Chapter 349 Building houses for our fellow villagers
The bandits who had just arrived were confused. They saw Jin Lan and the others happily digging for silt in the river and making clay bricks with it. After that, they would trade the bricks for bullets. For every ten clay bricks, they could only get one bullet.
Even at the sight of this, they did not really find it strange. But the moment Jin Lan, Zhang Yiheng, and the others received their bullets, the newly arrived bandits wondered what the fuck was with the happy smiles on their faces. Weren’t y’all supposed to be bandit leaders? Why were you so happy to receive one bullet?! Could it be that you hadn’t had much real-world experience yet?!
The river channel was starting to be widened by these people digging. Originally, the riverbed here was just a channel that had been formed after a small stream had changed its course. But now, the channel was getting wider to the point of almost turning into a large river.
Initially, the refugees were worried the elevation of the riverbed would cause the channel to burst its banks when the spring floods arrived. That would definitely affect the crops if it happened.
But now, they did not have to worry. The spring floods did not scare them.
In the river, Jin Lan and the others whose pockets were filled with bullets were making noisy clinking sounds. The new bandits were shocked by this strange scene. “Have these people been put under a spell?”
After Jin Lan finished his work, he called for the new bandits to gather and formally briefed them on their duties, what the bricks could be exchanged for, and the long-term plans they had. For example, they were planning on building ten small houses after the spring floods and then in the summer…
When they heard that, the new bandits were dumbfounded. Could these people still fucking be considered bandits?
Then Jin Lan got straight to the point. “Do you know who’s in charge of this place? You think you’re unlucky to have been caught, but I’m telling you, you’re actually very lucky!”
Jin Lan kept rambling. The bandits switched their attention from Jin Lan to Ren Xiaosu and Yang Xiaojin every now and then, while their eyes gradually became more confused.
Currently, Ren Xiaosu did not have anything more to do. Jin Lan and Zhang Yiheng would take care of everything for him. He and Yang Xiaojin were only required to reduce the number of casualties when they subdued the bandits at the beginning.
Band after band of bandits came here and ended up joining the kiln forces. During the day, they would dig for silt to make clay bricks. In the evening, they would memorize the Five Disciplines. Their lives had never been more enriching than this.
When the spring floods arrived as expected, everyone could feel the current in the river getting stronger. They could even catch fish in it quite often, but the fish would bite anyone they encountered. If they did not have so many people, it would have been a really challenging task.
More and more firewood were piled on the riverbank to be dried, while whole tree trunks broken off by the floods from upstream washed in as well. The thinner branches would be used as firewood, while the thicker trunks could be used for the beams of the houses later on.
The refugees in the settlement also helped to construct some temporary mud houses and a small brick kiln for them.
The bandits had helped the refugees dig irrigation ditches, as well as the river. And the refugees gave them some help in return.
The refugees were no longer afraid of the bandits. All of them were just like residents of a small village living together.
One of the refugees came up to Ren Xiaosu and said, “Boss, let’s start firing the bricks. Otherwise, when the first rain arrives, a lot of the clay bricks we made will get destroyed.”
“Sure!” Ren Xiaosu responded. A large area of clay bricks had already been laid out at this moment. It looked like it was enough to build more than ten houses with.
Firing bricks was not a particularly difficult task. After placing the bricks into the kiln, the door would be closed. All that needed to be done afterwards was adding firewood into the kiln.
As for the process to cool the kiln down with water, that would be left to the bandit who knew how to do it.
Bricks were categorized into red and black bricks. The silt clay the bricks were made with contained iron. During the firing process, red bricks were produced when the iron content was completely oxidized to form ferric oxide. If the iron content did not completely oxidize during the firing process, they would end up as black bricks.
The brick kiln built by Ren Xiaosu and the others had a roof that did not allow oxygen to enter. Therefore, the fired bricks would all be black in color.
“How long does it take to fire bricks?” Ren Xiaosu asked the bandit with experience in making them.
“Our kiln is small, so it can only burn around 20,000 bricks in one go. I reckon that it’ll take a little more than ten days from now for the bricks to be ready. However, if we include the time for them to cool down, it’ll take another two days.” The bandit explained, “It’ll require roughly 2,000 bricks to build a house measuring about 20 square meters. The batch of bricks in the kiln now should be enough to build a dozen houses with.”
Thinking about living in brick houses soon, the bandits got quite excited.
After all, most of the people here had never lived in a brick house before in their lives. A brick house was a symbol of status in town.
“Alright.” Ren Xiaosu said to the refugees from the settlement, ‘Y’all should send some people over to guard the place. When the bricks are ready, we can build some houses for y’all as well.”
Jin Lan mumbled, “Why do we have to build houses for them too when we’re the ones making the bricks?”.
Ren Xiaosu shot him a look. “Quit complaining.”
Jin Lan ran off with his head hanging. He shouted for his brothers to produce more clay bricks before the rainy season arrived. Right now, there were more than 400 bandits at the settlement, so they were extremely efficient at their work!
But after just a few days, the sky started to turn overcast. Jin Lan and Zhang Yiheng got really worried that it might start raining soon, so they said, “Hurry up, bring the clay bricks in. Carry the dried clay bricks into the mud houses!”
Halfway through the retrieval, a drizzle enveloped the entire wasteland like a cotton towel.
“How unlucky!” While hiding under the eaves, Jin Lan said, “Why did this rain have to fall now of all times?”
“Captain, can we go into the houses and take shelter from the rain?” a bandit muttered.
At this moment, the houses were filled with bricks, and there was no room for anyone to stand inside. When Jin Lan heard that, he stared at the bandit. “If you go inside, where do we put the bricks! These are all the bricks that everyone has worked hard to make. Are you gonna waste ’em?”.
The bandits pouted. They had even become inferior to bricks.
A large group of people were squatting in the rain around a huddle of mud houses and guarding the bricks within.
Jin Lan muttered, “Boss still wants to build houses for the refugees. I dunno what he’s thinking. They won’t even be enough for our brothers to live in.”
“Why, Captain, are you complaining against Boss now?” someone whispered.
“I’m not complaining.” Jin Lan curled his lips. “I can tell that those two are really different from those big shots in the strongholds. Those big shots look down their noses at us, but neither of them do. Have you seen any big shots from the consortiums dig for silt in the river like us? I’m utterly convinced by this couple, if only because they were willing to do work with us.”
“What d’ya mean, Captain?”
“I’m just annoyed. Why should those refugees be allowed to live in a house when they did not even make a single clay brick?” Jin Lan said angrily.
“But the brick kiln was built by them,” someone muttered.
Jin Lan glared at him. “You talk too much.”
But at this moment, some refugees braved the rain and came over, calling for Jin Lan, “Don’t just stand there in the rain. Get in our huts and take cover from the rain. We’ve discussed this with the others. Y’all can go into whichever house you want. There’s definitely enough space for everyone. We also have hot soup at home, so y’all can drink some to warm yourselves up.”
Jin Lan was stunned for a moment. Then he hurriedly said, “Oh… yeah, we’ll come over right away!”
A bandit next to him asked in a whisper, “Captain, aren’t we supposed to be angry about building the houses for them?”
“Who says I’m angry?” Jin Lan rebutted, “Our fellow villagers are so kind to us. What’s wrong with building some houses for them? We have to be more open-minded like our boss, understand? We should be more kind! Once the rain stops, we’ll start building the houses for them!”