Chapter 124.1 – Big Landlord Zhou
In just one short month, An Zi Ran spent tens of thousands of taels of silver.
The money was not used to just buy back the land from the villagers of Magou River and He-Li, but also from other places. It didn’t matter whether the land was suitable for growing cotton or not, An Zi Ran bought up all of it from the villagers.
Some villagers didn’t believe it at first, but as more and more people surrendered their land, they also could not hold themselves back.
Later, An Zi Ran specially set up some sites in several densely populated places, like He-Li. In addition to reclaiming the land in Ali Xiang, there was also [worker] enlistment.
In just a few short days, a large sum of money was spent. Without the support of Tian Long Gambling House, An Zi Ran would not dare to do so.
He hired all the young, middle-aged, and some elderly people in Ali Xiang as workers. He hadn’t considered it before, but this base number alone was very large.
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“This is too crazy!”
Shao Fei shook his head. When he heard the number, he was stunned into silence for half a day before making a squeaking sound. The wangye had never treated them poorly. But when compared with the wangfei, the wangye’s generosity could not even be compared to the scraps of wangfei’s generosity. It really was better to follow the wangfei.
Guan Su’s long and narrow red phoenix eyes* glanced at Shao Fei with amusement. “What’s so surprising? This number is actually much less than expected.”
[*T/N: 丹凤眼 dan feng yan – it translates to “red phoenix eyes,” and is used to describe eyes whose outer corners incline upwards]
This was true. An Zi Ran had budgeted two hundred thousand taels of silvers for spending, but he did not expect that Ali Xiang would be destitute to this degree. Contracting a few acres of land for one year only took one string of coins. It was much lower than his original allotment of three to fours silver taels.
Shao Fei took a peek at An Zi Ran and Fu Wu Tian, who were talking softly to each other, and whispered to Guan Su, “Why do you think the wangfei wants to grow a crop like cotton? What is the use of this thing?”
He has seen the matured appearance of cotton. It was a mass of white thing. Even if he thought about it until his brain fried, he couldn’t figure out what it could be used for. It wasn’t like he could eat it!
“You’ll know when it is time.”
Guan Su had an expression of ‘I am deliberately not telling you to string you along.’
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An Zi Ran had already shown him the plans. If there were no unexpected mishaps, he would become the person in charge of Ali Xiang.
Shao Fei ground his teeth together. If Guan Su didn’t want to tell him, then fine, whatever. If anything, Shao Fei could just find an opportunity to ask the wangfei. The wangfei should tell him, right?
[T/N: No, my dumb summer child. AZR won’t.]
Guan Su knew what he was thinking with just a look, and said gloatingly, “Let me be responsible and tell you: it won’t happen!”
Just when Shao Fei was about to refute, he heard the wangye calling for them to go over.
Before Shao Fei could react, Guan Su walked past him without even so much as a by your leave. Shao Fei gritted his teeth for a bit, and then immediately followed him over.
When he arrived in front of Fu Wu Tian and An Zi Ran, Guan Su glanced at the account book they were looking at. It was the land confluence of Ali Xiang.
It has almost been a month since the Magou River incident.
Eighty to ninety percent of the villagers in Ali Xiang have returned the lands that they previously contracted [with Xu Wei Ye]. The remaining ten to twenty percent didn’t have much impact on their plans, so they could ignore them for the time being, but An Zi Ran’s furrowed brows indicated that the situation was not that simple.
Guan Su asked: “Is there some issue that we overlooked?”
An Zi Ran spread out the topographic map of Ali Xiang, and outlined some areas with a brush dipped in red ink. The range of these regions was huge. They were all land that had been recovered from the villagers. But what was strange was that there were some good locations that were not depicted.
“What is this?”
Shao Fei could not understand at all.
But no one answered him.
Translations by Vanilla Muse.
Guan Su touched his chin, “These places are all in the same location. Nowadays there have been no signs of activity [in this area]. Could it be that someone have contracted all of this land?”
If the other party was a rich person in Ali Xiang, then it was entirely possible for them to develop and expand on their own, and it would be reasonable for them to not sell this land.
An Zi Ran said: “That possibility is very likely!”
Fu Wu Tian said: “Bailian Xiang* is also very suitable for growing cotton. Moreover, the area is not small.”
[*T/N: Bailian = white lotus. Xiang = countryside, village, or town.]
An Zi Ran nodded: “In any case, we must also recover the land in Bailian Xiang. Guan Su, go with Shao Fei to investigate who is the contractor of the land, and see if you can convince the other party. If the other party refuses, come back, and we’ll make new plans.”
Guan Su immediately dragged Shao Fei away from the Xu Manor. Halfway through their journey, they shook off the people that Xu Wei Ye had sent to follow them, and then rushed the rest of the way to Bailian Xiang.
Xu Wei Ye seemed to be getting more and more impatient recently, as if some urgent matter had occurred, and he was becoming less and less cautious in the way he handled matters. Before, he still knew he had to pull the wool over people’s eyes and fool them, but now he gave off the feeling of a shattered pot.
Guan Su originally thought that he would have a decent opponent this time. He liked to cast a long line in order to catch a big fish*.
[*T/N: “cast a long line in order to catch a big fish” is a Chinese idiom that means, “to play the long game for big returns”]
As it turned out, Xu Wei Ye’s performance disappointed him too much. Xu Wei Ye planned for ten long years, but at the critical juncture, he ended up dropping the ball.
This kind of person couldn’t even be considered a proper opponent. Therefore, Guan Su didn’t take him seriously.