The changes in Ru Ning did not occur suddenly.
But in the eyes of the people, it seemed to have happened overnight.
At the very beginning, it was just the farmers who entered the city having a chat with the city people and mentioning the soldiers helping them with farm work.
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This was a novel thing. Originally, Ru Ning also had soldiers. The soldiers of the imperial court all acted like bigshot masters with nasty tempers and liked to swagger around in groups so no one dared to provoke them. When they went to restaurants to eat, the shopkeepers dared not ask them for money. The more chaotic the world, the more unscrupulous they became.
The common people didn’t understand the reason for this, and they didn’t know why the once honest people would become like that after entering the army.
But their fear of soldiers had already been engraved in their bones and blood. Parents would warn their children, and so gradually the fear settled. Although they knew that the soldiers were protecting Ru Ning, they felt more fear and disgust than any respect and admiration.
But the soldiers spoken of by the farmers were completely different from the soldiers they knew.
They happily and tirelessly asked about that group of soldiers, not so much out of concern but rather curiosity about seeing a novel thing.
“They also helped us plant sweet potatoes and potatoes.” This was what the farmers were most proud of. “The seedlings have emerged, and they brought the seeds. When the autumn harvest comes, they will come to help and even leave behind their farming tools for us to use.”
Slowly, the common people became more curious about these soldiers, and finally one day the soldiers entered the city.
However, it was not the whole army, nor was there any big fanfare. The soldiers wore uniforms, but they went into different vendors and restaurants. They talked loudly and did not shy away from anyone.
They talked about the last battle, they also talked about the past before becoming soldiers, and narrated the tragedies that happened back at their hometowns.
The trembling and fearful common people next to them listened and gradually felt that these people did not seem to be as scary as they thought.
When they left, they paid for their meals.
In the next half of the month, a small number of soldiers continued to enter the city. From surprise and curiosity at the beginning, the people slowly became accustomed to them.
Finally, someone dared to talk to the soldiers.
Merchants also treated this group of consumers in every welcoming and friendly way possible. After all, the soldiers rarely went out of the barracks, and there were not many necessities that they needed to spend on so they all had saved up quite a lot of military salaries. When they leave the barracks, the benefits they could bring to the merchants were naturally huge.
Ru Ning was slowly changing.
Sometimes they would greet soldiers who they had spoken to before on the side of the road.
More and more soldiers walked into Ru Ning. The hearts of the people finally calmed down now that they came across this group of people wearing the same clothes. They would no longer look at these soldiers with the eyes of someone looking at a monster or beast, nor would they tremble or rush to flee in the other direction.
More and more street preaching began.
Soldiers would stand on a makeshift podium and talk about many things, how they came under the rule of the South Bodhisattva, how they became soldiers, and what they did in the barracks. They were not literati, they didn’t know how to quote literary works, and they didn’t know how to make profound arguments. On the contrary, they all spoke in the vernacular.
But the people loved to listen. Most of them had never stepped a foot outside of Ru Ning in their entire lives and knew very little about the outside world. They were full of curiosity and listened to the preaching of the soldiers.
Sometimes soldiers would pull one of the common people who were listening up to the stage. People were introverted and unwilling to talk about their own affairs in public.
But as soldiers they were used to life in the barracks. Once someone came on stage, they would applaud, set off the atmosphere, and show support and encouragement.
The first person opened his mouth, and then more people began opening their mouths.
Some people even took the initiative to ask to be on stage in order to enjoy having the attention and gazes of so many people on them.
Ru Ning had become different.
And this only took less than three months.
The integration of the soldiers into Ru Ning also brought a new atmosphere to Ru Ning.
Almost everyone in Ru Ning now talked about Lin Yuan, the South Bodhisattva, and Taizhou and Gaoyou.
They had built a paradise-like image for Gaoyou through the descriptions they heard from the soldiers, and as a result they involuntarily started to wonder whether Ru Ning would become the next Gaoyou.
There would be no minor officials who were always looking for trouble, all levying all kinds of inexplicable taxes.
There would also be no big affluent families who bullied the common people, and they could live a good life so long as they worked hard.
While Ru Ning was changing, Lin Yuan was also discussing other things with Chen Baisong.
“I want to implement monogamy in Ru Ning.” Lin Yuan said to Chen Bosong.
Chen Baisong was puzzled: “Isn’t it always?”
Lin Yuan: “…..”
He seemed to have forgotten one thing. In ancient dynasties, except for the Qing Dynasty, there was monogamy in terms of there only being one wife but men could also have multiple concubines. He explained: “There can be no concubines, no matter if they are officials or gentry or merchants.”
Just when Lin Yuan thought Chen Baisong would question, Chen Baisong nodded quickly: “Fine.”
Lin Yuan: “What I think is that…..wait, did you say fine?”
Chen Baisong looked at Lin Yuan strangely: “Is there anything that the young master wants to do that isn’t done?”
The implication was that whatever Lin Yuan decided, even if someone objected, Lin Yuan would still continue to do it.
Lin Yuan didn’t know whether to laugh or cry: “You are quite reasonable.”
