Admittedly, Albert’s strategy was a clever one. Porcelain was considered a luxury commodity in this part of the world. As a result, its price had plenty of room to grow. In essence, Albert, who had a monopoly as it was, had also found a way to produce them, which meant that the expense of procuring them was drastically reduced, but the price they were sold for remained almost outlandishly high. That was a dream come true for anyone in business.
If it was realised, why would he have any reason to fight so hard for the shares that were dear and hard to obtain? What reason would a hyena have to try and steal from a lion when it found a trash can? By the same token, Albert was supposedly going to concentrate on porcelain products. The last porcelain shopping boom bespoke of a perceived aesthetic identity everybody assigned to porcelain products, and a demand for them was clearly there. In turn, Albert could rely on porcelain products to get rich. There was no need for him to concern himself with shares anymore. To make it more convincing, Albert even initiated a sale of some of his shares.
In essence, it was a repeat of my strategy to persuade everyone in the imperial capital to abandon the stones. Once everyone was on edge, all I needed was a gentle breeze to push them over the edge and bring about an avalanche.
Albert’s tactic was fundamentally a public announcement that he was dropping out of the shares race. Without competition, the shares would lose their value because the shares were promoted. Owing to Albert dropping it, the other shareholders didn’t plan to continue for they knew it was too late to start buying. Consequently, it was share that dominated on its own two legs. The other shareholders, who were waiting for its value to appreciate, could also give up at that point. Nobody was willing to buy, and it was pointless to hike the price up any further. The remaining individual had no reason to take the brunt of it, either. All that was left to do was to wait for the dip to buy in. Going by that logic, the matter was basically done as the price would soon plummet. While the price didn’t tumble done in similar fashion to an avalanche, you could say that it would return to a normal price compared to its erstwhile ludicrous price. Everything was in place for Albert as it was for me.
“Lord Lin, this is a letter from the imperial capital. I believe it is a response from Lord Veirya.” Ross came running over to me with excitement on his face and a letter in his hand.
The envelope was perfectly normal. There was no address or sender, though, which meant that a specific messenger was sent on the errand. The heat stamp on it was still intact. I wasn’t surprised that Ross didn’t dare to read my private letter, having said that.
Ross believed it to be a letter from Veirya. I, on the other hand, was certain it wasn’t from Veirya. She wasn’t the type to write letters. Additionally, I never sent the letter I wrote. I merely wrote it to mislead Ross. I was confident that it was Madam Melissa’s letter as she needed to report to me after she completed her mission. If Ross didn’t see me write the false letter, Albert, who was jumpy and vigilant, might’ve suspected what the letter was.
I nodded before taking the letter off Ross. He knew he didn’t have the right to see the letter, so he left the room after bowing. I swiped the stamp off with a small knife and poured out the contents. Madam Melissa sent me a small strip of paper presumably because she was afraid somebody might sneak a glance at it. I flipped the strip of paper over and saw neatly written text. The strip of paper represented a gold coin bond. When the time was ripe, we could go to Madam Melissa’s company to pick up the principal and interest from the bonds that we deserved.
I dawdled for a moment and then laughed out loud feeling reassured. If I wasn’t at Albert’s place, I really would’ve laughed loudly. Oblivious Albert was smug and thinking that he had it in the bag. He thought he just had to wait and purchase a large volume of shares. He knew that his competition was observing the status quo and waiting for the price to plummet some more. What they were unaware of was that Albert was also lying in wait. Assuming he had pulled out, they weren’t in any rush to make their move. Albert, on the other hand, thought that his victory secure and would be stamped at the trade centre in two more days.
Never did it cross Albert’s mind that the true threat wasn’t in the South but the imperial capital. I would surmise that he also invited Madam Melissa but just didn’t care that she didn’t attend. As Madam Melissa said, women were brushed off no matter how far they came in the South for no other reason than because of her gender. Just because a woman ruled the empire, didn’t mean women would be treated as equals. Ironically enough, Albert’s destruction would be at the hands of the women he looked down on and the company he destroyed.
Finally. I had been planning for ages, waited for ages and everything was finally coming together. Albert’s wariness and thinking wasn’t enough to read me.
In Albert’s room.
“Ah! What an expensive piece of jewellery…”
The sight of the necklace in Albert’s hand stunned Lilia to the point that her ears trembled. She had seen the sapphire the size of a large water droplet, but never did she imagine she’d one day wear it around her neck. She quavered, “I-Is it for me?”
“Of course, Lilia. Of course it’s for you,” answered Albert, brightly wearing the necklace around Lilia’s neck. Voice gentle, he conveyed, “I’ve finally become a wealthy businessman. I hesitated for a long time, but all I could think of was buying you something, which is why I bought you the necklace. Lilia, you will have a blissful life by my side. I promise to give you everything I can get. I will give you everything I promised to give you.”
A layer of mist slowly formed in Lilia’s eyes, obstructing her vision, as she drapped her arms around her husband’s neck. Albert gently placed his arms around her while wearing a blissful smile.
Albert was aware of his errors, and he knew he hurt Achilles, but when he received a hug from his wife, he felt it was worth it. No matter what he did to others, Lilia would forever be his family. No matter what others thought, as long as he had Lilia by his side, he was content. She was all he cherished. She was the world to him.
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