Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Malone’s betrayal hit Carina real hard. In all of Nassau, he was the person she trusted the most. In fact, it wasn’t too much to say that he was the only person she trusted. He was the last person she would expect to be bought over. According to Malone, although he had only sent Malcolm a total of three messages, she felt a wave of nausea wash over her whenever she thought about how someone close to her had been watching her the entire time.
Perhaps the only fortunate thing was that the information Malone had access to were mostly trade-related. However, she was always on her own when she met with the black gladiator. Malone had asked to go with her several times in the name of safety, but he had always been turned down. Of course, at that time, she never suspected Malone’s intention, refusing simply because she feared that bringing an escort along might offend Laeli. Had that not been the case, Malcolm would have found out that his study had been invaded.
Carina did her best to keep her emotions under control. She questioned Malone a little bit more before handing him over to the four Jackdaw sailors. She would let them investigate the authenticity of his statement, then transfer him to a ship heading back to England. Malone mentioned before that he had a sister in Kent, so this was actually the best outcome for him. Even if he wanted to return, he could only do it next year. By that time, the strife between Carina and Malcolm should have been settled.
When it was all over, a drained and exhausted Carina tossed her short musket to the side of the road. Today, she finally understood what her father meant by never trusting anyone on the island.
The relationship she shared with Malone went beyond friendship. He was more like family and a mentor. To her, losing him meant far more than just losing a seasoned captain who could get through port authorities. If Wilton’s blatant threat on the beach made her feel fear for the first time, then Malone’s betrayal caused her to experience another kind of pain.
There was even a moment when she considered giving up. She was no longer sure what waited for her on the other side if she continued down this path. How high of a price would she have to pay to win this fight against the black-market alliance?
Carina stopped in front of the horse carriage sporting a blank look in her eyes, wondering where she was supposed to be going. She stood there for some time until suddenly, the driver coughed, “Ahem. Ms. Carina?”
“I’m sorry. Head to Captain Zhang Heng’s residence.”
Carina opened the door and climbed into the carriage, not bothered to look back. She had made a decision–let the past remain where it was. From the time her father was sent to prison until now, there would be no turning back for her. As that was the case, she could only continue walking down this path.
About half an hour later, the carriage came to a stop. Carina had also regained her composure.
Zhang Heng was in the living room, taking Dutch lessons from Vincent. When he looked up and saw Carina outside the door, he nodded to the young doctor and said, “That will be all for today.”
Vincent immediately collected the books and left. Anne had gone to meet Harry that afternoon, so when Vincent left, Zhang Heng and Carina were alone.
Zhang Heng picked up the teapot on the table and poured his visitor a cup of tea. Perhaps it was because of his Oriental lineage that he preferred tea over coffee.
“How are things on your side?”
“We found the spy–it was Malone.” Carina paused for a moment, her expressions stoic as if it was something insignificant. “The problem wasn’t that serious. I suppose we can call it solved. It shouldn’t affect us any further. However, the Gentle Breeze is devoid of a captain, and once the other cargo ship is repaired, she’ll need a captain too.”
“Do you have anyone in mind?”
“For the Gentle Breeze, I plan to let the first officer take over the role of captain. To prevent something like this from happening again, I will test him regularly. As for the other ship… it’s going to be difficult, as I plan to recruit sailors from Nassau on the spot. Thus, I will need someone who has the authority to control them. At the same time, this person cannot be a pirate. It will be a great advantage if he’s familiar with the authorities of the colonial ports, as well.”
“Hmm. These requirements won’t be easy to meet.”
“I know. Good captains are a scarcity everywhere. On top of that, practically all the outstanding captains of this place have now become pirates. Of course, I’ll be generous with the wages–I can pay twice the average captain’s salary to our prospective captain.”
Zhang Heng thought about what the tradeswoman was saying before he answered, “A few cargo captains lost their vessels and goods to robbers. Out of desperation, they had no choice but to come to Nassau to look for wealth here. There should be someone among them who meets your criteria. That said, all the other pirate ships that lack captains also have their eyes on them. How about this? I’ll find Billy tomorrow and see if he can recommend me anyone suitable.”
Carina nodded. “I thought about what you said before–we are competing against the black-market alliance, and it won’t be enough just having the support of small and medium pirate gangs. I’ve decided to approach the biggest landowner of the island to see if we can offer to ship their yield without charge, all these in exchange for their support, of course. Also, everything we got from the exchange of the secondhand goods are just bits and pieces of miscellaneous trinkets. No one in the colony will buy them. It’ll be treated like garbage. But it would be a pity to throw them away too. After all, there’s still some value in them, I’m sure.”
“What do you want to do with them?”
“I plan to open a grocery store here and another in the colony where the knick-knacks can be sold. It doesn’t have to make a profit. I simply want to recoup my losses. That would be enough. Then we won’t have to keep bleeding money by holding on to these things,” Carina explained.
Zhang Heng raised his eyebrows.
“What is it?”
“I thought that your debacle with Malone would be a big blow to you, but from the way you talk, it seems that I have misplaced my worries.
“In the beginning, I was furious and disappointed, but on the way here, I thought through many things, and my angst dissipated. I haven’t done well in many aspects as well. I was so used to asking for his help, and it has always been one-sided–on my part, I never paid attention to the difficulties he faced. Although he owed the gambling den a large sum of money and has borrowed from many people, he never wanted to trouble me, and would rather accept Malcolm’s offer. He probably didn’t think I could help him anyway,” Carina chuckled to herself before quickly moving to another topic.
She looked squarely into Zhang Heng’s eyes and seriously told him, “I want to defeat Malcolm, not just to keep the secondhand business going, but to completely destroy him! I will drive him out of Nassau and take his place as the most powerful black-market merchant on the island. No matter the cost, no matter what danger awaits me, I will not falter. I won’t stop until it’s done.”