The Businessman from the South
The man presenting himself to me didn’t wear the signature all-black robe worn in the imperial capital. Instead, he wore a fancy and colourful white-sleeve shirt. The excitement of having the chance to meet him turned to embarrassment upon meeting because I looked eager to meet him when, in reality, I didn’t think the horse carriage belonged to him.
The maiden behind him embellished her pregnant figure in a white dress with a big hood, leaving only her blue eyes and splayed flaxen hair within sight, which gave her the vibe of a girl at the beach. I had a feeling I had seen her eyes somewhere before. Since she needed a wall for support, I sighed and extended a hand out. I instructed, “Anna, please take care of the madam over there. Mister, please sit.”
Relaxed, the man bowed before sitting down. With a chuckle, he began, “Lord Lin, I have heard of you mentioned many times. Of course, the truth is that your name in the business world is absolutely rotten. Not many people are willing to do business with you. Nevertheless, I happen to need your intellect and insight at the moment. I am only a successor to my family inheritance and am just starting out. I lack a man with outstanding intellect such as yourself. Hence, I specifically came to see you.”
To be honest, the man didn’t give me a bad impression. He didn’t wear an obvious fake smile as Edward did. Well, businessmen must be able to fake smiles, but one that’s blatantly fake will trigger alarms as Edward’s did. This man’s smile was genuine. It informed me that was a born optimist, confident and was competent. He had already arrived at my place when Achilles and I met not long ago, indicating he was an action taker.
“Did travel through the night, as well? His wife is clearly pregnant. Well, it’s not bad that he could bring his wife along, I guess. At least, that proves he cares about her,” I internally computed.
“If it’s an opinion you want, there’s no need to be hasty. We could discuss this through letters all the same.”
Normally, I would be very happy to speak to someone such as him and understand the colony in the South’s situation. Now, though, I wasn’t keen on seeing any guests; I just wanted to reunite with my family. If I didn’t welcome Veirya when she returned, she might be unhappy, and I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself.
I couldn’t say I wasn’t home or sick to turn him away when I opened the door, smiling as dullard would. I planned to put the South’s issue on the backburner for the meantime. The North had yet to be sorted out, so running off to the South would only leave me with an unhappy Veirya.
“No, Lord Lin, I am asking for you opinion, so how can I only write you a letter? How can I show my sincerity if I do not pay you visit in person?”
“I can see your wife is exhausted. If a woman about to become a mother had a mishap to visit me, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. How about this: you let your wife rest here for some time. Once her condition has improved, we can still talk about it. The mountain forest is clearest at this time, and there is also a hot spring on the mountain that Queen Sisi loved. If you like, you can use it anytime.”
Although I was smiling, I was cursing mind, “Can’t you tell I don’t want to see any guests? I’ve paid for you to stay. Can you stop disturbing me now? If you can wait for a while, I promise to give you my suggestion after I get Veirya and everyone else to settle down.”
The man jumbled the offer in his mind. It was only right that his got some needed rest after accompanying her in her state, and his gaze on his wife aligned with that thought.
In my mind, I said, “It seems we’re all on the same page. Go and get some rest for your wife’s sake; don’t get in my way when I want some time with my wife and daughter. Let’s end it here today.”
I stood up, but the woman stood up, as well. She refused assistance and conveyed, “It is all right, Lord. I am very well; thank you for your concern. I am just slightly tired after the long journey. However, my husband has been looking forward to meeting you for a long time. If I am the reason you two cannot have a good chat, I would feel worse. I have an assistant I am familiar by my side. I know my own body, so you need not worry about me. Please have a good talk with my husband.”
“Lilia…”gently enunciated the man.
The woman gently laughed. Their blissful eye contact had me jealous.
“You’re already married and have a child. My wife is still on her way here, and I don’t know when she’ll arrive. I might even have to go to the elven lands…” I inwardly griped.
“In that case, let us continue. Having said that, if you feel unwell in any way, please do not hide it, Madam. You can always make money again, but you cannot find her again if you lose here. Mister, please go ahead.”
“As you know, our Albert household has always been doing business in the South. We could be considered the best business among other businessmen in the South. While I have inherited my family assets, I do not want to continue in real estate, land and aquatic products any longer. I think that retail will not allow me to earn much. As such, I want to buy the largest shipyard,” explained the man, taking a deep breath and choosing his words.
I nodded to indicate I was still listening. He then went on, “Sadly, it is not a simple matter to acquire a shipyard for it is quite expensive as well as other competitors vying for it. We discovered a new continent, so there are lots of people who will be rushing to the new continent. Subsequently, there will be goods that will be transported. In turn, ships will be necessary. Everyone, consequently, has set their sights on the business. That is why competition is very intense.”
After a new continent is discovered, there was no doubt that the prices of ships would soar because adventurers and explorers needed ships. Those looking to find money on the new continent also needed ships. There were also ships needed for transporting goods and bodyguard teams for trades. A navy needed ships to be built. Ships could be even more important than trains. Thus, whoever managed to procure the rights to the largest shipyard would be able to monopolise the cost of manufacturing ships. Even Queen Sisi would have to purchase ships from them.
Businessmen didn’t know what the new continent offered. That said, at present, the safest business was ships, though it was a trend more than an evergreen money-printing machine. Once they had ships, they would have more money entering the new continent.
“So, what is your problem?”
“Funds,” blurted the man, without any hesitation. “To be clear, I am not here to loan money from you. Our family’s asset amounts to quite a lot. It is just that, if I invest on the ships this time, I would basically need to risk bankruptcy. But my situation… as you can see, my wife is pregnant. I want to provide her with a cosy home. If my investment fails, we will be stranded on the streets. But nevertheless, I do not want to give up on this opportunity. Accordingly, I want to ask you for your opinion. Should I burn all bridges behind me or wait to invest in the new continent?”
“Do you not think… it is somewhat inappropriate to ask me that question?” I asked with a smile. I then peered behind him at his wife and added, “Do you not think you should ask your wife that question? Your wife would be more eager to know what your choice will be. My suggestion as an outsider will naturally be selfish.”
“I stand with my husband. I would not mind it even if we end up on the streets,” expressed Lilia.
Lilia didn’t mindlessly make the statement. To the contrary, she thoroughly loved her husband. Regardless of what happened to her husband, she would persistently stick by his side. That said, I also knew that her attitude wasn’t encouraging to her husband. It, instead, would make him fearful. Of course, besides myself, I almost let my arrogance kill me the last time Veirya said the same words to me.
“… Last time, I went bankrupt, too. I almost ended up losing my wife and child. But I’m still sitting here, am I not? If you can get your hands on the shipyard, would you not be providing your family with a better environment? Moreover, think about this: would you really go bankrupt? You’re investing. Even if you lose the bid, you won’t have to pay it. There is no need for you to worry about anything.”
“The shipyard is a share. I think that I need to buy if I want shares, which means I need cash… unfortunately, w-”
“It is not bad to have shares. Even if you cannot control it, if the shipyard makes money, sell your share. It is still a big chunk of income. You will earn from it no matter how it plays out. Right now, you might think that you are paying a lot, but the return will be just as fat. As a businessman, if you pass up such a clear opportunity, I do not think you are worthy of being called a businessman.”
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