Erich appeared in the hallway before Johann could pass through.
People bowed their heads. Johann naturally blended in between them.
Entering the room with a comfortable attitude, oblivious to the courtesy and tension of others, Erich glanced at him.
But he didn’t speak. Johann couldn’t figure out if he knew him but ignored him, or if Erich really wasn’t aware.
Johann was going in and out secretly, but it didn’t make sense that the owner of the house, the Duke, didn’t know at all.
However, he didn’t pay attention to the son of Count Krozik’s, so he thought Erich might not know.
Or, perhaps, there might be negotiations with the empress to some extent.
Somehow, with his pride hurt, Johann clenched his teeth.
Erich ignored him and went over to the bed. Johann casually slipped out of the bedroom.
One of Louisa’s maids quietly handed him a note from her. And Louisa’s coachman, whom he met on the way out, did it again.
Johann opened the two notes.
『 Noi Diamond. 』
『 In three days, 8pm, head office of the Weaving Guild. 』
They were messages from Baron Delford.
Noi Diamond was the name of a mine that was being sold by the Krozik County.
Sending this in two notes has three meanings.
She had already caught onto Krozik’s internal circumstances, and she had already bought out many people around Louisa…
And it means that she also intended to buy him.
* * *
Erich approached Louisa’s bedside as she was still sobbing. The butler quickly brought a chair.
He sat down and spoke with a soft tone.
“I heard something upsetting from Claire.”
“Hiccup. I didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t know what she’s doing behind the scenes?”
Louisa stuck her head out of the covers. Then, she looked at Erich with teary eyes and said,
“Did you know she was seeing another man?”
“Really. I saw it with my own eyes!”
“Claire is a businesswoman. She meets people on a lot of occasions.”
Louisa was generally always careful with Erich. But she couldn’t hide her sadness now.
“Are you really going to give the diamond mine to her? Does that make any sense? A woman in the mining industry!”
“Claire is the owner of the Weaving Guild.”
“That’s a matter with weaving.”
Textiles were acceptable. Handling cloth, from weaving to sewing and embroidery, has traditionally been a woman’s job.
Regardless of the actual amount of money or the failure of her family, the Belf Marquisate, Louisa could consider it a noble lady’s side job.
Of course, apart from the fact that a noble lady who has to earn her own living expenses is a very shabby existence.
But to mine? Governing the land was the work of the lord, and mining was considered a particularly masculine field.
Besides, it was the direct handling of gems. A Baron’s daughter or something like that would handle such a precious thing? If it was the best of the mines, they could buy the whole barony in that corner of the country, right?
However, Erich spoke to Louisa with a calm face that seemed even cold.
“Diamond mining yields are declining because there is so much mining. If she takes care of it, I will be grateful.”
“Do you really believe she can do that? Does she know how to see jewels? She’s a girl who doesn’t know a single person in high society.”
“Claire’s business doesn’t mean she introduces people to buy trinkets, like Mother sometimes does.”
“If she can’t even do that, what is she going to do?”
There’s no way a woman can make such a business successful. In Louisa’s opinion, that is.
“Fine, give the mine as a gift. That’s alright. But as for the caretaker, you’ll have to hire the right person yourself and deal with it. Just like that woman conspired with another man to steal Klausener’s property…”
“Stop jumping to conclusions, Mother. Is all that you see is someone at their best?”
Erich cut her off. And he let out a sigh, this time revealing his mind. Louisa flinched.
“It’s my decision, she is the woman I’ve chosen. Do not get involved any further.”
“How can you say such a thing! I am your mother!”
“I am honoring my former mother. It will be like that in the future. So please keep your dignity as well.”
Erich said in a low voice. She had an attitude that did not allow for refutations.
Louisa’s tears fell drop by drop.
“I’m not saying you’re wrong. Hiic, I’m worried, that’s why… hiicc.”
Erich looked at her quietly. He thought he’d wait for her crying to stop, but she couldn’t seem to stop. He didn’t think she would calm down and listen just because he waited.
“Give me the cornflower key.”
Louisa asked blankly, then covered her mouth with her hand.
What Erich asked was the key to the inner safe. It was called that because the part of the head was decorated with cornflowers.
It was practically the key for taking out the valuables in the inner chambers, and at the same time it meant the authority to manage the budget allocated to the Duchy’s madam.
Normally, it would be handed down from the mother-in-law to the daughter-in-law, but judging from Louisa’s condition, it seemed unlikely that it would be passed on properly.
“You can use this bedroom as it is now. Claire wouldn’t object too much. If you don’t feel comfortable living in the same house, I’ll build a new mansion for you, Mother. We will also set a separate budget.”
“But you have to accept that the lady of the house will change.”
Louisa didn’t answer, then she collapsed back and pulled the covers over her.
“Franz, aahh, Franz… How could you leave me alone in this life. Hiic.”
Erich left Louisa crying and stood up. Louisa’s direct housekeeper brought a box containing the cornflower key.
Erich was an absolute presence to the people of the Duchy Klausener. There was no meaningful fight between the Elder Madam and the Duke.
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