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Chapter 404: I considered you a friend, but you ended up craving my body!
Dinner naturally consisted of a feast of fish. Various types of river fish, carp, tilapia, tilapia, catfish, and crucian carp…
Various cooking methods, steamed, braised, boiled, grilled, fried…
Everyone ate with great joy and satisfaction. Only the empress felt somewhat uncomfortable, with a slight sense of guilt, because there were always a pair of resentful eyes (Lin Beifan’s) watching her. Under the gaze of those eyes, she felt uneasy and choked.
Finally, unable to bear it any longer, she picked up a piece of crispy fried fish and placed it in Lin Beifan’s bowl, saying, “Sir, you’ve worked hard today! Have some fish to replenish your strength!”
Lin Beifan put down his chopsticks and advised, “Your Majesty, you are the ruler of a nation, how can you be so idle? Fishing made you forget about state affairs! What’s more, you left me alone in the room to review reports tirelessly while you frolicked outside for two hours. Is this appropriate? And you’ve already forgotten about me!”
The empress, feeling embarrassed, said, “Sir, I haven’t had this much fun in a long time, so I couldn’t stop myself! But tomorrow will be different; tomorrow I will seriously attend to state affairs. Please trust me!”
“Your Majesty, you must keep your word!” Lin Beifan said.
With a determined tone, the empress said, “I am the sovereign of this nation, and my words are as good as gold. How could I deceive you?”
Watching the empress’s sincere demeanor, Lin Beifan believed her! But the result was different the next day.
“Wow, there are so many fish here too!”
“Quick, bring me my fishing rod; I’m going to catch them all!”
“Today, I’m going to catch ten barrels of fish!”
“Wow, the Empress is so amazing; she caught another fish!”
The empress was playing again, and she was even more excited than yesterday! Meanwhile, Lin Beifan sat once again at his desk, buried under a mountain of reports, correcting them without any emotions.
His heart was filled with bitterness!
Women’s words are deceiving, I actually believed in your sincerity!
Just then, a person peeked in, looking very cute.
Lin Beifan waved to her, “Little Princess, why are you here?”
The Little Princess came over with something in her hands, saying, “Lin Beifan, I came to see you! These are special candied fruits and osmanthus cakes that I brought for you. Try them; how do they taste?”
Lin Beifan was deeply moved, “Little Princess, you’re the best to me!”
The Little Princess proudly said, “Of course, you’re my man; who else should I be good to?”
Lin Beifan: “…”
“Quick, try it. How does it taste?” The Little Princess handed over the food in her hands.
Lin Beifan carefully picked up a piece of osmanthus cake and began to eat it. It melted in his mouth, and he swallowed it in two or three bites.
Then, he picked up a piece of candied fruit. It was sweet, soft, and not sticky at all. Lin Beifan nodded repeatedly, “Very good, very delicious. I really like them. Thank you, Little Princess!”
Seizing the opportunity, the Little Princess hinted, “Lin Beifan, considering how good I am to you, shouldn’t you show some appreciation?”
“Show appreciation for what?” Lin Beifan asked, puzzled.
The Little Princess, with a sly look, winked, “You know what I mean!”
Lin Beifan was so angry that his whole body trembled! I thought of you as a friend, but you ended up coveting my body!
I thought there was a connection between us, but in the end, it turned out to be just a business deal! Lin Beifan felt a chill in his heart, opened his arms, and said, “Little Princess, come here and be gentle with me!”
The Little Princess immediately pounced on him, clinging to Lin Beifan like an octopus. Holding the small person in his arms, Lin Beifan found some solace in his heart. Although he had once again been abandoned by the empress, the Little Princess remained loyal, providing him with a bit of warmth in this vast and cold cabin.
Just then, the empress’s voice came from outside: “Yunying, I’ve caught a big carp again! This carp is exceptionally fat and lively. You must love eating it!”
“Where, where… Empress Sister, I’m coming!” The Little Princess hurriedly rushed out.
Lin Beifan: “…
Unbeknownst to them, the fleet had sailed more than 100 li away, leaving the capital’s territory and arriving in Xianzhou Prefecture. All the officials of Xianzhou Prefecture and many commoners had come out to greet them.
“We pay our respects to Your Majesty, long live the Emperor!”
“Everyone, please rise!”
The empress looked at the bustling officials of Xianzhou Prefecture and the densely packed commoners on both sides, furrowing her brow. “During this inspection, I have repeatedly instructed that I would travel lightly and not disturb the people! You officials of Xianzhou Prefecture should each perform your duties instead of coming to see me! Except for the essential officials, there’s no need for anyone else to be here!”
“Yes, Your Majesty!” The officials of Xianzhou Prefecture trembled with fear.
“And these commoners, there’s no need to arrange for them either! I truly dislike these meaningless grand spectacles that waste resources and trouble the people. If I catch wind of this happening again, beware of your heads!” the empress warned.
The Prefect wiped the sweat from his face and said nervously, “Your Majesty, they came here of their own accord, not at my arrangement! It’s just that the opportunity to see the Emperor is so rare that they couldn’t resist coming!”
