Careful Haggling

“It’s not just what they can give us, but what both of us can give each other,” Edmund said.

Now came the difficult part. Both Tricknee and Edmund had to work out a deal while making it seem to the Family Heads that they had agreed on one long ago. He briefly wondered if Tricknee had ever played chess.

“We are a fresh start for each other,” Edmund began. “The Mouldes have been considered criminals for far too long, without the honor and dignity that comes so easily to the Bonnes. Likewise, the Bonnes have not been afforded the lifestyle they deserve. United, we can wipe away the grime and rust from both of our families, and become brilliant beacons of the bourgeois once again.”

Kolb smiled, and winked his applause.

“And you think this would help, would it?” Matron Cromley interrupted, sweetly. “The granddaughter of an old Bonne who is on the outs wedding a Moulde?”

“Wedding an Heir,” Edmund corrected, holding up his finger, “with a lineage that reaches further back than any of the other families. It was a Moulde that first found the coal vein under Haggard Hill, a Moulde that stood by your families when the war came to Brackenburg, and a Moulde that created the Plinkerton engines that ran many of the factories that made this city the wonder that it is.”

“And the money?” Tricknee interjected, his eyes glittering dangerously. “I’m sure they are curious about the dowery you agreed to give the Bonnes… how much the Moulde Estate can spare for this union.”

In his mind’s eye, Edmund saw Tricknee take the threatened pawn, and spring the trap Edmund had set. He smiled calmly, which seemed to make Tricknee madder.

“Certainly, you will be receiving a large amount from Googoltha’s parents,” Edmund said. He was delighted to see Tricknee’s eyes widen slightly in surprise. He probably didn’t realize exactly how much Edmund had learned sneaking between the walls. “I heard somewhere they were planning on exchanging quite a fair amount for getting her attached to a Founding Family? Our marriage would do that quite effectively, I think.”

“It is so,” Tricknee grumbled, “but that’s what they’re giving me, not you. I’m sure our guests are not intrigued with all the little extraneous details. There’s more that the Moulde Family is offering, isn’t there?”

It wasn’t really a question–it was haggling. Edmund nodded.

“Of course,” he said, turning back to the assembly. “This feud started ages ago, all because of a dispute over the coal mine that lies beneath this very mansion. In a sign of good will and sign of sincerity, the Moulde Family will also be signing all mining rights pertaining to Haggard Hill over to the Bonnes when we are married.”

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