Chapter 263 “Ripened Wheat”
Under the hot scorching sun, Sirius Daly, wearing a straw hat, was walking along the river’s shore, examining the growth of the wheat.
Now four months after the planting, this day was the day in which the wheat had finally ripened.
As far as the eye could see, there was an unending wheat field surrounding him like a golden ocean. The wheat’s ears were thick and full, the amount of fruit had more than doubled, and was even bigger than that of any spring wheat he had seen before. There was no need to wait until the weighing of the harvest, Sirius already knew that this year was bound to be a bumper harvest.
Without a doubt, this was surely because of the witches’ contribution.
He had accompanied his father in planting for ten years now, so he naturally knew what common wheat looked like. One wheat plant would have between one to three ears, and each ear could produce twenty to thirty fruits. That the fertility of the soil could actually influence the wheat grain’s size was still believable, but could it so straightforwardly double the size of the caryopsis? Besides it being the work of a witch, he could think of no other explanation for this.
It seems that there had been many changes like this one, for instances, the new water towers looming over Border Town – he had once observed those huge monstrosities from close up, and come to the conclusion that it would be impossible to install those steel tubes that were even larger than a residential building by depending on human strength alone; yet they had been built almost overnight. Nowadays, the people living in the new district only seldom needed to carry a bucket and go draw water. As long as they unscrewed the faucet, cool well water would come flowing out from the pipe.
The same was true for the “islands” at the center of the Redwater River, since His Highness had held the Honor and Reward Ceremony, and Miss Nana had been put on the stage, the usage of the witches became more and more known. Raising those islands in the middle of the river, was obviously something that only witches could do.
He had already asked City Hall’s Premier Minister Barov about this matter, but the answer he got in return was that he didn’t need to understand it, His Highness Roland naturally had his way.
I presume it should be okay… After all, the royal family always loved to meet head-on with the Church, even if the latter sends troops to suppress His Highness, they would have first to beat the First Army, only then would they be qualified to speak. Otherwise, the Western Territory can only ever belong to Roland Wimbledon.
Duke Ryan is only the latest example.
“Sir, you have come,” two serfs in the field who noted Sirius Daly, immediately came forward and greeted him, “You see, this piece of wheat field can be harvest now, the-therefore, may I ask you…”
“We wish to ask Sir, if the Lord’s previous statements are still valid?”
“That’s right, that’s right,” the other serf agreed while at the same time nervously rubbing his hands, “Can we really be promoted to free people?”
As the head of the Ministry of Agriculture, besides recording the best way to plant and creating a statistic about the harvest, Sirius also had another important responsibility: That was to communicate with the serfs so that they would listen to His Highness as well as the City Hall’s policy. Although he didn’t like coming in contact with these country bumpkins who all day long spent their life in mud, but his knight’s self-discipline still let him fulfill his task.
“Do you see those slogans?” Sirius reached out with his hand and pointed towards the banner at the side of the farmland.
“Sir, I… cannot read…” the serf confessed with an embarrassed smile.
“Labor creates wealth, and work changes destiny,” he stated. “In other words, as long as you try to cultivate, you will have the opportunity to be promoted to become a free person. This is His Highness’ promise, and it will come true.”
“Is, is that so? That’s great!”
“After becoming a free man, you can live in the town center area, get your own brick house, as well as the right to a primary education. After that, you will no longer need to ask me for the meaning of that slogan.” Sirius once more repeated the corresponding propaganda.
“Yes, Sir,” The serf nodded excitedly. “The weather is so hot, do you want to go to my shed and have a cup of cold water?”
“I couldn’t, right now you must be very busy.” He said and waved in the direction of the fields. Understanding his meaning, the two quickly said their thanks and bowed for a long time before finally returning to their areas and busying themselves with their work. This was the most frequently asked question he’d heard in the last month. No matter how often he preached so, they would always take the trouble of coming to ask him again, fearing that His Highness would decide to cancel this policy in the blink of an eye.
Not much further down the road, he was once again encircled by a group of people, “Hello, Sir Sirius, after drying the wheat harvest, do we really only have to pay seven-tenths?”
Hearing the question, Sirius cried within his heart. This question’s frequency was second only to that of the “the free person promotion”.
“During the first year, this is indeed the case, and from then on it will only become less and less. If you’re promoted to become a freed person you will only have to turn over two-tenths, we have already repeatedly stressed this point.”
“As if I will ever be promoted,” a tall man said while touching the back of his head, “That remaining three-tenths of wheat, can we—”
“—Can only be sold to His Highness, or used for your food, or be kept as seeds.” Sirius clapped his hands, bluntly calling all the surrounding serfs to come over, “Everyone listen well, Border Town prohibit anyone from privately selling food. It doesn’t matter whether it is sold to local townspeople, or to foreign businessmen, it is a violation of Border Town’s law. If you do it, not only will your income be confiscated, you can also be imprisoned.
“What should we do if the Lord only offers a very low price?” The tall man muttered.
“It’s only natural that there will be that kind of circumstance. The acquisition of food by His Highness is to stabilize the market price, so no matter if you have a poor harvest or a bumper harvest, it is unlikely to cause a substantial change in the price. Therefore, you don’t have to hold wheat back in fear that you don’t have enough to eat after selling it. You also don’t have to worry about harvesting too much and being unable to sell, or of only being able to sell at a low price.” Sirius emphasized again, “There is only one place in the whole Border Town where you can sell food, that is the convenience market, and that market falls under the management of our City Hall.”
“In the end, the price will be…?”
“Rest assured, His Royal Highness himself will announce it before he starts the acquisition.”
Looking at the serfs dispersing in groups of twos and threes Sirius licked his dry lips and continued to check on the crops. He did not know how many of them would keep his words in mind, but Sir Barov had made it clear that His Highness would drive a hard-line in case he discovered any people smuggling food, punishing them severely.
At that time, a young serf broke away from the crowd and turned back, “Sir,” he gasped, “I would like to ask you a question.”
“Do you know where Miss May and Miss Irene have gone?” He hesitated. “Recently there haven’t been any plays performed in the central square, so I wanted… to ask you about their situation, whether or not they fell ill.”
This was a new and exciting question, Sirius couldn’t refrain himself from raising the corner of his mouth. If he hadn’t seen them in the City Hall going through the formalities, he would have been unable to answer it, “They went to Longsong Stronghold.”
“Ah,” the other side showed a disappointed expression, “Don’t tell me that they no longer intend to stay in Border Town?
“They merely went to the stronghold theater to perform,” he shrugged, “Furthermore, the weather is so hot nowadays, no one would have the heart to see them standing under the sun and drenched in sweat, right? Wait until fall, they will come back and perform a new show in the square.”
“It… It is actually like this… thank you Sir!”
Looking at the back of the perfectly contented young man who was leaving, Sirius couldn’t help but think of himself – from a knight to a captive, then from being a prisoner to a City Hall officer, the experience of the past few months could be described as a series of ups and downs. He no longer wanted to return to his home in the Wolf territory, there he had nothing besides his shabby house and a flaky piece of wheat field. The reason why he had become a Knight was to break away from his father’s lifestyle as a farmer.
Not every Knight was as well regarded as Morning Light, who as the Duke’s personal knight had the best territory and also his own entourage. His yearly salary now was more than he had ever gotten while being a knight, and there was still vast room left for growth. Perhaps it was finally time to bring his parents to Border Town, then marry a girl and start enjoying life.
TN: Ripened wheat
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