Chapter 264 “such conditions”
By night fall, Du Wei had ordered Marde to decorate a small ballroom and the kitchen to prepare some exquisite dishes while he waited for the Marquise's arrival.
When the door finally opened, the lady to come in nearly blinded his eyes with how dazzling she was.
Filled with elegance, Mrs. Lister's body was like a blossoming rose due to the red evening dress she wore. From the slim waist to the graceful style of her steps, this unrivaled beauty gave of a pure yet mature charm that somehow made it unbefitting of that girlish face. To put it simply, this woman had a body of a demoness and a face of an angel.
Under his ogling eye, Mrs. Lister smiles in return and gently performed a curtsy bow: "Your Dukeship, am I late?"
Du Wei gave a loud cough. Standing up, he personally pulled the chair out for the lady and said: "Of course not. It's just that I lost my composure when looking at your gracefulness.
Mrs. Lister softly looked Du Wei in the eye, her gaze filled with a strange yearning: "I fear the Duke is disingenuous. I've been in the Northwest for so long and this is the first time you invited me for dinner between the two of us."
Du Wei turned around and pretentiously went to grab a wine bottle just so he can avoid the Marquise's eye. Waving his hand in the process, the waiters all left the room.
Once the door was closed, Du Wei had already positioned himself beside the madam. Pouring her a glass, he then smiled: "Then the lady is blaming me for snubbing my guests? If the citizens back in the capital learn of my poor manners, I fear I will be the first person in the empire to be drowned by the peoples spit."
Du Wei then returned to his seat and sat down. Raising his own glass for a toast, he wanted to show his sincerity: "This first toast will be my apology to your ladyship."
Not denying the gesture, Mrs. Lister followed suit with the toast. While Du Wei gulped it all down in one go, the madam only took a shallow sip befitting that of a noble lady.
Du Wei then promptly poured himself another glass: “This second cup is my sincerest wish for your ladyship's eternal beauty, and to the everlasting bond between the Tulip House and Lister House."
The Marquise giggles this time and drank a bit more than the last.
Du Wei then pours another cup to reach the third toast: "This third cup is my thanks to you….. Dadaneier said to me….."
Not waiting for Du Wei to finish, Mrs. Lister cuts him off with that half angry, half complaining mouth of hers: "Your Dukeship, you keep toasting me again and again, it can't be that you want to get me drunk now are you?" She teases him with eyes that could melt any man.
“Of course not!” As if he couldn't be awed by her charm, Du Wei cried out his reply without batting an eyelash, "The third cup is my thanks for offering me such a good idea. Hmm, you don't need to drink this third cup, I will drink it myself."
After three consecutive drinks, Du Wei also felt a bit tipsy. Gently sighing, he puts down his glass and looked towards the Marquise: "The truth is, other than gratitude, I also admire your ladyship a lot. If not for your idea, I don't know how long of a headache I be forced to endure."
The madam purses her lip and softly said: "What could possibly stump your Dukeship when you are so clever. I feared I might have offered some bad advice and be ridiculed by everyone. I just hope you won't think of me as a blabbermouth. As a woman, I understand my knowledge is limited. Therefore, I can only ask Sir Dadaneier for help."
“Madam's goodwill will forever stay in my heart.” Du Wei sternly brought out this sentence.
The Marquise suddenly looks up and peered into Du Wei's eye, "It seems the reason for the dinner invitation tonight is for that. If not for my help, are you going to keep ignoring me?" Unwavering in her emotions, a strong signal was being sent from her gaze.
Du Wei coughed uncomfortably. Just as he wanted to speak again…..
“Hmm, your Dukeship.” Madame Lister tilts her head to think. She had to admit, her move just now was a bit too charming: "Your Dukeship…. If you want to say thanks then that's not needed. If you are really grateful then I have a request."
Du Wei skipped a beat… … It can't be another wedding proposal again? Hmm, shouldn't be.
“As long as I can satisfy it without go against my will.” Du Wei first locked down his terms to leave no possibility for a loophole.
The Marquise snorted a laugh because she found Du Wei absolutely charming in his reaction. Those eyes of hers clearly indicating: knew you would say that!
“You can rest assure that my request isn't difficult for you. In fact, it's very simple."
Du Wei got uncomfortable inside and felt regretful over his own folly: "It was going so well, why did I ever decide to invite this troublesome woman to dinner? Seriously, what was my head thinking?"
Only by being alone with this woman can he feel the overbearing beauty and charm extruding off that body of hers.
“I believe you know that my Lister family is a family of business. Although I … … Hmm, although my life has been faced with misfortune with the premature death of husband, but I do have a Marquise title thanks to his majesty's goodwill. However, my title is only generational and cannot be inherited." The Madam clearly and slowly spoke: "Because my Lister Family isn't a noble house, we are not privileged to a territory, but we do have a strong foundation in the north after years of taking root there."
Once the marquise began her explanation, Du Wei became somewhat relieved and started to get interested.
"…… Your Dukeship knows it too. My family started off by constructing trade in the maritime. But in recent years, the empire had been cutting back more and more in their naval expeditions. If I had to speculate, Prince Son's plan is to completely cut off military spending to this region. Probably within the next few years, the maritime trade of the empire will become unprofitable. Therefore, I've already decided to move my family's business out of the Southeast region." Speaking up to here, she deliberately paused to sweep Du Wei a glance just so she can show off the hypnotizing side of her face while taking a sip of wine.
Clearing his throat: “Lady's decisiveness is admirable. Trade in the Southeast is huge, but your ladyship's ability to look into the future is beyond the ordinary."
The Marquise giggles at the compliment: "Your Dukeship shouldn't praise me so early. I fear you are going to frown after I tell you the next half."
