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Translations of Chinese Boy’s Love webnovels. Only the English translation belongs to me everything else belongs to the original author.

Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 010 The Ways of the World

It was late winter but Lin Yuan still wore a cotton coat as the weather had yet to warm. He sneezed and rubbed his hands together. Si Niang was on the side burning the charcoal, it would take awhile before the room warmed. 

The price of charcoal was not cheap so Lin Yuan did not buy much. Once the last few pieces were burned then the only choice left was burning firewood. 

Poor families even had to save on the burning of firewood. 

There’s no help for it, the people going up the mountains to cut wood had decreased because if one was not careful one could come down with a cold very easily. 

A fever in the winter, death would not be far along. 

People would obviously choose their life over being comfortable. 

Before winter ended, Lin Yuan practically never left the house. Even with a cotton coat it was still not warm enough. Walking outside in this weather, before long one would not be able to take it. Er Liang was in a similar situation as Lin Yuan. The north might also be cold but the south was wet and cold. No matter how much one wore the cold wet air still seeped in. 

Lin Yuan hugged a tangpozi in his hands as he asked Er Liang: “Where are Si Niang and the others?” 

Er Liang rubbed his hands: “Si Niang is kneading dough, we will have noodles tonight.” 

No fresh vegetables, only some pickled vegetables. 

Although there were greenhouses, but Wu City had none, the entire winter was only pickled vegetables. 

Er Liang looked out the window, sighing: “Wonder where brother Chen is.” 

This topic was something Lin Yuan never spoke about with Er Liang. The two words brother Chen was like taboo words. 

That loyal and upright young man, perhaps had already lost his life. Only, Lin Yuan and Er Liang hoped he had survived instead. 

“Young master.” Er Liang said, “brother Chen knows we will come here. If next year he still doesn’t show up we should set up a cenotaph.” 

Lin Yuan did not refuse, nodding: “Alright.” 

Winter for people like Lin Yuan who had modest wealth could be considered comfortable. He didn’t have to go out and could stay indoors curled up in the warmth. Every three days he visited the oil plant, every week he checked the accounts but normally he hibernated. But for the common people, it was a bitter experience. During this winter a lot of beggars froze to death on the streets. Most of the beggars had long term ailments or illness, living day by day. Once winter came very few could make it pass. 

During the past few years the circumstances had not been good, even the city’s wealthy families no longer provided charity by setting up free porridge. The streets were empty and vendors also no longer showed up. 

Lin Yuan also did not dare to go out in the streets. He might not be a good person but he did have sympathy. He was afraid that once he went out he would not be able to resist in bringing those people who were close to freezing to death back to his home. 

But he currently had no money left, all of it used to hire people. 

Er Liang didn’t dare to go out either. Last time he went to buy meat he came back crying. 

Only Si Niang and Gou zi went out. These two fled here from famine back home and had seen all kinds of tragedies. They had already become numb. 

But they still had lingering fears because they knew, if not for Lin Yuan they would be no different from the people who froze to death. 

Gou zi was still young so Lin Yuan did not give him any heavy work. There’s actually not any heavy work to be done so Gou zi did some random chores such as sweeping the yard and watching the house. 

Er Liang did all the delicate work such as taking care of Lin Yuan’s needs. He never slacked in his work, a habit raised while living with the Lin family. 

His parents were family servants and had taught him from young to be diligent. 

Er Liang still remembered his dad’s words: “You must be capable! Otherwise, old Liu’s son will take your place. That you are able to serve young master, it is your good fortune accumulated over many lifetimes!” 

After serving at young master’s side, Er Liang finally understood his dad’s meaning. 

Serving young master meant he didn’t need to farm or do hard manual labor. He could even learn to read and write. 

Young master was also a good person and never hit or scolded the servants. He had a very good temperament. 

Even now that he had followed young master in his travel away from their hometown, Er Liang did not need to worry about anything. Young master was too capable, could take care of everything. He just needed to stay at young master’s side and look after his needs. 

Er Liang chatted with Gou zi. 

“Gou zi, when you were on your way here, did a lot of people die?” Er Liang asked. 

Gou zi chewed on a fried breadstick with an expression of contentment and says: “A lot. From starvation, their stomach bloated high but their arms and legs were like sticks. They said it was from being too hungry, only drinking water, drinking themselves to death.” 

Er Liang was both surprised and scared: “Then how did you two survive?” 

Gou zi swallowed the breadstick: “My mama had me eat the tree bark.” 

Er Liang asked curiously: “Does tree bark taste good?” 

Gou zi nodded: “It’s alright. I don’t know what kind of tree it was, it’s dry but still chewable. Taste better than dry tree bark.” 

“There was also a kind of grass root.” Gou zi said excitedly, “I haven’t seen it before in my hometown, once you pull it up on the bottom of the roots there is a tumor (TN: that is the literal translation. I didn’t know there are tumors on grass roots??? Can someone explain???) which is also edible. Roasting it makes it soft but not much flavor.” 

Er Liang listened seriously, but he knew that if he switched places with Gou zi he would have died long ago. He could not endure the hardship, so Er Liang pretended to be mature and patted Gou zi’s shoulder: “Gou zi, you don’t have it easy.” 

Gou zi smiled: “It’s all in the past. Now I have food and drink, a bed to sleep and a cotton blanket! I have never used a cotton blanket before!” 

Gou zi said quietly: “Young master also gave me eggs to eat. I haven’t eaten eggs this many times my whole life.” 

Er Liang looked shocked: “You didn’t raise chickens in your old home?” 

Gou zi: “We did but mama took them all to sell on market days. Then we can buy salt and other things home. How can we eat it ourselves.” 

Gou zi said excitedly: “When I grow older and have children, it would be great if young master can give my son eggs to eat as well.” 

Er Liang: “……” Young man, you might be getting a little ahead of yourself. 

Gou zi rubbed his nose, chuckling: “My mama no longer have cold hands and feet. Mama says this is because we are eating well.” 

Gou zi asked Er Liang: “Brother Er Liang, you have always served at young master’s side?” 

Er Liang proudly puffed up his chest: “My parents are both Lin family servants, I followed young master when I was eight.” 

Gou zi was a bit envious: “Then you must often eat eggs?” 

Er Liang said: “Young master always had me eat with him, whatever young master eats I will also eat. Everyday there is meat to eat!” 

Eat meat everyday, that was practically the life of gods and immortals. Gou zi was envious to the point he could only swallow profusely. 

“Brother Er Liang, you have such a good life.” Gou zi said, “I must work harder, then young master will also give me meat to eat.” 

Er Liang encouraged: “You can do it!” 

Gou zi grinned at Er Liang. 

Their chat was completely overheard by Lin Yuan who was sitting next to the window. 

The ways of the world currently was worse than he had thought. 

Then a few years later, when war broke out, what would the world turn into? 

Right now he had only started establishing his property. Once the field was ready to harvest next year and the farmstead was built, he will have someone send a message to original owner’s family to have them come over. He had received original owner’s body, even if it was after original owner’s death, but he was still in debt to the original owner. Moreover, it was thanks to the original owner’s legal mother’s money that he was able to survive. 

His consicence had yet to feed the dogs so he could not disregard original owner’s family. 

Lin Yuan took a sip of tea, letting out a soundless sigh.

TN1: Not much happening in this chapter but it does foreshadow how the situation will worsen in Yuan dynasty China and Lin Yuan is forced to finally make a decision.

TN2: So I got my first review on NU! I was kind of surprised that they thought this is a dark and serious story. It is definitely serious with a lot of characters and world building and plot but I wouldn’t consider it dark. The MC is also pretty relatable even if he comes into his role of leader and eventually emperor. But isn’t it more satisfying this way where everything was bad before MC comes along and makes changes? Everyone must have had a hero dream before right? And this hero doesn’t need to self-sacrifice in order to save the world. It’s quite interesting reading about the backgrounds of side characters and how they have been victims of the times and how they face the ‘radical’ changes Lin Yuan brings. 

But it’s true that this is not a fluffy brainless story. If not for its BL characteristics I think guys would enjoy reading it more than gals who are looking for some romantic fluff. There’s a lot of wars and empire building and world dominating going on here. Just curious, are there any guy readers of this story?

