*Edited by LazyCat
An hour before the city wall of Changshu was breached, Jiang Zheng had someone tie up An Laosi and then packed up his money and his family to prepare to run away. It was too late to ask the court for help. He had to survive and he didn’t feel that he would have any kind of good ending when he was caught by the people of Gaoyou. The family spent an hour discussing and another hour packing up, and then finally used the last hour to run away. Even the last troops of Changshu were summoned by Jiang Zheng to protect him as he fled Changshu to Huzhou.
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 )
With so many people, even if Jiang Zheng escaped, his escape would still invoke a lot of attention.
Chen Baisong and Zhu Yuanzhang, who had already charged into the city, took a look at each other.
The two urged their horses into a gallop almost at the same time, and the cavalry behind them also followed after.
Whoever captured Jiang Zheng would be given greater credit.
They didn’t need to think at all, their bodies were already one step ahead.
“Faster!” Jiang Zheng was sitting in the carriage. He practically screeched at the carriage driver in front of him. His parents were also in the carriage but the old couple looked extremely calm.
Father Jiang said: “Tell them to stop.”
Jiang Zheng looked back at his father in disbelief. His father was the previous Sub-prefect and was now the head of the Jiang family. He had twelve sons but finally chose Jiang Zheng, the son of a concubine to inherit his position. He had chose this son because he was ambitious and courageous, but he never expected that while such a son would be enough to handle the position of Sub-prefect, he could not handle a higher position.
It was not a mistake to have ambitions.
The mistake was that his intelligence was not enough to match his ambitions.
Father Jiang sighed: “We won’t be able to escape. If we surrender and offer the city, maybe we can still protect the Jiang family.”
Jiang Zheng: “Father! They will kill me! They will definitely kill me!”
Father Jiang looked at his son, who looked very similar to himself, and finally said: “Even if you and I will die, as long as we can protect a trace of the Jiang family’s blood, it is worth it.”
“Compared with the family, our survival is not important.” Father Jiang shouted to the driver, “Stop.”
The driver was also very flustered and scared, but he could only stop the carriage——he would not resist the master’s request.
Jiang Zheng threw himself over and clutched at father Jiang’s leg: “Father! I don’t want to die!”
He burst into tears, tears and snot covering his entire face. He had never been in such a sorry state before.
At this time, mother Jiang took father Jiang’s hand and smiled at him: “It’s rare to come out with you.”
Father Jiang looked at his old wife. Since the age of 30, he had treated his old wife with respect but not affection, preferring young beauties more. But now, when he was in a life or death situation, she was the only one who was by his side. Father Jiang sighed: “Yes, it has been so many years.”
Father Jiang took mother Jiang’s hand and got out of the carriage together.
Jiang Zheng lay in the carriage and wept bitterly.
His whole body was shaking.
He could hear the sounds of the enemy.
Jiang Zheng got up with difficulty, climbing out of the carriage with trembling legs to stand beside his parents. He was the son of the Jiang family. The blood in his veins was that of the Jiang family. For the sake of the family, he should not be stingy with his life.
“Father.” Jiang Zheng grabbed his father’s arm.
Father Jiang: “My son, time or fate, you can’t force either of them.”
Immediately after his words fell, Zhu Yuanzhang and Chen Baisong had already led their men over. The two sides confronted each other but did not yet start fighting.
Chen Baisong was the first to shout: “Where is Sub-prefect Jiang?!”
Father Jiang patted Jiang Zheng on the arm. Jiang Zheng took a deep breath. He raised his head and looked at the man on the horse. With the greatest courage in his life he said, “I am the Sub-prefect Jiang Zheng of Changshu!”
On the side, Zhu Yuanzhang raised his crossbow and shot an arrow through Jiang Zheng’s chest.
Seeing that arrow fly over, Jiang Zheng couldn’t move at all. He wanted to escape, but his feet were rooted on the ground. His eyes widened, his breathing came rapidly, and then——he didn’t even feel the pain. Bowing his head, he saw the arrow in his chest before falling backward.
