Wuxiaworld > Release that Witch > Chapter 498: The Roland Gunboat

Chapter 498: The Roland Gunboat

Chapter 498: The Roland Gunboat

Translator: TransN Editor: TransN
It took Roland a whole day to return to the Border Area, and his back ached with weariness. After washing his face and brushing his teeth, he went to bed early, and he didn't feel refreshed until noon of the next day.

He thought, "I must have a soundproof cabin, a soft desk chair, and a large bed on my private boat. Otherwise, I'll have to sit on a trembling hard deck stool and listen to the roar of the steam engine, which will torture both my body and soul."

The first thing Roland did when he walked into his office was to call his director, Barov Mons, and Minister of Agriculture, Sirius Daly, to his office. Although there was only one week left before the planned date of the spring offensive, he could rest assured since Iron Axe was governing the military. The most important thing at the moment was to manage the agricultural production well, namely spring sowing. After all, he would be much less worried when he had a supply of grain.

"I saw seeds being transported at the Longsong Pier, so with enough Golden Ones, the crops there won't be too bad this year. But we should focus on the Border Area, since we're everyone's model, proof, and example!" Roland said with one hand knocking on his desk. "How is the spring sowing going? Someone tells me."

"Your Highness, here's the situation," Barov spoke first. "Among the first batch of promoted serfs, only 30% of them are willing to continue farming; plus the newly employed ones, the agricultural population is about 10,000. According to last year's average wheat yield, the grain that these 10,000 serfs produce should be able to feed 40,000 to 50,000 people." He paused and then added, "And this number is calculated according to the official citizen's quota for purchasing grains, which is far more than the daily consumption of other cities' citizens. If we calculate according to the minimum amount of grain people need to stay alive, this number can increase by 20,000."

"That's about it, Your Highness," Sirius added. "But those conclusions are made by the Ministry of Agriculture according to the statistics from two years ago. This year, half of the serfs, mainly newly employed, will use the Golden Twos modified by Lady Leaf. Honestly, if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed that one wheat straw could produce so many ears. Also, more than 2,000 serfs will change to planting potatoes and corn this year, which makes it hard to predict the actual yield for this year."

"As for the sowing process, farmlands are currently being plowed. According to the Crop Farming Brochure, farmland needs to be plowed three times, and raised compost must be mixed in the soil—usually, this process takes three to four weeks, depending on the number of laborers and the farm tools they're using. But the serfs employed last year all rented iron tools, which should greatly shorten the plowing time."

"As for the ditch depth and seeding distance, I've arranged apprentices to educate the serfs to farm with the optimal methods introduced on the farming brochure."

It was easy to see that the former knight of the Wolf Family had done a lot of research on farming. He obviously had considered all aspects and made points that Roland could not help but agree with.

The excessive dependence on the land itself led to the agricultural underdevelopment in this era. Namely, people believed that owning land was all there was to farming. Sometimes, in order to protect the farmlands, they would let farmlands rest for a few years, which was very inefficient. Now that the City of Neverwinter had controllable water irrigation, natural fertilizer, and scientific planting methods, plus Leaf's modified seeds, the land yields greatly surprised all the residents. However, a third of the 30,000 total population was engaged in agricultural production, which was too high of a percentage for Roland. He wanted to efficiently reduce the agricultural population by improving farming tools, such as manufacturing agricultural equipment which used animal or mechanic power.

"Well, keep the momentum going," Roland said with satisfaction, "and people who have been assigned to the Longsong Area should keep everything well documented, in case we want to extend this model to other cities."

After dealing with agricultural affairs, Roland left the castle. Accompanied by Nightingale and the guards, he went to the dock of the Redwater River.

The ship, which was constructed by Anna, entered the weapons installation phase two days ago. Now, with its hull painted with a gray and red anti-corrosion coating, the ship quietly stood on the crossties. It was the size of about three concrete boats and seemed extremely mighty. Unlike the cement paddle steamer, which had no cabin, this ship's side port was almost three meters wide and could fit the boiler and steam engine. There were also no paddle wheels on both sides. Another characteristic was a bridge at the center of the hull. Although the bridge was only about six meters tall, it looked very prominent.

Of course, as a shallow water gunboat, its most important equipment was its 152mm giant cannon. In order to save the manufacturing time, Roland did not let Anna produce the naval artillery, but tore down the one on the city wall and planned to install it on the ship.

Now, it was standing in the dock, waiting for hoisting—the final step.

"Your Highness." Anna waved at Roland when she saw him. "Over here!"

The prince walked over with a smile on his face. "How is it? Is the construction going well?"

During his absence in Border Town, Anna took care of all the manufacturing work. Although she had all the blueprints of its key parts, it was entirely an unprecedented huge project, so it was natural to run into all sorts of problems.

"Not so well." Anna shook her head. "There were some tricky problems—side hull deformation, propeller leaking, hull tilting after being welded with a bridge, and the gun platform couldn't hold a cannon, but I solved all of them."

"All... solved?" Roland asked surprisedly.

"Yes." With a big smile, Anna explained while counting her fingers. "There was a hull deformation because the steel plate of the board was too thin, so I added fixed carriages. The propeller leak was caused by the gap between the casing and the gear lever, so I wrapped the gap with a sink so that the water inside won't run everywhere and can be pumped out by a steam engine. The bridge tilting was caused by uneven weights, which were fixed with a little modification. The gun platform problem was the most difficult one, but I drew inspiration from the revolver design—I first cut a row of indentations on the bottom ring, then I put in a falcula, which could be inserted in between gears, and it could simply fix the upper rotating gun carrier in any direction."

Roland blinked his eyes and spoke after a long pause. "You're a genius." For him, those problems were not difficult to deal with, but he had drawn countless mechanic sketches. Especially for the last problem, probably only someone as observative as Anna could associate a revolver with the fixing method of the gun platform.

"By the way, Your Highness, does the boat have a name?"

"Not yet," he said, raising his eyebrow, "and why do you ask?"

"The soldiers from the First Army came every few days and fought eagerly to carve their own names onto the bridge," Anna said with a smile. "They say you promised that the best gunner could have a gunboat named after him."

"Ah... I see." Rodney from the Artillery Battalion and Nelson from the Artillery Battalion came to Roland's mind. "But not for this ship, because the name of the first warship not only represents the ship itself but also represents its rank and model number." He tilted his mouth. "I can't hand over this honor to anyone else, so I'll name it the Roland—the Roland No. 1."