Fish 037: Suffering From the Hardships of People’s Livelihood

Fish 036: Dragon as well
Fish 038: Can't Bear to Cry or Move House

Worry about the living environment.

The snow on the mountain road seriously slowed down the speed of the caravan.

The terrain of Mount Silang was not as steep as the northwest of Pingzhou. Because of the caravan, the road here had been specially repaired. Apart from being slippery, it’s also smooth.

Meng Qi was not in a hurry, stopping and then walking, looking at the scenery beside the road to pass the time.

There were quite a few people like them who joined the group halfway, including shopkeepers, woodcutters, and even servants who escort supplies in the yamen*.

*the office or residence of a public official in the Chinese Empire

People who worked in the yamen were also divided into three, six, and nine grades, not to mention those with high grades. As far as these low-level servants were concerned, some had served in the government office for a long time, and some were ordinary people who came to serve as corvee*.

*forced labor owed by a vassal to his feudal lord; bailiff of feudal yamen

What the latter did was not the easy work of delivering letters, but delivering supplies for the government. For example, the charcoal used in winter, the sand bricks and tiles used to build houses, and others. To put it bluntly, they are free coolies*.

*unskilled native laborer

The corvee would be imposed on every male, and each of them needed to do heavy work for the government for about a month every year. What to do and how long to do it, the government had the final say.

While serving as corvee in Zhushan County, the county government was in charge of food and housing, there was not much work and the civilians were very familiar with the people in the government. Everyone chatted while working, which was very lively. This was obviously not the case outside. Those people were pushing carts without saying a word, and the person who looked like the supervisor was not in the mood to joke. He just wanted to finish the job and go home quickly.

At this time, you could see the tyranny of the Si family. The carriages that transported things for the government didn’t dare cross the Si family caravan but followed behind like the other small caravans.

When it was dark, they still hadn’t reached Qiuling County.

Caravans, large and small, stopped. They found an open space, surrounded the carriages in a circle, and built a bonfire in a place sheltered from the wind to keep warm.

Thinking that they would be home soon, everyone had smiles on their faces, only the corvees were anxious.

“Tomorrow is the deadline!”

“…we’ll go and report the situation, maybe they’ll be more accommodating.” The official in charge of supervising the work had no choice but to tell the corvees who surrounded him with sad faces, “there is snow everywhere, if we drive at night and damage the carriages and goods, wouldn’t the crime be even more serious?”

“If we hadn’t encountered the Si family caravan, we would have been able to go faster!” One of the corvees angrily said.

Someone next to him immediately covered his mouth and said in a low voice, “Do you want to die? The Si family has always been domineering. You and I will only be punished with a few lashes for a day’s delay, but if you collide with the Si family’s goons, how will you pay for it?”

The corvee was dissatisfied and wanted to say more.

The supervisor pointed to the shining knife of the Si family caravan guards and said, “Even if you can afford it, are your arms and legs as hard as a knife? It won’t kill you, but what if you lose your arms and legs? When your family files a suit, they’ll say they mistook you for a bandit, and just send some soup and medicine money. How will your family live then?”

The corvee had nothing to say and sat down on the side with a sullen face.

Mo Li could hear the words of that group of people clearly. He looked at the carts transported by the corvees. The ruts were deep, and the carts were covered with a tarpaulin. It was so tightly covered that it was impossible to see what was inside.

There were more than 20 such carts in total with no oxen or horses to draw them, all relying on manpower.

“Are all corvees outside so heavy?” Mo Li asked in a daze.

Even though the book said that tyranny was fiercer than a tiger, the place where Mo Li passed by was not where people were in dire straits. Even the driver of the caravan just now said that Qiuling County was very prosperous and the life of the people was much better than before.

How could this be so much better?

Mo Li asked unconsciously. Meng Qi looked at the corvees and said in a low voice, “If you don’t want to do corvee, you can buy it with money. There are more wealthy people in Qiuling County, so more people are willing to spend money. They don’t have to work hard, so they naturally feel that life is much better than before. However, in this world, there are always some people who cannot afford it. With fewer people who want to work and still with work to be done, for the poor, the corvee is even heavier.”

“Isn’t the money for the redemption of the corvee the cost for the government to hire people?” Mo Li asked subconsciously, how could there be fewer people working when they come and go?