At this time, Zhu Yuanzhang said to the soldiers protecting the Jiang family: “Disarm and kneel on the ground and we won’t kill you!”
The soldiers looked at each other until one of them knelt down. Soon all of them knelt down like a wave of bending wheat.
Only father Jiang and mother Jiang were still standing.
They did not even look at the fallen Jiang Zheng.
“Don’t know the name of this general.” Father Jiang cupped his fists in greeting.
Zhu Yuanzhang held the reins: “Under the South Bodhisattva, I am Zhu Yuanzhang.”
Father Jiang tidied up his clothes, and with mother Jiang, he slowly bowed to Zhu Yuanzhang and Chen Baisong, pressing his head to the ground and saying: “I plead that General Zhu let the rest of the Jiang family live.”
Zhu Yuanzhang sneered: “If Lord Jiang had offered the city earlier, my Lord would have let him live. But now if we release the Jiang family, how many people will we have to release in the future?”
Father Jiang did not look up, and said with a trembling voice: “I plead this lord to let go of the children!”
Zhu Yuanzhang and Chen Baisong glanced at each other. Chen Baisong gave an order: “The Jiang family, whether young or old, shall be killed on the spot.”
From beginning to end, father Jiang did not look up. He could only cry silently.
One step wrong and they must be consigned to eternal damnation.
They only saw the imperial court but did not see Gaoyou. Their ambitions eventually destroyed the Jiang family.
In his ears sounded the screams and begging for mercy from his family members.
His great-grandson was still an ignorant toddler and did not know what was happening, only knowing to let out loud wails.
The ground was stained with blood, and mother Jiang said to father Jiang, “All the sisters are gone.”
Jiang Zheng’s wives were all killed by mother Jiang back in their old manor before leaving the city. Only two pregnant women were taken away, escaping on a different path.
Father Jiang understood what she meant and he suddenly felt that he was full of vigor!
The Jiang family was not exterminated! Their bloodline still remained!
Mother Jiang smiled and said: “I always cursed you hoping you would die, and now that you are really going to die I feel a little bit reluctant.”
Father Jiang: “For so many years, I have wronged you.”
Mother Jiang smiled at him: “Between husbands and wives, there is nothing worthy of being sorry. Before I got married, my mother said to me: ‘After you get married, your fortune is tied with your husband. Sharing life and death together is the duty of a wife.’ After we go down to the underworld and see my parents-in-law, I can say that I have a clear conscience.”
The elderly couple in their 60s looked at each other with a smile at the corners of their mouths and faced death calmly.
Looking at the corpses on the ground, Zhu Yuanzhang said to the soldiers: “These two, bury them well.”
The soldiers answered with an affirmative.
They were now about to deal with the aftermath in Changshu. The soldiers were all experienced. Some of them went to comfort the people, ringing the bell and announcing that Changshu was already under the rule of the South Bodhisattva. The South Bodhisattva would not make it difficult for the people.
Another group of people rushed into the homes of large families in Changshu. Some of these large families huddled in their homes while others ran away with some valuables. The manors of those who ran away were easy to clean up. Those who did not run were invited out by the soldiers. Except for the personal belongings on their person nothing else was allowed to be brought out with them. Their money would all be confiscated, unless they performed meritorious services.
So these big households whose possessions were “confiscated” began to bite at each other, indicating that the other party were in cahoots with Jiang Zheng to oppress the people.
These people have all been sent to prison. When exactly could come out depended on when Lin Yuan arrived in Changshu and had the time to deal with them.
Probably the reputation of the “South Bodhisattva” was famous enough. In addition, the people found that these soldiers did not harm the women and children nor rob them of their belongings. Moreover, the soldiers even opened the granary in Changshu in front of them. The people of Changshu finally couldn’t help but kneel down to the ground and begin to cry.
Many of them had relatives and family members who died from starvation, unable to make it past the winter.
But there were clearly so many grains, grains that were grown by them. They grew the grains themselves, but weren’t able to eat enough. What kind of reasoning was this?
