1 – Final
“Oi, evil old lady. Are you going home now?”
It was almost midnight already. It would cause a big ruckus if they stayed out overnight without telling anyone, so they made to leave after saying their goodbyes to the old woman who ran the orphanage. But, that’s when they heard that cheeky sounding voice calling out to Camilla, who was following Alois out the door.
“Who are you calling old!?”
Camilla turned around with a frown, snapping at whoever said that.
At the end of the hallway was Rolf, who seemed to be upset with something as he pouted. That dark blonde hair of his seemed to glow with the light of the candlestick that illuminated the hallway. Even the flame seemed to dance in his eyes as he glared.
“You, you’re that woman from the rumours, right? Is it true that you bullied the girl the Prince loves?”
“And is it true that you had to marry Lord Alois as punishment?”
“You really believe such rumours? They’re all lies, lies!”
-Rather, they’re mostly lies. But, this will only get more complicated if I mention that ‘this and that are mostly true’.
As Camilla said that, Rolf grinned at her.
“Yeah, you must be right about that? The rumours said you were really clever, that you even deceived the King and the Prince with sweetness. But you’re stupid, dense and you can only say mean things!”
“Are you making fun of me!?”
Camilla bristled at the insults suddenly being thrown at her as she was leaving. Rolf’s words stung at those feelings of hers that were still raw.
“Ahh, the evil old lady got mad! She’ll spread bad rumours about me!”
“I will not do such a thing! Y-You naughty boy!”
Thinking to smack him on the head, Camilla reached out for Rolf. However, Rolf managed to elude her hands as he kept smirking at her like a fool.
“You really are mean aren’t ya? You don’t suit Alois at all, huh?”
As he linked his fingers behind his head, Rolf laughed Camilla tried to reach out and grab the cheeks of that cocky boy.
As she did, though, a cool breeze blew in from the open door, the cold wind sweeping up the hair of that bad kid.
“……So, y’know, if Alois decides he doesn’t like you anymore, you can just come back here again… Since you’re such an evil old lady, it’s obvious that people will hate you someday, right!?”
After saying that, Rolf flattened down his windswept hair with his hands.
“Later!”, he shouted, then disappeared into the depths of the house.
The next morning.
There was a rumour going around amongst the servants that Alois brought Camilla back alone in the middle of the night.
Along with those rumours, there were also the whisperings of the disturbance that caused the whole scene yesterday itself.
That villainess from the newspapers had made a maid cry her eyes out, then after throwing a wild temper tantrum had rushed out blindly into the town, she then got herself into trouble in the midst of the nightlife and had to be brought back by the Master himself… That was the kind of gossip going around.
It was a story that had acquired legs and a new pair of shoes. Somehow, it seemed like a familiar situation.
-Nothing at all has changed since yesterday…!
Alois could hardly shed all those pounds in just one day, whilst the way people view Camilla was hardly going to shift overnight either. Although the servants in the mansion treated Camilla with professional courtesies, their eyes remained cold. Rather, due to everything that had happened the day before, their gazes seemed even more barbed than usual.
Although she had come back to the estate of her own accord, perhaps it would have been better just to simply stay at the orphanage.
As Camilla was sullenly thinking about everything that had happened, there was a sudden knock on the door.
Although she permitted them to enter instinctively, she didn’t know who it was that could be visiting her. Despite returning home so late at night, Alois had left early in the morning to finish his remaining work. Right now, Camilla couldn’t think of anyone who would want to visit her apart from him.
“Please excuse me…”
The person who opened the door had a timid voice.
As she entered, Camilla looked at the short young maid… A petite young girl with familiar eyes, like a baby animal.
“Are you not the maid from yesterday!? How dare you show your face to me!?”
She was the root cause of all of yesterday’s disturbances. She had deceitfully refused Camilla’s request, skipped work in the break room, spoke ill of Camilla behind her back and when confronted directly burst into tears. Today, it seems that she’s without her two friends. She must have a lot of guts to come alone.
“Why are you even here!? Do you know what I went through because of you!? They made a mess of my cooking, turned the meal into a riot and I even had to deal with them in the restroom…!”
“Um, I… I…”
“Despite that, I’m still your better! Have you been taught properly at all!? Just what kind of lazy work have you been doing here up until now!? How can you be so selfish and shirk work like that, and then cry the moment you’re faced with your irresponsibility!?”
