Chapter 60 – Her Blatant Ignorance (2)
Ruth thumped his chest with frustration. He was trying in vain to quell his agitation, knowing well he was speaking to the lady of the house. But his emotions couldn’t be pacified with her preposterous plans. Even so, he explained as calmly as he could.
“Glass is not practical at all. Insulation of glass is extremely poor that it will be no different to living with the windows open. Moreover, knights often train in the backyard and it will be only a matter of time when such expensive windows shatter to pieces from swinging swords. Another thing, it scratches easily so it’ll be challenging to manage them. Servants will be spending most of their time polishing them and soon, you’ll be short-handed.”
When he picked the points Max had never thought of, she quietened even further. He looked through to the very last bill and only then did his face softened a little. It was unknown if it was the realization of his brusqueness up until now or the mere content of the bill, even so, the ensuing words had a hint of softness.
“Fortunately, not everything has been ordered. Why don’t we agree to change the windows of the main hall, banquet room, and some of the guest rooms into glass, and the remaining rooms can either be converted to balt glass or have double covering for insulation? It’ll be very useful in the winter if you add an outer door and have them partially ajar to let fresh air in. That will be enough to show off your wealth to the guests without burning a hole in your pocket.”
He pulled out a new piece of parchment paper and drew a blueprint of the castle as he explained. Max blankly looked at the drawing and nodded.
“A-all r-right. I-I’ll t-tell him th-that.”
“The crystal fountain is not worth anything.”
He tossed the parchment paper in his other hand over his shoulders and dipped the quill into the inkwell as he set a new piece of paper in front of her.
“Let’s get rid of the garish ones and one by one note down those absolutely necessary,” he said, seemingly taking the reins in his hand.
A nonplussed Max simply stared at the quill in horror. She was expecting him to rewrite the ledger for her, but here he was just enlisting things and handing over the vital aspect to her. She certainly didn’t want a rerun of the rebuking session!
“W-what if I-I make a mi-mistake ag-again…” She tried to hint that he must draft it.
“You’ll be taking care of this in the future. I’ll guide you in the right direction, so don’t worry.” He had made his stand crystal clear.
She looked down at the ledger, feeling lost. Her head was as blank as the paper in front of her. Panicking, Max sifted through the bills and searched for something to write. She tried to calm herself and looked for the oldest purchase record and wrote down the items purchased and the details with it. She followed it with the number of people hired, their wages and contract period, and then… things began to get complicated with only her meager knowledge in work.
Max scrunched numbers, scribbling down numbers as sweat laced her temples. How much was each currency worth? How should I calculate? She turned bemused by the second. Her fingers tightly clenched the quill as if to squeeze out the answers.
Upon noticing how flustered a mere ledger had made her, Ruth furrowed his brows. He seemed to have an inclination as to what was going on in her mind, but he still opened his mouth in order not to assume.
“Just to be sure, you do know the currency units, right?”
“I-I k-know them!”
She anxiously denied, horror creeping within at the possibility of her secret being discovered. However, the wizard looked at her narrowly with suspicion. Under the intense scrutiny she was being subjected to, Max held her breath and managed to add…
“I-I’m just… I ne-never u-used mo-money before, I…”
Without another beat, Ruth launched a question. “How much is 60 lirams in soldems?”
“I-I, um, fo-four?”
She folded and straightened all of her ten fingers and blurted out an answer she fervently hoped was right. But at his resulting glare, she quickly took her answer back.
“How much soldems do you get from 24 denars in soldems?”
“What about 10 lirams in derhams?”
Almost in tears, Max’s face flushed with shame and humiliation. Yet the sharp pair of eyes were still intently staring at her, unfazed by her crumbling emotions.
It’s all over! He must have figured out I’m a halfwit. He’s going to think that I’m a stutterer, a mere idiot. Will he tell Riftan?
She dropped her head in trepidation, any lower and it would have touched the floor. After a silence that seemed to stretch on forever, she heard a weary sigh.
“Even Princess Agnes wasn’t this ignorant of the world! How sheltered did you grow up?”
Unable to give any excuse, she bit her lip. Her mortification was for everyone to see. Ruth was silent for a long moment and exhaled loudly as he went through the inner pocket of his robe, fishing out a small pouch.
“Listen closely,” he said as he picked two silver coins. One was thick and wide as his middle finger, and the other was thin and wide… two-thirds of a pinky. Ruth tapped on the large coin bearing the insignia of a bird with its wings spread.
“This is a liram. It’s a silver coin the Roem Empire created and spread all across the continent. It is worth twelve times this smaller coin, the derham,” he said pointing at the smaller coin.
“Derhams are from Rakasim in the Southern continent. It has been used widely since the trade with this continent has grown these few years ago. It’s small but carries a high credit.”
She looked at the small silver he’s placed on his palm, concealing her fascination. It was her first time seeing a coin this close. Ruth let her observe for a bit and continued explaining.
“Lirams are exactly twelve times heavier than derhams. That’s why twelve derhams are exchanged for one liram.”
He then pulled out two gold coins. One was big as a liram and the other as a derham.
“This big one is a soldem, created by the Roem Empire, just like lirams. This small one is a denar, also from Rakasim. Likewise, soldems are twelve times heavier than denars.
“Wh-why does th-the So-southern co-continent make s-such s-small coins?”
“Business in the Southern continent is far more developed than where we are. If a coin is too large, trade between individuals cannot be possible.” He answered as if her question was bothersome. She couldn’t fully understand him, but Max didn’t ask more questions. Ruth put the coins down and continued talking more about money.
“Gold coins are worth 20 times more than silver coins. A single soldem is exchanged for 20 lirams and a single denar is exchanged for 20 derhams.”