The biggest reason for building the canal wasn’t because of trade.
Fu Zhiyu still remembered the floods in his previous life. It rained heavily for a month, and the people were miserable, their food was flooded, and their houses collapsed. Fu Zhiyu was still the emperor when the flood happened. The follow-up disaster relief was weak, and officials were corrupt, which led to the riots of the people who couldn’t survive. So Xie Ke’s rebellion at that time received the support of a large part of the population, and it could even be said to meet the public expectations.
In fact, this matter had nothing to do with Xie Ke, and the rain wasn’t caused by him. But the guilt Fu Zhiyu felt at that time became a shadow he couldn’t erase.
He wronged those people. He didn’t control the officials under him and failed to give the people the help they should have had.
Now that there were still several years before the flood, it was enough to prepare. Through the Yuan family in recent years Fu Zhiyu had donated a lot of money to build a dam along the way, but he felt that it was still not enough. The idea of a canal gradually took shape. After seeing Fu Yanran’s reply, he realised that their ideas coincided, and Fu Yanran even had already started to do it a long time ago.
“The Xie family also mentioned the construction of the canal, and now they are already recruiting workers along the way,” Fu Yanran wrote in the letter. “I think that although the scope of the flood is not large now, if it comes to the rainy season, it can easily lead to a catastrophe. Although there are dams along the way, it is better to drain it than to block it. It would be better to build a canal to help the country and the people, for the benefit of a thousand years.”
Fu Zhiyu had also been to the shipyard of the Deng family. The craftsmen were good, and there were many developing things. If the craftsmanship could reach a better level in the next few years, it might be possible to build large-scale machinery, so that the canal could be dug without relying on manpower only, and the efficiency would be faster.
However, as far as the current situation was concerned, it was too far to think about it; let’s do the little things first.
The last one to come was the Lin family. Fu Zhiyu gave him a lot of drawings, from small agricultural tools to waterwheels. Their family specialised in this, and as he expected, they had no objections, like the Qian and Deng families.
The head of the Lin family was Lin Yan. He was the oldest among the four heads, one year older than Yuan Jiangwen. Unlike the other three, his family had a long history of doing business and had accumulated a lot. Although relatively speaking, it was not as aggressive as other families, but the land and properties accumulated before were enough for the Lin family to eat for a lifetime.
What also made Fu Zhiyu look at them differently was the fact that the Lin family’s land wasn’t only in Jiangnan, but spread over many parts of the continent. Because it was a long-established family of many years, it had many branches. For example, one of the Lin family’s branches had a farm on the barbarian side, specialising in growing cotton, and many of the merchants’ raw materials were actually supplied by this family.
The Deng and Qian families both had one word for the Lin family – old-fashioned. Back then, Fu Zhiyu investigated the matter of the sacrifice and was interested to see that the Lin family had withdrawn from the beginning, and even spent some effort to stop the others from doing it but didn’t succeed.
Yuan Jiangwen had a few more things to say about the man, saying that he was conservative and cautious.
“I don’t know if it’s the reason why he hasn’t married until now. He rarely speaks and is silent most of the time,” Yuan Jiangwen introduced him to Fu Zhiyu. “The Lin family is a big family. There are so many branches in the family and also many excellent seedlings. The heirs of this family are all competing with each other. If he doesn’t marry, many people in the Lin family will be quite satisfied, so no one says anything to him about it.”
“Lin Yan is a rock,” Yuan Jiangwen thought for a while, and made a final summary, “Don’t beat around the bush when talking to him, just say it straight. He is open neither to persuasion nor to coercion, and he always has his own way of doing things.”
When Fu Zhiyu heard this, he was quite nervous at first; but then he showed Lin Yan the drawings and the man stared at the drawings carefully for a long time, thinking something. Finally some expression appeared on his stone-like face.
A little surprise, and a little relief.
After Lin Yan’s face showed some expression, he appeared pretty good-looking. Probably because his face had been frozen and blank for too long, there were few wrinkles. He looked younger than Deng Qian, who spent his time playing with brothel girls.
This was the first time Fu Zhiyu officially met Lin Yan, but because of the previous events, his first impression of Lin Yan was good.
“I think it’s fine. There is nothing wrong with it,” Lin Yan said. “I’ll just follow Wang Zhao’s idea. My Lin family has no objections. If you need anything, we’ll do our best.”
Fu Zhiyu’s favorability for him had risen a bit again.
The Deng and Qian families actually recognised the drawings as soon as they looked at them, but they had a lot of thoughts, so they wouldn’t say anything in the first place, they would have to test Fu Zhiyu for a while, and would only nod if they knew enough.
In contrast, Lin Yan was really easy to talk to. Fu Zhiyu thought: sure enough, you can only judge people when you get along with them yourself, and the comments of my uncle and the others are all a bit one-sided.
But Lin Yan hadn’t left yet, and Fu Zhiyu watched him giving the place an unobtrusive glance. This wasn’t the government office, this time the appointment was made at home.
