“How?” asked Edmund, giving voice to the first thing that popped into his mind.
“I will teach you math.” Shobbinton gave a sharp nod. “Finance. I can give you the knowledge to manage this family’s holdings like a real leader and avoid the mistakes of the past. I will even teach you law; the finer points of the multitudes of laws and edicts that have passed down through the ages. Matron Moulde will not be around forever, and we can rebuild the family’s finances together. We can prove to them that you don’t have to be born rich to have worth!”
Edmund was about to reply, when Mr. Shobbinton turned about sharply, his free hand dipping into his coat as his monocle leapt from his eye. For a heartbeat Edmund wondered what had happened, when a massive shape loomed out of the mists like an iceberg. Ung stood in front of them, gripping his large spade like a club. Mr. Shobbinton relaxed only slightly, his arm moving from his coat to replace his monocle.
“Ung,” he said, his voice back to it’s slow and icy calm. “There is no need for your services at the moment. Young Master Edmund and I were just discussing a matter of legality, which I believe we are finished with?” The last was a question as he turned back to Edmund. Without waiting for an answer, Mr. Shobbinton gave a half-nod half-bow, and walked off into the rain.
Edmund watched him slowly fade into the black mist. Learn finance? Law? The more he thought about it, the more interesting it sounded. Edmund didn’t know much about either, but he was positive there would be books involved.
“Master Edmund,” Ung boomed, his voice like thunder, “You should come inside to dress for dinner. It is nearing dinnertime, and the rain will only get worse.”
Edmund followed Ung back to the mansion in silence. They wandered their way back to the Mansion and finally to Edmund’s room, Edmund following Ung as he folded his body through the door and moved to the closet.
“Matron wishes me to tell you that she will be unable to attend dinner this evening,” Ung rumbled, breaking the silence as he pulling a long thin shirt from its hanger. “She has a great many things on her mind and expects you to host the dinner.”
Edmund was stunned, and could barely move as Ung helped Edmund slip into his shirt, pants, and over-sized dinner jacket. Host? Edmund wasn’t even sure he could guest properly, and Matron wanted him to host? What did a host do during dinner? Was he supposed to provide conversation? He shuddered at the thought.
“I don’t know how!” He protested to Ung as he did up Edmund’s buttons. Ung sighed, his deep chest swelling and deflating like a massive bellows.
“If I may be so bold,” he said, now brushing Edmund’s shoulders with a thick bristled brush. “When entertaining guests, Matron does little besides eat. If the young master were to simply eat and keep silent, your cousins may not notice a difference.”