5 – Final
The male servants that the senior maid had brought with her to apprehend Camilla, eventually ended up taking Gerda and the others into custody instead.
Although the senior maid and manservant were stunned and angered, protesting their innocence, Gerda remained calm.
But, the gaze she fixed on Alois made her feelings clear. It was the same way she sometimes stared at Camilla, full of cold hatred and virulent disgust.
“How foolish… you’ve made a truly foolish choice.”
Gerda spoke those words softly. The fact that she didn’t offer any resistance as she was lead away either was strange in of itself.
“Just how faithful I truly am to the Montchat family, you will soon come to know it.”
There were a group of servants who had overheard the noise standing outside the office. When Gerda and the other two senior servants, some of the most influential in the house, were led away, their eyes were opened wide in shock.
With her arm being held by a manservant, Gerda left Alois’ office without another word. She was to be placed under house arrest at another location near the capital. But, that was only a temporary measure until she was fully convicted. After evidence and witness testimony was collected, she would be put on trial in Mohnton’s capital. From that point on, she was at the mercy of the court.
Despite not admitting any guilt, she accepted that fate and didn’t protest.
Gerda didn’t pay any attention to the gawking spectators as she emerged into the hallway either. Except for just one of them, who she stopped next to for just a moment.
“I leave the rest to you.”
The only person whose tenure in this house and serving this family could rival Gerda’s own was that man’s; Vilmer. After giving him a brief look, she kept walking without saying another word, never once stopping or turning back around.
After that, for a few days, the mansion was in quite an uproar.
The head maid, as well as her most senior assistant, had been arrested. Since those two people were the ones who managed all the female servants in the house, the chaos left in their wake was immense. A lot of people who didn’t know the full story gossiped about whether Alois had suddenly lost his mind.
But, no one would complain if Alois quickly plugged up the holes he had left in removing those two. It seems that he was also reviewing the servants in his employ generally now.
“It’s probably necessary to reconsider everyone who works in the mansion.”
The day after the commotion in his office, Alois had told Camilla as much during their first meal together in what had felt like a while.
“Especially the people who were employed here when my father was Duke. It will be a painful splinter to pull out, but it will only get worse the longer I leave it in.”
The fatigue in Alois’ eyes was obvious. He was always the type to put work before rest and considering recent events that was even truer than before.
Although she wanted to do what she could to help, Camilla’s status was still technically just a guest of the House of Montchat. It would be a breach of propriety for a guest to interfere in the internal running of the house.
If that was the case, then what could she do?
She had known the answer to that question for quite some time already.
The only problem is, just how would she go about telling him?
“This ain’t gonna do at all.”
Although the rest of the house had been in an uproar following the arrests, the kitchen hadn’t changed much as Günter shook his head at Camilla’s latest batch of cookies.
“I like them though! They taste sort of homely.”
Nicole, who had become something of a regular taster for Camilla’s cookies, said that between bites. Still, she didn’t exactly have the biggest appetite in the world so Nicole had been giving some out to the maids in the house she had become friends with, but they had been received well with them also.
“There’s no point if they taste this simple.”
Despite Nicole’s compliments, Camilla still looked irritated. A simple taste. In other words, something that tasted amateurish.
Alois overcame his past. What’s more, it seemed like just as he had lifted those burdensome memories from himself, so too had he shed away weight. He almost seemed to be getting thinner and thinner by the day. The way the people in the mansion addressed him had changed as well. He was no longer the ‘Master’s son’, but the ‘Master’ instead. There had initially been some disgruntlement over the servants being reviewed, but it had also done a lot to solidify Alois’ newfound status with them all.
So, with that being the case, Camilla too had to show that she could leave the past behind.
– I’m certain that I can make these cookies for Lord Alois.
She would make him something delicious and show that she had left that part of her past behind as well. Then, Camilla felt like she could finally give him the reply he had been waiting for.
She still felt she had to stick to her principles, after all.
– But, I cannot afford to let him eat anything so ordinary…!
Camilla took as much pride as she could in her cooking. The fact that she was still virtually a layman when it came to making sweets was like a black stain on her honour.
“I need to bake something delicious! Please do a better job of teaching me from now on!”
“Y’know, I really have never seen someone ask for favours with so much damned attitude before.”
“If that’s the case, you should be honoured to see me do such a thing for the first time!”
Camilla laughed haughtily as Günter scratched at his hair. Nicole giggled softly with a bright smile. In contrast to the ever-busy Alois, the kitchen was peaceful.
In the first place, the kitchen had always been Günter’s domain, and he had always been someone Alois could rely on. So when the news came through about Gerda’s arrest, both Günter and the kitchen staff accepted it without much of any fuss.
Thanks to that, Camilla spent even more time in the kitchen than ever before, leaving untold piles of cookie dough and failed prototypes in her wake.
But, peaceful days never truly last.
It had been barely half a month since Gerda had been arrested. The news spread fast, by the hoofbeats of the messengers’ horses.
Dissatisfied with Alois’ rule, the people finally rose up.
The Meyerheim family raised the banner to which the others flocked. Houses Lörrich and Ende followed suit, and soon all the major towns except the territory’s capital and Grenze had risen in rebellion, rallying to the Meyerheims’ cause.
It was a full-scale revolt.