather people together to build duck coops and chicken coops.
The geese were left to grow free-range.
Since arriving in Taizhou and Gaoyou, Lin Yuan no longer adopted the big pot meal system. After all, the current situation was not very bad. When food reserves were sufficient, people owning private property would increase productivity.
Shared big pot meals were more suitable for times of famine.
The big pot meal system was implemented in the farmstead before.
The way to promote people’s productivity was to have a reward system.
Just like choosing labor models in the famine years of China in the 1950s-1960s, labor models were acknowledged and rewarded to encourage people to work hard.
Lin Yuan picked the smallest sweet potatoes and potatoes and had them steamed before he called over his confidantes to have a taste.
Except for Lin Yuan, no one had seen these two crops. Their enthusiasm for potatoes was not as high as for sweet potatoes. After all, sweet potatoes had a sweet taste. Now that there was basically no sweet food, sweet potatoes appeared even more attractive.
Lin Yuan asked them: “Do you know what the yield of these two types of crops?”
The others guessed a few numbers, but Lin Yuan shook his head with a smile: “There are dozens of shi per mu.”
Both Yang Zi’an and Zhu Yuanzhang were born in farming households. Although Zhu Yuanzhang was a cattle herd, his family also grew crops. Naturally, he knew how incredible this number was.
Lin Yuan also said: “They have low environmental requirements and can be grown on barren land.”
Song Shizhao said excitedly: “Boss, it can be seen that this is a sign from the heavens!”
Lin Yuan was bewildered: “Sign of what?”
Song Shizhao: “These two crops benefit countless people, and it is all a credit to Boss. With these two crops, why worry about the people of the world not supporting you! Boss! This is the east wind!” (TN: east wind has many meanings but in this case it is used to describe a driving force, especially for revolution or social progress)
Then I’m the white dragon. (TN: name for a mahjong tile; another mahjong tile is called east wind, hence Lin Yuan’s sarcastic thoughts)
Lin Yuan knew that Song Shizhao was thinking of once again turning him into a quack.
“Manager Song, this matter will be postponed at a later time.” Lin Yuan felt that he was already too eye-catching. If he were to spread it far and wide that he possessed two high-yielding and easy to plant crops it would indeed increase his fame and reputation, but it would also attract more attention. He didn’t want to deal with trouble from the covetous and greedy before he had managed to really strengthen himself.
“When the first batch is harvested next year, it will be given to the people as seeds,” Lin Yuan said.
Song Shizhao: “Exactly.”
Yang Zi’an asked: “If it spreads out……”
However, Lin Yuan said calmly: “Then it spreads out.”
Everyone looked surprised.
After eating the meal, it dawned on them. That’s right, how could they forget that the person in front of them was still the person born with a Buddha’s heart.
Perhaps others would be selfish in this world, but he would not.
Lin Yuan knew what they were thinking by looking at their expressions, but Lin Yuan would not disillusion them.
It was better to let himself maintain a glorious image in their minds.
The first reason why he was willing for the two crops to spread out to other regions was that it could indeed benefit more people, even if these people belonged on the side of his enemies. The people were innocent; heroes in troubled times rise up and fight to establish a new rule but in addition to their own ambitions, they should also consider the people, otherwise how could they be leaders or claim they bring justice and peace to the people? They would be no better than bandits otherwise.
The second reason was to win over the people’s hearts.
Just like what Song Shizhao said, the people have always adhered to the belief that the one with milk is their mother (TN: expression for only recognizing someone so long as they have benefits for you). What virtuous cause and righteousness, this was all too removed from their daily lives. Most of them were ignorant and uneducated and all they wanted was to live well.
They now know very little about Taizhou and Gaoyou, the most that they knew was that these two places were occupied by the South Bodhisattva, and that the people there could get enough food.
Once the potatoes and sweet potatoes spread out, not only would it benefit the people, but also win over the hearts of the people. When he became stronger, the benefits of these two things would not only be an increase in the population.
Lin Yuan sometimes thought that he hadn’t been a good person in his previous life, but in this life he actually had a chance to be a good person.
Although this good person was also full of selfishness, but as long as the result turned out good, who could say that he was not a good person?
“Hurry and start the fire, I’m about to freeze to death.” Lin Basan rubbed his hands, breathed out a mouthful of white mist and wrapped his clothes tightly around himself as he sat down on a low stool. There was not much charcoal allocated, so it was important to use it sparingly.
His colleague was called Dong Liuwu. He was also a carpenter originally. He had a lame leg, so he didn’t move easily from his work spot, working in the wood factory all day long, and barely walking outside except for commuting.
Lin Basan warmed himself by the fire while waiting for his colleagues to come to work.
He was promoted to a small leader because of his quick and good work, and now supervised around 100 carpenters so every day he came to work earlier than others.
