“The helmsman is the person responsible for recruiting manpower. Only he knows where everyone comes from.” Zhang Heng said to Eugene, “You can find someone to verify this matter and you will definitely find the helmsman of the ship. He will tell you that your son is on that boat. As for the others, because so much time has passed, they will only remember that there was indeed a teenager who worked on the ship. However, this seems to further affirm what the helmsman has said and make you believe that your son is indeed on that boat.”
Carina looked as astonished as Eugene. “You mean, Malcolm actually has no leverage at all, he just created an illusion of having one?”
“Wait, but what about the two survivors? Why did one join the navy and the other the governor’s residence? If they had nothing to do with this matter, why is Malcolm protecting them …”
“No, you still don’t understand that it wasn’t Malcolm who sent them to join the navy and governor’s residence. It was after they had joined, and Malcolm discovered it that he chose them, which put the entire plan in his favor and makes it more believable. Zhang Heng turned to Eugene and asked, “When you first heard the news, were they already in the navy and the governor’s residence?”
Eugene was silent for a moment, then nodded. “After all, seven years have passed since that incident. I went back to the colony myself and learnt about it. I confirmed that they had entered the navy and the general-governor’s residence two years ago and realized that I stood no chance. At that time, I naturally thought that Malcolm had done this, and I felt that he was too terrifying a force to contend with. The thought that he planned it all two years in advance, left me discouraged and in despair.”
“So Malcolm knows that the state of your relationship with your son, and how important your son is to you. So, he used a real event to fake your son’s pirate experience in order to control you.” The businesswoman felt chills run down her spine. She did not know which version of Malcolm was more terrifying – the invulnerable one with no apparent weaknesses or the one who had his opponents in the palm of his hand.
In contrast to her, Eugene had calmed down after the initial rush of emotions. The ropes that had been around his neck for many years showed signs of loosening. In his chair, he seemed to be different from than before. He straightened his back and his gaze grew sharper, as looked up at Zhang Heng who was seated opposite.
“I must admit you’re really close to persuading me, but so far, these are just your inferences. Except for that letter from my son, you have no concrete evidence. I haven’t seen my son in ten years so I don’t recognize his handwriting anymore. How would I know that the one who’s deceiving me is not you?”
Eugene paused. “I’ve heard of the conflict between you and the black-trade alliance. The two of you have worked so hard to resolve my problem as a stranger. I’m guessing you must need my help to deal with Malcolm. I can agree to your request, but I need more evidence to be certain that my son is safe if I am to be going up against Malcolm. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
“Actually, the simplest way is for you to look for your son and speak to him face-to-face,” Zhang Heng said.
Eugene fell into silence again. It was noticeably longer this time. None of the four people in the room spoke. The atmosphere seemed to have frozen over before the intelligence dealer spoke again with a sad smile, “I’m not sure if I still have the right to be his father. When the fire broke out, I was cowardly and ran out of the house. At that moment, I had lost them forever. I don’t deserve his forgiveness.”
“Perhaps it’s because you’ve never tried asking him for his forgiveness.” Zhang Heng stopped talking and got up from his chair. He opened the wooden door behind him which led to a balcony, where a young man who looked like Eugene stood, with a complicated expression on his face.
Carmen, who had not uttered a word before this, said softly, “Sorry, I didn’t tell you about this in advance. I was worried that you would be unwilling to meet him. But now that you’re both here, we’ll give you both some time alone.”
After she finished talking, she got up and left the house first, followed by Zhang Heng and Carina, and closed the door behind her.
The three went down to the living room downstairs, and Carmen went to get wine for the two. There were too many surprises tonight. Carina was still recovering from the shock.
After a while, she asked, “It was you who found his son?”
Zhang Heng nodded. “Eugene is a very cautious person. Without enough evidence, it was impossible for him to help us deal with Malcolm. However, it was not an easy task bringing his son back. The enmity between them runs deep. Under normal circumstances, they would have only met again at Eugene’s funeral.”
“So how did you manage to persuade him to return?”
“I had prepared two sets of arguments in advance. One from his mother’s perspective, and the other regarding his blood ties to Eugene.”
“Which one convinced him?”
“Neither. Fortunately I still had a card to play. I let the dispatcher inform him that if he wants to go back to Nassau, I can pay him forty gold coins,” Zhang Heng explained. “Although room and board are included in the navy, low-ranking officers like him have a low income. If he wants to climb up the ladder, he would need funds but he’s unwilling to receive support from his father. Of course, considering my identity, this money will eventually need to be paid through Miss Carmen.”
Carina took a moment to digest all this then said, “So now we have already won Eugene over.”
“If all goes well, yes. Laeli’s preparations are nearly done. Tomorrow night I’ll have Billy take twenty crew members to wait for him on the west side of the island, which is the coast closest to Terrance Manor. There is nothing but shells and sand in that area, so people rarely go there. The Jackdaw can take them away from Nassau by night.
“Once you get those letters, and Eugene’s accusations, Malcolm’s reputation will fall fast, and the other black-market merchants will not allow a person tied to so many misdeeds to continue controlling the black-market alliance. Considering Redmond and Normand’s relationship, he can’t just ignore what happened three years ago. So Malcolm will have a hard time making a comeback this time.”