Li Junyue had prepared some silvery wormwood and medical antiseptic. He’d done an inventory on medicines, too.
“Do we have enough medicines?” asked Lin Haihai.
Li Junyue said with a frown, “Barely enough. I have to go back for more tomorrow. We don’t have a lot in stock. Our pharmacist said it is difficult to buy medicines recently. Must have been because of measures taken by the imperial court. Many suppliers who had been hoarding medicines refuse to sell their stock, which results in a great shortage in the market. That will lead to rising dissatisfaction from the general public. We have to hurry up in establishing new hospitals.”
“Let’s use western medicines for now. Thankfully the people here can accept it. However, that’s not a long-term solution. We’ll attract attention soon if we continue to buy medicine in bulk from the modern time. Yuqing and our families will be in trouble!”
Lin Haihai gave it some thoughts. “How about we give Yuqing money to establish a pharmaceutical company to satisfy our needs? What matters now is overcoming the crisis we face at the moment. Prince Pingnan is up to no good. I believe he must have been responsible for the shortage of medicines in the market. He plans to exploit people’s anger and instigate a riot against the imperial court. While his plan is thorough, I won’t let him succeed!”
“Good triumphing over evil is the oldest tale in the world. You needn’t worry too much. Looking back into history, didn’t most troublemakers and evil-doers end up meeting a tragic end? As long as the man in power prioritizes the people and rules over the world with kindness, he will have the support of the people!” Li Junyue offered her some reassurance.
Lin Haihai nodded and patted him on the chest, responding with a bright smile.
They didn’t bring anyone else with them when they visited the Blackhill Village this time. Once they loaded their supplies, the coachman turned to them with a grin, revealing his yellowed big teeth.
“We’ll go to the village we went to yesterday, Uncle Qiu!”
“Aye aye,” the coachman answered.
At the crack of his whip, the horse got into a gallop. The villagers had been waiting outside the village for quite some time. They cheered and rejoiced when they saw the carriage approaching from a distance. The shadow of death had been plaguing them for more than a year, and more and more villagers got infected; more and more passed away. They had long lost their hope, and the question wasn’t if they would die, but when.
Yesterday, however, the physicians told them they still had hope, and that their illnesses could be treated. They didn’t have to die. Words could not fully convey how excited and ecstatic they were. They didn’t even sleep the previous night, but instead gathered together to talk through what had happened that day.
That was why they had been waiting by the fence surrounding the village before dawn broke. They could barely contain their excitement when Lin Haihai’s carriage entered their eyeshot.
Lin Haihai and Li Junyue jumped off their carriage and greeted the villagers personably. Uncle Qiu helped them unload the medicines, while the soldiers from yesterday went up to offer them their help. Lin Haihai smiled at them and said, “Thank you!”
The leading soldier returned a shy smile. “We are the ones who should be thanking Physician Lin. You’re as kind as Bodhisattva for treating the villagers for free. We’d like to express our gratitude on behalf of the villagers!”
“That won’t be necessary,” Lin Haihai said casually, a smile tugging her lips. “By the way, what’s your name?”
“Xiao Chong. We’re soldiers serving the Public Welfare Administration!”
“What does the Public Welfare Administration do?” asked Li Junyue.
“It’s an agency of the imperial court in charge of all matters about welfare and public health in the Daxing Dynasty. It has a wide range of responsibilities!” Xiao Chong gave a rough explanation.
Lin Haihai’s expression visibly brightened. The existence of such an agency would make things much easier for them. They wouldn’t have to start from the very beginning.
They chose one of the houses to set up a temporary clinic, and all fifty patients had been treated. Although the patients didn’t understand what the colorful pills were made of or why they had to receive the terrifying shots, their will to survive compelled them to give anything a try, whatever the cost.
Then Lin Haihai explained to them the causes of the illness and how it was spread, giving them a rough picture of the infection vectors and pathways.
“Leishmaniasis isn’t easy to cure. You have to be prepared to fight it. I’ve formulated a treatment plan spanning twenty days. The average patient will have gradually recovered by then. Remember, recovering from leishmaniasis means having the illness purged by the body, but the after effects of the illness remain, the most common of which is anemia. Since the illness will leave the patient weak, and side effects may be observed during the treatment process, those who haven’t contracted the disease have to take care of those who have. If anything unusual happens, notify the soldiers standing guard outside. They’ll find ways to reach me! Do you understand?”
“We do!” the villagers respond in a chorus.
The sun had set when Lin Haihai walked out of the temporary clinic, and she suddenly remembered that she hadn’t even had lunch. She might be able to take it, but Li Junyue and Uncle Qiu must have been starving.
The villagers had considerately prepared dinner for them. The crude meal was made of wild vegetables and brown rice; the latter was allocated by the imperial court, and the former was found in the mountains. Li Junyue and Lin Haihai shared a look, both of their hearts aching in sympathy. Life had been tormenting the villagers for too long!
After dinner, Lin Haihai told Xiao Chong before leaving, “Come find me at the Linhai Hospital tomorrow. I’ll give you some money to improve the villagers’ diet. They need more nutrients!”
Xiao Chong nodded, touched.
