IBMV – 17.2

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He went wild, ready to overturn the negotiating table if he hadn’t been tied to a rope.

“I have the management rights of the spinning plant. You don’t have the authority to interfere in factory management! This agreement is all void!”

Anna looked at me, wondering if that was true. But I smiled instead of answering. Because I was sure my uncle didn’t know the essential facts.

“According to Article 9 of the company’s regulations, if the representative director who is the approving authority is vacant or absent, the head of the family shall have the right to approve.”

“…W-what?”

Uncle James asked back in a daze.

The uncle looked like he had no idea there was such a rule.

I explained in a friendly tone. “When you have a problem, it means I have the right to approve.”

James, the head director of Ashford’s spinning plant, is Uncle. But what if he’s out of the office for a long time due to circumstances?

According to regulations, a person in a position higher than Uncle James has the right to approve. And that’s me, Olivia Ashford, the Duchess.

Only then did the uncle’s expression, which understood the situation, quickly turn muddy.

Instead of blaming his carelessness for not reading the manual carefully at ordinary times, he turned an arrow of anger at me.

He gritted his teeth and said,

Olivia… If you make your own agreement unilaterally—that’s it—I won’t abide by it! When I get out of here—you just watch!”

“Indeed, it’s good to get out of here. But don’t they have to release Uncle first?”

As I pointed out, there were a lot of workers with tools.

Anna was swinging a hammer before I knew it.

“If you want to stay here longer with us, I won’t stop you,”

Anna grinned.

“You know, we’re very poor–destitute really, so we only get one meal a day. Oh, of course, you can’t take a bath because the water is dirty. And be careful not to get bitten here because it’s full of rats.”

Uncle James’s eyes shook like an earthquake.

He was born with a golden spoon and has enjoyed all kinds of comforts and luxurious things.

That’s who he was, so he wouldn’t want to be here and inconvenience for another minute. I decided to shake my uncle a little more.

“Dear Uncle, do you know what the public is saying now? It is said that the Duke of Ashford is an evil family that exploits the poor. That’s why even the family members are unhappy with you. At this rate, the returning board will surely challenge your uncle’s style.”

It was not even an exaggeration but a fact. The Ducal house of Ashford is a family that has been giving back to society for many generations. And many members of the family have taken pride in that fact.

However, due to several strikes, Uncle James has tarnished the family’s reputation.

“…..What do you want me to do?”

“Stop being stubborn and give in this once.”

I brought the agreement and handed it over to my uncle.

When I let the rope loose, he glanced at the paper with a look of disapproval.

When I saw him at the hotel’s opening celebration, he was an uncle who was full of grudges and disgruntled.

But he had a face that had aged rapidly in the last few days. His hand shook with the quill pen.

After agonizing over whether to sign or not, he sighed tiredly and reluctantly moved the pen.

As soon as he finished writing, one of the people watching shouted.

“A deal has been reached!”

The factory workers put down their tools and cheered with full elation.

A dramatic labor-management agreement was reached a day after the strike. There were some rather harsh threats and a loud voice yelling against any deal in the process.

Thinking all’s well that ends well, I asked Anna for a handshake.

She held my hand tight, facing each other, and we laughed heartily.

***

“Thank you, Princess.”

This is the second time Anna thanked me.

After all, the factory workers withdrew, and Uncle James was released safely; Anna saw me off waiting for a train to the capital at Lancaster Station.

Just one thank-you is enough. She must have thought she owed me a lot for this.

“What have I done? It’s all thanks to Anna’s brave fight.”

“I-I’m flattered.”

Anna blushed as if she was not used to compliments.

It was so different from the way she wielded a deadly hammer that I laughed for some reason.

When our eyes met, she smiled genuinely.

As the main character’s first love, I couldn’t help but be relieved that she was alive.

She was also a beauty.

I knew how Anna died in the original.

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