After the field trip to North Slope Mine and two consecutive days of negotiation, Roland established a new trade agreement with Hogg and Crescent-Moon-Bay Caravan.
When Hogg saw the rapidly operating mine transportation system, his eyeballs almost fell out. He even put forward an application to invest and build a factory in Border Town that would specialize in the construction of mine orbits and ancillary equipment. They would both earn half of the profits. However, Roland refused his application. If Roland had lots of people, he would consider the invitation of investment. But currently, the town was short of people, not money.
Hogg, after all, was a mining businessman. Although he owned several mines and managed an open-air silver mine for the Earl of Cambara in Silver City. He only had the miners and was much weaker compared to Crescent-Moon-Bay Caravan which owned an island. Eventually, Hogg signed a contract to order 10 steam engines and a complete mine transportation system (including orbits and harvesters). The first half should be delivered before the Months of Demons, and the rest next year.
The Crescent-Moon-Bay Caravan was so much stronger that Gammon directly signed a 10-year contract. When the caravan came next time, he would bring a team of 300 people, mainly composed of blacksmiths and carpenters. The Crescent-Moon-Bay Caravan would pay for them while Roland only needed to provide accommodation and food. The steam engines they produced over the following 10 years would preferably be sold to the Crescent-Moon-Bay Caravan. A decade later, these people would decide voluntarily whether to go or stay. This point was finally agreed after Roland's repeated negotiations.
There was no doubt that there would be henchmen of the caravan in this team. Especially with the last item, the caravan would try their best to choose the people who were loyal to the Crescent Moon Bay, and it would be hard to know whether half of the people would decide to stay or go. But for Roland, skilled workers were never enough. Even if only 10% of the people stayed, it meant that he earned. He was never worried about technological advantage but worried that no one would transfer the technology to an actual product.
In addition to the steam engine, the second biggest order was for ship transformation.
They would bring two inland sailing ships together with the 300 craftsmen. The Crescent-Moon-Bay Caravan hoped that Border Town would transform both sailing ships into steam-powered paddle steamers. The reconstruction expense for a single ship was up to 1,800 gold royals, and the expanse for two ships directly exceeded Margaret's order for the steam engines. In contrast, though he received three orders for mugs, the total amount was less than 300 gold royals. The amount would be even less if Roland had not increased the price of the mug by 10 times more than that in the convenience store. This made him deeply feel the profit gap between industrial and civilian goods. If the civilian goods could not be produced in large quantities, then it was better to simply meet the needs of the local residents.
To the prince's surprise, iron cuirasses and implements were snubbed. Margaret later answered his doubts at dinner. "Although your cuirass is really cheap, the production is too small. For resale, excluding the cost of transportation and tax, the profit may be only five or six gold royals. Besides, your armor is forged by a hydraulic hammer, right? Or with the steam engine? In any case, the price of this armor is fixed. It's expensive for the quality of the iron, but not for the manual work." She paused. "It's even more unnecessary to buy them for our own use. For sea merchants, both bodyguards and sailors rarely wear heavy armor. For the heavy armors will allow them to sink quickly when falling into the water. Most of the time, the armor is a kind of shackle for them and not protection."
"The same is true for farm implements. If you can't get lots of cheap iron, the price of the farm implement will be cheaper but not cheap enough. It'll be hard to form an advantage compared with the local equivalents. Conversely, the prices of those colorful cups aren't fixed. If a noble liked it, he would pay several times the price for it."
"I see." Roland thought for a moment and found that was true... For commodities like armors and farm implements with stable prices, the material costs accounted for the majority, so it was hard to cut the price too much. His armor and farm implements were cheaper because of the higher efficiency in forging with a steam engine than with a hydraulic hammer. Unfortunately, this difference was not big enough to attract the interest of big businessmen.
And these whiteboard armors with Soraya's stab-resistant coating on them were also a part of the First Army's armament upgrade. If the iron production did not increase, it would be impossible to sell them in large numbers.
The anticipated premiere of the play was coming soon.
In the afternoon, the center square was so crowded with people that even a drop of water could not leak out. Even though Roland had demolished the surrounding buildings and doubled the size of the former center square.
To publicize the play, Roland released an announcement a week ahead of time. Besides, he specifically ordered the Ministry of Agriculture to send people to the town's surrounding areas and mobilize the serfs to come and watch the play.
Roland, as the lord, obviously had the best viewing position. In the direction of the performance stage, Karl set up a temporary wooden stage with three rows, which could hold about one hundred people. Roland sat in the middle of the third row. On his one side sat the Witch Union, and Anna sat next to him. The other side sat the merchant group, with Margaret sitting close to him.
The first and second rows were mostly for the City Hall officials and apprentices.
For safety's sake, the people around the wooden stage were soldiers from the First Army. They would separate the prince from the civilians while watching the play.
At this moment it was about four o'clock in the afternoon. The sun was not that hot, together with the occasional cool breeze from Wendy, everyone on the stage enjoyed a VIP-like treatment.
Amidst the applause of the crowd, the actors went to the stage one by one.
To tell the truth, Roland was completely unsure what effect the premiere would achieve in the end. After giving the script to Irene, he never cared about it again. The recruiting and rehearsal were both under the charge of Irene and Ferlin. In retrospect, Irene was a theater newcomer and only performed on the stage once. How much experience would she have? Her friends might be the walk-ons who had no opportunities to perform in the theater in the stronghold and had to perform in the town.
In other words, this was a new play totally directed, arranged and implemented by a new team.
However, Roland did not mind failure. The play was neither for the ticket revenue, nor to promote how good the script was. It was an enlightenment of ideological remolding, and it would show more than once. If they did not perform well this time, then they would make improvements next time.
"I know why you're so confident in this show." Margaret suddenly exclaimed. "You invited Miss May!"
Roland was surprised. "Who?"
"May! Don't tell me you don't know. Oh, my God, before I came here, I had seen her show in the king's city." Margaret smacked her lips. "She's the top actress in both grasping the roles and creating feelings. Her performance in 'The Prince's Searching for Love' moved many people to tears, even Kajen Fels was full of praise for her!"
[Who's Kajen Fels?] Roland checked his memory and found that he had no recollection of the name.
"... Your Highness, are you really from king's city?" Margaret blinked and asked, "Forgive me for asking, except people in the court, who's the person you're most familiar with in king's city?"
"'Magic Hand' Yorko." Roland blurted out but immediately realized that he gave the wrong answer.
"Oh." The lady merchants looked at him meaningfully. "The most famous casanova, I heard that he could make a woman never forget him with only one hand... I know."
"Only with one hand?" Anna turned her head and asked, "why?"
"No... Nothing..." Roland said with his hand on his forehead, "we'd better watch the play earnestly."
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