Yu Xiaocao looked at the not yet ready corn growing in the fields. Her eyebrows came together in a deep frown. If the plague of locusts came, then everything here would be hard-pressed to escape. The corn still needed about a month’s worth of growth before it was ready to harvest. If the plants were harmed by the locusts, then their losses would be inestimable.
The family’s economic damage wasn’t even their first concern. The imperial courts and the young royal prince were ardently hoping for this crop of corn to go well as they only had a small subset of fields growing corn in the capital. In the future, the plan was to slowly push out this crop to the whole nation, especially the northern and northwestern parts of the country. Those areas truly needed a high-yielding crop that wasn’t picky about the soil.
Now back to her family’s concerns. Ten mu had all been planted with corn. If all of that was destroyed, then all the work they had done for a season would be gone! Yu Xiaocao reckoned that the emperor, whose policies had always helped the commoners, would not have their family plant these crops for the court in vain. He would very likely buy this corn back from them at a high price to be used as seeds later.
Yu Xiaocao wasn’t able to guarantee anything else, but she was pretty sure that there was no one in this era who was better at raising crops than her. Although the officials in the capital had her growing methods, this was still the first year they were growing corn. How could they compete with her years of experience with raising corn in her past life? That being said, the mystic-stone water in her hands was more effective than any other fertilizer. Corn watered by it produced large ears of corn that were incredibly delicious. Other people couldn’t even dream of growing corn like hers!
The young royal prince had also said that once the bumper harvest of corn was done, he wanted to help them get a reward. The things that the emperor would give them not only would have a lot of glory attached to them, but they would also be incredibly valuable.
In short, if they encountered the locust swarm, her family’s losses would be disastrous! That wouldn’t work, she needed to think up an idea to contain their losses to a minimum. “Little Divine Stone, do you know when the locust swarm will arrive here?” Yu Xiaocao inhaled a deep breath and forced herself to calm down.
The little divine stone’s consciousness was linked with hers so it could detect that she was feeling quite uneasy. It became serious to fit the mood, [From what the birds were telling me, they should be about two days away by flight.]
That wasn’t too bad. At least they had about two days of time to think of something to do against these locusts before they arrived. Didn’t the little divine stone have the ability to ripen plants faster? Starting from today, they needed to harvest however much corn they could get their hands on!
When Yu Hai came by with a bucket of water for irrigation, Yu Xiaocao quickly stepped forward to bring him over to the side. She carefully looked around and mysteriously pulled Yu Hai to a secluded area.
Yu Hai noticed that his daughter had a very serious demeanor and there were some hints of anxiety leaking out of her. He repeatedly asked, “Cao’er, what’s wrong? What’s going on??”
“Father, do you believe that our world has gods that warn us through our dreams?” Yu Xiaocao pretended to be extremely nervous as she quietly asked him.
Yu Hai remembered that two years ago Xiaocao had hit her head open, she had said that she had toured the underworld. Furthermore, she had even talked to beings that resembled King of Hell and the God of Wealth. Perhaps, his youngest daughter had met another god?
“I believe ah! What’s going on? You dreamt of the gods?” Yu Hai nervously stared at his youngest daughter. His youngest daughter was clever beyond her age. Some of the village elders even said that she was the reincarnation of an immortal child from the heavens and thought that she wouldn’t reach adulthood before the heavens would descend down and take her back. Perhaps...
“Father, when I was watering the plants earlier, I suddenly fainted and lost consciousness. The god who taught me how to plant crops and cook food suddenly appeared in front of me. The god told me some very important news!” Yu Xiaocao crafted a very believable lie. She had a sincere expression on her face that was slightly colored with some worry.
Yu Hai became more uneasy, “What news? Does the god want to take you away? Cao’er, you’re Father’s good daughter, please don’t agree with the god taking you away ah! If you ascend to the heavens, Father and Mother will never be able to see you again in this lifetime!”
Drops of cold sweat fell off Yu Xiaocao’s forehead. Her father’s imagination was even more bizarre than hers. How could there be gods around? Why would she be brought up to the heavens?
[Although this space is quite deficient in spiritual energy and is lacking in resources needed for cultivation, there are still gods around. Do you really think it was a coincidence that lightning struck the owner of that carpentry store? This divine stone had negotiated with the God of Thunder and Goddess of Lightning to help us ah!] The little divine stone silently corrected her mistake within their bond.
Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes in her thoughts at it, ‘What do the gods existing have to do with me? In any case, I haven’t seen any and I don’t want to!’
After she finished her statement, she continued to ignore the little divine stone, who was repeatedly saying that there were gods around. She started to placate her father, whose eyes were turning red, “Father, I don’t know why you think the gods are going to take me away, but the god didn’t want to do that. He told me that in two days, there will be a plague of locusts that hasn’t been seen in a hundred years descending on Dongshan Village. He wanted us to get ready.”
“What?!” Although Yu Hai had never experienced a swarm of locusts, he had heard about the destruction the insects could cause. When he was a child, he had heard Grandpa Gao, who was ninety years old at the time and an elder of the village, talking about the horrible aftermath of a locust plague. That was truly a devastating scene to imagine as there was no food at all to be had ah!
Similar to Yu Xiaocao, Yu Hai’s first thoughts were about the test fields of corn and potatoes that his family had. Neither of these crops were ready for harvesting. If they delayed the court’s missions, then his family would naturally be punished! The imperial court might forgive them in light of the natural disaster. However, the young royal prince had traveled thousands of miles across the seas to get these seeds from the western hemisphere. He had spent so much time on these crops and almost came over to Dongshan Village every day to inspect the crops (Author’s note: He actually came over to bum a meal, okay). The prince obviously cared a lot about these crops, so he would naturally be very disappointed and angry if they get spoiled What could they do? What could they do?!