The maid tried to open her mouth to say something. But, the only thing that came out of her mouth was a quiet moan. As Camilla glared at the maid whose eyes were glued to the floor, that moan turned into a heaving sob. As her shoulders trembled, she grasped the front of her dress with those quivering fists.
“Do not think I will forgive you just because of your tears.”
“I… Uuu… Ah, I…”
Camilla crossed her arms as she glared at the little maid. Yesterday, all sorts of things got in her way, but right now she had appeared in Camilla’s room by herself. There is no one here who can help her.
“If you have something to say, then make it clear. Simply bawling will not tell me anything.”
“I… I… I will…”
The maid put a hand on her chest and took deep breaths. Then, her eyes still glistening with tears, she looked up at Camilla.
“Ah, umm, I came to tell the Mistress that I… Ah…”
The young maid was on the verge of crying as she met Camilla’s cold glare. She could barely breathe, her voice interrupted by hiccupping.
“I……… I am deeply sorry…..! I-I know what I did was wrong. Mistress, you were right about everything. So I… I thought I should apologize to you.”
But, even through the sobbing, she managed to say it. The tears didn’t stop flowing down her face as she talked, mixed with gasps for air.
“W-When things like that happen, my tears don’t stop… B-But, when I keep quiet, s-sometimes I can keep them down.”
That’s why, when Camilla had accused her before, she had stayed quiet as she looked down. Because the moment she started saying anything, the tears would flow.
However, if she keeps silent like that, someone will eventually come to her aid whether she wants them to or not. Even if it went against her feelings. What she truly wanted to say, she can’t form into words, and everyone around her will simply defend her as they think something like ‘that poor thing’.
“Haaaaaa!? Just staying silent because you’re afraid of crying, I cannot forgive you for that!! I got blamed for everything!!”
“Yes! Y-You’re right…!”
“Do not think that I feel sorry for you at all! If you just apologized straight away, I would never have gotten so angry, you know!? Moreover, you did not shed a tear when you were talking behind my back, did you!? Do you have any excuse for that, I wonder!?”
“I have n-n-no excuse! S-So if you wish to have me removed, I’ll accept it…!”
“See, you can speak even through your tears!”
Although blubbering and talking slowly, the maid still spoke. If someone walked in on this scene, it would very easily look like she was bullying this young maid for some petty reason, but in reality, it was nothing more than a well-deserved scolding if you overlooked the crying.
“If you cannot keep your composure, then you are not fit to be a maid. Am I wrong?”
Nevertheless, if you cry at the drop of a hat like this, then how could you ever hope to complete stressful work?
The fact is, the estate at Grenze often goes long periods without seeing the Master. The main work for servants when he is absent is to maintain the decorum of the estate, send regular reports to the main household on the rates of import and export as well as the quality of manastone being excavated, as well as compiling information about the comings and goings of merchants over the border. Put simply, it serves a similar function to a government office.
Is it truly work suited to someone so emotional?
“Even if you say that, I do not have the authority to have you replaced. It may be a different story if I ask Lord Alois, but why should I have to go so far for the likes of you?”
Could Camilla truly bring herself to beg Alois’ favour for the sake of dismissing some mere maid?
No matter what, she could never go to Alois and say ‘Please have that maid gotten rid of.’. To show so clearly that her mind was still fixated on her anger about such a trivial thing, Camilla’s pride would not allow it.
“You have been properly scolded and I am sure you are reflecting on it. What’s more, your apology was sincere, yes?”
“So, what comes next?”
The maid blinked her tear stained eyes.
“Was your apology the end of it?”
As Camilla frowned at her, the maid looked confused for a moment. Then, she roughly wiped away her tears with her sleeve and took a deep breath.
“…I won’t do that anymore. I’ll work hard and try to change myself.”
She suppressed the trembling in her voice and spoke clearly, with no stuttering or sobs.
Fufu, Camilla laughed boldly.
“If you ever do this again, I shall definitely have you out on your ear. Do not think I will forget it, either. Next time I come to Grenze, I will definitely make sure to check up on you to be sure you are not slacking off!”
“Yes!”, as the maid bowed deeply before Camilla, the sunlight gleamed through the window, casting both of them in a long shadow.
That clear blue sky that stretched into the distance was a sign that it was soon time to depart.
That’s the end of part one, do you like it so far? I do… (´･ω･`)