Chapter 17 – A Wounded Palm (5)
Translator: Skye PR: mm1347
It’s almost as if he’s worrying about me.
But that was impossible.
Bianca shook her head, erasing the thought. The Zachary she knew was not ‘that’ kind of man.
Nevertheless, her honor had been protected in front of the servants, so everything worked out in the end. Breathing a small sigh of relief, Bianca turned to head for her room.
It was clear she had no intention of listening to Vincent, who trailed after her despite her flat refusal. As Zachary’s loyal right-hand man, he was unyielding, repeating the order he had received.
“The lord has ordered me to call for the doctor, madam.”
“He also said not to cause a commotion. I’ll take care of it on my own, so you can leave and go about your duties,” Bianca replied curtly without so much as a glance back. Her quick, short steps continued on determinedly until she disappeared from view.
Bianca was just like Zachary in that neither of them bothered to listen to anyone else, only saying what they had to say before departing. Vincent let out a sigh as he watched Bianca’s prideful and stubborn figure walk away.
Sensing that the doctor would most likely just have the door slammed in his face if he visited now, Vincent decided he would send him later. He concluded he would settle what he needed to take care of instead of continuing to follow Bianca.
Ante was still on the ground, stunned and sniffling.
“Cease your tears,” Vincent said coolly, shooting her a frigid look.
Mistakenly thinking Vincent was comforting her, Ante sniffed and rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand.
Because Vincent ran the castle on behalf of Bianca, who had essentially abandoned her duties, employing and managing the servants also fell under his purview. Like master, like servant: Vincent appeared cold at first, but in actuality, he was a superior who treated his employees well. Hence, Ante believed Vincent would console her and send her on her way after a light scolding. However, all of her expectations crumbled away when he continued.
“Pack your bags and prepare to go home.”
“Sniffle, sniffle… Wha–?”
Ante’s eyes grew round, like she couldn’t understand what she had just heard. Her face exuded a melancholic beauty, as she had been in the middle of putting on a sorrowful act, but due to being stained by blood and tear tracks, it also looked rather grotesque. Just like her inner heart.
Vincent snorted, dumbfounded by Ante’s foolishness. He made his explanation slow and concise so that she could get a proper grip on the situation.
“Did you not hear what the lord said earlier? I was ordered to ensure no such commotions occur ever again, commotions you are the cause of.”
“Being tight-lipped is the virtue of a servant. You are ill-suited for this castle with those loose lips of yours. Pack your things unless you wish to be kicked out without even the clothes on your back.”
Vincent spoke firmly, having perfectly understood Zachary’s intent.
There was no guarantee that a cat that tried to climb on top of a stove wouldn’t try it again. As Ante had gone after Bianca once already, Vincent felt a headache just thinking about what she might try to do again.
He wouldn’t have to worry about Ante’s big mouth or her behavior if he kicked her out, and it would serve as a warning to the other servants. It would kill two birds with one stone. Ante had stepped so far out of line that she could have been rolled in a straw mat and flogged, so she had gotten off relatively easily. Vincent inwardly shook his head.
In contrast, Ante was distraught, realizing she had no lifeline to grab onto after hearing Vincent’s cold-hearted command. She had simply made a light-hearted jest. Plus, it wasn’t like she had lied…
Vincent sent a look to the other maids who were standing around. Having quickly read his non-verbal orders, the maids grabbed and pulled Ante, who was still slumped on the floor and showed no signs of getting up. Ante struggled but ultimately couldn’t overcome the strength of multiple maids combined.
As Ante was dragged away by the other maids, only Robert and Vincent were left alone in the once-noisy hallway.
Robert repeatedly opened and closed his lips. His normally exemplary features were muddled, like he couldn’t understand what had just happened. He shook his head, like he was trying to shake off complicated thoughts, but his dark green eyes still brimmed with confusion.
“…What was that?”
“What do you mean?”
