The day Lin Yuan arrived in Ru Ning was a sunny day. Most of the spring had passed, and summer would come after another month. The sunlight fell on the ground, and the farmers in the fields were ploughing in the fields. It was the first spring since Chen Baisong captured Ru Ning. The people still lived as they did in previous years. If there was anything different, it was that the people were more fearful than ever.
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Even if Chen Baisong controlled all the big landlords like Lin Yuan did before, even if he let the tenant farmers get more benefits, the farmers were still uneasy and fearful.
People seemed to prefer their previous lives, not having enough food, being hungry, having a hard life, being oppressed and exploited, but even so, they had become accustomed to that kind of life. Suddenly having someone tell them that they were free and they no longer had a landowner who would increase the land rent, and they didn’t have to live in worry about food, having to drown a new child after giving birth.
They looked with frightened eyes and buried their heads like ostriches.
Chen Baisong didn’t know what he did wrong.
Shouldn’t the people be happy and ecstatic?
When Lin Yuan rode his horse into the city, he turned his head and saw the fields beside the road, as well as the trembling commoners looking at him with desperate and numb eyes.
This made Lin Yuan more clearly aware of the difference between Ru Ning and other places.
In other places, Lin Yuan was the only and noble spiritual leader of the people.
Lin Yuan forgot where he saw this.
At the end of the development of science, it would become theology. People who feel spiritually empty would desperately seek to place their hopes on something, and the place where they sought hope would be all kinds of religions.
People in troubled times were the most mentally broken. People in Gaoyou, Taizhou and other lands conquered by Lin Yuan placed their hopes in Lin Yuan, but Ru Ning did not.
“My Lord!” The guards followed Lin Yuan. They watched Lin Yuan ride off with the horse, raising the whip and galloping with the wind.
Lin Yuan pulled the reins in front of the barracks. The black steed under him stood upright like a man. Lin Yuan sat on the horse with his back straight. No one in the barracks did not know him. The soldiers all knelt down neatly and uniformly when they saw Lin Yuan.
The horse’s hooves landed on the ground, and Lin Yuan dismounted. Soon a little soldier walked over with excited and reddened eyes. The little soldier seemed to want to say something, but he opened his mouth several times but couldn’t utter a word. Lin Yuan glanced at the little soldier, his face again revealing his usual smile, and said gently: “Lead the horse away and feed it some bean curd.”
The little soldier nodded again and again. He led the horse proudly as if he was leading the whole world.
When the little soldier walked, even his hands and feet appeared at a loss as to where to place them.
When he fled to Gaoyou, he was only fourteen years old. He had no parents or relatives. On the way, he was often met with sneers and contempt.
Until he fled to Gaoyou and entered the barracks. No one bullied him in the barracks. Everyone was the same. They would gather together every seven days to hold a party of sorts. They would talk about their past and their hometown in front of many others. Tell of how they came to this place after going through hardships.
In this military camp, the little soldier felt happiness he had never felt before.
Here he was accepted, he was full of a sense of belonging, and the more so, the more he revered Lin Yuan.
His reverence was blind and irrational.
This was true for most people in the military camp.
This was not only true of the soldiers under the command of Chen Baisong, but also the soldiers under the command of Zhu Yuanzhang, Li Congrong, and Yang Zi’an.
This extreme spiritual worship put the military power and political power solely in the hands of Lin Yuan.
But the most deadly point was that if Lin Yuan happened to die one day, the world centered on him would quickly fall apart.
Lin Yuan himself knew it, but he was powerless to change it. He couldn’t promote the ideas of democracy and freedom.
Democracy and freedom could not grow on deformed ideological soil.
Only by waiting, waiting for the stability of the country, waiting for the new generation to receive education, and waiting for this extreme worship to end, would democracy and freedom fall into the ground and blossom in people’s minds.
Maybe after his death, democracy and freedom would sprout.
The premise was that he could stabilize the country before he died.
As for his merits and demerits, they could only be left to future generations to evaluate.
“Young master.” Chen Baisong left the tent and quickly walked over to greet him. It had been nearly two years since he left Lin Yuan. During the past two years, he had been bleeding and sweating on different battlefields. Only when he was alone in the dead of night would he think of Lin Yuan.
