Chapter 350 - Debate

“This official believes that the growth and output of the crops is somewhat related to the methods used but it’s not a big correlation. Imperial Majesty, you have also said that corn is a high-yielding crop. Without the Yu Family’s help, the yields likely wouldn’t be as high as now, but they wouldn’t be too low either. I believe that we can give the Yu Family a reward, as for an official position...Emperor, please reconsider!”

Imperial Censor Yang had previously been scolded by the emperor in regards to the issue surrounding the lass from the Yu Family, so apparently he had a grudge against the whole family now. Last time he was opposed to giving the female an official position and now he opposed to any member of the Yu Family becoming an official.

Before Zhu Junyang could speak, Minister Liu of the Ministry of Revenue opined, “Imperial Censor Yang, you are wrong! The emperor himself has once said: ‘Without proper investigation, one cannot come to a premature conclusion!’. You were born and bred in an official’s family, so I’m pretty sure you’ve never stepped foot into a crop field. Thus, how could you know what is a normal yield of a field of grain? If the same type of crop is planted, such as wheat, in the same type of land but is managed by a different person, there could be a difference in tens or even hundreds of catties at harvest. This is the reason why the Ministry of Revenue solicited experienced farmers to help with the planting of these new crops.”

“Experienced? Official Liu also said that the difference is in ‘experience’. Corn and potatoes are all new crops that were transported across the ocean. How could the Yu Family have had previous experiences with them?” Imperial Censor Yang coldly huffed. He had always regarded Minister Liu, who had been born in a poor family, with contempt and had never liked him.

Minister Liu’s stubborn personality also came out as he jutted out his face to say, “Regardless, the Yu Family came up with the correct planting method. This year, they had personally come over to supervise the crops being planted in the Imperial Plantations. The facts show that the crops planted last year during the disaster did not have as great a yield as this year. This official has brought over the records written by the ministry. Emperor, please investigate!”   

Su Ran took the documents from Minister Liu and placed them in front of the emperor. Zhu Junfan carefully looked them over and discovered that the yields of the corn fields not only increased significantly but even the growing cycle from germination to harvest had also decreased by around twenty days. He rubbed his chin in contemplation. How did his old transmigrator friend manage to change this?

From what he knew, the little lass only went over once to the Imperial Plantation. The only thing that changed was that the little lass had brought over the so-called ‘pesticide’ solution to treat the plants. Apparently, this pesticide had to be linked with how the crops grew! Did this little lass, like the protagonists of the novels in his previous life, have access to a secret space that held a mystical spring? Could the spring water improve the growth of plants?

Zhu Junfan felt as if he was thinking too much into this and wanted to laugh at himself. He brought himself back to reality and had Su Ran disseminate the documents to the rest of the high-ranking officials. The facts spoke louder than words. The Yu Family was truly skilled in the ways of raising crops!

When the Minister of Works reviewed the documents, he cautiously said, “Imperial Majesty, this official also admits that the Yu Family is talented at farming. However, there are plenty of people who are talented in the world that are in different areas. If raising crops is enough to raise someone to officialdom, then wouldn’t famous and well-known craftsmen also become officials too? What about merchants? Would they too become officials?”

Official Zhang, who had already been promoted to a second ranked official and had a way with politics, hurriedly interjected, “One must evaluate merits before rewarding. What has the Great Ming Dynasty placed the most importance on now? To allow the common people to have enough to eat and warm clothes to wear. That is the way to stabilize the country! The Yu Family managed to raise the high-yielding crops, corn and potatoes, very well. This is a great contribution to the country and I believe that we can break the rules of officialdom for them!”

Imperial Censor Yang snorted coldly and stated, “Official Zhang, corn and potatoes were the high-yielding crops that the emperor and Royal Prince Yang found. Since they are high-yielding crops, I believe that the output of these crops won’t be low even without the Yu Family! Emperor, I believe that the Yu Family is just taking advantage of the circumstances!”   

