When I returned to the tavern at night, Leah’s bright smile and passionate hug dispersed all of the fatigue weighing me down. I hugged her back, while Veirya , who was behind her, also came up and hugged me. Maybe strangle is a better word since my bones were telling me they were going.
Veirya then handed me a bill.
“Did you two go out to eat today?” I inquired.
“Yes,” replied Veirya, accompanying it with a nod. “We. Went out to play. Together. And. Had lots of fun.”
Leah added a bright nod: “There are plenty of delicious foods in the imperial capital. Leah loves it! Papa, you didn’t join us for dinner tonight, so can we eat dinner together next time?”
“Sure,” I replied, ruffling Leah’s hair at the same time. “I’m glad to see you two so happy. Papa’s work tonight also went smoothly. It’s just that Papa needs to go out again tomorrow. We might stay at the imperial capital for half a month. Afterwards, we’ll go to the South.”
I checked out the bill and sighed in my mind. Lord knows where the two of them went. In one night of fun, the two spent the equivalent of what commoners would spend in a week. With that said, in consideration of their appetites, they would eat about that much. As a result, I couldn’t complain. Moreover, the two of them were going to become nobles in the future. Although frugality is considered a virtue, if a noble is too frugal, it’d lead to people getting the impression that I couldn’t earn bread for the family. Sometimes, spending lavishly can be a way to earn respect.
I concurred with what Sisi opined. A husband should be able to feed his wife. In saying that, I would probably have to have my nose to the grindstone to feed my family. Veirya and Leah’s smiles made my efforts worth it, nonetheless. If Achilles hadn’t passed away, he’d be the one to carry all the burdens thrown in my lap. Unfortunately, it was in my lap.
I began to miss Achilles more and more. Had I not taken on his businesses, I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate his brilliance and ability to cope under constant, immense pressure. I suppose having the Queen’s trust wasn’t all that joyous. Countless obligation and endless work was part of the authority and envy of others package. Therefore, the incompetent, presumably, wouldn’t earn a monarch’s trust. By those standards, Achilles certainly would be a vassal worth Queen Sisi’s trust.
“Don’t you worry, Achilles. While I’m still in the imperial city and haven’t made my move, that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten your plea. I’ll definitely go to the South; just not now. Without the right opportunity, I can’t act on my own accord. I’m sure you comprehend that logic as a businessman. I won’t forget, so don’t fret,” I promised Achilles in my mind.
“I hear Lin Dongqing has gone to the imperial capital again,” casually remarked Albert’s friend.
The news led to Albert’s hand slipping, thereby pouring his hot tea onto the table. The servant to the side swiftly went to clean it. Albert completely ignored the surprise in his friend’s gaze and nervously asked, “What is he at the imperial capital for?! Did someone visit him?! Did he ask about me?”
“Huh? Why are you so on edge…? He must’ve gone to the imperial capital by Her Majesty’s orders. She plans to confer him a title of nobility, which is why he went there. It has nothing to do with us. After all, we don’t plan to get involved with Queen Sisi’s nobles or businessmen there in the imperial capital. Plus, even though Achilles died for Queen Sisi, she just gave him a small village.”
“So, just Lin Dongqing being conferred a title of nobility?” Albert, wearing a counterfeit smile, expressed, “I’m worried that Her Majesty might abruptly do something to us. Lin Dongqing was able to send every businessman in the imperial capital into bankruptcy on his own. I’m seriously worried about him potentially coming here.”
“Sure, but Achilles is dead. Consequently, Queen Sisi has to replace him with a new vassal to assist her. Also, our lady-in-waiting in the palace said that Lin Dongqing is actually Queen Sisi’s man. By the looks of things, though, it’s whatever. How would she ever have laid eyes on him otherwise? I must admit that he’s quite the man, nevertheless. If it’s possible, I hope he can join our South businessmen’s faction. He’s a businessman no matter how you consider it at the end of the day.”
“This is good news for me. Achilles is dead; Lin Dongqing is held up there. That means nobody can harm me now. That means everything I did is swept under the rug. Nobody knows what happened. I know I went too far, but what’s done is done. It’s pointless to say anything at this point. Achilles won’t accept my apology, so what can I do? I just want to protect my family,” justified Albert, inwardly.
“With regards to the shipyard, it seems that you have quite a lot of competitors. The main problem is that you haven’t acquired the rights yet. Even those with a tiny amount of shares are on high alert. Some are even waiting for the next appreciation to sell their shares for a higher price. You’re suffering a loss if you buy shares now. That’s why the market has reached a stalemate now. How about this: I think the shares in my possession are pretty much worthless, so I’ll give them to your hands. In saying that, you must share with me the earnings in the future. That said, give me some cash now. What do you think?”
Once he finished contemplating, Albert answered, “All right, then. I’ll purchase your shares from you at their current worth. Let’s split half-half. I’ll give you half now, and I’ll give you the other half when the bonus comes in.”
The South had reached a stalemate because no families were able to afford enough shares to gain the majority shares. Everyone who had shares was waiting for their value to appreciate. Thus, the price of the shipyard was bound to only ever increase, yet had already exceeded what the businessmen could handle. Alas, the price refused to depreciate. They needed someone who could change the situation in the South by ending the dreary deadlock.
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