Chapter 250 End of Midsummer
Seeing that the second month of summer was coming to an end, Border Town was on the verge of greeting summer’s final month, which was also the hottest of all of the months, all the more leaving Roland in a mood where he didn’t wish to leave the castle.
Aside from using it to make gunpowder, the rest of the saltpeter brought in by Margaret had been used to lower the room’s temperature – nowadays a bucket of saltpeter with a kettle soaking in it had been arranged within almost all of the castle’s rooms. This way, not only were they able to show the effects of endothermic cooling, but it also allowed them some ice water which they could drink to quench their thirst. Only in this way was he able to keep from sweating as he sat in the office each day.
With the exception of Anna, he had called all of the other witches to stop their work. Outside of their daily practice and learning, they were mainly gathered in the hall of the first floor, either chatting or comparing their skills in Gwent against one another, displaying an appearance that was of both harmony and happiness. However, Anna… It wasn’t that Roland didn’t want her to rest, it was rather that she didn’t hate the heat at all. Compared to holding ingots which were still red from the fire directly in her hands, the hot temperature of summer was nothing to her. Even when standing next to the fireside and producing steel for the whole afternoon, she did not even shed one drop of sweat.
In order to reward Anna for her hard work, Roland had recently specially created some ice cream desserts. For example, the later generation classical types of ice cream – made from stirring a mixture of egg yolk, butter, milk and syrup. Which were then cooled off once more by using saltpeter. Anna was exceptionally fond of this soft and fragrant ice-cold snack, every time he saw her take a small bite of ice cream, her lake-blue eyes would turn into stitches, making him feel very pleased.
Moreover, looking over the monthly reports sent by the City Hall was also a joyous pleasure of his.
By now, Border Town’s population had once more doubled, almost reaching a total of 18’000 people. On top of that, with the addition of Longsong Stronghold’s monthly “transferred” batch of serfs, breaking through the 20’000 mark next year would not be a problem for him. Leaving out the size of the territory of Border Town or the number of villages and towns belonging to it, this scale could almost be compared with the size of Redwater City, the city of Valencia, and King’s City.
However, something which was somewhat regrettable was that even though the population might have grown a lot, the quality of it hadn’t improved by much. At present, there were still more than 1000 of Border Town’s native inhabitants who had yet to receive an education. Furthermore, it would still require one year before they could obtain the capacity needed to graduate without a hitch – although Karl’s previously opened college had fostered a batch of talented students in advance, their number were still less than one hundred, which when compared with the general population, seemed insignificant.
Perhaps I should first carry out an education program for the Eastern refugees, and not start with the steps of building enough living quarters, Roland thought, after all, receiving the education earlier would only bring benefits and not cause any harm.
The current development of the town’s factories was also excellent.
After more than half a year of construction, the industrial park now had three operating factories: there were two steam engine production plants and a bullet processing plant. The number of workers in the first plant had also expanded from the 10 blacksmiths at its opening to the 100 people it now had. The follow-up workers were mainly natives – which was also something he wanted to see, a group of apprentices would gradually grow into craftsmen, who would then provided the foundation needed to raise the next group of apprentices.
The workers of the second plant were the artisans belonging to the Crescent Moon Bay Caravan. Just during this one month, they had already grasped a roughly understanding of the machine tool’s usage, even though their yield was still quite bad, but compared with the blacksmith of the first plant, the first-month performance of these craftsmen was obviously better. According to the previously signed contract, all of their produced steam engines were owned by Roland. With those two factories Border Town could now manufacture almost eight to ten steam engines per month, which was also the town’s primary means of income.
As for the bullets factory, after its establishment, it had been directly handed over to the First Army, who not only placed a lookout post at its entrance, but also arranged for patrols all around the factory, and even the production was the responsibility of the soldiers. After a week of trial operation, nowadays, they had already begun the mass production of a new generation of bullets.
Roland plan for the assembly line couldn’t achieve full mechanical production, no matter if it were the primer, gunpowder or warheads, they all needed manpower for the filling compaction. The main processing tools were the two mechanical stamping machines. The one could press the thin copper pieces previously cut by Anna into the shape of the cartridge case, while the second was used to push the primer towards the bottom.
The soldiers only needed to place the mercury fulminate evenly between two thin pieces of paper, glue the edges of the two papers together, press the primer towards the lower part of the cartridge then finally place the cartridge with the primer’s end at the bottom into the ring-shaped ammunition case, before the entire process was complete. As for the process of loading and compacting the black powder and putting on the projectile, it was still done in exactly the same way as the previous practice.
There were only a small number of people working in the factory around forty people, which could still almost produce more than 500 bullets every day. For the future, Roland intended on turning these forty people into his full-time processing personnel to maintain the standard operation of the bullet production factory.
The next step on Roland’s to-do list was to open a soap factory, and a perfume factory – the former would play a very important part in the military industry, while the later might be able to open up a new income channel for the town. As for the bicycle factory, its opening could still be delayed, it would be opened early enough as long as it went into full production by the time the Kingdom Avenue was finished.
“Your Highness,” Nightingale said, pushing open the doorway, “Maggie and Lightning are here.”
Both girls run over from Nightingale’s side, and after stopping in front of the desk, they pointedly asked. “Were you looking for us?”
“Tomorrow is the start of the final month of summer,” Roland pulled his formerly written reply to Tilly out of the drawer and placed it in front of Maggie, “When you return to the Fjord, remember to help me hand this over to Tilly.”
“Ah…” For a moment Maggie froze, only able to look at the message with blinking eyes, before she took the envelope and carefully placed it into her personal bag, “No problem, goo!”
Seeing an expression of sudden understanding from the other side, Roland feared that she had already forgotten the important matter of her monthly reports. Restraining the smile within his heart, he thought of the town’s charm which seemed to be really powerful.
“I have entirely forgotten that tomorrow is the beginning of a new month,” Lightning tapped against her forehead. “Does it mean that we will be unable to see each other for a long time?”
“Tilly’s plan to sweep the Fjords clean of the Church had delayed my plan to come back last time, this time I will be back as soon as possible,” Maggie shook her white hair that was about to reach the ground, “Wait for me to come back to explore the eagle nest together… Goo!”
“I got it,” the other little girl said, curling her lips, “It’s a promise.”
“You have your own mission,” Roland spread out a map of the region south of the town. “This is the map you had previously drawn, do you still remember the location of the shoal near the mountains?”
“I remember,” Lightning pointed at a place on the map, “Probably around this area.”
“Well, you will fly back to it again, and this time you will take Maggie along. Then you will place flags on both sides of the shallow beach and the junction of the mountains, and also mark them on the map,” Roland ordered, then looked towards Maggie, “If Tilly agrees to send the witches, you will lead the sailboat to this shoal, and I will welcome you at the top of the mountain.
“Send witches?” Lightning asked curiously, “Could it be that there will be new sisters coming to Border Town?”
“I do not know yet,” Roland said, a smile on his face. “It all depends on Tilly’s answer… but I have a feeling that she will agree to it.”