Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 012 Refugees

They bumped and swayed all the way to the farmstead. Lin Yuan threw up twice. Finally, before he could throw up a third time, they arrived. The once unfarmed land was already opened and sowed with seeds. Although Lin Yuan didn’t know what kind of seeds——based on his friend’s words while at college he was a typical city guy who couldn’t distinguish the five crops (TN: millet, soybeans, sesame, barley, rice or other types – basically a phrase that encompasses all grains) from each other, if left in a farm field he would not even recognize what was rice and what was wheat. 

This was a bit of an exaggeration, after all Lin Yuan felt he could definitely tell the difference between rice and wheat, but his friend’s words could be considered a straightforward portrayal. 

“Boss.” The driver jumpex down and placed a mounting stool for Lin Yuan. Lin Yuan stepped down using the mounting stool and stood on the land he owned ——from now on he could be considered a small-time landowner. 

If in the future he had a son, he could say to his son: “Son, look, this is the empire dad conquered.” (TN: LOL can’t even describe how ironic this is. ML: what am I, chopped liver? Even the author thinks so.) 

This was obviously not possible. 

The sky had already darkened now, only by the moonlight could the grass huts not too far away could be seen. Outside the settlement of grass huts was a firepit. Here there was plenty of wood, being next to the mountain and all. At this time, most have already slept. The people wake at sunrise and sleep at sunset. Without the worry of starvation life seemed much simpler. 

Lin Yuan did not want to wake them when they had already rested just to inform them their boss had arrived. So, their small group arrived silently to where Lin Yuan would be living. 

The house did not have a complex design but it was very large, fit for living quite a few people. 

This was likely the least luxurious house of a landowner, but very practical. Lin Yuan was very satisfied. 

Si Niang and the rest began to unpack but the time was limited so they only cleaned up the bedrooms and set up the beds. 

“This bed is constructed well.” Si Niang touched the wood. Although she was not an artisan but life gave her experience. 

Lin Yuan couldn’t tell whether it was good or bad so he pretended by nodding. 

When walking over he did not see a well, the front had a river but river water was turbid. In order to use river water you have to wait until the sand settled before cooking it to a boil. That was too troublesome, so that night Lin Yuan gave up on washing his face and brushing his teeth. Without washing his feet either he climbed onto the bed for sleep. 

The others were of similar situations. 

After a day riding in an ox cart, his whole person felt sore. Lin Yuan lay on the bed and asked Er Liang: “Er Liang, before at home did I have a time where I went to sleep without washing my feet?” 

Er Liang said quietly: “Yes, when young master was tired you just took off your shoes before crawling into bed.” 

Lin sniffed at the air: “It’s a good thing my feet don’t smell.” 

Er Liang: “Of course, young master doesn’t need to farm so your feet doesn’t sweat. Of course there would be no smell.” 

Lin Yuan looked at him with disdain: “As if you farm.” 

Er Liang said, pleased with himself: “My dad said being able to serve young master is the fortune accumulated in my past life.” 

“Sleep quickly.” Lin Yuan had Er Liang blow out the light.  

The next morning, Lin Yuan was awoken by Er Liang. He slept too deeply that he didn’t even notice it began to rain in the middle of the night. Waking up in the morning it was quite chilly. He rubbed his arms and had Er Liang bring out a cotton coat to wear. 

Er Liang: “Earlier I went to find Li da ye and Yang er ye (TN: ye is a term of respect for older men and here Er Liang calls them based on their sworn brotherhood order). They are waiting outside.” 

Lin Yuan thought as he put on his socks, who was “your da ye“? The original owner’s da ye (TN: da ye is also a term to address an older uncle. And used colloquially as a curse word btw) arrived? Over such a long distance and only being a step later than them, was this person a fortune teller who could calculate that he would build a farmstead here? 

“What do you mean your da ye, Yang da ye.” Lin Yuan, “say their names.” 

Er Liang: “Ai, it’s brother Dao and Yang Zi’an.” 

Lin Yuan: “…..Then call them as I would, big brother Li and second brother Yang. Don’t da ye er ye, it’s weird.” 

Er Liang rubbed the back of his head, not understanding what was weird. 

Lin Yuan walked out his room and seessaw brother Dao and Yang Zi’an sitting on the chairs. These two looked more weather-beaten than before, after all they must go out into the fields everyday to supervise. Lin Yuan first cupped his hand in greeting, before saying: “Third brother said that the people in the north are beginning to flee elsewhere and that we should prepare early.” 

Brother Dao: “That fast?” 

Yang Zi’an: “Nothing to be afraid of, here we are surrounded by mountains. If there are truly refugees coming in they wouldn’t flee in our direction.” 

Brother Dao obviously did not feel the same, he rubbed at his chin and said: “We can’t be sure, refugees may not come here but what about mountain bandits?” 

Mountain bandits, as the name implied, were bandits that wondered the mountains. Mostly made up of young or middle-aged men with nimble bodies that would not be too tall or bulky so that they could move through the forest easily. 

These bandits had long been a source of trouble for this area’s landowners. 

Nobody wanted to be robbed. Although giving them their food supply would gain them peace, but handing over their food would cause their heart to be in pain. 

“We are here.” Yang Zi’an squat down onto the floor. Dipping his finger in water he casually drew a map that showed their location, “On this side is the official road. Only a small path leads here and there is no merchant road either.” 

“Mountain bandits rob passing merchants and wealthy landowners, but they never stay in one place too long. Our location resembles a valley, moreover there is no important road or any well-known wealthy landowners around. Mountain bandits will not come here even if they have nothing better to do.” 

“Refugees will also not flee towards the mountains. They head to places where there are people such as cities. If refugees truly come over here then that means Wu City…..” 

Yang Zi’an sighed: “Take them in, Wu City will be finished, don’t take them in, Wu City will also be finished.” 

His meaning both Lin Yuan and brother Dao understood. 

By taking in refugees, Wu City’s food supply would not be enough to support the increase in population. The city’s residents themselves did not have enough to eat let alone share with outsiders. When the time came, the conflict in Wu City would escalate. They didn’t believe that Wu City could still maintain order in such a conflict. 

But if the city didn’t take in the refugees, eventually once refugee numbers increased in crowds, they would have the guts to commit desperate acts in order to survive. 

So long as refugees arrived, no matter what Wu City did it would always be wrong. 

Lin Yuan sighed: “I will have the driver go to Wu City in three days to bring a message to third brother to warn him once he discovers refugees to immediately come over.” 

 Yang Zi’an nodded: “Fine.” 

Brother Dao sat on the side not saying anything. He looked out the window and sighed lightly. He had a heroic spirit and a sense of justice but this kind of situation was not something they could take part of as heroes. 

In the face of famine and suffering, it was difficult to resist, everyone could only go with the flow.

“Also have third brother spread rumors, so that others can be more aware.” Lin Yuan said, “and call the guys at the oil plant to come over as well with their weapons.” 

Once the refugees moved south, they must hide themselves and pass a duration of time of being self sufficient. 

Until the refugees spread elsewhere, or……

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Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 011 To Be Alive

The arrival of spring meant the warming of the earth, dead trees sprouting new leaves and the land thriving. 

The corpses of beggars frozen to death had already been moved and vendors began to show up on the streets. It was as if the tragedies of the winter did not exist, now was still peaceful and prosperous times. 

