“Ah, good morning, Count Lin, Countess Veirya.”
Although their visitor adorned their military uniform unbecomingly and had their hat slanted, not to mention their disdainful tone, Lin Dongqing’s gaze compelled him to politely remove his hat and bow.
Veirya bobbed her head: “It’s been a long time since we last met, hasn’t it? Come and sit down for breakfast. I suppose you haven’t eaten yet since you’re here so early.”
“My, that is great. Thank you very much, Lord Lin. We will not turn down your offer, then.”
Their visitor didn’t hesitate to demand a maid pull open a chair out for him. The maid respectfully set up his eating utensils. His younger sister behind him bowed. She then wrote “thank you” on the cardboard in front of her before sitting down. Ross, who went to collect information last night before visiting, coldly scoffed, “Nothing good ever happens when the intelligence agency passes by. What? Your agency targeting Count Lin now?”
“Huh? Ross, what’s that supposed to mean? Our military intelligence would target the military if we needed to accomplish something. From head to toe and out to inside, I think our military intelligence agency would be able to live off your military and have special medal from Her Majesty for perfect attendance.” The young man took the coffee the maid passed him and touched her soft hands while he was at, thereby earning a slap to the back of his head – courtesy of his sister.
“Wandering around is unlike your intelligence agency. What? Are you suspecting Count Lin of being a spy? That’s a serious allegation. Do you have proof?” Ross’ ears gradually stood up, which was a sign of him getting angry.
Lin Dongqing, silently watching with his teacup in hand, was intrigued. Veirya, who considered arguing at the dining table a pet peeve of hers, didn’t comment despite her itch to flog the young man as her husband looked happy.
“I never said that. Lord Lin is the most important individual to the empire, so it’s a given that we’d pay attention to him. Members of parliament and the military visit his place every day. If the maids here were spies who leaked information, our intelligence agency would’ve failed in our duty.”
“That’s an unreasonable threat!” fumed Ross.
Whether fortunate or unfortunate, Ross’ anger didn’t make the young man serious. Instead, he coldly snorted and then turned to Lin Dongqing: “Count Lin, I just came to find out some information. Our intelligence agency is concerned for your safety. Are you sure that the people around you are trustworthy? We have no right to intervene with who you meet for that is your privacy. Having said that, we hope nothing leaks as the status quo is rather special – as you know.”
“I know. All of my maids here are trustworthy. You don’t need to worry. If anything happens, I’ll answer to the consequences,” responded Lin Dongqing.
“I am glad to hear that, Count Lin. We will not search your property or thoughtlessly arrest your people. I can promise you that. As such, you do not need to feel apprehensive about this visit…”
The last sentence seemed to be intended to relieve himself of some of the tension he felt. Lin Dongqing nodded and indicated that he didn’t read too much into it. The young man looked to Ross, who was still angry, and pulled a funny face. Then, he stood up. wrapped up the food in a napkin and left without any misgivings. The young girl following him wrote on a piece of cardboard, “Is Lin Chucheng all right? We are very worried about him.”
“He’s fine.” Lin Dongqing’s tone was a lot softer with the girl.
The girl dimpled and bowed. When the two were about to depart, Lin Chucheng came downstairs yawning. The youth spun around and cheerfully greeted, “Oh, Chu! Nice, I thought you were at school! Are you on holidays? This is nice. If we have time, let’s go there again. I heard they’ve got some new girls th-”
“Please don’t bring it up!” Noticing his mother’s ice-cold gaze, Lin Chucheng shuddered.
The young man realised he said something he shouldn’t have, so he quickly fled the scene. Lin Chucheng fearfully said, “Good morning, Mom. Uh… I think I can explain…”
“I refuse to listen to your explanation. You’re still a kid. How can you do that?! Your sister may be in the business, but you still can’t! Additionally, underage children, such as yourself, shouldn’t be allowed in. Tell me which place it was. I’m going to personally speak to them!” Although Veirya’s speech was no longer fragmented after many years of marriage, it was still very rare to hear her speak so emotionally, which displayed how furious she was.
Lin Chucheng didn’t dare to utter a word. He just kept his head down and ate. He felt awkward because he used to be able to speak to his mother, but not even she wanted to speak anymore. For the first time, he wanted to go to work more.
Lin Chucheng: What’s Irena going to do next? I can go and help someone together with her, right? I can finally do something, right?
Lin Chucheng didn’t know what his father did when his father was on business away from home in his childhood, what was in the tax guide and had no clue why people respected Lin Dongqing. The cripple never did anything. After yesterday’s lesson, fortunately, he started to understand somewhat. He just didn’t explicate it. He deemed admitting his wrongs the equivalent of accepting defeat. He always looked down on his father; he couldn’t handle the rollercoaster of emotions associated with apologising to his father. It ticked him off to see his father looking smug when he was just a damned cripple.
“I’m done eating. Thank you, Mom.” Lin Chucheng left as fast as if fleeing a bombing.
Veirya shouted after Lin Chucheng. Alas, it was futile. She heaved a heavy breath and complained to her husband, “You haven’t said anything about looking into that place, either. Your son is still underage!”
“Mm, leave it to Leah. I’m sure she’ll handle it.”
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