As she burst through the door, those three maids who were happily chatting turned with a start to look at Camilla, their eyes opened wide. It was as if the conversation they were having up until that point hadn’t taken place at all, the room had fallen that quiet. You couldn’t even hear them breathe.
“Prepare my clothes to go out and act as my guides. Do you know what time Lord Alois is coming back? We should return before he does.”
The three maids looked at each other. Camilla felt herself growing annoyed with just how frightened they seemed. They had no problem saying whatever they pleased just a moment ago, so why is that they’re suddenly so mute in front of the person in question?
“U-Umm… Do you mean all three of us?”
After a silence, one of the maids asked with a trembling voice. She didn’t look at Camilla, only at the other maids. She was constantly blinking and shifting on the spot.
“Is there some problem?”
Whenever Camilla said anything, silence smothered the room. The three maids kept looking at each other in cowed silence, then the same maid that spoke before opened her mouth first. It wasn’t the small maid that Camilla had called out to before. It was the slender, slightly tall maid, who seemed to be the eldest of the group.
“Umm, well, we’re doing some other work now…”
Right? She nudged the shoulder of the maid next to her, who nodded in a hurry.
“T-That’s right, there’s a lot of things we have to do before the Master comes back.”
“I-I’m very sorry, b-but you’ll have to find another person…”
“You’re working right now?”
Camilla sighed, exasperated. Utterly barefaced lies. Did they even remember what they had been saying up until she walked in?
“I wonder why you would come to the break room in order to work, is what I’d like to ask you most of all!”
Camilla shifted her glare towards the small maid, who was trying to hide behind the back of her older friend. A short girl, with brown hair like a bay. As soon as Camilla caught her eyes, she began to tremble.
“……..D-Do you mean me?”
She shook terribly as she asked her that as if she were a small animal. What’s more, her short height, childish features and black eyes only enhanced that image.
“After refusing to assist me, here you are in a place like this. Do you really hate the idea of walking with me that much?”
“She was just taking a short break before going to her next job. Isn’t that right?”
One of the other maids stepped in to protect her as she began to falter. It wasn’t the older maid either. She was slightly chubby but had a charming looking face.
“So, it’s already time to get going to our next job, alright? So, we’re very sorry, Mistre- Lady Camilla, but we have to be going. Because we’re awfully busy, we’ll excuse ourselves now.”
As the chubby maid said that, she winked at the other two. “Please excuse us,” the other two said, bowing as they took the hint from their friend and set off towards the door.
“Stop right there.”
The three of them didn’t listen to Camilla’s order at all, leaving the room as quickly as they could. They intended to just run away like that.
But, they didn’t notice that Camilla kept walking after them.
As they kept walking, unaware, the two older maids tried to cheer up the younger one between them.
“Hey, are you alright?”
“She’s just awful, eavesdropping on us like that. So despicable…”
“She’s really a horrible woman, just like the rumours said. Don’t worry, you didn’t do anything wrong.”
“Honestly, you would have probably had a rougher time if you hadn’t refused her.”
Walking in between the two other maids who consoled her, the shorter girl didn’t say anything.
――――I can still hear everything you are saying!
They think they’re going to escape like this? Camilla thought that to herself.
The maids were about to round the corner. Just before they passed out of her sight, Camilla raised her voice.
“Stop right there!”
They were deep into the estate, with all sorts of hustle and bustle about. The sudden scene involving the three maids drew the eyes of plenty of servants who were coming and going. As people gathered around, Camilla’s voice cut through the air like a knife.
“I did not give you my permission to leave! Stop at once!”
The three maids stopped in their tracks, turning around to look at Camilla. Drawing closer together, the three of them exchanged frightened glances.
As they huddled together, Camilla approached them in an angry stride. Camilla wasn’t an especially tall girl, but when she stood in contrast to those trembling maids, that intimidating atmosphere made her look like the biggest person in the room.
“Who are you calling despicable!? Aren’t you the ones speaking poorly of me behind my back, like I can’t hear you!?”