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Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 009 There’s Chicken To Eat

Cheng Huang temple was covered with spider webs and dust. Originally, it was not a very popular temple, now it was even worse with the current turbulent times. Lin Yuan used a rag to wipe at the table then set up the offerings. The offerings were made by Si Niang, a few white buns and a plate of cabbages, nothing else. Normally there would be roasted chicken but Lin Yuan was even unwilling to spend on it for himself, let alone as offerings. 

 “Ai.” Brother Dao let out a sigh: “In the past Cheng Huang temple was not this bleak.” 

Jiang Gui used a wooden stick to sweep up the spider webs, hearing brother Dao he chuckled: “Actually it is about the same, only you didn’t come the years before.” 

After saying so Jiang Gui took a scroll of painting and hung it up next to Lord Cheng Huang (TN: Shing Wong, deity in Chinese mythology). 

Lin Yuan examined it for awhile but still could not recognize the abstract looking person in the painting. 

Jiang Gui: “How can you not recognize, this is second lord Guan Yu (TN: military general under warlord Liu Bei).” 

Lin Yuan nodded, expressing his understanding. 

Just as Lin Yuan thought everything was ready, the voice of one of brother Dao’s guys came from outside: “Brother Dao! I caught a chicken!” 

Brother Dao went outside and brought the chicken in by its wings. 

Jiang Gui sighed: “It’s a pity the times are not good, otherwise we must prepare san sheng (TN: literally translates to three sacrificial animals).” 

Lin Yuan asked: “What is the san sheng?” Although he liked to read historical novels but in relation to swearing brotherhood he was not too clear. 

Jiang Gui: “Pig meat, fish, and eggs are the san sheng.” 

Lin Yuan: “……” 

If swearing brotherhood must require this many offerings, then forget it, after all in the ancient times the offerings were not taken back and eaten after they cooled down instead it remained there until it spoiled then it was thrown away. 

They remained busy for another while. Brother Dao poured the wine in the bowl, made a cut on the chicken’s neck and let the blood into the wine. Then he took out the knife he always carried on him and gave his finger a cut, dripping a few drops into the wine bowl.  

“Here.” He handed the knife to Jiang Gui. 

Jiang Gui looked a bit timid at the prospect, trying several times before making the cut, looking as his blood dripped into the bowl with heartache. 

Using a knife on yourself did require courage. 

Lin Yuan tried when he was young, if not careful even a piece of metal strip could cut your finger but if intentionally then it was more difficult as your brain would control your body to not harm yourself. 

As a result Lin Yuan decided decisively: “Brother Jiang, I have never used a knife on myself before, help me out.” 

Saying so he stretched a finger forward. 

Jiang Gui while saying: “How can I possibly”, gave Lin Yuan a cut in the finger without hesitation. 

Lin Yuan: “……” Why do I see that particular expression of joy at other’s misfortune on Jiang Gui’s face. 

The three of them then separated the bowl of wine and blood concoction into three separate bowls, one person holding one bowl and knelt in front of Lord Guan’s painting. 

Brother Dao, with a solemn expression, announced: “Let us begin.” 

“The skies above, I, Li Congrong with Jiang Gui and Lin Yuan from this day forth will be friends as close as brothers.” 

“The skies above, I, Jiang Gui with Li Congrong and Lin Yuan from this day forth will be friends as close as brothers.” 

It was only now that Lin Yuan finally knew brother Dao’s true name. 

So he was a pause late before speaking: “The skies above, I, Lin Yuan with Li Congrong and Jiang Gui from this day forth will be friends as close as brothers.” 

“Henceforth, we shall enjoy the same blessings and withstand the same difficulties. Do not beseech to be born on the same year, same month, and same day, but we beseech to die on the same year, same month, and same day. If I violate this vow then let the heavens rain thunder upon me.” 

Saying so, the three of them drank the wine and blood concoction in one gulp. 

As he was drinking, Lin Yuan thought, drinking blood is truly not hygienic, what if someone had harmful bacteria? Then wouldn’t that mean misfortune for three? 

“Third brother, fourth brother.” Brother Dao was in a good mood, grasping Lin Yuan’s and Jiang Gui’s hands. 

Lin Yuan asked in a quiet voice: “And the second brother?” 

Your order starts with the third number? 

Brother Dao patted Lin Yuan’s shoulder intimately: “Yang Zi’an is also my sworn brother.” 

Lin Yuan said sincerely: “Big brother, you have quite a few brothers.” 

Brother Dao laughed loudly: “Just giving me some face (TN: to give respect/appreciation). That second brother is also a straightforward fellow and is also working with us, you guys calling him second brother will not lose out.” 

Lin Yuan/Jiang Gui: “……” 

“We should find a day to drink together.” Brother Dao said with a smile. In these times, sworn brothers were even closer than blood brothers. 

“Big brother.” Lin Yuan said to brother Dao, “second brother Yang is still on my land.” 

Brother Dao rubbed at his nose: “Then we can wait until he comes back.” 

Yang Zi’an was an honest fellow. He took his guys to Lin Yuan’s land which was completely new fertile land. As the land would become thinner the more you farm it since farming families didn’t have enough fertilizer so they must sow in cycles. 

Sow for a year then leave it for half a year to let the earth recover itself. 

They found a flat land to build grass huts, using mud and hay to reinforce the walls which could be dried in one to two days. At night they slept on hay, 40 men squeezing in together. In this way the cold would not be felt. 

Food was prepared by Lin Yuan and was carried with them when they left for his land. 

There were coarse grains and fine grains but they usually ate the coarse grains. The fine grains were eaten every three days. If one was still hungry then it was combined with coarse grains. 

“Compared to before it is much better.” A man held a bowl of porridge which was rather thin but at leaat there was white rice. He drank it carefully, sighing in satisfaction, “before there was no white porridge, only bran.” 

The person next to him was eating a bun: “Drink it quickly, my bowl is already finished.” 

The man ignor6es him, patting the earth: “Tomorrow is the beginning of harvesting. Boss truly said 50% of harvest?” 

Yang Zi’an came out from the grass hut, blowing warm air into his palms: “Boss said it, I expext he also dare not lie to us.” 

The man nodded: “Right, we have so many of us, even if he were to lie then he must think it over.” 

There was also a youngster eating buns with their porridge nearby, saying with hope: “I don’t have excessive hope for receiving that many grains, just looking forward to eating my fill everyday. Being tired is nothing, in the past at my old home the boss only gives 20% to us and we must farm on an empty stomach.” 

“My mama saved her portion for me and my brothers, she then starved to death.” 

“After mama died, dad fell and broke his leg in the mountains, with no money to buy medicine, he also died.” 

The man sighed: “Who doesn’t have a similar past.” 

Everyone had a painful past, saying it aloud, were they competing on who was more miserable? 

The youngster smiled at the man: “As long as everyday I can eat fully.” 

Yang Zi’an took up a hoe and farmed along with his men. He was born in a family that worked the land and also undertook academic studies so he recognized some words as well as farming. He never spoke of his past to anyone though. 

His family in his old hometown was a wealthy family but they didn’t have tenant farmers. The land was farmed by his family’s servants instead. 

Later, a group of bandits passed by. Yang Zi’an at the time was at his friend’s place in the neighboring town. When he came back he found himself to be orphaned and his home destroyed. 

His whole family had been massacred, even his two year old baby brother did not escape. 

Even now he wanted revenge, but what could he use for revenge? Have these guys go fight for their lives with those bandits? 

He could ignore his own life and death but what rigjt did he have to request the same of his men who were like friends to him? 

Over time, the idea of revenge buried itself deep in his heart. He never said anything nor did he bring it up. 

Just as they finished breakfast and prepared to work, a group of people could be seen heading towards their direction. 

Yang Zi’an: “Don’t be anxious! Take your hoes! Pick up anything heavy!” 

If these were bandits, then they must prepare to fight, at least they should have weapons on hand. 

The crowd moved in closer. Only then did Yang Zi’an discover Li Congrong at the head of the crowd. 

“All of you put down the weapons, it is brother Dao.” Yang Zi’an shouted out. 

