Chapter 98 – Jewels Amidst the Earth
It had been three days since their return from the festival of Sitmer, and Emilia finally finished organizing the ledger of Lathang. With each page turned, a growing sense of astonishment appeared on Ingrid’s face. Even to someone like her, who knew nothing about accounting, it was evident that the records were meticulously arranged.
“Oh? But what’s this? Why is the expenditure for purchasing silver candlesticks marked here?… Assets?”
Ingrid raised her head in confusion.
“Oh, that’s just… an expense?”
She thought the dish-washer had made a mistake. However, Emilia didn’t show any signs of confusion. On the contrary, she smiled softly.
“It’s because I organized it using double-entry bookkeeping.”
Ingrid’s mouth widened again.
Her father always used to say the same thing.
“Learn double-entry bookkeeping, Ingrid. If you truly want to run a business, even a small restaurant, manage it using double-entry bookkeeping.”
But Ingrid hadn’t followed her father’s advice. She didn’t feel the need, and above all, it seemed too difficult to her.
“By the way, what was your name again?”
“I’m Elaine Mauve.”
“Right, Elaine, come here for a moment.”
Ingrid took Emilia’s hand and pulled her to sit opposite her.
“Can you tell me about double-entry bookkeeping? Why is the silver candlestick I purchased considered an ‘asset’ rather than an expense?”
“As a single-entry record, it would simply be an expense. But, as you mentioned before, Miss Ingrid, that silver candlestick is not just an ordinary expense. It is a fixed asset that will continue to generate income for this restaurant.”
“A fixed… asset?”
“Yes, thanks to the expensive silver candlesticks, we’ll attract guests who want to experience a luxurious atmosphere. So, it’s an investment.”
Ah, while nodding her head, Ingrid felt even more puzzled.
“But why make such a display? Whether it’s fixed assets or anything else, the fact remains that I spent the money. What’s important about that?”
“Double-entry bookkeeping isn’t just about different notation, it’s about changing the way we think about our accounts.”
“Yes, I read about it in a book… Double-entry bookkeeping is a method designed to transparently disclose the causes and results of expenses to investors like Ms. Ingrid’s father.”
Ingrid, with an understanding yet questioning gaze, absorbed Emilia’s explanation.
“From the perspective of someone who invested money, like Ms. Ingrid’s father, it’s only natural to be curious. Why the silver candlestick is necessary, how it will benefit the restaurant’s earnings, things like that. We can’t answer those questions every time we make a purchase, so we use the accounts to provide confirmation.”
A remarkable realization gradually dawned in Ingrid’s mind.
Regardless of the child’s true identity, there was one conclusion.
She thought she had picked up a mere stone, but in reality, could it have been a gem covered in dirt?
She firmly grasped Emilia’s hand.
“Take this for now. It’s the promised allowance.”
Banknotes, thicker compared to when she received them as a dish polisher, found their way into Emilia’s hand.
“Stop polishing dishes and for the time being, stay by my side and watch the accounts.”
This time, it was Emilia’s turn to be surprised.
“And please, explain double-entry bookkeeping to me easily. I’ve said it before, but I’ll give you a lot more money than polishing dishes earns!”
As Emilia left the restaurant, a chilly breeze whispered along the alley. People hurriedly adjusted their collars, but Emilia didn’t feel the cold at all. Her heart was pounding as if she had just finished a sprint.
She had truly become a bookkeeper. Although she wasn’t officially hired, she might as well have been appointed as the bookkeeper.
“I want to show this ledger to our father. If he approves of it, I want to formally hire you.”
To think she would have her skills acknowledged by a true entrepreneur!
She was excited but also anxious.
Emilia hadn’t received formal education or built a proper career. In the eyes of someone like Mr. Ingrid, a strict businessman, she might appear far from qualified.
Just imagining the stern old man scrutinizing the ledger with piercing eyes made her mouth dry with anticipation.
But still… she felt proud!
With a satisfied smile, Emilia headed toward the rotary where the carriage was waiting. Beppy opened the door as if he had been waiting for her.
“Sir, there’s a place we should stop by before going home.”
She took out a small note from her pocket. It was a map she had obtained by asking the kitchen chef, Mr. Helock, in the morning.
“It’s called Ciadra Academy, the place Mitch attends. I would like to see if it’s suitable for him. I’ll guide you there.”
Beppy nodded readily.
The school was about a 20-minute carriage ride from Lathan. As they entered the school gate, golden-yellow birch trees stood with open arms, welcoming them.
Emilia walked along the driveway, taking in her surroundings. The school was small and quaint, but it had a spacious lawn, a playground, and even a library.
As they entered the largest building that seemed to be the main residence, a man who appeared to be the caretaker approached them.
Fortunately for Emilia, he did not treat unexpected visitors with disdain. Emilia was promptly guided to the office where the admissions director was located.
It felt completely different from the school she had visited right after submitting her withdrawal letter to Liberty Boarding School. The admissions director didn’t scrutinize her shabby clothes or hesitate, nor did he bring up money matters.
“While our school, Ciadra, may not be a noble school, we offer a curriculum that rivals it. Reinsburgh is known as a haven for affluent commoners, or gentry. You will be much more satisfied here than in the schools of Arndorf where you currently reside.”
