On the day I confessed my secret to my parents.
After I finished the morning training and comforted the downhearted Dan, I headed towards my father’s office. Due to the harsh training, my body was obstinately begging for an afternoon nap. However, because there was something I wanted to talk about while I still had time, I continued to force my aching body towards the office. Nicholas, who was in charge of the office work, and my father were inside the office. However, when I entered, my father seemed to sense that I wanted to discuss something, and gave Nicholas some things to do. After Nicholas had exited the room, I said,
“Father, I wanted to talk about the plan for improving this village, the Lockhart house’s territory.”
My father nodded and then picked me up, and put me into the chair that was way too tall for a child like me to sit on.
“Since I don’t know the current state of this village very well, I want to start off with examining our overall situation. Could you give me permission to walk around freely in the village?”
I’ve only left the area around our house two times. The first time was during the summer last year, when our family went on a trip to a lake in the south called the Black Pond. The second time was when I visited our village’s shrine on the day of the autumn harvest festival. Only those two times. Furthermore, I had to ride on a wagon due to the large number of children during both occasions, and therefore, didn’t have the ability to freely look around. I understand that they were thinking of my safety when they only allowed me to play within the boundaries of the walls surrounding our house. Nevertheless, I still think that they were being overprotective. Well, if you think about it normally, for a three or four year old child, the grounds surrounding our house are more than wide enough. If I was a child who only wanted to play, there’s no reason for me to be dissatisfied. So you could argue that my parents aren’t as overprotective as I say.
“Walk around freely, you say . . . this is difficult. Let me think about it . . .”
Seeing my father’s reluctant expression, I inquired about whether or not there was any danger for the feudal lord’s son to be walking in the village.
“The people of our village are all good-natured. There’s absolutely no one who would think about inflicting harm on you. However, this village is close to the forest. I have no idea when a monster is going to appear. Even if I want to assign you an escort, there aren’t many people available . . .”
I personally felt that it would feel awkward to walk around the village if someone were to be pushed onto me as an escort.
“Could we say that father is going on a village inspection? We’ll use that opportunity to announce the public debut of the Lockhart family’s second son.”
After thinking about it for a little while, my father agreed to accompany me.
“Alright, Nicholas and I will take you around the village. Let’s schedule it for the morning of the day after tomorrow.”
My father’s smiling expression looked like it belonged to a mischievous child planning a prank as he whispered those words into my ear.
“What are you planning? Even if it’s just a little bit, could you tell me what’s going on?”
“Nope. I’m still thinking about it.”
My face assumed a slightly disappointed expression.
“I think it’s better to show you when we’re going together with Nicholas.”
I was feeling surprised to see my father thinking about something so seriously. I wondered what it was he was up to.
“I also have something I want to confirm.”
My father cheerfully replied, “What do you want to know about?”
“It’s about the changes in population of this village. It would also be good if I could learn the mortality rates of the children, especially the infants.”
“Population, you say . . . we should be able to access that information through our Orb Directory . . .”
It seems like they didn’t have any exact numbers since population statistics weren’t recorded. However, we should’ve been able to grasp the village’s overall shifts in population by referring to the Orb Directory. The Orb was a nifty little magical device that everyone used for personal identification. (TL: If you need more details on the Orb, click here. And search for “orb” by using Ctrl + F)
However, I was concerned about how they were even able to decide the taxes for our territory in the first place.
“In that case, how do you set the taxes for our territory?”
“We examine the area of their fields and the number of livestock they own. As for the artisans, they’re tax-free.”
Due to the absence of a poll tax, they didn’t really need to bother with the population’s numbers. In order to invite more artisans into the village, my grandfather had freed them from taxes. It was the norm for cities to impose a tax on their earnings.
“I see . . . alright then, first, we need to do an examination of the population.”
Without understanding the reason for such a thing, my father gazed questioningly at me and asked, “Why?”
“We’ll be able to grasp trends in our labor force and consumption levels by examining the annual changes in population. On the other hand, if we’re able to understand the more detailed fluctuations in population, we’ll be able to figure out why the population is decreasing, and if it’s increasing, we’ll know that we need new fields and also how much forest we need to clear for them. If the number still manages to increase, we’ll call in merchants to stock up on consumable goods.”
