Chapter 43 Household Turmoil
“Anna, why were you crying yesterday afternoon? Who slapped you? Tell me…” Claude went home immediately after school and popped the question the moment he saw his sister.
The little girl didn’t answer, but tears welled up her eyes right that instant.
Claude had an idea of what was going on. “Is it Arbeit again? Why did he hit you?”
The girl stuttered and cried. “He… he wanted me to give him my flower hairpin… I… I didn’t want to… and he h-h-hit me and t-t-took it…”
Claude clutched his fists tight until his veins were visible. There’s no letting him off without a harsh lesson now. He actually dared to take the hairpin I bought for my own sister?! He must’ve definitely gave it to placate Miss Christina!
I remember hearing Christina pester Arbeit for some accessories back then. So he dared to rob it from his own sister because he doesn’t have any money to buy one himself? I’m appalled… If it weren’t made entirely out of silver, I doubt he’d have taken note of it. Very well, just wait. I’ll show him the consequences of his actions tonight…
After spending quite an effort to console his sister, Claude planned to wait for the fool to return with his fists clenched. But surprisingly, he didn’t see Arbeit during dinner. When asked, Morssen said that as Sir Fux had just returned from Baromiss, the prefecture capital, Arbeit was probably busier than usual and might not return home.
At the same time, he praised Claude for taking concern over his elder brother and believed that his child-raising methods to foster a good relationship between the siblings were working well.
Lucky bastard. No matter, it’s only a matter of time.
The next day, Claude brought his sister to a store and got her three beautiful hairpins. He didn’t have to spend much this time around as each of them only cost three sunars, being made of silver-plated copper. They looked rather eye-catching and didn’t cost as much as the pure silver one altogether, but all was well as long as his sister liked them.
Finally on the third night, Arbeit returned home. That day, Claude was dragged by his friends to Eriksson’s private jetty where they made their secret base to fish for almost an hour. Originally, they wanted to hold a barbecue, but they didn’t manage to catch much. The four of them only got two fish combined. So, they lost interest and gave the fishes to Pegg, the jetty guard, and left home.
From the moment he entered, he ranted on with satisfaction about how hard he had worked for Sir Fux and how highly he was regarded by him. Morssen listened to Arbeit going on about himself, smiling with his pipe in hand, with some occasional nods.
When Claude entered the house, Arbeit looked away and pretended to not see him. He also pointed at his empty cup to get Angelina to pour him red tea.
“Let me do it,” said Claude as he took the silver teapot from his sister and headed to the dining table.
He put the teapot down and grabbed onto Arbeit’s collar, lifting him up from his chair right away.
“You… What are you doing?!” cried the fool, panicked.
Morssen, shocked, cried out with rage. “Claude, what are you doing?!”
Claude ignored him. The rage he had held for the past three wouldn’t cease even if the god of the sky himself descended into their dining hall.
Arbeit clutched desperately at his collar with both hands. Claude loosened his right hand, but Arbeit wouldn’t be able to push his left hand away anyway.
Claude aimed, tensed up, and wham! He slapped Arbeit in the cheeks harshly.
“Pffft!” Arbeit spit a mouthful of blood onto Claude’s uniform. He had snapped out of it and no longer tried to push Claude’s hand away, choosing instead to shield his face in fear of being slapped again.
Claude raised his knee sharply.
“Brrreeeuuggghh…” Arbeit puked, but he hadn’t eaten dinner yet. There was nothing to vomit out, save for some white foam. Nobody could endure a strike to the abdomen and still remain standing. Arbeit was currently curling up like a cooked shrimp.
Claude sent another knee up his face.
“Aaackkk!” cried Arbeit in pain as his nose was struck. He landed on the ground, clutching his bloodied face.
Before Morssen could finish his sentence, he saw Claude beating up his beloved eldest son until he rolled on the ground in his own blood, crying out in pain.
“You… You’re out of control! Claude! How… how dare you?! How dare you beat up your elder brother?! Stop this instant!” yelled Morssen as he pointed sharply at Claud.
“Shut up!” Claude sent his father a glare, his bloodshot eyes giving the elder man a great fright. “Stand there quietly. You’ll know why I’m beating him up in a bit!”
Pulling the chair away, Claude walked over and stomped his right leg on Arbeit. “Speak. What happened to the silver hairpin?”
Arbeit only mumbled in pain, refusing to speak no matter what and let Claude stomp on the hands that covered his face. He could only pathetically beg his parents to shield him.
Claude stepped down harder. “Not speaking, huh? To be honest, even if you don’t admit it, I know why you robbed Anna of her hairpin. Arbeit, I told you that I didn’t want to bother with your foolish mistakes and didn’t want to make a huge fuss out of this for the sake of our parents’ repute. But how dare you take your own little sister’s hairpin to appease your wench?! When she didn’t give it, you even slapped her!”
“Wait, Claude, what did you say?!” Morssen seemed taken aback. He wasn’t prepared to hear something so shocking at all.
“It’s simple, Father. The eldest son you’re so proud of has hooked up with the 28-year-old beauty living in the neighboring attic, Miss Christina. They have been in bed with each other for half a year or so now. Now, you finally know where this son of yours spends his salary, right? Last month, he even bought his lover two tops and one skirt! He even promised Miss Christina a suite with a washroom and bathtub! If we don’t have any vacant rooms, he would rent one for her elsewhere and pay for the rent himself!
“That woman even asked Arbeit to buy her jewelry! It seems that this son of yours has spend all his money elsewhere, so he set his sights on the pure silver hairpin I bought for Anna! Anna didn’t want to give it to him, so he slapped her and stole it to give it to Miss Christina!
