It was said the clinic had been closed down once. Although it wasn’t all the members, it was a serious crime to assist in an escape from the inner palace, and even among them, the crimes of the palace lady called Shenryu were heavy.
Shenryu attempted suicide, and though her life was preserved, she was treated as a criminal.
However, in the inner palace where the medical office is hopeless, the clinic is an indispensable existence. It seems that, although it is under the eunuchs’ surveillance now, the closing down has been revoked.
However, during the time Maomao was kidnapped, everything in the clinic had been thoroughly seized beforehand. And the illustrated book that Maomao had seen then was there.
“It’s done with this, right?”
Jinshi presented her the illustrated book. It seems he finally got a break today. Gaoshun should be receiving tea from the kamuro outside the pharmacy.
Maomao accepted the illustrated book and flipped through the pages. She found a lot of handwritten sections inside. The handwritten papers fell out when she slowly opened it.
Maomao placed the book on the floor, opened at the page for Jinshi to see. And then she carefully lined up the papers that had fallen out.
There were a lot of detailed drawings of insects. The drawings all looked similar, but since they were labelled grasshopper, they would have to be grasshoppers.
The full body drawing focused on the legs and wings. There were various drawings of the breakdowns of its parts. The colouring, though slightly dull, was thorough.
Among them were two large drawings of insects. If you were pedantic, you can separate it into three. Maomao classified them as she read the description in the illustrated book.
“This grasshopper seemed to be the one that’s normally found.”
She pointed to the grasshopper that was painted green. She didn’t know with the full body drawing, but when she saw the drawing of only the dissected wing part, she could see that it was a little shorter compared to the other two.
“And, this, is the one we believed to have increased in numbers this year. This variety is the one that causes locust plagues.”
Jinshi should have also read the text, but she took upon herself to voice it out. Doing so will engrave it into her memories, it would be easier to remember.
She gathered that Jinshi was also silent to think about this.
The grasshopper painted brown had wings that were longer than the green one.
“And, wasn’t it written that the small-scale locust plague that broke out last year was from this one?”
She picked up the drawing of the grasshopper in the middle.
Its shape was between the green and brown ones; the colouring was also in between.
“In other words, it becomes this brown grasshopper by decreasing its growth stages?”
“It seems to be the case.”
Grasshoppers gather in certain conditions, and their body colour and wing shape changes. This takes several generations, and they seem to increase their numbers each time.
Do their forms change due to the increase in numbers? Do their numbers increase due to their forms changing? Speaking of which one, it was written as an addendum in the illustrated book that the reason was the former.
In other words, the small-scale locust damage is the herald of a large-scale one afterwards.
“So there will be greater damages this year?”
“Indeed, I don’t know how great the scale will be, though.”
It’s just that if the prediction is wrong, there will be a locust plague where people will die from starvation. By making light of the insects, they will incidentally cloak the sky, and all and every grain will be eaten up.
Maomao was raised in the capital so she had never seen such a thing, but there were many girls among the courtesans that had been sold to the pleasure district from rural villages due to having nothing to eat from the locust damage.
And besides, the timing is also bad.
Last year, the news of the overthrown Shi Clan spread all over the country.
It seems that locust plagues are treated as a way to test the reign through the scale of the damages it wrought since olden times. And so, if locust plagues occurred, the reign had issues – there were not few – and it was a recognition that the heavens were punishing the emperor.
If the locust plagues become worse next year with the Shi Clan incident, it wouldn’t be amusing for the country.
Well then, what Maomao and Jinshi had wanted to know wasn’t just that. If research had been done on locust plagues, they must also be studies on its prevention methods.
There wasn’t a silver bullet mentioned there.
About dealing with the next plague after a small scale plague occurs – that was enumerated. Either of them were in forms that were close to human-wave tactics.
It was important to exterminate them while they were in their larvae stage. For that reason, there was a production method written up for an effective pesticide. Maybe as it uses up a large quantity, it appears to be made with ingredients that are relatively easy to acquire.
Also, in the case of the grasshoppers reaching the adult stage, it was recommended cook them with fire. This was an approach from olden times. Were they are summer insects that jump into fire?
“We didn’t obtain significant information.”
“No, it would become a grave matter if we left it as it is without knowing, wouldn’t it?”