But there were fewer temporary laborers on the streets, instead there were more beggars. 

Er Liang was currently packing their things as they must move to the farmstead. Although the dormitories for the workers had yet to be finished building, Lin Yuan’s private dwelling with a yard was already finished. Lin Yuan had thought it would still require some more time but the speed of the artisans was much faster than expected. 

The oil plant business was already stabilized and on the right track. Basically, it was enough for Lin Yuan to check the accounts only once a month. Jiang Gui could also help in supervising. 

Since the income coming from the oil plant increased and Jiang Gui’s dividend along with it, Jiang Gui began to regard the oil plant as a hen that could lay eggs. Everyday after work he would visit the place and afterwards happily go have a drink or two. He was often seen in a good mood the past few days. 

Si Niang and Gou zi was also packing up, after all they had lived there for several months and accumulated quite a lot of things. 

Jiang Gui showed up to speak with Lin Yuan. “You are leaving, us three, ah no, four brothers, the three of you are on that side leaving me here by myself.” Jiang Gui sighed, slightly depressed, “if not for my job at the government office, I will also come along.” 

Lin Yuan: “Third brother don’t say that, the oil plant still requires gege’s care.” 

Jiang Gui promised: “Of course, I won’t have fourth brother lose out even one bit, or else my name shall be written backwards.” 

Jiang Gui was a clever person with a clear view of things. He was able to adapt to all kinds of situations and put on the right attitude when facing different types of people. 

“You should find more people to be on hand.” Jiang Gui said quietly, “I can see that the world will fall into complete upheaval soon. With more people you can protect yourselves better. Later, I will have people bring more hoes over, when needed it can be used as weapons.” 

Lin Yuan paused, that the world would fall into upheaval was something everyone could sense, but most people still clung to the thought that maybe it wouldn’t and continued living their days. So long as the fire didn’t burn to their doors they wouldn’t be able to truly feel afraid. 

“Third brother, don’t worry.” Lin Yuan patted Jiang Gui’s shoulder, “by the end of next year, the granary will be full and third brother can also come over.” 

Jiang Gui sighed: “We’ll see.” 

Staying in Wu City, at least there was protection in the form of a city wall. Even if it was short and crumbling apart, but a broken down wall was still a wall. Besides, Wu City also had soldiers guarding it. If outside you were to encounter bandits or refugees who were just a bit more ruthless, then normal people wouldn’t be able to provide much of a fight. 

But Jiang Gui also understood Lin Yuan’s thinking, his property was in a remote and desolate place without any people around. It was also surrounded by a river in the front and a mountain in the back. If anything did happen all they had to do to save their lives was to hide in the mountains. 

But this was only as a last resort because Jiang Gui was unwilling to live that kind of life. 

No one wanted to live the life of a vagrant. 

Lin Yuan did not try to convince him, after all Jiang Gui was no fool. If that day truly came, Jiang Gui would seek shelter at his farmstead. 

“Third brother, no need to send me off.” Lin Yuan climbed onto the ox cart as Wu City could not buy any horses. Ox was still an alright choice, slow but better than walking. Lin Yuan even hired a driver for his cart. 

Jiang Gui stood just to the side of the city walls, watching as Lin Yuan’s cart left farther and farther.   

A soldier that guarded the city gates recognized him and laughed: “You are like a wife sending her husband off. They have already gone and you are still watching.” 

Jiang Gui swatted at the soldier: “Don’t talk nonsense! I will go complain to your superior so that you will spend the rest of your life guarding gates!” 

The soldier was not intimidated, still smiling mischievously: “Brother Jiang, I’ve heard you became rich recently?” 

Jiang Gui: “What rich, where did you hear such nonsense. If I was rich would I still be here talking to you? I would already be at a restaurant eating the best.” 

The soldier thought about it and agreed. Sitting down he drank water from a bowl: “I heard that the north already has disturbances.”  

Jiang Gui widened his eyes: “What?” 

Soldier: “I heard from my cousin that a lot of people died and lead to a plague.” 

Jiang Gui shocked: “A plague?” 

Soldier: “It’s said that some cities already sealed themselves. A lot of people are fleeing south. Don’t know how many are going to arrive this time.” 

Jiang Gui felt a bit scared. When leaving he muttered to himself, “We’ll see, we’ll see.” 

If truly there were refugees coming in from the north, even if he didn’t want to seek shelter with Lin Yuan he would still have no choice but to. 

Although an ox cart was not as fast as horse carriages but it was more stable. Lin Yuan sat in the cart and felt as if his organs would be thrown up. The ox cart might be stable but the road was rocky. These days there was no such thing as paved roads, no cement just plain dirt. If you don’t travel on official roads then the road would be even worse. 

At noon the carriage stopped to rest. Lin Yuan ate a flat cake which was made by Si Niang and was both plentiful and tasty, not the least bit dry with the amount of oil used. Only one was enough to fill the stomach but the driver ate two. He was a middle-aged man, tall and skinny but not lacking in strength. Chewing on the savory flat cake he said: “Four more hours until we are there.” 

Eight hours in total, Lin Yuan’s heart was full of despair. 

The driver took a bite of the cake with a side of pickled vegetables and a drink of water, saying in contentment: “Boss, I have yet to meet a more generous person than you.” He had been a driver for many years but it was the first time a boss had given him two oil cakes to eat. 

Driving a cart was hard work and also not many people could afford it. Most just relied on their legs to get anywhere. 

Wealthy families had their own carriages and would not need to hire him. 

Only merchants from other regions would rent a carriage. They migjt not treat him unwell but the most they would give him were two buns made of mixed grains. But today he not only got two oil cakes but also pickled vegetables. He decided, he would save the oil cakes given to him in the evening for his wife and children. 

Lin Yuan sat resting under a tree while Er Liang and Gou zi went to pick wild berries. “These are snake berries, tastes good.” Gou zi picked some berries that were small and dark red, though some were already rotten. 

Er Liang picked one up, after rubbing it he put it in his mouth but soon stuck his tongue out: “A bit sour.” 

Gou zi laughed: “You have yet to get used to eating it.” 

Si Niang watched with a smile. Compared to when Lin Yuan first met her she appeared much younger now. 

It was on a whim that Lin Yuan asked her age and found out she was only 28. She married at 13 and gave birth at 15. If just by appearance, to say she was 48 Lin Yuan would believe it. 

Si Niang was this time period’s microcosm of all farmer girls. Marry at an early age and have children early. If lucky they would survive childbirth, if unlucky both mother and child could lose their life. Their dream was to have plentiful harvest so that their families would not starve. If there were to be surplus then that would be the best thing ever. The landowner taking 10% less of the harvest was something to be content about.

Lin Yuan said to Si Niang: “Si Niang, once we arrive, if you like, find someone suitable and remarry.” 

Si Niang paused, after awhile she said in a bitter tone: “Who will want me? Besides, I have Gou zi.” 

For her, being alive was already a fortunate thing.

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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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Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 004 Fate? There’s No Fate!

A thing like soybeans, the actual bean could be cooked with rice and made into tofu. The soybean leaves could also be cooked as a vegetable dish. It was a necessary part of the the regular labor worker’s diet. But soybeans were cheap and didn’t taste that well. People who ate tofu numbered no small amount but as the saying went, life’s three bitter professions: boat rowing, metal forging, and tofu selling. There were only four tofu shops in the entire of Wu City. 

