Thank you editors: jam, mook, dodo and Jasmine
5. The Beginning of Rumors
“I don’t want to see you, so you stop and go out and look!”
The voice of the Baroness of Baden, full of anger, shook the tranquility of the country house. The frightened roar of chickens and geese roaming the backyard was faintly heard through the open window.
“I’m sorry, Grandma. I was wrong. Huh?”
Erna, who blinked and said to Mrs. Greve, while taking a few more cautious steps towards her grandmother. Baroness Baden, who sat on a chair by the window, was stubbornly ignoring Erna. Ever since she heard about the events in Schwerin, it has been like this.
“If you really think so, call Walter Hardy immediately. I will never make such a nonsensical deal .”
Baroness Baden faced Erna after a long time.
“I can’t, Grandma. The Hardy’s lawyer will meet Thomas Baden today to close the deal. First of all, my father owns it, but he promised me he would sooner or later inherit it. Then we can live in this house forever and without any worries.”
“Daughter, what does it mean to sell you and own this house?”
“Selling! Why are you saying that? no. Absolutely not, Grandma.”
“It’s good for everyone. I will protect this house, and I will be able to live with my father even now.”
“Are you serious, Erna? Do you really want it?”
Erna smiled hastily.
“Of course. Seriously.”
Looking at the old woman’s eyes full of sadness, it doesn’t seem like a very successful lie.
Father granted her request.
He said he would buy the country house inherited from Thomas Baden and hand it over to Erna. Erna was so startled that she almost lost her senses. It was her last hope, so she recklessly hung on it, but she never thought that it would come true so easily. Of course, she has to pay the price, so it can’t be a fortune that she got for free.
As a condition of granting her daughter’s request, Viscount Hardi made an unexpected offer. Let’s live in the same house now as a proper family. Even so, he said that leaving his daughter in a distant place until she became a young lady who was at marriageable age was the thing that bothered her.
‘One year. Give this father only that much time.’
When Erna hesitated, her father added hastily.
‘Let’s stay in Schwerin for about a year, go out in social circles, and take time to expand the network we need in the future. It seems to me that it is the father’s duty to provide you with at least that level of foundation.’
When she blinked, the Viscount came to help. His explanation that he would help a young girl to live like a noble family was fervent, but to Erna, they were nothing more than meaningless illusions.
Erna liked the quiet life in this place where today, like yesterday, and tomorrow, not different from today and continuing like that . If these days of life were completed as beautifully as a patchwork quilt made by her grandmother, there was nothing more to wish for.
Still, she agreed because it was the best thing to do. Erna wanted to protect this house at all costs. Even if it was a foolish insistence, it was fine. It wasn’t too bad a deal to get this house in exchange for staying with her father for about a year.
“Stop going out. g.”
Baroness Baden stopped looking at her granddaughter.
“Please, Erna. I think I need some time to be alone.”
Her eyes staring out the window were even redder.
Erna could not speak any longer and left her grandmother’s bedroom. There was a very long shadow that followed the powerless, bruised footsteps.
* * *
The conversations of the drinking party returned to horse racing.
The children of prestigious families, who are members of the social club, met each other, so whenever they talked, they were half crazy and spoke enthusiastically. When the story of the winner of the last horse race came out, a mixture of envy and jealousy focused on Biern. The stallion owned by the Grand Duke was winning the kingdom’s various horse races. In fact, the horse doesn’t even show up well on the racetrack.
“Biern, if you are not interested in horse racing, how about selling it? Even if you pay a huge price, there will be people waiting in line. First of all, I will line up for you.”
“Then I’ll give you one and a half times what that bastard is asking for.”
Everyone was excited and waited for Biern’s answer.
“I have no interest in horse racing.”
Biern put down the emptied glass of wine at once and responded calmly. Everyone’s eyes were now gleaming with anticipation they couldn’t hide.
“I’m not going to sell it though.”
“You are not interested, so why?”
“Because it’s mine.”
At Biern’s blunt reply, sighs erupted from everywhere. All sorts of conciliation and persuasion followed, but Biern, as always, just listened indifferently.
“You’re a prince who doesn’t even listen to what other people say.”
Peter shook his head and smirked.
“What’s the logic of not selling it because it’s yours even if it’s not interesting? Anyway, you are a pervert.”
While grumbling with a grimace, Peter was quite friendly and filled the empty glass.
The men’s topic, that had been heating up with horse racing for a while, moved to women’s stories as if it were a natural procedure. Biern glanced at the grandfather clock placed in the diagonal direction, and sat cross-legged with his chin on the table.
“Ah! The new maid in the Hardi family is really cool, isn’t it?”
When the names of socialite ladies who were famous for their beautiful looks were gone, someone suddenly threw in new firewood.
(P/R: it means to say a new thing.)
“Are you going Hardy? The family couldn’t afford to hire a new maid now. The maids who were there must have left the house.”
“Then, is it the maid he has been with for a long time? Anyway, she is a maid for sure. I saw her go into that house.”
