Chapter 2

 

Contrary to the impressive voice, the sentences that flowed out were a bit harsh. Besides, to make fun of Mrs. Prada who is truly a god to the maids like her…

Unlike Dahlia, who was frozen not knowing how to react, the maid beside her smiled and responded to the girl’s words.

“Hey, it’s no fun if someone as beautiful as the Young Lady makes a joke like that.”

“It’s not a joke. She’s really pretty. It’s not good to be a pretty maid.”

Carla, who was examining Dahlia in her mirror, twisted her bluish-black hair with her fingers. The moment she felt Dahlia’s gaze who still didn’t know how to react, her curved lips drew a horizontal line, and the smile in her eyes evaporated in an instant.

Carla smiled again but only with her mouth and she mumbled cryptic, meaningful words.

“There’s no way Dad or Max would leave a pretty maid like you alone… You should be careful, too. If someone like you keeps moving around and appearing in front of us, you may end up like the ghost of that annex.”

As soon as Dahlia blinked her eyes, the maid scolded Carla, saying, “Lady!”

Feeling as if she heard something that she shouldn’t have heard, Dalia stepped out of the room carefully. A faint sound of laughter continued behind her back.

It was when Dahlia entered the gallery to finish cleaning there that she realized exactly what Carla meant. At the far end of the gallery where the portraits and statues of the eight states were lined up, Carla’s father and Max, whom Carla spoke of, were seated next to each other.

The 8th head of state is Duke Gehern Eufgenschult and next to him is Maximilian Eufgenschult. Gehern and Max, the owners of the mansion, were looking down at Dahlia solemnly and elegantly from across the portrait.

‘Do these people touch the maids?’

“What the hell was she talking about…?”

Although she had never seen the two of them in person, to Dahlia who cleans the gallery every day, Carla’s words seemed like a bad joke against the masters.

Dahlia took out the duster, dusted the frame, and looked up at the portrait with longing eyes.

What’s there to be careful about?

The Duke and the heir next to him- are the honor of the family even if Carla’s words were messed up.

…Isn’t she ridiculous talking about other people’s families when she’s the last person to know anything about having them?

She smiled and focused her attention on cleaning. Still, Carla’s words did not leave her mind.

‘What did she say again?’

Dahlia, who had been chewing on her lips again, turned back to Carla’s last sentence and tilted her head. She kept feeling uncomfortable, so she wanted to do something, but it still turned to the phrase stuck in her head.

‘The ghost of that annex…’

There does exist a small annex far away from the main building. She heard that ghosts lived there.

It’s not a real ghost of course, but the peasants and the maids and workers who occasionally go there all refer to the person living there as a ghost.

Well, she wouldn’t need to think deeply about it because she wouldn’t go to the outbuildings anyway, and it wasn’t like a maid like herself would ever need to meet anyone there. Dahlia smiled bitterly. She diligently worked her hand.

“Dahlia, have you finished cleaning?”

Her roommate Edina came into their room, dusting off her dirty head cap. No matter where she came from, the white head cap would always come back messed up with black dust. Dahlia, who was wiping the table with a dry rag, nodded her head and straightened her back.

“Yes, the gallery cleaning is over. Now all I have to do is clean the stairs.”

“Okay…? That’s great. Everyone is mad cleaning the fireplace in the main hall right now. You can take care of the stairs later, so let’s go together first and help there.”

“The fireplace? Thelma told me to leave it alone because they will be building a new one soon anyway.”

“Yeah, and the day they would be building that is today. Right now, they’re tearing down the whole wall and cleaning up the decorations on the wall. After the cleaning is done, the construction will start. Let’s go!”

Cleaning up a dirty place is quite rewarding, but the thought of cleaning that gigantic fireplace made her worried if they could finish it today. Dahlia followed in Edina’s footsteps, not knowing whether to be happy or sad.

As she entered the main hall, she saw a dozen maids clinging to the crumbling fireplace and cleaning it.

Frames, candlesticks, tapestries, and paintings which were usually decorated near the fireplace, were scattered here and there at the entrance to the fireplace which was large enough to fit five adult women inside.

Any frame from this room alone can make up a maid’s three to four months’ salary, so the hands of the maids were very careful.

While Dahlia was contemplating on what to clean first, the senior maid-in-charge of the maids stood in front of the fireplace and looked back at the two of them indifferently.

“We can’t go on like this. The soot is so severe that it’s too much for women to completely clean the inside. Edina.”

“Yes, Thelma”.

“Call Grandpa Anjes. He’ll be near the barn. Tell him to bring a ladder and an iron brush for cleaning the chimney.”

