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Chapter 298: Locust Plague in Southern Jiang!
Li Yuxin saw Lin Beifan’s expression and knew what he was worried about. She smiled and said, “Master Lin, there’s no need to worry. It’s not a big deal. They just had a collective stomachache. They’ve taken medicine and will be fine after resting for two days.”
“I see, then I can relax!” Lin Beifan laughed and extended an invitation, “Lady Yuxin, it’s been a while since you last visited my mansion. Instead of a formal invitation, how about a chance encounter? Come to my house tonight for a simple meal and then leave. My wife has been mentioning you!”
“Thank you for the invitation, sir. I’ll be honored to accept!” Li Yuxin’s heart was filled with joy.
The two of them returned to Lin Mansion with smiles and laughter.
Lin Beifan had some matters to attend to in his study, so Li Shi Shi received Li Yuxin.
Li Shi Shi was very happy, saying, “Yuxin, you’ve finally come. You’ve lost some weight, I see!”
“Sister Shi Shi, it’s been a while. You’re looking healthier and better each time I see you!” Li Yuxin was also delighted and held onto Li Shi Shi’s hand, saying, “According to Master Lin, you often talk about me, so I came to see you.”
“Do I really talk about you… not?” Li Shi Shi blinked.
“Really?” Li Yuxin looked puzzled.
Li Shi Shi’s gaze shifted slightly, and she chuckled softly, “Actually, it’s my husband who talks about you all the time! He says that the days without you feel like an eternity. So, Yuxin, please do come often!”
“Does he… really mention me often?” Li Yuxin was pleasantly surprised and a bit shy.
“Can I lie to you?” Li Shi Shi laughed, “So please make sure to visit often. Consider this place your home. I want us to be good sisters for a lifetime!”
“Yes!” Li Yuxin lowered her head and replied softly.
At this moment, the spirited Little Princess rushed in, saying, “I’m here, I’m here! What’s for dinner tonight? Is dinner ready? I’m almost starving!”
Li Shi Shi smiled and said, “Little Princess, it’s almost ready! Just wait for about half a joss stick’s time!”
“Okay, okay!” The Little Princess nodded happily.
Lin Beifan was disturbed and walked out, saying helplessly, “I hardly see you around, but you’re quite enthusiastic about dinner!”
“Not being enthusiastic about dinner means there’s something wrong with your brain!” The Little Princess retorted confidently.
“Being too enthusiastic about dinner means there’s something wrong with your nerves!” Lin Beifan’s face turned serious, “Let me see which nerve of yours is messed up that you’re acting so hyper.”
“Ugh, you meanie! You’re so mean. I’m going to the kitchen. I won’t pay any attention to you!” The Little Princess stormed off.
Laughter and merriment filled the courtyard.
However, at this moment, in the distant land of Southern Jiang, the mood of the Prince of Southern Jiang was not good.
He stood under the scorching sun, sweat dripping down, in a field that was starting to dry up. He was anxious, looking at the withering rice seedlings. “What’s wrong with this damned weather? It hasn’t rained for three months straight, and the weather is still so hot. Even the riverbed is dry… if this continues, the harvest will be ruined!”
He was in a crucial phase of preparing for an uprising, waiting only for a bountiful autumn harvest to fully prepare the grain, and then he could start the rebellion.
If the harvest was poor, his military strength would be greatly diminished.
The officials around him trembled in fear, afraid of incurring the king’s wrath.
But the Prince of Southern Jiang didn’t blame them; he knew very well that this was beyond their control.
How could human effort influence the weather?
Looking up at the blazing sun, he wiped the sweat from his brow and couldn’t help but curse, “Heavenly deity, last year you sent a flood, and this year a drought! Are you deliberately opposing me?”
A thought occurred to him, “By the way, how’s the grain situation in the capital?”
Everyone looked at each other, none daring to speak.
“Fugui, you tell me!” The Prince of Southern Jiang’s face was stern, “Tell me everything truthfully, without hiding anything. If you dare to fabricate military information, I’ll make you answer for it!”
“Yes, Your Highness!” Wang Fugui forced a smile and stepped forward, bowing, “Your Highness, since the beginning of the year, the capital has enjoyed fair weather, warm like spring. The crops are thriving! Coupled with the large-scale water conservancy projects undertaken by the prefect, the implementation of the Eight Agricultural Methods, and the expansion of fertilizer varieties, there’s no doubt that this year’s crop yield will increase significantly!”
“Damn it!” The Prince of Southern Jiang gritted his teeth in anger.
His days were getting worse, while his enemies were thriving. It was unbearable! And the thought of the enemy having abundant grain reserves made it even more unbearable!
His face turned black with fury.
Seeing this, Wang Fugui realized the situation was turning unfavorable and hastily continued, “Your Highness, although our situation isn’t great, the situation in Northern Hebei and Wuxi isn’t favorable either.”
“Northern Hebei has always been barren, with limited crop yield! The population is decreasing significantly, and there are fewer people farming. This year’s crop yield is sure to be poor!”
“Wuxi, too, is facing a similar situation! Moreover, they’re currently being harassed by the rebel forces, suffering continuous losses in troops. Their situation is worse than ours!”
“Among the three kings, our situation is relatively better!”
“Well, that’s true!” The Prince of Southern Jiang’s expression finally improved.
