Chapter 1 – Poisonous Mushroom On A Day Of Spring

Erna Hardy was a well-mannered girl.

Now that she grew up into a polite lady, it was her turn to be a refined wife.

To sum up the content of the lengthy paragraph, it was a very different reply than what she expected as it especially destroys her chance to be a good wife to a decent man.

“No way.”

Erna’s eyes, which had been looking down at a letter for a long time, were full of determination as she said to herself.

“This is ridiculous!”

Even on second thought, the conclusion was the same.
Standing up from her seat, Erna walked up to the window.
It was an afternoon when the dazzling rays of the spring sun were pouring in, but it felt depressing.

Opening the panes with a squeaky sound, she sat on the frame, holding her knees close to her chest.
Located high above the ground, the village’s landscape could be seen from the mansion of the Badens.
Erna’s gaze, briefly pausing on the single chair lying on one side of the garden, slowly wandered over to the gentle slope of the orchard, streams, and hills covered with yellow cherries.

The world was not interested in one man’s misfortune.

It obviously made her uncomfortable.
Even if she had a loving family and was on the verge of being kicked out of a place full of life, a world full of joyous spring was beautiful.
If one heard this stupid complaint, they’d laugh.
She felt relieved, a bit of cynicism added to it.

“Lady! Lady Erna!”

The voice of Mrs.
Grebe, a housekeeper, reached her from the far side of the hallway.
It seemed like it was already time to have lunch.

“Yes! I’m here! I’ll be right there!”

Erna declared, hurriedly getting off the window frame.
The ridiculous letter was hidden deep inside the drawer so that it could not be seen, and her disorganized clothes were tidied.

She was fine.

While heading to the dining room on the first floor, she murmured as if memorizing a spell.

“It’s okay.
Everything is going to be fine.”

“Have you seen a lawyer, Erna?”

Baroness Baden, who had been rambling about today’s weather and new sculptures, came up with it only after she finished eating.
She tried to stay calm, but her eyes showed an indescribable nervousness.

“No, grandma.
Not yet.”

Erna answered in a stern tone.

“I’ll make sure to meet one before this week ends.”

Sunlight that was penetrating through the glass of the window was falling on Erna, lighting up her neck and waist.
Her heart was hammering loudly, her lips were drying up, and her fingers were curling up into a fist.
Fortunately, the Baroness nodded without further questioning.

“Yes, you should.
I wish I could find a way.”

A gentle sigh permeated into the air of an overly still room.

Erna looked up at her grandma as she stared at her hands on her knees.
She had become old and frail in a month.
She had lost her husband overnight and would hand over all her little assets to a relative who was no better than others.
So how could Erna tell the truth?

Erna had already sat back in her right posture, swallowing the dry lump in her throat.
Her lips were stubbornly sealed, not to reveal the truth.

Actually, she met a lawyer earlier.
The answer that came was no different from what Erna already knew.

Having no son, Baron Baden’s property was to be inherited by his nephew.

Erna had long known that such ridiculous laws exist.
It was upsetting and unfair, but if there was no way to change the law, they had to come up with a countermeasure.
It was about time that Erna began to raise money by increasing her work little by little.
So that she could buy this house in a fair manner again one day, but that ‘one day’ arrived too early, and the money she collected was not enough.

‘Unfortunately, that is how the inheritance law works, Miss Hardy.’

The lawyer consistently responded insincerely whenever Erna begged for a different way.

‘For now, it would be best to explain the situation to Mrs.
Baden and ask for mercy.’

The lawyer bit on his smoking pipe, ending his remark.
It was a rude gesture, but Erna endured it.
There weren’t that many lawyers who welcomed customers who were in a difficult position to pay the consultation fee properly.

That afternoon, Erna wrote to Thomas Baden.
She had to do it, unable to find a suitable lawyer.
And today, Thomas Baden’s reply turned a faint-hearted repentance into utter despair and anger.

“Everything will be fine, grandma.
Don’t worry too much.”

Erna, who lied, gave a smile to reassure her grandmother and got up from the table before putting on an apron.
She was very skilled at helping Mrs.
Grebe, who arrived slowly, to organize the table.

Everything was not fine.

While scrubbing the dishes, Erna accepted the truth that she could no longer avoid.

It was not an exaggeration to say that the estate of Baron Baden, a fallen aristocrat, was now only this house in the countryside.
However, the house was soon to be occupied by Thomas Baden, the legitimate heir.
And he was going to sell this land without even a moment’s hesitation.

Erna breathed deeply in her suppressed anger.
The soapy water, which resulted from the rough squeeze on the sponge, left a small stain when it reached her rolled-up sleeve and apron.

Thomas Baden said he could fully understand her.
However, because he had his own reasons, he could not delay the disposal of the house until Baroness Baden died.

She wouldn’t have felt this way if he only had expressed such a determined refusal.

After washing the dishes, Erna headed to the backyard with her apron rolled up.
When she sat on her grandfather’s chair under the beautiful ash tree, her eyes burned up in tears.

The ridiculous reply contained one compromise offered by Thomas Baden.
If Erna Hardy married him, h

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