“The relationship between the count and countess is clearly different than before. Something happened recently, didn’t it? Is it related to the madam going to find the count yesterday?”
Something was indeed different from usual. It was too obscure to point out what exactly, but the air around Zachary and Bianca had clearly changed.
“…I’m not sure myself.”
Vincent slowly shook his head at Robert’s prying question. Zachary’s room was well-soundproofed, making it hard to overhear conversation unless it involved shouting. As he didn’t quite know what had happened yesterday, Vincent could only vaguely guess that today’s incident was related to yesterday’s.
However, what was more important than what could have happened yesterday was why Bianca sought Zachary out. Unless Zachary went to go find her first, Bianca wasn’t the type to look for him. And yet, that same Bianca had not only suddenly gone to find Zachary of her own accord, but had even brought up something that was supposedly for the good of House Arno, despite behaving as if she was still a Blanchefort all this time. Vincent was curious about the reason behind her change of heart.
Of course, just because he was curious didn’t mean he would get an answer right away. In that case, what the two remaining men had to do was simple. The ends of Vincent’s lips quirked up, giving way to natural wrinkles. Vincent, who was around 15 years older than Robert, finished in a tone that seemed to be lecturing a young, quick-tempered knight who had trouble keeping his hot-bloodedness at bay.
“But something has indeed changed. There’s only one thing for us to do, and that is to follow our master’s command. It’s clear what we must do for the sake of our lord, isn’t that right, Sir Robert?”
Bianca mulled over the day’s events once she returned to her room, staring out the window while leaning against a chest. The anger from being insulted by a maid melted away like snow, its place taken up by an unknown heart-pounding feeling. The more she chewed over each of Zachary’s actions, the more it seemed he did not hold only ill feelings towards her.
Then why did he turn me down?
If he did not find her so detestable, then there was no reason for him to turn down her offer of sleeping together. Thinking about how eager all men were to get between a woman’s legs made Bianca more confused over Zachary’s behavior, which seemed to be keeping her at a distance.
Perhaps my body just isn’t his style.
That’s right, there was no reason for him to be impatient to embrace her, who wasn’t even his type, if he had a mistress. That must also be why he had pushed back and delayed their first night together until he could absolutely no longer ignore the pestering of his vassals in her past life.
Bianca glanced down at herself. Her 16-year-old body was as lanky as Ante claimed, and though her breasts were round, they would still be considered somewhat small when gripped by large hands. It definitely wasn’t a body men would be delighted with. Though she was still only 16, Bianca was aware that even when she was two years older, her body wouldn’t be much different than it was now.
Should I be content with at least having more womanly curves by the time I turn 18?
Bianca placed a hand on her forehead out of habit, only to frown when she felt a throb from her palm. It seemed the pain would last longer than she thought.
It was then that a maid stepped into the room. The figure of the maid, who came in with muted steps and head bowed, was familiar. It was the light brunette who had gone to retrieve the cane earlier.
The maid cautiously lifted her head while reading the room.
“Madam, the doctor…”
“I said it was fine. Why would I call for the doctor over an inconvenience like this? Do you want to let the whole place know I whipped a maid?” Bianca retorted as soon as she heard the word “doctor,” before turning her head back to the window.
The maid glanced at Bianca from the side, sensing an unwavering, strong will to refuse from the latter. She fidgeted for a while, like she wasn’t confident enough to try and bring it up again after witnessing Bianca’s cold demeanor. After a long stretch of silence, the maid bowed her head and left the room, ultimately unable to suggest the idea again.
It was only then that Bianca could release a slow sigh of relief. Her hand still throbbed, but she didn’t want to call for the doctor. It was obvious what people would start saying.
‘Just how severely did she hit the maid that she’s the one getting treated instead of the maid?’
Bianca wasn’t one to particularly care about the prattling of servants, but she couldn’t just let it be when she could plainly imagine the senseless rumors that were bound to start if she saw the doctor.
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