48 Hours a Day
Chapter 253 - A Walk
Chapter 253 A Walk
Zhang Heng looked at Billy, not expecting to see another person on board Jackdaw when he returned.
The helmsman shrugged. “It wasn’t my idea. She wanted to come back. It was her decision.”
Leah held her luggage with both hands, and requested politely, “Can you please take me in? I can do lots of things.”
“I could do that, but why didn’t you leave with your people? You fought so hard to escape that manor. Wasn’t it so you could live a life of freedom?”
“I… I respected Laeli very much. He united us in our most difficult time and led us out of a miserable life. He’s surely a better chief than his father but I don’t agree with him on some things. I don’t think the deserted islands are a way out for my people.”
“Hmm?” Zhang Heng cocked his eyebrow.
“We may be able to live a peaceful life on that island for a while, but sooner or later the slave traders will find us again. Just like what happened back home, they’ll kill the old and the weak first, then separate the mothers from their children. If we can’t find a secure way out, it will happen again and again until every black man and woman will become a slave.”
Zhang Heng was astounded by how someone of Leah’s age would consider such things. Although she was simply a teen at this point, she saw further into the future than Laeli when it came to certain things.
Zhang Heng looked earnestly at her and asked, “What do think should be the way out then?”
“I really don’t know,” Leah shook her head. “I’m still searching for it. One thing for sure, I know my talents and skills won’t be very useful on the islands, which is why I want to live in the civilized world and fully utilize my potential.”
“This isn’t a very civilized place. I’ve already recruited enough sailors, and you’re not even a sailor and you’re a girl…” Zhang Heng trailed off, thinking hard. Then he looked at Carina. “Do you need anyone on your side?”.
Carina nodded and turned to Leah, “I heard that you know how to read. It just so happens that I have a grocery store in Boston that is about to open. You can go there to help me keep the accounts, and I will provide you with lodging. You will be paid a pound each month. Once the business picks up, I will increase your salary accordingly.”
Leah beamed at the prospect.
After Leah’s issue was settled, Carina continued their interrupted conversation. She gave Zhang Heng a brief account of her private encounters with Redmond and the agreement between them. When they were done, she suggested that they take a walk. Zhang Heng nodded and followed Carina out of the house to the field.
It was a fine day; the sun blaring down its bright rays and a gentle sea-breeze was blowing – an excellent day for a walk. Carina had no destination in mind, so she just walked in a random direction. Zhang Heng simply followed her. All the way, neither Carina nor Zhang Heng spoke a word.
It wasn’t because they had nothing to say to each other; they were simply enjoying the rare calm. It had been three weeks since the riot broke out at Terence Manor, and so many things happened during this brief period of time. Nonetheless, for the time being, the situation had stabilized itself, and Malcolm’s defeat was imminent.
Malcolm reacted to the situation accordingly, immediately listing and selling various assets on the island. Without Malcolm’s specialty, Redmond, on the other hand, was unable to continue managing operations of the black-market alliance. Although no formal statement had been issued, everyone knew that the dissolution of the Black Market Alliance was inevitable.
Soon, there would be a major reshuffle of powers among the black-market merchants on the island. The situation would return to what it was when the competition was fierce. Recently, the black-market merchants had been the move again, contacting the pirates they previously worked with and looking for anybody to spy on their competitors prices.”
While this meant a loss of income for some, it also meant opportunities for others. In the past, Malcolm used the first black-market’s dissolution to quickly climb up the ladder, and now, many were eager to reproduce his success. In a case like this, Malcolm was clearly on the losing end. Even though Redmond lost the position as the president of the black-market alliance, his reputation rose to a whole new level thanks to him seeking justice for Normand and Fegan. As a result, he had almost caught up to Normand.”
With a good reputation and strong connections, many powerful pirate gangs in Nassau had already expressed their willingness to continue working with Redmond even after the black-market alliance was dissolved. However, as long as he sat on the throne, he couldn’t respond to those rumors. Nonetheless, everyone believed that Redmond would have more pirate ships than before after the disbanding.
The next beneficiary of this was Carina. Despite being fairly new on the island, she responded well to the enormous pressure that Malcolm and the black-market alliance imposed on her and at the same time, letting her extraordinary flair for business shine. Her pawnshop also won the praises of the smaller pirate gangs. On top of that, Malcolm had deliberately sent a wave of powerful pirate ships to her. If she could handle it successfully, she would become the second most successful black-market merchant after the alliance’s dissolution. But that was still a long way to go. Right now, she wouldn’t think too far ahead, wanting to savor her victory first. The pair eventually ended up on the beach.
After the long silence, Carina decided to speak. “I’m sorry. I’ve been actually hiding something from you.”
“Are you referring to the time Malcolm talked to you in private?” Zhang Heng asked.
Carina’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Please don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t send anyone to monitor you, but it was the day of the operation and I was keeping tabs on Malcolm’s movements. In fact, I can guess what he said to you,” confessed Zhang Heng. “When I thought about it, there were just too many coincidences in Eugene’s case, and he was simply too cooperative. I did have my doubts on Redmond, and afterward, when I saw how distracted you were, my theory was confirmed in some way.”
“Since Eugene’s case was related to Redmond, then there’s a good chance Redmond also played a part in your father’s case. We were prejudiced at first. When we saw the letter Leah stole, we believed that Malcolm had framed your father, but the truth was, from the contents of those letters, Malcolm was obviously investigating the matter. You didn’t tell me because you feared that I wouldn’t have given you a choice in this matter. From my point of view, I would have suggested that you use the opportunity to get rid of our biggest threat: Malcolm. Then you would lose the chance of joining forces with him to avenge your father.”
“Why? Why didn’t you warn me if you knew?”
“Because the choice is yours to make,” said Zhang Heng. “Even though I have a share in your pawnshop, this is your enterprise at the end of the day, and it was your father who got framed and subsequently imprisoned. You and you alone must make the choice.”
“Then do you think that I’m cold-blooded for not avenging my father and instead, sleeping with the enemy?” Carina asked.
This time, Zhang Heng did not answer her directly. He simply said, “One day, you will defeat Redmond and become the most powerful merchant in the black market, just like how you defeated Malcolm.”
“But when that day comes, would I have changed so much that I won’t even recognize myself anymore?” Carina smiled bitterly.
“Perhaps, you’ve never really known yourself, in the first place.”