When trying to get up around five o’clock, it was fine in summer, but it was a huge torture in winter. Don’t know how much perseverance it took to get out of the warm bed.
Although it was already winter, it was not snowing here in Pingjiang. Lin Yuan changed into cotton clothes and languidly went to eat breakfast, a bowl of porridge, a dish of side vegetables and two steamed buns. Si Niang was still working as a cook. Her craftsmanship was average and couldn’t be compared with those craftsmanship that were handed down in the family, but Lin Yuan was used to eating it, and he was not ready to change.
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Lin Yuan was lazy in the winter, but the common people were not like him. However, the winter days were better than in previous years, and the poor felt this change the deepest.
It had been more than a month since winter. This winter had not continued to cool down compared to previous years, but it had not warmed up either. However, none of the provinces and counties under Lin Yuan’s rule have reported large-scale deaths.
When winter arrived, what Lin Yuan feared most was the people freezing to death. A large decrease in the population would reduce the vitality of the market. There was no other solution but to increase the population. However, after several additions to the population before, the merchants had practically already bought all the people that could be bought in the entire north. So now if there was a big population decrease again, the only way was to wait for the people to reproduce slowly by themselves and recuperate the population.
But children were not able to inject energy into the market and enter the industry the moment they were born into the world, they needed at least more than ten years.
This winter, less than 10,000 people died from freezing, at least two-thirds less than in previous years.
Lin Yuan praised the governors and county heads of various places, and he himself also let out a sigh of relief.
Compared with Lin Yuan’s situation, other places were completely different.
After several consecutive years of non-income and major loss of labor, many rural families suffered a fatal blow. Most of them began to flee, some fled to the sites under Lin Yuan’s rule, and some fled to other places.
For example, Haozhou.
Without Zhu Yuanzhang, it was Sun Deya who inherited Guo Zixing’s position now. Sun Deya was a villain. He was a vengeful person and deceitful in many ways. He was not necessarily better than others in fighting wars but he was very talented in instigating discord. In history, he died before Guo Zixing but due to the butterfly effect brought on by Lin Yuan’s arrival, he was actually still doing quite well.
“General.” The personal guard walked to the side of Sun Deya. At this time, he did not dare to speak anymore but could only wait for Sun Deya to finish enjoying the singing and dancing. Under the high platform sat the officials on both sides. Most of these officials were military officials. Sun Deya was of military background so he attached importance to this. While he also had a lot of advisors, he was unwilling to call them officials.
The dancers were graceful and lovely, appearing like spring flowers, thin waists bent and swung like willow in the wind. They wore only thin gauze and had their nails painted red. They looked thin, but the places where one should be plump were very plump.
Sun Deya smiled as he watched, and generously let the dancers serve his subordinates.
He liked the feeling of rewarding and bestowing grace on others.
This gave him a feeling of control over everything. The joys, anger, and sorrows of his subordinates were all controlled by him.
Here, he was not the emperor, but he held the power of the emperor.
As for Xiao Ming Emperor?
The corner of Sun Deya’s mouth twitched into a sneer. A kid who had yet to even be weaned, what right and virtue did he have to tell him, Sun Deya, to bow his head?
After the dancers stopped singing and dancing and went to serve the men one after another, Sun Deya picked up the wine cup, retracted his smile, and said to the personal guard: “What is it?”
The personal guard whispered in his ears: “General, the report is here, the people from several villages were gone last night…..”
Sun Deya was taken aback: “They all ran away?”
The personal guard: “…..death from starvation, from the cold, can’t tell the difference…..”
Sun Deya: “How many people died?”
Guardians: “More than 20,000…..”
And this was what was reported, even more was not reported.
Sun Deya pondered for a moment: “Have people collect their corpses. If there is not enough food, tell the people there to give out food.”
The personal guard bowed his head and said yes.
Yang Family Village, the village head’s house.
“Where is there any food?” Yang Rong kept pacing inside the house, the dry cigarette in his hand was lit, but he didn’t take a puff. His sons sat in the chairs and didn’t say a word.
Yang Rong frowned, expression bitter. Although he was the village head, his family also had to farm to support the family. Grain was harvested every year, but the harvest was not good. Not every household could get good fertile land. There were several types of land. The first-class farmlands were allocated to those of the Yang surname in the village, the inferior ones were allocated to outside surnames, and the most inferior ones were allocated to foreign households who migrated over from other regions.
But as members of the same village, if some could not hand over the required amount of harvest, what could the rest do? It was not like they could just wait for the people above to punish them.
He, the village head, must find a way to collect and hand over the required amount of grains.
But after handing over the required grains, there wouldn’t be much grain left in the village at all.
Last year was not like this year. This year’s tax was heavier than last year’s. At least last year they were able to make it to the beginning of spring. But clearly, this year they were not going to be able to hold on until the arrival of spring.
Yang Rong’s hands trembled a little, and the dry cigarette fell to the ground: “The lords above tell us to give out grain…..but where is there any grain left in the granary?”
If they didn’t give out the grains, then they would be going against the lords above. If they did, then their family would be finished. Give out whose grain? Their family’s grain? But their own grain supply was not even enough for their family to hold on until spring?!
Even if they ate bean curd cakes every day, they would still not be able to make it through this winter.