Chen Baisong looked at these people as he took a sip of water from his flask before saying to Zhu Yuanzhang: “It’s easier than expected.”
Zhu Yuanzhang looked at An Laosi who was loosened from his ropes by the soldiers not far away, and smiled: “The villain also has their uses.”
Chen Baisong glanced at Zhu Yuanzhang.
Although the two of them were colleagues, they didn’t have much daily contact. Chen Baisong even deliberately or unintentionally had his guard up against Zhu Yuanzhang.
Zhu Yuanzhang naturally discovered this so he did not take the initiative to get close to Chen Baisong. In this way the two unexpectedly maintained a balance.
After capturing Changshu, they would not retreat for the time being. At this time, a strong military presence was needed to suppress the rest of the powers in Changshu. However, Li Congrong and Yang Zi’an had to take their soldiers back. After all, Gaoyou could not do without people either.
Jiang Gui was now in Taizhou and was in charge of Taizhou’s affairs so he could not be moved away.
As for the original soldiers in Changshu, they had now become prisoners. Chen Baisong had people fence in a field outside the city, and put them inside like one would with pigs, dogs, cattle and sheep. These soldiers were all disheveled and in a sorry state. They wanted to charge out, but they were unarmed with their weapons taken away. Though there were bold ones who tried to kill the guards at night to escape. The end result was that they were all beheaded, none of them surviving.
After a few waves of dissenters died, the remaining people finally became more obedient.
Every day, someone would give them food. Although it was just some beans, no one would complain as it was for survival.
The common people were also registered separately by their genders and they would all receive their own small wooden sign——that was, an ID card.
The common people found that many of the “lords” who engraved wooden signs for them were children who did not even reach as high as their their waist. These “little lords” sat in the room early every morning and engraved the words on the signs for an hour before resting for a cup of tea. Now that the weather was getting hot there was no need for charcoal braziers in the house. But hot water was always on hand by their sides.
There were such small officials in this world. This shocked the people of Changshu. Many people rubbed their eyes and thought they were seeing wrong. The children of the common people were about the same age as these little officials and as they looked at these “little lords” sitting in the house all of them showed longing expressions on their faces.
Sitting in such a beautiful house and not having to face the harshness of the outside weather. They also saw people bringing meals to the little lords, all with meat and vegetables. When the aroma traveled out, all of them had loudly growling stomachs.
The manager in charge said to them: “Don’t be envious. These little officials were like your children before and didn’t know any words at all. It was after the South Bodhisattva came that they learned to read. Now they are free from illiteracy and can work for the government, earning no less than me in a month.”
The people couldn’t believe it.
Could such a small child earn about the same as the manager?
Courageously, someone asked: “Milord! Will our children be able to do the same in the future?”
The manager smiled at him: “Now you are all the people of the South Bodhisattva. What do you think? Is it possible that you have never heard the name of the South Bodhisattva in Changshu?”
The people have heard it, but they just listened and did not take it to heart. Gaoyou was clearly not too far away, but many of them have never left Changshu in their entire lives, let alone go to other places. They didn’t even have time to think about it, busy as they were with their livelihoods and feeding the family. Where was there time to think about things in the future, about things outside?
It seemed that Changshu was better in the hands of the South Bodhisattva than in the hands of the imperial court?
The people were bewildered.
But so long as they could live their lives they would not leave Changshu.
This land was where they had lived for generations. They would never leave here unless they could no longer survive on this land.
“Little lord, eat something. You have been busy the whole day.” At night, the room was lit with an oil lamp. A servant came over with a meal, and gave it to a young boy around ten sitting in the room. The young boy was dressed in a green robe and holding a carving knife in his hand. His fingers already had a lot of calluses because of all the engraving he had been doing so it was not as painful as before.
The young boy’s surname was Zheng, and he was called Zheng Er because he was the second child. He thanked the servant. Only then did he put down the wooden sign and carving knife for the food in his hand. He ate very slowly, very carefully. It could be seen that he once had a very good family background.
