The interior of the abandoned factory.
The fresh dry leaf roses that had been picked formed hills in the open space of the factory. The vagrants, who had been restored by Bai Liu, stared at the piles of ‘stolen goods’ that had been transported here this morning.
A few sweaty vagrants stood next to the rose bushes, wiping away the sweat droplets on their hands and letting out long breaths. They were the few people who had been taken by Bai Liu that morning to help dry the rose petals, the laid-off vagrants who had worked in the Rose Factory.
These piles of dry leaf roses were also brought back by them.
Someone was frightened by the piles of rose petals that were transported back and stumbled forward to ask the people, visible fear on his face, “Why did you steal so many roses back? You will be executed if you get caught by the factory people!”
“Yes yes, return it!”
“If you steal more than 1 kg of dry leaf roses, not only will the parties involved be killed but three generations of their family won’t be able to engage in rose-related industries!”
After the Dry Leaf Rose Perfume spread around the world, the people of the Rose Factory appealed that the countries should make a special set of protection laws for them in order to protect the precious and limited resource that was the dry leaf rose.
Despite all the controversies, this set of laws still came out.
The content included those who criticized the dry leaf roses and those who promoted the theory that dry leaf roses were harmful, would be fined and detained. The exclusive copyright of the Dry Leaf Rose Perfume would last for 10 million years without sharing it with anyone and the act of privately studying the perfume was a serious infringement and they would receive a fine of more than 10 million yuan.
Anyone who stole, smuggled or illegally traded more than 1 kg of dried roses or more than three bottles and less than five bottles of low-grade Dry Leaf Rose Perfume would be punishable by death or suspended to life labor if the factory was willing.
A simple translation of the latter sentence meant that if the offender had committed a crime related to the dry leaf roses and the Rose Factory wanted it, the death row inmate could be handed over to the Rose Factory for handling—life or death.
At the beginning when the law was set, half the world protested against the harsh punishment. However, no one questioned the legitimacy of the punishment. Later, the popularity of the dry leaf roses rose and the price increased. More and more people couldn’t afford to buy the perfume and the voices of resistance grew louder.
At that time, the Rose Factory issued a regulation. If they reported the hidden dry leaf roses obtained illegally around them and the people who developed the perfume, the factory was willing to give them a free perfume supply for 10 years.
Suddenly, there were voices attacking each other everywhere. It was said that at the peak, the Rose Factory received 100,000 calls reporting someone a day. After this battle, the Rose Factory simply and neatly investigated and punished many criminal civilians and the voices of opposition gradually weakened. Not many people questioned the set of laws any longer.
From the fierce resistance in the beginning to everyone being afraid of this pile of stolen roses—it wasn’t just fear of the laws themselves but of the betrayal of some of them.
It was because the Rose Factory’s whistleblower reward still existed. The reward might’ve been reduced from 10 years to 1 year but there was still a steady stream of people calling to report others.
There were even mothers or sons who were desperate to keep their dying children or parents alive. They would take the initiative to steal the dry leaf roses to become criminals and then force their families to report them. This way, the other person could get the supply of perfume for 10 years.
But now no one said the reason why they were afraid.
“I don’t care if I die or not.” One of the vagrants who carried the roses gasped. He looked at the frightened vagrants around him and laughed bitterly. “Mr Bai took such a big risk for us to get this pile of dry leaf roses out. He wasn’t afraid of death. Is it our turn to be afraid?”
Someone stood up with a rise. He sighed with a complicated expression before raising his hand resolutely. “Mr Bai is a processing worker. He originally had no worries about food and clothing and could be rich and wealthy for a lifetime. Even so, he is willing to desperately help us and put such a big handle into our hands. He really believes in us pariahs.”
The scene suddenly fell silent. Everyone looked at the pile of roses and their eyes became heavy.
“I know that you are all suffering and you are all afraid,” The man said while turning to the other porters who stood up. “These flowers were carried by the few of us just now. We discussed it along the way. If any of you really want to get that one year’s perfume reward by making a report to the Rose Factory—”
He looked at the mutilated and miserable faces of these vagrants. “Then report us porters, who originally moved them. We can’t let the good person who stood up for us die.”
“In this era, being a good person means breaking the law. Not everyone dares to take risks to be a good person.” He smiled with tears in his eyes. His voice choked up and he raised a hand to wipe the corners of his cracked eyes. “Now without Mr Bai, the next Mr Bai will probably come after my daughter’s grandson dies. I don’t want him to die. He is too rare.”