Lin Yuan grabbed a handful of beans that weren’t particularly plump but at least they weren’t shriveled either. 

“Young master.” Er Liang was not feeling confident, “I do hear of extracting oil from soybeans but if it was truly that profitable a business it would have long been occupied wouldn’t it?” 

Lin Yuan gave Er Liang a slap on the back of the head, not heavy but light and almost playful. He threw a few beans into his mouth and then looked towards the vendor: “How much do you have? I’ll take it all.” 

The vendor did not expect such a big customer, immediately saying: “We still have 300 stones more! It’s all this year’s harvest, fresh!” 

300 stones was equal to 3000 pounds, Lin Yuan nodded: “Cart them to the farmstead outside the city’s north gate. Is three days enough?” 

Vendor: “Definitely!” 

One oral agreement later and Lin Yuan had the materials for oil extraction. 

One pound for five coins, 3000 pounds of soybeans worth 300 guan or 30 taels. 

These days, farming was not easy. 

Lin Yuan sighed. A passerby laughed at him: “30 taels is enough for the vendor and his family to eat his fill for several years. You buy that much, if you went to the tofu shop it would have cost half as much.” 

Lin Yuan turned his head and saw a man dressed in rough clothes, his muscles filling them to the seams. In his hand was a live rabbit abd his shoes were made of fur. Most likely a hunter. 

“A fool with too much money.” The hunter grinned. 

Lin Yuan also smiled: “He needs to cart the beans which require renting a donkey cart, one tael is likely not enough. People must make a profit, making a living is not easy. 300 stones is likely gathered from an entire village’s supply.” 

The hunter paused, obviously having not thought of that. He saw Lin Yuan’s young age and assumed him to be a naive fool when in actuality he had his own calculations. He smiled: “I am in the wrong, little fellow, you have a good heart.” 

Lin Yuan flapped his hand. Looking at the live rabbit he couldn’t hep but feel hungry. He arrived in this time period for this long, but the only meat he had was pig meat. These days not a lot of people ate pig meat because of the strong smell. Not to mention, in order to raise a pig fully grown it took two to three years. 

Wealthy people disliked its foul smell and were unwilling to eat it. Poor people could not afford to eat it and neither did they have the time and means to raise it either. 

One bite of pig meat was enough to put you off. 

But other than pig meat there was only mutton. Although the smell was different but equally overpowering. 

Large scale cultivating of pigs actually started during the Ming dynasty. 

The pigs of now were small in size with not much flesh, completely different from the fat white pigs of modern times, every one of them black as charcoal. 

He reckoned Zhu Bajie (TN: character from Journey to the West) was also a black pig. 

“Big brother, how much is this rabbit?” Not only was Lin Yuan craving meat Er Liang was as well. But Er Liang didn’t dare to speak, only staring at the rabbit and swallowing profusely. 

Lin Yuan only just rented a farmstead for his oil extraction business at 500 coins a month, cheap because of its deserted location. He was quite aware of the need to save, master and servant only eating noodles to fill their bellies. 

Today also happened to be the day they would be picking up the pair of mother and son back to their temporary dwelling. They could cook a plate of rabbit meat for dinner. 

Lin Yuan’s drool was practically visible. 

The hunter held the rabbit by the ears, its limbs still moving wanting to escape. He said: “I normally sell to neighbors, most is 30 coins for one. This one is quite fat, I’ll sell for 35 coins.” 

Lin Yuan: “Deal!” 

Saying so he made to pay. 

With the exchange finished, Lin Yuan asked the hunter: “Big brother, nowadays is it good for business?” 

The hunter shook his head, eyebrows drawn: “There’s not much prey in the mountains now. Yesterday I spent the whole day in the mountains and only captured this one rabbit.” 

Lin Yuan: “Why not change to a different type of livelihood?”

The hunter sighed: “I only have physical strength, don’t recognize words, and a clumsy mouth. Find another livelihood, the most is be an unskilled labor worker.” 

The city’s unskilled labor work was paid by day, a day’s worth of hard physical labor was worth 3 to 4 coins, just enough for a grown man to buy coarse grains to fill his stomach. 

“Why, big brother, our meeting is fate. I have a job in need of workers.” Lin Yuan immediately advertised his oil plant, “Every month is paid 200 coins. If done well I can even give bonuses.” 

The hunter looked bewildered: “What is a bonus?” 

Lin Yuan: “It means if I make more than expected, I’ll share the profits with workers.” 

The hunter understood: “We are barely more than strangers…..” 

Lin Yuan: “If there is fate then even thousands of miles cannot stop our meeting!” 

Just look at this muscular physique, this kind of fellow was best for physical work! 

The hunter also noticed that the young person in front of him had been looking at his chest profusely. Looking down he discovered that his chest muscles were very obvious. Looking up once again at Lin Yuan, a strange expression couldn’t help but to cross over his face. He had heard that there were some rich young masters with peculiar interests such as finding strong able-bodied men like him to be bedmates. 

But this was something he had heard from a fellow villager who told this to him as a joke. 

The hunter’s facial expression became increasingly strange: “.….Fate? There’s no fate!” 

Saying so, he left in a hurry as if a feral dog was chasing after him. 

Lin Yuan looked after the other’s disappearing figure, looking confused: “He is that unwilling to do temporary work?” 

It looked like this person was likely one who was used to freedom. 

Er Liang carried the rabbit in one hand, his brain overtaken with the 18 ways to eat a rabbit, completely unaware of his young master’s bewilderment. 

The mother and son beggars passed these three days in a rare state of normalcy. Though they were only sleeping in a broken down temple but at least there was a roof which was better than sleeping on the streets. With the 10 coins, everyday they were able to buy bean curd cakes to eat. The ragged cotten blanket also protected them somewhat from the cold——even during the best of days they had never once used a cotten blanket before, worn and dirty though it was. 

Only the wealthy could afford it! 

When Lin Yuan came to pick them up, he discovered that the woman and boy both cleaned up somewhat though their clothes were still dirty with the lack of proper conditions to wash and change. 

“Quick, kowtow to the master.” The woman pulled the boy along, both kneeling down. 

Lin Yuan: “Get up, don’t kneel anymore.” 

The woman then anxiously pulled her son along as she stood up again. 

On the way back, Lin Yuan asked her: “Your son is called Gou zi (TN: literally doggy), what is your name?” 

The woman had no proper name, only a nickname. In her family she was the fourth child so before marriage everyone called her Si Ya (TN: literally translates to fourth girl). After marriage she was called wife of Tie Tou. 

 Lin Yuan: “I’ll call you Si Niang (TN: literally fourth mother).” Si Niang agreed immediately. 

“Everything is ready and prepared so you settle down first and then roast this rabbit for dinner.” Lin Yuan instructed, “don’t be unwilling to put oil.” 

The oil he bought was sesame oil, 30 coins per bottle, even more expensive than meat. 

No wonder the common people couldn’t afford it. 

“The both of you will be staying in the second bedroom.” They entered the house, “if you lack anything just speak with Er Liang.” 

