Chapter Eight: Rosa Wants to Nurture Her ‘Favorite Character’ (5)
Bernard, who was packing, stopped in his tracks when his fingers entered his sight. He stared down at it, unable to make sense of the thoughts in his mind.
A few months ago, his fingers were cracked, but nowadays, even his nails were in good shape. Right now, it was as if Rosa’s body heat was still present on them.
Bernard’s innocent beautiful face wrapped. Why didn’t Rosa reject him?
Not only did she not blame Bernard for his theft, but she forced even more valuable goods onto him. Furthermore, to throw a fit about the broken porcelain was understandable, but he never expect her to be worried about his own fingers there.
That person, how far will she…
Bernard shook his head with a frown, not liking the adjectives that came to mind after that. After a few moments of glaring at his own fingers as if they were his parents’ demons, he eventually resumed stuffing his things into his bag. Among other items, the bag include a horseshoe, gold earrings and lace ornaments.
Yes, Bernard said that “He had sold them to the riffraff from the port”, while in reality, he had kept them. But it was not because of a guilty conscience, but because the men looked so degenerate when he inspected the port to offer them for sale.
Not only do they travel around the region, but also around the whole country, wandering the seas here and there, but they are also involved in some pretty shady business. Trafficking, smuggling, kidnapping, and slave trading to name a few.
Having grown up in the lower city area, Bernard can sense the dangerous atmosphere peculiar to men who dabble in such business. He had decided to withdraw early because he knew that if he untactfully offered to do business with them, he would draw attention and get into trouble.
Now, what should he do with the contents of this bag?
While the dusk skunked into his room, Bernard was pondering, but his thoughts were interrupted by a violent knock. No, not a knock, but a door kicked open without waiting for an answer.
“Hey! Are you there?”
It was Lutz who stepped into the room with a grim look.
“… No need to rush me, I’ll be out of here shortly.”
“Now is not the time for that!”
Lutz, now completely devoid of politeness, interrupted him and shouted. His face, only slightly more mature than Bernard’s, was now strained with impatience and fear.
“Lady Rosa is missing! She’s nowhere to be found in the villa!”
Bernard raised an eyebrow at the unexpected statement. However, Lutz had lost all semblance of self-control, with that momentum, he seized Bernard by his chest.
“Lady Rosa has just collapsed, and now she’s gone off somewhere!! Do you know anything?!”
“How would I know?”
Bernard snorted in exasperation.
“I don’t know. Perhaps, she slept for too long and went out for a walk or something. Or maybe to enjoy the nightlife? Hunt for men? There are times when you just want to go out aimlessly.”
“Lady Rosa, such a thing, how could she ever misbehave in the same way as you!?”
“You see. Because people are all the same when you take a veneer off. In fact, don’t you think the people in this villa hold her in too high regard?? Even she has one or two things about her true self that she can’t tell anyone…”
Bernard had made a more accurate observation than he realizes, however, his remark was not spelled out until the end.
Lutz had punched him in the face as hard as he could at point blank range.
“Don’t jest! You, have been treated so well by Lady Rosa, how can you still say such things?!”
Lutz, bright red with anger, shouted!
“N… tsk, she…”
Bernard, who was on the receiving end of the blow, spat out blood as he fell to one knee on the floor at once.
“Don’t seriously punch a younger opponent in the face, you piece of shit”
“You, is that your true self?”
“Yah, is that bad!? I grew up in the lower city”
No longer even faking his tone, Bernard glared at the other man, while pressing his cheeks with his hand enraged.
“Yah well, I had a poorly upbringing! Ya know? Unlike Lady Rosa’s, let me tell you! Before I came here, I had never been able to eat three proper meals in a day, and until a few years ago, I had never gone a day without getting beaten up. Together with the rats snatching some booze, scattering around the neighborhood to get some stale bread. That’s the way I’ve been living, do you understand!?”
His innocent and delicate beautiful face was now imbued with fierce intensity. Despite his small size, he was as ferocious as a wounded animal.
“While your Lady Rosa cozily snuggled under blankets, I was a poor brat wrapped up in straw to survive the snowing. While she was surrounded by the virtuous subjects of the fief, I was surrounded by hoodlums and got beaten up. Do you know how miserable that is?”
Lutz gulped. Bernard continued to shout in anger.
This was all true. He was enraged by his own misery. He loathed Rosa.
But at the same time, he was most annoyed with himself for desperately trying to convince himself of that… otherwise he would not be able to maintain his distance from Rosa.
“What’s wrong with taking back a little bit of what I should have received from someone who can spare it! After all, if that woman, had had a little misfortune…”
“Don’t be a spoiled brat!”
However, his emotional outburst was interrupted by Lutz, who clenched his fists. He was trembling and shaking with anger, and his eyes were even soaked with tears.
“You… such a thing, drunk in your own misery, you, what the hell do you know about Lady Rosa?!”
“What the hell?”
Bernard raised an eyebrow at the unexpected rebuttal. Lutz explained in a faint voice.
“Lady Rosa, you know… was mistreated continuously until about the time we were hired!”
If Rosa had been listening, she probably would also have asked back, “Eh?” However, Lutz, who had no way of knowing such a thing, continued to wring out his story to the astonished Bernard.
“If you’re not familiar with other aristocrat families, you may not understand… Most of the countryside aristocrats who live arrogantly are generally as bloating overweight as the Master. Why would Lady Rosa be so thin, do you know!?”
