After the autumn harvest, the arrival of winter seemed to suddenly come upon them. The harvest this year was gratifying and the granary was filled up to the roof. They even had to build more than a dozen more to fit all of the food. This food supply was enough for the people to eat fully for three years. Taizhou’s land yield was not very high. Even if they planted sweet potatoes and potatoes which had the least requirements, Taizhou’s output still couldn’t compete with other places.
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But for the people in Taizhou, the bad news from previous years did not seem so bad this year.
They could now earn money, and then they could buy the food on their own. The price of food was not high at all.
It was not difficult to survive, and there was no need to live with a tightened belt.
Wang Xi was the youngest son of a family in Taizhou. He made a living by moving goods. After the merchants’ caravan arrived they would find local people to unload the goods and move them to their warehouses. The pay depended on how many pieces of goods were moved. Wang Xi looked very thin and small but he had great strength. Others earned about ten coins a day, but he could earn more than twenty coins.
He supported his parents and also raised his children. His wife was now working in the Sewing Bureau and could earn more than three hundred to four hundred coins a month. With his and his wife’s wages, their family had a very good life.
Although tired, Wang Xi was very happy. Only by putting in the work could one gain anything.
This was something he didn’t even dare to think about before.
After moving the goods that day, Wang Xi received his wages for the day from the caravan’s manager. He hid the money in his inner clothes and patted his flushed cheeks with his hands. Then he walked towards his home. Now almost every family had replaced oil lamps with candles, which were cheaper and more convenient.
Usually when he arrived back at this time, his wife would have a lit candle and sweet potato rice warming in the pot for him. Only sleeping after he got home.
The children would also wait for him with his wife. Although he had repeatedly said that he did not need them to wait, when he arrived home and saw their small faces, he always felt unspeakable contentment.
Passing through an alley, Wang Xi took a shortcut home.
This alley was very dark. He had walked this alley many times, so many times that he forgot how many by now. The alley was very dark but sometimes when the moonlight was brighter he would be able to still see the road ahead. But today, the moonlight was covered behind dark clouds and he could only make his way through it according to his memory, but his memory was always good.
In the dark alley, only one family’s candle was lit. Wang Xi was sitting under the eaves at a corner of that family’s house to rest for a while before continuing. Today was a tiring day. He had moved two caravans worth of goods and he could barely feel his hands and feet.
Just when Wang Xi was about to stand up and continue walking, he suddenly heard someone talking.
“At that time, we coordinate outside and inside offensives.”
“Don’t know when the court will send someone over.”
“They don’t know that those filthy commoners are practically sitting on the heads of the lords, and if this continues, those filthy commoners will forget just what kind of trash they were originally.”
“This so-called South Bodhisattva is the one with the most vicious heart.”
Wang Xi was very smart. He had been smart since he was a child, so he was always able to find the caravan with the highest salary.
He understood what these people planned to do in an instant.
They wanted to rebel against the South Bodhisattva.
They wanted to launch an attack on Taizhou.
After understanding this, Wang Xi stood up without making a sound. He had never been so light-footed in his life. After walking on tiptoe for a while, Wang Xi broke out into a run. At this time, there was no one on the road. If it weren’t for the fact that he wanted to earn more money today, he wouldn’t have left work so late.
Wang Xi did not run home, he ran directly to the government office.
The government office was now on duty all day long.
Wang Xi was terrified. He felt that if he had been discovered, he would definitely be dead by now.
He heard from his fellow workers that the government office now had a protection policy for key people. He could take his family and move into the house reserved for the protected person. With soldiers nearby he would be much safer.
The guard saw Wang Xi coming over and asked, “What’s the problem, coming to the government office so late? Come back tomorrow if it’s not a major issue.”
Wang Xi quickly said: “I have something important! It is very important! I want to tell the provincial governor!”
The guard looked at him: “Follow me in. If you don’t have any major issues but wake the lord up at this time, then you will be sent to prison for a few days.”
Wang Xi nodded quickly and followed the guard through the side door.
Jiang Gui got up from bed in the middle of the night. Since he became the provincial governor of Taizhou, Jiang Gui felt that he was under more and more pressure. When he was a small official, he had never been under such great pressure before——yes, pressure.
He still remembered what Lin Yuan said to him when he was sent to be the provincial governor of Taizhou .
He said: “Third brother, treat the people kindly, otherwise I will find any reason to treat you kindly.”
“I give you power and wealth, but I want you to treat the people kindly in return.”
“Third brother, I hope we will always be brothers, and not one day I can only see you on the guillotine.”
Jiang Gui knew that Lin Yuan was not just talking casually.
He always kept it in mind and he dared not slack off even one day.
Fortunately, Lin Yuan had taken care of the major problems in Taizhou a long time ago. Even if the people at the bottom had their own little schemes, it would not affect the operation of Taizhou as a whole.
He put on his clothes and told his wife to continue to sleep before he walked out of the room.
Wang Xi was fidgeting in the study. He had never been to a place like this before, and his nervousness almost suffocated him.
So much so that after Jiang Gui entered the study, what he saw was Wang Xi squatting on the ground instead of sitting in one of the chairs.
