Chapter Five: The Day I Became a Lady (Hohoho~)
I’ve gotten myself into yet another bewildering situation at the palace: Here I am, reduced down to my underwear in Lady Merlia’s room.
“Stop making those dead-fish eye looks! Get a hold of yourself! Try this one!”
I stand there helplessly on the receiving end of Merlia’s unbridled zeal as she heaps a red wine dress into my arms. Merlia’s maids, brought straight from her own palace, hustle and bustle around me, dressing and undressing me like a doll. This latest one, the red wine dress, has a high neck that’s very kind to my rather modest chest size. But the exposed shoulders and open back leave much of my upper body on full display.
“Th-this one’s a bit too…”
Just as I start squeaking out the mildest of resistance, Lady Merlia turns and stares at me with crushing intensity. I’m terrified!
“Well then, pray tell, which one is more to your liking?”
Lady Merlia suddenly seems receptive to taking my opinion into consideration, so I quickly gaze at one of the piles of dresses and timidly reach my hand toward a pale blue dress that I find rather cute at the bottom of the heap. My hand instantly receives an undeserved slap from Lady Merlia’s folded hand fan. I actually flinch from the pain.
“Such a lack of fashion sense! Completely unacceptable!”
I try to tend to my slapped hand while looking up at her with teary eyes.
How did I get myself into this situation anyway?
Well, after having a delicious breakfast this morning, I set out on my daily visit to the library and ran into Lady Merlia on the way. I greeted her with no intention to stop, but my feet froze as Lady Merlia roared, “I can’t stand it anymore. You! Your attire is completely unsophisticated!”
I was dumbfounded. Today I’m wearing a re-tailored, hand-me-down dress from Mother. It’s a light green dress and rather cute. Is it really so out of fashion?
Anyway, I posed no resistance as Lady Merlia snatched me away to her room.
“To begin with, didn’t you wear the same beige dress on your date with Prince Gilbert that you wore for the tea party when we first met him together? Truly unbelievable!”
Lady Merlia seems to take these details way too seriously. But I’m curious, so I keep my mouth shut.
“Um…for my future reference, could you please tell me what it is about my attire that you find so displeasing?”
“Very well, I will tell you plainly,” says Lady Merlia as she dramatically unfolds the hand fan.
“First of all, your skin tone is dark; raven-haired with deep black eyes as well. Also, your face is rather featureless and plain. Your body too, well, it’s attractively slender, but it lacks curves. For someone like you to choose a beige dress! And outdated as well?! A total eyesore! What were you thinking when you wore it not once, but twice?!”
I can understand why Merlia’s sensitivities were offended by my fashion blunders, but why should I not wear beige? I don’t get it. But I can’t muster the courage to pose further questions to the now, even more agitated Merlia.
“The colors you choose should be deep and vibrant. Wine red, deep green, and what do you think of purple? You should also favor dresses embroidered with gold thread.”
None of what she’s suggesting is among my first choice, if at all.
“Um, I am grateful for all the advice, but I can’t really afford…”
“Goodness gracious!” Merlia gasps as if I’ve said something completely unexpected and outrageous.
“I do not intend to take any money from you. These are all dresses I don’t wear anymore; I was about to get rid of them anyway. Take all you want.”
“Be quiet! It’s quite an unpleasant sight to have you loitering around in such an uncouth beige dress. You’re one of the final candidates; you should dress as one. You do realize we’ll be making more appearances together as a group, don’t you? Such a humiliation it would be…”
Lady Merlia clenches her teeth as if enduring a vision of the apocalypse, and I’m feeling swept away by the intense emotions she’s displaying.
“Don’t dawdle. When you’re done having that dress adjusted to your measurements, try this next one on!”
Ugh! We’re not done yet? Lady Merlia’s aura has flared up quite brightly.
I simply cannot go on like this. It’s an endless loop. Once again, I sink into the sofa. At least I’m done with dinner and my night bath. All that’s left is to go to sleep.
It’s Heidi. She’s the only one who comes by my room at night, so surely, it’s her.
“Miss Lina, would you like to try the perfume and lotion that were gifted to you by the lady of the Yusera family? There’s some hair balm too.”
You guessed it. When I was on my way back from Merlia’s, I ran into Lady Alisa and was snatched away again. And so, my beauty lectures continued on.
“Dresses and accessories are merely ornaments. If you don’t work on your body, you won’t be able to attain true beauty!”
And on and on… Lady Alisa’s fierce dedication to the mastery of beauty was a sight to behold.
“Look at this. Feel this,” she said, as she shoved a lock of her beautiful hair in my face. It was certainly very fine to the touch. Her skin was silky smooth and soft, also. Yes, she allowed me to poke and prod her a bit, and such were my impressions.
To enjoy each other’s company briefly and part without saying farewell is something I prefer. This time, such a habit paid off—in the end, we were in high spirits, and I was relieved to find that the experience was not at all unpleasant. Upon leaving, Lady Alisa beamed at me and gave me a gift of perfumed oil and some cosmetics, which I had no choice but to receive graciously.
But, contrary to what you might expect, that wasn’t the end of my trying to get back to my room last night!
Next came Lady Laila, who snatched me away and regaled me with a lengthy conversation on various complicated political topics.
“Girls who only focus on their appearance are utterly forgettable! A woman’s true weapon is her wits!”
So spoke Lady Laila with undeniable passion. When I told her that I had been visiting the library since I had arrived at the palace, her eyes lit up, and she spoke even more passionately. Before leaving, she gave me a large book, which she assured me would be a most gratifying read.
I think you can predict what happened next.
Just as I was hurrying back to my room, I stumbled upon yet another one of the ladies. This time, it was Lady Maribel. I wasn’t quite able to excuse myself, so of course, I ended up in her room as well.
“The people here are all so stiff. The latest fashions don’t truly originate from the royal palace but from the busy city and its streets, and most of all, from the young women of our generation!”
Maribel talked at length about the latest imported goods, the most delectable candies, and a hodgepodge of hot topics for young women our age. She jumped from one unrelated topic to another, nearly giving me whiplash. And so, I ended up leaving her room with gifts, including some milky lotion.
And such was the course of events I faced as I attempted to return to my room, which I finally achieved after encountering all of the ladies. I’m happy to know that I’m not on anyone’s enemy or even on anyone’s rival list, but how can I put this… I’m getting a bit too much attention. Maybe I’ve finally become popular!
And now I’m sitting here, thinking in private about the cyclone of events I’ve been through, when Heidi giddily walks to the dressing table, picks up the cosmetics and lotion I received, and starts applying them on me. Ooh… This actually smells incredible. And having my hair combed after it’s been perfumed with oil…
Yikes! I’m a bit afraid as I realize I’m enjoying luxuries that I’ve never before enjoyed in my life. What’s going to happen if I let myself get used to this?
“These items go so well with ma’am; it’s almost as if they’ve been created just for you. Ma’am is truly beautiful,” Heidi muses. “It’s truly amazing. I’ve never seen cosmetics work this well on someone before.”
I never knew my dry, sun-kissed skin could feel so soft and refreshed!
“So, this is what top brand beauty products feel like,” I say, as Heidi gives me a strange, forlorn look.
I’m not sure what emotions Heidi’s projecting with that look, but I wish she wouldn’t look at me like I’m some sort of pitiful lost child.
Translator: Robert F.