These were troubled times, and although he might be in trouble, as long as others were worse off than him, he felt happy and satisfied.
Looking at the withered rice fields, Wang Fugui looked worried and asked, “Your Highness, what should we do now?”
“What else can we do?” The Prince of Southern Jiang replied irritably, “Quickly dig channels, dig deep wells, and divert water here. Otherwise, we won’t have any grain to eat this year!”
“Yes, Your Highness. I’ll have someone take care of it!” Wang Fugui hurriedly agreed.
Just then, a buzzing sound came from the distance.
The Prince of Southern Jiang and his group turned to look and saw a dense mass of insects forming a dark cloud, descending upon them like a swarm.
The Prince of Southern Jiang was dumbfounded, “What… is this?”
Many officials were terrified.
“A locust plague!”
“It’s a locust plague!”
These locusts flew swiftly over the crowd, leaving behind devastated rice fields.
The Prince of Southern Jiang let out a mournful cry, “My grains!”
News of this incident quickly reached the imperial court, and the Empress immediately convened her ministers to discuss the matter.
“There’s a locust plague in Southern Jiang, wreaking havoc in the rice fields! According to the information from below, this locust plague has reached a scale that only occurs once every hundred years, and it’s causing significant harm! The locusts are migrating toward the capital. Esteemed ministers, how can we prevent this?”
The civil and military officials exchanged bitter smiles. How could one prevent and control a locust plague?
Locust plagues, along with floods and droughts, were among the three most destructive natural disasters. Among them, locust plagues were particularly terrifying. Their vast numbers and swift movement made them impossible to eliminate or control. Once they appeared, they brought massive destruction and led to reduced crop yields.
This was beyond human control.
Under the Empress’s gaze, all the officials lowered their heads.
The Empress turned her attention to Lin Beifan, her eyes carrying a glimmer of hope, “Sir Lin, do you have any sound advice?”
“Your Majesty, I have a few immature suggestions,” Lin Beifan said, bowing.
The Empress’s eyes lit up, “Please, go on!”
“Your Majesty, just like the chickens and ducks we raise, they actually eat locusts! If we release chickens and ducks, do we need to fear the locust plague?” Lin Beifan chuckled.
The Empress’s eyes brightened further, “This idea sounds promising!”
“However, Your Majesty, there are too many locusts. The number of chickens and ducks we raise is too small to tackle the locust plague.”
The Empress’s eyes dimmed, “I see…”
“Your Majesty, I have another idea!”
The Empress’s eyes brightened again, “Go on!”
“In fact, locusts taste quite good and are rich in nutrients. Chickens, ducks, and geese can’t finish them all. We can have people catch and eat them!” Lin Beifan suggested again.
The Empress’s eyes gleamed even more, “It sounds like a feasible plan!”
“However, catching locusts is quite difficult due to their large numbers. Regular citizens won’t be able to catch many. It might be better for us to save our efforts,” Lin Beifan advised.
The Empress’s eyes dimmed once more, “True, catching locusts is challenging.”
“Your Majesty, I have one more idea…”
The Empress became furious!
This guy can’t speak straightforwardly; he’s teasing her in a back-and-forth manner, which is so infuriating! Clenching her teeth, she said, “Minister, are you deliberately playing games with Us?”
Lin Beifan felt quite wronged, “Your Majesty, how could your humble servant dare to do that? Your humble servant just said these were immature suggestions. You were the one who insisted I speak. Not speaking would be going against your will!”
The Empress was so furious she felt like using his head as a ball to kick around!
This little rascal had become more mischievous lately, often making fun of her. This was outrageous!
“Minister, just give Us the final solution directly!”
Lin Beifan cupped his hands, “This… Your servant truly has no way. Please understand, Your Majesty.”
This locust plague couldn’t be thoroughly solved now, let alone in ancient times. Even in the modern era, the focus would mainly be on prevention.
Prevention would involve methods such as spraying pesticides or utilizing natural predators of locusts, like chickens, ducks, and birds. If the locust plague was extensive, pesticide spraying might be used, but ancient times lacked such conditions.
The Empress’s gaze dimmed.
“However, there’s no need to worry too much!”
The Empress’s gaze brightened again, “Minister, why do you say that?”
Lin Beifan smiled, “The threat of this locust plague to me is indeed substantial. However, its occurrence is conditional. Generally, it only appears during hot and dry weather, which is exactly the situation in Southern Jiang. But our capital has been enjoying fair weather, abundant rain, and moist air since the beginning of the year. So, the threat of the locust plague to us is limited.”
“We can only hope for that!” The Empress sighed with concern.
At this time, news of the locust plague in Southern Jiang also reached his two brothers.
In the residence of the Duke of Wuxi.
Upon learning of this, the Duke of Wuxi was elated and burst into laughter, saying, “Brother, without grain, how will you compete with me? This contest for the throne, you’re going to be out of it early! Haha!”
“Summon people to monitor the situation of the locust plague in Southern Jiang at all times. Report immediately if anything happens!”
“Yes, Your Highness!”
In the residence of the Prince of Northern Hebei.
Similarly, the Prince of Northern Hebei was extremely delighted, his face radiant with joy, “Younger Brother, facing two natural disasters in a row, is this not heaven’s will? It seems you’re not destined for the throne! Someone, quickly send that bell back to the Prince of Southern Jiang to console him! Haha!”
“Yes, Your Highness!”