The journey from Anyang County back to the imperial city was unexpectedly uneventful. The assassination attempts that Su Mu had predicted did not happen, but this was exactly what Su Mu was worried about. Knowing to lay in wait after being unable to kill with a single blow. An enemy with a brain was more troublesome than someone who only knew to throw away his life.
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But as soon as he returned to the imperial city, Su Mu had no time to think about assassins. The imperial court was in a mess because he had left for half a month. Su Mu’s New Laws encountered great obstacles as that group of court officials simply did not take his words seriously, after all, who would hand over the meat that was already eaten in one’s mouth. As a businessman in his previous life, he could understand this, but this did not prevent him from forcefully taking the meat out of those people’s stomachs.
Crystal drops of water rolled down the pale body, as alluring as a flower covered with dew. However, the maids who were serving on the side did not dare to look at him. Su Mu had just finished getting dressed when Liu Xi walked in from the door. Instantly, the somewhat dim room seemed to brighten immediately.
“Have all the people arrived?” Su Mu stretched out his arms to let the maid tie his belt.
Liu Xi respectfully said: “Answering Your Highness, they have all arrived.”
At this moment, the people standing in the great hall of the Crown Prince’s Palace could not contain their excitement. The first thing the Crown Prince did when he came back from his trip was not to hold court, nor to summon the old officials, but to summon them. The Crown Prince was the future emperor, and the meaning behind this went without saying. The eunuch’s shrill voice came from outside the door: “The Crown Prince has arrived.”
The dozen people in the great hall immediately stood up and said to Su Mu: “Paying respects to Your Highness.”
Su Mu raised his hand, “No need to be courteous.” He walked to the main seat and sat down, looking at the young people who were present and saying, “The past days that Ben Gong has not been present, you all have worked hard.”
Everyone bowed their heads and responded: “This is only this official’s duty, His Highness over-praises us.”
Su Mu nodded and asked, “How is the progress of the characters and teaching materials?”
Su Mu wanted to establish public schools so a large number of textbooks and a system of simplified characters were indispensable, otherwise knowledge would still be something belonging to the upper class.
Lin Siyuan stepped forward and handed him a thin book: “This is a textbook written in simplified characters, please have a look.”
Su Mu opened the book and glanced through it for a few moments, then closed the book and said to Lin Siyuan: “You can start printing.”
Then he asked Liu Xi: “Has the three academies begun construction yet?”
Liu Xi stepped forward and replied: “Your Highness, construction has just started.”
Su Mu said: “As the supervisor you must supervise it well, the construction of the three academies is not allowed to have any mistakes. This time you left the imperial city without authorization and will be punished with a three months deduction of salary. The next time you commit another crime, the punishment will be doubled.”
Su Mu then shifted his gaze to Huang Xuan who had just let out a sigh of relief, and said sternly: “And you too, without an official order from Ben Gong and leaving your post without permission, you will also be fined with Liu Xi together.”
Liu Xi glanced at the domineering and majestic Crown Prince, his heart feeling as if it was tickled by a kitten’s paw. Huang Xuan lowered his head with shame: “This official understands.”
Yun Feiyu, seeing that the Crown Prince had finished asking his questions, walked forward, “Your Highness, might setting 15 years old as the lowest age for women to be allowed to marry inappropriate? Taking the current marriage age of 14 for males and 13 for females, 15 being the legal marriage age will reduce the number of births by at least one infant, and of our country’s 7 million population the number of births will be reduced by at least tens of thousands of infants every year, which is not good for the country’s population growth.”
Yun Feiyan frowned, but she didn’t know how to refute this because what Yun Feiyu said was true. Due to the many years of warfare, if there were not enough newcomers to add to the country’s population, the country would be destroyed by itself within a few years.
The Crown Prince’s steady and powerful voice sounded in her ears, and Yun Feiyan raised her head to look up at the Crown Prince on the main seat.
Su Mu said: “The current method to increase population is only a temporary solution, not a permanent cure. We don’t have enough food to feed more people, so how many infants would even survive? The fundamental purpose of delaying marriage age is to get more women participating in labor. The biggest cause in reducing the population in Qing kingdom is hunger so the more food produced naturally there will be more people. The most urgent thing is how to increase food production. The Imperial Agricultural Academy was built to solve this problem.”
Su Mu’s words gave Yun Feiyan a spark of inspiration. She stepped forward: “Your Highness, nowadays, a large number of women in the Qing kingdom are flowing to the upper class, which not only wastes women’s labor, but also takes up a lot of wealth to support them. It is better to practice monogamy so that more wealth can be created.”
Su Mu cast an appreciative look at her, nodded and said: “Changing from consumer to producer is very good, but monogamy…..” Su Mu looked at the nervous Yun Feiyan: “It’s not feasible for the time being. At present, the number of men has decreased due to war among the various countries for years. At present, there are more women in the Qing kingdom, and sooner or later, the Qing kingdom will also have to fight in wars. The difference between the number of men and women will be even greater.”
Yun Feiyu looked at his somewhat disappointed sister, and asked Su Mu: “Your Highness, as Feiyan said, those rich and powerful are not productive but occupy a lot of wealth and consume more resources, which is truly a malignant tumor of the Qing kingdom.”
Su Mu looked at him and asked, “Do you have any suggestions?”
Yun Feiyu raised his head and looked at Su Mu calmly as he replied: “Levying taxes, taxes on house construction, taxes on taking more than one wife, taxes on purchases…..”
Yun Feiyu’s list of taxes amazed Su Mu. Su Mu felt that if all these taxes were levied on a single rich man, they would peel off a layer of his skin. But Su Mu didn’t just want to peel off the skin, he wanted to dismantle the bones and eat the meat. Their wealth was originally taken from the people, and should be used to benefit the people.
Su Mu waved his hand: “After you leave, write a detailed plan with the others and send it to me.”
After staying in the great hall for most of the day, Su Mu let the people leave when it was time for dinner. Ye Qingfeng was sent by Su Mu to gather the forces of jianghu. Gu Yunzhou went to investigate Shi Qingshuang’s affairs. Yun Feiyu and the others left to discuss the taxation, Huang Xuan also went back to the imperial medical college, so the only remaining one, Liu Xi was finally alone with Su Mu.
A group of blue-clothed palace maids filed in and placed a variety of exquisite dishes on the table. Liu Xi stretched out his delicate and slender fingers, picked up the chopsticks, and lifted a piece of tender and delicious fat meat to Su Mu’s mouth, saying: “Your Highness…..”
Su Mu glanced at his perpetually seducing eyes, and pushed Liu Xi’s hand away: “I have hands.”
“Your Highness…..” Liu Xi’s eyes were full of unspoken words.
Su Mu looked at him speechlessly: “Can’t you let me have a quiet meal?”
Liu Xi spoke with distress: “This kind of trivial matter, please let this official do it for you instead. Where is the need for Your Highness to do it personally? You have been wandering outside for more than half a month, unable to eat well and rest well, even losing a lot of weight. We must make up for it.”
This moving and emotional tone would fit perfectly in TV dramas. The corners of Su Mu’s mouth twitched and he said, “Are your eyes concave? Why don’t I know that I have lost weight.”
Seeing that he was about to speak again, Su Mu put emphasis in his tone: “Shut up and eat.”
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Liu Xi withdrew his hand with aggrievance, that pair of beautiful eyes glittering like diamond waters and nothing more beautiful could be imagined, causing Su Mu to feel slightly dazed. He hurriedly turned his head and stuffed something into his mouth.
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