Sick Husband's Contract Wife - Chapter 48
Managing the ducal mansion’s revenue and spending.
As much as its size, the mansion cost a fortune to build – it was beyond comprehension. Greta had been in charge of managing the money that came into the ducal mansion and allocating it wisely each month, but now that duty has fallen to me.
“Is this all of the ledgers?”
I glanced at Greta as I went through the ledgers she had brought.
“…There should be a ledger with detailed items.”
“That one would be tough for you. There are difficult numbers written…”
With my chin on my hand, I fixed my gaze on Greta.
“I want to see absolutely everything.”
Greta was obviously dejected from watching Amoide side with me in front of Camilla. Although it was temporary, she couldn’t hold her head quite as high around the mansion after being demoted from head maid. Despite this, the maids were still suspicious and wary of her.
But that was enough for the time being.
“Go ahead and bring them all, without exception.”
Greta hesitantly spoke up and exited the room.
I started perusing the ledgers of expenditure Greta had handed over.
“Hmm… this will be difficult.”
“Is it very difficult?”
Rona inquired as she set a teacup in front of me.
“The habits of the person who usually keeps the ledger has a large influence on it. Whether it’s notation, short-hand symbols known only to them, or numbers.”
I tapped the figures printed in the ledger with my fingertip.
“But there’s no way Greta would be so kind as to make it easier for me, right?”
If I were in her shoes, I wouldn’t tell me either honestly. She will do all she can in the hopes that I would make a mistake, so that she could reclaim her position as quickly as possible.
“…There should be someone else who is well-versed in the ducal administration.”
Rona excitedly interrupted what I was saying.
“Yes, he served the previous duke and has been working in this mansion for the longest, so he probably knows it quite well.”
“Alright, that’s what I’ll do.”
Why hadn’t I thought of that?
“Call Colton for me.”
“Yes, right away.”
Colton came to me not long after. The old butler with white hair entered the room and welcomed me pleasantly.
“Did you call for me, Madam?”
“Colton, I apologize for bothering you. I require your assistance.”
“I figured you’d know a lot about this.”
“I did, in fact, manage the late Duke’s household. I will help in any way I can.”
At that moment, Colton was like a silver-bearded sage whom I came upon after being lost in a maze.
“Colton, what is the most expensive item in the household budget?”
“It’s usually consumables. Candles, soap, and such items. They use the same supplier for all the goods.”
The reports detailed how much money was spent on candles and soap, as well as where it was purchased.
“It doesn’t give the quantities of the goods…”
That information should be in Greta’s account book, which she did not hand over.
“Hm, the place of purchase seems to have changed.”
Colton squinted and adjusted his spectacles.
Changing merchants shouldn’t be a frequent occurrence.
Colton began to recall.
“They don’t usually change where they buy such large quantities of items as transactions are conducted on the basis of trust. It is also more convenient for the household bookkeeping… Nonetheless, it appears the supplier was changed some time ago.”
“Why do you think it was changed?”
I asked out of curiosity. Perhaps they didn’t like the soap sold there or some such.
“Hmm, I’m not sure…”
Colton’s voice drifted off suggestively, as if to say, ‘I know, but I don’t want to say it.’
“Colton? Please let me know if you have any concerns.”
“Of course not, Madam.”
Colton smiled warmly at me.
“I understand that you would rather be cautious, which is why you’re being tight lipped, but you are a loyal butler to the Duke, yes?”
I pressed him once again.
My head was screaming, ‘What is it? Tell me, tell me.’ but fortunately I was able to mask the nagging sound to my voice.
“Usually, in such cases, it is a sign of embezzlement.”
The quill I was holding fell to the floor.
Colton talked in a calm and collected tone, but I couldn’t respond in turn.
“I brought the ledger you asked for.”
Colton had just finished speaking as the door creaked open and Greta walked in. She flinched at the sight of Colton standing next to me, then again at the ledger spread out on the table.
“Here it is.”
