After Being Abducted by the General Chapter 110

Chapter 110

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Yuan Li thought this idea was brilliant.

Youzhou had a unique geographical advantage, with mostly flat plains and large rivers such as the Juma and Sanggan. It was suitable for both agriculture and animal husbandry, making it a potential northern commercial center.

Currently, there were already scattered small markets in Youzhou, but they lacked completeness and regularity. The more prosperous markets were mainly located in the Central Plains, particularly in Luoyang and the southern regions along the great rivers.

The Northern Zhou dynasty emphasized agriculture while suppressing commerce. This was especially true for its founder, Emperor Taizu, who had been humiliated by merchants before he rose to power, making him detest the existence of markets. Even the relatively thriving markets were chaotic, and the merchandise offered was not comprehensive.

Ouyang Ting mentioned in the letter that these Confucian scholars and literati would arrive in May. Yuan Li couldn’t wait until they were almost there to start organizing the market; it would be too late by then.

He needed to start organizing the market now, finalize the specific dates, and make the people familiarize themselves with it. For example, holding a small market every three days and a big market every ten days, with the small market lasting one day and the big market lasting three days. Once the market became stable, the reputation of the “Jixian Market” would spread.

At the beginning, only local merchants from Jixian would come to set up stalls, but as time passed, merchants from surrounding counties and regions would hear the news and rush to set up stalls as well. The people would wait specifically for the market days to come and trade.

As the market grew more prosperous and larger, Yuan Li wouldn’t have to do much, as the merchants would come to Jixian on their own with goods to sell before the market even began.

Setting the big market every ten days was to give these merchants enough time to travel to Jixian.

After writing down these thoughts on paper, Yuan Li pondered further.

But a typical market might not be enough; could he add some unique features to it?

Although the trade market in Youzhou wasn’t very prosperous, it did have some special types of markets.

One was the Guanshi, a market for trade with the Xiongnu. Another was the Hushi, a market for trade with the Xianbei. There was also the Junshi, a small market near the northern military camps, selling goods mainly for soldiers’ use.

Nowadays, Guanshi and Hushi were closed, but the Junshi was still operational. These three types of markets were novelties that southern people had never seen before. Yuan Li didn’t plan to abandon them; instead, he intended to extend and modify these three types of markets, making them specialized markets unique to Youzhou.

Guanshi probably had no hope of reopening, especially since the Xiongnu leader was killed by Chu Hechao…

But the Hushi, which traded with the Xianbei, must not be let go. The Xianbei were now afraid of Chu Hechao due to the death of Huyan Zhuzhi. Yuan Li believed that with a little coercion and persuasion toward the Xianbei, reopening the Hushi market would be relatively easy.

Thinking of this, Yuan Li excitedly went to find Chu Hechao.

He handed Chu Hechao the “proposal” he had written and asked if they could reopen the market with the Xianbei.

Chu Hechao, looking at the thick stack of paper, and got a headache. He pulled Yuan Li into his arms and coaxed, “Just tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it all for you. We don’t need to go through all these papers, do we?”

Yuan Li smiled brilliantly and outright rejected him, “No, that won’t do.”

Chu Hechao reluctantly picked up one piece of paper and tried to read it, but after just two lines, he put it down seriously, “I can’t read.”

Yuan Li glared at him for a while.

But Chu Hechao had the skin as thick as a city wall and smiled wickedly, “Are you trying to convey a message to me with your eyes?”

Yuan Li replied slowly, “I spent a whole day writing all of this…”

Chu Hechao rubbed his temple, picked up some snacks from the side, and handed them to Yuan Li to eat. He then concentrated on reading the content on the pile of papers.

Chu Hechao was a clever person, and though he disliked these things, it didn’t mean he couldn’t understand them.

Yuan Li hadn’t even finished eating the two pastries, and he had already read through the whole stack of papers. He raised an eyebrow with some curiosity and said, “It’s quite interesting.”

Yuan Li planned to organize four types of markets. The first one was a common market where people and merchants could sell their goods. It would also include various entertaining activities like beast fights, acrobatics, and lantern riddles. The other three were specialized markets that showcased the unique features of Youzhou, namely the Hushi, the Junshi, and the Shishi.

People could freely go to any of these markets. The Hushi was nothing special, but the Junshi was entirely unconventional.

Traditional Junshi markets involved merchants selling goods to soldiers, but the items were usually monotonous and unremarkable. The Junshi market Yuan Li wanted to create would feature war spoils obtained by the military, and soldiers could also bring out their own items for sale or exchange.