Zheng Er was once the oldest grandson of the Zheng family in Gaoyou. Their family was a big family, with tenants and land, and were one of the most influential big landlords.
But when the South Bodhisattva came, everything changed. The old servants of the family became the common people, and they could not live in the Zheng farmstead anymore. After they no longer had servants, their family could only live in a small house, the entire family of more than 30 people living together.
The farmstead and land were no longer theirs anymore and all the family members had to go out to find work, otherwise they would not have enough food.
At that time, the “school” run by the South Bodhisattva opened. Because he was within the scope of schooling years, he was also taken to go study. He had the foundation, and he quickly completed his schoolwork and left the illiterate ranks. Because he was just over ten years old, he also started to work for the government.
He remembered that at the very beginning, his parents and uncles were always frowning. He was young, but he also understood that their family would not be able to return to their original glorious days. Just like ordinary people, they had to go out and earn whatever they wanted.
His sisters also began to learn how to make clothes and weave so that they could exchange it for money.
But Zheng Er thought it was very good like this. He used to live in a big house and must follow a lot of rules. Everyone spoke with hidden meaning in their words. Even the servants were divided into factions, from which courtyard to which house they belonged to. He saw it all with his eyes, but he just didn’t point it out.
After going to school, Zheng Er learned a lot of truths and reasoning from the teacher.
Zheng Er didn’t feel bitter at all when working outside now.
He believed he could do it. So long as he worked harder and harder, one day his family would be prosperous again.
His goal was to become a county official or a district head.
The teacher said that everyone must have goals, otherwise living your life in a muddled way was no different from the walking dead. Would there be any point in studying then? Wouldn’t it be better to be just a fool?
Zheng Er thought so.
So when his colleagues complained of tiredness, he always kept silent and continued to do his work.
Sometimes he would also wonder, what kind of person was the South Bodhisattva?
Was he really a bodhisattva? Would he get a chance to meet him?
The “little lords” who were resting outside returned to the house one after another, packed their things, and went back to the room arranged for them to sleep in. Zheng Er also packed up his things——the carving knife and today’s carved wooden sign. If they were lost then he would have to re-engrave it once again.
Zheng Er left the house. Someone outside was already waiting for him.
“Young master!” The boy who was slightly older than Zheng Er ran over excitedly and took over Zheng Er’s small burden, “Have you eaten anything? Today I ate chicken with spices!”
Zheng Er said with a small serious looking face, like a little adult: “Don’t call me young master again. The teacher said, we are all the same. We are all people of the South Bodhisattva.”
The boy stuck out his tongue. He had put all of his energy on word recognition during class. He didn’t understand other things the teacher said. He was not as smart as the young master. In the eyes of the boy, the young master was the smartest person in the world and was only a little less smarter than the South Bodhisattva.
The two walked towards the dormitory together. The dormitory was remodeled from a large manor and soldiers were sent to protect and guard it day and night.
Zheng Er slept in the same room with the boy and two other children. Two people shared a bed. As male and female must live separately, the girls lived on the other side of the manor.
No one thought that girls could also read and write, and then come out to work for the government.
But no one had any doubts, because the South Bodhisattva said that in his eyes, the people in this world were the same, regardless of male or female. It would be unfair to boys if only boys had to work and girls remained idle.
Even though the people didn’t understand what was so unfair about this since boys could only marry and have their own family when they found work.
But since the South Bodhisattva said so, and it seemed to also make sense, the people accepted it easily.
Compared with the boys, the girls still had to do some small chores in the house like sewing. Although the craftsmanship was not comparable to that of the adults, their products could still be used after sewing. Most of them sewed small things, such as socks and the like so even if the stitches were ugly no one would be able to see it anyway.
“How much money did you save?” The little girl asked her companion next to her.
The companion finished sewing a sock and smiled at her.
Her mother told her that no matter how much money she had, whether it was more or less, she shouldn’t tell others.
The little girl didn’t get a response so she stopped asking. She whispered: “My mother took all my money.”
