Fu Zhiyu also knew about this, but he didn’t think there was anything wrong with it: “After all, Qian Manguan didn’t let him down. He still had some conscience. The few shops he wanted were really nothing. Deng Qian listened to all these things, including the coachman’s matter. He knew in his heart that in this way, the Deng family still was indebted to the Qian family, and he didn’t regard that matter as throwing stones at somebody who fell down a well.”
“Then… are you really going to let these two families off the hook like that?”
“It was not a big deal at all. I just wanted to teach them to be obedient and not to be too lawless,” Fu Zhiyu waved his hand, “The whole of Jiangnan still depends on them. Besides, I will also need them in the future. The future is long, you need to use both a carrot and a stick.”
He gave Qian Manguan the medicine to test the hearts of these two families. This seemed to have worked out well. Although the Deng and Qian families had harmed each other, it was just because they were driven by profit for a while; it did not mean that they were full of evil.
If Qian Manguan really pushed too far at that time, it would actually be bad.
After Fu Zhiyu finished speaking, he put away the incense ash casually. He muttered in a low voice while Dr. Chen couldn’t hear him: “… It’s getting too much.”
Deng Qian should have rested well during this time, and when Fu Zhiyu came home today, he even ran into him. His face looked okay, just a little pale, but it was a lot better than being unconscious.
“Wang Zhao,” he came forward as soon as he saw Fu Zhiyu’s carriage, bowed and saluted, “This humble one came here to thank you.”
Fu Zhiyu lifted the curtain and glanced at him: “Thank for what?”
“The Qian family told me that the antidote was given by Wang Zhao,” Deng Qian said. “My dog son was naive and reckless, and conflicted with Wang Zhao, but I hope that Wang Zhao won’t remember the sins of the young one. It really made me ashamed of the Deng family, so I came here to thank you and plead guilty.”
Fu Zhiyu got out of the carriage; his tone still lukewarm: “To be honest, I didn’t give you the poison, but it did start with me. Doesn’t the Deng family resent me?”
“I dare not talk about resentment,” Deng Qian lowered his head, “It was my Deng family who was wrong first.”
“Be careful,” Fu Zhiyu said. “If you play any tricks in the future, it won’t end like this.”
After he said this, he went in, ignoring Deng Qian.
Deng Qian, who stayed in place, breathed a sigh of relief.
Later, Fu Zhiyu heard the news that after Deng Qian went back, he took out the family rules to whip his precious son Deng Lang until he had injuries all over his body. Now he was still recuperating.
“Not very smart indeed,” Fu Zhiyu also commented after hearing this, “If it were me, I would have beat him up too. If the Deng family business is handed over to him in the future, I think the four big merchants will become three big merchants.”
The plot had changed drastically now. Deng Jinghe, who had already been shining during this period of time, didn’t move, but Yuan Lu gloated again, mentioning that his arm was broken and he was recuperating now. He hadn’t been out for several days.
“He said he fell by accident, but I think he was beaten,” Yuan Lu said, “Such villains deserve to be beaten by everyone!”
A few days later, the Deng and Qian families followed the example of the medicine centre and set up porridge tents in several other cities in Jiangnan, still in the name of Fu Zhiyu, for several days in a row, making a big splash.
Many people outside actually didn’t understand what was going on. Although the Deng and Qian families couldn’t hide their secrets completely before, there were only a few people who were fully aware of it and they were limited to the small circle of merchants. These days, the channels for information transmission were very limited. If it weren’t for interested people, they wouldn’t know about the dark undercurrents at all.
But the matter of giving porridge was a good thing. During this time, Fu Zhiyu’s reputation outside was also very good, to the extent that everyone praised the benevolence of Wang Zhao, which made the implementation of Fu Zhiyu’s plans a lot smoother, at least laying a good foundation for them.
Yuan Jiangwen already knew what Fu Zhiyu was going to do in Jiangnan. He had already approached Fu Zhiyu several times and told him what he had in mind.
“You are energetic now, and your uncle is very happy to see it,” he said. “If you are short of money, come to me. I think the porridge tent is a good idea. Why don’t you add a few more?”
“I appreciate Uncle’s thoughts, but we shouldn’t just focus on the porridge tent,” Fu Zhiyu poured him a cup of tea and said with a smile. “The porridge tent is just a palliative thing, and it shouldn’t spread too much, let alone for too long. The medicine centre has already done it, and the Deng and Qian families are also doing it.
If something is given for free for a long time and the people are used to it, they will take it for granted. If it is gone, they will complain. Give rice and you’re kind, stop giving rice and you’re hated. The porridge tent and medicine tent are just emergency relief. If people get used to getting it for nothing, it’s not good.”
“I’m afraid it is not easy for you to start,” Yuan Jiangwen said. “Jiangnan is actually a difficult place to manage. Even if the four major families listen to you now, it is still hard.”
Fu Zhiyu knew that Jiangnan was a place with a rich foundation. It wasn’t like some barren land that was already at a low point and couldn’t get worse no matter what you did. It was different here.
