Albert took in a big breath, reluctant to step through the door. The maid saw nervousness and concern on his face, both of which were emotions he seldom showed. In fact, she could see fear. They had never seen the man who was waiting inside before, not even in the South. They had never heard their master mention him before, either. The man, however, knew Madam Lilia, which was why they let him in. That said, they didn’t know why he intimidated their master so much.
“Did he say anything?” asked Albert, for the fifth time.
The maid replied again for the fifth time, “No, he did not say anything or bring anything. He only stated that he wishes to see you, and that was all. Consequently, we do not know what he is consulting you for. Master, if you really are worried, would you like me to tell him you are not here?”
“No, no, I must see him.”
Albert was eager for a business collaboration, yet also afraid Lin Donqging was bringing him destruction and punishment. The matter he had left behind him came back to haunt him again. Lin Dongqing was Achilles’ friend and had been conferred nobility and ranks. He was now the empire’s count and also the Demon King who annihilated the entire imperial capital, not to mention the reigning minister of business. If Lin Dongqing wanted revenge, he just had to click his fingers. Albert didn’t dare to brush him off, though. After all, nobody knew what Lin Dongqing came over for. He might not necessarily have come for Achilles but merely on Queen Sisi’s orders.
“If I don’t see him now, would I look guilty? If that’s true, then I would become the laughing stock of the city. It’s disgraceful to let others know. Moreover, I’m curious. He might help me out of consideration for Ross and Lilia… All of those scenarios could be possible,” internally reasoned Albert.
Albert inhaled deeply again then finally pushed the door open. Nothing would resolve itself if he just stood at the door, and making his guest wait for too long would be impolite.
I turned my head to see Albert, who wore a hearty smile, so I got out of the chair: “Hello, Albert. Long-time no see. How is your wife doing? Has Madam Lilia conceived yet? Do you need me to help with anything?”
“My wife is doing very well. Thank you for your concern…” Voice somewhat excessively vigilant, Albert expressed, “You are now the empire’s count and minister of business, so I cannot treat you the same way I did in the past. You are now an official. I, therefore, must respect you.”
I pursed my lips: “There’s no need to trouble yourself. I’m not here on orders from Queen Sisi; I’m here of my own volition. I’m not here to say anything or order anyone around. I’d say this nobility title is wasted on me. I’ve never been a noble. I don’t know what benefits I get from it, either. And so, you can just treat me as you did in the past.”
Albert was relieved to hear that. He didn’t detect any anger from Lin Dongqing. Lin Dongqing didn’t bring up the past event, either. By the looks of things, he didn’t plan to bring up Achilles’ matter.
I reassured Albert with an affable smile: “I came here as I’m interested in the shipyard’s shares. Needless to say, I also know that it’s a bit too late for me to be getting into it now. As a consequence, I can’t buy shares in time at this point, nor can I ask you to give me your shares. My idea, therefore, is to hopefully join you. I’ll use my own method to plan this out with you. I know that you’re in a stalemate and can’t procure more shares due to a shortage of funds. I, however can provide you with more funds to become the majority shareholder. What do you say?”
Judging from Albert’s dumbfounded reaction, I doubted he expected my suggestion. At the moment, he was unlikely to have deduced what I was thinking. The offer could’ve been a chance or a trap.
“I can’t read what he’s thinking from his expression. To be precise, it’s very hard for businessmen to decipher what the other is thinking from their facial expressions, let alone this even more frightening man,” thought Albert.
I was cognizant of the fact that Albert understood money didn’t just rain out of the sky, so I added, “I hope you understand this: I’m not helping you for free. If you get the rights to the shipyard, we have to split the profits between us half and half.”
“Half and half?!” Albert shook his head profusely: “I cannot accept that. I already acquired over twenty percent of the shares before you arrived. At most, you can only help me obtain up to fifty percent of the total shares. At most, I would only get just over a half of the profits in the end. If I have to split half of my income with you, too, my profits would be too minimal.”
“But the result will be the same without my help. Nobody would be able to purchase enough shares without me, correct? Without my help, your investment would only fetch you a share of the profits annually. Additionally, I can easily use the nation’s funds to join the fray. Think about it: do you want to wait for me to jump in or do you want to split with me? If I join the party, the shipyard will no longer have anything to do with you. Think about it.”
Albert fell into a silence, while I smiled. That was a small trick. When I made the offer, Albert wouldn’t think I wanted to deceive him but to make money. My goal wouldn’t appear to be trying to make him bankrupt but to make money from him. His silence was exactly what I wanted. My threat was clearly effective. In reality, whether or not he gave me a share didn’t interest me. All I was after was shifting his focus away from the bad and focusing it on the positive.
I knew he was silently contemplating the feasibility of my approach. I wanted to know if what I said had any weight. Although I looked indifferent, I was actually nervous. If I failed, then I was out of chances. To put it another way, it was a test of whether or not Albert was hasty and greedy enough.
Albert offered, “Me thirty, you seventy. I have a family to feed, while you have other sources of income, right? I am gambling my entire family on it, so I must have more.”
“All right. Deal!”
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