Zhang Heng finally got a few days off for himself. It appeared that news about the brothel incident had spread throughout Nassau. Whenever anyone wanted to mess with the Jackdaw’s pirates, they would have to first consider if they could beat Zhang Heng’s wealth. From then on, his conflicts lessened dramatically, and he didn’t need to waste more time dealing with troubles like that.
These days, Zhang Heng would spend most of his time sparring with Anne. He would also tend to a vegetable farm that he had started as well.
Zhang Heng was glad that he was now living in a tropical country. All the tomatoes, carrots, and cabbages that he planted in the ground were all ready for harvest when he returned from his voyages. Proper care wasn’t even required as the weather here would take good care of his vegetables while he was gone for a month or two.
As compared to training for combat, Anne was not interested in farming. Most of the time, she would sprawl lazily on the chair outside the house and watch Zhang Heng tend to his crops. The incident that night was akin to a rock dropping into a lake. There were ripples at first, but calm quickly returned after a little while.
Anne did not change the way she treated Zhang Heng, not to mention that she did not look as if she was in love as well. The only thing that changed was the frequency of Anne’s sparring requests. Perhaps it was her very own way of showing her love to him.
Five days later, Zhang Heng visited Terrance’s mansion with Anne and Billy. Although it would seem that he faced no potential threats there, it would still be inappropriate for the captain of the Jackdaw to go there alone. Malcolm didn’t organize his banquet in the town of Nassau. Instead, it was located on a plantation somewhere near the center of the island. The land belonged to him, and that was his place of residence as well.
Unlike the wooden houses on the northern shores, Malcolm’s mansion was made out of stone, and it was designed with an adaptation of Baroque architecture. However, stones were not available on New Providence Island. Malcolm had to import those stones from somewhere else. One could only imagine how much a single stone would cost. He even went as far as hiring two Italian architects, taking three long years to build the mansion. This was his first time exposing his mysterious abode to outsiders.
“Well… it appears that this guy has done very well for himself over the years!” exclaimed Anne while staring at the giant statues of Apollo and Daphne in front of the mansion.
“This is exactly why he organized this banquet. He wants to let everyone know that they too can earn big bucks if they work with him.”
Zhang Heng had Malcolm all figured out in his mind.
“I think he’s managed to achieve his agenda,” said Billy.
He turned around, only to see every guest standing with their mouths wide open as they stared in awe at the large statues. A man appearing to be a butler stood at the entrance at the mansion and checked the invitation that Zhang Heng brought with him.
“Welcome to the Terrance mansion. I wish the three of you a pleasant time.”
After that, he rang the bell that he was holding. At the ring, three maids clad in black approached them. They seemed really young, about 16 to 17 years of age.
“Hello. My name is Daisy. I will be serving you tonight, and I will do my best to fulfill everything that you need.”
“I don’t think I need a servant. Besides, I don’t like people following me around.”
The maid looked taken aback by Anne’s snappy comment. There was still a smile on her face, but it was evident that it was forced. Once the butler noticed the small commotion, he walked towards Zhang Heng right after he checked the person’s invitation in front of him. He saw that Daisy had started panicking.
“Greetings. May I know what is going on here? Are you dissatisfied with Daisy’s company? I can get you someone else right away.”
Just when Anne wanted to say something, Zhang Heng interrupted her.
“Everything is good. We are thinking of asking Daisy to show us around the mansion.”
“I believe that you will definitely like this place. However, I don’t think you can finish exploring in a day because this place is massive. Besides, our special performance is about to begin. I would like to recommend that you enter the banquet hall first. There will be free time for you to walk around after the banquet is over. Feel free to tell your maid if you wish to stay here for the night.”
Zhang Heng then nodded his head and thanked the butler. He started to walk towards the brightest building that was not too far away from him. Anne was smart enough to know why Zhang Heng interrupted her just now. Once they were away from the entrance, Anne talked to the servant.
“Will you be punished if we rejected your services just now?”
Daisy did not respond to Anne’s question. Instead, she undid the back of her dress, and shockingly, it was scarred from top to bottom, probably the result of continuous whipping. Seeing what the maid had to endure, Anne became so furious that she was about to draw her dagger and kill the person responsible for the torture.
“Better not try anything stupid here. I don’t like this too. Once the women are sold to the household, they are being treated as property. No one can say a word, no matter what Malcolm does to them. You are going to make them suffer even more if you insist on avenging them. We are simply guests, and we will leave this mansion after tonight. They are the ones who would have to remain here,” said Billy in a hushed tone.
Daisy was grateful for Billy’s explanation. Left in fumes of frustration, Anne put away her dagger. Soon, the three arrived at the ballroom, and Daisy opened the doors for them. If the outer part of the building was luxurious, the structure’s interior could only be described as resplendent and magnificent. A vast chandelier hung from the center of a massive dome with more than a hundred candles alight on it. The candlelight was as bright as day, displaying an intricately decorated wall that was covered with ribbons. A soft Persian carpet lined the entire floor.
“How nostalgic! I feel like I’m back in Scotland,” cooed a landowner who was behind them.
Throngs of guests were invited to the banquet. However, there were two kinds of people here. One was the conventional businessmen. They were deeply impressed by the lavish decorations and sculptures inside the ballroom. They only stood there and observed without touching anything. On the other hand, there were pirates. This lot had their hands all over the valuables in the ballroom. Of course, the thought of looting these items came across their minds. They knew that it would earn them a handsome fortune if they could sell them off.