“In the future, if I have any questions, can I visit Wang Zhao by myself?” Lin Yan said; his voice was very cold, but if you listened carefully, you could hear a few tremors, “Just to talk about some… business.”
His words sounded a bit like a cover-up, but Fu Zhiyu had heard him agree earlier, so he didn’t pay attention to this detail and replied quickly, “Naturally, you are always welcome.”
Lin Yan breathed a sigh of relief, and left soon after.
After a while, Steward Zhou came in to clean up the tea on the table, and also mentioned to Fu Zhiyu: “Master Lin is really polite, and he even brought a gift.”
“Didn’t I tell you that I wouldn’t accept their gifts?”
“When he came in, he put it quietly by the door. No one saw it at first. If it weren’t for the Lin character engraved on it, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to tell who sent it,” Steward Zhou explained. “After the servant found out, he immediately chased after Master Lin to return it, but Master Lin said it was just a box of pastries, made by the private chef at home. There was no point in returning it, was there?”
Sure enough, Fu Zhiyu smelled the sweet smell coming from inside; the box was actually a food box.
“Forget it,” Fu Zhiyu waved his hand, “If there is nothing wrong with these pastries, just keep them, never mind such a small matter.”
During lunch, Steward Zhou served the pastries from the Lin family on a silver plate. The pastries had a sweet and salty taste. Fu Zhiyu took a bite and never touched it again, but Yuan Wanyun ate a lot.
“There used to be a cook at home who would make this kind of pastry. I liked them very much. Later, the cook left, and I never tasted them again,” Yuan Wanyun was a little nostalgic, “Because it’s been too long, I can barely remember it. But I just think the taste is too similar to the one in my memory. Is it a specialty snack in Jiangnan?”
Fu Zhiyu smiled and said, “I don’t know, but you can ask the cook at home to go to the Lin family to learn. I met Lin Yan today and thought he was pretty talkative.”
Yuan Wanyun somewhat knew what her son was doing recently, but she didn’t understand such things, so she didn’t interfere. Anyway, she always supported everything Zhiyu did.
“No need to bother so much. There are so many delicious things in the world, do you have to move them all to the backyard?” Yuan Wanyun said, “I don’t like it too much, I was just a little surprised. Zhiyu, you go and do those big things. Although Mother can’t help you with this, she can avoid causing you more trouble.”
After listening to this, Fu Zhiyu didn’t argue, but the smile on his face became more gentle, and he said, “When I’m done these few days, I will make some snacks for Mother. I have also learned a few skills from the kitchen chef before. The snacks I make are definitely better than this one.”
Yuan Wanyun smiled but said nothing.
However, Fu Zhiyu underestimated how busy he was. Although he fulfilled his promise to make the snacks for his mother a few days later and the snacks tasted good, it was too late when they were ready, and Yuan Wanyun, who was waiting, had already fallen asleep leaning on a small table.
Fu Zhiyu was also very sleepy. He sent his mother back to her bedroom quietly, washed up as quickly as possible, and fell asleep as soon as his head touched the pillow.
The next day, he was about to set off at dawn and go to the village next to Luanzhou City to see the situation. When he came back in the afternoon, he happened to pass by his estate.
Fu Zhiyu also had an estate in the countryside since the time he had come to Jiangnan.
The vegetables and meat eaten in the mansion were all grown in his estate. When the wolfdog Rongrong first came to Jiangnan, he had a bit of problem acclimatising. There were many people in the city and it was very noisy, which made Rongrong restless. He was also kept in the estate for a while before he felt better, and now he was well-adapted.
This estate also grew the melon seedlings that Fu Zhiyu moved from the capital, but since they were now in the countryside, they didn’t have the good treatment that Fu Zhiyu used to give them when he watered them with his own tea.
Fu Zhiyu only remembered that the melons weren’t sweet or delicious. The estate was far away and he forgot about them for a while. Now he happened to be passing by, so he went to take a look.
The melons were still growing very well, very lush, and every leaf was vibrant.
“The fruits are very good!” The farmers in the estate also praised, “It grows quickly, and the fruit is sweet. Anyone who eats it will have to praise it.”
When Fu Zhiyu heard them say this, he slowly realised that the kind of melon he often ate at home was from this plant; but when the fruit at home came to him, it would be cut on a plate, and he had a prejudice regarding this melon, so serious that he had never recognised it. He never expected it to come to Jiangnan and actually change so much.
Such a change, in addition to the fact that the water and soil in Jiangnan were suitable for the growth of melons… were there other reasons?
“Jiangnan also originally had this kind of melon, but the ones from other families are different from ours, the ones from our farm are much sweeter and bigger than theirs.” The head of the estate saw that Fu Zhiyu listened very seriously, and spoke boldly. He didn’t learn etiquette and his speech was straightforward. His smile looked very honest, “In addition to sending it to the mansion, we also make a lot of money from it.”