Angela had no memory of how she got home. Even when she belatedly noticed she was in front of the front door, she wasn’t surprised but laughed.
Angela inadvertently swept the old door with her bare hands. Her home wasn’t properly managed. It wasn’t grand enough to be considered a mansion for nobility, but it was enough for a family to live decently.
The first Baron received it as a reward after the war, so it was quite large and in an excellent geographic position. But the money the family earned since was insignificant compared to the cost of upkeep and therefore it was not properly managed; however, the estate served as strong support for their families.
Even in the midst of the Baron’s business collapsing, everyone breathed a sigh of relief that the house was left intact.
Rising to the occasion, Lucia, Angela’s older sister and the eldest daughter of the family, became a bureaucrat and diligently paid off the debt. Lucia even delayed her wedding.
Angela pressed her hand on her greasy forehead.
Did anyone else in the family know? If Lucia or the Baroness knew, there would have already been an uproar. Should she talk to Lucia or …
… let’s not get ahead of ourselves… first, let’s confirm with the Baron. Maybe I do not see the whole picture and there’s some way I haven’t thought of yet… perhaps he is returning what he borrowed …
There was still a weak anticipation as Angela prayed her assumptions were wrong.
With a false sense of bravado, Angela burst through the library door and walked in.
“… … What are you doing…?”
His face was painted in embarrassment. It seemed that he had never thought that Angela would have been able to find him.
Angela and the Baron’s relationship was worse for wear. When her mother died the previously doting husband, Baron Burke, became a neglectful and careless father. After many years hoping for some connection, Angela could only be disappointed by Baron Burke’s apathetic attitude and her disillusionment turned into resignation. Instead, she felt closer to the Baroness, who hated her openly.
They matched each other now. Angela and the Baron thoroughly and equally ignored each other. At least he wasn’t eating Angela’s nerves like the Baroness.
But that was until I knew about the debt.
The Baron glared at the silent Angela as if he was displeased. Angela stared at him calmly.
“What is this—”
“What is father doing?”
Angela handed a letter and added.
“2,000 Krona! (TN: HA!) Now I’ve heard everything!”
Just thinking about it made her blood boil and her voice unintentionally went shrill. Knowing he was caught, the Baron clamped his mouth shut.
2,000 Krona was worth two years of a bureaucrat’s salary. It wasn’t a small amount of cash. It was a suspicious amount to borrow by using this brick house as collateral. Such a large amount would have been noticeable if the Baron had access to it right away. Traces of spending would have been left… So Angela prayed that the Baron had not spent all of the money and had put it somewhere.
“What were you thinking? Two thousand Krona? What? When did you ever need urgent money?”
Angela said as if pleading with the Baron. The Baron answered her with silence as if he didn’t care enough to explain. Angela continued, trying to repress her soaring anger.
“Where is the money? Did you ever use it? Lucia will get married soon…”
“I borrowed it!”
The Baron replied, unable to overcome the bewildered girl. Angela inquired because his answer left her more puzzled.
“What are you talking about?”
“If she marries, wouldn’t there be more money?”
Angela was speechless by the Baron’s absurd. What?Is that really the reason? She was startled by his brazen attitude, momentarily dazed and wondering if he was jesting.
“Up to now, Lucia has been paying your debts… Was it not enough?”
It has been a long time since the Baron’s business went under. Due to his advanced age, he couldn’t even take the government exam and enter officialdom. Angela contributed little by little, but it wasn’t enough. In the end, it was Lucia who received a good post and paid off most of the debt. It wasn’t even until just a few months ago that the debt was finally gone.
“That’s not my money! We will still need money in the future!”
Astonishment glared on Angela’s wide eyes. In bewilderment, she doubted her hearing abilities.
The debts from before were tolerable to Angela. It wasn’t as if the Baron squandered money; he had lost it in business. She had even been grateful to the Baron for trying to provide ... … It was all an illusion, a stunned Angela realized through this event.
“Future? Well, then what about the future? Where are we going to live in the future?”
If we get kicked out of this house, we have nowhere to go. It was the point I was trying to get across.
“I have all of that in mind. If it comes to pass, we will use Jeffrey’s mansion for Lucia’s wedding. If she leaves him she could take his mansion too.”
She was utterly speechless in the face of the Baron’s shamelessness. Belatedly Angela realized the Baron inner thoughts. He had no intention of losing our home; keeping the debt to a minimum. Not small, but so it doesn’t look like too much money.
A few days before the wedding, the family should go in and prepare. What if the house disappears after that?