 Hearing this the people at his side then put down the heavy objects they planned to use as weapons. 

Brother Dao arrived first, behind him followed a group of artisans in tight sleeved shirts. And behind the artisans were refugees barely covered qith rags for clothes, all of them malnourished and shivering in the cold. Their faces showed their uncertainty and loss of what to do. 

Yesterday morning, a tall muscular man arrived suddenly, saying that he had work for them, a meal for a day’s work. Hearing this, they arrived since they had nothing else to lose. The most was wealthy families tricking them to become family servants with a slave contract. But being a servant was better than the days they were currently living. 

So long as they didn’t starve then doing anything was fine.  

“These people are here to build a house.” Brother Dao said, “both farming and building will not be affected.” 

Yang Zi’an looked at the refugees: “And you are here to supervise them?” 

Brother Dao grinned, showing white teeth: “Can’t leave them alone. With no strength they’ll listen, with strength and food in their bellies who knows.” 

Yang Zi’an: “That is the truth.” 

Brother Dao suddenly shifted closer, whispering: “I brought a roasted chicken and some wine. We can enjoy a cuppa later.” 

Yang Zi’an heard roasted chicken and couldn’t help swallowing profusely. He was already craving it, he couldn’t remember the last time he tasted roasted chicken. 

These years, don’t even mention meat, he ate whatever was at hand, even tree bark and grass roots. 

When fleeing, a lot of people ate the wrong thing and slowly their bodies became unwell. That he had lived till now was fortunate. 

At the moment, the artisans had the refugees first build grass huts, next to the ones already built by Yang Zi’an’s men. Although artisans did not have high status but they were still respected for having true skills. Even the grass huts they built were better than the huts Yang Zi’an and his men built. 

Yang Zi’an was pulled away by brother Dao to eat roast chicken. 

With a cup of wine and a chicken leg, brother Dao ssid with a wide smile: “Gege found you two younger brothers.” 

Yang Zi’an: “…..” 

Back then, he was tricked into swearing brotherhood with brother Dao. He guessed those two unlucky fellows had a similar experience as he did. 

Brother Dao: “You know them as well, one is Jiang Gui and the other is Lin Yuan. Later when you see them, you must call them third brother and fourth brother, don’t forget.” 

Yang Zi’an took a bite of chicken leg, thinking privately, based on Li Congrong’s hobby, he estimated that he would have a fifth brother, sixth brother, seventh brother, eigth brother before long. Maybe even a eightieth brother. 

Forget it, there was roast chicken to eat, it was better not to think of worrisome thoughts. 

If everytime brother Dao swore brotherhood there was chicken to eat, then this business was still acceptable. 

AN: Yang Zi’an: “This fellow just likes to swear brotherhood all over the place, I, Yang Zi’an will rather starve to death, or jump to my death than admit that I have N numbers of little brothers.” 

Li Congrong: “Come, have a piece of chicken.” 

Yang Zi’an: “Zhen xiang.” (TN: literally translates to ‘truly savory’. It is a popular phrase used in Chinese internet language that is used to describe slapping your own face, or going back on your own words. It came from a movie where the MC goes to the countryside but all he wants is to go back to the city and claims he will rather die and jump to death than eat the food there. Several hours later he eats the food and says “Zhen xiang.” LOL)

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Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 008 Swearing Brotherhood

There was no need to worry about the sale of the soybean oil. Wu City was a big enough market for it. Jiang Gui met and talked collaborations with the owners of oil shops. The city had a total of 12 oil shops. Compared to the production costs of sesame oil, the production cost of soybean oil was cheaper and the daily production was also stable. Although one could not say it would completely replace sesame oil but the owners of oil shops still accepted the soybean oil in their stores. 

Lin Yuan did some calculations, each day’s profit was around 1000 coins. 

“Should we sell outside Wu City as well?” Jiang Gui saw the benefits of soybean oil business so he was eager to expand the business. Who would not dislike making more money? 

However, Lin Yuan shook his head: “Brother Jiang, it’s not that this little brother is unwilling, but if we were to sell elsewhere, who will make the trips? Besides, Wu City has you and brother Dao so we can make money in peace. Nowadays, the outside is in upheaval. The oil extraction method may be easy but only we know about it.” 

“If someone wants to seize…..” Lin Yuan did not finish. 

Jiang Gui sighed: “I am too impatient, unlike you who thinks deeper.” 

Lin Yuan consoled: “Brother Jiang, think of it this way, although we are not crazy rich but at least it is stable source of income.” 

Now that the income had stabilized, and daily expenses not being too big, Lin Yuan must now put more attention to his land. 

Yang Zi’an’s 40 people had already gone over to his land with farming tools prepared by Jiang Gui. Lin Yuan was now deeply aware of the benefits of having a friend in the government. Although Jiang Gui did not have any major powers nor could he sway the upper officials, but among the common people he still had quite the power.  

The good thing was that he no longer had to watch his wallet thin after every spending. Lin Yuan truly sighed in relief. 

“Brother Jiang.” Lin Yuan poured tea for Jiang Gui, saying seriously, “I should have people begin to build my own farmstead. I must still continue to trouble you.” 

Jiang Gui drank the cup of hot tea. Although it was nothing fancy but to be able to have any tea to drink was a luxury now. He nodded: “No problem, no problem, I shall not have even one bit of lazing from them.” 

Lin Yuan explained in detail: “I don’t want to build a normal dwelling with a courtyard but a three floor building.” 

Jiang Gui looked confused: “Ah? You want to construct a theater house?” 

Lin Yuan shook his head: “No. Er Liang bring over pen and ink.” 

Er Liang let out an “ai” and quickly set up paper and prepared the pen and ink. 

Although Lin Yuan did not know how to write calligraphy but a simple drawing was still doable. He drew a rectangular building with doors evenly spaced throughout. 

“Like this.” Lin Yuan handed the paper to Jiang Gui. 

Jiang Gui was also no literati and knew nothing of the four arts (TN: zither, Go chess, calligraphy, painting) but after looking closely he got the gist of it. He asked Lin Yuan in puzzlement: “This is all squares and rectangles, like a large coffin. How can you build it this way.” 

 Lin Yuan: “……” 

Brother, I’m afraid this had nothing on Chengdu’s New Century Global Mall (TN: a building in Chengdu, China). 

Lin Yuan laughed awkwardly: “To be promoted and gain wealth.” (TN: the phrase in Chinese is 升官发财 which in pinyin is ‘sheng guan fa cai’. The second word 官 which means official sounds the same as 棺 which means coffin. Lin Yuan is just trying to give a reason through a pun and hopes Jiang Gui believes his ‘reasoning’) 

Jiang Gui finally got it and slapped his thigh: “A good message! No wonder little brother Lin is a scholar. You have more knowledge than me.” 

“But the price will not be cheap.” Jiang Gui knit his eyebrows together. 

 Lin Yuan: “Is 50 taels enough?” 

Lin Yuan said: “I want it to be quick so there needs to be more people. The best case scenario is to be finished by the summer.” 

Jiang Gui stood up: Since you already asked, as gege I of course must help. A lot of refugees have come to Wu City. We can have them build the building, just give them food. That will save some money.” 

These refugees were not accepted into Wu City. Their arrival often heralded a decrease in safety of a city’s residents so they had not been allowed in and instead must remain outside the city gates in grass shacks. The passing of winter saw the lessening of refugee numbers. 

Some died, some left. 

Those that were left, all of them were young and in their prime. 

Jiang Gui said: “When they just arrived last year, I even saw some children. But now only two are left, and almost on the verge of death.” 

 Lin Yuan frowned: “Did they feeze to death?” 

Jiang Gui nodded, sighing: “The higher ups won’t allow their entrance into the city and I can’t do anything about it either. My own situation is difficult. My hands are truly tied.” 

Jiang Gui might be a kind person but without the wealth to express his kindness it was still useless. 

Lin Yuan said: “I’m fine with them doing the building but they may not be easy to manage.” 

He was afraid that once a person was at their limits then they would choose to walk on the edge of a blade. The saying that the barren hills and wild rivers would produce wicked people was not untrue (TN: A saying that refers to environment influencing people). Once a person had nothing to hold them back then they would turn into beasts. 