After entering the second bedroom, both Si Niang and Gou zi remained stunned in place. The room was furnished with a table, two chairs, a bed, and a dresser. The bed was already made, the mattress stuffed with dry hay but the blanket was cotten, secondhand but it was enough. 

“Mama.” Gou zi didn’t dare to sit in the chairs, aware that his clothes were dirty so he squatted on the floor, looking around, “It’s like being in a dream.” 

Si Niang was no better off. She touched the blanket, then the mattress, large tears falling down: “Gou zi, we stumbled upon a living Buddha.” 

“Living Buddha” Lin Yuan was currently worrying over how to find workers. Should he just go advertise on the street? 

When hiring, if the person’s moral quality was lacking and brought trouble, what should he do? 

Thus, with a headache Lin Yuan had Er Liang go invite Jiang Gui over just before dinner. He also had Gou zi go buy two taels worth of rice wine. 

As for Si Niang she was busy at the stove. In her old home she had to farm, take care of children, cook, and do chores. Cooking was an essential skill so it posed no difficulty for her. Only on the matter of putting oil had her feeling distressed. 

 Such good quality oil. Back in her old home, two small bottles of oil lasted an entire year for her family of five. When harvest was bad, oil was not even used to cook their meals. 

Jiang Gui did not come empty handed, since hearing from Er Liang that they would be having rabbit meat he even specially brought over a pot of squash soup. 

“There’s no need for brother Jiang to be this courteous.” Lin Yuan welcomed him with a wide smile. 

Jiang Gui could already smell the delicious scents, his craving increased but he pretended to be nonchalant: “Give and take, this priniciple I do understand.” 

Lin Yuan and Jiang Gui ate in the main room while Er Liang and the rest ate in the second bedroom. Though only two chairs, at least the table was short enough for one to squat on the floor and still be able to reach it. 

Lin Yuan introduced his idea for oil extraction to Jiang Gui: “This is what I am thinking, I am unfamiliar with this area and need brother Jiang to look out for me. I can give you a ten percent of the earnings.” 

No need to do anything? Money for free? 

Jiang Gui put down the chopsticks: “Little brother Lin, you are looking down on Gege (TN: a close way of saying brother). I am not someone who likes to take advantage of others. If you need my help I won’t be courteous with you on payment but if you don’t then I won’t take a cent.” 

“Gege sees matters clearly.” Lin Yuan filled the other’s cup with wine, “the matter of hiring, I must trouble Gege with.” 

Now Jiang Gui understood, Lin Yuan was after all from another region and unfamiliar with the people of Wu City. The gains would not make up the losses of hiring a troublemaker. 

“This I can do.” Jiang Gui said, “how many people do you want?” 

Lin Yuan: “20 for now, strong and healthy would be preferred since it is all physical work.” 

Jiang Gui chuckled: “How about the gang leader I mentioned before. His subordinates are all strong and muscular. And with their leader there to manage them there won’t be a problem.” 

Lin Yuan: “..…I thought they were debt collectors?” 

Jiang Gui waved his hand: “Ai~, it’s not like there’s debt to collect everyday. It alone is not enough to feed all of them and their families.” 

It looked like the underworld of ancient times need to take side jobs. Life was truly not easy. 

“Then that’s fine. Brother, we can set a time to have a chat with the gang leader.” Lin Yuan said, “To prevent him from thinking this is a joke we can discuss the payment in person as well.” 

“That’s true, that gang leader is also called brother Dao (TN: literally brother knife). He has a bad temper but also a very straightforward character. Then let’s meet up tomorrow evening at a restaurant booth.” 

Both Lin Yuan and Jiang Gui, this pair of fake brothers, finished eating and drinking, both in a merry mood. 

Lin Yuan’s thoughts were on having finally found workers. 

Jiang Gui’s thoughts were on not only having done favors for both sides but also receiving a portion of the earnings. Nothing could be better. 

As for soybean oil being successful or not, he didn’t care too much. 

In any case he had no losses to worry about. 

When leaving, Jiang Gui was still thinking, why couldn’t he meet more people like little brother Lin, a fool with too much money and a soft heart? 

AN: Hunter: “This person’s eyes have a wicked glint! He must be coveting my body! 

Lin Yuan: “Excuse me?” (Original is also in English xD) 

Jiang Gui: “A wealthy fool with a soft heart. A treasure of Wu City.” 

Lin Yuan: “My rule is to not dig a hole for people I’ve only just met.” 

On the verge of stepping into a hole Jiang Gui: “…” 

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Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 003 Par Excellence

The business of selling and buying land fell under the jurisdiction of the regional governments. But in actuality the higher ups weren’t personally in charge of such small matters. Instead, it was managed by their subordinates who were minor officials. These minor officials were literate but had not read and studied any texts of sages and scholars. Their salary was low so they made extra to fill their wallets through exploitation of the common people. 

Buying land costed 100 taels with an extra 10 taels used to bribe the minor official in charge.

This minor official was an ethnic Han Chinese and spoke in Chinese as well. Although accented by southern dialects, Lin Yuan was still able to understand. 

“That stretch of land is good.” The minor official known as Jiang Gui, twitched his lips, “although it is uncultivated land but it is fertile. Since you genuinely want to do this business I recommend the best for you.” 

Lin Yuan was extremely quickwitted and flexible, handing the minor official a banknote worth 100 coins: “Is there any landlord families nearby?” 

Jiang Gui saw that Lin Yuan took the hint so his attitude became even better. In addition to Lin Yuan’s fairly young age and smiling face, his tone became friendlier in response: “I notice your young age so I selected land that is farther away from those families. Still, make sure to be careful and don’t get involved with quarrels.” 

“But the weather is currently cold, if you want to build a house I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until early spring otherwise the foundation won’t be deep enough.” Jiang Gui, “I normally don’t say this much to others but I see that you are not only young but also a straightforward fellow.” 

Lin Yuan cupped his hands in thanks: “Thank you, da ren (form of address for officials and aristocracy).” 

Jiang Gui flapped his hand: “I’m just a minor official, not deserving of being called such. Just call me brother Jiang. If you have any questions you can come find me at Tong Luo Alley, third house.” 

Lin Yuan readily accepted: “I dare not bother brother Jiang.” 

“Where are you currently staying?” Jiang Gui received ten silver taels and 100 copper coins worth of bribe so his mood was currently great. His monthly salary was only one guan but his interests included alcohol and meat which were rather expensive to indulge in daily. A pound of pig meat cost 20 coins, not to mention alcohol. These ten taels were enough for him to indulge for two to three months. 

Lin Yuan: “I’m currently staying at the Lai Ke Inn in the northern part of the city.” 

Jiang Gui said thoughtfully: “How about this, I have a neighbor who moved to Jiangnan just last year leaving only an old servant to watch the house. I’ll speak to his relative and you can rent it for a fee per month?” 

Lin Yuan hesitated: “I just bought land, not much is left…” 

“You call me brother, how could I cheat you?” Jiang Gui flapped his hand, “Monthly rent two guan, if it’s fine then go ahead. Besides there’s only three months till early spring.” 

Two guan was indeed not a lot. Lin Yuan, during the past few days, had inspected the price of living in Wu City. The price of two guan might be high for other places but Tong Luo Alley was a busy street with a lot of businesses. Living there would be very convenient in terms of buying necessities. 

