Maria raised her eyebrows slightly and gazed at the door with her strikingly beautiful eyes. After a moment, she noticed Larry and Keagan walking in, supporting an elderly man between them.
To her surprise, the old man was the same one who had traveled with Maria in Northern Europe.
As soon as he saw Maria, the old man took a step forward, struggling to contain his excitement.
He knelt down before her with a trembling body and said respectfully, “Miss, this old slave is sorry for being late. Please punish me!”
Maria smiled gently and raised her hand, signaling for him to rise.
She spoke softly, “There’s no need to punish yourself. You’re not too late.”
The old man stood up slowly.
Michelle was taken aback. The elderly man standing before them appeared to be about the same age as her master, estimated to be around ninety years old. Yet, despite his age and frailty, he still knelt before Maria.
Michelle couldn’t help but wonder how much respect he held for her in his heart.
This left her even more puzzled about Maria’s background.
However, before she could voice her thoughts, Larry interrupted, “You can leave now.”
Quickly nodding in agreement, Michelle spoke respectfully, “Sir, Ms. Clarke, I will take my leave now.”
Hastily, she exited the courtyard, ensuring that she closed the door behind her.
As Michelle departed, Maria turned her attention towards the elderly gentleman and inquired, “How was Mr. Cross’ journey?”
Without hesitation, the old man responded, “It was quite smooth, Miss. We followed the arranged route but had to take some detours. The journey took longer than expected due to several things that needed attending along the way.”
Maria then asked, “Were all my belongings delivered here safely?”
Mr. Cross nodded reassuringly and replied, “Yes, Miss. I have brought all your blue and white porcelain. To ensure their safety and avoid any issues with border inspections and customs, I took the special land route through Kazakhstan for the final leg of the journey.”
Maria inquired, “Where are my belongings?”
Mr. Cross responded in a hurry, “They are all downstairs. Larry has arranged for someone to unpack them, and they will be delivered to you after the unpacking is complete.”
Maria nodded and said, “You have worked hard on this journey. Take some rest for a while. I may settle down in Aurous Hill, so use this time to get some rest.”
Mr. Cross showed respect and replied, “I will do as you say!”
Suddenly, he remembered something and asked, “By the way, Miss, Larry told me that you have found the person you were looking for?”
Maria nodded and replied, “Yes, he is in Aurous Hill. Although you may not remember him, he may still recognize you. So during this time, please do not leave the Villa to avoid exposing your identity.”
Mr. Cross said respectfully, “Understood, Miss. I will follow your instructions.”
As they spoke, several servants entered the room carrying various items wrapped in special foam.
After Mr. Cross had checked each item and ensured that everything was in order, he dismissed the servants and turned to Maria, saying, “Miss, I brought a total of 83 items from Northern Europe, and they are all here.”
Maria nodded, feeling a bit anxious, and said patiently, “Can you please give me my Chenghua blue jar with the dragon pattern?”
Mr. Cross responded, “Please wait a moment, Miss.”
He picked up a blue and white porcelain jar and handed it over to Maria.
Maria opened the lid, and a rich aroma of tea wafted out of the jar.
She took out a piece of Pu’er tea cake from it and couldn’t help but sigh, “I have been looking forward to this for days, and it’s finally here.”
Maria then picked up the teapot that was on the charcoal fire, emptied it of its contents, and took out a Pu’er tea knife. She was ready to separate the piece of tea cake in her hand.
However, as soon as the tip of the knife touched the tea cake, she withdrew it and murmured, “This is the last piece…”
Upon seeing this, Mr. Cross quickly said, “Miss, didn’t you mention that you wanted to finish drinking this tea earlier? Why worry about the last piece of tea cake in the future?”
Maria let out a soft sigh as she looked at the piece of tea cake and whispered, “Let’s keep this last piece. I want to wait for the day when I can be honest with him and prepare it myself for him to taste.”
The expressions of the three elderly men were all filled with terror. After exchanging glances, Mr. Cross bowed and said, “Miss, may I have the courage to ask, are you really planning to be honest with that gentleman?”
Maria replied with seriousness, “Yes. He saved my life, and we have a common enemy. If the opportunity presents itself, I should tell him my whole story. Only then can I have the chance to truly cooperate with him.”
Suddenly, Maria exclaimed with excitement, “Mr. Cole, could you please ask Michelle to buy me a large wooden table and another piece of rice paper? I want to create a painting.”
Larry was amazed and asked, “Miss, do you intend to paint a piece that is six by two and a half meter in size? Isn’t that an enormous task?”
In traditional Chinese painting, the size of 2.5 meters was already considered the largest size for traditional Chinese painting. Such a large painting would require an immense amount of work.
However, Maria remained firm and replied with determination, “It’s alright. I want to paint too many scenes. Besides, I still have at least twenty days to work on it slowly. There is no need to rush.”
Larry nodded respectfully and replied, “Okay, Miss. I will arrange it later.”