Jiang Gui took another sip of tea, knitting his brows together: “I will talk with brother Dao.” 

Brother Dao was after all a gang leader and managing people was a skill required. 

Lin Yuan did not refuse: “See if brother Dao is willing to manage them.” 

…….. 

“No problem!” Brother Dao was currently chopping up the firewood. Hearing Jiang Gui’s question he agreed readily. He wiped at the sweat on his forehead and even took a palm leaf fan to fan himself after putting away the axe. 

Lin Yuan watched in envy. Brother Dao’s physique was robust and sturdy with hard muscles and a tall height. Standing next to him one could even feel the heat rolling off of him. Lately, the weather had not warmed much, even if Lin Yuan and Er Liang shared the same blanket the both of them still felt the cold. If not for brother Dao’s smelly feet Lin Yuan was all too willing to invite him for a sleepover. 

Brother Dao looked at Lin Yuan in a new light, an expression of respect on his face: “Little brother Lin, you have the heart to do good deeds, gege will not say anything else but help you manage them well. You are giving them a chance to survive, and if they don’t know to be grateful then I will let them know the ramifications of stepping out of line.” 

To be able to save money as well as help others in need. This could be considered a situation where he had it both ways. 

Lin Yuan was also in quite a good mood, cupping his hands: “Then I will trouble gege.” 

Brother Dao patted Lin Yuan’s shoulder. He looked at Jiang Gui and then said suddenly: “Us three, we have quite the predestined affinity, now we even collaborate in business, how about we find a day and swear brotherhood.” 

Lin Yuan: “…..” 

Jiang Gui: “…..” 

They were just having a chat, how did it come to swearing brotherhood? 

Jiang Gui was the first to react, he let out a laugh: “Exactly! Swearing brotherhood, becoming sworn brothers, this way relationships will be closer.” 

Lin Yuan said quickly: “But my father and mother are both in the north…..” 

In this time, swearing brotherhood might not have any legal effects but once sworn then they would be as close as blood brothers. 

Jiang Gui and brother Dao both looked at Lin Yuan. 

Lin Yuan: “…..Once father and mother knows in the future they will surely be delighted little brother has found himself two good older brothers.” 

Original owner’s dad and mom, apologies, this was not something he intended. 

The day was picked by a fortune-teller on the street. He was an old liar, lied his entire life, and actually even gain some jianghu experience from his lying. In short, say whatever one wants to hear no matter who they were. And quite a few people actually believed him. 

Such as brother Dao. 

“Chen Half-Immortal.” Brother Dao said respectfully, “these two are my good brothers, please help us find an auspicious day to swear brotherhood.” 

Half-Immortal rubbed at his beard. He was originally very skinny, so with a large and billowy daoist robe on he appeared quite convincing as a mysterious daoist with supernatural abilities. His face was already full of lines but still he scrunched it up even more, reaching out a hand to calculate: “Tomorrow at noon.” 

Lin Yuan remained expressionless off to the side. Half-Immortal, wasn’t that too quick and random? 

Having picked a day, brother Dao was about to pay, but Chen Half-Immortal pressed his hand down, asking seriously in a whisper: “Little Dao, I heard you have recently been doing business? I won’t accept your payment, let me also take part?” 

In an instant the aura of mystery crumbled into pieces. 

Brother Dao still looked befuddled, no matter what, he was unwilling to believe that this shrewd old man was the Half-Immortal in his heart. 

Chen Half-Immortal, seeing that brother Dao had still not come out of his shock, so he said again: “Don’t you worry, I have money.” 

The profession of fortune-telling was originally like being a doctor, the older you got the more money you make. 

If you’re young, the common people would not believe in your abilities. 

Always feeling that the older ones were more trustworthy. 

The doctors at medicinal shops, even if they were still young, must grow a long beard and pretend they were older than they actually were. 

Otherwise patients would not come in. 

Jiang Gui was not a superstitious person. He said with a smile: “Half-Immortal, brother Dao has no say, the business belongs to this little brother. If you want to take part then you must speak with him.” 

Chen Half-Immortal looked at Lin Yuan with a squint. 

Lin Yuan stood there staring at Chen Half-Immortal, pondering whether Chen Half-Immortal was nearsighted or farsighted? 

Chen Half-Immortal looked around and seeing that yhere were no people familiar with him, he quickly walked over to Lin Yuan: “Little brother, look at it this way, you only have a few people at hand, the most you could do now is eat up Wu City’s market. I have some friends who does errands in other cities. You can have them do the errands outside while you stay and count the money. What do you say?” 

Lin Yuan: “Half-Immortal, my business has just started, I don’t dare to think that far. If in the future there is an opportunity then I will come find you.”  

Chen Half-Immortal became anxious: “Little brother, that is white and shiny silver……”  

Brother Dao: “Half-Immortal!” 

Chen Half-Immortal: “Ai.” 

Brother Dao’s expression was not that good: “Don’t ask anymore about this kind of stuff, and don’t meddle, just do your fortune-telling.” 

Chen Half-Immortal dared not say anymore. He had arrived in Wu City two years ago, and it was thanks to brother Dao’s support that he wasn’t bullied. He dared not offend brother Dao so he immediately became quiet. 

Brother Dao ws feeling quite depressed, he truly and sincerely believed Chen Half-Immortal was a Half-Immortal, but the result was that not only was he not a Half-Immortal but a shrewd old man. He walked in the front, feeling angry with himself, thinking that in the past two years he had been a complete fool. 

Lin Yuan and Jiang Gui walked in the back giving each other looks. 

No helping it, Lin Yuan walked over and consoled: “Brother Dao, it’s nothing big. Half-Immortal, after all, is only half. The other half is a common person and must eat, drink, defecate and support one’s family.” 

Brother Dao sighed: “He lied to me.”  

Lin Yuan: “…..” 

“Tomorrow noon, we will go to Cheng Huang temple.” Brother Dao brushed aside thoughts of Half-Immortal and discussed with Lin Yuan and Jiang Gui, “Don’t forget to bring the things, wine and bowl. A knife too, a sharp one.” 

Lin Yuan: “A knife?” We are swearing brotherhood, not dying together in the name of love, right? 

Brother Dao was reminded that Lin Yuan was from the north and his age was also young so he likely didn’t understand these jianghu rules: “Swearing brotherhood requires dropping some blood into a bowl of wine, three people then drink from the bowl.” 

Lin Yuan: “Fine.” So long as the opening was not too big since the ancient times had no bandaids. Lin Yuan asked: “Is it alright to use a needle instead?” 

This caused brother Dao and brother Jiang to look at him with disdain. 

Lin Yuan’s heart felt extremely sorrowful, these two didn’t know how frightening tetanus could be.

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Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 007 Flesh to Dust

Brother Dao was a person who adhered to the spirit of loyalty and brotherhood. Peoples of all trades in Wu City were willing to associate and give him respect. He was also of poor origins so didn’t go around oppressing his fellow neighbors and other common people. Other than helping people collect their debts, he also took his guys up the mountains to gather firewood which was only worth one coin per bundle. And even then not many people bought it anyway. Other than some wealthy families who would buy it, the average common families gathered firewood themselves. 

Nowadays, the society was breaking down, even gambling parlors were not as grand and busy as before with only some wealthy people playing inside. As for those gambling addicts who needed to take out high interest loans, they had also lessened considerably. 

“We’re here.” Brother Dao lead Lin Yuan to the city’s eastern part. 

Compared to the northern part of the city, the eastern part could be considered a refugee camp. Only people who had no regular jobs lived here, relying on taking manual labor or selling some small trinkets as a means to maintain livelihood. 

When walking through, Lin Yuan even witnessed a group of children fighting over a dry bean curd cake. This type of food was cheap and able to fill the stomach, but it was awfully difficult to eat, just a few and your throat would be feeling uncomfortable. During better times, it was used to feed livestock. 

Lin Yuan turned his head, unwilling to look further. 

The sight tugged on his conscience but as for helping, he had yet to have the ability. 

Brother Dao remained expressionless. When he first came to Wu City he also lived in the eastern part so he was very familiar with the situation in this part of the city. 