Meng Qi paused but did not answer.

Qin Lu had never been an official and knew nothing about these secrets. Mo Li naturally couldn’t learn this since he never left Zhushan County. It’s also because he’s seeing things that were completely different from what he remembered, so he couldn’t understand them for a while. In fact, Meng Qi didn’t need to explain. Mo Li thought slowly and could figure out the answer.

The government received the money to redeem the corvee but did not hire people to work. They still used those poor people, treating one person as two people, and then record a hired labor in the account. In this way, the saved money went into the pockets of the corrupt county government officials.

“Is this a common thing?”

“No matter where it is, it’s very common…” Meng Qi was in a daze for a while, as if recalling something, then said, “The Chu Dynasty once promulgated a new corvee law for this purpose. For anyone who is assigned as a corvee, redemption is not allowed at all. Those who have more money at home can send servants or hire people to serve, but money cannot be collected by the government.”

After hearing this, Mo Li felt that this was a way to curb the oppression from the root.

Unexpected, what Meng Qi said next was——

“The implementation of the new law failed, and those officials who are making money can always find loopholes to take advantage of. They stipulated that rich households must hire people through a government-run middleman company. The money changed hands and went into the purses of those officials again, but in fact, no hired workers came at all, and the matter remained the same and was not resolved. There are even more unscrupulous officials who simply collect ‘exclusive money’ from the people in corvee service, ten wens per person. If not paid, they will be forcibly ‘hired’ by the middlemen. Originally, they only need to serve for one month, but it was extended to two months, and they didn’t get a penny as a hired worker. Even if the appeal is filed, the government and county government have long been colluding…”

Mo Li’s breath became a little short when he heard that and didn’t know what to say. The corvees squatted beside the carts were still worrying about not being able to get to Qiuling County in time.

Beside him, Meng Qi continued, “The Chu Dynasty implemented new laws, including the corvee law with twelve articles in total, and the post of Patrol Inspector is established for the new law. The end result was disappointing. Many corrupt officials have been sacked, but there are also many Patrol Inspectors colluding with corrupt officials. Physician, do you know why the corvee law failed?”

“…corrupt government officials?”

“No, it’s because the county government system is not complete.” Meng Qi seemed to have completely recovered his memory of being a State Teacher. He talked eloquently, “In a county government, there are not many officials who are earnestly receiving imperial salaries. What the catchers, jailers, and detainees eat is not considered in the imperial salaries at all. The money to support their families is given by the county government, so where does the county government get the money from? Just withhold oil and water from the place where the imperial court acquiesces. The county magistrate has a term of office, they come and go with no fixed number. Only these small officials have been sitting in the county government for a long time, so they have long become local snakes and can even go above the county magistrate. If they refused to work, the magistrate had no choice but to follow them and give them benefits.”

Mo Li was silent.

This seemed to be what Elder Qin said, something Xue LingJun understood, but something he knew very little about.

“Physician, judging by your look, there must be no such thing in Zhushan County.” Meng Qi suddenly smiled and said leisurely, “this makes me curious to visit Zhushan County…but no matter how good the place is, it hasn’t always been like this.”

Mo Li heard from the mountain people what Zhushan County was like before Xue LingJun came.

Although Xue LingJun was thirty years younger than Elder Qin, in the eyes of the civilians, the age of knowing one’s life span was already very old. Even if Xue LingJun was in good health and lived for a few more decades, what about after a few decades?

Physician Mo gradually discovered that his expectations for the future seemed more and more difficult to realize.

At least he couldn’t imagine that in the future Zhushan County, there would be a group of petty officials who exploit the people and a group of Holy Lotus Shrine believers who would confuse the people.

Qin Lu traveled around the world back then, and finally settled in Zhushan County under the rule of Xue LingJun, but what can Mo Li do? Qimao Mountain was there, and he could wander outside, but he couldn’t move his nest after all, so he still had to go back to Zhushan County.

“Does the physician regret leaving his hometown?”

“Although my hometown is good, if I don’t come out, how can I detect the crisis in the future?” Mo Li replied.

How the people of a place live depended on what kind of person the county magistrate who came to take office was. How to change that?