Chu Hechao found this idea intriguing. The military often obtained many spoils of war, and some of these items were useless and piled up. This “Junshi Market” was indeed a great way to lighten the burden on the military and raise funds.

Ordinary people and merchants would usually avoid the military, but if given the opportunity, who wouldn’t be curious about what the military had to offer? Who wouldn’t want to get their hands on war spoils?

Among these spoils were utensils and decorations from the Xiongnu and Wuwan, as well as collections from local aristocrats, animal skins, and teeth. Many of these items couldn’t be found in the regular market, making this kind of market much more intriguing than an ordinary one, in Yuan Li’s opinion.

As for the last market, the “Shishi,” it was something Chu Hechao had never heard of. He became interested and asked, “So, this ‘Shishi’ market is specifically meant for selling food?”

“Yes,” Yuan Li obediently sat on Chu Hechao’s lap and continued, “Have you heard of a ‘Snack Street’?”

Chu Hechao raised an eyebrow.

“The North and South have vastly different cuisines, and Youzhou’s local food is a unique feature of the region. Naturally, it should be showcased to the people,” Yuan Li smiled, “Have you ever heard of northerners eating potatoes, refined sugar, or stir-fried vegetables?”

Chu Hechao chuckled, “You’re going all out.”

Yuan Li earnestly said, “Food is essential for the people, and its role is more critical than you might think. In the past, Zhou Gongdan almost worshipped me as the master of our mansion because of the food we served. Your subordinates all gained weight after we started stir-frying. When Zhang Shaoning and Xiang Hongyun went to Bingzhou, they specifically brought two iron pots and a bag of potatoes and sugar with them. If they even reacted this way, what about the others?”

Chu Hechao found his reasoning quite sound. “Alright, I’m looking forward to your Shishi Market. If you can really create such a market, I’m afraid you won’t need those literati to write articles for you; the people will come to Youzhou on their own.”

If there were such markets, merchants would flock to Youzhou, which would lead to economic prosperity and an increase in the population.

Yuan Li smiled, “If that’s the case, then it couldn’t be better.”

In addition to the markets, Yuan Li also planned to hold a lantern festival after the southern Confucian scholars and literati arrived in Youzhou. The festival could last for three to five days, with no curfew during that time, allowing the markets to run all night. Yuan Li had decided to use this opportunity to create a lively and stimulating trade atmosphere, giving the southern visitors a taste of the world they had never seen before.

He wasted no time and immediately started working on his plans with his subordinates.

He reserved four streets within Jixian for the markets. At the same time, he informed the merchants in Jixian and the surrounding areas to come and set up stalls before the 23rd day of the first lunar month.

The spoils of war from the military were also quickly sorted out and arranged for sale. Yuan Li was concerned that there might not be enough merchants for the first market, so he instructed Zhao Ying to secretly send people to pose as merchants, selling food, potatoes, cloth, and wooden basins to fill the stalls.

Before the market started, the news of the upcoming market had already spread among the people. On the 23rd day of the first lunar month, with the sky clear and the air crisp, curious people came to take a look. Indeed, they saw merchants selling their goods.

The stalls were set up on both sides of the streets, offering a wide variety of items. People gathered in small groups, hesitating whether to approach.

Some people were timid and had little money, so they took a quick glance before leaving. Others hesitated and walked into the market, while some clever individuals had already gone back home to bring out pots and jars to sell their own goods.

A few elderly men selling firewood quickly found a spot and started selling their goods as well. The market had begun in the morning and, by the time evening approached, it was packed with people of all ages. They curiously looked around, with most of the locals not necessarily coming to buy things but rather to enjoy the lively atmosphere.

Yuan Li and Chu Hechao also went to take a look.

The street that had only twenty to thirty stalls in the morning was now completely filled with people selling their wares. There were just as many locals selling goods as there were merchants. Some merchants who arrived late had to set up their stalls at the back of the market.

Ever since Lin Tian learned about the relationship between the lord and Chu Hechao, he felt terrified every time he saw them walking together in public, afraid they might accidentally reveal the secret of their “relationship.” However, both Yuan Li and Chu Hechao were very composed and behaved naturally, neither too distant nor too intimate, so as not to raise any suspicions.

As they reached the Junshi Market, Yuan Li suddenly laughed and gestured ahead, “Look.”

Chu Hechao followed his gaze and saw a familiar figure.

