Chapter 268 The first plenary session (Part 1)
Roland held Border Town’s first high-level plenary session in the castle’s drawing hall.
Compared to the time when he had held it with Barov and his ten apprentices in name only, the City Hall nowadays had expanded to a large group consisting of nearly one hundred people. The group contained nobles, surrendered knights, squires, as well some natives who had completed the primary education and received their diploma.
Thanks to the growth of the population, various departments could be formed in succession, which caused the City Hall to finally reach a size the Prince was satisfied with. No longer was it as before, where he had to do everything on his own, at present in the case of a simple policy or program, as long as he explained the concept to them, the new City Hall was able to distribute it according to the department and manage to complete the task, something which filled Roland with a sense of gratification.
The participants of the first high-level meeting were all the heads of departments, namely there was the Minister of Agriculture, Sirius Daly; Minister of Education, Scroll; the Minister of Chemical Industry, Kyle Sichi (temporary); Minister of Construction, Karl van Bate; the Head of the Army, Iron Axe; and finally, the City Hall Premier Minister, Barov Mons. The Ministry of Industry was still personally managed by Roland. After all, except him, no one else knew what industrialization looked like.
A bucket of ice water was placed next to everyone, releasing bursts of cold air – Candle had placed an enchantment on the ice cubes, which preserved them within the water for at least the whole morning. Even though the sun was shining fiercely outside, the castle hall still maintained its cool and refreshing temperature.
“Then let’s start with each department reporting on its recent situation,” Roland took a kettle from the bucket, and poured himself a cup of ice water, “The first one is the Ministry of Agriculture.”
“Yes, Your Royal Highness,” Sirius answered, he stood up and saluted, then spread out a roll of paper he had prepared in advance. “Currently we have acquired around 17’000 hu of grain, which is already enough to satisfy the townsfolk until next year’s last month of summer. In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture has according to your request also purchased the surplus grains in accordance to the market value. However, this amount is far less than the amount we’ve gained, for now, it is only accounts for 4’500 hu.”
The so-called “hu” was a commonly used wheat weighing unit during ancient times, measured by using a deep basket made out of thin bamboo. Therefore, even after he heard these numbers, he still didn’t know how he was supposed to convert them into kilograms or liters. Fortunately, this wasn’t the important point; the crucial point was that they had enough food to feed the all of the townsfolk.
The critical fact laid in the second aspect, if the Ministry of Agriculture took 7/10, it would mean that the serfs had 3/10 which they could sell themselves and accumulated to 7000 hu, but the discrepancy was much larger than the amount of grain needed to set aside as foodstuff and seeds for the next year. In other words, some serfs had not sold the remaining 30% of the food to the City Hall and instead chosen to hoard it in wooden sheds.
Although he had already anticipated a situation such as this beforehand, seeing it turn out this way still caused him to let out a gentle sigh. Their purpose in hoarding the grain was apparent, they were speculating to resell it at a profit later – for example, if Border Town gave birth to a food shortage, or was struck by a natural disaster. They would be able to sell the food at prices much higher than the market price, an increase of ten times wouldn’t be impossible.
This was also the reason why Roland had decided that the City Hall would hold a monopoly over the grain transaction and also why the buyer must first show their identity card. The grain operation was related to Border Town’s stability, in case the grain transaction was unable to create a surplus during the early period and the sale wasn’t restricted, it would likely lead to speculators acquiring and hoarding the food and in that way artificially increasing the food’s price. However, by using a system of limited sales and only selling to people who had an ID, while at the same time stopping any other sales channels, Roland was able to keep the food price at a steady position.
“Your Highness, why don’t you force the serfs to sell their grain?” Sirius asked puzzled, “In any case, it’s not like the law permits them to give it to other people.”
“Because the grain is their property, how they choose to handle it is their choice,” Roland replied. “I never set a rule not allowing the serfs to hold on to their own food. You can also understand it as, ‘as long as it isn’t prohibited, it is allowed’.”
On hearing his reply, Sirius looked somewhat puzzled by it, apparently not knowing how he was supposed to interpret this sentence. And he wasn’t the only one confused, most of the others were also frowning, the only exception to this was Barov, who was currently showing a thoughtful expression.