“The brother I mentioned, his surname is Yang, looks very dignified and has an indomitable spirit. Although he is poor, it would be unwise to belittle him.” Brother Dao said to Lin Yuan. 

Lin Yuan replied sincerely with cupped hands: “I wouldn’t dare to.” 

Being born in this time period meant living a life of fighting with animals over food and yet be responsible for maintaining one’s life. Lin Yuan might be an orphan but he had never lacked for food or warm clothes in the orphanage. The biggest grievance he had to face was losing in a fight over snacks and candies with other children. 

Thinking this way, Lin Yuan felt that he must be considered one of the fortunates. 

Brother Dao shouted a greeting outside the place they stopped at: “Brother Yang, I’ve brought someone to visit you!” 

Coincidentally, brother Yang was at home that day. Lin Yuan heard footsteps and then the creaking of the door.  

The person was wearing a tight sleeved shirt but compared to brother Dao, had a leaner physique. One hand was carrying a bundle of firewood as if about to send it somewhere. He had upturned monolid eyes that curled downwards in the inner corners which made him appear rather haughty, looking out of place in this run down area. 

“Who might this be?” Yang Zi’an put down the bundle of firewood and let them in before closing the door. 

Brother Dao replied immediately: “This is my newly acquainted brother, surname Lin given name Yuan. He has a business proposal, is brother Yang willing?” 

Yang Zi’an quirked his lips in a bitter smile: “Brother Dao, look at me, nowadays I am unable to sell any firewood, I don’t have any options for being picky.” 

The way he spoke, as if even if it was murder and arson he was still willing to participate. 

Brother Dao sighed: “My situation is soon to worsen as well. The price for food is increasing, even if hungry none of us dare to eat, instead chew a few dry beans to help the hunger.” 

Lin Yuan discovered that if he didn’t say anything quick, these two would continue to compete who was more miserable so he quickly explained his motive of hiring workers. 

Yang Zi’an looked surprised: “20 people?” 

Lin Yuan nodded: “The business has yet to become stable, if it succeeds than I plan to hire more.” 

Soybean oil was not a business he could do for too long. The most important thing was to make money then buy some more land and stock up the granary. The land he bought was also rather remote without any people nearby or important battle sites, extremely appropriate for staying away from the upcoming war and upheaval. 

“Early spring I must find some people to open up the land for farming.” As he spoke, Yang Zi’an already led them inside to sit. It was a very simple house with just four bare walls. The houses in the eastern part were built by their dwellers themselves and were originally grass huts. But with the weather getting cold the only option was to find a way to reinforce it. 

The wall was made up of mud and hay, the roof was thick sogon grass. This kind of dwelling was just barely able to be lived in, just enough as a shelter. It would not protect the sweller much from the cold in the winter or the heat in the summer. Truthfully, it was not a good place to live in but there was no other choice. 

Lin Yuan: “I also need to find some tenant farmers.” He had no connections here so finding tenant farmers was not an easy task, it would be a headache if he were to stumble upon crafty troublemakers. 

Yang Zi’an heard farm field and his eyes light up. The thing to put manual laborers at ease the most was farmland, anything else was just empty talk. 

“How much is the rent?” Yang Zi’an asked. 

Lin Yuan: “50% of the harvest.” 

Yang Zi’an swallowed. 

He had never seen such a generous landowner before. Nowadays, even for the kindest landowner the most they would leave their tenant farmers was 40%. Ruthless ones just giving 20% was also reality. 20% grains was only enough for tenant farmers to maintain livelihood if they scrimp and save. 

“Let’s do it.” Yang Zi’an said, “here I have 60 people, 20 people to extract oil, 40 to open up the land.” 

Lin Yuan’s eyes widened: “It’s not yet spring, the earth is still frozen, can it even be opened?” 

Yang Zi’an waved his hand: “We were originally farmers, relying on the land to live. Recently the weather has warmed a bit, the earth is not as hard so we can have the land ready before sowing the seeds.” 

Lin Yuan knew nothing of farming but the people at Yang Zi’an’s side were all of farming origins, no one could be more professional than them in relation to farming and agriculture. 

“If brother Yang say so then that is what we will do.” Lin Yuan said quickly, “I also need to have some people build a house.” 

He prepared to build a communal building similar to apartment buildings for the tenant farmers. In this era, death was caused by a number of things but the most important was illness. Just a cold meant death, not to mention other more serious kinds. He had no desire for his tenant farmers to become disposable objects, every once in a while needing a replacement. 

Anything else he had no ability for, but improving the living conditions was doable. 

It didn’t have to be anything fancy, just three floors high. Except, there was no concrete now. He could find a replacement for cement and bricks, though. While expensive, Lin Yuan could still support the expense. 

In short, so long as there was money, Lin Yuan was sure the artisans and smiths of this time would be able to build a building with only three floors. 

Lin Yuan had never belittled the laborers of ancient times. 

With everything discussed and agreed upon, Lin Yuan lead 20 people to the farmstead he rented for his temporary oil plant. Yang Zi’an also prepared to bring people to open up the land. They hadn’t discuss wages but both agreed, once the land was opened up the same people would be Lin Yuan’s tenant farmers. In other words Lin Yuan didn’t need to give money or provide living quarters, only guarantee they had food. 

Yang Zi’an even said: “We can set up a shack to live in, sleeping close at night. No one died from cold before.” 

Lin Yuan: “…..Fine.” 

Brother Dao also went back to pick up his guys. A total of 40 grown men stood in front of Lin Yuan but he couldn’t help sighing. Those like brother Dao with a muscular physique was too few, he could tell that brother Dao must have had good days in the past. 

The average person, no matter how much physical labor they worked, if their diet was also not good, then they wouldn’t be able to grow any muscles, instead they would just look malnourished. At least they were not too old and still had strength. 

But once they grew older, then they would begin to suffer pains and ailments. 

Brother Dao’s guys didn’t have any dependents. They all came from the same village where the villagers scattered in all directions when they fled. The ones following brother Dao had lost touch with their own families. Now, they were just responsible for themselves. As for finding their lost families, they didn’t dare to think of it. 

The world was this large, once they lost touch then it would be difficult to reunite during ancient times. 

Yang Zi’an’s people on the other hand did have dependents, their burden being greater. Hearing that there was work, every one of them laughed and smiled in joy. It had been a long while since they had not felt hungry. 

A large group of people left for the oil plant. Normally, such a large crowd could not be seen so the passerbys on the street looked at them in curiosity. 

A small child drinking squash soup asked: “Mama, what are they doing?” 

The woman also didn’t know: “Mama also doesn’t know.” 

Curious passerbys: “This many people, not carrying any weapons or anything, what are they doing?” 

“You ask me? Not like I know.” 

The farmstead was very big, but inside other than a few stoves and metal pots and wooden stools, there was nothing else. The backyard had a well so at least getting water was convenient. 

Lin Yuan explained in detail how to extract oil. The day before they must let the soybeans first ferment. Then on the second day could the process begin. Because there was no special chemicals the oil production could not be compared to modern times. But in comparison to squeezing oil from vegetables the situation was much better off. 

A group of grown men stared gaping at the pot of oil, their eyes disbelieving. 

“So this is oil?” 

“Oh my heavens, oil is actually not squeezed out.” 

Some asked Lin Yuan: “Boss, how much is the oil?” 

Lin Yuan: “10 coins a pound.” 

“That cheap!” The men discussed with each other and decided to chip in and buy a pound worth of oil home so that their families could try some. After entering winter, they didn’t dare to buy any oil, their normal diet being a few mian wo (TN: Chinese doughnut) a day. 

After learning the steps, they began to work, cherishing the opportunity since scattered work could not be found anymore and firewood did not make enough. If there was no money then they would starve. 

If one starves for too long then one would become bloated and death would not be long to follow. 

Brother Dao supervised on the side. After watching for awhile he couldn’t resist entering the fray. Watching water become oil was as if seeing water produce money. It made one’s heart pound eagerly. 

