Chapter 18: If you have food at home, you must share it with everyone
It has been more than ten days since the locust plague, and under the reassurance of the county magistrate, the people’s emotions have gradually stabilized from the initial panic.
However, there is still no news of opening the granaries to distribute food. Instead, another major event has occurred.
There was an earthquake in the north of Changding King’s fiefdom, affecting two counties and causing many casualties.
A series of disasters occurred one after another, intensifying the fear in the hearts of the people. They ran to the county town again to request the county magistrate to open the granaries and distribute food. In the end, the yamen’s guards had to kill several ringleaders of the disturbance to barely suppress the situation.
However, the people’s resentment grew even stronger and took root in their hearts.
After waiting for so long, many people realized that the government might not open the granaries at all, so they began to buy food from grain shops.
However, the price of food is changing every day, and the coarse rice that used to cost just over ten wen per catty now costs thirty wen per catty.
To survive, many people are still buying food even at the higher prices. However, some are struggling and holding on, thinking that the government will not abandon them.
The news of the soaring grain prices has spread throughout the surrounding villages and towns, and naturally, in the village where the Shen family reside also know about it.
With the grain becoming more expensive in town, they thought about those households that had harvested grain in advance.
They directed their attention towards those who had harvested grain in advance. The Li family, as the village head, did not dare to think about it. Besides, they only harvested half of their share of the grain.
After much thought, they turned their attention towards the Shen family, particularly Shen Yu’an’s family.
“Shen Yu’an’s family never pays any taxes, and this year they harvested several acres of grain. There’s no way their family can eat all that grain. We are all neighbors here, and they should help us out a bit,” said Lin Erduo, who was standing under the big tree at the entrance of the village.
Shen family village has two major households, the Shen family and the Lin family. The Lin family moved to the village later, and there are a few other surnames who also moved in later.
People around him understood that he must not have heard about what happened at Shen’s house yesterday, otherwise, he wouldn’t dare to suggest such an idea.
Someone immediately told him, “The Shen family’s children are not easy to deal with. Yesterday, when Zhao’s family came over to ask for some food, they were all driven away by them. The young lady of Shen’s family is also powerful, kicking people away with one foot.”
“Everyone in our village knows that Zhao has already broken ties with her family, but we have been neighbors for decades. We can’t even give them this little bit of face.” Lin Erdan didn’t take what he said to heart. Besides, there were many people going with them. Would his family dare not bring out the food?
Some people actually thought Lin Erdan’s words made sense. After all, the Shen family couldn’t possibly eat all the food they had, so what was the harm in giving some to their fellow villagers?
Several people agreed with each other and decided to go to the Shen family to force them to hand over their food.
A large group of people marched towards the Shen family, attracting many others to follow and see what was happening.
For several days, many households had been running low on food. If the Shen family have enough food to share, they should at least reserve a small portion for those who came to ask.
As more and more people gathered, they reached the front of the Shen family’s door and the number of people had grown to nearly a hundred.
When they passed by the home of Shen Lizheng, his wife overheard the situation and told Shen Lizheng, saying, ” They only care about surviving themselves instead of sharing the grains they have harvested. They deserve to have their food taken.”
As she spoke, she forgot that it was because they didn’t believe in the situation that the food was not harvested earlier.
Shen Lizheng crossed his legs and looked outside but said nothing.
With a few loud bangs, the door of the Shen family shook as it was knocked. Shen Yu’an stood up to open the door and saw a large crowd of people gathered outside.
In the past few days, Shen Yu’an had taken several men from the Shen family to hunt in the mountains and had caught a lot of game to be smoked and stored for later use.
As she opened the door, she held a meat knife in her hand, some blood of the game is still visible in it.
“What’s the matter?” Shen Yu’an glanced coldly at the crowd outside and had already guessed why they were there.
The person knocking on the door saw the shiny knife in Shen Yu’an’s hand and remembered how she had kicked someone the day before. They took two steps back in fear and stammered, “Lin… Lin Erdan wants to see you about something.”
After speaking, the person who knocked on the door stepped aside and revealed Lin Erdan behind him.
“What do you want?” Shen Yu’an asked the man with triangular eyes who was shorter than her.
Lin Erdan raised his head arrogantly and said, “Where is your father? Why did he send a girl to talk to us? I came to discuss the matter of food with your father.”
As he spoke, he tried to enter through Shen Yu’an’s side.
Shen Yu’an’s face darkened, and she raised the knife in her hand and held it horizontally against Lin Erdan’s neck.
Feeling the cold sensation on his neck, Lin Erdan stopped in his tracks and swallowed nervously.
He took a half step back, but Shen Yu’an’s hand moved forward, and the sharp blade cut into his skin, causing small droplets of blood to trickle down his neck.
Lin Erdan was too scared to move, but his body trembled uncontrollably.
“Speak if you have something to say, put down the knife first,” said Lin Erdan with a mournful face. He regretted being at the front and leading the charge. He should have been stirring up trouble in the crowd instead, as they wouldn’t be able to fight against so many people.
Shen Yu’an looked with disgust at the knife blade stuck to Lin Erdan’s skin. She thought she would have to wash it well later, or it would be unusable.
She took back the knife and, seeing that Lin Erdan was trying to run back into the crowd, she helped him out by kicking him out with a foot.
“How come all of you are here looking for us like he did?” Shen Yu’an scanned the crowd with her eyes.
The people who were caught by her gaze felt a chill down their necks and quickly shook their heads, taking a few steps back from the crowd.
There were still many people standing there, although they were afraid, they also felt that the Shen family couldn’t do anything to them with so many people.
A middle-aged man with a pleasing smile on his face in the crowd said, “The locust plague has been gone for so long, and everyone’s homes are also facing some difficulties. Look, can you help us a bit?
He didn’t dare to treat Shen Yu’an like the other women in the family. She was favored by the Shen family and had power herself.
“It seems like everyone has forgotten what I said before,” Shen Yu’an said casually.
With her reminder, many people remembered what she had said before: “If a disaster were to actually occur and someone comes to us for help burrowing grains but we refuse, do not accuse us of being cold-blooded and disregarding community ties.”
Some people’s faces turned pale, at that time they didn’t know that a locust plague would really happen.
However, some people felt that what the Shen family did was not right. A woman with narrow eyes in the crowd said, “We are all people who rely on farming for food. How can we understand those words? If Shen Rong had said a few more words, we would have listened to him for sure.”
“That’s right, I think you can’t bear to see your fellow villagers doing well, so you’re hiding some of the truth. Now that we’re all going hungry, your family has to bring out some grain to share with us,” said Ma, who was at odds with the Shen family.
Shen Yu’an sneered. The other people who came out into the courtyard were also surprised to hear this statement. They couldn’t believe someone would have the audacity to suggest such a thing.