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Chapter 2

Chapter 2: Big Talk

The person collecting tolls looked Zhu Yuanzhang up and down.

Although he spoke with the accent of Fengyang County.

He had a dark complexion, shifty eyes.

And spoke with the airs of a superior.

He must be a high-ranking official from Fengyang County.

But even the highest officials had to bow down in Fengyan.

Impatiently, he replied:

“From the way you speak, you must be an official. Let me advise you, Fengyang is the capital. A place where hidden dragons and crouching tigers reside, it’s heaven-sent! Not just anyone can act recklessly here. The county magistrate is the top scholar appointed by the gods. These are his rules. Whether you like it or not, you must abide by them!”

Zhu Yuanzhang was infuriated to hear a low-ranking official like Li Fan being used to pressure him.

He had never been treated like this before.

Was he going to let Fengyang fall under Li Fan’s sway after only three years?

This is Fengyang, not Li Fan’s domain.

Pointing at the messenger, he angrily retorted:

“Do you know who I am? How dare you be so disrespectful? I’ll have you all arrested right now!”

A man stepped out of a nearby pavilion, sizing up Zhu Yuanzhang.

Seeing that he didn’t dress like a government official, he impatiently scolded:

“Arrest people? Such audacity! Do you even know where you are? Do you know who I am? How dare you act so arrogantly here! No matter who you are, no matter how high your rank, when you return to Fengyang County. Whether you’re a dragon or a tiger, you’ll have to bow down!”

Zhu Yuanzhang had expected someone to scold him.

But he was enraged to hear someone call him a nobody to his face.

He was seething with anger as he scrutinized the old man.

Finding him somewhat familiar.

His attitude softened gradually, and he asked:

“Sir, may I know your name?”

Seeing Zhu Yuanzhang soften, the old man snorted disdainfully.

He had been so arrogant just now, acting like he was the boss.

But now he was being meek, what a coward.

He replied disdainfully:

“I’m Zhu Shoucheng, the current Emperor’s distant uncle. How about that? Scared now? Just follow the rules and pay up like you’re supposed to.”

“Do not act arrogantly here, you have no authority to be so presumptuous!”

When Zhu Yuanzhang heard these words, he sized up the old man.

No wonder he looked somewhat familiar just now.

Turned out to be his distant uncle.

Since they were acquainted, things would be easier to handle.

He needed to understand the situation first before making any plans.

Approaching Zhu Shoucheng, he whispered:

“Uncle, it’s me, Chongba. I’m incognito right now, so please keep it quiet!”

Zhu Shoucheng was momentarily stunned. When he had been received by the Emperor a few years ago.

The Emperor had been dressed in imperial robes. Today, he wore coarse clothing.

So he didn’t recognize him at first glance.

After scrutinizing him for a moment, he realized it was indeed Zhu Chongba!

Since he was being asked not to make a scene, there must be a reason for it.

He quickly grabbed Zhu Yuanzhang’s hand and said excitedly:

“Chongba, you’re back! Come, let’s go home with Uncle!”

With that, he pulled Zhu Yuanzhang onto the carriage and headed towards Fengyang County.

As Zhu Yuanzhang was pulled onto the carriage by Zhu Shoucheng.

He couldn’t help but ask quickly as he saw people still collecting tolls on the road:

“Uncle, why are you still engaged in the business of blocking the road and collecting money?”

Zhu Shoucheng did not notice Zhu Yuanzhang’s irritation. He explained excitedly:

“We are all government officials here. The county office sent me here to guard. If anyone dares to act recklessly, I’ll teach them a lesson!”

He then took out pastries from a drawer and said with a smile:

“Chongba, have some pastries!”

Zhu Yuanzhang, after tasting the exquisite pastries, was astonished.

How could his uncle’s pastries taste even better than those in the palace?

He quickly asked:

“Uncle, why are these pastries so delicious? They’re even better than those in the palace!”