The sky gradually darkened and the last orange light disappeared with the setting sun. The farmstead was lit with oil lamps. Lin Yuan tried to convince them to rest for the day but this group of people were unwilling. They were still affected by the novelty. As more pots of oil came out their sense of accomplishment was no less then plentiful harvest after farming. 

And this was much lighter work compared to harvest. 

“Alright, then I will go back first, you all make sure to rest.” Lin Yuan notified them. After finding out brother Dao did not want to go back either, he decided to leave first by himself. 

Brother Dao had two people send him home. Lin Yuan did not refuse. He had no choice, currently he was rather frail due to young age and lack of exercise. If he were to encounter a robbery then he would end up returning home stripped of everything. 

The two fellows sending him home were not much older than him at 17-18 years of age. At first they were rather reserved as Lin Yuan was their boss but soon they became more familiar and began to talk. 

“I have never seen this much oil in my life!” 

“You can even take a bath with that much oil!” 

They asked Lin Yuan excitedly: “Boss, how did you know that oil can be produced this way?” 

Lin Yuan told a small white lie: “In the north, a visiting merchant used the information to buy a house.” 

“Boss, you weren’t afraid he was lying to you?” 

“Merchants can be ruthless!” 

Lin Yuan looked at their innocent and naive faces and sighed soundlessly. The history books would not record these regular people. The flesh and blood of the living would soon become dust in the wind. 

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Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 006 Feeling Pain Along With Happiness

As a 21st century successful person who was deeply appreciated by his boss, from a regular worker promoted to department head with an annual salary raised from ¥60,000 to ¥200,000 in just two years, Lin Yuan might not be able to guarantee anything else but in swaying people in his favor, he was a professional. 

He began his analysis starting with the market. 

Then analyzed the public’s purchasing power, examining the past and imagining the future. 

“As long as soybean oil can be extracted, then we don’t need to worry about sales.” Lin Yuan spoke excitedly.

Jiang Gui and brother Dao also listened excitedly. At certain times, the atmosphere could infect a person, otherwise why would so many multi-level marketing oranizations sound like they have eaten jinsangzihoupian (TN: literally ‘golden voice throat tablet’ a type of medicine for the sore and dry throat)? 

To tell the truth, brother Dao didn’t fully understand but he got the gist of it, that the soybean oil could make money, and quite a lot. When Lin Yuan was analyzing, he also conveniently laid on the flattery. Brother Dao took a gulp of wine to soothe hi shock. 

“Is it really possible?” Jiang Gui couldn’t help feeling apprehension along with the excitement. 

Lin Yuan smiled at him: “Brother Jiang, I am not lying to you, if I say even one fake word then I shall be hit with heaven’s lightening.” 

Lin Yuan thought with a serious face: Sorry, I’m an atheist. 

“Excellent!” Jiang Gui hollered, “pour the wine!” 

Brother Dao suddenly asked: “20 people must not be enough.” 

Lin Yuan replied quickly: “Brother Dao, little brother currently has very little funds. I originally thought to have brother Dao’s guys come be managers, as for the workers underneath, little brother was thinking of finding the city’s manual laborers to come work.” 

Brother Dao looked at Lin Yuan, not the least bit angry: “200 coins per month. As for the workers underneath I can point you to a direction. Last year, a group of people came from the southwest and are currently living outside the city’s eastern gate. They are mostly whole families who don’t mind manual labor, even begging is feasible for them. I am familiar with their leader, we are sworn brothers and follow the code of brotherhood. All you need to guarantee are meals.”

Only guarantee meals? 

Lin Yuan: “Of course I trust brother Dao, but I am a stranger to them, what if…..” 

Brother Dao waved his hand, giving off the feeling of jianghu heroes: “Don’t worry over this and that, if you agree then I will go speak for you. If they are lazy or commut crimes, there’s no need for you to do anything, I will be the first to chop them up.” 

Lin Yuan outwardly remained expressionless but inside was like the roaring sea. 

An underworld gang leader talking about punishing others for committing crimes? 

Brother Dao’s large hand patted Lin Yuan’s shoulder, looking at him with an expression that conveyed: I have high expectations of you.

With a sigh, brother Dao said: “Nowadays business is hard, the times are in upheaval, my guys are nearly starving. As their leader I am guilty, I am guilty!” 

This guy was already drunk. 

Jiang Gui’s face was flushed completely red, ans he also started crying: “Brother Dao, you are a good man, unlike me. Nowadays the government is in a turmoil, the prison is full of the common people. I have a guilty conscience, a guilty conscience!”  

Lin Yuan: “How about…..we go back?” 

Jiang Gui immediately pounced and grabbed Lin Yuan’s hand, excitedly saying to brother Dao: “Brother Dao, little brother Lin is the number one good person I have ever met all these years, concerned with the welfare of the common people. Truly the heart of a Buddha, this kind of person, if we don’t help him my conscience will hurt.” 

Lin Yuan looked on with a dead fish face, brother, the fellow who accepted my 10 tael 1 guan bribery, was it you, or was it you? 

Brother Dao also looked towards Lin Yuan, asking absentmindedly: “Little brother Lin, you have yet to reach 20?” 

Lin Yuan immediately replied: “I am fifteen at xusui (TN: one’s age, according to the traditional Chinese method of reckoning where a person’s age is one year at birth, and increases by one year at the beginning of the first solar term each year, rather than on one’s birthday).” 

Brother Dao: “No wonder you are this smooth-skinned, I had thought you to be some family’s lady.” 

Brother Dao: “Hahahahaha!” 

Lin Yuan: “…..” This joke was not funny at all. 

Brother Dao laughed carefreely: “When does work start?” 

Lin Yuan: “As soon as possible. Everything is ready, we just need workers.” 

Actually, the production cost of the oil extraction method was low for the amount of oil that was produced. The skills needed was also low, even complete newcomers could quickly get the hang of it. The only disadvantage was that it required a lot of manpower as well as steam and high temperatures. 

Brother Dao: “Tomorrow I will have my people go over. The eastern gate people, how many do you want?” 

Lin Yuan: “Also 20, as long as the result is good then we can increase.” 

Brother Dao slapped the table, full of heroic spirit: “Good! Come, drink!” 

Brother Jiang and brother Dao were sent home by Lin Yuan. Only brother Dao posed a bit of a problem as he didn’t know where he lived, the only choice left was to bring him back to his place. 

Looking at the drunk that was brother Dao who was still hollering about having more wine, Lin Yuan asked Er Liang with a headache: “If in the morning he discovers we left him to sleep on the floor, would he chop us up?” 

Er Liang looked at his muscles, his arm wider than his own thigh, and replied seriously: “No need to use a knife, one fist and we are gone.” 

Lin Yuan sighed, reality was too cruel. He made fun of Er Liang: “Then we will sleep on the bed and you can sleep on the floor.” 

Er Liang didn’t fall for it: “I will just curl up at the foot of the bed, the night is cold.” 

Lin Yuan: “Fine, did you buy tangpozi?” 

Er Liang paused: “Forgot.” 

Lin Yuan: “Then you must curl up tight, don’t get a cold.”  

In actuality, both Lin Yuan and Er Liang didn’t take up much space. When they normally share the bed there was still a very large space left, enough for another person. But, this brother Dao fellow had a rather tyrannical sleeping posture, arms and legs outstretched and taking up more than half the bed. Lin Yuan and Er Liang could only grievously curl up in the space left. 

Er Liang whispered: “In the future I shall also grow big like him.” 

“Look at this physique, this is what’s called a man.”  

Soon afterwards, Er Liang pinched his nose: “Only, the feet is too smelly.” 

Lin Yuan opened the windows, saying with difficulty: “It must be difficult for you, how is this simply smelly? This is goddamn smelly, smelly as hell.” 

Er Liang waved his hand: “You don’t have to air the place, originally I smelled it for this long that I nearly can’t make it out anymore. The wind blows in and I can now smell it again.” 

Lin Yuan held his breath: “Don’t say anymore. Go fill a basin of water and help this fellow wash his feet. Put some vinegar in the water.” 

Er Liang went to put on his coat and left with a basin. 

Lin Yuan sat at the edge of the bed and looked at the other’s feet——the socks were already black in color, but from the edges he could still make out that it was originally white. Lin Yuan sighed, not only did he have to let him stay for a night, they even had to wash his feet for him. How lamentable. 

