03. An uncomfortable dinner
Repeated nagging for about 100 years was just boring.
Standing next to Donna, Helen, the housekeeper, was angry this morning and nagged with a stern voice. At around this hour, it’s already the time to gather the maids and delegate their tasks for the day. She seemed very angry. It was obvious why, considering what happened last night and considering Donna’s pale-white face and swollen eyes.
“Milady can’t go out as you please again.”
“It’s already clear that Donna isn’t good enough to serve Milady, so I’ll have to think about who could replace her.”
When it was Nancy, only Carynne was scolded. Carynne rubbed her side, wondering if it was because of the age difference, as expected. It’s not so pleasant to hear a middle-aged woman’s voice rather than a young girl’s voice so early in the morning.
While looking at her throbbing side, Carynne felt that it was fortunate she got proper treatment this time. She had a stray thought that it would be better to maintain a good relationship with Dullan until she would get hurt again in the future.
After removing her negligee and checking the wounded area, just as Raymond said, she wasn’t stabbed deeply. Even so, she still had to get two stitches for it. Her forehead was already torn open and her side was sewn up like this. She wondered how she’d be in a year’s time.
“That corset was definitely a whale bone corset. I’m glad I bought it.”
“Don’t blame me too much. I didn’t even get that hurt.”
“There were many casualties in the circus. If it weren’t for Sir Raymond, you could have died. No, I’m sure that you would have died.”
It was difficult for her to make excuses. Helen was the highest ranking person among the female employees because she was the housekeeper, so that means she was in charge of the household’s internal affairs in place of the young Carynne.
Bowen was a man, so he wasn’t here to listen to all of this since he wasn’t under Helen’s jurisdiction. But here, Helen said that because of Donna’s immature behavior, the maid’s salary would be cut half for a month and she’d go back to being a laundry maid.
“I don’t want that.”
Above all, there were few other maids who were as loose-lipped, lively and accident-prone as Donna. She was so attractive to Carynne that she didn’t want to give the maid up.
“It was my fault, so just let Donna continue working.”
Helen responded firmly. Donna’s eyes glistened.
“I know that you’re attached to her because you don’t have that many peers right now, but this is not wise.”
What are you, the lady of the house? Carynne couldn’t even drink her morning tea because of all the nagging. Carynne liked herself a good balance of good and evil in a character, but she didn’t like Helen very much.
Helen acted as though she was the manor’s mistress, just like other housekeepers in other houses where the madam of the house was powerless. And so, she tried to control Carynne like she was a child.
It wasn’t a pleasant experience for Carynne to see how Helen was mistaking this as something of a moral right or her duty. Good people were lovely, evil people were interesting—however, humans who thought that they were right just made her bored and irritated. That’s why she’d been avoiding meeting Helen as much as possible.
Carynne wanted to snap at the woman and tell her she was being impudent, but she was restraining herself. Housekeepers like Helen had authority. How many servants would listen to a seventeen-year-old noble lady who says whatever she wants to say. Carynne recalled a distant past.
There was a time when she tried acting like the madam of the house. She fasted, though it was inconvenient, and got the woman kicked out. But Carynne soon regretted it. There were so many servants to manage and so many tasks to complete. It was only in fairy tales that everything worked out just because you’re the daughter of the territory’s lord.
To manage a household, all servants should be gathered everyday at dawn to review what tasks there were to do, and later at night, they needed to be checked. Carynne had to do everything—accounting, welcoming guests, and general management.
Helen was replaced with Nancy, but Nancy was weak-minded and she barely managed because she was illiterate, so it wasn’t possible for them to handle that kind of work.
“That’s not possible,” Helen replied.
Useful people needed to be pacified, coaxed and badgered.
“But it’s inconvenient to suddenly have someone replace her… Will you come play with me, Helen?”
“I have a lot of work to do.”
“That’s exactly it. Because you’re not even my attendant, Helen.”
It’s lonesome. She expressed intimacy and kicked it up a notch. Whenever Carynne pretended to be upset, Helen’s resolve would weaken. Just as expected, Helen was really thinking of herself as Carynne’s biological mother.
“You can’t do that again.”
“Yes, yes. I won’t.”
“Even so, just how many things started to go wrong because of Nancy…”
“When’s Nancy coming back?”
“…You don’t know? Nancy had quit. She said she couldn’t stand it. I knew it, this couldn’t be helped because she was born a wanderer.”
That’s how it was dealt with? Nancy went on vacation, but she eventually quit because work was too hard.
Carynne lowered her teacup. Helen brought over a brush. Brushing Carynne’s hair wasn’t something Helen, a housekeeper, would do, but the younger woman asked anyway.
“You’re going to do it, Helen?”
“When I was younger, I was a lady-in-waiting in charge of young noblewomen’s clothes. I can’t leave this to Donna on a day like this. It would have been better if Nancy was here.”
“What day is it today?”
“It’s Sir Raymond’s first day here. You have to be quiet, Milady. Milord and Mister Evans will be there.”
“You should look pretty, right?”
That meant that it would take an hour to put on makeup and three hours to get her hair done. Usually, all of them would be done by Nancy, or if Nancy wasn’t there, it would be Sera.
Having another hairdresser’s hand on her was also pleasant. Carynne was much too old to whine and say, ‘I don’t want to do this kind of thing!’
“Still, this is too excessive.”
“The rose oil, or even this outfit?”
“It’s still not that luxurious compared to Miss Evans. You have to look the part so that you won’t be brought to shame, right?”
Which here was more shameful, trying too hard while overdressing with high-quality clothes or wearing inexpensive clothes amongst people who would be wearing high-quality clothes? The general consensus would be that the latter was more shameful, but this was between people who didn’t want to lose face.
While thinking that there was such a thing as basic courtesy, amongst those with higher standards than others, the lines between courtesy, frugality and luxury would start to blur. And Carynne just focused on other things rather than weighing the scales between them.
The most important thing was the ending of the novel and the male lead’s taste.
Raymond’s taste was important. Carynne’s judgement on value was not very important.
“Is Father making you do this?”
As Helen’s eyes scrunched up, a masseuse entered. She took off Carynne’s clothes with skilled hands and lay her down on the wooden bed. Her entire body was wiped with a piece of cloth that was soaked with rose water.
The wound still hurt, so Carynne groaned. Eventually, Helen stopped the masseuse from wiping Carynne’s body and spoke.
“Taking a bath might be too much for you.”
“Then it should be enough to just apply scented oil.”
The wound would likely open again.
With Carynne’s hair pulled back, Donna washed her scalp and hair with water and applied scented oils again while her hair was up.
“Since you’re good at handling laundry, you’re good at washing hair, too, huh?”
“Is there really a reason for me to look good in front of Sir Raymond?”
“There is! First, compared to Isella… to Miss Evans, Milady is much more beautiful, so it will be a proud moment. Second… what else…”
To earn money. Carynne could hear Helen and the masseuse chuckling. Donna didn’t answer in the end, but considering the laughter between that silence, Carynne already knew.
Dullan was an unwelcome incumbent fief lord. He’s someone who didn’t suit the beautiful ‘lady’. Helen wanted Carynne to look good in front of Raymond so openly.
It’s not that she wouldn’t think of Dullan as Carynne’s husband, it’s just that she thought of him as a spare who wasn’t good enough for Carynne.
Carynne wasn’t offended by this arrogance. She didn’t feel compelled to defend or foster animosity towards Dullan.
Rather, she had the urge to spoil the mood.
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