“I see, in that case, it’s not your fault! But now, it’s the busy season for spring planting, and the fields need labor. You should send them back!” the empress ordered with a wave of her hand.
“Yes, Your Majesty!”
So, the commoners on both sides were dismissed. The empress then set foot in Xianzhou and began inspecting the development of the region.
The accompanying personnel were not many, mainly consisting of skilled individuals.
As they traveled, the empress couldn’t help but sigh, “Before I ascended the throne, I once stayed in Xianzhou for a few days! Now, more than ten years have passed, the streets are busier, there are more houses, and the roads are wider. I almost didn’t recognize it! Prefect Liu, it seems you’ve done well in the past few years. You deserve a promotion!”
The Prefect of Xianzhou was overjoyed and said humbly, “Thank you for your praise, Your Majesty. I am truly unworthy! Actually, if we talk about changes, it mainly started last year!”
The empress was somewhat surprised, “Only started last year?”
“Yes, Your Majesty!” The Prefect of Xianzhou bowed, “I dare not deceive Your Majesty. Just over a year ago, there were not many changes in Xianzhou! But in the past year, after the internal turmoil in Great Wu ended, the waterways were all cleared, hovercraft transportation became smooth, and various goods were transported faster, leading to an improvement in the economy!”
“And there’s also the widespread use and promotion of the miraculous construction material, cement, which has created numerous job opportunities. Many commoners are now working, and they are living in sturdy houses. This has once again boosted the economy!”
“Furthermore, the court’s policies for recuperation and recovery… Under these various measures, the changes in Xianzhou are truly remarkable. The lives of the commoners are getting better and better, and all of this is thanks to Your Majesty! Long live Your Majesty!”
The officials all exclaimed. The empress shook her head with a smile, thinking to herself, “How can this be my accomplishment? It’s all Lin Beifan’s doing! Without him, none of this would have been possible.”
A capable minister has a tremendous impact on the country! Especially someone like Lin Beifan, who has a comprehensive and top-notch network, has an even greater influence! With his efforts alone, he saved a nation!
However, Lin Beifan’s abilities also belonged to her!
After all, they were going to be a family in the future; there was no need to be so formal!
Next, accompanied by her entourage, the empress quietly inspected the spring planting in the fields.
This was the busy season for spring farming, and the commoners had rolled up their sleeves, hiked up their pants, and some even bared their arms, working energetically in the fields.
The empress couldn’t help but feel moved again. “Last year, we faced a once-in-a-century ice disaster, but luckily we got through it! I hope this year will bring a good harvest and relieve their hardships.”
“Your Majesty, since last year, we’ve used cement to build many irrigation facilities and vigorously promoted various fertilizers and agricultural techniques. This spring, we planted high-yielding Taiping rice, and the beginning looks better than ever before. We’re sure to have a good harvest this year!” someone advised.
The empress nodded, “I hope so!”
The empress continued on and arrived at a teahouse not far away to have a meal.
While resting, the empress didn’t forget to glance at the fields and said with a smile, “Sir, you’re the top scholar of Great Wu. Seeing this lively scene of labor in the fields, don’t you want to compose a poem?”
Lin Beifan, who was eating, thought for a moment and nodded, “Sure, I’ll do my best!”
Amidst the anticipation of the crowd, Lin Beifan recited the classic poem “In Praise of Farmers.”
In spring, a lone millet seed takes root, come autumn, a bounty of countless grains it yields.
No barren fields under heaven’s vast expanse, yet hunger persists amongst those who toil.
Beneath the noonday sun, upon the humble hoe, beads of sweat descend to nourish the soil.
Consider this, each morsel on the plate, a testament to every laborer’s tireless toil.
After hearing the poem, everyone was deeply impressed.
“What a great poem! It’s simple and unadorned, yet sincere in its emotions, portraying the labor of farmers!”
“Especially the last line: ‘Consider this, each morsel on the plate, a testament to every laborer’s tireless toil.’ It emphasizes the value of food and the hard work of farmers, reminding us to cherish food and avoid wastage!”
“I also think the last line of the poem is the best, it adds the finishing touch!”
The empress looked at Lin Beifan with an amused expression, suppressing her inner laughter. “Sir, first put down the chicken leg in your hand, wipe the oil off your mouth, and then recite this poem more appropriately!”
Lin Beifan: “…”
After spending only two days in Xianzhou, the fleet continued its journey south.
They visited several prefectures along the way, and overall, everything seemed satisfactory. During this journey, Lin Beifan also used his abilities to improve the local weather conditions and soil quality, ensuring a good harvest for the year.
However, while on the move, news arrived from the Great Yan Empire. The Imperial Teacher of Great Yan, Empty Void Daoist, had gathered various precious materials and was preparing to refine the elixir of immortality.
This news caught the attention of emperors and kings from various nations. However, upon receiving this news, Lin Beifan’s first reaction was, “Is this unscrupulous Daoist planning to run away?”