“Then many thanks to brother Jiang. When do you think I should move over?” 

Jiang Gui: “Today is fine. I have the lease contract so I can take you there in a little while.” 

After finalizing the agreement, Lin Yuan did not give a tip and Jiang Gui did not ask. He could give it later after seeing the house anyway. As for Jiang Gui, he might be money hungry but he also knew to not cross boundaries so that relations could be maintained. 

Servant boy quickly packed their belongings after finding out that Lin Yuan found a temporary dwelling, saying excitedly: “I still need to shop for young master’s necessities. Calligraphy and scholarship equipment! I wonder if they provide plates and spittoons? If you ask me, young master should also buy a servant girl since some chores require delicate work.” 

“Don’t I already have one?” Lin Yuan spoke up, “The mother and son from before.” 

He had the mother and son temporarily stay at the abandoned temple. The ragged blanket was also given to them for use. Once he found a private dwelling he’ll then call them over. 

The boy could do what he could and the mother could clean the house as well as cook. 

Although Lin Yuan was not like the original owner who was waited on by servants since birth, but he grew up in the city and only used gas stoves. The stoves of ancient times he had no idea how to use and servant boy didn’t know how to cook. 

Lin Yuan was willing to buy them, feed them and clothe them, but he could not have his good deed result in them only taking and not giving. That was not called doing a good deed, that was called inviting your ancestor into your home. 

Only when people had work to do, and through hard work earn the means to support living, could people develop a sense of belonging. 

“Young master is indeed clever.” Servant boy slapped his forehead, “Why didn’t I think of it?” 

Lin Yuan laughed: “Then you would be the young master.” 

Although Lin Yuan was outwardly smiling, he was actually a little uncertain. He only had 200 taels, the past few days the cost totaled nearly two taels. And this was under the circumstance of having a strict budget. 

Buying land costed 100 taels, bribery costed eleven taels, leaving only 87 taels left. Renting for three months would also deduct his savings to 81 taels. 

To build a larger house would cost at least 50 taels. 

Tenant farmers could farm the land but it was up to him to provide seeds and tools….. 

He must find a source of income, otherwise even if he prepared seeds and tools what would the tenant farmers eat? Farming did not mean instant harvest. You could not expect everyone to live off on nothing? 

In these days, business brought in money the fastest but if labeled as part of the merchant class, that would only bring trouble. It was less an issue of not being able to take the civil examinations and more about the heavy taxes. In addition, the merchant class could not travel freely, must carry travel documents, register with the government and a bunch of other annoying matters. 

During the Yuan dynasty, being a landowner was the happiest career, second to none. 

Zhu Yuanzhang’s wife, Ma Bigfeet was born in a landowning family. It was thanks to her landowning father that Ming’s founding emperor could raise an army. Otherwise where would the money even come from? 

The common people go to work at 7am, a time originally used to describe officials attending morning court sessions with the emperor. It later spread to other types of professions. 

Lin Yuan and servant boy finished packing, returned the room key and waited at the front of the government office. 

“This house is quite clean. The old servant cleans daily but since you are here to see the place I had him leave for his relatives’ place.” Jiang Gui pushed the door open, “The entrance to the street has a well, you can get water from there.” 

Lin Yuan inspected the place with satisfaction. The place wasn’t big with just a living room, bedroom, storage room, cellar and an area carted off with a stove for cooking. 

The living room was partitioned in two, one side for receiving guests and dining, the other side for sleeping with a bed and other furniture. 

The second bedroom was smaller with a bed but not much else. 

Lin Yuan paid upfront for three months. 

Jiang Gui looked with satisfaction at the money, thinking of the recommendation fee he would get for introducing the place to a customer. 

“From now on we are neighbors, find me anytime.” Jiang Gui pocketed the money, beaming with sincerity. 

Lin Yuan quickly replied: “Brother Jiang, I actually have an issue I need to discuss with you! Come, let’s sit and talk. Er Liang, go pour two cups of water.” 

Servant boy was called Er Liang: “Be right back.” 

Jiang Gui sat down, puzzled: “What is it?” 

Lin Yuan’s manner was very polite: “Brother Jiang must know, I don’t have much left in my wallet. And in early spring I must build a house, too many things need to be bought but I have no source of income.” 

Jiang Gui heard this and sighed: “You ask the wrong person. If I had any ideas would I still be taking side jobs?” 

“Isn’t there a saying the strong dragon cannot overcome the regional snake?” Lin Yuan laid on the flattery, “Although civilians believe that upper officials are in charge but I am clear that the true managers are minor officials like brother Jiang. Is it not true the upper officials don’t know the hardships of the people and must rely on you to deal with the common people?” 

Jiang Gui felt the truth in this reasoning: “Cannot describe it like that, especially in public. We still work under the big officials.” 

Lin Yuan: “Here it’s only us two, what can not be said? Little brother is speaking from the heart, nothing perfunctory about it.” 

Jiang Gui: “I won’t hide it from you, I have been a minor official for many years. Compared with me, even those hoity toity upper officials have seen less types of people than me. There are some paying work I know of, if you dare.” 

Lin Yuan climbed the ladder offered: “Brother Jiang please give me directions.” 

Jiang Gui suddenly said seriously: “Can’t be regarded as directions. Do you know of the city’s gambling parlor? Know anything of usury?”  

Of course Lin Yuan knew. High interest loans. 

“Brother Jiang.” Lin Yuan pretended to hesitate, “The current times are not prosperous, giving out loans, can they even be collected?” 

Jiang Gui blinked his eyes at Lin Yuan: “If you trust me then I’ll lend you a hand. In the southern part of the city there’s a gang leader specializing in helping people collect debts. His subordinates are all capable, most are fierce fighters who have seen blood.” 

This Jiang Gui fellow, was practically a player of both the legal world and the underworld, if he was living in the modern times he would be one of the big fishes! 

He even knew to bring their relationahip closer, helping him with some small issue while receiving benefits at the same time. If this person was still alive when war broke out, it was quite possible he could make something of himself. 

Lin Yuan: “Brother Jiang, let me consider. If you pressure too much, I’m afraid that those gamblers would get violent. Look at me, I only have a servant boy as back up. I am timid and afraid of dying!” 

Jiang Gui laughed out loud: “Little brother Lin, only the daring are full to the point of bursting while the timid starves! Consider some more, if you want to participate look for me. I need to get back now, my woman has cooked dinner and is waiting for me.” 

Lin Yuan saw Jiang Gui out the door, making plans to kep in contact. 

After Jiang Gui left, servant boy Er Liang appeared hauling a pail of water. 

Lin Yuan only just realized that there was no water in the house, or a pot to boil water in….. 

It was winter, what work would bring in money? Being a loan shark was out of the question, it went against the virtues he developed living in the modern times. Though he knew there were huge profits in it but Lin Yuan reluctantly gave up the choice. 

Lin Yuan suddenly asked: “Er Liang, if you had some money in your pocket, what would you spend it on?” 

Er Liang was currently wiping the desk. He felt the old servant did not do a thorough enough job of cleaning. In response to Lin Yuan’s question he answered thoughtlessly: “Buy meat to eat, fat meat.” 

Lin Yuan’s eyes lit up! 

Alright! 

He had found his goal. 

