Chapter 242: Tax Grain
When née Sun saw that Qin Yining didn’t immediately come up to her, she glanced at the palace servants behind her daughter and understood that now wasn’t a good time. She could only squeeze out a smile. “The emperor personally gave orders arranging for Xuan Su Temple to be put into order, so it must be good a place for worship.”
It wouldn’t be long before the entire world knew of the emperor respecting the people’s will. The citizens would be immensely comforted then and speak even more highly of the emperor, and hold greater faith for the divinity of Xuan Su Temple.
But when née Sun recalled Qin Huaiyuan’s analysis at home — how the emperor was not only using this matter to greatly bolster his reputation, but also confining Qin Yining to a gilded cage close by for easy access anytime, she felt again that her daughter was just suffering too much.
Qin Yining gave orders to Xingyu and Bixue at this time. “My maids are here with my things. They can stay and serve me in the future. All of you can go back to the palace now.”
Xingyu, Bixue, Little Ning, and Little Yang looked incredulously back at the girl. They’d never heard of anyone dismissing servants that the emperor had assigned himself!
“In response to Master Xuan Su, the emperor means for us to serve you.”
A cold smile blossomed on Qin Yining’s lips. “The emperor wishes for me to be a layman Taoist, but how will it look like if I have palace servants at my beck and call? My family has sent people to keep me company, so I no longer require your services. I need to meditate and seek enlightenment, so I really don’t need that many serving me. If you’re afraid of the emperor finding fault with you, you can tell him that it was my idea.”
She was already forced to be here; it would be too much of a hardship if she had to use outsiders instead of her own people.
The four palace servants had firsthand knowledge of how much the emperor loved Qin Yining, and had also seen how exceptional her methods were. She’d caused the emperor to publicly punish Consort Lin, someone who’d served him for many years! And despite the imperial majesty being literally hopping mad, he still couldn’t bear to touch a single hair on her head.
This wasn’t someone they could afford to offend. Once they thought all this through, the four took their leave of Qin Huaiyuan, née Sun, and Qin Yining.
The Qin fourth miss handed Riceball to Qiulu with a smile. “I feel much more at ease now that all of you are here. See to the luggage first, I’d like to talk to my father and mother.”
“Understood.” Qiulu, Jiyun, and Bingtang entered the house with various bundles.
Qin Yining had her parents sit down for some tea in the main hall of the first floor.
When née Sun saw that there was finally no one else present, tears flowed unceasingly she grasped her daughter’s hand. “You’ve suffered so, so much.”
After a few days of torment in the palace, not only had Qin Yining been robbed of recovery time, but her health had in fact worsened. Needing to deal with the emperor and those in the palace at the same time meant that she was completely exhausted. The events of the past few days washed over her when she heard her mother’s words and she almost cried too.
She blinked forcefully, plastering a smile onto her face in the place of tears. “Don’t be sad for me, mother. There wasn’t much suffering. These are the circumstances that we’re in. It’s already the best possible outcome that the emperor hasn’t ordered my death in a fit of anger. We can make our plans slowly since I’m still alive.”
Seeing that Qin Yining’s expression was as calm and composed as Qin Huaiyuan’s, née Sun nodded emotionally.
The Qin fourth miss looked around and gave orders to Jiyun and the others, newly come downstairs after sorting out the luggage. “Go stand guard outside and keep a careful eye on the surroundings.”
Jiyun, Bingtang, and Qiulu understood that their mistress had important matters to raise with her parents. They nodded and left.
When she was certain that no one was listening in on them, Qin Yining whispered, “Father, I heard a few things in the palace these days that I’m not sure if you know of yet.”
“What is it?” Upon careful reflection, nothing sprang to the marquis’ mind.
“I heard it from the emperor’s wet nurse, Jiao-mama. Apparently the emperor emeritus sold off this year’s tax grain before it even reached the capital. It was resold during the journey and none of it arrived here. Is this true?”
Due to the nation’s founding emperor promoting use of treasury bills instead of gold and silver, treasury bills had been the currency of choice all these years. This also served to decrease the natural loss of gold and silver that occurred in transactions.
But because treasury bills were affected by inflation, and the condition of the bills themselves affected their value — the government collected taxes in the form of grain.
For a rich dynasty like Great Yan that was located in the fertile lands of the south, cargo ships full of grain crammed the ports and carriages clogged up the roads every tax season.
It wasn’t tax season yet, nor was it quite harvest time for many areas, but the emperor emeritus had increased taxes before resigning from his position. Not only had he taken a large sum from the commoners and merchants from the capital, but all of the nation’s citizens had had a round of levied on them as well.
With the onerous taxes, it was easy to imagine that the tax grain this year would be much more than before. Add to that the natural disasters and war, it all made for great hardship for the people.
Qin Yining had heard Jiao-mama talk about this privately with Xingyu and the others, that the emperor emeritus had sold off the additional tax grain he’d collected!
Qin Huaiyuan was completely flabbergasted by the news — both stunned and horrified.
“My daughter, is your news true?”
“Most likely. I heard it from the emperor’s wet nurse. The conversations in the palace all have to do with what’s happening around them. Apparently the emperor got in an argument with his father the other day, and someone else heard that this year’s tax grain has yet to arrive.”
“But the Ministry of Revenue says that the tax grain will arrive in half a month.” Qin Huaiyuan frowned. “When I first learned of this, I tried to persuade the emperor emeritus otherwise. How could he stand to prey on wealth earned by the people’s blood, sweat, and tears?
“But then I thought about it another way, how the Valiant Tigers would besiege the capital in the latter half of the war. This batch of tax grain might be put to great effect then. With the additional taxes, if all of the tax grain is stored in the capital, we’d have enough to feed the army and people for three years in the event of a siege!”
“Three years?!” Qin Yining exclaimed. “That much? The capital can definitely hold out with that much grain! Though the hundred thousand strong Valiant Tigers are fierce, their supply lines have too much distance to cover. Great Zhou is newly founded as well. They took over the mess that Northern Ji left behind, so their national treasury is empty after many years of war. If we have three years worth of rations to depend on, we won’t have to worry about Great Zhou keeping the fight going then.”
“Precisely. But if what you say is true, then things are dire indeed.” Qin Huaiyuan knocked a forefinger on the tabletop. “I know now. When I go back to request that the emperor send more guards to protect you, I’ll get to the bottom of this as well.”
Qin Yining was quite worried. “With the emperor emeritus’ personality, I thought it strange when he so easily agreed to hand over the position. When he fleeced the people of their hard-won gains, I felt that this sort of action was terribly unbecoming of an emperor. So now it seems that he’s sold off all of the tax grain for money, likely to leave a back up plan for himself!”
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