Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 7
"I know, Father." While Arbeit would get into arguments with Claude and scold his siblings, he would never go against his father's wishes. In that sense, he was still rather clear-minded. He knew that his father was integral to his future and finances, even though he was already an adult and had a job many others envied.
He knew that his father, the chief secretary of Whitestag Town, was the one he could rely on and the one who had given him everything.
But even though he agreed to his father, his actions reflected the complete opposite. As he glared harshly at Claude, he tore away at his salted butter bread before stuffing it angrily into his mouth, as if he was gnawing away at Claude's flesh.
Morssen sighed in his mind. Looks like the relationship between these brothers is beyond saving. Thankfully, I set them up for two completely different paths. I hope that they'll come to a compromise in the future instead of ending up as sworn enemies.
He put down his cup and considered something before asking his son, "Arbeit, why didn't Sir Fux bring you to the prefecture capital with him?"
Arbeit returned the gaze and shrugged. "How would I know? The baronet told me that I have already been working for 12 straight days and deserve three days off for rest. I believe he went to the capital for personal matters and it wouldn't be appropriate for an outsider like me to come along. Well, I'm sure you know what kind of personal matter I'm talking about."
Though Arbeit thought that his response was perfect, his aloof tone only served to annoy Morssen. "Arbeit, I hope I don't hear you using that tone of yours outside. Any sort of gossip or rumor about Sir Fux will spread like wildfire in Whitestag Town. I hope that you don't get ground to dust after being embroiled into the storm."
However, Arbeit didn't seem to take his father's warning seriously. "I know, I'm only talking about it at home. If someone else asks, I'll tell them that Sir Fux had rushed to the capital for an urgent matter instead of meeting with his lover."
Morssen shook his head. "Arbeit, I'm really disappointed in you. Even though you've already served at Sir Fux's side for two years now, you still haven't obtained his trust and become his confidant. Otherwise, he wouldn't have hidden his meeting his lover from you. Instead, he would've asked you to arrange for the meeting, not send you off on a break."
"But I know that he went to meet his lover nevertheless! He didn't hide that from me at all! All the official documents and letters go through me, and I have to reply on his behalf for some of them! And, didn't he praise me before your colleagues that time?" interjected Arbeit with dissatisfaction.
"Sigh, this is precisely the part of you I worry about," Morssen said exasperatedly, "How do you know that Sir Fux really went to the capital to meet his paramour? Perhaps he intentionally misled you to think so. Meeting a lover is the perfect excuse that'll throw people off from anything secretive he wants to do. Even though you know that he's going to meet his lover, you don't know who she is or where she lives at all.
"Arbeit, you should understand that as a member of the house, the baronet holds lots of political transactions and connections. Those connections won't always be transparent and up front. I hoped that you would be able to become the baronet's confidant so that you can be involved in this aspect. If the baronet really trusted you, you'll benefit a lot from his resources and connections.
"And yet, here you are, gleeful about the fact that all the official documents of the baronet goes through you. Yet, you don't even know that all that is worthless. The under-table deals have already long been concluded. Paperwork is nothing but a formality. As for his letters, they're all sent in the official capacity and they aren't really something he holds with high regard.
"The real communication is always done in code. I'm sure that you can't read the personal letters he receives and can only pass them along. Am I right?"
"B-but... the baronet has praised me in front of you a lot, right?" Though Arbeit paled slightly, he didn't yield at all.
"That's just some lip-service. It doesn't cost him anything to do so. If you really want to hear praises, I can hire someone to sing your praises in front of you all day. But so what? Do you think that those words will instantly make you someone worth reckoning with?" Morssen didn't hold back and struck the heart of the matter. His eldest son is far too young and still hasn't matured personality-wise. He was easily misled by outward appearances and wasn't able to read between the lines like Morssen could.
At that moment, footsteps could be heard coming down from the stairwell. Madam Ferd came down with their beloved son Bloweyk, making Morssen conclude his lecture for his son. He stood up and beamed as he stretched his hands out. "Oh, my little baby's finally willing to come downstairs. Come, give daddy a hug."
The chubby Bloweyk didn't give the head of the house any face. He looked away from his father and turned to Claude while still in his mother's embrace. "Brother... Hug..."
Claude put down the bread and sausage in his hand. He was someone that had to have meat with his breakfast, so was the former owner of the body. It was no wonder he was tougher than Arbeit, despite being the shorter one.
Fortunately, his mother usually prepared sliced sausages for him so that he could sandwich them between read. Claude actually rather missed the delicious breakfast he could get in his previous life Bread, pancakes, Chinese doughnuts (youtiao), soya beancurd, fermented beancurd, pickles, peanuts and so on. The mere thought of that made his mouth water.
After taking Bloweyk into his arms, Claude pinched his chubby baby brother's face. "Aren't you acting up today, puffball. How could you let mom carry you downstairs now that you're this old already?"