Minister Liu leveled an angry glare at Imperial Censor Yang, “Official Yang, how come you also didn’t take advantage of the opportunity when corn and potatoes first came to our country to get some more honor for your name?”

Imperial Censor Yang’s eyebrows came together heavily, “I’m not greedy for positions nor power! This official is also not in charge of farming affairs, so why should I take on unneeded trouble?”

 ……   

“All of you, stop debating!” Zhu Junfan pinched the bridge of his nose after getting a headache from hearing all of these old men argue back and forth. He transferred the source of calamity back to his younger cousin, “Royal Prince Yang, what’s your opinion on all of this?”

“The Yu Family is clever and also has talent. We can come to a conclusion next year! Next spring, we can have the crops grown in both the capital and Tanggu Town. The Imperial Plantation will still be managed by the Ministry of Revenue while the plantations in Tanggu Town will be managed by the Yu Family. At this same time next year, we will have our conclusive results!” Zhu Junyang was supremely confident in Yu Xiaocao’s abilities. He was convinced that without Yu Xiaocao, the yields of corn and potatoes could not be this high!

Zhu Junfan also thought that there was no point in continuing to dispute. They would just use this method to settle the problem! He immediately agreed to Royal Prince Yang’s proposal.

Zhu Junyang looked out the corner of his phoenix eyes and gave Imperial Censor Yang a glance before he said, “I hope that when the time comes and the facts are there for all to see that Imperial Censor Yang will have no more objections to the emperor’s decisions!” 

“If the high-yield of the corn is indeed related to the Yu Family, this old official will accept it wholeheartedly!” Imperial Censor Yang believed that he had finally succeeded in preventing the Yu Family from getting an official’s position, so he triumphantly bowed towards Royal Prince Yang. After the herald announced “court is dismissed”, Imperial Censor Yang proudly walked out of the throne room, acting like a rooster who had just won a fight.  

The Yu Family’s farmstead in Tanggu Town had already been planted with soybeans. Currently, all of the families on the farmstead had extra cash on hand, so the fields were distributed and rented out like previous years. Each family was able to rent lands and the rent was only forty percent of their crops. All of the families on the farmstead felt immense gratitude to their masters. In the past, their previous masters were considered pretty benevolent for only taking fifty percent as rent. Now, their current masters were not only kind, but they also empathized with the poor families and helped them survive the hardest time. They also decreased the rent...every single tenant farmer rejoiced that they were now with a good master! 

When the corn was harvested, Royal Prince Yang went back to the capital. Yu Xiaocao discussed things with the steward he left behind and decided to also plant his eight hundred mu plantation with soybeans. In autumn, after the harvest, they could discuss then whether he wanted to plant some winter wheat or to leave the land fallow to allow it to plant corn next spring.

The scorching hot summer was about to arrive and the mountain residence of Imperial Prince Jing had finished construction, so Royal Prince Yang escorted his mother over to let her take a holiday. The residence was constructed halfway up the mountain and was surrounded by verdant vegetation and stunning scenery. Inside the residence was delicately constructed pavilions and gorgeous gardens. A small stream wound through the beautiful interior, and it looked as if the trees inside could reach the clouds in the sky. The fake mountain and rocks also improved the beauty inside...Princess Consort Jing immediately fell in love with this residence.

The residence in Tanggu Town that they had bought from County Magistrate Wu’s wife had been renovated and turned into the royal prince’s residence. Tanggu Town was now under Royal Prince Yang’s jurisdiction, so how could he not have a place to live there?  

However, Royal Prince Yang very rarely lodged in his Tanggu residence. When he was in the area, he always accompanied his mother at the residence on the West Mountain because it was easier for him to bum a meal from the Yu Family! If people found out that Royal Prince Yang, who was famed for being a filial son, only lodged with his mother at the mountain for this reason, they would have all of their mouths wide open in surprise!