Yu Xiaocao’s eyes flickered as she replied, “Father, don’t worry! The god gave me a piece of magic that is able to ripen corn and potatoes early. However, this magic is only good for one time. Once we use it, it’ll be gone!”
“Then what are we waiting for? Quickly use the magic on the crops and ripen them early. Our whole family will have to work harder these next two days and harvest all of the corn and potatoes!” Yu Hai lightly let out a sigh of relief when he heard his daughter’s words.
Yu Xiaocao hesitated for a second before she said, “Father, do you think we should warn the other villagers about the locust plague? If they ask us where we got the news from, what should we tell them ah?”
Yu Hai clenched his jaw and replied, “Don’t worry about this, I’ll go tell the Village Chief!! You should go and ripen the cornfields in the middle right now. Be careful, don’t let anyone see you!”
Yu Xiaocao nodded her head, “Father, don’t worry! The corn stalks are so high and thick now that no one will be able to see me once I step in!”
Yu Hai watched as his daughter stepped into the cornfields and then lowered his head to think a bit. He stamped his feet and then dashed towards the village chief’s residence. His youngest daughter had said that the swarm of locusts were going to arrive in about two days. Time was food, so time was the difference between living and dying ah!
When he got to the village chief’s residence, Yu Hai was panting heavily as he pushed open the gate. The village chief was drinking tea inside the courtyard and looked in surprise at Yu Hai, who was puffing with a worried look on his face. The man swiftly stood up and repeatedly asked, “What’s going on?”
“Village Chief, something bad is going to happen! A plague of locusts is going to descend soon!!” Yu Hai hollered out this sentence before he even caught his breath.
The village chief was startled by this and his face immediately paled, “What’s going on? Plague of locusts? Dahai, this is not a joking matter!”
Yu Hai deeply inhaled a couple of breaths and organized the story within his mind. He stammered as he continued, “I was carrying water from the stream at the foot of the West Mountain and saw a snow-white elk. I wondered if I could catch it and add it to my dinner tonight. Who knew that by the time I caught up with it halfway up the mountain, I met an old man whose entire head of hair and beard had gone white. This elk was his mount. The old man told me that, in two days, there will be a disaster arriving in our Tanggu District. I inquired further and he only mysteriously said that this disaster was a plague of locusts that hadn’t been seen for a hundred years. He couldn’t bear to see the people suffer so he sent his elk to lure me over to tell me this news. Chief, do you think this is reliable?”
Sure enough, Yu Hai was related to Yu Xiaocao. They were both experts at crafting believable stories.
The village chief anxiously circled around the courtyard a few times. He knew what type of person Yu Hai was. He wasn’t someone who would come up with something like this to joke around. If what that old man said was true, then when the swarm of locusts arrived, all of their spring crops would disappear into thin air!
The land around Dongshan Village was not very suitable for growing crops as it was relatively infertile sandy dirt. However, many villagers had fields they tended. For the most part, they usually grew high-yielding crops like sweet potatoes. Right now, it was about a month before the sweet potatoes would be ready for harvest. They didn’t have the time to wait anymore; everyone needed to harvest what they could now!
The village chief sounded the alarm bell and gathered the entire village over. He repeated the ‘meeting’ that Yu Hai had to all of the villagers. Finally, he added, “Given Yu Hai’s personality and character, I believe that he is definitely not trying to trick the entire village. As for what that old man passed along, I rather believe it then not! If things are truly going to happen as he warned, we need to harvest everything we can now. Although we’ll lose a great amount of harvest from our sweet potatoes, it’s still better than having the locusts eat it all! Right now it’s up to your own decisions. If you want to believe it, then harvest early. If you don’t, then do as you please! Everyone needs to consider this carefully. When a locust plague passes by, not a single grain is left behind. A whole half a year’s worth of work will disappear into thin air!”
Currently, Yu Hai’s credibility with the other villagers was second only to the village chief’s. The vast majority of people living in Dongshan Village voiced that they believed him and immediately went home to get their farming equipment to start harvesting their sweet potatoes. The village chief also repeatedly reminded everyone that when harvesting the sweet potatoes they should also remember to dig up sweet potato shoots. In a pinch, the shoots could also be eaten in times of famine.
The families that didn’t have farmland all rushed around harvesting whatever other vegetables they had planted in their gardens and stored them in their cellars. The people who had straw houses also hurried about gathering up more straw. Once the locusts passed over, they needed to repair their houses.
There were also some villagers who didn’t quite believe the news and wanted to wait and see. For example, Madam Zhang’s vegetable garden still had many vegetables that were immature. If she harvested them now, she would lose a lot of potential food. If the old man that Yu Hai met was not reliable, then wouldn’t all those vegetable shoots go to waste?
Madam Zhang, who was banking on her luck, only harvested the vegetables that were ready. She still left half of her garden full of vegetable shoots. Yu Dashan suggested that they should go into town and buy some grain in case the locusts did come. That way, when the grain prices inevitably rose after the disaster, they would still have something.
Madam Zhang, on the other hand, felt that the current weather was too hot and would make it easy for the grain to attract pests. Thus, she only gave Yu Dashan enough money to buy a hundred catties of coarse grains in town.
There were a few others who were like Madam Zhang and hoped for the best. All of these people felt their hearts ache at the thought of harvesting their premature sweet potatoes and vegetables.
Naturally, there were also people who had more malicious thoughts. They envied Yu Hai’s abilities and consequently hated him. They thought he was spewing nonsense and didn’t place his warning into their hearts.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Sanguine’s Thoughts: Honestly, it’s hard not to be skeptical. Obviously we as readers know that the locusts are going to come but still.