“Once the canal is opened, it will be a major project for the benefit of the country and the people. Firstly, for trade, and secondly, for flood control. Thirdly, it is for drainage and irrigation of the surrounding fields, and fourthly, it is also a business. Digging ponds by the river can raise fish and grow water caltrops,” Fu Zhiyu, accompanying King Xidan, looked around with emotion. “It was not easy to dig it to this level in a few years.”
King Xidan was also watching very seriously. From time to time, he touched here and there. Not to mention the others, the irrigation problem on the grassland was indeed a problem that he had been distressed about for a long time. If he could build a canal, it would naturally be good.
The canal was very long, and for Fu Zhiyu and his party it took at least three or four days to make this journey. This was just a cursory look at the route. If one took a more detailed look, it would take even longer.
“When it’s open, it will be very different,” Fu Zhiyu said, “and we can plant willows along the river, so it will be a sight to see.”
The first few days were pretty good; the plans that King Xidan had seen were pretty much worked out. He had a rough idea in his mind where the canal was going to be built and how many cities it would pass through along the way.
But in the end, they met someone they hadn’t seen for a long time.
Since four years ago, after Xie Ke had been discovered by Fu Zhiyu, he really hadn’t been to Jiangnan honestly. Anyway, Fu Zhiyu hadn’t encountered anything strange, so he assumed that Xie Ke hadn’t come back.
This time, could it be a coincidence?
When he saw Xie Ke, Fu Zhiyu was standing on the edge of the canal. After all, the canal hadn’t been opened yet. The last section was still being dug and the workers were still sweating there. Fu Zhiyu also went to see the workers’ food. There were big steamed buns and stir-fried vegetables. He also asked for a little to eat himself. Although it was not exquisite, it had the flavour of farm food. However, the food here was more spicy. After taking a few bites, Fu Zhiyu couldn’t eat it anymore and drank several mouthfuls of water.
“If you can’t eat spicy food, don’t eat it. Do you really need to experience this?” King Xidan glanced at him, and then pointed not far away to show him, “There is another person as strange as you, take a look.”
When Fu Zhiyu heard this, he glanced in the direction King Xidan was pointing, and saw Xie Ke.
There were also some soldiers digging the canal. Their task was not only to work, but also to maintain order. Xie Ke was sitting in the middle of the group of people, dressed very simply. Fu Zhiyu hadn’t paid attention and didn’t even know he was there. If King Xidan’s eyes weren’t so sharp and he didn’t love to watch the excitement at the expense of others so much, Fu Zhiyu wouldn’t have noticed Xie Ke.
He was like an ordinary soldier, eating and living with the others, gnawing on buns with his head down without looking aggrieved at all.
It seemed that he felt Fu Zhiyu’s gaze. Xie Ke quickly looked up at him and seemed to be stunned for a while, then stood up and walked towards Fu Zhiyu, almost trotting all the way.
King Xidan felt that he had done his part, and now it was time to watch the show, so he quickly stepped aside.
While Xie Ke walked towards Fu Zhiyu, he took advantage of this little time on the way to clean up a little bit, but he was digging the canal, covered in dirt, and he couldn’t clean himself up in such a short period of time.
Fu Zhiyu didn’t eat much spicy food. The food of the canal workers didn’t look spicy, and it seemed fine when he ate it, but the aftertaste was lingering. The more time passed, the more spicy it felt. His throat was burning and he couldn’t drink enough water to put down the fire. There was also a lot of dust on the side of the river, and he coughed from time to time, looking a little embarrassed.
It was indeed a bit awkward for the two of them to meet in this situation. Xie Ke rushed up to him and didn’t know what to say.
“I…” Xie Ke was silent for a while. He missed Zhiyu so much and he couldn’t help but look at him; but he didn’t dare to look at him either. In the end, he only said, “I didn’t expect you to come here. I’m sorry, I didn’t make any preparations.”
Fu Zhiyu looked at him: “What preparations were you going to make?”
“Zhiyu, you don’t want to see me?” Xie Ke said nervously and couldn’t help explaining, “I don’t usually come here, but the construction period is approaching, and someone must be watching. I don’t feel comfortable with others, so I came by myself. I didn’t expect you to be here.”
Fu Zhiyu: “……”
“I’m not that unreasonable,” he said. “You can go wherever you want. I don’t care about this. Today is just a coincidence. Why do you have to act like you’ve seen a raging beast?”
After Fu Zhiyu said these words, he was silent for a while, and then said, “I know that it was you who did most of the work to arrange this. It’s only right that you come and keep an eye on it.”
He really knew very well that it was indeed Xie Ke who did all this.
Xie Ke finally breathed a sigh of relief when he heard that. He felt that he had been busy for so long, doing his best, and it had come to fruition.
“When the canal is opened, you won’t have to worry anymore,” Xie Ke said, “The thing you worry about will not happen again.”
Fu Zhiyu glanced at him, and happened to run into the flattering and cautious look in his eyes.
He thought that Xie Ke probably knew why he originally wanted to build this canal. After all, he was one of the few people who knew.
“When the canal is opened, can you come and see it?” Xie Ke plucked up the courage to ask him, “…so that I wasn’t working in vain.”
He waited anxiously for Fu Zhiyu’s reply, staring at him intently.
Fu Zhiyu thought for a while, then nodded and said, “Okay.”
