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Chapter 231: The Gathering of Power in the Capital!
The situation was the same in other small vassal kingdoms!
They all became the laughing stock of the whole world. “The Prince of Northern Hebei is truly ridiculous. He wanted to make money by selling cement, but scared away all the remaining merchants!”
“The Prince of Southern Jiang is just as absurd, trying to exchange cement for food! People there can’t even get enough to eat, how would they consider building houses? When they disagreed, he resorted to force, driving the merchants of Southern Jiang insane!”
“The most laughable one is the Duke of Wuxi! Who would dare to do business with him, given his character?”
“The other vassal kings are no better; they can’t support the cement market at all!”
At this moment, desperate merchants all headed to the capital, as if guided by an instinctual urge.
“Father, why are we going to the capital?”
“There’s no way to survive here anymore. We can only try to make a living in the capital!”
“But haven’t you always said that the capital is full of corrupt officials and powerful nobles, and it’s impossible to do business there?”
“That was in the past, but now the situation has reversed! Chaos is rampant throughout the Great Wu territory, and only the capital is relatively stable and safe! If we stay here, we might not even survive! But if we go to the capital, we might be able to live as refugees and get by!”
“I heard that the new city in the capital is under massive construction, with a million laborers and numerous merchants gathering there. The policies are more favorable to businessmen, which might be a way out for us! Let’s go to the capital, Son!”
“Father, you’re right. We’ll go to the capital!”
In addition to the merchants, many impoverished common people who couldn’t even afford food heard that a million refugees in the capital were provided with work, food, and even houses, and they all flocked there.
It seemed like a great momentum was gradually gathering in the capital!
The biggest beneficiary of this trend was Lin Beifan, as well as the court behind him.
On that day, while Lin Beifan was inspecting the progress of the construction, a soldier rushed over to report, “Lord Prefect, a few merchants from Northern Hebei have donated a large amount of grain, charcoal, and blankets, a total of 20 carts. They wish to see you!”
“See me? How interesting!” Lin Beifan smiled and said, “I happen to have some time, so let’s meet them.”
Lin Beifan went to the outskirts of the city and met the merchants as the soldiers mentioned. Straight to the point, he said, “Our contribution system has come to an end! Even if you donate these things, you won’t get much in return!”
“We know, but fairness should prevail! We donate these goods with modest requests, hoping that you can accommodate us,” pleaded the merchants.
“What do you want? Let’s hear it,” Lin Beifan said with a smile on his face.
“Inform Lord Prefect, we have all fled from Northern Hebei to save our lives, so we seek a place to settle down and accommodate our families! The houses don’t need to be too big; cement houses will suffice. Please grant our request, My Lord!” The Northern Hebei merchants nodded earnestly.
Lin Beifan nodded in agreement, “Your request is quite simple, and I can fulfill it.”
The Northern Hebei merchants were overjoyed, “Thank you, My Lord!”
Subsequently, Lin Beifan continued to meet with many small merchants. Most of them had fled from other places, and they donated money and goods in the hope of having a place to settle down and make a living.
It had to be said that these merchants were truly shrewd. The houses in the capital were too expensive for them, so they came here to find a place to live. Their cement houses were readily available, and they could build hundreds or thousands of them in a day, with prices absolutely reasonable.
Lin Beifan was happy to accept them, as the city’s development required not only labor but also other talents. He welcomed anyone who made contributions.
With more merchants, trade began to flourish. However, unfortunately, most of the people here were refugees who didn’t have much money to spend, so consumption was limited.
“It seems like it’s time to pay some wages and activate the economy of the new city!” Lin Beifan mused to himself.
A city’s development depended on its economy, and the economy depended on money. Only with money could there be consumption, and with consumption, there would be economic growth. A thriving economy would allow everyone to live a better life.
Now, the conditions were gradually ripe, and Lin Beifan decided to intervene by providing some manual labor to activate the market economy. He wanted to make the entire city run efficiently through the market, blessing everyone.
At this moment, from a distance, came a neat and deafening sound, “Greetings to Your Majesty, long live the Empress, ten thousand years of prosperity!”
It turned out that the Empress had arrived! Since the construction of the new city began, she frequently visited to inspect the progress. Seeing everyone so enthusiastic, well-fed, and well-clothed, and witnessing buildings rising one after another, she felt deeply satisfied.
“Greetings, Your Majesty!” Lin Beifan smiled and greeted her.
“Minister, there’s no need for so much courtesy!” The Empress looked around and commented, “Minister, this place is changing every day! I still remember that when I came here a few days ago, it was just an empty space! Now, there are rows and rows of houses, as far as the eye can see!”
Lin Beifan nodded with a smile, “Indeed, it changes every day!”
“Minister, how many cement houses are there now?”
“Your Majesty, currently there are a total of 20,000 houses, which have solved the housing problem for approximately 60,000 people!”
“Hmm, not bad!” The Empress was very satisfied.
“Is the cement production still keeping up?” The Empress asked again.
“It’s still very tight! If it weren’t for the issue of cement production, I would have already built 50,000 houses!”