“Is there anything else to report?” Roland drank a mouthful of iced water. Only with time would they be able to understand the concept of emphasizing rules and procedure. Or putting it another way, the moment they were able to comprehend it, they could be regarded as a new generation of qualified officials. Of course, this could also easily lead to another extreme, like the emergence of bureaucracy. However, bureaucracy was still better than confusion, disorder, and people behaving unscrupulously.
“Uh… yes,” Sirius Daly flung his head back, “Now that the fields have been harvested, I do not know how to organize next year’s fallow and plow plan.”
“No, the serfs can endlessly cultivate their lands, so we will continue to plant wheat next year,” Roland waved his hand, “Those piles of manure to the side of the fields were gathered in preparation of fertilizing the land. In the following days, you will start to instruct the serfs to shovel it into the fields, and fully mix it into the soil, completely clear it and make place for new piles of excrements.” With the summer’s high temperature and humid weather, it had only needed two months before becoming well-rotted compost, however, during the winter season it will usually take four months. So by the beginning of spring of next year, not only would the soil’s quality be increased by the first batch of compost, but Roland would also have readied a second batch of compost which could be used as base fertilizer. Because of this, there was no need for a fallow plan.
Not speaking about high-end fertilizer, just using human’s and animal’s excrement as fertilizer was already a vast improvement for the agriculture.
“Well, if this is what you order.” He touched his head, “Also… Your Highness, I’m afraid that with such large amounts of wheat it, won’t be enough to only lean on one or two stone grinding mills. So, I want to apply for the construction of a mill next to the Redwater River, preferably a steam powered one.”
“That’s pretty good,” Roland nodded. This was a new breakthrough – there was finally someone other than himself who wanted to try and use the new power. “First of all, you should forward your plan to Barov, and after obtaining the funding for it, you then have to determine a detailed plan together with the Ministry of Construction.”
“All right, Your Highness” Sirius agreed, “The last point is regarding the promotion to freed people. At present, five hundred and sixteen people have obtained the qualification for the promotion. Because the amount of wheat was divided and transferred on the spot, no one has put up any objections. I have already reported the list to Lord Barov.” Then he got up and saluted again, “That concludes my report.”
“Well done,” Roland clapped twice to show his encouragement. It seemed that the former young Knight of the Wolf Family had not only adapted to his new life in Border Town, but also obtained the manners of the City Hall. And so, could be turned into an excellent propaganda model after a little packaging, in that way playing a small role in attracting nobles or knights of Longsong Stronghold in the future.
The second to give their report was Scroll. She had tied her long hair to the back of her head, and wore a clean and tidy white shirt, matched with a simple and decorate free black long skirt, which made her look both mature and capable. Seeing her today, it was hard for him to imagine that half a year ago, she was still a witch living in exile so as to hide away from the Church.
“At present, there are two batches of people who are in the process of completing their Primary Education, a total of eighty-five people. Most of them previously studied at the college run by Mr. Karl.” With her ability to have a highly retentive memory, she had no need to prepare any data for the report beforehand, a point which made Roland feel very envious. “Forty-six of them choose to go to work in the City Hall, twenty-one people decided to go to the bicycle factory, thirteen people decided to join the First Army,” pausing for a moment she continued, “There are also five applicants for a post at the chemical laboratory.”
Five people? Roland could not help but look over towards Kyle Sichi, merely to see the latter’s complexion clearly didn’t appear to be that good. It seems that the propaganda effect of the Honor and Award Ceremony is far less than I expected. I’m afraid that some parts of the three recently created laboratories are going to have to lie idle in the near future.
Fortunately, the employment rate is at least at one hundred percent; Roland tried to comfort himself.
|1 gě 合||= 10 sháo 勺||(0.1 sheng)|
|1 shēng 升||= 10 gě 合||Changed to be same as 1 liter or 0.22 gallons|
|1 dǒu 斗||= 10 shēng 升||(10 sheng)|
|1 dàn 石||= 10 dǒu 斗||(100 sheng)|
Also: 1 hú 斛= 5 dǒu 斗For people who are to lazy to calculate
1 hú = 50 liter = 11 gallons
4’500 hú = 225’000 liter = 49’500 gallons
7’000 hú = 350’000 liter = 77’000 gallons
17’000 hú = 850’000 liter = 187’000 gallons