Ancient people lacked oil. At this point, there were no place specializing in raising pigs nor was there pig feed so pig oil was used up fast. Although vegetable oil began being used during Song dynasty it had always been sesame oil that was par excellence. 

At that time, the method for producing oil did not work as well with soybeans as with sesame. Only until a new method was introduced was soybeans preferred over sesame. 

Currently, animal oil was too expensive and the price for sesame oil was also on the rise. 

Lin Yuan: “Is soybean expensive?” 

Er Liang had been in the marketplace: “Five coins per pound, cheap.” 

Alrighty, soybeans it was. 

Lin Yuan thought confidentally. Watch me earn heaps and piles. As for being registered as a merchant class, wasn’t there Jiang Gui the regional snake?

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Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 002 Good People have Good Fortune

While the servant boy left for the bank to exchange money, Lin Yuan stayed at the abandoned temple to pack up their belongings. Actually, there wasn’t much to pack but he had nothing better to do. 

His body was currently weak as when he first arrived in this body was when the fever was at its highest. The original owner could not presevere till the end, passing away. So when he occupied the body he had no choice but to continue to fight against the fever in the original owner’s place. Although he endured in the end, the surroundings and his situation was simply too harsh and hardly good for expediting his recovery. 

Lin Yuan actually felt quite glad this was the Yuan dynasty where cotton garments were already available otherwise he and his servant wouldn’t have presevered until finding this abandoned temple and instead freeze to death on the way. 

“Young master!” Servant boy had run back to their temporary shelter. He even redeemed their cotton coats at the pawn shop. 

After putting back on his cotton coat Lin Yuan finally dared to leave the ragged cotton blanket. They had been sleeping on the floor the past week and the blanket was already extremely dirty. It was only him and the servant boy, not even beggars were willing to stay in the abandoned temple, broken down as it was, it did not protect against the bitter cold winds. Thankfully, they could now leave the place and stay at an inn instead. Once he fully recovered, Lin Yuan planned to buy the most suitable property. 

200 taels was no small amount, the average three member family’s yearly budget was only two taels and that was already considered well off. 

To tell the truth, Lin Yuan felt lucky not to have arrived at the beginning of Yuan dynasty. That period was hell. Yuan dynasty officials at the time were completely illiterate, having just conquered center China on horseback. They had no knowledge of governance, ten year old children were able to receive governmental posts. As a result, minor officials were left to their own devices and corruption became rampant. 

Although the current time period was also difficult, but in comparison to the earlier years of Yuan, so much better off. 

“I already asked around, there is an inn located in the northern part of the city, said to be the cleanest.” The servant boy supported Lin Yuan as they walked, “the top rooms are 200 coins.” 

Lin Yuan shook his head: “Not the top rooms, how much are the lower rooms?” 

Servant boy: “80 coins.”

Lin Yuan: “Then one lower room, we can share.” 

In any case, the past week was much of the same, sharing a living space despite the crampness. 

The small city they were currently in was called Wu City, rather close to Jiangnan. Lin Yuan made plans to buy his property in the area after fully recovering his health. Jiangnan was off limits though, with it being the location of where Chen Youliang, Zhang Shicheng and Fang Guozhen were gathering their power. Jiangnan was the epicenter of many battles and for a small fish like him it’s better to stay away. 

The inn’s lower rooms weren’t very big but at least quite clean. The waiter even brought in a pail of water for them to clean up with. Lin Yuan ordered meal for two and tipped the waiter in return for his help buying two new change of clothes for them. 

“Leave it to me.” The waiter left smiling, the errand left some space for him to make a small profit, not a lot but it was still something. 

Their meal arrived in a timely fashion, a plate of greens and a plate of meat, both used pig oil to cook. Tasty enough but they must eat quickly, otherwise once it cooled the food would become oily lumps. 

Though only two plates, the amount was more than sufficient. With a side of rice Lin Yuan only stopped when completely stuffed. 

Servant boy went to buy some medicinal herbs for the inn to cook. Though illness comes upon you fast and furious as a landslide and leaves as slow as spinning silk, but with the proper necessities of warmth and food Lin Yuan recovered quite quickly, taking only three days at most. 

Wu City could not be considered large, its population only around 10 or 20 thousand. Street vendors were not a lot either, understandable with the weather cold as it was. Although he glimpsed manual labor workers and beggars on the street, shivering in the cold winds. 

Whether they could make it past the winter was unknown. 

“Customer, have a bowl of jellied tofu! Hot and steamy! Warm your stomach!” 

“Customer, our flat cakes are known to be the tastiest in Wu City, have a try.” 

The vendors with pasted on smiles, their cheeks chilled red but still continued hawking their wares. 

Lin Yuan walked with servant boy, looking rather out of place amidst the poor civilians around them. After all, the original owner was born into a landowner family and since birth never experienced poverty or harshness. And it was only during the earlier years when learning to read and write had he experienced any toil. His normal everyday life was staying indoors unsubjected to the sun rays or harsh wind, thus growing up into the appearance of a wealthy young master. 

As for servant boy, despite his servant origins, in actuality he began to serve at Lin Yuan’s side since the age of seven. Daily chores only included taking care of the young master’s needs. He never lacked for food and warm clothing and even recognized some words. Compared to some children of commoner families his situation was much better. 

Their appearance on the street was practically as obvious as carrying a sign labeled with the words “wealthy people.” 

“Young master!” 

Lin Yuan only just passed a block when his leg was gripped by a woman in rags. There was much to be said for her appearance, extremely dirty and smelly, hair covered in oil and dirt, and if looked closely the presence of lice could be seen. One hand gripping Lin Yuan’s leg, the other pulled a child forward. 

“Young master!” The woman cried, “Please buy him, buy him, for free!” 

“He is very capable! Will do all the work for you! He is strong!” 

Saying so, she began to kowtow, so thorough and not the least bit of pretense that Lin Yuan could hear the dull thuds of her forehead hitting the ground, hard enough that blood seeped out. All the while crying: “Young master, buy him, buy him!” 

The child, seeing his mother kneeling, followed as well, including kowtowing. 

Eight year old children were already aware of the world. His family had been tenant farmers, last year his dad made a mistake so the landowner took back the land alloted to his family. His dad had also been beaten to death. His mother escaped with him and his two older brothers. Unfortunately, they died on the way, one fron hunger, the other beaten to death for stealing from other villagers. 

He and his mother roamed as vagrants, finally arriving to this small city. They no longer had the strength to continue, becoming this city’s beggars instead. But his mother’s health deteriorated over time and the food he managed to beg for was only able to sustain their life, not enough to abstain from hunger pains. 

Originally, there had been an owner of a food store who would give them something to eat, but the store was now closed and their last hope was gone. 

Last night his mother told him: “Be good, mama is going to sell you to a good family, you’ll be able to eat your fill.” 

He asked: “Mama also, we can eat our fill together.” 

His mother only smiled. 

She was already this old and had given birth to three children. She was all rough hands and feet with no beauty to speak of. Wealthy families might buy home an eight year old child, but it was unlikely they would buy home an old female beggar not long for the world. She thought back to the time when she still had a home. Her husband was an honest man always ready to use his strength to finish work. Her oldest son resembled her husband, clumsy mouthed but the most obedient child. Her middle son was a little cleverer, always saying that when he grew older he would go do business in the city and take the whole family to live there and have a better life. 