“You’re Wang Xi?” Jiang Gui yawned. He wanted to handle the matter quickly and then go back to bed. Don’t know why, but this person kept insisting that except for him he didn’t want to talk to anyone, only saying that he had something important that he must inform the provincial governor.
However, what Wang Xi said next caused Jiang Gui to forget all about sleeping.
His face was so dark that it could practically drip ink.
Wang Xi said as he trembled: “My lord, can my family apply for the protection of key peoples? My family include……”
Jiang Gui: “Take him to find the Sub-prefect.”
Wang Xi was led away by his servants. He seemed to want to kowtow to Jiang Gui, but he was taken away by his servants before he could have time to.
Jiang Gui ordered a trusted subordinate to pass the news to Lin Yuan on a fast horse.
He then have people surround the house Wang Xi had pointed out.
Fortunately, Wang Xi avoided alerting the people in the house. When they arrived, those people were still sleeping in their respective rooms.
A total of five people were arrested. The people sent by Jiang Gui were very quiet and did not even disturb the neighboring residences. These five people had the same surname and looked similar. Their noses were practically carved out of the same mold.
After an overnight interrogation, Jiang Gui learned most of the information.
These people were all surnamed Ma. They were originally members of one of Taizhou’s great, wealthy households. The Ma family was a very influential landowning family. There were even five streets in Taizhou that belonged to the family. But when the South Bodhisattva came, the family property was gone, the originally rich lifestyle was gone, the servants were gone, and even the big family manor was gone.
One could imagine just what kind of mood the Ma family was in.
The brothers had felt that so long as the imperial court’s rule returned, then they could get back their original things.
So they secretly passed the news to the court. At the beginning, no one paid any attention to them. But recently, they finally heard an answer.
The court sent a letter replying back!
It asked them to inquire about the positions of all the granaries in Taizhou, and where the defense forces of the weapons armory and barracks were the weakest.
The five brothers of the Ma family secretly contacted the court without telling the rest of their family.
They felt that by doing so, they could become the saviors of their family.
Inexperienced, naive, and simple.
And also incurably stupid.
When Jiang Gui went to see them, they had already revealed everything they knew under severe torture.
Their buttocks were beaten bloody, but they did not die. They cried and screamed in prison, and their tears fell until no more tears could be shed.
The Ma family didn’t know why the five brothers suddenly disappeared. They had many family members who all began inquiring around in Taizhou, but they still found nothing.
Until some people found some of their personal belongings on the road outside the city.
The Ma family thought they couldn’t stand their lives now and left Taizhou.
But what the Ma family didn’t know was that they might not have the chance to leave Taizhou in the future. Any people related to them would not even be able to think about leaving the city. They were essentially placed under house arrest in this city. As for when they could finally travel freely, it depended entirely on their luck.
As for their correspondences with the court, Jiang Gui also handed over the letters to Lin Yuan.
“The imperial court will not send troops.” Lin Yuan said to Song Shizhao and Wu Changqing as he held the letter, “This whole matter is just to see if there is any advantage to be had.”
Wu Changqing asked strangely: “Advantage?”
Song Shizhao explained: “The imperial court now has no extra troops. At most, they are just tricking those five fools to provide some free information.”
Song Shizhao: “What about those five fools now?”
Lin Yuan: “In the prison. Jiang Gui have people watching them. They don’t know who was in contact with them, only that it was someone from Tongzhou.”
Song Shizhao was speechless: “Can people be so stupid?”
Lin Yuan smiled and said: “You ask me but I don’t know. Maybe the family raised them up to be too naive?”
Song Shizhao: “No wonder the Ma family fell so fast. If they are all this kind of people, they are no different from the pigs to be slaughtered.”
Wu Changqing asked: “Then Tongzhou……”
Lin Yuan: “No need to worry about Tongzhou. Even if we give them the courage they would still not dare to attack us at this time.”
Lin Yuan’s military strength had increased greatly. So long as the governor of Tongzhou was not a fool, he would know that under the circumstances in which the court did not order to send troops, just their own strength was definitely not enough to confront Lin Yuan, even in a sneak attack or a surprise attack.
If they really wanted to attack, they would need someone who could disrupt the order in Taizhou, such as setting fires and burning granaries. These things could throw the people into a panic quickly in a short period of time.
Now that the five fools of the Ma family were arrested, they obviously couldn’t find anyone to do this.
Moreover, all the granaries were heavily guarded and every soldier had to go through an identity check. People who were even just slightly suspicious would not be placed to guard the granaries.
Lin Yuan: “Since Tongzhou is so interested in us, then we should give Tongzhou a big gift.”
Wu Changqing and Song Shizhao looked at Lin Yuan.
Lin Yuan smiled and said: “We are rebel thieves.”
Song Shizhao understood: “If my Lord trust me, then this official will deal with the matter, properly and without any flaws.”
Lin Yuan: “Then go.”
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Since someone in Tongzhou coveted Taizhou, he could only take action. He planned to capture Tongzhou in an effortless victory and without any blood shed. Have the people from Tongzhou personally offer Tongzhou to him. Lin Yuan’s face had on a smile but his eyes were cold.
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