I wasn’t sure if it was only me, but the sound of the ledger being placed on the table seemed abnormally loud.
I gave Greta a kind grin before opening the first ledger.
* * *
I careened over the stack of books piled up on the desk.
“It’s almost over.”
I was entirely surrounded by ledgers and papers, which I had finally arranged from the mess I’d been given. Almost half the day had vanished from interpreting and recording the strange symbols and jumbled numbers that Greta had scrawled haphazardly.
I picked up one of the books while stretching.
“Are you looking at that again?”
There were some cookbooks intertwined between the ledgers.
“Are you looking at the pictures? There are plenty of other, very intriguing novels…”
Rona approached and took one of the cookbooks from the desk. She looked at me with surprise after flicking through a few pages.
“… But you’re reading this? Such a difficult book? As expected, My Lady…”
I cut Rona off before she could continue to lavish undeserved praise on me.
In the first place, the cookbook was not something I could read. It was written in languages from all over the continent and could only be read by someone fluent in all of them.
“I got them from Jean. I can’t read them since they’re written in different languages from different nations. Oh, I’m even holding it backwards.”
I flipped the book I’d been reading upside down, to its proper orientation.
“I’m looking at the pictures.”
“Is that any fun?”
“I’m not looking at them for their entertainment value.”
Although the numerous images of food were pretty appealing, they were little more than ink on paper. There are other things to appreciate in life; idly looking at photos of food was something I never did, even in my previous life. I’d much rather have something I can actually eat.
“I’m thinking about learning to cook.”
I buried my face in the mound of books.
“Learn to cook…?”
“Yes. I was hoping to find a useful recipe among the cookbooks Jean reads.”
“What made you suddenly want to do that?”
“I want to prepare nutritious food. He’s got a cold.”
I’ve been worried ever since the last time I saw Amoide in pain. I know Raymond said there was no need to be concerned, but it didn’t appear so to me.
What others take for granted may be a more challenging condition for Amoide. He can’t move freely since he won’t know when he might have a seizure. His body is also more prone to disease, so he gets sick more frequently than others.
“Also, I want to give Amoide food that I made personally.”
“Oh, the master will be overjoyed if he eats food made by you!”
Rona’s eyes transformed back into hearts as she unleashed her limitless imagination.
“But, do you know what he likes?”
I have no idea, right? Oh my goodness. The most significant aspect.
“Hmm, looking through the cookbooks, something will come up.”
I slid my finger along the list of book titles in the pile.
“But I can’t read them at all.”
Even though I could grasp a rough idea of the ingredients by looking at the photographs, the precise quantities and cooking instructions were all provided in text.
“Jean said he lent them to me because they’d be very useful. He added that he does not lend them to just anyone.”
The titles on the spines of the books were filled with characters I couldn’t comprehend; some resembled alphabets, while others resembled hieroglyphs, all haphazardly mixed together.
Rona was also trying hard to read the characters next to me.
“But we can’t even understand the titles.”
I opened the book I was holding to a random page. From the picture, I could see it was filled with various meats, fish, vegetables, and fruits; comments written by Jean himself were scribbled in the midst of the pages. He most likely jotted down his own suggestions. However, I was unable to grasp anything at all.
“I’m not sure if this is a duck or a chicken. Is it a turkey?”
After the feathers were removed, they all looked the same. There was only a small difference.
“Do you know what it says, Rona?”
“No. How would I know if you didn’t tell me, My Lady?”
Rona tipped her head from side to side as she studied the picture.
“Perhaps you could ask the head chef? Surely he has the material memorized.”
“Doesn’t Jean have a lot on his plate? I don’t want to annoy him while he’s already so busy.”
Jean has recently been working late into the night, trying to come up with his own new formula for Amoide’s health.
“In that case…”
Rona clapped her hands together as if she’d had an idea.
“In that case?”
I raised my head, which had been buried behind the stack of books.
“How about asking him?”
As I tilted my head, Rona grinned wickedly.
“You know, him.”
* * *