Translator: Atlas Studios Editor: Atlas Studios
9 a.m., Hillston Borough, inside a high-class hotel.
Klein picked up a bottle of exquisitely packaged white wine as he handed it over to the elder opposite him.
“Mr. Asnia, thank you for coming. This is a gift of mine. Please accept it.
“At the latest, I’ll make my decision by tomorrow. When the time comes, I might come and visit you in person.”
He was using such a euphemistic manner to inform the man that he had failed to be selected.
To be frank, he was actually rather pleased with Mr. Asnia. He perfectly met his image of a butler—stern, well-mannered, professional, a high level of mental understanding, and is good at handling all kinds of thorny issues.
As the oldest candidate who lived the furthest away, he had arrived half an hour ahead of time. He had been patiently waiting outside while Rebach and Walter were only fifteen minutes early.
If not for Arrodes mentioning that the latter two allowed for additional developments, Klein felt that he would’ve chosen this old gentleman. After all, his main goal was to use the butler’s social connections to more easily enter high society so as to make contact with the corresponding targets.
The white wine was specially bought from the Intis Srenzo Restaurant, costing him two pounds since he knew someone was destined to be disappointed while wasting money to travel to and fro by carriage.
This could effectively accentuate how generous Dwayne Dantès was and how gentlemanly he was as a mysterious tycoon.
In addition, he didn’t think it was right to belittle a butler from a noble family. Such people definitely knew plenty of people in high society, many professional butlers, and countless servants due to their past professional experiences. They covered the entire spectrum of people, and they could affect a gentleman’s image, and this was a necessary consideration for entering even higher social circles.
At present, the fifty-five-year-old Asnia had plenty of white hair. His blue eyes were ingrained with the wisdom that time had given him, so he didn’t reject Dwayne Dantès’s gift. He received it and glanced at it before bowing.
“I love white wine from Garrod. Thank you for your kindness. Your grace is admirable.”
Garrod? Yes, the waiter yesterday mentioned that it’s a brewery in Intis’s Champagne province. It’s well known for producing high-end grape wine. Some of the wine of certain vintage years are considered top-notch. Sigh, a butler knows more about wine than me. That’s right. Mr. Asnia had mentioned that wine cellars are directly under the charge of the butler or a butler assistant among nobles and the rich… Does this mean that I need to have a wine cellar in the future? Wine costing two pounds is at the bottom of the totem pole, while even Aurmir red wine from 1330 which costs 126 pounds isn’t even considered the best… How much would such a wine cellar cost… As he thought it over, Klein felt heavy in the chest. He began to suspect that the 2,888 pounds he had set aside from the gold coins weren’t going to last long.
If not for the training he had during his time as a Clown, he definitely would’ve lost his cool and not reply with a smile.
“Your fondness for it is the greatest form of praise for me. Mr. Asnia, please invite Mr. Rebach who’s at the coffee house below up.”
Asnia didn’t hesitate to agree to it. Less than five minutes later, Rebach knocked on the door and entered the living room.
This gentleman had his blond hair combed neatly. The edges of his eyes and mouth had some wrinkles which weren’t too distinct. He had a ruddy complexion and a masculine bearing. It was obvious that he was a butler who could accompany his master hunting or even fend off enemies.
After exchanging greetings, Klein invited him in to take a seat while smiling. He went directly to the point.
“Forgive me for being honest. I don’t understand why you would become the butler of Baron Syndras. Your father was the assistant butler to the Negan family, and your grandfather was the land steward of the same family. Many of your ancestors served the duke and his relatives until they returned to the arms of god. You should have had such a life trajectory as well.”
Due to Emperor Roselle’s influence, the various countries in the Northern Continent went from using their fief and aristocratic title to indicate their nobility to just their names and aristocratic titles. Only under special formal occasions would they use the former. Of course, there were a few nobles whose names stemmed from their fiefs.
Rebach gave a standard smile and answered, “Baron Syndras is a newly promoted noble, an old friend of the late duke. Therefore, I was sent to his family to help him and his family get accustomed to noble life and grasp the corresponding etiquettes.”
The late duke he was talking about was the present Duke Negan’s father, the Pallas Negan who had been assassinated the previous year.
“Then, why did you leave the baron’s family later?” Klein deliberated and asked.
Rebach answered honestly, “Although Baron Syndras obtained his aristocratic title via the Conservative Party, he is one of the most famous bankers, investors, and enterprise owners in the kingdom. He was one of the earliest multi-millionaires, and he had a strong penchant for the New Party. He was willing to provide a certain degree of support to them, creating friction between him and the Conservative Party nobles, including the younger duke.
“Therefore, to prevent the baron from being put in a difficult position, I offered to leave. He actually tried to keep me, and he was an excellent employer.”
Klein nodded and asked, “You believe in the Lord of Storms?”
Rebach seriously replied, “Yes, the Lord gives us courage, zeal, and a sense of responsibility.”