Hearing my thoughts, my father nodded in comprehension as he muttered, “I see.” However, he continued, “What about the infant mortality rate you spoke earlier?”
“Suppose that the population of this village remains relatively stable, with little to no change, and that approximately fifty children are born in one year. Let’s also assume that in one year, approximately thirty percent of our children die. If we were able to reduce that thirty percent by ten percent, the population will increase by ten people per year. Therefore, after ten years, there will be an increase of one hundred people. Furthermore, this surplus will act as a new generation who can give birth to more children in the future.”
As the village’s current feudal lord, he seemed to be able to understand most of my explanation so far. However, his expression was no longer very cheerful.
“One hundred people in ten years? I see. Although I understand your reasoning, it’s not easy to protect infants from disease. In our case, we’re able to have someone responsible look after the children. However, the reality is different for poorer families. Children who have only slightly matured are assigned to look after children even younger than them. They would probably be around your age.”
I was honestly impressed to see how precisely my father grasped the village’s situation in his role as an a government administrator.
“Since I still haven’t seen the situation with my own eyes yet, I can’t claim to understand it very well. However, I think I have a plan that can both increase food production and lower the infant mortality rate at the same time.”
My father spontaneously stood up as he muttered, “Really, now! That kind of dream . . .” Seeing his excessive reaction, I reminded him not to expect too much.
“However, if I can’t examine the village’s situation, I won’t be able determine whether or not the plan is implementable. Examining the circumstances should be our current priority . . .”
Persuading my excited father, I managed to make him promise to bring me to the blacksmith, woodworking, and leatherworking workshops. At that point, Nicholas had returned to the room so I excused myself. Dragging my weary body along, I headed towards the hall that had become the afternoon napping area of me and the other three.
Although I’ve somehow managed to find a way to go to the village, I don’t know how I feel about this. My father said that he’ll tell Nicholas to investigate our population information, however, is Nicholas going to do okay . . . ugh, using this body is such a pain. There’s no way I can push it too much if it gets exhausted so quickly . . .
And so just like that, I collapsed onto the ground when I arrived beside Mel and the others, and began my nap.
When I woke up, I decided to begin educating the three children. Well, even if I call it educating, I didn’t intend to teach them anything particularly difficult. I only wanted them to learn the letters while playing a simple game in our garden. A circle was drawn onto the ground, and the letters of the alphabet were written within it. The game was played by tossing a stone on the letters in their correct order.
“First, is the letter A. What comes after that?”
Among the three, Sharon replied “B” in a small voice. While making a “very good” face, I then asked, “Alright, then which one of these is ‘B’?” Sharon pointed at the letter that was B.
While wondering when she had memorized the letters, I patted Sharon’s head and did my best to praise her, “Wow, that’s great Sharon.” With that, I ignited the spirit of rivalry within Mel. As I continued to ask successive questions, even Dan was pulled into the game. It seemed like my strategy had somehow been a success. I’d managed to stimulate their interest in learning letters.
I was planning to raise the literacy rate of this village.
As you would expect, our retainers were able to read every single letter, however, most of the common folk weren’t able to read. Since this village was relatively well-off, its people had a certain extent of leisure time within their lives. I intended to use that leisure time to educate them.
Although I don’t think that everything will improve immediately with education alone, if I can raise the literacy rate and let them gain experience through working with documents, then productivity levels will increase. Furthermore, if they also learn basic arithmetic operations, then the management of our production should have dramatic improvements.
Although our horribly inconvenient transportation system remains a problem, we might be able to build up a greater flow of people by increasing productivity. It would be great if we could come up with a new local product and also clear up some new roads with the tax revenue.
This might be putting the cart before the horse, but I believe that education is necessary. Since our public order is already quite good, if we put effort into hygiene management, education, and the development of a new industry, then this village will inevitably achieve growth . . .
In regards to the future, I still hadn’t decided if I should continue living in this village, or go traveling instead. Even if I remain here, the village’s next lord is going to be Rod, so either way, I will have to use my own efforts to find a place I can belong to. Doing this by traveling the world does seem like something fun.
In the end, nothing changes the fact that his place is my birthplace. The expansion of Rushmore is a way to repay my grandfather and parents for accepting me. Since that’s the case, I want to put in my best efforts for them.