Dong Wuliu slowly took out the charcoal, and asked after the charcoal burned: “How did your team perform this month?”
When Lin Basan heard Dong Wuliu mentioning this, he couldn’t stop smiling: “The target was completed.”
Their work was very varied. They had to make carts, furniture, and some other knick-knacks, and sometimes they even had to go build houses.
Lin Yuan had them build a house without nails, not a real house but a scaled down model version.
They had to make three in a month, and they couldn’t look the same. At first, they really didn’t know what to do. After all, they weren’t a direct disciple of Lu Ban. Although Lu Ban was said to be the ancestor of carpentry, but it was already not bad for ordinary carpenters to be able to make beds, dressing screens and furniture. Most of them have only heard of the tenon and mortise structure but have not actually seen it. (TN: Lu Ban, legendary master craftsman, called the father of Chinese carpentry)
Lin Yuan could not find high-level talents who truly understood and studied the tenon and mortise structure.
So the only thing to do was to train them.
After all, the population was increasing, and the city must be expanded. The cost of brick and tile houses was too high, but houses that could be easily joined and constructed through the tenon-and-mortise structure would reduce the cost and construction time——it was just that they had to take care around an open flame. Therefore, layers of mud and cement must be put on the outside as well as employing patrols every night to ensure safety.
Lin Basan took a sip of hot water and said with emotion, “At this time last year, I was still digging for grass roots to eat.”
Dong Wuliu said: “Who wasn’t in the same situation? It was at that time my leg was broken.”
The two looked at each other and both smiled.
Lin Basan also said with a look of longing: “I’m still going to try for a baby with my wife, maybe I can even hold him or her next year.”
“Then I have to come and drink full moon wine at that time.” Dong Wuliu, “Look at me, not even a shadow of a wife in sight. You have it better than me.” (TN: full moon wine is wine drunk on a baby’s one-month old birthday)
Lin Basan laughed: “My parents arranged the marriage for me.”
There were three brothers in his family. He was the youngest, but all his older brothers died young. He was the only one who survived.
When he was twelve years old, his parents used all the savings in the family to find him a wife. The wife’s family was poor and they wanted to keep her in her natal house until she was fourteen.
After all, a girl from a farmer family must learn to work as soon as she could walk. Not only must she be able to do farm work she must also be able to do housework and take care of her younger siblings. Her family kept her because she could work for the family for a few more years.
Lin Basan was the first in his village to marry a wife. Their village was not rich. There were so many old bachelors in their 20s and 30s. He still remembered the day he married his wife. He had put on new clothes for once and waited for the matchmaker to bring his wife over.
His wife carried with her a parcel with some old clothes inside. In order to make her appear more decent, her family had her wear new clothes when she went out.
She was not beautiful, but she was a very good wife.
She married him for more than ten years and gave birth to three sons and one daughter.
As Lin Basan thought of this, his eyes became a little moist. Of these four children two of his sons died young.
The eldest son and the youngest daughter survived their infant years, but in the end they did not survive the trek over to Gaoyou.
His parents starved to death in order to save some food for their grandson.
But even so, the children failed to make it in the end.
He remembered that he buried his son and daughter. But on the next day, when he went to see, the soil where the children were buried was dug up and there was nothing underneath.
Lin Basan said to Dong Wuliu: “The days will get better and better. When you save some money you can go find a matchmaker.”
Dong Wuliu smiled: “I’m a cripple; it wouldn’t be good of me to drag her down.”
The two did not speak. At this age, the lame was unlikely to marry a wife unless he was particularly rich.
The two chatted for a while more before the people showed up to work one after another. Lin Basan stood up and started to work with the people in his team.
They weren’t the only ones busy. Other people who were not in the wood factory were also very busy. Although winter was here, there was still a lot of work to be done. In order to have a better life next year, Lin Yuan had the people expand the city, in other words building an outer city. The first part of the plan was to construct the roadways. This didn’t require Lin Yuan to be busy as someone would take care of these tasks. The merchants were especially enthusiastic. They always wanted to shine wherever Lin Yuan could see.
Taizhou and Gaoyou were originally wealthy places. The merchants not only brought back the craftsmen, but also goods from outside.
No matter how chaotic the world was, it would not affect the merchants’ earning money. So Lin Yuan established a Merchants’ Guild for the merchants. Every member of the Merchants’ Guild could get a certificate of identity. They must guarantee a certain market price, or in other words, the price was determined by them based on the purchasing power.
Lin Yuan did not squeeze their profit margins, but they must ensure that the set prices were within the acceptance range of the people, and there could not be any disturbance of the set prices.
Therefore, when other outsider merchants came to do business, they must first go to the Merchants’ Guild to obtain a sales permit and then agree to the set market price before they could do business.