“N-No, we didn’t mean it like that…”
The older maid spoke first. The plump maid couldn’t speak because of how sudden this situation was, whilst the smallest of them simply looked at her feet, her shoulders shaking.
“Then, what exactly did you mean? And did you not hear what I was saying before? Do you have some kind of excuse to be skipping work?”
“Do you have something to say for yourself? By all means, do so!”
As Camilla glowered at them thunderously, the maids fell silent. The older maid looked at the growing group of people watching, whilst the chubby maid was doing her best not to meet Camilla’s gaze. That attitude, as if they were just waiting for the storm to pass, only made Camilla more incensed.
“Why are you suddenly falling so silent!? Don’t you have something to say!? Did you three suddenly forget how to talk!?”
She’s furious. Utterly enraged with these three who are suddenly so quiet. All they had to do was say something and it could have done something to calm Camilla down.
“Say something! If you don’t, I won’t hesitate to tell Lord Alois all about this! You’ll be out on your ear!!”
A small whisper was almost drowned out by Camilla’s bellowing.
It was the small maid who spoke in such a quiet voice. Where were the two maids who were supposed to be supporting her? She looked around anxiously, hugging her shoulders with her hands.
Her small voice trembled.
“If all you’re going to say is ‘don’t’, I can’t understand you. If you have something to say, why don’t you say it?”
As Camilla spoke sharply, the maid raised her fear stricken face. That face like a small animal looked terrified, her eyes wet with tears.
She opened her mouth to say something, but the words caught as a lump in her throat. She breathed out two or three times as she tried to talk, but no words ever came out, the tears in her eyes welling up more and more.
They began to streak down her face. She turned her face back towards the floor, trying to hide her tears.
“Are you okay?”
The two maids tried to comfort her. They spoke soft words and soothed the sobbing little maid. Then, the whispers began to stir around them.
To think she’d be shouted at like that. She went too far. That poor thing――――.
Her blood boiled as she saw red. It was the day of the ball. Camilla had driven Liselotte to tears. Her beautiful brown hair tied in a braid, at the time that girl had collapsed to the floor, weeping as she stared at the ground. As countless eyes in that ballroom had watched the scene, it was only Camilla who noticed it…
In a way that only Camilla could see, Liselotte had curled her mouth up into a grin.
“――Don’t think you can buy my sympathy with that display, tears are a cheap thing.”
It isn’t Liselotte in front of her now.
Unlike her, this isn’t an opponent who can stand up to the power of Camilla’s fury. She wasn’t that girl, who was so determined, flexible and uncompromising in her goals.
This time, she’s only against a maid. No matter how small and sly she might be, a girl with a weak mind like this can’t say anything when faced with a person like her. There was no ulterior motive in her tears, she was simply sobbing out of true fear of Camilla.
Even if Camilla knew that, it didn’t settle down the feelings raging in her heart.
“If you wish to cry, then cry. But, don’t expect me to simply turn around and forgive you with just that!”
The crowd stared at Camilla. Then, she began to hear a voice near the back. It was one of the senior servants, drawn over by all the commotion. But still, Camilla didn’t hold back, taking another step towards the maid.
The maids wanted to draw back, but they were frozen to the spot. Camilla continued striding forward without paying any mind to it, even when the senior servant tried to get in between them.
Please calm down! Someone said, as they caught Camilla’s arm. That servant had stepped in between her and the maids to protect them.
“You three, can’t you say even a single word of apology to me!?”
“Please calm down, Lady Camilla!”
Camilla’s words, shouted out with passion, were, in turn, drowned out by the yell of the servant. “Please calm down!”, the servant said again as they pulled Camilla away from the maids she seemed threatening to grab at any moment as if those were the only words he knew.
As Camilla was held back by that servant, the maids quickly disappeared into the crowd.
Camilla’s rage still hadn’t burned away and as she watched the maids disappear, all the servants around her stared at her with suspicious gazes.