Her mother had said that she would be keeping it for her but she knew that her mother took the money to buy things for her little brother.
She didn’t feel much about this kind of treatment before, but now she felt a little uncomfortable.
The companion said to her: “Then when you are fourteen, you can go to the government office to move out your registered residence, then your mother won’t get your money.”
The little girl didn’t dare, so she could only sigh like an adult.
“I just saw some children about our age outside.” The little girl suddenly remembered something and said, “She had a big head and a big belly, but her arms and legs were very thin. It’s so strange.”
The little girls in the room all stopped working, and a little girl whispered: “I heard my mother say that such a person is someone who could not eat enough and had to drink water every day. She will soon die.”
“This is very common, my neighbor starved to death just like this.”
The girls shuddered and continued to work.
Earn a little more money, and their hope of survival would also be greater.
Because girls could also work, now when her mother gave birth to a younger sister, she would no longer drown or throw her younger sister away.
Order quickly restored in Changshu. The common people didn’t feel much affected by the change of Changshu’s governance. They had no belief but to live on. In addition, their lives now had clearly become better. So long as they went to register their identities they would get their own wooden sign and then be able to go to the recruiting place to find work.
If there was no food in the family, they could buy some food on credit, enough to survive the first difficult days.
The female family members also went out to work, and both husband and wife could now earn money. The entire family depended on the husband and wife to earn money and food. They might not be able to always eat meat, but they were able to eat enough.
Lin Yuan arrived in Changshu a month after it was captured. He would not be staying in Changshu for a long time, but would be sending someone to take charge of Changshu.
Lin Yuan had not decided on this candidate.
He had too few civilian officials.
Jiang Gui was in Taizhou, Song Shizhao said he didn’t want to leave him at all, and Luo Guanzhong just wanted to be a military strategist.
Song Lian was still on the road——Lin Yuan didn’t even know if he could even see him this year.
Lin Yuan did not have enough time to investigate other small officials.
“My Lord.” Zhu Yuanzhang walked beside Lin Yuan, reporting on his work during this period.
Lin Yuan listened and thought about it, and then asked: “Among the officials accompanying this time, are there any outstanding performances?”
Zhu Yuanzhang reported a name.
Lin Yuan’s eyes narrowed slightly. It turned out to be him.
Wu Changqing was the one who followed to Changshu this time. He was originally a county magistrate in Gaoyou. When he heard that Changshu needed people, he immediately signed up and also promoted the people working under him. He knew exactly his situation in Gaoyou. The most he could be was a district head. Going to Changshu looked like it would be full of danger and uncertainties, but it was also his opportunity.
After being left out for so long, Wu Changqing had long figured out what he had said wrong.
He considered everything, but he didn’t consider that the South Bodhisattva was truly a soft-hearted and upright person.
This made Wu Changqing sigh and at the same time also become more loyal to Lin Yuan.
After all, Lin Yuan was now soft-hearted to Zhu Yuanzhang and the others, so one day in the future, he would also be soft-hearted to him.
It was better to serve a soft-hearted master than to serve a cruel master.
He had finally found his position and decided to give up everything to start from the very bottom as a small official in Changshu.
Lin Yuan said to Zhu Yuanzhang: “Keep observing.”
The selected official must be able to understand his meaning and be able to faithfully implement every instruction he issued.
He needed to be a smart person but he must not have ambitions beyond the limits.
Zhu Yuanzhang nodded. He understood Lin Yuan’s concerns.
“Two people of the Jiang family escaped but they are now captured. They are both pregnant women, Jiang Zheng’s concubines.”
Lin Yuan thought for a while: “Keep them under house arrest for now. When the children are born take the children away.”
An unborn child was not guilty.
“As for the two women, take them to the laundry bureau when the time comes. If they perform well, they can go see their children every month.”
Zhu Yuanzhang nodded.
Lin Yuan stood by the window. He felt that his heart was becoming harder and harder.
In the past, he couldn’t say anything like exterminate the Jiang family.
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 )
The wind blew outside. It was not cold but Lin Yuan tightened his collar.
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