Chapter 241: Northeast Plain
Translated by Gumihou
Edited by Vinisha
Please read this at kitchennovel dot com
If a prefecture is governed by a good official, victims of natural disasters would have a good chance of keeping their lives. However, if the local official happened to be an idiot with an appetite for money, the people who wished to not die could only get on their knees and pray for heaven’s assistance. Ever heard of the term ‘Selling one’s children for food’? Does it sound cruel? Unfortunately, these are blood-soaked facts that had been recorded in the annals of history.
Because of her past life identity, Su Nuan Nuan was actually more sensitive to these kinds of disasters than court officials like Duan Tingxuan and Long Pingzhang. Noblemen and aristocrats, favoured sons born with a silver spoon in their mouths .
Sure enough, both men were taken aback by Su Nuan Nuan’s passionate rebuke. A serious expression finally took over the petulance at having their fun interrupted by an inconvenient flood. The little marquis said seriously, “Nuan Nuan is right. I am quite ashamed of my behaviour just now. We should leave the carriage here and travel by horseback.”
Long Pingzhang said, “I have no objection to this plan, but what about sister-in-law and Xiu’er…”
Su Nuan Nuan piped up, “No problem with me. Though I don’t know how to ride horses, I can wear men’s clothes and ride together with Tingxuan.”
Chu Xiu said firmly, “When I was five, my hometown suffered from a natural disaster. A terrible drought hit us, and my mother died in a quarrel with someone over a piece of bread. She was injured in the fight and never recovered. Brother A-Niu, I can also dress in men’s clothes and ride with you.”
“Very well, let’s do it that way.” Duan Tingxuan said decisively. Though his mood had fallen due to Su Nuan Nuan’s obvious worry over the natural disaster victims, it picked up again when the little marquis thought about sharing a horse with his beloved. Despite the pending disaster they were facing, the little marquis could not help the trace of joy that shot through him at the thought of galloping around the plains with Nuan Nuan.
This time, there were quite a lot of disaster victims from the floods at Southern Liaoning. When Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan reached the area, they found that the victims there were in worse shape than they had imagined. They immediately got busy and did not even spare the time to go to Niu Tou Mountain, which was only a few dozen miles away. After inquiring after the circumstances of the Duke and Duchess of Ping and found them to be in good condition, they proceeded to dismiss these people from the forefront of their minds and concentrated on contacting various local government offices and speaking to the locals about the conditions of the natural disaster.
Please read this at kitchennovel dot com ~
Long Pingzhang and Chu Xiu were seated just outside the Jinzhou Government Office, studying the commoners milling about the streets. Many of the commoners were kneeling or sitting right in front of the office waiting for aid. 
Chu Xiu frowned at the number of people still waiting for assistance and grumbled, “Just look at how many people are still waiting. Clearly, the local officials aren’t doing their best to help the common people.”
“The officials here are actually quite capable. Well, it made sense since they had to be rather independent and self-sufficient, being so far away from the Capital. Although the emperor had plans to set up a port city at Jinzhou, the plan is supposed to start three years later. The officials assigned to this place are mostly imperial graduates with no political connections. These are people who depended on themselves all their lives to achieve whatever success they have. Therefore, they are all intelligent people of their own right, otherwise the situation here would have been very much worse.”
“If that’s the case, why are there still so many people waiting for aid? Can’t they just release the reserved grains?” Chu Xiu was still quite angry. Her mother had died because of lack of food, therefore she was particularly sensitive about this matter.
“What reserved grains are you talking about? The stores are all empty, the grains being passed out now are the military provisions. In a barbaric territory like this, just how much reserved grains could they have? Moreover, the majority of the people here lived as nomadic farmers outside the city because of the lack of arable land. In the first place, grains is something lacking on normal days.
For the moment, we are using military provisions to prevent outright starvations in anticipation of emergency support sent by the imperial household. While some people might still die, we can minimize the death rate by making sure that everyone behaves in an orderly way for the promise of food.
However, if we open up the military provisions to the people, the people might just gorge themselves on the food in front of their eyes. Some might even hoard food, leaving others with nothing. Fights and looting will break out and even more people will die. Xiu’er, you must understand. The military provisions is the thin line that held everyone’s behaviour in check. As long as the promise of food is available to all, everyone would remain hopeful and not degenerate into desperate fights.”
On the other side of the steps, Duan Tingxuan and Su Nuan Nuan were also seated together. But the point of discussion was something different. In the end, having had the education of modern China and seen more of the world, Su Nuan Nuan was more worldly than Chu Xiu. Therefore, her understanding of the common peoples’ feelings was stronger. Therefore, she had nothing to complain about regarding the local official’s actions.
However, a different question was currently brewing in her mind: “From what I remember, the Northeast Plain had always been considered the breadbasket of China. So, why did you say that this place never produced enough food even to feed themselves?”