The benefit of unifying prices was that Lin Yuan could now know clearly the population of Taizhou and Gaoyou. There was a set number of the rice sold every month which could be calculated more clearly based on the price. And with this it ensured that the population could be calculated to its most accurate number.
Every month’s changes in the population allowed Lin Yuan to clearly be aware of how many people have been added.
The merchants did not expect that they would have a Merchants’ Guild, and even the prices would be decided and balanced by them. After they had checked in with the Merchants’ Guild, they all reported to Lin Yuan. When Lin Yuan nodded at their decided price then they would be able to implement it.
For merchants, this was a strange feeling, as if suddenly they have now unknowingly shouldered some kind of responsibility. Therefore, they dared not do anything shortsighted for a short term benefit.
“When I used to go out to do business I would try to raise the prices as high as possible, practically selling a piece of grass at the price for gold. But now I am afraid of the price elevating.” The merchants were sitting in a warm room with melon seeds and peanuts on hand, and a cup of tea for each person as they chat among themselves.
Someone laughed: “Since we want to take root here, we naturally have to maintain a balance, otherwise it would hollow out the people, and then what would we do in the future?”
The prices they set now were all cheap things, such as necessities like grain and oil. As for luxury goods that could only be bought by the rich, Lin Yuan didn’t care about them, so long as they pay taxes in due time.
“I didn’t expect us to have this present.” The merchants sighed, “When we went to do business before, the court could not wait to strip us of everything we owned. So stingy to the point we would be left only in a pair of underpants if they could help it.”
“The South Bodhisattva likes merchants like us. I can see that the South Bodhisattva values us.”
Some merchants were also worried: “That is because we are still useful, but what if we are useless in the future?”
“What are you afraid of, you ran in from the outside, so if that time really comes, can’t you just run out?”
“Furthermore, do you dare to make trouble for the South Bodhisattva now? If you want to try the South Bodhisattva’s blade, you can try it, but I won’t in any case.”
By now they have all set up houses in Gaoyou, brought their relatives and friends over and settled in Gaoyou. Some had even married wives and concubines.
For their own sake, they must all support Lin Yuan.
After now tasting the benefits of being in a position that they didn’t even dare to think before, these merchants were all reluctant to move out.
Besides, the people like them very much. The new and novel things they bring were all consumed by ordinary people.
Small profits but quick turnover. This method might not necessarily mean that their income had become lower than before. Moreover, it was also worry-free. They now planned to lead their merchant caravans out once a year instead of twice a year as in previous years.
Zhou Fu and Xie Zichang were now the chairman and vice chairman of the Merchants’ Guild respectively.
Zhou Fu became the chairman because of those two baskets of potatoes and sweet potatoes. Xie Zichang, having been unable to do better than that, became the vice chairman instead.
The two did not like each other. After the superior and subordinate relationship was set, the harmonious veneer between the two was broken, and every day was not complete without at least one exchange of mockery at each other.
After An Laosi brought his family to Gaoyou, they were arranged to the staff apartments. Because there were four people, they were divided into an apartment with two rooms and one living room. He thought that Lin Yuan would definitely have him do things, but after waiting here for more than two months he hadn’t even seen a trace of a small supervisor, let alone Lin Yuan’s shadow——he found himself being forgotten.
An Laosi, who had made up his mind to put on a show of reluctance, was now quite anxious.
He had nothing to do now, and everyday he only did some chores. Even his wife had started to take on a job of washing clothes. That he could support his living relied entirely on the savings he had brought along. He couldn’t possibly live this way forever?
An Laosi felt that he was a capable person. He could no longer be used by Fang Guozhen, so he should still be of some use for Lin Yuan, right? But Lin Yuan’s attitude made him flustered and anxious.
Therefore, he could only take out the gold and silver and figure out a way to see Song Shizhao and have Song Shizhao set up a meeting with Lin Yuan.
It’s a pity that while Song Shizhao received the money and gifts, he didn’t do anything else. He just said: “Boss thinks you are of great use, and An Gongzi should not be so anxious. There will come a time when you will be called.”
Just when An Laosi was in despair, Song Shizhao suddenly asked him to go to the government office with him.
An Laosi did not even bother to eat any food and went to wait at Song Shizhao’s door early. His eyes lit up when he saw Song Shizhao, and he quickly greeted him: “Manager Song is still the same as before, in good spirits.”
Song Shizhao smiled at him, with a very good attitude: “An Gongzi is too kind, please follow Song.”
An Laosi didn’t know what Lin Yuan wanted him to do, but he didn’t think anything could be difficult for him.
