𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟔: 𝐎𝐥𝐝 𝐃𝐢𝐞𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐤
“Ellen, you have been requested by the House of Duke Howden.”
My father says this at the breakfast table.
“From Felix’s family? For me? I wonder who is feeling unwell.”
“It’s Diederick-sama. He seems to be bothered by the pain in his knee due to his chronic illness. Franca has been treating him until now, but this time he wants you. Hehe.”
“Hehe? I don’t have a good feeling about this.”
『”𝕬𝖜𝖊𝖇𝖘𝖙𝖔𝖗𝖎𝖊𝖘.𝖈𝖔𝖒” – 𝕯𝖎𝖘𝖈𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖗 𝖆 𝖈𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖎𝖛𝖆𝖙𝖎𝖓𝖌 𝖜𝖔𝖗𝖑𝖉 𝖔𝖋 𝖑𝖔𝖛𝖊, 𝖕𝖆𝖘𝖘𝖎𝖔𝖓 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖆𝖉𝖛𝖊𝖓𝖙𝖚𝖗𝖊, 𝖜𝖍𝖊𝖗𝖊 𝖞𝖔𝖚 𝖈𝖆𝖓 𝖎𝖓𝖉𝖚𝖑𝖌𝖊 𝖎𝖓 𝖆 𝖈𝖔𝖑𝖑e𝖈𝖙𝖎𝖔𝖓 𝖔𝖋 𝖙𝖗𝖆𝖓𝖘𝖑𝖆𝖙𝖊𝖉 𝖓𝖔𝖛𝖊𝖑𝖘 𝖜𝖎𝖙𝖍 “𝖉𝖆𝖎𝖑𝖞 𝖚𝖕𝖉𝖆𝖙𝖊𝖘” 𝖆𝖓𝖉 𝖊𝖝𝖈𝖑𝖚𝖘𝖎𝖛𝖊 𝖆𝖈𝖈𝖊𝖘𝖘 𝖙𝖔 “𝖆𝖉𝖛𝖆𝖓𝖈𝖊𝖉 𝖈𝖍𝖆𝖕𝖙𝖊𝖗𝖘”.』
“Hey there, Ellen. I’m glad you came. Come this way.”
“Hello, Diederick-sama. It’s been a long time.”
The previous Duke-sama, Diederick-sama, is a lively old man, except for his knee.
“It’s been eight years. You’ve become a beautiful lady. It feels like just yesterday when you were observing plants in our garden with Felix. Time flies.”
“How is your knee?”
“Not good. If it weren’t for your mom’s medicine, I wouldn’t be able to walk by now.”
“I heard that you requested me this time. Has the medicine stopped working?”
“No, I just wanted to talk to you.”
I waited for him to explain what he meant.
“Felix doesn’t want to have a fiancée.”
“Is that so?”
“It seems he has someone he loves. He won’t say the name.”
“I wonder if it’s you.”
The last time I saw Felix was at a party eight years ago. There’s no way that could be true. As I hesitated to respond, Diederick asked another question.
𝐓𝐋: 𝐖𝐞𝐥𝐥, 𝐈’𝐦 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐫 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭’𝐬 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐚 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐫 𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫’𝐬 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭
“What do you think of Felix, Ellen?”
“I think of him as a dear childhood friend.”
“I see. You are the heir to the Marquis family. I suppose Felix, the heir, is not in your sights.”
“I think it’s not about what I think, but rather that I’m not the one for Felix-sama. We haven’t seen each other in eight years.”
Diederick pulled up the hem of his loose trousers to reveal his knee and urged me to examine it. I continued the conversation while touching his knee.
“I am the successor to the apothecary, and the heir to the Marquis family, so I don’t think Felix-sama would think of me as more than a friend.”
His knee was slightly warm. If the inflammation has recurred, I should change the medicine. His body might have gotten used to the medicine and its effect might have dulled.
I took out a bottle of ointment from my bag, which contains a small amount of scorpion venom. I applied the green liquid to his knee, rubbing it in a little at a time. I also applied it to the back of his knee. I then placed a cloth over it and wrapped it with a bandage.
The venom of a scorpion, which paralyzes its prey, combined with medicinal herbs, can alleviate joint inflammation and pain. This is also a secret.
“I will change the ointment. The oral medication will remain the same.”
“Do you have any intention of passing on the apothecary to your sisters?”
I answered immediately.
Being the successor to the apothecary is much more important to me than inheriting the Marquis family. It’s my raison d’être. If I were to pass it on to my sisters, what would I aim for in life?
“I see. Do you know why Felix stopped seeing you?”
“No. We stopped seeing each other when I became busy studying to be an apothecary. Was it because our schedules didn’t match?”
“He said he couldn’t bear to watch your apothecary training.”
Ah, come to think of it, back then, I was gradually diluting and ingesting poison, and chewing raw herbs to remember their taste. There were times when I vomited and had allergic reactions, but my mother’s judgment was always correct, and I never suffered for a long time.
“That was necessary study. When it comes to things that go into or are applied to patients, it’s not enough to just have knowledge from words.”
“Would you let your own child go through the same experience?”
“Yes. I didn’t leave any marks on my skin or damage my body from that study.”
I had to make it clear here.
“Isn’t there hardship in any job if you try to master it? Whether you’re a cook, a seamstress, or a fisherman.”
―She took out the arthritis medication from her bag. Diederick looked at the small mountain of medicine with a troubled face.
“You wouldn’t need to make such sacrifices if you were the wife of a Duke.”
“No, I would have the painful task of socializing.”
If I were good at subtly hinting at what I wanted to say, as nobles do, I would have been swimming around the sea of evening parties and making more acquaintances by now. There would have been no need to look for new encounters at this point. I’m not good at, and I hate, dealing with nobles.
“Um, does Felix-sama know about today’s matter?”
“No. It’s my own decision. I don’t want Felix to have the same regrets as me.”
“The same regrets…”
The story I heard from there was something I was hearing for the first time.
Diederick-sama had a crush on my grandmother when he was young. After my grandmother was chosen as the successor to the pharmacist, she started to distance herself from Diederick-sama.
Eventually, my grandmother married my grandfather, who was seen by the old man as a “mild-mannered but neither good nor bad as a nobleman”. Diederick-sama had long regretted not expressing his feelings to my grandmother or opposing her marriage.
No, no, no!
That’s a love story from Diederick-sama’s perspective.
I know that my grandparents loved each other. My grandfather respected my grandmother as a pharmacist, respected her work, and supported her. My grandmother didn’t choose my grandfather because he was a “man who wouldn’t interfere with the pharmacist”.
But, even if I argue with the old man in his seventies here, it would just be a futile argument.
“I’ve checked your knee condition. The medication you’re taking is fine as it is.”
“Ellen. Can’t you see Felix as a marriage partner?”
“I don’t think this is a conversation we should be having without the person in question.”
As I was responding, the door burst open. It was Felix-sama.
“I heard that Ojii-sama called for Ellen. What are you talking about?”
Felix-sama’s face was stern.