Duan Tingxuan naturally had every intention of answering every question his lovely wife had. However, he had never heard of Northeast Plain being the breadbasket of anything, ah.
In the end, he carefully inquired, “What do you mean? The Northeast Plain has never been particularly fertile, ah. So, how could it be considered a bread basket? Suzhou and Hangzhou had been famous for five or six hundred years ago for their abundant crops. Three hundred years ago, the Ling Nan area was opened up for cultivation and the saying ‘When Hu Guang is ripe, the whole world is fed’ existed. However… I must say that I have never heard of Southern Loaning being… a breadbasket of any sort?”
In her previous life, Su Nuan Nuan spent most of her life tramping across most of China in search of obscure recipes and cooking skills. However, that does not mean that her geography was particularly good. To be fair, she only knew that the Northeast Plain did exist in the modern era as the breadbasket of China, and that the most famous ones were San Jian Plain and Song Nen Plain. However, these were their modern names, as to their actual location… She had given all her knowledge of geography back to her teachers, ah !
When she said nothing, Duan Tingxuan lowered his voice and said, “In recent years, the southern regions have also switched to planting mulberry trees. Which is why our country has been getting richer each year, but in contrast, our food reserves had become less and less.”
When the emperor first imposed a policy for those major landowners in the south to switch from mulberry farming to grain crops, it was met with heavy resistance. Later, when the sea ban was later lifted, an Imperial College student who had travelled to Luzon  and Ryukyu  Island sent a report to the emperor just last year. The report stated that the land there is very rich and extensive, and because the sun shines fully nearly every day, the weather was very warm. Three harvests of crops could be gained in just one year.
This is why the emperor cast his eyes upon the southern lands. Remember how I told Tingye not to worry about not having anywhere to spend his money? I plan to save the money and later send some capable people out to purchase land on Ryukyu and Luzon. Didn’t you say that those places are good for fruit and crop planting? And this rubber plant sounds like it could really be made into something incredibly useful. If we can get hold of it, it could certainly push forward world development.”
Hearing Duan Tingxuan talk so casually about planning the future with her modern world knowledge, Su Nuan Nuan finally became aware that she had unknowingly given away a lot of information that the other person should never have known in this lifetime.
Thus, all hesitation washed away, she took her husband’s hand and in a low voice said, “To hear you say this, I finally understand something. You already know my greatest secret, so what else is taboo? The problem is, I don’t really understand the geography of the Northeast Plain. So, I have to ask you. Do you know where the Song Hua Jiang River is?”
“Song Hua Jiang? Are you talking about the… Duck River? I think, my teacher spoke about it before. There is a certain river called the ‘Duck River’ that flows from the extreme north. It’s incredibly wide and deep, though it is nothing like the Yangtze River, Huang He, or the Grand Canal, it’s very long. It’s the largest river in the north, and the locals call it the Song Hua Jiang River. Is that the one you’re talking about?”
“Yes, yes, yes, that should be the one.” Su Nuan Nuan was getting excited now. She clutched Duan Tingxuan’s hand tightly and said, “Then, you must know about Black Dragon River  province?” Thank you heaven, though she had travelled between time and space, she had only been sent back a few hundred years into a past whose general location was still the same. Otherwise, she would have been in real trouble.
However, her joy was quickly doused by the little marquis’ questioning look, “Black Dragon River? What’s that? Is that some other name for the Song Hua Jing?”
“Oh, crumbs,” Su Nuan Nuan flopped forward to bury her face into her knees.
Suddenly, another brainwave hit her and she quickly sat up again. She grabbed Duan Tingxuan by the front of his shirt and shouted, “What about the Nurgen Command Post ?! That’s the territory of the Jurchen , right? And Jurchen’s territory is still under our official rule?”
[Gumihou: I like that Su Nuan Nuan only begins to truly trust DTX when he revealed the absolute seriousness and trust he has to the random things that spewed out from her mouth whenever they chatted together. That she trust him now, during a talk about their future, rather than after a sexual awakening (as was novel traditional) was most touching to me.]
 Okay, I added these remarks for dramatic effect.
 I switched the paragraph and changed an explanation sentence into dialogue.
 …given all her knowledge back to her teachers – this is a very Chinese thing to say. For example, I might have been good at geography, history and statistics, but can barely remember most of it now, so ‘All knowledge had been given back to the teachers’
Lol, does English have anything equivalent to this?
 Luzon – Norther islands of the Phillipines
 Ryukyu – Japan, specifically the southern islands of Okinawa. Where an entire culture and kingdom flourishes as the connecting link between China and Japan
 Hei Long Jiang province – Literally Black Dragon River province, I put in the English name since it’s so dramatic, lol https://wikitravel.org/en/Heilongjiang
 Nurgan Command Post – Ming Dynasty at Telin, present day Tyr, Russia
 Jurchen – a term used to collectively describe a number of East Asian Tungusic speaking people who lived in the northeast of China, later known as Manchuria before the 18th century
Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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