Yang Zhongfa was squatting in front of a stall with his young son. The boy, Xuan Er, was filled with curiosity as he found a wolf’s fang among the spoils of war and clutched it tightly in his hand. Seeing how much his son liked it, Yang Zhongfa negotiated the price with the soldier manning the stall.

The soldier was afraid of him and stammered, unable to speak clearly.

Chu Hechao strode over and gave Yang Zhongfa a kick on his backside. Yang Zhongfa yelped, turning around with anger on his face, “Who the h*ll attacked me from behind?”

As he turned, he saw Chu Hechao’s smiling yet nonchalant face. The anger on Yang Zhongfa’s face instantly turned into a warm smile, “Oh, General.”

Xuan Er obediently greeted Chu Hechao and Yuan Li.

Yang Zhongfa approached with a grin, “General, I see this Junshi Market will make me quite a bit of money today. You’re different from before. How about you loosen your purse strings and buy this wolf fang for my son, Xuan Er?”

Chu Hechao’s expression remained unchanged, “No money.”

You really are stingy… Yang Zhongfa clicked his tongue and was about to turn to Yuan Li when Xuan Er let out a mature sigh. His chubby little hand reached into a small money pouch and took out a string of copper coins, handing them to the soldier. He tugged at Yang Zhongfa’s sleeve, “Dad, Xuan Er has money. I’ve already bought it.”

Yuan Li couldn’t help but rub Xuan Er’s head, trying not to laugh.

As the evening breeze blew, the cheers and cries of joy from the children in the distance reached them. Yuan Li looked up and smiled contentedly.

From that day on, Yuan Li assigned a new task to Wu Kai and Wang Er.

On market days, they would take turns leading the soldiers to guard the market, especially paying attention to the entrances and exits to prevent thieves and pickpockets from mingling with the crowd.

As the second market day approached, soldiers dressed in leather armor, looking tall and imposing, stood on both sides of the streets with large knives hanging from their waists, their eyes fixed on the passing crowd.

Initially, the common people were somewhat afraid of these soldiers, and their voices were timid and quiet. However, after a few thieves were caught by the soldiers, the people felt reassured to see the soldiers in the market.

With the regular cycle of a small market every three days and a large market every ten days, the reputation of the Jixian market in Youzhou gradually grew and reached the ears of merchants from various regions.

By March, more and more merchants were rushing to Youzhou to make it in time for the large market. Even merchants from places like Qingzhou and Yanzhou were tempted and started coming to Youzhou.

Guo Mao and Cui Yan were locals of Youzhou. During one of the ten-day large markets, they were specially sent by Yuan Li to explore and see if there were any missing elements.

Yuan Li had even given them money pouches filled with copper coins and told them to spend freely.

Both of them felt somewhat helpless, but they respectfully followed the order and arrived at the market with their money pouches.

At this moment, the sun was setting, and the market was bustling with people. Guo Mao occasionally visited the market, so he wasn’t particularly surprised. However, Cui Yan, who rarely ventured out of Youzhou, was startled, “Why are there so many people?”

“This is how it is during the large market,” Guo Mao deftly led Cui Yan through the crowd and smiled, “Today is only the first day, and some merchants haven’t arrived yet. Wait until the next two days, and I’m afraid there will be even more people.”

Cui Yan was astonished, looking around and feeling overwhelmed by the spectacle. By the time they walked through all four streets, he hadn’t realized that he had spent all the money Yuan Li had given him.

Not only was his money pouch empty, but after coming out of the food market, Cui Yan’s stomach was also uncomfortably bloated. Guo Mao helped him sit on the roadside as he laughed, “Why did you eat so much?”

Embarrassed, Cui Yan said, “The food here looks so delicious. But after eating, it somehow feels familiar.”

Guo Mao lowered his voice, “The food market’s vendors are all people sent by the Lord. After all, it’s food, and it’s not easy to entrust it to outsiders.”

Cui Yan suddenly understood.

After a while, he felt more comfortable, gazing at the distant evening glow with a sigh, “In just three years, Youzhou has changed so much.”

“Yeah,” Guo Mao also looked into the distance, a smile on his lips, “Brother Cui, this is a good thing.”

Cui Yan also smiled, “Indeed, it is a great thing…”

They had circled the market and found nothing amiss, putting Yuan Li’s mind at ease.

Time flew by, and before they knew it, it was early May. The renowned Confucian scholars and some merchants from the south had already set foot on the soil of Youzhou.

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