The man finished speaking. No one moved. They just stood there quietly and motionless.
One minute, two minutes… finally, someone moved.
The young woman who held a child and previously asked a question of Bai Liu handed the child in her arms to the person next to her. She took a deep breath and stepped forward, bending down to hold a large pile of roses in her arms. Then she turned to look at the people who hadn’t moved yet.
“This pile of roses should be more than 1 kg.” The roses lined her originally deathly white face with a type of rosy anger of a living person. She looked at these people and declared, “These roses were stolen by me. It has nothing to do with Mr Bai.”
“I believe that Mr Bai will give my children a new, free world where there will be no more death penalties for stealing the roses.” Her eyes were burning and the roses in her eyes were as bright as fire. Her words were clear and determined. “I am willing to die for this.”
The eyes of the other people changed.
Gradually, the vagrants moved slowly and hesitantly toward the pile of roses, as if they had made up their minds.
They stepped forward and hugged the roses, the dry leaf roses that wouldn’t wither, against their chests. The fire in their eyes bloomed brightly and passionately as they did so.
“This kilogram is mine…”
“My family has three children. Please give me 3 kg…”
“Can I get 10 kg per person? In any case, it is already a death sentence. It can’t be worse than now…”
The huge piles of roses gradually disappeared and turned into small bouquets of roses in the arms of each vagrant. They stood in an empty space like actors offered flowers and performing a curtain play called ‘Resistance’ according to Bai Liu’s previous arrangement and thoughts.
In order to appreciate their perfect, enthusiastic and heartfelt performances, Bai Liu presented a bouquet of dry leaf roses to these lonely and unknown homeless actors.
The porter who was the first to speak stared at the vagrants in front of him in a daze.
For so many years, there was never a collaborative resistance against the dry leaf roses that hadn’t been dismantled by the whistleblowing reward of the Rose Factory. Now he just did what Mr Bai told him to do and…
This time, no one reported them for stealing more than 1,000 kilograms of roses.
The porter recalled what happened this morning.
As he was secretly carrying the roses, he worriedly told Bai Liu about the reporting reward. He anxiously said that those who helped carry the roses would definitely be willing to help Mr Bai and wouldn’t betray Mr Bai, but he was afraid someone would have a different heart!
There was no way to stop this type of reporting behavior! As their leader, Bai Liu would be the easiest to target!
Bai Liu stood in the sun and looked up. The rose in his right eye contained a vitality and beauty that the vagrants had never seen before.
Bai Liu had a strange smile on his face as he asked the vagrant man, “Why do you want to put an end to this type of behavior?”
The vagrant was frightened. “If we don’t stop this thing, everything you have led us to do will be completely scrapped…”
“First of all, all people are self-interested creatures. No one will let go of the available benefits in front of them or choose to take risks for what another person wants to do. This isn’t logical. Therefore, this type of profitable reporting of others is fundamentally impossible to eliminate.”
Bai Liu glanced at him and continued. “Secondly, I think you have been mistaken about one thing. I didn’t lead you to do this. The main body of this matter is you. I am just the manager whose solution was purchased and you are the transactional party who paid the price.”
“To sum it up, the only way to completely solve the matter of whistleblowing and reporting is to let the subject of the rebellion become everyone in your group, not me, an illusory symbol.”
“Once you get the best benefits from this matter, the logic of reporting it won’t hold up.”
Bai Liu stared at him indifferently. “What you have to do is to instigate them and let everyone recognize that they are the subject of the crime. The object they want to report includes themselves.”
“How should I do this?” The vagrant looked at Bai Liu with hope. “Mr Bai, how should I incite them?”
The corners of Bai Liu’s mouth curved up and he revealed the friendly smile that Mu Sicheng, Mu Ke and Tang Erda would all feel numb at. “If it were me, I would probably say this…”
The vagrant stared at everything that was happening in the factory in a trance.
Almost every step that he carried out was according to what Mr Bai told him. Mr Bai even mentioned that he should emphasize more about children and offspring when speaking and to make eye contact with the mother who asked the question yesterday.
In this way, the mother would be the first person successfully instigated by him.
As long as the first person stepped out and broke the stalemate, the things that took place after would be handled well.
‘It won’t be a difficult thing to do,’ Mr Bai commented lightly. ‘For this group with common interests who have been oppressed to the extreme, they are the best to be instigated.’
It was because they had no worse option than the status quo.