He asked if they could visit again with Mitch. It meant that they would make preparations for her to audit the classes.
“I would like to inform you that over 90 percent of auditors have gone on to become students.”
Emilia saw no reason to refuse such an offer.
As she conversed with the admissions director, she felt her heart flutter again.
Surveying the vast campus, she realized once again how much like a frog in a well she had been living lately.
The world was vast, and the times were changing.
Over the past five years, the Forest of Alders had become a comfortable and secure haven, but it was by no means a place to live for a lifetime.
Why did she insist on living there for so long…?
The dilemma that had been clouding her mind in the past few days resurfaced. Instead of getting in the carriage right away, Emilia walked along the streets around the school with Beppy.
As Helok had mentioned, small shops and houses were facing each other on a single road, centered around the school.
It might not be as glamorous as the thoroughfares where nobles resided, but it was undoubtedly a comfortable and clean place to live.
Should she ask Ingrid for help? She could ask her to find a suitable house for her family. After all, her father, Mr. Ingrid, had been doing business in this area for a long time, so he would surely be able to help them find a suitable place.
As Emilia looked around the surroundings, she noticed the man yawning with a tired gaze. Involuntarily, she felt a yawn coming up as well.
“Shall we go home now?”
Just as Emilia turned her body toward the carriage.
Right beside her, one item from a shop strongly caught Emilia’s gaze. It was a bronze sculpture, the size of two palms placed side by side.
A Pegasus, with wings outstretched as if ready to fly into the sky.
Oddly enough, seeing the beautiful sculpture brought Hadius to her mind. At the same time, the astonishing fact that his birthday was approaching flashed through her head.
She had only learned of her betrothed’s birthday at the second formal dinner party. That day happened to be his birthday.
Since no one had informed her in advance, she had to stand far away, empty-handed, during the gift presentations.
As she looked at the young man, politely smiling in front of the accumulating gift boxes, Emilia unfolded various wings of imagination.
If she had known in advance, what kind of gift would she have prepared?
She had been learning embroidery at the Cavendish Estate at that time. She had access to silk fabric and fine threads provided by the king’s patronage.
Perhaps she would have meticulously embroidered his initials on the soft fabric, stitch by stitch, as a heartfelt gift.
Emilia’s consciousness slipped away from the past and returned to the antique shop, focusing on the sculpture.
“Sir, could you please wait for a moment?”
A strong impulse kept pulling Emilia’s legs toward the shop. And a few minutes later, when she emerged again, she held in her hands a luxurious wooden box containing the sculpture.
In pursuit of this, she had just spent half of the wages she had received. It was the first time in her life that she had spent so much money without any plans. Yet, far from regretting it, her heart pounded strangely.
At that moment, an urgent messenger arrived at the Basilion House. Worry was etched on Tobias’ face as he faced the courier.
“Is something wrong? Is Lady Reinen alright?”
“Yes, she went to the newly opened amusement park three days ago and caught a severe cold. So, she feels that she must postpone today’s appointment and has requested to meet Master Meyer at a later time.”
Wrinkles appeared on Tobias’ forehead.
“Then, perhaps a get-well visit…”
“No, it’s alright.”
The messenger’s tone was quite firm.
“Miss Reinen doesn’t want to receive any visitors and just wants to rest. She asked that no one burden her with concerns for her well-being.”
“…I understand. For now, I will relay that to the Lord.”
Tobias immediately headed to his master’s room.
Having just finished preparing for his outing, Hadius was tying his necktie while conversing with the butler.
“Milord, a person has just arrived from Tobaro…”
Tobias relayed the letter to his master, recounting the conversation he had with the messenger.
“What should we do?”
The motion of Hadius’ hand led him to complete the tie knot by inertia.
“Shall we go for a get-well visit?”
Ignoring the butler’s question, Hadius put his hand in his pocket and walked toward the window. Observing this, the butler sensed a strange unease welling up from deep within his heart.
“Shouldn’t you go see her?”
The master’s silence exacerbated the butler’s anxiety.
“Oh, by the way, my Lord,”
The butler quickly pulled out a notebook, hoping that his master would not be swayed by impulse.
“A message has arrived from the Forgeron Guild.”
The broad shoulders of the recipient showed no sign of agitation, yet one could feel the tension in the air as the current flowed.
“Young Lord Melvin plans to depart for the New Continent as scheduled next week.”
There was no need to be hasty anymore. It was time to focus on Tobaro rather than the Oak Forest for the time being.
Just as the butler was about to add those words, Hadius’ mouth opened slowly.
“Convey to the Guild. They can stop the job. Make sure they are generously compensated to ensure their silence.”
The butler felt a sense of relief for now.
The war would soon begin. There was no use in attaching spies unnecessarily. Especially in the case of the Forgeron Guild, which operated solely for money, not loyalty or honor. It was safer to gradually reduce their numbers, as one could never know when they would betray. Furthermore, unnecessary suspicion should be avoided for the time being.
“Milord, what shall we do?”
As if reading the butler’s thoughts, Tobias asked once again.
“Shall we go for a get-well visit?”
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