My appetite for the special dishes in the South was quite good. Melissa, in contrast, seemed more interested in me. Although I said I wouldn’t drink alcohol, it was hard to refuse… It tasted fantastic! After eating for a while, Melissa, who was next to me, inquired, “So, Minister of Business, what did you want to investigate here in the South?”
“… What do you think I am here to investigate?”
“You are asking for my opinion?” asked Melissa, with a perplexing smile. “In my opinion, you do not know me, and I doubt you know any businessmen in the South. Put another way, you are not here to forge a relationship with us, promote Her Majesty’s policies or something nor are you here to ask for our donation. You appear to have a goal; logically speaking, then, you are not here to buy something or to do something. Following that flow of reasoning, you are not interested in products from the South, so you are interested in the shipyard everyone is talking about, correct?”
I nodded subtly then conveyed, “That said, I don’t plan to buy the shipyard’s shares. I’m just here to investigate it. Also, I have a question: do you know Albert?”
“Oh, I expected that. I thought that you were after. Otherwise, you would not have mentioned the name of the individual with relatively more shares at the moment,” remarked Melissa, plaing her glass down and wiping her hands. “Albert is a kid who inherited his family business just recently. He does not look too bad, likes to play and his personality is not bad. I never saw him as someone who had a knack for business. Surprisingly, he has displayed amazing determination and persistence this time. From the beginning, he has done everything in his power obtain lots of shares. While he only acquired a little over twenty percent of the shares, he is one of the two individuals with the most shares now.
“Previously, everyone was hesitant. After a small team of adventurers brought back a bag of gold mineral, all hunters have had their interest piqued. Everyone needs a boat to travel there. Therefore, the shipyard’s business is bound to explode. Moreover, whoever has control of the shipyard will have control over the lifeline of the new land that has been discovered in the South.”
That was why I told what I told Albert when we met was completely correct. If Albert didn’t attack the succubi, Achilles, Albert and I might be discussing how to do a better job rather than me being on a search and destroy mission.
Since Albert almost had the majority of shares at this point, that meant I had to start with him. Albert couldn’t possibly have enough funds to purchase the appreciating shares. His only option, therefore, was to take a loan.
“How much has Albert spent?”
“I… am not sure what the exact number is. In saying that, there is one thing I am sure of, which is Albert is a very cautious individual. I would assume it has to do with his pregnant wife. He cannot bet everything he has, after all. All he did was spend a portion of his assets to purchase the shares. In addition, due to the influence of time, he did not spend much. Fundamentally speaking, he has not spent enough to do himself any damage.”
Melissa’s expression hinted curiosity. I stayed silent, forcing her to speak up: “However, you sound as though you want to harm Albert, or is it Queen Sisi’s idea?”
“No. I was just asking. I have no designs for Albert. I’m not here on Queen Sisi’s orders, either. I’m just following up my personal interest to see if I can earn a share from it.”
“There is no need for you to hide it.”
I hate, yet appreciate, smart women. That included Sisi and Melissa…
“Was I too obvious? I only asked a few questions. How did she deduce that I was trying to hunt Albert? This isn’t good. It’s definitely not a good thing for me to have been discovered before having even made my move,” I brooded.
Melissa laughed and then licked the butter on her finger: “I do not plan to concern myself with it. Rather, I do not plan to concern myself with Albert’s life. I cannot purchase shares due to starting too late. As a result, the shipyard has nothing to do with me. I will not reveal to anyone what your plans are. Offending you is not wise. Furthermore, those men look down on me in the first place because of my origins. I am not interested in them, either. As such, you need not worry about me leaking anything.
“Let us do this: I shall tell you want I want. If I tell you what I want first, I would say that would make me more trustworthy. I shall go first, then. As I said, I started too late. Consequently, I cannot acquire shares. My focus is no longer on the shipyard. The reason I went to the North and recognised you was because I attended your exhibition. I saw the quality of the fabric you produced with your machines as well as production volume, both of which are very much to my satisfaction. I think that is where real money is to be made. Accordingly, I wish to open a factory but require your experience and permission.”
I thought, “Now I can explain all her actions. She wants to start a factory, I see. I can now assign a reason to why she’s trying to get in my graces. That means that what we’re after doesn’t conflict, so she’ll keep my secret. Additionally, she might even help me. I’ve always wanted a source of information and trusted individual. It seems I’ve effortlessly found myself both.”
Melissa smiled and raised her glass: “This time, I am serving Her Majesty as the representative of my family. I will do my best to assist with your plans in the South. If your business goes smoothly, I hope you will allow me to start a factory in the South. What do you think?”
I understood what Melissa meant and wanted. The question was whether or not I could trust her. How was I supposed to provide a worthwhile evaluation of her trustworthiness when I barely knew her? Even though I knew it was a meaningless question on its own, I questioned, “Can I trust you?”
Melissa giggled and then, switching to a solemn visage, answered, “Of course you can.”
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