Neither Lin Yuan or Er Liang had any desire to actually manually wash his feet so they just left his feet to soak in the water. 

“Does it still smell?” Lin Yuan asked, he felt that his nose was already numb. 

Er Liang sniffed carefully, not too sure: “I think so.” 

They looked at each other but in the end they let it soak for another candle length of time. The water had already cooled before they lifted and dried his feet. Lin Yuan let out a sigh of relief: “Sleep quickly, we must wake early tomorrow.” 

Er Liang nodded. That night Lin Yuan could not sleep well, his dreams were filled with a giant pair of smelly feet chasing after him to have him sniff at the stinky smell. Lin Yuan shouted loudly in refusal but still could not outrun the other. 

After waking up, Lin Yuan felt like he got a new lease on life. 

Both in this life, and last life, he had never had such a scary nightmare. 

“Young master.” Er Liang woke up long before. He brought in a basin of water for Lin Yuan to clean up with. 

Lin Yuan was a modern person and knew how much harm coarse salt could do to your teeth if applied directly. So he used water to disperse the salt before rinsing his mouth with it. 

Brother Dao was shaken awake by Lin Yuan. 

“Who?!” The moment he opened his eyes, brother Dao was alert and aware. He even unconsciously made for his knife. Turning his head to see Lin Yuan, he let out a sigh of relief: “Little brother Lin.” 

Brother Dao looked around. 

Lin Yuan: “This is the place I rented. Yesterday brother Dao and brother Jiang became drunk and as I don’t know where you live I brought you over to stay for the night.” 

Brother Dao: “I have troubled you.” 

Just as brother Dao prepared to put on his outer clothes and get up, he discovered he could not find his socks. 

He looked towards Lin Yuan. 

Lin Yuan: “……” 

Brother, if I were to steal anything it would be your knife. Who in their right mind would steal a pair of stinky socks? 

“Last night was in a rush, little brother prepared a new pair of socks, don’t know whether it will fit.” Lin Yuan handed over a new pair of socks. 

Brother Dao coughed, his slightly tanned face blushed a red that wasn’t too obvious: “No problem.” 

Even he himself thought his feet were smelly, never taking off his shoes when sleeping during the winter. 

Once brother Dao was ready they went to eat breakfast together. 

Breakfast was meat buns, cabbages, and white porridge. 

In these times, this was considered rather rich and sumptuous. Poor families could not afford meat let alone white flour. 

A bun that took Lin Yuan two bites to finish but for brother Dao could swallow them whole. After blowing on the porridge twice he directly spilled it down his throat. Lin Yuan watched and felt afraid he might burn his throat. 

After eating and drinking his fill, brother Dao let out a loud shout: “Feels great!” 

It looked like the daily life of this gang leader was not as good as he thought. 

Si Niang and Gou zi also sat at the table. 

They did not take any of the meat buns, drinking the white porridge in small cherishing bites, and only taking some cabbages. It was only with a look from Lin Yuan to Er Liang that had two meat buns added to their plate.  

Si Niang took a small bite of the meat bun, warm and steamy, the white bun soft and tasty, the meat slightly oily in a good way. 

She discreetly wiped the tear from her eye and focused on eating. 

“Brother Dao, we can rest a bit before going to look for workers.” 

Brother Dao nodded, taking a drink from a tea cup, the tea leaves were not fine or expensive but even so the common people could not afford tea. 

The reason Lin Yuan was willing to collaborate with brother Dao was because he was a gang leader. Having both powers from the legal and illegal world participating gave him more confidence in the safety of his business. 

Otherwise, a youngster from another region like himself, with no background or connections would only lose his business if someone wanted to take a bite out of him. 

The illegal side had brother Dao and the legal side had brother Jiang. 

Lin Yuan rubbed his chin, thinking that one Jiang Gui was not enough, if only he could have the support of an official with a higher status. 

Brother Dao: “Little brother Lin, why did you think of doing business at your young age?” 

Lin Yuan said truthfully: “The times are in upheaval so my dad had me come over here to buy some property. If something does happen then the whole family has somewhere to retreat to.” 

Brother Dao sighed: “That’s true, if not for the tumultuous times who is willing to leave their home village for an unfamiliar place and be treated as outsiders and discriminated against.” 

Lin Yuan heard this and thought that this was a person with a story. 

Brother Dao said: “Last year, my guys and I were porters but we could no longer make a living in our old hometown so we arrived at Wu City. As outsiders we were often bullied and looked down upon, and must stick together in order to survive. My village mates trust me so they had me be the leader. I must not fail them.” 

Lin Yuan agreed. 

Brother Dao patted Lin Yuan’s shoulder: “Little brother Lin, if you can have my guys eat their full and have warm clothes to wear, even if it is to pierce a hole in the heavens then your brother I, will risk my life to help you.”  

Lin Yuan began to feel the pressure, straightening his spine: “Definitely, definitely.” 

Ai~ the pressure of reality, it truly had him feeling pain along with happiness. 

AN: Lin Yuan: “Please tell me your story.” 

Si Niang: “My man died, my two oldest sons died, my life is bitter.” 

Gou zi: “Dad died, older brothers died, my life is bitter.” 

Jiang Gui: “I alone must support six people, my life is bitter.” 

Brother Dao: “My feet smells, my life is bitter.”

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Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 005 To Sway Future Subordinates

Er Liang put a piece of rabbit meat on his rice and added some sauce. He couldn’t even bother to talk, so busy stuffing the delicious food in his mouth. He thought as he ate, if young master was here he would definitely be reprimanded. 

“Why aren’t you both eating?” Er Liang discovered Si Niang and Gou zi only added cabbages to their rice, he said worriedly, “This is not right, how can you gain weight without eating any meat? Young master always complain that I am too skinny.” 

Er Liang said, pleased with himself, “In the past, only I was picked to be young master’s servant boy because I was the fattest of all of them!” 

A pity that after eight years old he had slimmed down, ai~

Si Niang chewed the rice in a cherishing manner. In her old home, even when the harvest was plentiful there was no rice as fine as this to eat. 

The most was some white rice mixed in with the bran and beans. And that was on the best of days. 

She put on a fawning smile: “I don’t like to eat meat.” 

Gou zi also piped up: “I also don’t like to eat meat.” 

Er Liang ate another piece of rabbit meat, thinking it the strangest thing ever: “In this world, other than monks, there are actually people who don’t like to eat meat. What a strange thing.” 

In Er Liang’s opinion, there was nothing more delicious than meat in this world. 

Si Niang asked in a small voice: “Er Liang, does the young master have any taboos? I am an uneducated person, I’m afraid I won’t be able to serve him well.” 

Er Liang spat out a bone: “My young master has the kindest heart, the heart of a Buddha. Just do what he asks of you, as long as it is part of your responsibilities, anything else you don’t need to worry about.” 

Gou zi swallowed discreetly, looking at the bits of meat still stuck to the bone Er Liang spat out, unwilling to shift his eyes. 

Unfortuanately, Er Liang did not catch the look. He only thought that this pair of mother and son were used to not having meat as part of their diet and perhaps as a result couldn’t eat meat. So he ate all the meat with a clear conscience. 

After finishing, Er Liang let out a rabbit meat scented burp. 

“Si Niang, your cooking skills are quite good.” Er Liang wiped at the oil on his lips, “generous with the oil, makes it taste better.” 

Si Niang still now felt a bit dizzy: “Wasted so much oil!” 

In her life she had yet to put this much oil in a single dish. That could not be considered pouring oil but pouring money instead. 

When she was eating the cabbages she could also taste the oil. Mixed with rice it was unspeakably tasty.  

Er Liang waved his hand: “As long as you do the work well for young master, young master will treat you well!”  

He thought to himself, once young master’s soybean oil was extracted, even drinking oil like water was possible. 

“Oh right, I bought a roll of cloth, it’s for you to make clothes for yourself and Gou zi.” Er Liang said, “it’s young master’s orders.” 

Si Niang gaped, saying frantically: “We, we do not deserve…..” 