A family, gone in an instant. 

If not for her youngest son, she didn’t believe she could have endured this long. During the most bitter period, she even thought of committing suicide with her son. Take a piece rock, first smash her son to death, and then end her own life by colliding with a hard surface. 

But looking at the eyes of her young son, she could not bear it, the only choice was to wipe away the tears and continue on. 

“Stop! No more!” Lin Yuan tried to block a few times, without success. 

Only then did the woman and child stopped. With a forehead dripping with blood, the woman’s eyes were full of despair: “Young master, he truly has strength, can do work, he doesn’t need money, I sell him to you, sign a slavery contract, you have him do whatever you want, young master, please buy him young master!” 

She was not pleading with Lin Yuan to buy her son, she was pleading with him to give her son an opportunity to survive. 

“Stand up first.” Lin Yuan put a hand to his temple, saying with a building headache, “stand and talk.” 

The woman’s knees had frozen stiff, still she struggled to stand. The boy also stood at her side, not daring to look up at Lin Yuan.  

Lin Yuan asked: “What can you do?”

The woman’s eyes lit up, she immediately replied: “Gou zi can herd cows! Can farm the land! Can do heavy manual labor!” 

Lin Yuan asked again: “Is he literate?” 

The woman’s shoulders slumped: “Not, not literate…..” 

Lin Yuan honestly wanted to be a good person, but in his previous life he never had the chance. After college graduation, he entered a company of medium size that was full of fighting and scheming behind smiles. His earlier days were hard, as being a newbie and the bottom of the ladder he had to do a lot of work for his senior coworkers on top of his own responsibilities. 

Do the work well, his coworker and superior get praised and recieve bonus. 

Do the work bad, only he was criticized and had his wage lowered. 

He thought of changing jobs, but he could not find any better position. His college specialization was originally unpopular, his only choice was to stay. 

So he found an opportunity, when helping his senior gather data he specially inserted mistaken numbers and only listed his senior’s name. Later when discovered by the higher ups, senior wanted to shift the blame to him but because the company had always been familiar with the senior bullying him at work and his own resigned facade, no one believed the truth and the senior was fired. 

As for the superior, he first got him drunk and then used his cell phone to text the boss of a competing company of the business secrets of the project he was working on, leading to his downfall as well. 

As for himself, he was promoted from just a regular worker to the head of a department. 

In the workplace, Lin Yuan was like a fish in the water, winning over the support of subordinates, currying favor with the boss, and defeating his rivals. All of this could not be considered the actions of a good man. Even Lin Yuan thought that if he was a good man he would not be willing to be friends with someone like himself. 

“Do you know how to farm?” Lin Yuan asked the woman. 

The woman looked bewildered, but her son replied immediately: “Young master, my mama knows, she can farm! Please buy my mama as well!” 

“Only meals! No money! Young master! We’ll work for you as hard as cows and horses!” 

“Alright.” Lin Yuan signaled servant boy to take out ten coins, “Go buy something to eat. Three days later at noon wait for me here.” 

Both woman and child knelt down again. 

“Thank you young master, thank you young master.” 

Servant boy was already used to his young master’s kindness so the only thing he was curious about was: “Young master, why give them ten coins, what if they don’t come? Wouldn’t we then lose out.” 

Lin Yuan: “If they don’t come, then just think of the money as given to charity.” 

After all, the first step after owning property was to hire more workers. He and servant boy were only two people which was hardly enough. Once ancient people signed slave contracts they would belong to the master, unable to leave so there was no need to worry about any lack of obedience.

In addition, he hoped to accumulate good fortune for the original owner through virtuous deeds so that he could be reborn in the peace of modern times and become a good person. 

This was just for his own peace of mind and conscience.

TN: Comments are appreciated! 😉 It’s a little slow in terms of plot building but I promise it gets exciting further along as Lin Yuan fully steps onto the path of establishing an empire! 

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Back To The Beginning Of Ming To Do Charity CH 001 To Survive

“Young master.” The round-nose boy servant held up a chipped bowl, tears and snot covering his face, shirt ridden with dirt and fingers red with the cold. He spoke in hiccuping sobs, “couldn’t, couldn’t get any, hic, no one would give me, hic…” 

Lin Yuan could see the little guy was about to cry himself sick, quickly saying: “Come sit, quickly.” 

Saying so, Lin Yuan lifted up an edge of the ragged blanket wrapped around him to admit the boy into its folds. The abandoned temple did not protect against the wind and cold, master and servant could only rely on the single ragged blanket to keep warm. 

It had been a week since he first arrived. The entire week’s duration he hardly moved, not for a lack of trying.  

The original owner of his new body was the son of a northern landowner who owned quite a lot of land and businesses. As a result, he was unable to leave easily and instead had his only son travel to the south in his place to start a business, buy a farmstead and some land. In the future, if the northern political situation worsened, the entire family would still have a place to retreat to and backup funds to start over. 

However, the old landowner could not have expected to miscalculate so badly. His only son and heir was a naive idiot. 

Truly a naive idiot, leaving with only a servant boy and a carriage driver. And even saying to his dad, taking more people would only create a larger target. Not only that, he convinced his dad that the north was not peaceful currently and thus required more people to stay and protect his family and their assets. 

Original owner had read and studied quite a lot, a pile of books by sages. His dad was completely convinced when he heard that these were justifications spoken by sages. What was left to do but listen? 

As a result, the original owner stepped onto a road of misfortune. 

The boy servant was only twelve, master and servant also lived in a sheltered environment since young. Every step on the road to the south was accompanied by the emptying of their wallets. 

Original owner could not refuse beggars on the side of the road but his actions only turned them into targets. 

The carriage driver had a strong physique and was willing to stay behind and hinder the hoodlums, in the end alive or dead no one knew. 

When Lin Yuan arrived in this body and time, original owner was already robbed of all his wealth. Because of guilt and regret, in addition to the cold weather and lack of proper shelter, he came down with a fever. 

Cold and fever during ancient times were common causes of death, not to mention in combination with lack of healer service and medicine. Therefore, original owner easily passed away. 

Lin Yuan couldn’t help but sigh, the original owner was also just a boy of only fourteen. The life expectancy during ancient times was short, the common boy of twelve was already considered a fully grown adult and ready for marriage. A fourteen year old child with a kind heart was a good thing originally, only pity was that the turbelent era did not allow for kindness and goodness.  

The servant boy used the back of his hand to wipe away tears and snot unsuccessfully, his small face looking dirtier than before the cleaning attempt. He sobbed: “Couldn’t get any medicine.” 

The child was originally a stubborn one, in addition to the fact that he grew up in the Lin family and educated with loyalty pledged to the master, he was completely brainwashed to be a loyal servant. 

“Then there’s no need.” Lin Yuan ruffled the boy’s hair, trying to make the best of the situation: “It’s fine, look at me, I’m almost recovered anyway.” 

It was a silver lining that the group of bandits were only desperate peasants who only took wealth and not lives. Or else, it was very likely they wouldn’t be alive now. 

During the last few days, Lin Yuan searched through his belongings, he didn’t believe the Lin family only gave silver ingots and banknotes. Back in the modern time of his previous life, he had a habit of hiding money in the inside layer of his shirts when traveling. Therefore, was it not possible that making backup plans would be the wise choice of action especially in this period of time fraught with danger and unrest? 