He smiled and said: “I went to the restaurant some time ago and listened to those scholars talking about governance. Some of them say that as long as the money of the four great merchants is taken and shared among everyone, there will be no poor people in Jiangnan. Uncle, do you think it makes sense?”
Yuan Jiangwen smiled, and seemed to think this idea was very naive. He shook his head: “It was not that we can’t spare the money, it’s just…”
“This is actually the same as the porridge tent. The money will only last for a while. If a family doesn’t have the ability to make money, it’s useless to give money,” Fu Zhiyu said. “It is useless to blindly scold the wealthy merchants for sucking blood. When the wealthy merchants sell cloth for ten taels and only give fifty wen to the weaver, it sounds very hateful, but I have also read the documents. Before the business was started, it was already very good that a cloth could be sold for twenty wen. It was the merchant caravans that opened up the channels for buying and selling that caused the price of cloth to rise year by year. It is unfair to remember them for sucking blood and not to remember their credit.
Uncle, don’t worry, if I need it, I will find the Yuan family.”
After Yuan Jiangwen left, Fu Zhiyu sat alone at his desk, looking at the sentences he had written, and pondered for a long time.
He seemed confident in front of Yuan Jiangwen, but he knew in his heart how uneasy he felt, facing these things.
In fact, this wasn’t the first time he envisaged these things. Fu Zhiyu had envisaged them long ago in his previous life, when he was still the emperor.
People have their own strengths, but the only thing that seemed to shine here in Jilin was to be an official, as if the rest of the world was a lowly thing, looked down upon. Those with a little ability had to squeeze into the imperial examination, but civilian and military candidates were limited in numbers.
It was not bad to test your abilities, but there were only so many official positions. What should most people do?
In the aspect of the four lines of scholars, farmers, industry and commerce, Jiangnan had actually realised part of Fu Zhiyu’s vision in his previous life. It could be regarded as advanced, but it was still not enough.
Due to the high status of merchants, there were more paths to success in commerce here, and apart from merchants, there were also craftsmen.
But not everyone could be a craftsman. In fact, from the perspective of Jilin as a whole, the status of a craftsman was higher than that of a merchant. Skills were not something that everyone could learn. They were generally passed down from generation to generation, and only a limited number of apprentices were taught.
Speaking about farming, the variety of grains grown in Jiangnan was very small, mostly monocultural. The farmers at the bottom didn’t know how to adapt and were unable to adapt. The agricultural tools used were also very simple. The old oxen used to plough the fields were already a luxury in many villages, with the majority still relying on human labour.
Fu Zhiyu had seen many worlds in the Lord God’s space. He knew that the ancient world of “His Name Will Live On in History” was backward in level, and as far as the limitations of the times were concerned, Fu Zhiyu couldn’t make too many epoch-changing things. He was not so omnipotent and omniscient; but it was still possible to make some improvements on the current basis.
The same went for the system, which couldn’t be changed in the short term and required even more care and caution. For example, Fu Zhiyu knew that allowing peasants to own land directly could drastically change their lives, but if he did so, it would be tantamount to touching the deepest interests of the landowning class, which was located at the top of the hierarchy in this era. He himself was a big landowner, and even if Fu Zhiyu was ready to make innovations for himself, it didn’t mean that others would agree.
The times had limitations. It was not that he could do whatever he wanted. Fu Zhiyu had planned for a long time, but his experience in the Lord God’s space made him more perceptive and able to see what existed and what could be changed from the top down.
This was a rare free world that could be changed. Fu Zhiyu felt that he had done very well so far after his rebirth, but if he continued, he could make a difference to the fate of many other people.
Not only his mother, Mingdao and the Yuan family; this was actually… his own regret.
However, when he thought about it, he unconsciously tapped his fingers on the desktop. Before that, shouldn’t a hidden danger be solved?
Before he returned to the mansion today, Fu Zhiyu went to the largest restaurant in the city and bought two pots of peach blossom brew.
He didn’t invite anyone today. He just sat in the pavilion by himself, drank alone under the moon, and drank both pots of wine cleanly. He seemed to be even more drunk this time, staggered back to the room, and then fell asleep on the bed, not even covered by the quilt.
Although the weather was getting warmer now, it would get cold at night. Fu Zhiyu’s clothes were not thick. He opened the window and didn’t close it. The cool breeze blew for a while. Lying on the bed, he seemed to feel it too. He shrank in a ball, but he seemed to be asleep, unable to reach out to pull the quilt.
Before long, there was a slight movement from the window, and a figure flashed in. First, the man closed the window lightly and then walked to the side of the bed, trying to cover Fu Zhiyu with a quilt.
But when Fu Zhiyu lay down, he pressed the quilt under him. The man was afraid of waking him up, so he moved more cautiously, but halfway through pulling the quilt, he heard the cold and faint voice of the person on the bed: “How long have you been here?”
Fu Zhiyu opened his eyes and was looking at him. There was no trace of drunkenness in his eyes, and his gaze was very clear.