Lin Yuan’s expression changed, and he said seriously: “There are too few women. In the past, I didn’t have Gaoyou and Taizhou change their marriage system because I didn’t have this kind of power at that time.”
He did not have the power to go against tradition.
“Now civilians cannot find wives to marry, but rich people can raise a bunch at home.” Lin Yuan said, “this is not something conducive to social stability.”
This system of monogamy and multiple concubines was not good for ordinary men, nor was it good for women. Once he tried to change the social structure, this system would act as a stumbling block at his feet. He needed women to work and if he needed women to create social value, he must protect their rights.
If women could not be independent, they must rely on men, therefore their parents would rather send them to large families to be concubines rather than marry them to ordinary men.
This situation had improved in Gaoyou, because women could also earn money, and their parents were not in a hurry for them to marry, and instead let them stay at home to bring more support to the family.
There were also more families recruiting son-in-laws instead of marrying off their daughters.
Ordinary men could not easily find a wife to marry, so special marriage practices such as sharing wives came into existence.
To put it bluntly, it was simply polyandry.
Only the rich could marry a wife that matched their station and social status, and then find concubines that come from small households and commoner families. Moreover, they even take in many girl servants.
This kind of deformed relationship between men and women would only bring turbulence to society and not stability.
Besides, there were too few people, and with the men busy fighting wars, the economy could only depend on the women.
Lin Yuan needed more women to get out of the house. And it also was feasible to encourage women to work. Gaoyou and other places had proven this.
And he now wanted to do an experiment in Ru Ning.
Ru Ning was a big city with a complex population and complex social structure, so the experiment in Ru Ning would have value and provide a good reference.
Lin Yuan smiled and said: “Take things gradually, first let the servants gain freedom, and then let the master give them a new work contract.”
In the contract system, although the servants were illiterate, these contracts would be checked for fairness by the authorities.
Chen Baisong really did not understand what Lin Yuan was going to do, but Chen Baisong had no position or reason to refuse after Lin Yuan made his decision.
Lin Yuan: “It just so happens that I brought a group of people with me, now I can also look at their abilities.”
In a tent of the military camp, a few people were sitting at a simple table drinking tea. They were not very old, and the oldest was only in their early thirties. They were at the age where one was in their prime. They were dressed in cotton clothes and had their hair tied up high and neat, which was different from the common people. Their backs were also not stooped over and they had long limbs and refined manners. One could tell that they were scholars at first glance, and that they were at least from well-off families.
Zhao Youquan was one of them. He was born in Changzhou and became a student of Song Shizhao.
He thought it was time for him to show his talents, but Song Shizhao acted as if he seemed to have forgotten him completely. There were more and more students and guests showing up at the Song Manor, and he became more and more afraid. He didn’t want to go back to Changzhou, at least he couldn’t go back with nothing to show for it.
So when he heard that the South Bodhisattva was going to bring people to Ru Ning, he practically agreed without thinking.
He felt that so long as he was by Song Shizhao’s side, he would not have a chance to go far in his career.
“Ru Ning is much bigger than I thought.” Someone chatted, “The soldiers in the hands of the South Bodhisattva are more disciplined than I thought.”
They had been in the barracks for so long, and they had never seen anyone speak vulgar words to them. Although they could not be called friendly, the soldiers did possess a degree of propriety. There were rules on everything in the barracks. These rules were not only used to control the lower soldiers, but also to control the higher military officials. Whoever committed a crime would be treated to the according punishment, regardless of the rank of their position.
Just when Zhao Youquan wanted to say something, the curtain of the tent was suddenly lifted, and a neatly dressed soldier with a solemn face said at the entrance: “The South Bodhisattva wants to see you.”
There was a weird silence in the tent, but soon they all stood up while trying to hide their excitement. Zhao Youquan’s short nails even managed to dig into the flesh of his palms because of how hard he was squeezing his fists.
Lin Yuan called over all the people who he brought along with him. He talked about his reform plans for Ru Ning, but he didn’t say everything, just what must needed to be done now——to change the oppressive master-servant system into a work contract system.
None of these people had objections.
After all, the servants working in big families now were given monthly allowances. If you think about it this way, it just made the work relationship a more decent one.
They quickly entered their respective roles.
Different regulations began to be formulated.
Zhao Youquan was assigned to the Publicity Department. He didn’t know what department it was at first, but later learned that their task was to let all the servants know that they could get new rights.
“Could it be that we have to knock on every house and announce it to them?”
“Post a notice?”
“They aren’t literate.”
“Look for someone to read it?”
“Yeah right, do you think the servants working in big households can go out often? Even when they go out, it is to carry out business for the family. Where do they have the time to stop at the sign to listen?”
The people in the Publicity Department all had a headache. This was the first time they did this kind of work, and they felt that even if they were asked to write the rules, it would be easier than doing this.
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At this moment, Zhao Youquan suddenly said: “Didn’t the South Bodhisattva register the people before?”
“We can also register these people.”
“Isn’t it enough to mention these things when the time comes?”
Everyone looked at Zhao Youquan, as if this was the first day they knew him.
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