Chapter 196: Releasing Water
Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
Working together, Mu Yangling and the Liu clan could make ten trips to and fro a day. Because the Liu clan didn’t have much farmland and they had stayed up late to water the fields during the two days when Mu Shi was around, they only went to the reservoir to fetch water for three days before watering the entire wheat field.
At this moment, Reservoir No. 2 had nearly emptied out. Everyone was waiting for Qi Haoran to open Reservoir No. 3, but Song Zhi approached the military camp at this moment.
Song Zhi’s face was covered in stubble, and his face was ashen. He looked at Qi Haoran with a haggard expression and said, “Good brother, 1 didn’t want to beg you, but 1 really have no choice.”
Qi Haoran had a good relationship with Song Zhi. Seeing him like this, he could not help but be surprised. “You’ve been dismissed?”
Song Zhi glared at him. “Can’t you think of something better?”
“I mean, you don’t exactly look like you’ve been promoted.”
Choking, Song Zhi said, “I haven’t been dismissed, but it’s close. There’s only one river in Mingshui County. With a decree from the Imperial Court, all the fields along the river will become military fields and freehold fields for your military households. However, there are still many civilian fields downstream and in the distance. If you use all the river water, those civilians will starve to death.”
Glaring, Qi Haoran said, “I didn’t ask anyone to cut off the water flow.”
Song Zhi said helplessly, “Yes you didn’t, but there are so many fields to water. How much water can flow down? The civilians are suffering.”
Qi Haoran came back to his senses and said, “Don’t fool me. I’ve already asked around. Previously, these fields belonged to those landowners and squires. In a drought year, they cut off the water. In a flood year, they release water into the fields. They’ve done this a lot. Now that I’ve taken over these fields, I haven’t done a single guilty thing. 1 don’t believe the civilians’ lives can be worse than before.”
“Little General is benevolent. Otherwise, I wouldn’t dare to come looking for you.” Song Zhi said, “But look outside. The fields of the soldiers under your command are by the river. They’re all anxiously fetching water from the reservoir to water their fields. What about the commoners who are very far from the river and have no water to use? This year, the heavens are not giving us a way out. It’s about to start collecting autumn taxes. Little General, 1 don’t want to force the commoners to death.”
Qi Haoran slammed the table in frustration and said, “What do you want then? Just say it. I don’t have the patience to hear you beating around the bush.”
Song Zhi said carefully, “Little General, I heard that you still have water in Reservoir No. 3.”
Qi Haoran looked at him with a dark expression. Song Zhi braced himself and said, “Please take pity on the commoners and let them have the water from the reservoir.”
After a moment of silence, Qi Haoran said, “Let me think about it.” Qi Haoran stood up and left. He went out to get someone to invite the elders from the various villages to ask about the watering situation.
Knowing that 70% of the wheat fields had been watered and only 30% were left, and the remaining 30% were still inferior lands, Qi Haoran waved his hand to dismiss them. He returned to say to Song Zhi, “I agree to let them have the water. However, downstream is not only where the commoners’ fields are located, but there are also farmland that belongs to the squires like the Sun and Zhao families. 1 can let the commoners have the water for free, but I won’t give the water to these squires for nothing.”
The corners of Song Zhi’s mouth twitched. How was this a young master from a rich family? He looked more like someone from a beggar’s gang, not letting go of any benefits.
Song Zhi asked, “Then what do you want?”
Qi Haoran spat out one word. “Grains!”
Song Zhi thought for a moment before asking, “How much do you want?”
“Not much. Just a token of appreciation from each family. I’ll take ten bags of grain from the Sun and Zhao families each, and the other families will collectively send me ten bags. This isn’t much, right? Also, no one is allowed to dig canals and channel water. My water is mainly for the commoners downstream. If those squires take advantage of their numbers to dig canals and store water, won’t my water be wasted?”
Song Zhi was pleased with Qi Haoran’s conditions. He had come for the commoners downstream, so he naturally did not want those squires to snatch too many resources from the commoners.
The matter was agreed upon just like that. When the military households knew that the water in Reservoir No. 1 was going to be released and not opened to them, they were immediately unhappy.
However, with Qi Haoran standing on top and looking at them coldly, they did not dare to cause trouble and could only watch as the water flowed out.
Someone shouted, “Hurry up and fetch water to water the fields. There won’t be any water left after this!”
Everyone immediately swarmed forward to get water.
Qi Haoran frowned. “They’ve already watered 70% of their fields. Some families have even finished watering entirely. What’s wrong with giving it to the commoners? It’s like harming others without benefiting themselves.”
Fan Zijin waved his fan as he stood beside him. “There have always been many such people. What’s so strange about it? Look, Mu Yangling is among them. Haven’t her family’s fields been watered? Isn’t she here too?”
Qi Haoran looked down and indeed saw Mu Yangling. However, she was passing the water to the person behind her after fetching it instead of using it herself. Looking over, Qi Haoran realized that there were old, weak, women, and children behind her. He thought to himself, ‘Mu Yangling is so kind to specially come to fetch water for others.’
Mu Yangling was not here just to fetch water for others. She was here to fetch water back to water her vegetable fields. Coincidentally, the water from Reservoir No. 1 was being released, so she took a shortcut to the river.
When she saw a pregnant woman bend down to get water, she kindly helped her retrieve it. When she saw the old lady behind her fetching water shakily, she also quickly helped her get it…
The people behind knew that this young lady was helping the disadvantaged fetch water.
After all, as the water had just been released, the opening of the reservoir was quite wide, and the water flow was rapid. If a person accidentally fell after being hit by a wave, they could very well disappear.
Those who felt that they were disadvantaged, such as the old, weak, women, and children, consciously stood behind Mu Yangling and lined up. Mu Yangling fetched water continuously.
Qi Haoran, who was standing at a high place, quickly saw what was going on. He waved his hand and called for a guard. Pointing down, he said, “Do you see those old, weak, women, and children? Go and get a few who can fetch water. Make them stand in a row to help those people fetch water. Don’t let them fall into the river.”
The guard responded and went down to pick more than 20 people.
Most of the people who came to snatch the water today were villagers nearby and not from military households. As such, they had been waiting for this water for a long time. Therefore, they squeezed against each other and refused to let anyone in. If not for the soldiers maintaining order at the scene, there would probably be a stampede.
The guard came over and snatched the wooden bucket from Mu Yangling’s hand. He shouted, “Miss Mu, Little General is here too. Leave this to us. Hurry up and go up.”
Looking up, Mu Yangling saw Qi Haoran standing on the reservoir. She nodded and went out with two buckets of water.
She walked to Qi Haoran’s side and praised, “Qi Haoran, I didn’t expect you to still care about the people. Everyone is praising you now.”
Blushing, Qi Haoran asked, “What are they praising me for?”
“There are all kinds of praises for you. They say that you’re benevolent and kind, that you’re a good person, that you’re handsome, and that you’re both good-looking and capable…”
Qi Haoran’s smug face instantly fell, and Fan Zijin burst out laughing.
Mu Yangling said seriously, “It’s true. That’s really how they praise you. I almost got calluses from listening down there just now..”