Mo Li thought a lot, and when he came back to his senses, he suddenly realized one thing: even a little dragon vein has to worry about Zhushan County, so what about the Taijing dragon vein?

Once the dragon vein took shape and lived in the world as a human being, they would encounter some troubles.

Taijing was the capital of all dynasties. A bad emperor was more troublesome than a bad county magistrate.

Could the Taijing dragon vein be able to bear such a bad heart?

Mo Li subconsciously looked at Meng Qi with deep eyes.

Meng Qi was waiting for the physician to continue asking him for advice when he suddenly met this look. The back of his neck shivered as if some secret had been discovered.


Strange, what is this feeling? Meng Qi muttered in his heart.

“Hn?” Mo Li just happened to see a masked man running towards the corvee not far behind Meng Qi. The man was exhausted and fell down. The corvee seemed to recognize this person and quickly covered him.

At this time, the front of the caravan also became chaotic, as if something had happened.

Immediately afterward, they saw a group of people holding torches, coming here from far and near.

The leader was a man who looked like a black tower. He rode on a horse and scanned the messy camp with his blade-like eyes. The people behind him came up to ask if they saw a stranger coming from the direction of Qiuling County.

Everyone shook their heads in unison. They were going to Qiuling County and hadn’t seen anyone going the wrong way!

The guards of the Si Family caravan seemed to recognize these people and stepped forward to speak.

“…something must have happened!” The driver Mo Li talked with this afternoon patted his legs and said, “these people are all from the Si family stronghold. It’s so dark, are they chasing someone?”

Mo Li looked at the corvee from the corner of his eye and found that they had already hidden the man in the shadow behind the cart.

“You are not allowed to cover your faces, show your faces!” The people from the Si family stronghold arbitrarily ordered, rushing in and telling anyone they could see.

The small caravans were in a mess, begging for mercy not to damage the goods.

“What do you guys do?”

When the private soldiers of the Si family saw the corvees, they questioned them unceremoniously.

The supervisor quickly obstructed, “These are all grains and grasses from neighboring counties. They are for General Liu’s soldiers and horses to chew on. They must not be damaged!”

Hearing the name of the Bandit Sweeping General, the leading black-skinned man immediately frowned.

By chance, there was a sound of horseshoes at the end of the mountain road. Mo Li moved his ears to confirm that it was the direction they were coming from, and then a dozen or so horsemen that Physician Mo was very familiar with appeared at the crossing.

“What’s the matter, why is the road blocked?”

As soon as Liu Dan lifted the reins, he looked coldly at the private soldiers of the Si family holding torches.

Although there were few people around Liu Dan and many people around the Si family, the black man had a cautious expression as if he was facing an enemy.

“Request to General Liu, someone stole the belongings of the Si family and ran out, and I was ordered to hunt them down.”

“What item is so precious?” Liu Dan sneered.

Before waiting for the other person to answer, General Liu whipped his horsewhip over him, “What a daredevil, what are you? It’s fine if you don’t kneel down when you see this general, but you don’t even report it to the officials when things from the Si family are stolen, even saying you were ordered to hunt them down. Whose order are you following?”

The black man seemed to know martial arts. He dodged the blow, holding back his anger, and said, “The Si family lost a priceless family heirloom. The Patriarch ordered us to take it back, and I neglected the General in a hurry, please forgive me.”

Liu Dan didn’t continue chasing and whipping him, but just sneered: “A family heirloom? I think it’s something shameful!”

No one dared to answer, Liu Dan obviously wanted to find that person before the Si family guards. He glanced around by the light of the bonfires and unfortunately met Meng Qi who had just taken off his cloak.

“Cough cough cough!”

General Liu lost his breath and almost choked himself to death.

The author has something to say:

This chapter explains from the side why Meng Qi has political ideals →_→

Taijing dragon vein: Chen Dynasty, what kind of broken emperor is this?

Taijing dragon vein: Either you die, or I kill you!

Taijing dragon vein: I can’t take it anymore, I want to find friends, I want to establish a dynasty that I like!


History books: Chen’s vitality is exhausted, and Li Dynasty’s dragon vein is in full swing.

Then Meng Qi swung the history book away.

Fish 036: Dragon as well
Fish 038: Can't Bear to Cry or Move House

How about something to motivate me to continue....

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