Chapter 21

Translator: Alice

Editor: starrie

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The senior maid Thelma walked over with several dry rags in hand.

 

The eyes that glanced at the chandeliers felt fiercer than usual. Thelma tapped lightly at the uncleaned parts of the chandelier that she has been staring at with her finger, and recited a warning.

 

“I won’t fault you for idle chatter, but it seems like everyone’s hands have stopped. I instructed you all to finish this before teatime in the afternoon, but will you even be able to finish this by today?”

 

“…I’m sorry.”

 

“Also, refrain from talking about Lady Oubric within the mansion. If the Lady heard about it, a severe scolding would befall.”

 

Edina’s confident appearance disappeared instantly, and she bowed her head like a crestfallen puppy. 

 

The maids that were familiar with the Duchess’ fussy temper also nodded silently at Thelma’s nagging.

 

“Dahlia, come over here.”

 

Thelma beckoned at Dahlia after retreating towards the door. 

 

As soon as Dahlia came towards her, Thelma took three or four books from the tray in front of the door and handed them to Dahlia.

 

“These are the books requested by the Young Master. Be careful, don’t get noticed.”

 

As Thelma was about to turn, she grabbed Dahlia’s wrist.

 

“I chose my words carefully as I didn’t want to seem like I was interfering… Dahlia.”

 

When Dahlia looked upwards, it wasn’t Thelma’s dull expression as per usual, but a face flickering with complex emotions. From the years of accumulated senses, Dahlia intuitively realized that Thelma was worried about her.

 

“Take care to not get too close to the Young Master.”

 

She had anticipated her to emphasize on not being seen by others, but the words that she heard instead was a slander against Isaac. Thelma continued to speak to Dahlia, who was hesitant. 

 

“The Young Master may seem cordial at first glance, but he isn’t as docile as you may have thought. Also, you remember that when you went out with the Young Master, the Lady was very angry, right?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“And also, although the truth of the incident with Lady Oubric that those kids were talking about earlier is unknown, being involved with the Young Master wouldn’t result in anything good. So–”

 

“I know, as you’ve repeated it many times.”

 

Dahlia cut off her words, trying not to sound too cold. At her determined attitude, Thelma, who was trying to continue speaking, quietly closed her mouth. 

 

Dahlia turned and stepped forward without hesitation. The gaze she felt on the back of her head today was exceptionally uncomfortable. 

 

Only after descending down the flight of stairs and exiting the mansion, did Dahlia look backwards bitterly. A slightly bitter gaze seemed to flow from beyond the upper level.

 

Unlike the rapid steps used to leave the mansion, her steps through the forest were endlessly heavy. Dahlia trudged through the forest based on her habitual path with her head lowered. 

 

Her head was filled with vague questions that couldn’t be completed into sentences, differing from her calm expression. 

 

‘Maya Oubric and the Young Master…’

 

The Northern forest where the annex was located, an accident that occured to a lady-in-waiting from a cliff in said forest. The main suspect behind this incident, the Young Master. Thelma’s advice to be wary of him. 

 

Could it be that the Young Master was the one that killed that lady-in-waiting? 

 

She seems to understand why the servants of the mansion hushed up when it came to him. Karla’s metaphor that she would suffer from his wrath if she gets close to him made sense now. But her doubts still remained.

 

That day, the first time that she saw Max…

 

Just as Max was about to swing his fist at Isaac out of anger. 

 

“The Little Duke… he stopped his first when he heard the words ‘Maya Oubric’.”

 

Like he has heard something he shouldn’t have, the odd way Max’s face paled as his fist trembled, it was perturbing. 

 

While the incident’s main suspect Isaac, brought up the name Maya Oubric calmly. 

 

If it was Max who was always at Isaac’s throat, it would be normal for him to mock him for being a murderer as soon as he heard the word ‘Oubric’.

 

But, the person that used the word ‘Oubric’ as a weapon was Isaac and not Max. 

 

She had verified with her own eyes that the two’s relationship was the complete opposite from the rumours. 

 

… She couldn’t figure out what this meant.

 

“I don’t know what’s what.”

 

She stepped into the annex after organizing her complex thoughts.

 

Hoover, who stood in front of the door, looked at Dahlia with wary eyes, and as if she was familiar with it, Dahlia bowed calmly in greeting. 

 

As there were only a few residents, the chilly air of winter enveloped the annex in its totality. When she was in the mansion, she had always felt warm and relieved, but a frown formed on her forehead at the thought that the weak Young Master might catch a cold. 

 

The white mist from her breaths followed her like a trail of footprints. As Dahlia stood in front of the door and was about to knock, took something out of her pocket suddenly. 

 

It was a white ribbon that Isaac had gifted her. 

 

It was a ribbon that she had never used before as she found using it to be a waste, and she felt somewhat embarrassed to wear it before the Young Master, hence it remained folded in her pocket. 

