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Chapter 47 - Farmers
The tea shed was very simple, with a straw roof on top. Beneath that were several tables and chairs. The people who pa.s.sed by would be thirsty and hungry and thus stop to rest and refuel at this rest stop. The traffic here was rather high.
When everyone's curiosity was satisfied, they withdrew their gazes from An Zi Ran's group, and the sound of people talking once again filled the tea shed. From time to time the server's loud voice could be heard among the ambient chatter. Their tea and snacks were soon served up. This time the server did not try to sneak looks at them.
Even though it was spring, the midday sun was still very warm.
Several plain-attired farmers suddenly appeared in the tea shed with their children.
The adults were carrying large parcels and they led the children towards the tea shed. Their expressions did not look good. The people in the tea shed could not help but subconsciously glance at the newcomers.
Over at the next table, the conversation between two men caught An Zi Ran's attention.
"There are disasters everywhere. It's getting worse and worse in this year." A man wearing coa.r.s.e hemp garments set his cup heavily on the table and made a loud noise.
Another person at the same table immediately said, "How do you know that they are escaping from disaster?"
The man said, "You haven't been back in three years so naturally you don't know. To get from Chang Province to Maple City, one must pa.s.s through this area. What kind of place is Chang Province? That is the area where natural disasters occur most frequently. Disasters strike there at regular intervals. If it is not a flood then it is a drought. Last year, flood broke out, flooding many fields and villages. Many people were displaced and had to migrate to other places."
The other person nodded, but then he thought of something and said, "Maple City is the closest place to Chang Province. If people want to migrate, they would always go to Maple City. However, it seems that this year there has been no natural disaster in Chang Province. So how come there are still Chang Province people appearing here?"
"That I do not know." The man touched his chin in thought. "Perhaps they are worried that natural disasters will break out in the future, so they are moving ahead of time. After all, it happened last year."
"Leaving Chang Province earlier is also a good idea."
"That is, many people in Chang Province are not going to survive like this, and the imperial family does not know…"
The other person hurried hissed for silence and lowered his voice, "Talking about the imperial family in public, do you want to die?" At this they deliberately looked over at An Zi Ran's group who had came from Jun Zi City.
The man immediately went mum.
One of the farmers asked the server for a pot of tea. After the server brought over the tea, the farmer took out some dry food from his pack. The dry food was made of miscellaneous grains. They've been out for a long time so the texture was a bit tough. He handed his wife and son a piece of the coa.r.s.e biscuit, and then swallowed his portion with the tea. The biscuit was not delicious. The two adults furrowed their brows from time to time as they ate. The child couldn't chew it down at all. The farmer's wife asked the server for a bowl. Then she tore the hard biscuit and soaked it in the bowl with the tea. When the biscuit softened, she gave it to the child.
The child couldn't eat this thing and his eyes were always glued to the piping hot buns on Steward Su's table.
Steward Su sympathized with the malnourished child. When he noticed the child's gaze his heart softened. He called the child over and gave him the three buns left on the table.
The child was a bit hesitant at first, but after all, he couldn't resist the temptation of the buns. Despite his parent's astonishment, he ran over. With excitement, he carried the steaming buns back to his table. Very sensibly he gave the buns to his parents to eat.
The farmer and his wife's eyes became moist.
A child from another family looked over with envy. They came from the same village. That family was also eating hard biscuits, and they did not carry much money. In order to save money and arrive at Maple City as quickly as possible, they've only been eating the dry food they brought with them.
Steward Su's compa.s.sion was overwhelming, and he looked imploringly at An Zi Ran.
An Zi Ran did not hesitate. He called him over and said something in his ear. Steward Su immediately complied. He had the server bring up some more buns and personally gave the buns to the other family of farmers.
"Wi… Zi Ran, why the sudden interest in Chang Province?"
Under An Zi Ran's silent glare, Fu Wu Tian obediently swallowed back the word "wife," and switched to a new form of address. Fu Wu Tian had heard An Zi Ran's whispered words and found that his w.a.n.g fei had ordered Steward Su to go inquired about Chang Province's circ.u.mstances, thus he became curious.
An Zi Ran said, "Nothing, simply asking."
Seeing that he refused to say, Fu Wu Tian did not ask again.
After a while, Steward Su came back. He distributed more than a dozen buns to the two families and received their sincere grat.i.tude. Hereafter, they answered everything he asked.
After a quarter of an hour, the group hit the road again.