After rain fell, the air in the mountains was cool and moist. When a light breeze blew by, it cooled the scorching hot summer air a bit. Royal Prince Yang was currently pompously sitting at the Yu Family’s dinner table. When he saw the simple and light looking food on the table, he frowned in slight disdain. In the summer, the Yu Family mostly ate foods that were light and easy on the stomach. It’s not that they couldn't afford to eat meat but it was because no one could stomach greasy food in the heat! 

“Where’s the grasshopper sauce, huh? Go stir-fry a batch for me!” Zhu Junyang wasn’t happy at a meal without meat. He glanced at the vegetarian dishes on the table and ate two mouthfuls before he issued his request.

Yu Xiaocao pushed at the rice in her bowl as she mumbled, “There’s no more…”

“No more? Is there really none left or are you being a stingy little girl?” Zhu Junyang was apparently not in a good mood today.

Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at him and stated, “If I was that petty of a person, how could I let you bring back jars of grasshopper sauce every time you go back to the capital? The locusts were only gathered last summer and autumn and we’ve eaten them for an entire year. Do you really think we’d have any leftover now?”

Zhu Junyang frowned in discontent. If he had known earlier that the grasshopper sauce had run out, then he wouldn’t have allowed his father and older brother to eat any the last time he was in the capital. He sulkily picked up another portion of dry-fried string beans with his chopsticks and angrily stuffed it into his mouth and chewed in frustration. If a foodie couldn’t eat the food he craved, the consequences were quite dire!

Yu Xiaocao thought for a bit and then said, “After we finish eating dinner, I’ll take you to catch cicadas. Fried cicadas are also very tasty and delicious. You’ll probably like them!”

Zhu Junyang placed his chopsticks down on the table and stood up, “Then what are we waiting for? Let's go now!”

Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at him again, “It’s still too early. We need to wait until it starts getting dark. You can only catch cicadas when the larva crawls out of the ground and shed their skin! If you go too early, you’re just wasting your time. Quickly finish your rice. You’re so big now yet you leave food on the table? Little Doudou is only five years old yet he doesn’t leave food…”

Zhu Junyang pushed the remaining half a bowl of rice into his mouth and finished it in a few bites. Yu Xiaocao leisurely finished her dinner and then calmly helped Madam Liu clear off the table and clean. Zhu Junyang stared at her back the entire time. If his eyes had turned into lasers, the back of Yu Xiaocao’s clothing would have long started smoking!

After waiting for a long period of time, the sky finally got dark. Yu Xiaocao lit up a small lantern and held it in her hand as she gestured at the young royal prince, “Let’s go ah! Time to catch some cicadas!”

“I want to go. Older Cousin, bring me along too!!” When Liu Fangping found that there was something fun to do, he also pestered her to let him go. Zhu Junyang glared at him, ‘Little brat, why are you sticking along?!’

Yu Hai was a bit concerned, “It’s dark, what if you guys encounter a wild beast? Cao’er, you only know how to cause trouble!!” 

Yu Xiaocao rubbed Little Fangping’s head and then pointed at Zhu Junyang cheerfully, “Don’t we have two experts with us, the young royal prince and Head Steward Liu, ah? That being said, we’re only going into the thickets at the foot of the mountain and we won’t be going into the mountain.”  

Then, she spoke to her older brother, older sister, and older cousins, “If you guys want to come along, bring a lantern! Once we catch some cicadas, I’ll fry some for everyone to eat tomorrow!”

Zhu Junyang sent someone to the residence to grab two glass lanterns from the walkways. Lanterns made out of glass produced more illumination, making it more suitable to see at night. 

With nothing much to do, everyone wanted to have some fun. Thus, they not only had Liu Fangping as a little tail but also Liu Junping, Liu Yaner, Yu Hang, and Yu Xiaolian. The rest of the children came along with lanterns in their hands and the group left in high spirits. They went to the Qian Family’s gate to find Qian Wu. Qian Wu was unwilling to be left out so he also came along with his younger sister, Qian Yafan, with lanterns in their hands. 

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Myst's Thoughts

dry-fried string beans 

Sanguine’s Thoughts: Zhu Junyang is so shameless when it comes to food now.

Translator: Sanguine