 

After a short moment of contemplation, Dahlia added the ribbon over her current ponytail. If she had a mirror, she could have tied it in a prettier manner, but she did not have one, so she gave up and knocked on the door.

 

“Young Master, it’s Dahlia.” 

 

As soon as she entered the room, warmth welcomed her. 

 

Like it was to break Dahlia’s preconception that it would be cold, the room was as warm as spring thanks to the blazing fireplace.

 

Isaac, who stood in front of the chess table, approached Dahlia with a smile. 

 

Looking at the messy rows of chess pieces, it seemed that he was probably reviewing a chess game.

 

“What happened? I told you not to come over for a while as it’s cold.”

 

“How can I not come just because it’s cold? Ms. Thelma asked me to deliver these books, so I came. Nothing much happened, right?”

 

Dahlia slotted the books she had brought into the bookshelf and began to organize the room in a practiced manner. Behind her busy form, Isaac stiffened his mouth to hide his excitement, and closely followed her around as if he was a baby bird. 

 

“I heard that the mansion is very noisy as it’s undergoing spring cleaning these days. Are you busy too?”

 

“Yes. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem as the mansion was cleaned every day, but it’s so big that there are many places that needed to be worked on. I had to return on my day off and am in the middle of cleaning. I was going to rest a few days ago…”

 

“What were you planning to do on your day off?”

 

“Hm, I was just going to rest in the dorms. I still have to send a letter to Laurel and there’s quite a lot of sewing that needs to be done. But I was so busy that I’ll have to postpone the letter for a while.”

 

“I see…”

 

Isaac, who was peering around Dahlia, stopped walking and clasped his hands behind him while shaking his head lightly. Dahlia did not notice his movements, and was still busy organizing piles of books and paper. 

 

Isaac smacked his lips a couple of times and closed his mouth disapprovingly. There was something he really wanted to say, but he couldn’t speak when he met her. 

 

His shaking gaze that represented his feelings brushed from her small facial features to strands of unkempt hair, before reaching the ribbon tied around her hair. As soon as he recognized the lace ribbon, Isaac’s clenched fingers also stopped moving.

 

That day. The day that we went out together.

 

The white ribbon Isaac gifted her fluttered about the gaps of her brown hair. 

 

The ends of the ribbon had a lace pattern that was so complex that it was unknown whether it was of a flower or a weed. The ribbon’s gracefulness was further enhanced when paired with simple satin. 

 

…No. It wasn’t the ribbon that was graceful. 

 

Brown hair fluttering next to him, the round and curved forehead, and the thick and shimmering brown eyelashes.

 

The ribbon was only a strip of cloth, but it looked very elegant when Dahlia wore it. Isaac stole a glance at the large green eyes that gave off the sentiment of spring, and pondered over the definition of grace. 

 

His maid was prettier than anyone else. As he looked at the maid wearing his gift, a drowsy sense of joy spread within the depths of his heart. Along with it, the fetters of hesitation loosened. 

 

Isaac thought long and hard with his eyes closed, before sighing and plucking up his courage.

 

“Hey, Dahlia.”

 

“Yes?” 

 

“On your next day off… If you don’t have anything to do, shall we go around the town together like last time?”

 

Dahlia’s eyes, which were staring at Isaac quietly, gradually grew in size. She blinked several times like she was surprised, and made an expression that was like a smile yet not a smile, before letting out a soft sigh with a face of disappointment. 

 

“I would be happy to, but I’m afraid the Young Master will be scolded… I heard that you were caught by the Madam last time and was scolded ferociously.”

 

“You don’t have to worry about that, as the most that woman can do is whip me.”

 

“That woman… Are you talking about the Madam?”

 

When Isaac nodded, Dahlia placed the writing instrument she was holding down onto the desk and stood in front with a stern look. She then proceeded to scold him with the same tone she used to scold her younger sister.

 

“Young Master, I know that you hold many grudges with the Madam. Still, It isn’t good to talk about the Madam like that.”

 

Isaac, who stared at her with sparkling eyes, frowned immediately. He was so close to an answer, but the words that came out were defending the Duchess. 

 

Dahlia seemed to completely understand his feelings, and gave him a gentle gaze when their eyes met. 

 

“That’s right. To be honest with you, I don’t really like the Madam either. I don’t know why she hates the Young Master so much. But… Young Master, don’t be like that. Don’t be exactly the same as her and hate her. Try to remain as polite as you can.”

 

“Why?”

 

“I’m afraid that you’ll regret it.”

 

He had thought that the typical answers like because she’s an adult or because she’s family, so you must be like that would appear, but an unexpected answer came out instead. Dahlia smiled bitterly as Isaac furrowed his brows and seemed to want to say something.

 

“That’s… hm, it’s unsuitable to be called a similar example, but my father wasn’t a very good person either. But after he passed away during the war, I kept feeling that I’ve let down my father, even though I did nothing wrong.” 

 

Her father’s blurry silhouette appeared in her green eyes.

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