Lin Yuan was sitting on a stone bench in the garden when he saw An Laosi. There was a pot of tea and a few cups set out on the stone table. However, because it was winter the garden appeared rather bare and revealed the muddy ground underneath. But Lin Yuan did not mind at all since sitting indoors all day was just too stuffy. Wearing a thick cotton robe, he waved to An Laosi, “An Gongzi is here, sit.”
An Laosi and Song Shizhao both sat down.
“How is An Gongzi?” Lin Yuan asked pleasantly.
An Laosi wanted to say, “I have been so idle lately my balls hurt”, but when he opened his mouth he said, “Gaoyou is well organized under your jurisdiction. Everyone lives and works in peace and contentment. I don’t know what orders South Bodhisattva has for me? This humble one is willing to lend all of my meager support.”
The smile on Lin Yuan’s face was just right. It would neither make people feel alienated, nor make people feel that he was too amiable. No one would be willing to offend him unless he no longer wanted his head to remain on his shoulders.
Lin Yuan smiled and said: “There is actually one matter that requires An Gongzi. This matter is of great importance. Apart from An Gongzi, no better candidate can be thought of.”
This was a very pleasant sounding thing to say, and when An Laosi heard this he also felt very pleased. He quickly promised: “I ask South Bodhisattva to please speak frankly, there is no need to be courteous.”
Lin Yuan: “I heard that An Gongzi is good at ventriloquism.”
An Laosi was a little proud: “I can imitate the voice, regardless of men, women, young or old, even if it’s a bird’s call, I can guarantee that it would sound no different from the real thing.”
Lin Yuan smiled: “I believe this, so this matter can only be handed over to An Gongzi.”
“I ask An Gongzi to go to Changshu to explore Changshu’s weak armaments and defenses for me. And if An Gongzi is willing, to also convince the local people.” Lin Yuan, “I will also send someone to protect the safety of An Gongzi.”
An Laosi did not dare to refuse. He knew that if he refused, the best scenario would be to end up the same as before, and the worst would be being beheaded by Lin Yuan.
For the sake of his life and future, An Laosi must make the gamble.
If he won, then he would have a solid place at Lin Yuan’s side.
If he lost then it would just be him losing his life, but he could save the lives of his parents and his wife.
“I am willing to carry out the orders for the South Bodhisattva, and die without hesitation.” An Laosi knelt on the ground and kowtowed to Lin Yuan.
Lin Yuan waited for him to finish before stepping forward to support him up, and said in a warm voice: “An Gongzi is a rare talent, and I hope you take care of yourself so that you and I can see each other soon.”
Although An Laosi knew that this was just polite speak, he still felt rather touched.
When he was in Huizhou, Fang Guozhen only sent his personal guard to relay orders for him to go to Gaoyou. He never said such words in person.
Fang Guozhen failed to completely win him over, otherwise he would not have left Huizhou as soon as his wife said so.
Lin Yuan had the servants see An Laosi out, and gave him two squads of troops as protection. These soldiers all appeared weak-looking so as to be more convincing under the guise of a traveling merchant caravan. He also gave him a lot of operational funds, food, and a few carts of gold and silver objects.
At that time, An Laosi could use these things to bribe and ingratiate himself in among the Changshu officials.
Officials were used to embezzling and accepting bribes. How could they let a fat sheep like An Laosi go? In front of enough interests these officials could even put their lives at risk.
Besides, these local officials had been in Changshu almost all their lives and were equivalent to the local tyrant of Changshu.
So long as they open their way in among these officials, then the next stage of the plan would be much easier.
As for An Laosi’s ventriloquism……hnn, it was just a casual excuse for Lin Yuan to praise him.
An Laosi went home, his whole person buzzing with excitement.
The South Bodhisattva actually gave him so many things and so many people. Although he knew that those people were also there to monitor him, but it was also true that they were there to protect him, so the chances of him coming back safely was very great.
Before he left Huizhou for Gaoyou, Fang Guozhen only gave him some money, and that money was not even enough for him to spend for too long.
This gave An Laosi a feeling of being valued by Lin Yuan.
This feeling of being valued also made him happy and encouraged, as if he was a capable, dignified and worthy talent in Lin Yuan’s eyes.
Lady An saw that he kept tossing and turning instead of sleeping so she asked, “What’s wrong? I don’t usually see you in such good spirits.”
An Laosi whispered to his wife: “Miao Niang, I’m going to become successful.”
Lady An sighed helplessly: “Go to sleep.”
An Laosi wanted to say something more to share his excitement with his wife, but when he turned his head, he found that his wife was already asleep.
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With no one to share his excitement and no one who understood his mood, as well as the fact that he himself didn’t dare to tell others, An Laosi could only sigh mournfully and turn over to sleep.
An Laosi clenched his fists.
He was going to do something big.
What he sought to scheme for control would be the whole of Changshu.
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