Early in the morning, Guihua knocked on Lin Haihai’s door. She had already gotten dressed, ready to go to the Blackhill Village to treat the villagers. Noticing the plain way she had dressed herself, she pulled a long face and said with feigned anger, “It’s your birthday today, Consort Lin. The empress dowager has sent a messenger to summon you to the palace earlier. Where are you going in this outfit?”
Lin Haihai remembered that it was “her” birthday. She said in resignation, “I’m going to the Blackhill Village. I’ll enter the palace after I return.”
“That won’t do! You have to bathe yourself in water and perfume after returning from the Blackhill Village, then you’ll be late! The empress dowager has told you to enter the palace early in the morning!”
Guihua was exasperated. As a princess consort, how could Lin Haihai dress more plainly than servants? The secondary consort wore fine clothes adorned with delicate embroidery every day, her presentation more impressive and extravagant than even the empress. On the contrary, the first consort’s only advantage was her good looks. The clothes she wore could only be described as embarrassing. Her hair was always put into a bun with an emerald hairpin - it was so green that it might as well be announcing to the world that it was fake jade. She always wore the same double-breasted cotton dress, and the broad sleeves had been tied to her arms with pieces of clothing to make it easier to work. The hem of her dress was trimmed short as well, revealing a strange-looking pair of shoes - Guihua didn’t know those were sneakers. All in all, she looked silly.
“Bath? Perfume?” Lin Haihai laughed. “It can’t be that serious. We’re just sharing a meal!”
“Do you know how many people will be in attendance?” Guihua said. “The empress dowager has arranged a flower-watching banquet in the name of your birthday and invited all single women from respected and wealthy families in the capital. She’s trying to find potential brides for men in the imperial family who have reached the right age.”
Lin Haihai pouted. “The old lady is using my birthday to find wives for her family! I thought she really wanted to celebrate my birthday for me. I was happy for nothing!”
“So you have to put on your court attire and dress yourself elegantly to attend the banquet. Don’t let anyone else become the center of attention!” Guihua tried to instill in her the social rules of this world.
Lin Haihai waved a dismissive hand. “Court attire? That won’t be necessary. I’m going to the Blackhill Village later. The court attire is too inconvenient!”
“Can’t you forget about the Blackhill Village for the moment, Consort Lin?” Guihua gave her a withering look.
“How can I? It’s a matter of life and death!” The treatment had started a few days ago. If they developed unwanted complications due to not having their medicine, their deaths would be on her!
“Everyone is attending the banquet for you. You must think about your priorities!” Guihua still hoped that she wouldn’t go to the village.
“How about you put the court attire on me, and I’ll enter the palace as soon as I finish visiting the village?” Lin Haihai replied in resignation. She couldn’t afford to offend the empress dowager.
“If you insist!” Guihua opened the closet to take out the court attire. Once she dressed LIn Haihai, she took her to the vanity table and put her hair into a lotus bun, adorned with a shiny golden chain that ran half a circle around her head before hanging low over her forehead. Then a hairpin was put into her hair, and Guihua darkened her eyebrows, powdered her face, dust blush on her cheeks, and put red on her lips. Finally, she put an emerald necklace around Lin Haihai’s neck and found a pair of gilded phoenix shoes for her.
Lin Haihai stared at the mirror. This looks like a pain to move in! “This won’t do. Change it! I don’t want all the stuff on my head!”
Guihua had yet to recover from her beauty. She hurriedly said, “No, you mustn’t! You’re so stunning like this! All the princes and scions won’t be able to tear their eyes away from you!”
Lin Haihai blushed faintly. Would he like it when he sees me? Men died for those who understood them, and women dressed up for those who loved them! Lin Haihai looked at her own reflection, pleased. She did look good. So be it then. Let that man see how beautiful she could be.
“Alright, save us the time getting changed. I’m going to the village now. Don’t follow me. Enter the palace with the prince. I’ll have Uncle Qiu drop me off at the entrance of the palace!”
Lin Haihai rushed outside in a hurry. Since she was not used to the high-heeled shoes, though, she tripped and fell like a dog tackling its food. At times like this, she always forgot that she knew martial arts. Just when she was about to accept her misfortune and kiss the floor, a strong arm caught her and pulled her into his embrace. Lin Haihai put some distance between them with a hand on his chest, while Yang Hanlun considered her thoughtfully.
“I’m in a hurry,” Lin Haihai averted his gaze and said in a rush. “You should enter the palace with Birou first.”
Yang Hanlun raised an eyebrow and demanded an irritated tone, “Where are you going?”
“I’m going to see some patients. I’ll be back soon!”
She was about to break free and flee, but Yang Hanlun grabbed her and said angrily, “Patients?! Have you lost your mind thinking about earning money?!”
Lin Haihai pouted at him. It was her birthday. Couldn’t he show her some leniency? Yang Hanlun was as stubborn as an ox. It wouldn’t be easy to get rid of him.
Inspiration struck, and she looked over Yang Hanlun’s shoulders, saying with a smile, “You’re early, Sister Birou!”
Yang Hanlun let go of her and turned around, but he found only the empty courtyard. Birou, of course, was nowhere to be seen. When he turned back, Lin Haihai had already fled.
I can’t believe I fell for that! Yang Hanlun stomped his foot and seethed. I’ll teach her a lesson soon! Guihua watched the prince run outside grumbling in anger. She couldn’t help but admire the princess consort for her boldness.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
She did look good. So be it then. Let that man see how beautiful she could be.