Sisi placed down the letter in her hand and lied back on her bed. She waved the letter around, imitating a white bird flying. She rolled around on her bed out of joy. Then, she slipped the letter under her pillow and kissed her pillow.
A lady-in-waiting watching on had no clue what happened to Queen Sisi. Concerned, she asked, “Your… Majesty?”
“Oh, don’t worry about me, hehehe. It’s just that I don’t know what happened with Little Doggy. I just know that I understand him. He’s not the type who can handle loneliness and depression. He’ll definitely walk into my trap, and he’s already begun putting in the work. The harder he tries, the closer he will be in contact with me. I don’t need to lift a finger now. All I need to do is wait for Little Doggy to return to me! It’s good news, isn’t it? Isn’t it?”
“It is,” answered the lady-in-waiting, in spite of not knowing if that was the correct answer or not.
Smiling from ear to ear, Queen Sisi rolled over and muttered to herself, “Little Doggy would never imagine that everything he’s now doing is sending himself to me. My plans have never failed. This time, I’ll definitely have Little Doggy! And, this time, it’ll be forever. I’ve already set everything up, but he’s still in the dark. Little Doggy only amounts to so much. Little Doggy will be mine.”
I didn’t dally for long. I went straight to the city. The front of the grandiose bank was still as packed as last time. There were still a fair number of dwarves. However, I doubted Francis would come again. If he dared to come again, I’d have him crawl out, if even that. I didn’t have Veirya this time, so if I wanted, I could even con him of his briefs.
Lots of people were busy with jobs. I waited for a while before someone finally approached me. It wasn’t the same person as last time, but he, too, had bags under his eyes that were so dark that he looked as though he’d drop dead at any moment. He put down a book and opened it. He then sighed, “Let us begin, then. Mister, may I ask what business you are here for?”
“I want to take out a loan with collateral.”
“That will not be an issue. Please tell me what you will be using as collateral, how much you plan to loan, for how long and how you would like to repay it. We have annual and monthly repayment plans.”
By the sounds of it, he must’ve dealt with countless similar cases and, consequently, was well-trained in dealing with them. This time, though, I wanted to use something different as collateral, namely shares to the coal. I bought the shares for a thousand gold coins. Logically, I should be able to loan one-thousand gold coins for it, but the challenges were him and the bank, in the sense that do they have interest and hope in coal.
Not everyone believed in coal yet as I said. To add, steam engines had yet to be promoted. As such, the question was whether or not these people would feel that coal was worth fifty thousand gold coins. If they didn’t think so, they wouldn’t evaluate my shares to be worth one thousand gold coins, consequently meaning no loan for me.
“My collateral is something called shares, which is twenty percent of the coal at the mine on the mountain in the North. I bought the shares with one thousand gold coins, so I hope to loan one thousand gold coins. I will receive a bonus from it annually, which I will use to repay the interest of my loan.”
“Is that right?” Evidently uneducated, he flipped through his book and scratched his head. He muttered to himself, “A mine? There are minerals on the mountain now? I don’t know… How much is it? Erm…”
He stood up and gave me a small bow: “Sorry, Mister. I truly do not know how much the mineral is worth. I need to ask my superiors. Oh, right, do you know who the mine belongs to?”
“Edward from the imperial capital. I believe that you will understand once you send someone to the imperial capital to inquire. While I am here, let me introduce myself. My surname is strange by your standards. It’s Lin. My name is Lin Dongqing. I know my name is weird. Even so, I hope you can pronounce it correctly. That will help you figure things out in the imperial capital.”
“Y-you are Mister Lin?! Y-you are Mr. Lin…? Umm, umm… I apologise for being impolite, Sir. I never met you. I have only heard of your name. I have never met you… I did not recognise you…”
“Oh, really?” I asked with a smile. Curious, I asked, “How did you hear of me here? In any case, you’ve realised what sort of person I man, right? Do you understand the value of the mineral in my possession now?”
“Yes. I have heard of you. However, businessmen do not speak very kindly of you. I remember our leader said that, if you were to come and ask for a loan with collateral, then we needed to be extra attentive with what you use as collateral. After all, it is not your first time tricking someone. You took off with the money used to reinstate Queen Sisi and have not repaid it.”
“… How are you even able to keep your job here when you’re horrendous with words? Also, haven’t I already reinstated Queen Sisi? I didn’t waste that money.”
Things turned somewhat awkward… I admit, I deceved a number of people, but I had a reason every time! Plus, that sum they gave me was to reinstate Queen Sisi. She’s already returned to her throne, so I didn’t waste it, technically speaking. All I did was take the spare amount. That said, nobody said I couldn’t take the sum.
“Regardless, I hope you can wait for a bit. We will look more into your loan request. We have never heard of a mine; therefore, we do not know the value of the mine. We need to investigate it. Edward and your reputations are not particularly good among businesses. In saying that, Edward’s reputation is worse. We question if his mine is as much as claimed.”
I nodded. I could understand the concern toward Edward. He sold his wife and daughter for money. It’s only right for them to suspect the value of his mine when he went that far for business. While the mineral exists, whether or not it can be traded is another big problem in itself.
By the sounds of things, I wasn’t going to get my money today. I needed to wait for the bank to get back to me. I, therefore, got to my feet and gave the worker a smile: “Let’s do this: I know that you’ll look into it carefully, so I also know that I won’t be getting any money today or even days. So accordingly, I don’t plan to wait here for nothing. I hope you can do me a favour and send the one thousand gold coins to Veirya’s estate in the North if you confirm it to be worth that much.”
“Are you going back?” questioned the worker. “Understood. We will do as per your request. We will look into the value of the mine, but you must bear in mind that our perception of a mine may be different to yours. There is a high likelihood that we do not evaluate it to be so valuable. If you want to take out a loan, you might not be able to loan one-thousand gold coins.”
“I understand, but I’m sure you’ll believe me.”
The reason for my confidence was that I was certain that Sisi would assist me. Rather, their investigation would provide me with the necessary time for my letter to reach Sisi. Given that Sisi loved me, she’d go to great lengths to promote steam engines. Once they gain popularity, coal, which powers the steam engines, would be priceless. That being the case, fifty thousand gold coins wasn’t a lot.
There was enough coal ready to allow investors to earn back their investments. Fifty thousand gold coins was a sum that was enough to purchase half of the imperial capital. That wasn’t a steep price for the steam engines that were able to change the entire world.
All I needed to do was await Sisi’s command. I also needed for my letter to reach her. Everybody needed time, except I needed it more.
Backing me was Sisi. With power in my hands, it was obviously easy to acquire money. I was sure that my plan was fail proof unless Sisi betrayed me. The chances of her betrayed me were zero, though. She’d help me even if it was in the name of repaying her debt for my help.
I exited the bank. I was the one getting a loan, yet Edward looked more nervous than I did. I had no idea why. Edward was never one to care about people…
“I failed. The bank needs to see if your mine is worth one thousand gold coins before they loan it to me, meaning I haven’t received the sum yet. I can go ahead once they’re done investigating, nonetheless. They’ll be sending it to my place. Please go and make arrangements for me to meet all the shareholders. Anywhere will be fine.”
“All right. I will go and make the preparations. Wait for my letter. You might have to make a trip to the imperial capital.”
“Fine by me.”
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