He wanted to witness all this, and it didn’t matter if Xie Ke was there or not.
The two of them didn’t talk anymore, walking past each other. Only King Xidan smacked his lips, not tasting anything.
“Look at it,” he looked at Xie Ke’s back, and then said with emotion to Fu Zhiyu, “He will be like this in front of you.”
Fu Zhiyu didn’t answer.
King Xidan saw that he obviously didn’t want to talk, so he shut up sensibly.
But Fu Zhiyu clearly felt his inquiring gaze that was getting stronger and stronger. Over time, he couldn’t stand it, and said, “Stop looking, just say what you want to say.”
“I’m not even curious about what happened between you two. I really want to ask, what outcome are you trying to seek now that you’re spending time like this?” King Xidan asked him, “Look, Xie Ke is not getting married, and you are not getting married either, you two don’t actually see anyone else. Just get along and get it done, why toss around like this?”
“Who said that a person must get married? I’m fine on my own,” Fu Zhiyu retorted. “Besides, not everything is about seeking an outcome. Most of the time, it is about no longer being able to understand each other, so let it be.”
Take his own mother as an example; in fact, he had known about Lin Yan’s feelings for a long time.
His mother should have also known. Lin Yan would run to the mansion every day for trivial things. Occasionally, when he met Fu Zhiyu’s mother, he wouldn’t know where to put his hands and feet, and he would stammer when he spoke. Even a fool should be able to notice.
Fu Zhiyu didn’t care; it was entirely his mother’s choice. Although his mother had the title of the Imperial Noble Consort, Emperor Qingyuan had been dead for many years. If his mother really wanted to, there were ways to go. The problem was his mother didn’t want to.
She was already very tired of this kind of relationship, and she just felt weary and troubled by Lin Yan’s advances.
Yuan Wanyun’s mood was very similar to Fu Zhiyu’s. This mood couldn’t be explained to others; probably only the two of them understood it.
On the day the canal opened, Fu Zhiyu went to see it as agreed, and also met Xie Ke.
But he somehow felt that Xie Ke looked much more haggard than before. The last time he saw Xie Ke, he was dirty and grimy. But today, Xie Ke put on formal clothes, and yet the tiredness on his face couldn’t be concealed.
He even took the initiative to explain to Fu Zhiyu: “There were too many things when the canal was opened, and I haven’t slept for a few days.”
But he didn’t look like he hadn’t rested well.
Fu Zhiyu glanced at him and noticed that he already had grey hair at his temples. The two of them were not standing close, but Fu Zhiyu could still see it clearly.
At Xie Ke’s age, grey hair was nothing. Most of the courtiers were more or less white-headed, stressed and busy; but Xie Ke was not an ordinary person.
He was not from this world, and it stood to reason that this world wouldn’t let him age.
Fu Zhiyu, an abnormal data, had not changed in the past few years. Even the people who took his pills, his mother and the Yuan family, had not changed, but Xie Ke had changed.
…I don’t know what he has done.
Fu Zhiyu lowered his eyes, and then reacted as if it was all none of his business.
This summer, it did rain heavily, but the repaired dams and the canal played a big role. The disastrous flood didn’t happen, but because of the heavy rain, several villages in low-lying areas were affected by the disaster, as well as some crops. But the court’s disaster relief was strong, and the relief money and relief food arrived soon, and nothing went wrong in the end.
Fu Zhiyu’s nightmare no longer happened. Since then, he felt a lot more relaxed and at ease.
After another five years, the Deng family’s ship was finally built.
When the ship was launched, Fu Zhiyu was there, and this time he saw Deng Jinghe again. The man had tanned considerably and still stared at him for a long time, but this time, he came up to talk.
“Thank you,” he said. “Next year, I plan to take the merchant fleet to sea. This ship is doing very well. I’m sorry for the previous things. Now that I think about it, at that time, I was really too narrow-minded and harmed others and myself. There was really no point in bringing in intrigue and trickery.”
Going to sea meant leaving this continent to see the outside world. The risk was great. Even Fu Zhiyu didn’t know what else was outside this continent. The original book only wrote a sentence at the end, saying that the fleet sent a message and there were other continents out there. The road to the future was lying ahead. This was an invitation to write about it if someone wanted to, but it could hardly be expected that someone would really try it now.
“I used to like you. I looked at you once back then and thought about you for many years,” Deng Jinghe said. He smiled, “But Xie Ke showed up. I knew I couldn’t compete with him. It was hopeless. But I didn’t expect that he wouldn’t succeed either. Thinking about it now, I feel quite balanced mentally.”
Fu Zhiyu: “……”
Before he could answer, Deng Jinghe left, jumping onto the deck in a few steps. He used to be a little gloomy, but now he seemed to be a different person.
Fu Zhiyu stood on the pier for a while, not knowing what he was thinking, and only after a long time did he leave.
The four great merchants had all changed somewhat, and even the status of merchants had changed. Over the years, the matter of doing business was not so embarrassing in the eyes of the public anymore, with commerce flourishing in various places like spring shoots.
On this basis, many schools could be opened. After all, everyone had enough to eat and had the energy to do other things.
The school Fu Zhiyu wanted to set up was a comprehensive one, where people could study or learn a skill, and have many more options to choose from in the future.
He had already found a group of teachers. He would try it in Jiangnan now, and if it was good, he would write a memorial to Fu Yanran.