Sometimes he even felt that he no longer knew the young master.
The gentle, kind-hearted young master with a bit of naivete and weakness he remembered had become a calm, strong, and powerful person who held the power of life and death over the people.
This brought an unspeakable sense of confusion to Chen Baisong.
He hoped that he could protect the young master, but the young master did not need his protection.
Lin Yuan looked at Chen Baisong, he was also a little surprised. Chen Baisong looked more mature. If he used to be a wolf, now he has become a tiger. He had learned to be calm and steady, and he was no longer always showing off his fangs and claws so obviously as before.
“Your beard has grown.” Lin Yuan smiled at Chen Baisong, “You have worked hard these days.”
Chen Baisong was silent. He walked to Lin Yuan’s side and looked at this man who was half a head shorter than himself.
He was taller than him, but in front of him, he was always in a lower position.
“Let’s go inside the tent.” Lin Yuan walked ahead, as if he who had come to Ru Ning barracks for the first time was the master who was familiar with here.
Chen Baisong followed behind him, and the two walked into the tent together.
Lin Yuan sat in the seat that originally belonged to Chen Baisong. Chen Baisong’s personal guard served Lin Yuan tea. He was nervous and excited. His legs were trembling——after having gone on the battlefield so many times, he would not even tremble when killing. But now his legs couldn’t help but keep shaking.
“You have done a good job with Ru Ning.” Lin Yuan took a sip of tea. He was not in a hurry to enter the city or to take care of the troubles. “Don’t worry.”
Chen Baisong’s thin lips were tightly pressed. Having dealt in warfare all year round for so many years, Chen Baisong was now like a knife, a knife that had seen blood.
His face looked a little thin, which made his facial features unusually distinct. Lin Yuan had to admit that Chen Baisong was more handsome than him in appearance.
“I didn’t do a good job.” Chen Baisong spoke of what he did in Ru Ning and what he couldn’t figure out the most. “The people are even more panicked.”
Gaoyou changed hands, Taizhou changed hands, and Suzhou changed hands. The people seemed to accept it well. They hoped from the heart that Lin Yuan would lead them to a better life, but why was Ru Ning different? Why were the people of Ru Ning different?
Chen Baisong did not understand.
Lin Yuan smiled and in the tone of a stern and loving father, he said: “You have done well enough, it’s not your fault.”
Chen Baisong lowered his head, he felt ashamed.
He finally made up his mind to take care of Ru Ning’s governmental affairs, but the reality gave him a slap in the face.
“How about this, I’ll take care of it and you’ll come and watch. When things are done, you can tell me what you learned.” Lin Yuan said gently, “Alright?”
Chen Baisong suddenly raised his head and he looked at Lin Yuan with inconceivable eyes.
Lin Yuan: “Take it slowly, you’ll always learn something.”
Chen Baisong drank a cup of tea and saluted Lin Yuan: “Thank you, young master.”
On the edge of Ru Ning city, the farmers were cooking at their respective homes. The women brought out vegetable soup and multi-grain rice. The whole family squatted on the ground and ate the food. There was no white rice in the multi-grain rice. The chaff was the main component. They sat at the door after the meal, talking about tomorrow’s weather and how much the autumn harvest would yield.
“The village head said that the landowner would not accept our rent.” The woman’s expression was a bit dazed, “Five families use three hoes and a cow together, but now do we have to return these to the landowner?”
The man coughed twice. He was only thirty years old, but he seemed to look closer to fifty. His skin was rough and yellow, his cheeks were sunken, and his brows were furrowed. He spit on the ground and stooped his back as he said: “I will ask tomorrow.”
A child was tied with a rag on the woman’s back. The child didn’t know anything. He was only two years old. He didn’t understand the adults’ worries and was playing with his mother’s hair.
“They said that with the South Bodhisattva here, the landowners will now ignore us.” Tears burst from the woman’s eyes, and she asked her husband, “Is that South Bodhisattva really not leaving?”
The man looked at the ground under his feet in silence.