Klein asked a few more matters about butlers and received a detailed response. Then, he said with a smile, “Might I trouble you to invite Mr. Walter who’s at the coffee house up?
“After I’m done chatting with him, I’ll make the decision. You can wait in the coffee house for about ten minutes.”
“Alright.” Rebach didn’t harp on the matter and immediately got up to bow. After bidding farewell, he left in a manner that exuded the air of a military man.
As he watched him leave and close the door, Klein sat back down, picked up his black tea, and took a sip. He muttered silently, If I were to choose him, I’ll likely establish certain connections with the present Duke Negan and the Conservative Party. The additional development might include the situation before the assassination…
Before long, Walter arrived and entered after knocking on the door.
Klein first exchanged some pleasantries before asking, “What conflict did you have with Viscount Conrad’s butler? You should understand that I need to understand the situation. I cannot afford to risk offending a noble.”
Walter had a broad forehead with raven-black hair and brown stern eyes, but he wasn’t a person who appeared taciturn. He thought for a few seconds and said, “As a butler assistant, I was responsible for the viscount’s children. During this process, due to certain matters, I was appreciated by a particular important figure. As such, I won the recognition of the viscount, which made the butler wary against me.
“Later, that important figure passed away due to an accident, and as a result, the viscount’s attitude towards me changed. The butler treated me even worse, making me believe that it was pointless waiting for things to improve.”
In charge of the viscount’s children, and he got to know an important figure… Hmm, Talim also got to know Prince Edessak from teaching Viscount Conrad’s youngest son. And the prince passed away a few months ago because of the Great Smog of Backlund… This matches Walter’s explanation… From the looks of it, this butler was one of the peripheral victims of that matter… He’s rather cautious and professional. He didn’t expose his former employer’s negatives or reveal the matter about the prince, nor did he speak ill of the viscount’s butler… If I select him, the additional development is something to look forward to… Klein listened silently as he made some connections.
He then switched to asking some professional questions, expressing his desire to enter high society. After receiving a satisfactory answer, he straightened his clothes, got up and smiled.
“Let me introduce myself again. I’ll be your employer, Dwayne Dantès.”
Walter immediately bowed and said, “Sir, how may I be of service?”
He kept maintaining a stern, old-fashioned, and unperturbed demeanor, as though these were the professional traits of a butler.
“Two matters,” Klein replied with a chuckle. “First, help me hand this bottle of white wine to Mr. Rebach who’s waiting at the coffee house. Please express my apologies and gratitude to him. Second, hire a solicitor to write up a professional contract that will include you and the other servants.”
“Alright, sir.” Walter bowed once again.
As Klein handed the white wine over, he asked, “Walter, how many servants do you think I need to hire in order to not appear improper?”
While Walter received the bottle of Garrod white wine, he replied without any hesitation, “You should first determine where you will be living. Only then can you know how many servants you actually need.”
“Oh, do you have suggestions? My requirements are simple. I wish to live in North Borough, as I’m a pious believer of the Goddess.” Klein drew the crimson moon on his chest in passing.
According to the information I read on the papers and magazines, a gardened villa in a high-end district has to be at least 3 pounds a week. That makes it 156 pounds a year… Although there are no direct numbers, I can infer that the suburb’s best gardened villas cost about 2 pounds a week. A high-end apartment with a few rooms and halls would cost about the same. It’s been mentioned that that’s relatively extravagant, a place where only the richest of the middle-class can afford to rent. Yes, from that, I can preliminary estimate the rent of a tycoon’s house…
It’s expensive just thinking about it. Back in Tingen, Benson, Melissa, and I spent 13 soli a week on a gardenless terrace house. There was an additional 5 pence for the use of furniture. In the house I lived in Minsk Street, it didn’t even reach 1 pound…
Sigh, so be it; even if it’s 3 pounds. I have 2,888 pounds. It shouldn’t be a problem renting a slightly better one… No problem at all… While awaiting Walter’s answer, Klein silently recalled the information regarding rental costs. He began calculating how much he needed to pay every week and every year.
Walter considered it for two seconds before replying in a serious manner, “Sir, you can choose 32 Böklund Street. It’s close to Saint Samuel Cathedral, and it’s a three-story manor with more than ten rooms. It comes with a stable, a servants’ quarters, and a rather large garden. Living nearby are baronets, House of Commons members of parliament, and senior lawyers…
“The interior design is especially tasteful. There are plenty of famous paintings and antiques. All the furniture and wares are enough to accentuate your identity. You can rent it for a year first. If you find it satisfactory, you can consider buying it entirely.”
Sounds pretty good… Klein asked with a smile, “How much is it to rent for a year?”
Walter sternly and skillfully reported the number, “Including the use of furniture, 1,260 1 pounds a year.”
Klein was glad that he wasn’t drinking any tea, or else he would’ve spewed it all across his butler’s face.
He mustered nearly all of a Clown’s control in order to prevent any abnormalities from showing on his face.