“What. Have you followed her already?”
“What do you mean by following? We met by chance on Tara Avenue, and I thought I should say hello because she is so beautiful but she got scared and ran away, so I couldn’t ask her name. She looked like a country girl at first glance, but she was very timid.”
“To scare a beautiful woman. Your face is ugly. Look, if it was our prince. Even a cowardly country girl would have greeted sweetly like honey.”
Silent stories of giggles and exchanges spread along with the scent of alcohol.
Hearing the name he hears often these days, Biern stood up from his seat. The brandy in the glass he held in one hand shook with the rhythm of his steps.
“Everyone arrived quickly.”
Entering the library on the second floor of the club, Biern greeted them with a smile. The directors of the bank, who were sitting around the reception sofa, raised their eyes in unison and looked at him.
“It’s not that we’re early, it’s that you’re late.”
Biern leaned back on the top seat and pointed to the clock.
“I’m on time now. right?”
As soon as the words were finished, the clock hand pointed to exactly 4 o’clock. Biern’s smiling face was as fresh as the prodigal, unlike who had been drinking alcohol since broad daylight.
Biern, who put the empty glass down on the edge of the table, was handed the thick paperwork presented by the lawyer. It was a detailed report on foreign and municipal bonds that had newly flowed into Lechen’s financial market.
Biern began to carefully read the documents. After drinking quite a bit, it was difficult to find drunkenness anywhere in those calm eyes.
The men sitting around the study silently waited for his review to be finished. The reason they, who are famous as financiers and lawyers, gather at a fraternity in broad daylight and claim to be the limb of the prodigal son is because that prodigal son is Biern Denyister.
It was purely because of his connections and capital that they suddenly decided to join the prince who was about to set up a bank. He was a person who couldn’t work diligently anyway, so he thought that it would be enough to stand him as a scarecrow holding a money chain. How could such a Biern become the goose that lays golden eggs? It was something that no one dared to expect.
So, what does all that reputation mean?
The profit they were gaining thanks to the poisonous mushroom prince, who was certain to be born, was a fruit, sweet enough to make them forget everything else.
“Come on, let’s get started.”
Biern, who quickly reviewed the documents, raised an eyebrow and smiled. It was a smile that foreshadowed another success.
* * *
“Mister, did I do something wrong?”
Handing over the iron nail she was holding, Erna asked very seriously. Ralph Royce, who glanced at her, started hammering without answering. The dust that had been piled up on the fence flew away following the thumping noise.
Even while sneezing over and over again, Erna did not leave Ralph’s side. By the time the half-destroyed fence regained its original shape, her nose was burning red.
“It is a matter of letting the miss go, so the Madame must be very upset.”.”
Ralph Royce, who wiped his face with the towel Erna gave him, gave a belated answer.
“Even though Madame was well aware that it would not be possible to leave a young lady in this country forever as it is now… Still, this is very sudden.”
Contrary to his blunt tone of voice, there was a warmth and sadness that could not be hidden in his eyes as he looked at Erna.
Baroness Baden eventually accepted her granddaughter’s wishes. Now, tomorrow, Erna was due to leave for Schwerin, where her father’s house was. Having sent servants all the way to Buford to take his daughter, Viscount Hardi seemed to have made up his mind.
“I’m sorry, Mister.”
Erna, who was looking at him quietly, whispered.
“I’m really sorry that I made this decision on my own, and that made everyone sad.”
“But I won’t regret it because I save this house.”
Erna’s smile was so bright that even the shade of her broad straw hat could not cover it.
Ralph, who rubbed his red eyes, nodded his head in response. If he had opened his lips, he might burst out in tears. Erna stayed by his side for a long time, as if to say that she knew his feelings. The late afternoon sunlight dazzled the two of them leaning side by side against the renewed fence.
“Please take care of Grandma until I get back, Mister.”
Erna, who was openly kicking the dirt floor, cautiously offered her a request. Ralph Royce nodded once more, and his face was even more red than before.
As the coachman of the Baden family, he was doing all kinds of chores after the wagons were no longer left in the house. Even after the pressure had weakened to the point where it was difficult to pay the wages properly, the only two people left here were him and Mrs. Greve, the housekeeper.
It must have been because of the affection and loyalty they had been together for many years, but Erna was well aware that it was also because they were too old to find another job.
So she wanted to protect this house even more.
So that they, who are like family, can stay here for a long, long time in a comfortable way. For that, she could endure it for about a year. In the spring of next year, she will be able to see this beautiful and peaceful scenery again from this house.
* * *
Erna left Baden Street the next morning. It wasn’t until a few days later that rumors about the daughter of the Hardi who suddenly appeared one day circulated in social circles.
It is said that the daughter of Viscount Hardi, who had been receiving medical care in the countryside due to weakness, has returned. She was going to make a belated social debut this season, but it was rumoured that she was as beautiful as Princess Gladys. Which is something totally unexpected.
Well, looking at it, the source was a bit dubious, but it was a good rumor to pique the interest of luxury sagas.