If you combine the earning abilities of Jeffrey and Lucia, it wouldn’t be a reach to say that the Baron put the mansion down as a pretext and, after postponing repayment, predicted the couple could pay off the debt even if was excessive. If they didn’t, the Baron would conspire to break up their marriage and take Lucia’s alimony. Regardless, the Baron was scheming to receive all the benefits while carrying none of the penalties.
“How, how can a person be so selfish? Do you have no shame? Why did Lucia have late marriage? My sister… You know how much my sister wanted this marriage—Should I pour cold water to knock some sense into you?”
A chagrined Angela blew up and threw her words of dismay at him. The Baron’s face turned red and green. He hated being admonished by his young daughter.
“If you know it so well, why don’t you pay it back? You’re just the leach of our family! Without you, Lucia could paid off the debts quicker!”
Angela shook with fury. It was always this way. That’s why she had forsaken him. Talking with the Baron only made her mouth hurt.
“If I raised you this far, you should know how to pay it back!”
The Baron poured out words like needles.
“What are you talking about?”
Angela turned her head at the source of the sudden interruption.
The Baroness curiously surveyed the room. Frustration distorted the Baron’s face. He knew she would eventually know, but he had wanted to postpone that as much as possible.
“No, resume the conversation! Is it true what I heard? You! Are you in debt again? On purpose?!”
The Baroness rushed to the Baron and grabbed him, shaking him as if to confirm. The Baron tried to remain silent like he first did with Angela, and finally opened his mouth when he couldn’t stand it.
“Oh, I don’t know anyway. Ask her. It only hurts my mouth to repeat it.”
The irresponsible Baron mumbled and ran out of the library, leaving a despondent Angela in his wake.
The baroness switched her target and asked Angela.
“Hey, you! Tell me what happened?! Don’t dare leave anything out!”
Angela hesitated for a moment, wondering if she could run faster then the Baron, before resigning and steeling herself to the situation. She handed over the letter that the Baron had not received and, from start to finish, explained everything she knew. When Angela exhausted her words over the matter, a horrified baroness stood before her, speechless, pale and utterly stupefied.
Compassion opened Angela’s eyes and she lead the Baroness to sit down on a chair. Panic dyed the Baroness’s face as she scrambled for a solution and felt apologetic to Lucia. “Ah, what do ….I do with this… … .”
She took a deep breath.
“What about Lucia?”
Angela struck her chest with a fist of frustration.
“2,000 Krona isn’t an amount that easily be repaid any time soon.”
The Baroness closed her eyes as if contemplating, then looked up at Angela.
“Is there really no way? Don’t you have a job? There is no other way?”
“So far… I don’t know.”
Even if Angela looked into the debt, she knew there was no way she could solve it all at once.
“Okay. Research it. You can figure it out. Didn’t we get rid of all the debts well so far? The time has come for you to pay back our investment in you too.”
It was a neat tone. It wasn’t what the Baroness, who had been tormenting Angela so far, should ask. Angela didn’t answer in surprise.
“Oh, or can you borrow anything? Why don’t you borrow money in your name and pay it back slowly?”
If she did that the likely conclusion is that they couldn’t pay her back and only Angela would be poisoned. Neither the Baron nor the Baroness would help. It was exactly what she expected. The glow of Angela’s compassion faded. But still, she felt compelled to help.
Slowly opening her mouth: “I can’t borrow money. As you know, my salary is low… First, I’ll find a new job. There are many ways to reorganize a payment plan. It’s hard for me to pay it back alone, so I think it’s better to recognize your husband as a resource as well.”
“Oh, yes, yes. I don’t even recognize him. You go out quickly.”
The Baroness typical hard tone returned. Without further consultation, she pushed Angela’s back. There is still some time left before the evening.
Angela had to leave the house again. Her mouth was bitter. Even right now, this house was trying to push the debt on to Angela. Will she ever be appreciated? It has been a long time since the Baron’s business collapsed and any emotional connection with her family was lost.
Nevertheless, the Baroness said that she didn’t want to get a drop of water on her hand, and when Angela was a little big, she immediately ordered her to do the housework. Although Angela loved Lucia, she knew she was a lot worse off. It was obvious the tormenting would continue like before. Even knowing so, Angela was trapped. Lucia was the one who held Angela’s hand and didn’t let go, even when she first came to father, and when the house almost fell into ruin. Lucia became her family, with whom she had endured the neglect of Baron Burke and the harassment of his wife.
Also, Lucia was the eldest daughter, and from a young age she took on all the household debts, she even hugged her little step sister, Angela. Angela couldn’t give up her family because Lucia, her step sister, was poor and precious. Angela wrapped her coat a little tighter. Resolving herself, to roam around aimlessly.