The woman said angrily: “Why does the South Bodhisattva want Ru Ning? Why did they come? Isn’t it good for us to live like the past?”
Although poor, hungry, and struggling to farm but still couldn’t eat enough, life was very stable.
But now, they didn’t know what was waiting for them.
The unknown made them fear, and fear brought resentment.
The next morning, before the sun rose, the man had left the house and went to the fields. The woman had to go to the fields as well. She used cloth strips as a rope and tied the child to the tree where she could see him like one would tie an ox, and began to farm together.
Her vision had already gone bad, and she couldn’t see things clearly if it’s not bright enough, but after so many years of work, she could even do it in the dark, farming having become her instinct.
Just as the first ray of sunlight broke through the clouds and shone on the ground, the village head ran onto the ridge in the fields. Someone behind him was knocking a bell. When the bell rang, the villagers knew that there was news from above. They took their farm tools and walked to the clearing at the entrance of the village and looked up at the village head standing on a stone.
The village head was over fifty and his body was not very sturdy. He shouted with all his strength, “The South Bodhisattva is here! The soldiers are coming today!”
The villagers were terrified.
“What are the soldiers going to do here?”
“I don’t have food in my house! I don’t have a daughter either!”
“Don’t let them come!”
It was the few that spoke, and more people just bowed their heads in silence.
Someone was shaking, their shoulders movimg up and down.
No matter how fearful or unwilling the villagers were, the soldiers still came.
There were not many soldiers who came, only a hundred, but this group of soldiers did not come empty-handed. Other than housing arrangements that the village musy provide, the soldiers brought their own food and daily necessities.
When the soldiers came, the villagers hid in their houses, and they didn’t even dare to go out and take a look.
“Mother, are those soldiers?” The child nestled in his mothers’ arms. Children were not like adults. Sometimes they had quite the courage and were not afraid of many things like adults.
The woman hugged the child and whispered: “You are not allowed to go see, they are ghosts, they will eat you, they will eat up your brain and intestines.”
The child shivered.
But the next day, the child forgot the intimidation of his mother, and he led the children from the same village to sneak over to see the soldiers.
In the world of children, soldiers had a natural sense of majesty. This sense of majesty was different from their parents. They dared not let the soldiers discover them, and only dared to look quietly behind the trees.
The soldiers wore dark clothes with straight backs, which was very different from the adults in the village who were always stooped over.
They looked stronger and taller.
This was the ideal “future” in the eyes of the boy.
“I also want to be a soldier in the future.” A boy whispered.
The other boys also nodded.
They didn’t know what they had to face as a soldier. At this moment, they just yearned for the days when they could stand upright.
The soldier who was squatting on the edge of the field to eat from a bowl saw the group of children. He was not too old and had a lively personality. He waved to the group of children: “Come here, I’ll give you candy.”
The boys first turned around and ran, running a short distance away. Finally, a boy recalled the word “candy” that the soldier had said.
The boys stopped in unison.
They had never eaten candy since they were born, and they didn’t know what real candy tasted like and how it differed from the wild fruits found in the mountains.
But they knew that candy was the sweetest thing in the world.
They looked at each other and finally the boldest of them turned and ran in the direction of the soldier.
The soldier watched him run over, laughed and threw a piece of candy over. The candy fell on the grass. The boy bent over to pick it up, not at all minding that the candy had fallen on the ground, and quickly stuffed it into his mouth.
He squinted his eyes, and the sweetness of candy filled his taste buds. His life had only been a few years, but this must be one of the happiest moments in his life.
The boys behind him could only watch the boy put such a large piece of candy into his mouth.
The boys walked over, and they looked at the soldier eagerly.
The soldier smiled and asked them: “Want to eat candy.”
The boys nodded frantically.
The soldier said: “Okay, want to eat candy? Come and work with me.”
Only then did the boys discover that these soldiers were not holding weapons, but farm tools.
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 )
They turned their heads and found that these soldiers who had straight and proud backs were also crouching over and doing farm work.
Moreover, they did it quickly and well, looking like veteran farmers at just a glance.
A boy slapped his head: “They are farming my family’s land!”
Were these soldiers helping them with farm work? !
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