However, I’m nothing but an engineer.
It might be cool to call me a designer or something, but the only thing I do is assemble various parts. In this world which doesn’t have the computers of my modern world, I can’t do anything. With that type of knowledge and experience that can only be half-utilized, I’m not sure how useful I can be. Nevertheless, I’ll do what I can. After all, that’s the only thing I can do.
It’s now two days later, and I’ve been feeling restless since morning. The excitement of getting to see a new world by touring the village together with my father was rampaging within me.
Once I mounted onto the horse with my father, I felt slightly frightened by the extreme change in height. With my field of view being several times its usual height, I had to cling onto the saddle for dear life every time the horse shook its back. Seeing my appearance, my father laughed as he asked, “Is it scary?”
“You’re damn right it’s scary! Whenever I left our house before, I always rode in the back of a wagon. I’ve never ridden anything like a horse.”
Forgetting that Nicholas was watching, I accidentally deviated from the childish tone I usually spoke in. Although Nicholas’ previously smiling face hardened dubiously when he heard me, I pretended to ignore that and continued to cling onto the saddle.
After we had finished descending downhill, we passed through gate of the wall which surrounded our hill. Even if we call it a gate, it’s not very large. Built out of little more than a slightly thick wooden plank, a wild animal with a large frame like a boar or a bear would have probably been able to break through it.
Rushmore village was composed of five hills.
These hills were neatly lined up in a single row. Starting from the northernmost hill, these hills were appropriately named: Castle Hill (where my house was), North Hill, East Hill, West Hill, and then finally, the southernmost hill was the South Hill.
The path leading towards the interior of the village itself was unpaved and merely formed through the treading feet of countless people. It moved through the hills as if it were weaving through them. The villagers homes were all one story bungalows with white plaster walls and slate roofs. Several houses had been built together along the side of the road.
When I had looked down from our residence on the hill, the fields looked like they had been plowed in a patchwork pattern on their own hills. I had also spotted sheep and cows grazing in green pastures and some pigs bustling around in the back of the villagers’ homes.
My current impression was that everything was filthier than I thought.
Despite the scenery looking so beautiful from far away . . . up close, everything’s so filthy. Even though it hasn’t rained for four days, the road’s still disgustingly wet and muddy . . . not only that, it looks like the urine and feces of livestock has been mixed in with this slush.
And so, while going around each of the hills one by one, I surveyed the conditions of our fields and villages. Wherever we passed through, villagers who were in the middle of farm work took their hats into their hands and lowered their heads.
Whoa, as expected from a feudal lord. Looks like respect isn’t a problem.
As far as I could see, although they utilized hoes and spades for tilling the fields, horses and cows weren’t used. I asked Nicholas,
“Horses and cows aren’t used?”
“There are few horses in this village. Since all our cows are being squeezed for milk, none are being worked in the fields.”
The serious Nicholas dutifully answered the four year old me.
If I remember correctly, weren’t horses used for farm work starting from a long time ago? And wouldn’t it be okay to use the male cows . . .
I asked my father to help me down the horse and then went to look at the fields. The villagers there were firmly built and seemed to be in their thirties. When they saw a child like me approaching, they became flustered. Wondering if they had done something inappropriate, the villagers hastily ran up to us.
When they saw my smiling father raise his hand to indicate that there was nothing wrong, their faces immediately showed relief. One of them worriedly asked, “Is there something you need, sir?”
I requested my father to show me the farming tools and was shown one of their hoes. Its appearance closely resembled the hoes of Japan and furthermore, the blade was made from iron.
It seems like they use iron farming tools. Looks like my plan to rapidly raise their agricultural production levels through the use of iron tools has to be scrapped . . .
I pretended to lose interest in the farming tools and instead, grabbed a handful of the soil.
It feels a little dry. Since it’s unlikely wheat can be grown at the end of May, I was thinking of planting bean type or potato type crops. However, unless the soil is a little darker something like that probably won’t be possible. Although I’m sure not all of my knowledge on agriculture is correct, I’m pretty sure adding manure into the soil should be good for it . . .
In as cute of a voice as I could muster, I asked, “What are you guys doing right now?” Although the farmers had slightly bewildered expressions, after glancing toward my father, one of them began to slowly explain in a way even a child like me could understand.