Young master gave them shelter, a bed with blankets and food to eat. Compared to life at her old home where she lived in a grass hut that leaked on rainy days, the life now was much better. And not only that but also receiving new clothes! 

In farming families only men received new clothes. Only once they were worn old would the woman patch them up and wear them instead. Once the clothes were too ripped would the woman change them into smaller sizes and give them to the children. 

Since birth she had never once worn new clothes. They had always belonged to someone else first. 

“There’s no need for new clothes.” Si Niang said, followed by tears falling down. She often could not eat fully as the food must prioritize her husband and children first. Instead, she drank water to stave the hunger and on their way here relied on tree bark and grass roots as sustenance. 

She was as thin as a skeleton, skin weather-beaten and stretched thin, arms resembling the bare branches of trees. Her tears had none of the charms of raindrops on a pear blossom or tears on the face of a beauty. It only made people feel sad. 

Gou zi also said: “Brother Er Liang, my mama and I we don’t want any new clothes.” 

Er Liang looked surprised: “You aren’t cold?” 

Unlike them, Er Liang was a family servant, his parents having been the servants of the Lin family before he was born. They had no private property——they lived in the Lin family house, wore Lin family clothes. Their entire life from birth to death was spent at the Lin family. In the hearts of these family servants, they were members of the Lin family. 

Therefore, whatever the master gave them they would not have any qualms of receiving or think that they didn’t deserve it. 

So Er Liang could not understand the feelings of this pair of mother and son. 

Gou zi pulled the collar of his shirt and showed Er Liang the dry hay stuffed within, saying proudly: “I rubbed and stuffed them myself, it’s very warm.” 

Er Liang reached out a hand to touch it. The hay had been rubbed and softened, not prickly as expected, and because it was close to the skin it was warm just as Gou zi claimed. 

“I’ve never tried this before!” Er Liang looked interested, “later, help me to also make some hay stuffing.” 

He treated it as a game. 

Er Liang slept in the same bed as Lin Yuan. Since the space was not big he couldn’t have Er Liang make his bed on the floor. 

Er Liang was still a child with a small stature and didn’t take up much room. And besides two people sleeping was warmer. 

“I should go buy a tangpozi (TN: basically a hot water bottle put in the sheets to warm the bed) for young master.” Er Liang thought he was not attentive enough, feeling guilty, “I actually forgot something this important. If my dad hears this he will definitely scold me.” 

Lin Yuan flopped an arm on top of Er Liang, saying sleepily: “Sleep, your dad is not here.” 

Er Liang mumbled some more but Lin Yuan did not catch it, having fallen into sleep. 

Early the next morning, Si Niang finished preparing breakfast——steamed rolls, fried breadsticks, and even bought soy milk at the tofu shops. Gou zi also woke up early and began sweeping the yard. 

Si Niang still felt anxious, she felt that cooking was too light work. 

After eating breakfast, Lin Yuan had Er Liang stay to watch the house, going out himself to reserve a restuarant booth. The house still lacked people, specifically strong and physically intimidating people to scare away crooks. 

If only the original owner’s nanny brother was still here. That muscular body was practically a human weapon. 

The hunter he met awhile ago was also good, it’s too bad he wasn’t interested in temporary work much less permanent work of being a doorman/bodyguard. 

With the booth reserved, Lin Yuan visited Jiang Gui’s house. The place Jiang Gui rented was even smaller than Lin Yuan’s but not only was Jiang Gui and his wife and child living there but also his parents and parents-in-law. 

After finding out that his parents-in-law also lived with Jiang Gui and his family, Lin Yuan could not help but sigh. Although Jiang Gui was far from a gentleman, he also could not be considered a bad man. 

His parents-in-law grew older in age but their own sons were reluctant to support their living. Their daughter, wife of Jiang Gui was part of another family since marriage and did not dare to speak of looking after her elderly parents. Jiang Gui noticed his wife secretly crying several times and as a result made the decision to bring them over to his house and be responsible for their care. 

He was only one person but he must support six people not counting himself. Lin Yuan truly thought Jiang Gui could be considered a good and courageous man. 

“Uncle Jiang, I am a friend of brother Jiang here to send something over.” Lin Yuan called from outside the door. 

The door unlocking could be heard on the other side and an old man wearing a cotton coat appeared: “What is it?” 

Lin Yuan handed over a message card: “I forgot yesterday, I must trouble brother Jiang to send this invitation to brother Dao.” 

The old man could not read. Squinting his eyes at the card he only felt dizzy. He nodded his head: “Fine, you can be going now.” 

Lin Yuan: “Great, then I will be leaving first, uncle Jiang.”  

Uncle Jiang waved his hand expressing his understanding. 

Lunch was eaten at home. Si Niang cherished her current situation so despite her cooking skills being average at least she was generous with oil and salt which tasted better than the food from the food stalls outside. 

Lin Yuan took a nap after lunch and then left again by himself to walk around the city. 

20 workers was not enough but Lin Yuan had his own plans. 

Was that brother Dao fellow trustworthy? What were his subordinates like? Lin Yuan was completely in the dark so he gave Jiang Gui a percentage of future earnings. With shared interests Jiang Gui would treat the issue seriously. After seeing just how much money soybean oil could make he would be completely on his side. 

And with the ten percent of earnings there was no need to worry about betrayal. 

They were now on the same boat so no matter whether it was keeping from being registered as part of the merchant class or operating the business, Jiang Gui must take part. 

Money could shake a person’s will, especially in Jiang Gui’s case with a big family to feed. 

From now on they were grasshoppers on the same string. 

Only with intertwined interests could Lin Yuan cease his worries. He had been part of workplace scheming for too long and had no belief in brotherhood or friends. Only connections made through interests and benefits were unbreakable. 

Therefore, towards these 20 people, Lin Yuan planned to give them managerial duties on top of their own work. 

These people had experience mingling among the underworld so with them present, the rest would not dare make any trouble. 

As for himself, all he needed to do was to gain the support of the gang leader, brother Dao. 

How? Easy. Share another ten percent of the earnings. 

If everyone bound themselves in shared interests, then everyone would feel at ease. 

Lin Yuan waited early at the reserved booth, wearing a plain cotton shirt as he observed the restaurant’s customers. The business looked to be doing well with the crowds and flittering waiters. 

He could also see the manager doing calculations with an abacus, almost frantic at the busy pace. 

Lin Yuan’s booth was on the second floor with a view of downstairs so he soon saw Jiang Gui with a muscular man at his side. 

The muscular man was only wearing a thin shirt in the winter cold, his hair messy. Even still, he appeared to resemble a knight-errant of jianghu, free and untamed. On his waist hung a small sheathed knife, likely the most valuable thing he owned. 

 Lin Yuan waved his hand: “Brother Jiang, over here!” 

Jiang Gui also hollered: “Coming up!” 

Brother Dao had a bigger pace so he arrived first. Lin Yuan’s first impression could be considered quite good. He had a pair of eagle eyes, sharp dark brows, straight nose and sharply defined lips. Though he was a gang leader he had an air of righteousness. 

If one was to just look at his outer appearance, then it would be easy to become trustful of him. 

“Brother Dao.” Lin Yuan cupped his hands in greeting, “this little brother’s name is Lin Yuan.” 

Brother Dao retuned the greeting: “Just call me brother Dao.”  

It seemed he was unwilling to reveal his true name. 

Jiang Gui said: “What are you all standing for? Come sit quickly, we three brothers should drink alcohol and eat meat while we discuss important issues.” 

Lin Yuan was deeply familiar with swaying people in his favor. Before, when facing clients it was talk about this and that, now facing Jiang Gui and brother Dao it was even easier. 

“Brother Jiang, sit.” Lin Yuan poured their cups with wine and said with a smile, “first let’s talk about my business.” 

Jiang Gui and brother Dao looked at him in askance, wasn’t this about hiring? 

Lin Yuan spoke confidently, as if he had a card up his sleeve, thinking privately: if I don’t display a big piece of cake, how would I be able to attract any people? 

AN: Lin Yuan: “It has always been me who takes advantage of others.” 

Jiang Gui/brother Dao: “…..”

TN: Comments and thoughts appreciated 🙂

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