There was not enough firewood and they could not afford coal either. Firewood seemed to be easy to get, but the trees that could be cut have all been cut down these past few years. If they went deeper into the forests, they would encounter wild beasts.
Yang Rong’s eldest son said: “Father…..let’s…..let’s run.”
Yang Rong’s sons all followed the lead of their eldest brother, and quickly said: “Yes, father, there is no way left to survive!”
The eldest son said: “I heard that in Gaoyou, as long as you can farm the land you can fill your stomach, no going hungry or suffering from the cold.”
“If we run to Gaoyou, the officials above won’t be able to do anything to us.”
Yang Rong: “Do you think dad didn’t think about this? Then why don’t you think about it, can our entire family be able to escape? How many people are in the Yang family? A hundred! So many people, how can we run? Are the officials all blind and can’t see so many of us?!”
“Your second granduncle, third granduncle, do you have the heart to leave them behind?”
The youngest son mumbled: “Our own lives are in danger, who cares about them…..”
Yang Rong yelled: “Absurdity! I’ll tell you all! So long as I am still alive, you will forget such thoughts as soon as possible! The reason our Yang family can have today is because of the family teachings! No matter when and where, the Yang family must remain united! Only in this way other people will not come to bully us, only in this way can we grow in strength. Is there anyone in this world who is more trustworthy than one’s own relatives?”
The youngest son grew up cherished by him. He was Yang Rong’s youngest son who he got when he was already quite getting on in the years. The old clam gave birth to pearls, thus, his nickname was Zhu Zhu. As a result, he was especially not afraid of his parents. He retorted, “Then it’s not as if the entire family of hundred should just die together? How about you go and ask them if they are willing to give out grain to help our family tide over this difficult situation?”
Yang Rong suddenly lost his words.
Grain was the lifeblood of farmers, and they could have nothing but they couldn’t not have grain.
Yang Rong knew in his heart that if he asked the Yang family to take out the grain, the first to turn their faces would be them.
“Besides, last time there was a draft, didn’t you think of a way to keep us from being drafted?” The youngest son said, “Our cousins have all gone, and especially second uncle, none of his sons are left. Who knows, maybe in their hearts they have a lot of hatred for you!”
“Maybe as soon as they hear about this, they would pray that our whole family would die.”
Yang Rong: “Beast! Shut up!”
The youngest son was instantly displeased: “I’m telling the truth. If you are not willing to listen then what do you want to listen to? Listen to me say that the Yang family is still all of one mind now, that they all listen to you as the village head and they will do whatever you say?”
“I dare to say this, but do you dare to believe it?”
Yang Rong breathed heavily and coughed vigorously. The several sons hurried over to support him and pat him on the back.
The eldest son said at this time: “Dad, although what Zhu Zhu said sounds a bit ugly, it is still reasonable. Please think about it some more.”
Yang Rong grabbed the eldest son’s wrist and his turbid eyes stared at his already tall and fully grown eldest son, asking tremblingly, “Eldest, you think this way too?”
Eldest son: “…..Dad, because of the military draft, our uncles all hate us…..”
Yang Rong had five brothers in total, and including him there were six in total.
Of these five brothers, some had up to four sons, but some only had one.
Drafting applied to the same surname, that was, all with the same surname counted as a household.
In order to prevent his own sons from being drafted, Yang Rong would report only the sons of his brothers’ every year.
After they left, it was unknown whether they were still alive or not as not even a single letter was sent back.
His brothers hated him to his bones. After all, even the most harmonious relatives would become enemies after such a thing.
But Yang Rong was still pretending to be deaf and blind, wishfully thinking that the brotherly feelings between them were still there, it was just that they couldn’t get around this curve at the moment. But when this curve was bypassed, they would still be the same good brothers as before, their relationship as unbroken as ever.
Eldest son said: “Dad, you originally have selfish motives. It’s no wonder our uncles hate you.”
Yang Rong coughed painfully: “Who did I do this for? Who?!”
Youngest son: “Dad, you did this for our little family! Since it is all for survival, how come you can think about our family when it’s the military draft, but now you have to think about the whole family?”
Yang Rong: “I am the patriarch!”
The youngest son whispered: “Not many recognize you as the patriarch any more.”
Yang Rong became angry, and pointed at his youngest son as he breathed harshly and said, “You shouldn’t have been born back then! Even, even if, if you were born, you should have just been drowned! That way I don’t need to be vexed this much at my old age!”
Youngest son: “Dad, we are trying to talk reason here!”
His sons were all grown up and had their own ideas. The younger ones listened to the eldest and don’t know when it began but they now listened more to the eldest brother instead of him, their dad. Yang Rong knew that he couldn’t win against them anymore, no one would listen to him..
Yang Rong closed his eyes and said softly: “Eldest, we listen to you.”
“You have the ability, so take care of your brothers in the future.”
The eldest son replied in lowly: “Dad, I know, us brothers will remain united.”
Yang Rong: “…..Ai.”
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 )
He had harmed his brothers miserably, and he had no face left to say this to his sons.
And this same scene appeared in many villages and towns in Haozhou.
Sun Deya also couldn’t ever have thought that this method of benefiting and showing benevolence on the people would end up like this.
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