Chapter 270 – Cemen
Two months had passed by quickly. In that two months, Liu Mang was caught in dire straits. Liu Mang had really underestimated the advisors of that era. They made use of his conscription order and dig out a hole for Rody to jump in.
The past two months were difficult. If it was not because of the seeds Liu Mang had brought, the rations would not have been enough.
An entire population of 1.2 million soldiers almost caused Liu Mang to die. Although Yangzhou was rich, it cannot support 1.2 million people even during a golden age. It should be said that Shouchun and Liujiang are only one-third of the Yangzhou. Right now, Yangzhou was left in a mess like the others.
Hundreds of business prospered in Shouchun. The 1.2 million people could not only eat and drink without restrain. They also have a place to sleep.
Homes, rations and clothing for the common people needed to be dealt with. Liu Mang had never dealt with so many people before. On top of that, these people all owned nothing.
Liu Mang had also already read the letters given to him by Lu Bu and Chen Gong. Written on it were nothing more than cutting off one’s own means of retreat. However, Liu Mang did not give his promise because he did not do that only to help his father-in-law. He also did that to give his people a better background and a home to return to. If Shouchun and Lujiang were abandoned, the Lu Bu Army would not gain anything even if they crossed the Yangtze River and fought with Jiangdong. The war at Guandu will continue for a long time. Once Yuan Shao and Cao Cao disposed of each other, the world would no longer have a chance. Lu Bu was not Liu Bei. That guy can mess around at Jiangdong and Chibi then obtain Jingzhou. Lu Bu and Sun Ce were mortal enemies. It was impossible for them to form an alliance. If the current scenario would be followed, both sides would lose out. Both of them would no longer be able to rule. They could only join Gongsun Zan and Tao Qian be buried in the earth as a pile of dry bones.
Liu Mang could not do that. Since the disaster was created by Liu Mang, he would solve it himself.
“Is it a success?” Liu Mang had dark circles under his eyes as he looked at Liu Ye who also had dark circles under his eyes. Liu Ye had also not slept in a few days. He had been researching things. He had found his paradise since arriving at Liu Mang’s place. He could finally learn his own things. Liu Mang’s pile of books gave Liu Ye many sleepless nights. Liu Mang now discussed about cement with him.
Liu Mang was unable to find so many wooden bricks for the people to build houses. He also did not have the time. At that moment, the people were sleeping under military tents at the wilderness.
The cement became Liu Mang’s life saving straw. This is because once it was made, buildings could be made quickly without needing clay and rice water to solidify the cracks between the bricks.
Liu Mang could not remember how to make cement. However, he knew that he needed to use limestone and mix it with clay. Limestone just needed to be cooked under high temperature. Mixed things are then put into the cooked area and processed. It is then polished before it becomes a success.
The principle is simple but the actual operation is not so simple. In two months, the great inventor of the Three Kingdoms, Liu Ye, only managed to create simple cement. This cement could only be used to reinforce simple houses and walls. It still has no effect on underwater structures but that is already enough.
“Ziyang. Have thirty teams of people to collect as many limestones as they can. Send another twenty teams to collect clay!” Liu Mang then gathered the 1.2 million people. Each team consist of ten thousand people with a total of one hundred and twenty teams.
Fifty teams would mean five hundred thousand people. Liu Mang was unable to support these people for nothing. If they do not work, food will not be distributed to them. Of the 1.2 million people, two hundred thousand were the elderly, the handicapped and the children. Liu Mang did not make things difficult for these people and distributed food for them. The remaining ones were not so lucky. Liu Mang did not have much provisions left. Lu Bu had moved the provisions from Lujiang to Shouchun but this could only last for six months with two months already passed. The forage in the military has begun to shrink.
“Yes Milord!” Liu Ye nodded and then instructed one of his own assistant. He knew that cement was of great importance. Liu Ye has tested out the hardness of the cement and found that it is much stronger compared to those using wooden bricks. It was hard to cut it with a sword. Only the ballista and catapults were able to destroy it. Liu Ye definitely did not want this to fall into the enemy’s hand and would supervise this himself.
With more than five hundred thousand people working together, limestones were peeled off and clays were excavated. All of this were sent to the huge camps outside Shouchun.
The camp was quickly turned into an industrial zone by Liu Mang. Cement was not the only thing being made in there. There was a large chimney and operating mechanisms used to make ballista. If it was not because this place was not close to water, Liu Mang may have pulled the docks over and have the Black Flag garrison the area. The guards of Shouchun had already been replaced with garrison troops. Liu Mang had to support all these people and so he did not hold back. He recruited more than fifty thousand soldiers from the 1.2 million people as a garrison force. These recruits made Liu Mang surprised. That was because the recruits were all good at fighting. They were no different from the Danyang ruffians. When Liu Mang asked, he found out that most of these people were mountain people. However, it does not matter what their backgrounds were. With Liu Mang, they are all considered part of a Great Han Family. Liu Mang did not discriminate against them just because they were from a pre-Qin or Baiyue people. Those that wished to blend in together with the Han are all treated as Han people equally.