“I don’t really care about the hairpin. If he had talked to Anna properly about it, nothing like this would’ve happened. He never should’ve raised his hand against her. This f*cking bastard deserves to die! Does he look the least bit like an elder brother to you? Anna’s his own little sister, yet that didn’t stop him from hitting her! Since that’s the case, I won’t hold back. If you don’t treat us like your own siblings, I won’t consider you my elder brother either!”
The more Claude went on, the angrier he got. Angelina was such a sweet and obedient child who knew to help their mother with the chores despite being only twelve. Other things aside, Claude was impressed at how she took the initiative to take over dishwashing at night when their mother had to give more care to Bloweyk. Claude himself might not be willing to do the dishes, as it was custom for the women of that world to do most house chores. Men in a household with women who do their chores would be considered pathetic and womanly.
Claude moved his feet away from Arbeit’s hands. Since you’re blocking your face, I’ll kick your waist! He resumed his kicking immediately.
“Whoa…” Arbeit quickly rolled to the side after being kicked twice more, causing Claude to miss and almost do the splits.
“You dare evade me?!” roared Claude as he marched forward.
“Wait, Claude, hold your hands!” cried Morssen when he snapped out of his stupor.
“I’m not using my hands!” Claude gave Arbeit another kick. The poor fool was trapped in the corner of the walls curled up and sustaining whatever abuse Claude had in store for him.
“You… Hold your legs too!” Morssen felt himself going insane. Never did he imagine that his eldest son would bring so much shame to him. His younger son on the other hand didn’t look like he would listen to him and even acted so violently against his own elder brother. Even though he was standing up for his younger sister, Morssen felt an impending headache as his mind numbed from the chaotic storm that brew within.
Now that Morssen was blocking in front of Claude, he had no choice but to stop.
“Stand aside,” said Morssen as he pushed Claude away. They had to be separated before he could do anything else.
I’ll leave this to Father for now and see how he intends to deal with this. If Claude wasn’t satisfied, he could always give that fool another beating. He would make sure that the lesson was remembered for the rest of that poor sod’s life.
Claude walked to his sister’s side and stroked her hair gently. “Fear not, that fellow will not dare to hurt you anymore. If he hits you once, I’ll give it back to him tenfold. Let’s see who else dares to bully my cute little sister.”
The girl smiled and burrowed her head into Claude’s bosom. Even though she was shocked when she saw roughing Arbeit up, she quickly came to understand that he was standing up for her and no longer felt afraid, her fear replaced by a sense of security.
“Arbeit, stand up.” Morssen glared at his eldest son. He believed Claude’s allegations. Given his understanding on his eldest son, he knew that Arbeit would try to talk himself out of it right away if he was being beaten up for no good reason. Taking the blows quietly like that meant that Claude’s words were true without a doubt.
Morssen’s heart sunk. Now’s not the time to reprimand Claude about roughing his brother up. Instead, I want to know whether Arbeit really hooked up with that Christina. Wargod above, if word of this gets out, I won’t know how to face the other elites of the town any longer… This… this will become a huge scandal and I’ll be a huge joke in front of everyone… I wonder how the townsfolk will see a chief secretary like me when they find out that my son was balls deep with my own tenant? The reputation I spent so many years building up will be ruined overnight…
“Was what Claude said true? Do you really have that kind of relationship with Miss Christina?” Morssen still held a sliver of hope that Arbeit would call Claude out for making things up.
But he was destined to be disappointed. Arbeit remained curled up in the corner with his hands over his head like he had just been sexually assaulted by a huge burly men, hurdling up in the corner pathetically.
Claude couldn’t help but praise Arbeit for his move. This sly fellow… He knows that Father will not believe whatever he says… The smarter move would be to curl up in a corner to try to inspire some sympathy from our parents after being beaten up…
Morssen looked as if he had lost his spirit. He pulled the chair over and sat into it. He had suffered too much shock tonight and was at the brink of a nervous breakdown. Breathing a long sigh, he turned to Claude and asked, “Since when have you known about this?”
Shrugging, Claude said, “Only recently, on the night when you held the feast. When I returned home that night, you were still in the study with some guests. I couldn’t sleep, so I opened the window in my attic and heard Arbeit and that woman’s voices. I thought that it came from downstairs, only to realize later that it was coming from the attic next to mine. When I climbed onto the roof, I confirmed that it was indeed their voices. They were quite loud back then and seemed to be arguing over something.
“Miss Christina complained about Arbeit not having delivered on his promise to get her a suite with a washroom because there’s no washroom, bathtub or kitchen in the attic. Arbeit later promised that he would rent a good room for her in town. When Christina asked him for jewelry, Arbeit brought up the two tops and skirt he bought for her last month and promised that he would definitely get her an accessory the next time.
“Right after that, he slept at her place. They were causing quite a ruckus and that was when I finally found out about their relationship. At first, I didn’t want to bother with his affairs. But he shouldn’t have bullied Anna and taken her hairpin.”
“Alright, that’s enough..” Morssen waved weakly and Claude shut his mouth immediately.
“Oh my god! Arbeit, what happened to you?” Madam Ferd just came downstairs with Bloweyk and cried out in shock when she saw the bloodied Arbeit curling up in a corner.
“He’s fine. He just slipped and fell,” said Morssen, causing Claude and Angelina to look at him in disbelief.
“You two, bring some food upstairs to eat. Let’s not have dinner here tonight. Bring Little Blowk with you too,” Morssen said with another sigh “Pattie, help Arbeit wash and tend to the wounds on his face.”
After another sigh, he said, “Arbeit, I want to have a long talk with you.”