𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟐𝟎: 𝐀𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬’ 𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐭
Lying down in the same sleeping quarters with Florenci, I welcome a peaceful morning awakened by the chirping of birds.
The sun must still be on the rise. Only a slight light was piercing through the curtains.
Florenci appeared to be soundly asleep, perhaps tired from the unfamiliar sea voyage.
Even as I got up, there was no sign of him waking up.
I stretch, slap my cheeks to rouse my spirits.
Ga-chan seemed to have already awakened and hopped onto my shoulder.
When I whispered a morning greeting, she responded with a small “Nya” in kind.
I secretly slipped out of the sleeping quarters and moved to the washroom.
As I twist the faucet, water comes out as if it were the most natural thing.
While feeling grateful, I washed my face and brushed my teeth.
I dressed in a modest dress brought from Vulcano and sat in the vanity.
Serving the Marchioness means I must, at the very least, apply makeup properly.
After applying my makeup more carefully than usual, I picked up a comb.
It seems that in Binemöer, unmarried women let their hair down and married women tie their hair up.
I pick up the comb and gather my hair.
Living for twenty years, this is the first time I’ve tied my hair up myself.
My hair is thin and slick, so it doesn’t gather well.
As I struggled, Ga-chan offered to help.
“Oh my, Ga-chan, can I rely on you?”
As if to say, leave it to me, Ga-chan hit her chest with a “pon!”
Ga-chan skilfully manipulates the thread, braiding my hair into three strands and gathering it at the back of my head.
It was the hairstyle of married women often seen in Binemöer. I was planning on a simple chignon since it’s hard to tie in this shape.
This hairstyle is likely more suitable as an attendant to the Marchioness.
Finally, Ga-chan tied a lace ribbon for me.
Ga-chan showed me the end of the ribbon, it was a beautiful design adorned with lovely lilies of the valley.
“Ga-chan, thank you. It’s a lovely hairstyle. I love the ribbon too.”
It seemed like Ga-chan’s own way of cheering me on, and it made me very happy.
I check in the mirror to see if anything is amiss.
Starting today, I will work as an attendant to the Marchioness, lying about my status, name, and age.
I seemed to be seen as older than my real age, so the setting of being a twenty-five-year-old mother may not be a problem.
I have to work hard to raise Florenci well.
Encouraging myself, I head to the kitchen.
For breakfast, I’ll make Florenci’s favorite pancakes.
The feature is to include grated lemon peel in the batter and finish it as thin as possible.
Ga-chan seemed to help too, she diligently threw away the eggshells and wiped up the spilled flour, greatly contributing.
Once the batter is ready, I cook dozens of pancakes in a mountain-like pile.
It’s plain on its own, so I make a salad of boiled eggs and warm vegetables.
I arrange the dishes on the table and prepare hot tea.
When I went to wake up Florenci, he was already awake and seemed to be changing his clothes.
“Ah, Okaa-san, good morning.”
“Good morning. You were already awake.”
“Yes, quite a while ago.”
He seemed to have been trying hard to change by himself.
“I wanted to finish changing before Okaa-san came.”
“Just the fact that you woke up on your own is incredibly commendable.”
When I stroked Florenci’s head, the wrinkles on his forehead softened.
“I made a lot of pancakes today, so please eat plenty.”
“Pancakes! I’m happy!”
Florenci devoured ten pancakes. Just until recently, he said his stomach was full after eating three.
I couldn’t help but reflect on how quickly children grow.
After breakfast, I give Florenci some assignments.
“Please read this book today, and then solve this problem set. If you don’t understand something, skip it. We’ll go over it together during lunch break.”
From now on, I will go to the Marchioness and fulfill my duties as an attendant. It worries me to leave Florenci here, but I have to work hard and earn tuition fees.
Just in case, I left Ga-chan by Florenci’s side, telling her to come to me if anything happens.
“Ga-chan, please take good care of Ren.”
Once I’ve stabilized my lifestyle a bit more, I want to hire a tutor or a maid.
“Well then Ren, Ga-chan, I’m leaving. I’ll be back around lunchtime.”
“Alright, take care!”
I quickly head toward the mansion and first drop by the kitchen.
“Oh, what do we have here――?”
The kitchen is in complete darkness, not even a single light is on.
I wanted to get information about the Marchioness from the head cook, but no one is here.
I can’t even sense the maids in the mansion.
I heard the staff’s day off was in three days.
With no other option, I headed to the Marchioness’s bedroom.
I’ve heard from Rachael that the Marchioness is an early riser, so she must be awake by now.
Despite knocking on the door, there was no response. Worried that she might have collapsed inside, I decided to enter uninvited.
“Excuse me, Marchioness.”
The bedroom was empty. The curtains were already drawn, and the bright sunlight was pouring in.
The nightwear she had taken off was neatly folded in the basket beside the bed.
It seems the Marchioness had already woken up and was somewhere.
Rachael had told me that she usually spends this time of year in the conservatory.
I head there in a hurry.
And there I found the Marchioness. Like yesterday, she seemed to be drinking tea in the chair set up inside the greenhouse.
She doesn’t react even when I approach, so with regret, I speak up.
“Um, good morning.”
I thought she might ignore me, but the Marchioness turned to look at me.
“You’re the one Rachael brought along.”
“Yes, my name is Lara.”
“I know. I heard about you yesterday.”
I thought she might not remember my name and ended up introducing myself in haste.
It seems she had remembered, and I feel apologetic.
“What brings you here?”
“Well, if there’s anything you need, please let me know.”
With that, the Marchioness turned her back on me again.
My spirits plummeted.
“Um, have you had breakfast yet?”
“Yes, I had a biscuit.”
It seems the Marchioness eats very little and usually has just a biscuit for breakfast. That’s why the cook doesn’t come in until before noon. Furthermore, she had apparently boiled water in a magic pot and made her own tea.
“I can do everything on my own. I don’t need your help.”
“T, That can’t be. . . . . .!”
I didn’t know what to do when she said she didn’t need me.
If I’m not here as her attendant, there’s no point in my being here.
What should I do? As I was internally grappling with this, I heard a voice from behind.
“Oh, that’s unusual. We have a guest.”
I spin around in surprise.
Standing there quietly, unnoticed until now, was a beautiful young man with silver hair and emerald eyes.