At her flippant orders, Edina hastily left for the barn. The senior maid, Thelma, took a metallic luster wax out of her pocket and tried to hand it to Dahlia, but she paused and looked at her watch.

“Ah, the time has come already.”

Checking her watch, Thelma frowned and clicked her tongue slightly. Seeing Thelma who always had an expressionless face make such a bothered expression, Dahliawondered what was going on.

“Dahlia. Is your probation period over?”

“Yes. Just yesterday, Mrs. Prada said that she would officially hire me, so starting today, I became a full-time employee of the main building.”

Thelma looked at Dahlia with her arms crossed and her eyes judging.

Sixteen. Even though she was not very mature in age, Dahlia was quick with her hands and eyes.

Thelma also knew from before what it was like to be a newcomer, and she liked the sincerity of the young maids.

‘Can I leave this child with him?’

After thinking for a while, Thelma believed in Dahlia’s character and settled her troubles.

“You know there is a Young Master in the annex, right? I have something to give him, but you can go instead.”

Thelma pulled a square box from the trolley lying in the corner and handed it to Dahlia.

Dahlia’s eyes widened at the word ’Young Master’.

A strange existence in an annex that is more familiarly called ‘ghost’ rather than ’Young Master’. It was the first time that the ghost had been mentioned directly by someone’s mouth.

Dalia accepted the package with a sloppy touch and a worried look.

“It doesn’t matter if I go, but… Mrs. Prada said that ordinary maids like us should not approach the annex.”

“That’s true but I can’t help it this time because I can’t leave this place right now. The room on the far right of the second floor is the study, right? He would probably be there at this time. Just give him this and come back.”

Dahlia reluctantly received it, but when she still hesitated and wouldn’t move her feet at all, Thelma nudged her on the shoulder to say she should go quickly. Dalia smiled awkwardly, hugged the package, and turned around.

Leaving the noisy maids behind, she exited the main building. And as she stepped past the garden and set foot into the northern woods, the sound of the wind and the rustling of the leaves filled her eardrums, replacing the noise that was much louder earlier.

There was a constant crunching sound at her feet due to the pile of fallen leaves. In the forest where autumn was at its height, the smell of dry firewood was gently floating in the air.

Thinking that this wonderful season had come already, Dahlia opened the fence door and entered the front yard of the annex.

As she approached the building, her palpitating heart intensified. An unknown feeling, either fear or curiosity, took over her body. Dahlia grabbed the package tightly, turned her gaze away from the annex, and followed the lights from the building shining down on the pathway.

“Who are you?”

As she approached the door, Dahlia lifted her head startled at the sound of someone speaking. A tall man with his waist bent was standing at the door of the annex, looking down at Dahlia with a watchful eye.

“You must be a maid working at the main building… Didn’t you hear from Mrs. Prada? This is not a place for anyone to just come into. Go back.”

The man’s face, seen up close, looked quite young in contrast to his hoarse voice.
Dahlia, pretending not to be surprised, stretched out her shoulders and held out the package in front of her.

“I came on an errand by a senior maid. She said to bring this to the Young Master and he’ll know.”

“A senior maid? Who?”

“Miss Thelma.”

“Thelma… Ah, Thelma Quants.”

The man who mumbled the name closed his mouth and looked at the package with a stern expression, then silently opened the door and gestured his chin to the stairs.

Dahlia rushed up the stairs at a slow pace, wary that she might be surprisingly stopped by another person again. Words from the husky voice passed by the back of her head.

“Go quickly and be polite.”

Contrary to the gloomy exterior, the inside of the annex was noticeably clean even from far away.

However, her thumping heart showed no sign of calming down due to the past appearance of the menacing man.

Dahlia stood by the door on the far right side of the second floor and in front of the study Thelma had told her, feeling the smell of old dust seeping into her nostrils.

“Young Master, I’m here to deliver items from Miss Thelma as an errand.”

With a voice almost fading away into the silence, Dahlia spoke after knocking. After a short pause, she heard a reply.

“Come in.”

Dahlia took a deep breath and grabbed the doorknob.

The room was much larger than she thought. Even though it’s the middle of the day, long curtains were hanging on every window, so she thought the Young Master liked the place to be gloomy, but when she saw the tall bookshelves on the wall, it seemed like he just drew the curtains because he didn’t want the ink inside the books fading by basking them in the sun.

In the corner of the room where the voice came from and the only place where the curtains were not drawn shut, a ghost figure she presumed to be the Young Master was sitting with his back against the chair and looking down at the floor.

There was a white piece of paper larger than the desk on the floor.

Dahlia approached, wondering what he was looking at so intently, and was surprised to find out that it wasn’t a paper lying on the floor…