However, he had searched everything multiple times and came up with nothing. 

The servant boy’s sobs had stopped, his emotions calming enough to realize he was siting in his master’s embrace. Since misfortune hit them, master and servant escaped in a hurry, only snatching a blanket. He had originally planned to not touch the blanket but since his young master awoke they had been sharing it together. 

This thought caused him to break out into sobs again. His young master was such a good person, why must he face such misfortune! 

“It’s my fault!” The servant boy started to blame himself, regretfully saying, “Old master told me to be careful but I’m such a fool, even implicating young master! Wu~, it’s all my fault! I don’t have any brains! A useless failure!” 

Following the rant, the servant boy was about to give himself a slap. 

Lin Yuan quickly grabbed his hand, patting his back in comfort: “It’s alright, we’re safe aren’t we?” 

The servant boy spoke through stuffy nasals: “It’s all my fault! Everything’s my fault!” 

“Let’s look again.” Lin Yuan once again prepared to search his clothes, undressing down to his pants he searched through the linings while shivering in the cold. 

The servant boy helped in the searching. Even though it was something they did everyday but they always worry they weren’t careful enough in the previous searches. 

Money for meals came from pawning Lin Yuan’s coat, the only valuable item left. 

His shoes were made of cloth but the soles were very thick and warm. It had took lady Lin quite a lot of time and spools of thread to make. 

The original owner’s birth mother was a servant girl, not even a concubine. In this day and age, giving birth was a life threatening business, and in addition to his mother being a frail fifteen year old girl, it was nearly a given that she passed away during childbirth. 

As a result, the original owner was given to the lady master who did not have children of her own to raise. She came from a literary family and had nothing in common with the landowning class. Therefore, there was no love lost between the old master Lin and lady Lin. However, she did treat the original owner well, teaching him to read and write from a young age. 

And because original owner could write and do maths, was an educated person, his father assumed that he could carry a greater responsibility. 

When Lin Yuan found this in his memory, he couldn’t help but feel speechless at old father Lin’s reasoning. 

It was at that moment, a lightbulb switched on. Taking off his shoes, thankfully the winter cold kept it from being smelly, he took the soles out. 

“Young master..…” Servant boy piped up uneasily, “Why are..…” 

He wanted to ask why his young master looked like on the verge of tears. 

But before he could finish, he saw Lin Yuan taking out a silver banknote. 

It was a silver banknote worth 200 taels. 

Exchanged to copper coins worth 200,000 guan. This was no small amount. Original owner’s father had given 500 taels in total and that was the limit, more and the Lin family businesses would not have enough funds to run on. 

He reckoned lady Lin must have taken out all her savings, afraid that the original owner might happen upon unexpected situations. 

The heart of a caring mother! 

As an orphan in his own time, Lin Yuan could only sigh wistfully.  

Looked like old father Lin’s task won’t be fulfilled in the near future. First things first was to find a proper shelter and fully recover his health. 

As for doing business, Lin Yuan didn’t dare to even think about it. Since he found out the current era was the Yuan dynasty, the emperor being Yuan Shun, he gave up on the whole idea. He at least knew of the story of Chen Wansan, a prominent business man nearly richer than a country who even supported the right person, Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of Ming. 

But the result? When Ming dynasty was established not long afterwards, his wealth was confiscated and he himself exiled. His wealth alone greatly richened the new dynasty. 

Later in the Qing dynasty, did emperor Qianlong not know He Shen accumulated great wealth through corruption? He knew, so all of his wealth eventually ended up in the emperor’s pockets. 

Therefore, Lin Yuan prepared to honestly follow old father Lin’s advice to buy some land——in a remote place away from the battlefield. Have a farmstead built so that once the Lin family came to the south they would have a place to stay. And of course stock up on food supplies. 

What was the most valuable commodity during turbelent times? Gold, silver, jewels? Wrong. It was food. 

Once war broke out, civilians would be unable to farm and produce crops. Less and less food to the point people were peeling tree bark and eating it to stave hunger. Foodstuff was the source of life, cheap during prosperous times and expensive during turbulent times. 

“Young master.” The servant boy chuckled, rather foolishly, “Let’s go exchange money.” 

Lin Yuan currently was too weak to get up and could only hand the banknote to the servant boy, reminding him: “Only exchange 50 taels, two guans of paper money, one paper money per guan.” 

“Tomorrow go, go early.” Lin Yuan looked at the darkening skies, “It’s not safe now.” 

Servant boy nodded: “I listen to the young master!” 

In the servant boy’s eyes, his young master was able to read and write, was smarter than him and understood everything. 

Before drifting away into sleep, Lin Yuan happily thought, once he had land and property he’ll be able to display his talents. Wasn’t there a saying, turbulent times create heroes? He’ll follow in the footsteps of his time travelling seniors and invent cannons, tanks, airplanes, etc in addition to gathering some followers, maybe even…maybe even…heihei

Lin Yuan at this point had yet to realize, he was a humanities major, his life till now, the closest he got to inventing technology was fixing his computer. And even that he had done so unsuccessfully. He ended up buying a new computer instead, almost spending all of his scholarship money on it. 

But as a person, we must have dreams and ambitions. 

The next day at the crack of dawn, the servant boy poked a small head out of the warm blankets, unwilling to leave. 

But the servant boy quickly pulled himself together as his young master cannot yet leave bedrest. 

Before leaving Lin Yuan reminded him, “If you are stopped by hoodlums, give them the paper money, you hear?” 

Servant boy didn’t understand: “No way! That’s young master’s money!” 

Lin Yuan explained: “If you don’t hand it over they will just take it by force. Can you win against them in a fight? Compared to the two guans, the 48 taels are worth more.” 

Servant boy looked down at his toes: “It’s my fault I’m so useless, if brother Chen was here, those people definitely won’t be able to win against brother Chen..…” 

The mention of brother Chen, the carriage driver willing to leave for the south with the original owner, caused Lin Yuan to feel downhearted. 

Brother Chen was the son of the original owner’s nanny and grew up together from a young age. He had a strong physique and loyal to a fault. Their relationship was close enough to even sleep together and compare each other’s ‘assets’. 

Brother Chen was older than original owner by five years, had no given name, only a pet name Niu Dan. He stayed behind to block the bandits and give them a chance to run. 

Dead or alive unknown. 

Lin Yuan sighed. People from the ancient times were simple and honest. Lin Yuan put himself in brother Chen’s shoes and honestly thought he could not do the same of sacrificing himself for another. 

Yuan dynasty supported trade and commerce, agriculture not as much. However, merchants were taxed the highest and farmers were taxed the least in comparison to other dynasties. 

But this did not mean that regional governments and officials accept low taxes. An official’s salary could not support a luxurious life so their only other source of income came from oppressing the civilians under their regional government. 

There were more and more exhorbitant taxes, oppression from the landlord class was also on the rise. As a result, the people had no means to make a living and support their livelihood, their only option was to become refugees and criminals. 

Those bandits that robbed them, perhaps had been honest farmers in the past and a full belly was enough to satisfy them and feel content about. 

In order to survive, they indirectly caused the death of a good person like the original owner. 

When your state of survival was in question, virtue and justice could be abandoned at any time.

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