The limestones were cooked accordingly. It is then processed with clay before being cooked again. Bags of limestone was taken out of the industrial zone and transported to Shouchun on a carriage.
“What are those?” Most of the people staying at Shouchun were the elderly and the children. There were also a lot of women. The elderly must not be underestimated. They were people with prestigious foundation. They were able to give the youngsters earnest advice, especially the more careful mountain people.
“I don’t know! Bags followed by more bags. Are those food?” Someone guessed that the cloth bags should be filled with food. This is because people would usually be afraid of dampness for food. When a food gets wet, it gets moldy easily. As cloth is able to absorb water, food is usually transported using cloth bags. Naturally, the bags were not wheat flour bags but a kind of coarse bags. The bags were not only waterproof. Even the manufacturing cost of it was not high. That was why Liu Mang’s army had a lot of these kind of bags.
“Food? His Royal Highness’ does not have much food left?” Another person asked.
“We were already running out since long ago. Didn’t you notice that His Highness had been reducing our supply of rations?” An old man stood up and said.
“Reduced? How could that be? Don’t we still get three meals a day?” Some people were puzzled. Liu Mang gave them three meals a day. In the morning and in the evening, they were given porridge. While in the afternoon, they received food provided by the canteen. This is to ensure that they have enough strength to work.
“The afternoon meals have not changed. However, the quantity of porridge in the morning and evening have been reduced. It has more water and less rice!” The elderly deserved to be called as such. From their lifetime of experience, they were able to tell that Liu Mang’s army has a food shortage from the thickness of the porridge’s broth.
“Perhaps you have blurred vision!” An old lady gave the old man a glance.
“Haha. It has been so many years. I may be old and muddled but the amount of food still cannot be hidden from my eyes.” If it was only just once or twice, he would not care. However, the food has been declining throughout the month. As a result, the old man had no choice but to make this assumption.
The old man’s assumptions were correct. The reduction of food in the morning and the evening was indeed ordered by Liu Mang. This was also done helplessly as the Liu Mang Army’s rations were really not much. If Liu Mang did not save it, he may not have even lasted two months.
The words of lack of food made the people anxious. Liu Mang did not expect a few old men to find out just from the porridge. People were indeed more precious the older they get.
Bags of limestones were then thrown on the ground. In front of the bags was a large open space. The originally ruined buildings had already been demolished by Liu Mang. Even though they let the people live in tents, they would not allow them to live in those old homes. This is because those old homes may collapse from the wind. At that time, the price would be human lives.
The cloth of the bag was torn open. Ash grey powder then appeared in front of everybody.
“It is not food!” The old man from before shook his head. How wonderful would it be if it had been food.
“What are these ash grey things for?” A person who did not understand went and asked the old man. However, the old man also did not know. They have never seen the ash gray powder before. Contrary to expectations, another old man mumbled with doubt. “Is this powdered limestone?”
Although it was not limestone, it was not that far off. A captain from the engineering team then told the people. “This is cement. The cement is used to make big houses!” The captain had obviously saw the cement being used at the industrial zone. That was why he was very confident and proud when he uttered this news.
“What b? Use this to make houses? Your brain numb boy?” An old man questioned with strong dialect.1
Building homes! In their eyes, homes were made using large bricks and tiles. If they cannot afford it, they use the earth and bamboo, stuck together. The gray powder was not used at all.
“Can we make more money lying to you?” The questioned captain was not happy. “Don’t believe me then come and see!”2
The cement was taken down and piled up into a small pile. One of the engineers poured water on the pile of cement. He dug a small hole and stirred with a stick.
“Adding water to ash? Oh, you are playing in the mud like a child.” Children liked to play like this but they used their urine instead of water.
“If you don’t believe it, then forget about it!” The captain looked irritated. “Come! Let’s first have the elderly take a look! Do not allow them lo look down on us!”
The other engineering members were also unhappy as it was not nice to be questioned.
Wooden planks3 were carried over. They did not have any reinforcing bars. They only have wooden planks and cement for the inner framework.
One by one, the general framework was made by wooden planks. Cement was properly smeared. With a lot of people, the efficacy is high. With tens of thousands of people, houses were built one after another. Although the cement had not yet dried, the general framework was already done. Liu Mang’s first wave of construction was a row of single-story house. The houses were temporary but were guaranteed to be sturdy and firm. After a period of time, Liu Mang planned to build the foundation for two-story buildings.
I don’t know how to ‘translate dialect’. Which resulted in ‘Your name numb boy’.
Captain also speaking in some kind of dialect using 哉 Considering the fact that other guys asking rhetorical questions in the past don’t’ use them, I assume it’s a dialect.
Wooden planks are the long and fairly thick ones. Wooden bricks are short and very thick.