“Then continue to expand the production, let me know if you need anything!”
“Thank you, Your Majesty!” Lin Beifan thanked her with a cupped hand and a smile.
As they walked and talked, the Empress mentioned the other vassal kings’ efforts in attracting cement investments and couldn’t stop laughing.
“Minister, you were absolutely right! My uncles, even with cement, couldn’t get things done!”
“One scared away the few remaining big merchants in the territory! Another had the absurd idea of using cement to exchange for food, and when it didn’t work, he resorted to forced acquisition! And another one even held an investment conference but not a single person showed up!”
“Haha! It’s really hilarious. The things they did are enough to amuse me for several days!”
“Indeed, it’s quite funny,” Lin Beifan also found it amusing. Did they really think that having cement would allow them to do whatever they pleased? They didn’t even consider their own reputations and the chaos they caused in their territories. With such character, who would dare to do business with them?
Merchants are very astute; they seek profits and avoid risks. As a result, many merchants seeking refuge came to his city.
At noon, work stopped, and everyone went to have their meal.
Watching everyone enjoying the steaming hot meals with great relish, the Empress let out a sigh, “The fundamental issue for a nation lies in its food, in the ability to feed its people! As long as the people can have enough to eat, the country will be stable and unshakable, like Mount Tai!”
“In the Northern Hebei region, due to the previous banditry problem, the common people couldn’t have enough food, leading to them becoming refugees and fleeing to other places, causing many fertile fields in Northern Hebei to lie fallow and the economy to slump!”
“In the Southern Jiang region, it suffered from floods, and the people had no food. The Prince of Southern Jiang withheld the grain, resulting in a million refugees! Now, not only does the Prince of Southern Jiang lack grain, but there are also no people cultivating the fields, causing the economy to slump!”
“In the Wuxi region, it has always been like this! If it weren’t for the million-strong army of the Duke of Wuxi suppressing everything, Wuxi would have fallen into chaos long ago!”
“But our court has enough grain, so we’ve developed quite steadily over the past year!”
“Your Majesty’s words are absolutely right!” Lin Beifan nodded in agreement.
“This food is truly essential! By the way, Minister…” the Empress turned her head with concern and asked, “How is your research on rice? Any progress?”
Lin Beifan’s expression turned solemn, “Your Majesty, the research has reached a bottleneck now. We lack a crucial element! If we can’t solve this problem, we won’t be able to break through the technological barrier!”
“What’s missing?” The Empress became even more concerned.
“We lack funds!” Lin Beifan said gravely.
The Empress: “…”
Lin Beifan’s expression became even more serious, “This research on rice is a significant project that will benefit millions of common people. It requires a considerable amount of silver to conduct research and pave the way. Without sufficient funding, it will be challenging to continue the research!”
The Empress’s mouth twitched, “How much do you need?”
Lin Beifan’s eyes glimmered, “Your Majesty, as long as you provide a research fund of 10 million taels, I am confident that we can develop rice with astonishing yields by next year!”
The Empress’s mouth twitched even more. This little scoundrel is trying to take advantage of the situation and get more money! Haven’t you already taken so much?
However, this time, the Empress didn’t outright refuse; instead, she fell into contemplation.
During the almost one year period, Lin Beifan had already proven his abilities through various impressive inventions such as the flying sky artifact “Air Balloon,” the watercraft “Air Cushion Boat,” and the construction marvel “Cement.” Their effects were astounding! The rice he mentioned was also likely to be achievable. If the rice research succeeded, it could increase the grain yield of Great Wu by more than 50%! Just imagine how many people’s food problems it could solve. This was indeed a true national treasure!
“Alright, 10 million it is! When the national treasury budget is being prepared next year, even if I have to squeeze, I’ll set it aside for you. Satisfied now?” The Empress said somewhat irritably.
“Thank you, Your Majesty!” Lin Beifan replied with a beaming smile.
After the inspection, the Empress hurried back to the imperial palace to handle state affairs. A few days later, Guo, the head of the Six Doors, came to drink with Lin Beifan.
“Sir Lin, no need to apologize. I completely understand! You’ve been very busy with the new city’s matters; there’s a lot on your plate, and you can’t find the time. Haha!” Guo said understandingly.
“Haha, thank you, Master Guo, for your understanding!” Lin Beifan laughed heartily.
“Actually, being busy is a good thing! The busier an official is, the broader the future prospects!” Guo said with envy.
Now, everyone knew that Lin Beifan was busy with the construction of the new city. In the process of city development, Lin Beifan displayed extraordinary abilities that left everyone astonished. He had enough capabilities, achievements, and prestige. The day the new city was completed would also mark the moment Lin Beifan became the Prefect of the Capital!
Then, Guo could only look on with envy. If he were in that position, he would definitely not be able to accomplish such earth-shattering things!
As they drank, they discussed various topics, including worldly affairs and matters in the martial world.
The time had come, and Lin Beifan asked, “So, Master Guo, what brings you here this time?”
Guo, the head of the Six Doors, had a serious expression as he said, “The ‘Evil-Repelling Sword Manual’ has reappeared in the martial world!”