Upon hearing Zhu Yuanzhang’s praise, Zhu Shoucheng couldn’t stop smiling proudly and said:

“These are pastries produced in our Fengyang County. If you like them, take some back to Jinling when you return. It can open up a new market and increase income!”

When Zhu Yuanzhang heard the words “increase income,” he couldn’t help but furrow his brows.

He disliked business matters the most.

And here was his uncle, talking about it so openly.

He felt a sense of discontent.

His uncle used to be an honest and hardworking farmer.

But now he had become a profit-driven businessman.

Most likely influenced by Li Fan.

Who had corrupted his uncle!

He needed to settle the score with Li Fan.

But first, he needed to clarify the matter of toll collection on the road.

“There’s no rush with this matter. You haven’t explained why you’re collecting tolls on the road yet! How can the government send people to collect tolls?”

Zhu Shoucheng had actually tried to change the subject just now.

But Zhu Yuanzhang started asking again.

He couldn’t explain it clearly for a moment.

Even if he reacted slowly, he could see the Emperor’s displeasure now.

It was best not to involve himself further.

He could only explain:

“I can’t explain it to you. If you want to know, you can ask the county magistrate. He knows better. All I know is that he financed road repairs, and we collected tolls to repay him!”

Zhu Yuanzhang now understood why his uncle was at the checkpoint.

He must have received orders from Li Fan.

To oppress those officials who refused to pay tolls with the Emperor’s authority.

Heh!

Li Fan was getting bolder and bolder.

Even having his uncle stand up for him.

He had been too lenient with him!

Just toll collection alone was enough to incriminate him.

It seemed that the waters in Fengyang County ran deep.

Even the Jinyiwei had found no clues.

His incognito visit this time seemed to be right on target.

Otherwise, he wouldn’t know how deep the troubles were for the people of Fengyang County.

He then said to Zhu Shoucheng:

“Uncle, let’s stay at your place for the next few days. But don’t tell anyone!”

Zhu Shoucheng had long lost his previous joyous demeanor.

The Emperor incognito visiting Fengyang County must have a secret he couldn’t disclose.

Seeing that the Emperor kept asking about the toll collection on the road.

It was likely he came for this matter.

He began to worry.

Although he claimed to be the Emperor’s uncle publicly.

In reality, he was just a neighbor’s uncle.

If the Emperor didn’t acknowledge him, he would just be an ordinary person.

He knelt down in the carriage and said with a pleading tone:

“Your Majesty, this has nothing to do with the common folks. It’s all ordered by the county magistrate!”


           



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Collecting Taxes as a Corrupt Official During the Hongwu Reign, Taxed up to 2050

Collecting Taxes as a Corrupt Official During the Hongwu Reign, Taxed up to 2050

洪武朝当贪官,收税收到2050
Status: Ongoing Author: Native Language: Chinese
During the Hongwu era of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang received multiple reports that Li Fan, the county magistrate of Fengyang, was extorting excessive taxes and living off the state while the people suffered. This top scholar, personally appointed by the emperor, had his integrity questioned, prompting Zhu Yuanzhang to investigate personally. Li Fan was accused of blocking roads to collect tolls, arbitrarily imposing harsh taxes, paying lip service while disobeying imperial orders, inventing excuses, and extorting excessive taxes. Tax collection had become so excessive that it felt like it had continued into the year 2050. The people of the Ming Dynasty had become impoverished, raising concerns about their ability to live well. Zhu Yuanzhang: Today we will execute this treacherous official Li Fan. I doubt the Ming Dynasty can last two thousand years with such corruption. Empress Ma: Li Fan is a crucial minister of the state! Ensuring the continuity of the Ming Dynasty for two thousand years! Zhu Biao: Father, Li Fan only collects taxes from the wealthy, allowing the common people to live in peace and prosperity! Zhu Di: Father, Li Fan helped me defeat the Franks and said we should collect taxes for five thousand years first!

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