Du Wei ponders the idea for a moment. Picking up his glass, he also took a sip: "Madam, you said you got things to tell me…. Does it have anything to do with your family business?"
“It's exactly this.” Madame Lister deliberately moaned a graceful sigh: "I am a woman. Despite being the head of the house and as fortune would have it, I managed to live up to my father's trust. But these years, I've grown extremely tired from the burdens. My brother and sister are still young and I've been forced to support everything alone all this time, the stress has really hurt my heart…. Alas, my only wish is to not see my father's work fall into decline, leaving me to continue to resist by myself."
Du Wei did not chime in for he knew the next part was the main show.
“While the maritime continues to falter and shrink, I thought and thought…. That's when you came up. Your Desa Province grows with each passing day and is thriving under your rule. Though the tension in the region isn't so peaceful, but it's the main bridge between the prairie and the empire, meaning plenty of opportunity for trading. Hmmm….. After a long time, I finally came to a decision. I hope I can support you."
Du Wei can faintly guess what she's getting at: "Your meaning is…."
“I intend to move the Lister Household to the Northwest!"
Listening to the Marquise say this in a serious fashion, Du Wei could not help but be overwhelmed.
Watching his face, the Marquise broke into a laugh: "See, you frowned the second I tell you this."
Embarrassed by his lack of manor, Du Wei gave a small chuckle to cover up his mistake. Fortunately, the Marquise didn't pursue the issue and continues: "In the near future, the Northwest here will be filled with opportunities….. Furthermore, forgive me for being disrespectful. Even if the empire does go to war with the people of the grassland, the Desa Province will play a key strategic role. Whether it be weapons, food, tents, these are all opportunities for business. The Lister Family is capable of covering all this. It's better to take up roots now then to start later in the future."
Du Wei ponders the idea for a moment. The reasoning is about right, but he got the aching feeling the reason behind her request isn't what she's making it out to be!
“Your Dukeship, only you can call the shots in the Desa Province. If I wish to move here, I will need your support."
“This is only natural.” Du Wei agrees right away. In cases like these, he's in no position to reject such a great proposal.
“Hmm, I believe in the Duke's credibility, but there are some things that will still need your personal attention." The Marquise thought for a moment before asking: "There are several requests I would like to make, I hope you can promise me."
Du Wei sighed: “Please say."
“This first one, I ask that Loulan City be the location for my home residence. My Lister Family may not be big, but including staff, attendants and horse groomers, there are still something around three thousand five hundred people. Hmm, be best if it was located near the Duke's residence with a wide street where public security is good. As for the payment for the land, I can pay the official price."
“Secondly, since I'm moving, the White Feather knights will naturally follow. Although nominally there are five hundred men in their ranks, but you know very well there are in fact approximately two thousand personnel in total. Of course these cavalry knights cannot live in the city, and….." At this point, Mrs. Lister smiles at him: "Since I'm willing to work with your Dukeship, it's only natural I put my trust in you. Before I needed this force to protect me and my family, but now, they are no longer necessary. I firmly believe you would protect us if anything happens. So I thought and thought, the best solution I can come up with is to station them with your soldiers outside the city. From now on let's have them take up the Tulip crest on their armor. I only need three hundred fifty knights around. As for the rest, they will follow your deployment. Regarding the expenses for the White Feather Knights, the Lister Family will gladly bear half of the costs involved."
“Then the third… … I know your Dukeship's army is equipping itself with the gears from that Taklanshan fella. My Lister Family may not be as big as that fatty in the weapon's industry, but we are of some size. Consider it me taking advantage of you this time. From now on let my Lister Family be in charge of equipping the Tulip army. Considering my relationship with that Taklanshan, I believe he wouldn't hate me for stealing his business. As for the costs of each weapon, I'll do fifty percent less than that fat man."
“Then the fourth … …”
The more he listened, the more stunned he became. Eventually his thoughts were written all over his face.
This…… This woman!
How is she asking him for a favor? This is clearly give one give another! Gift upon gift!!!
Her conditions may sound like it's her terms for moving to the Desa Province, but she's clearly doing this to stimulate the economy and to strengthen his forces! Literally throwing money and man power into his arms!!!
If such a good thing were to fall into any other official of the empire, assuming they are not idiots, none would ever decline such an offer!
This Mrs. Lister has a great deal of verve to be so daring in tightly sticking her family with his without question.
“Madam.” Not waiting for her to finish the fourth condition, Du Wei waves his hand to stop her: "Your conditions….. I think as along as the recipient isn't stupid, none would reject it. It's just that I feel a little unease at taking such a big gift.
“It's just business.” Madame Lister smiles: "I may appear to be paying a lot today, but I believe with your talent, my Lister Family will be greatly rewarded in the future."
“In this case……” Du Wei ponders the question for a moment and said, “I cannot just accept everything like this, otherwise I fear others will say I'm greedy. If your ladyship moves to the Northwest then all taxes will be exempt on the first year followed by a fifty percent tax reduction in the following three years. Afterwards, all your businesses will only pay eighty percent compared to the market!"
Contrary to his expectations, the lady's face turned glum when he stated his terms: "You…. Just can't accept my kindness, is that it?"
On such a fine night where wine and beauty was with him, even Du Wei cannot deny his manly instincts. Slightly trembling at the lady's gripe with him, he hurriedly gulped down his glass of wine and tries to change the topic: "The dishes tonight is something I specially requested from the kitchen, I hope you will like it."
Though Mrs. Lister's expression didn't change, her head did droop down a little: "It's a little stuffy in here. Duke, why don't you accompany me for a walk in the garden?"
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