Chapter 16: Lord Proxy Liddellina 2
“Then, this is also a place where silver and lapis lazuli are produced, right? If that’s the case, I’d like to see the mining site before it’s sealed by snow.”
“Okusama, do you plan to see the mining and so on?”
Howard opened his eyes wide.
“If we keep going like this, we’ll just wholesale the rough stones to the capital.”
“Yes, it is still a considerable income for the territory, but what of it?”
“Fortunately, the territory is also abundant in silver, and I’m thinking of recruiting craftsmen.”
“Here on this land? Unfortunately, there is no personnel.”
But Liddellina had an idea.
“I’ll bring them from the capital. If I guarantee their clothing, food, housing, and equipment, they might come. According to her husband’s memo, it seems that high-quality lapis lazuli can be obtained, and her husband also thought about it.”
“Yes, I have heard, but each time it has been interrupted by an expedition. However, I am now busy with other work as well.”
Certainly, the lord’s work involves a lot of paperwork, and only Liddellina has the power of final decision. That’s why there are documents that Liddellina must review and confirm.
Above all, Howard is concerned about Liddellina’s health.
Recently, Dorothy also protested, “Please don’t work Okusama too hard!” She feels sorry about that matter. It is not that Howard is at fault.
“If the war drags on, won’t our assets become scarce? In that case, why don’t we try selling silver and lapis lazuli crafts made here with advance investments as a first step? This is the place of origin, so there will be no transportation costs, and we can offer them at a lower price than the capital.”
“If it can be realized, it would be wonderful. If we succeed and the scale becomes larger, it may eventually become the territory’s special product.”
She nodded and said.
“I want to somehow increase profits. There is also a contract with her husband …”
“A contract? What are you talking about?”
Howard asks curiously. Liddellina thinks of this marriage as an employment contract. If she can work for the territory, there is nothing happier.
“No, it’s nothing. Just, you know, there are things that can’t be done without being lord’s proxy.”
“Certainly, when creating a workshop or building a hot spring inn, we cannot do so without Okusama’s permission.”
“In that case, it’s settled. Thank you very much.”
“Thank you very much too, Okusama.”
Howard, who was initially bewildered, seems to have become enthusiastic. After all, he loves this territory.
“Then, let’s start with craftsmen. Let’s advertise for them in the capital. For example, the conditions are a three-year contract with an initial subsidy, and guaranteed clothing, food, and housing. If it goes well, how about raising someone locally and expanding the workshop as it becomes profitable? If the profits become large, we will pay them in excess. That way, it would be good for the craftsmen as well.”
“If we only hire one or two people at first, it will be much cheaper than maintaining a hot spring.”
“Yes, if no one comes after recruiting for a while, let’s give up this year. In any case, let’s try recruiting craftsmen before it’s sealed by snow and ice.”
After that, the two of them faced each other and spent their free time at work detailing their plans.
The lapis lazuli mining site wasn’t too far from the castle, so Liddellina managed to somehow complete the inspection in the cold. Then she bought a private house between the territory’s capital and the castle and set it up.
The pond is frozen, and snow falls from the dull sky. Full-fledged winter is about to begin. When Liddellina was about to give up this year, a young female craftsman named Fie came from the capital for an interview. She seems to be about the same age as Liddellina. She is wearing a rough mantle and shaking with the cold.
She came from the capital, she must not be accustomed to the climate here. Liddellina regrets not sending a carriage to pick her up.
For her sake, Liddellina prepared tea.
As she watches the young woman drink the tea and cautiously eat the baked sweets, she speaks to her again.
“Excuse me, could we start with a three-year contract, and then renew it at the mutual agreement of both parties?”
The woman’s voice was high with tension.
“Could you show me some of your work?”
Wrapped in a rough cloth, the timidly presented object was a beautifully delicate pair of earrings.
“Well, I advertised for this, but why did you come all the way to the north to make these?”
Although the grade of lapis lazuli used is low, the craftsmanship is excellent, and it should sell for a certain price. The design is also good.
To be honest, she didn’t think anyone of this level would come. On the one hand, she’s happy, but on the other hand, she feels uneasy because it will probably be easier to do business in the capital.
“Why did you think of working here?”
Liddellina asks a straightforward question.
“Well, her boss said that craftsmen are not women’s work.”
“All her work is sold as her boss’s or his other apprentice. So her wages have always been that of an apprentice and haven’t gone up… I’m struggling to get by. But I came here because I was told that I would be guaranteed food and a place to live. Will you not hire me because I’m a woman?”
The woman pleads in a trembling voice, as if this is her last hope.
“What do you mean?!”
Liddellina stands up in surprise, and Fie cowers as if afraid.
“I’m sorry. she just got angry.”
It turns out that she is an orphanage graduate. she has no backing, so she has been used like a slave.
“It’s okay. Here, you have guarantees and if you make a profit, you will be paid a bonus. Don’t worry. We can’t pay you very much at first. I’ll explain the terms later, so take it easy for now.”
Liddellina decided to hire her on the spot. Dorothy and Howard were also present at the interview. Liddellina doesn’t plan to go through everything alone.
They also strongly nodded to Liddellina’s judgement. It seems that they were angry at how she was treated in the capital city.
After that, Fie, who had finished the evening meal and heard the employment conditions from Howard, shouted,
“Oh! Is it okay to receive this much money? It feels like a dream.”
Hearing that, Liddellina remembered her past circumstances and felt a pain in her chest.
Liddellina was also a girl, so when her parents died, her uncle came and took over the household without any hesitation in the confusion. Because of that, she lost her inheritance rights.
Thinking about it now, there might have been a will or something from her parents. Could there have been a future where she could have taken a son-in-law and lived peacefully and comfortably in the barony…
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