The chubby child pouted. "It was mom who insisted on carrying me down. I told her that I wanted to go down the stairs by myself, but mom said that I was still small and might accidentally trip!"
Claude made a pained smile. He was speechless about how his parents spoiled his younger brother so badly. Even though the chubby kid was already six, they still don't let him climb the stairs by himself. Then again, it was quite a feat for them to still be able to lift him up at all.
"Mom, let Bloweyk go downstairs himself next time. We started doing so when we were three or four years old. Also, he's growing quickly and getting heavier by the day."
However, his good intentions were ignored by his parents.
"Don't worry, I can still carry him," said his mother. Morssen nodded in agreement too.
Claude resigned himself and toyed around with his brother, who was currently sitting in his lap. "Puffball, what do you want to eat? Big Brother here will get it for you."
"I want bread! Remember to add honey!" said the kid while pointing at the honey pot.
"Okay, okay. Daddy will spread the honey for you," said Morssen as he hurriedly put some honey on some bread.
Usually, the Ferds had fried eggs and bread for breakfast accompanied by tea and milk. Other times, they would have some wheat porridge or baked apples. Eggs and bread were usually eaten with some salt as seasoning, and they could also have bread with sliced meat like Claude did.
The honey on the table was only used as an additive for tea or milk. Most of the sweet products in that world was made using honey. Green candy was also said to be made from a kind of sweetplant root in the north, but Claude had never seen any himself. Sometimes, the baked apples were eaten with honey as apples in that world weren't that sweet. Claude, however, had never heard of or seen anything resembling normal sugar in their world.
If Arbeit, Claude and Angelina also ate their bread with honey, they would end up being reprimanded by their father. He would definitely snap at how his children didn't know how to save and appreciate the nice life they led and sigh at their wasteful behavior.
However, there wasn't any issue for Bloweyk to have his bread with honey. Rather, it could be said that the honey pot was prepared precisely for that little puffball.
"That's right, Father, Instructor Mark said that we'll be learning horsemanship starting next week. Each student will have to pay three riyas for the tuition and if we want to rent a personal horse to get personal guidance, we'll need to pay a a silver thale," said Claude as he put down his cup after finishing his milk.
"I object." Whenever it came to money, Arbeit felt that he was the head of the household and played the role of the stingy pauper. Perhaps he saw all the money the household had as his inheritance, so every coin spent on his siblings was having a piece of his flesh torn off.
"Don't you already know how to ride a horse? Back then, you and your fellows even rode Old Benz's black horse, Bauker away! He had to chase you halfway down town! Did you forget? Since you already know how to ride, paying for your tuition is a waste of money!"
Benz was the deliveryman of Whitestag Town's postal service. Bauker, the black horse, was provided by the postal office and it carried a large green sack filled with letters to be delivered.
Arbeit did have a reason this time around to prevent the loss of his household's wealth.
Ever since the currency reform Stellin IX instituted, a set of new coins were introduced and usage of other currencies that greatly complicated the market was forbidden nationwide. The currency problem faced by the kingdom stabilized as a result and great economic development was encouraged.
Currently, the lowest denomination of the kingdom's currency was the penny, which was made out of iron. Ten pennies made a fenny, a bronze coin, and ten of those was worth as much as a sunar, a coin made out of mostly copper. Ten sunars could be traded for one riyas, a small silvery coin with 30 percent pure silver and the rest being made out of some kind of lead and zinc alloy. Ten riyases on the other hand was equivalent to a thale, a large silver coin with over 75 percent silver.
Claude had made some comparisons with the currency of his previous world before. A penny was more or less a cent, a fenny was ten cents, and a sunar was more or less one buck. One riyas would then be ten bucks and a thale would be equivalent to a hundred bucks.
Above the silver thales was another denomination of small gold coins called krons. Each kron contained 45 percent gold and was worth as much as five thales, making it approximately equivalent to 500 bucks. And above the krons were a larger gold coin called the sufia with 90 percent gold content. Five krons could be traded for one sufia. It was said that the highest currency denomination in the kingdom was the Stellin's Shield, which was a violet-gold coin in the shape of a shield with the great Stellin IX's face engraved on it. Ten sufias could be traded for only one Stellin's Shield.
The cost for horsemanship in the national middle-school was three riyases, about 30 bucks, and that was the normal price and it didn't cost a lot. It was used to pay for the food of the horses and new equipment for the horses and the overtime pay for the equestrians. Even the gentlest of horses wouldn't be able to withstand the abuse of the young teenagers that still didn't know how to ride properly, so the school wouldn't be able to afford the extra horsemanship lessons if they didn't collect fees. It couldn't be helped since the annual education budget was already fixed.
The cost to rent a horse for personal lesson, on the other hand, was one thale, more or less a hundred bucks. That included personal training all the way from the basics and it was a rather worthwhile deal for a complete learning package.