65 Chapter 65 Barns Can Be Homes
"Joseph, do you have a moment?" Daniel poked his head into the door of Joseph's carriage.
Joseph looked up from the pile of reports he had been looking through.
"Sure, what's up?"
"Well, I'm a little concerned about the morale of the men," he said, coming into the well-furnished carriage and sitting on the padded bench that separated his area from Stella's.
"What's wrong now?" asked Joseph, moving the papers out of his way so he could focus on what Daniel had to say. He had just finished reading a report on the different dishes that were being made, could everyone be complaining about that?
"It seems to me, that you are very comfortable in your carriage. Did you live in it with your father on the road? It's very nice."
"Thank you. Yes, my father very rarely stayed at inns on the road. It would have cost him too much to try and get rooms for all of his people that he traveled with, so it was just easier to convert the carriages into moving rooms."
"I know that there are certain things you are trying to get built, and in a specific order, which, we've talked about and I agree those things are very important for the future of this city, but…"
"But?" asked Joseph, folding his hands in the desk.
"The men don't have anything to sleep in. This is a very nice carriage, but most of the people up here are in tents at the best. They don't even really have wagons to sleep on."
Joseph opened his mouth, then shut it as the implications occurred to him. He had been so busy trying to make sure that they groundwork was laid, such as a good sewer and such, that he hadn't even started any of the buildings. Every time it had rained since he had been up there suddenly occurred to him, and he winced. It had rained last night, in fact. Which meant that most everyone was sleeping in mud.
"We could really use a good roof over their heads before winter, and at the pace everyone is moving, even with the food we've received, we won't have a fraction of the houses we'll need."
Joseph sighed and slapped himself on the head. How could he have been so blind? Even his father's slaves were used to traveling and living in tents when necessary, and since he had been trying to stay around them, for the most part, he hadn't noticed that the other men were out in the cold, literally.
"I'm assuming you have a suggestion?" asked Joseph in a muffled voice.
"Actually, yes. The animals are going to need barns. Not just this winter, but forever. And the barns will not necessarily be hooked up to your sewer system. I would consider this." He leaned forward, and looked Joseph in the face.
"The barns need to be built now. That will give the men a place to get out of the rain and weather. To get a roof over their heads will raise morale. Let them build the sewers after, build their own homes after, get them out of this weather now."
Joseph looked down. Here he was living in luxury, no better than the nobles he disliked. How could he expect those below him to have any respect for him, when he couldn't even pay attention to their needs now? He could look towards their futures all he wanted, and maybe even get them to ignore the now for that future, but to really get their respect he needed to notice and do something about the now.
"The barns can be used by the people now. Once they have homes, those same barns can be used by the animals. The people will be willing to share the space with the animals this winter if need be. That may even help with the heat issues this winter. Why hasn't anyone said anything to me about this yet?" asked Joseph.
"Why should they? Who are they to complain to the person in charge about their creature comforts? You are focused on building a wall to protect everyone from the barbarians, not to pamper them. And if they did mention it to those above them, do you really think those nobles would even care to mention it to you?"
Joseph nodded in understanding, sitting back in his chair.
"Stella, call a meeting of my people. Get the heads of the construction crews, too, if you can. Daniel has brought to my attention something very important."
"Yes, Master Joseph," she said, bowing before she left.
"Does she always bow and call you master?" asked Daniel, looking after her.
"Of course, why do you ask?"
"She's not a slave, though, is she?"
"No, my father hired her to serve me."
"She seems so well trained, it's hard to think she's only eight. I know of no child that age that can do half the things I've seen her do."
Daniel looked flustered for a moment, as if that was not the response he was expecting.
Before he could say anything more, Stella returned with the first of those who would be in the meeting. Daniel stood to allow more into the room. By the time everyone had arrived, there was standing room only. Joseph stood on his desk so everyone could see him, and was a little disheartened to see some still needed to crane their necks to see him. He couldn't wait until he hit that next growth spurt!
"It has come to my attention that our men are sleeping in the mud. That is unacceptable."
The few workers near the door, shifted uncomfortably, trying not to get too much mud on the carpet.
"Daniel pointed this out to me, so if anyone appreciates the next thing, I am going to have you do, you can send the thanks to him."
Everyone glanced his way in confusion, but nodded in understanding.
"The sewers need to be started soon, so we can get started on the residential housing."
His residential came out sounding like 'resdenshul', so he took a moment to sigh and said, "The houses everyone will be living in."
Looks of fatigue started to appear on faces across the room, and Joseph knew this would add one more thing to their overworked schedule.
"All nonessential projects are going to be put on hold while we begin with the barns and outbuildings for the animals."
Confusion replaced the fatigue, as everyone started to murmur and look at each other. To them it sounded like he just said they would house the animals before they did anything else.
"Those men out there are working their butts off, and many of them probably will not be living here. They can all start living in those barns until their houses are built. That will give them a roof over their heads even through the winter if we get sidetracked before then. So, if you have any confusion on what's going on, I want you all to drop the projects that you have been working on, that are not immediately important, and get those barns built so you can get out of the mud. Get some granaries built for the food this winter. Throw up some wood sheds so we can keep warm during the coming cold."
Everyone was smiling and nodding, talking to each other in soft voices.
"I'll speak with each of you, to go over how important your current projects are, so everyone will know how to move forward when they leave here."
Daniel smiled at him, as he slipped out the door.