Jinshi scratched his head as he took out a large map from his breast pocket. It was a map on the central of this country all the way to Shihoku Province(子北洲, Shi Northern Province) and the western regions – there were many scarlet circles on it. To digress, the Central is called Kaou Province(華央州, Ka Central Province), and she didn’t know what name the Shihoku Province will be changed to hereafter.
“The locations of the rural villages that had reports of damage. Can you understand anything with this?”
“Even if you ask me that.”
She heard that locust plagues commonly occur in vast grassy plains. Certainly, the locations of all those villages were close to plains.
“Is it really true that it is easy to breed grasshoppers in places with lots of plains?”
“I guess so. But, in this place, it has already been several decades where locust plagues haven’t occurred though.”
Jinshi turned the map around and circled with his finger for her to see. It was right in the area that was under the direct control of the Shi Clan in the northern regions. It was a fertile farming area, but it was adjacent to the forests and mountains.
For some reason, Jinshi was irately pointing to the section of the forest.
“I thought that normally, close to the forests, birds eat insects, but…”
Shihoku Province was abundant in lumber, but it seems its environs had already been reduced to treeless hills. The felling of lumber in this country had been excessively prohibited during the era of the Empress.
Due to the passing of the Empress, it seems the good-for-nothings of the Shi Clan had been felling without informing the central.
She was told that, in order to raise the price of the portions that flowed within the country, everything else was sold off in other countries.
Because of the reckless lumbering, it seems the nature of the area has become greatly disturbed.
“…so with that, are you saying that the locust plagues are because there are no birds?”
“You’ve thought enough.”
He got sorrowful for some reason.
The intensity of Jinshi’s depression might be, to some extent, from his anticipation of the Shihoku Province’s forest resources. With the money acquired from selling lumber to fill in the gaps where the grains couldn’t be harvested, he might have appraised that it could be managed somehow or another if they buy extra food from far away, but he had been crushed from that basis.
In that case, concerning the reason the Empress had limited the felling of lumber, she had wondered perhaps. But let’s take that into a consideration again.
Maomao stared at the map. She looked at the description of the pesticide several times, then stood up.
She took out a volume from the bookshelf in the room, flipped through it, and then showed it to Jinshi.
“I believe the drug cannot possibly be enough with just this compound. The effectiveness might decrease, but I will also prepare other compounds.”
And afterward, the other thing she came up with was-.
“Is it no good to burn the places where the larvae come from?”
“Yeah. That also depends on the place. I think it’s quick and easy to burn them to death though.”
Also, what she considered is….
“To the point of a hunting ban on sparrows huh.”
Sparrows are treated as a pest, but it is also big that they eat pest insects. If they hit that point beforehand, the damage that has yet to occur might be reduced. However, the people who do that as an occupation will phrase complaints.
She didn’t know how much damage could be decreased even if they attempt all of those. Above all, there might be nothing of it, but if that’s the case, it is good fortune so there’s no issue.
To crush down on the possibility of negatives – that was the job of those that carry out the reign. Even if they cannot obtain a proper evaluation.
“A ban on sparrow hunting? There would be opposition if we suddenly imposed that.”
Sparrow dishes also line up in the market of the capital. It is a relatively popular foodstuff since it is ubiquitous.
“If would be good if there was something to substitute it though.”
“We might as well take up grasshopper dishes as an imperial court dish. How about that?”
Maomao said it as a good idea without thinking. If they did that, grasshoppers would become an ingredient purveyor to the imperial court, so their catching would increase, and if the emperor eats it, the officials would also eat it as servile behaviour.
The man who usually gave off a gorgeous colour looked grey.
She thought of taking out the simmered grasshopper that still remained in this place.
Jinshi, when she thought that he finally moved, looked up, softly pressed his brows with his fingers and let out a sound that sounded like a groan. It seems his person was at a conflict. That result.
“…can we have that as the last resort?”
“It’s not an issue since they haven’t increased in particular.”
Maomao said, but she felt slightly disappointed.
By just saying that, Jinshi’s air became more motivated than before.
It seems, he hated eating it that much.
Maomao gave a faint smile.
Seeing that, Jinshi stiffened again.
“Wh-what is it?”
He replied with a slight stammer.
“How about you go back after eating?”
Maomao politely requested.