“That is… anyone can infer the truth, it was because the Master shunned Lady Rosa. After the death of the Madam, Lady Rosa was moved to the darkest room and spent most of her day imprisoned in there… She wasn’t even given adequate meals!”
Bernard gulped. If she had been there, Rosa would surely have been speechless.
Apparently, in the Langheim estate, Rosa’s childhood of being a shut-in and renouncing to food in a dimly lit room, constantly grinning, was interpreted as abuse. This was probably due to the fact that the Count replaced all of his servants in the middle of her childhood, and half-assed information was passed on.
“In addition, Lady Rosa… somehow, seems to be afraid of men.”
“Although she is gentle to everyone, she subtly keeps her distance from who are over a certain size or have a masculine appearance or personality.”
Moreover, Rosa even had a male phobia setting added to her. Lutz unclenched his fist and sadly looked down at the floor.
“In fact, she used to dote on me so much, but from the time I started to grow taller, we started talking less and less. When I occasionally do talk to her, she seems to look at me anxiously. “
That was just because she was saddened by the fact that “This child was gradually becoming more and more ‘attacker’-like…” However, the men who she kept at a distance as soon as they showed manly behavior were completely convinced that “Lady Rosa must be afraid of men.”
And to make matters worse, there had been incidents in the past that supported this. Lutz whispered in a hushed, loathing tone.
“This is something that only a few people in the villa know about… A few years ago, Miss Rosa was seen several times coming and going from the Master’s study late at night. And it was always on days when the Master was terribly drunk. Then, the next day, no, in the worst case, a few hours later, she would always collapse and develop a fever. For the next few days, she would seem to act strangely. … Do you know what it means? Do you understand?”
Of course, it means that in the gap while the Count was drunk, she was reading surreptitiously the springtime books and suddenly collapsing from overexcitement about the contents. However, Bernard’s interpretation was, of course, different.
“It couldn’t be… that the Count, with his own daughter…?”
“Shh. Lady Rosa is an aristocratic young lady who is required to marry for political reasons. We believe even that pig bastard, would not go to such lengths. But… otherwise, he might have started.”
Bernard paled. Even if it wasn’t sexual harassment, it could be for example, dousing her in alcohol or hurling abusive remarks at her. The possibilities of repulsive chastisements in the seclusion of a nobleman’s estate. Having seen his fair share of severe violence in the harsh lower city, Bernard’s imagination was much more vivid than any other boy his age.
(No way… she…? Ah, but, for sure with me, she told me “I like your cute parts” rather than my masculinity… and, come to think of it, didn’t she said she was used to eating awful food?)
Bernard suddenly remembered the time Rosa had offered him her entire meal when he had missed to eat lunch.
— You can eat it if you want.
— No way, would that be alright?! My Dear Sister’s portion would disappear.
— It’s fine! For my meal, a rotten potato is enough.
He had taken her statement as a harsh joke, something which was unusual for her. But perhaps that was a statement of grief, reflecting the reality of her childhood. Otherwise, the daughter of a nobleman would not have bothered to hone her hunting and cooking skills. Surely she had been starved to the point where she had no choice but to do so.
Once he started to think about it, everything about her speech and conduct matched Lutz’s claims. Before he knew it, in Bernard’s mind, Rosa had completely transformed into a tragic young girl.
(If that’s the case, she… has been living in fear of men and being fed rotten potatoes… how does she still maintain that kindness…!?)
Bernard was shocked as if his cheek had been slapped.
He indeed had been neglected by his mother, but she had never assaulted him. He had been frequently beaten up by thugs, but he had friends who would fight back with him.
She, on the other hand, was all by herself in this large estate… She had lost her mother, experienced repulsive bad treatment from her father, surrounded only by manly men, living in fear. When he thought of Rosa sitting in a dimly lit room, cradling protectively around her young body with her own arms, Bernard felt guilty, as if he wanted to punch himself.
To someone like that, what have I …!
She would still believe in people. Perhaps she feels compassion for the weak and want to protect them. Perhaps she saw her past self in the figure of the innocent Bernard.
And yet, Bernard betrayed her and hurt her.
He clenched his fist so hard that almost looked like they would bleed. He felt the same tug at his heart, the feeling that he felt when he was hugged earlier. Now that guilt was added to the mix, it multiplied manifold and tormented him.
He had to apologize to her right now. Return the items he had snatched and told her his honest feelings.
In truth, he recognized her as deeply compassionate and a true noblewoman. Every time he felt cherished, he was so happy that he actually wanted to scream… that he was only being spoiled.
“Hey, what’s wrong…?”
Lutz raises his eyebrows at the abrupt silence from Bernard and called out to him. But ignoring that, Bernard continued to think.
From the timing, she must have left the villa because she was hurt by Bernard’s betrayal. He wondered where the heartbroken Rosa could have gone.
Her favorite place… No, that person said “Being next to Bernard is more fun than being anywhere else.” That’s right… she is the kind of person who cares more about me than about herself.
If so, in this time as well, she would probably try to take some action for Bernard’s sake rather than attempting to comfort her own heart.
For example, to make sure that Bernard, who is leaving home, has a comfortable trip, she prepares traveling gear and she arranges money for travel expenses.
Travel money… that’s right, the harbor…!
He recalled how he had told Rosa earlier that “Money in hand is the best”, and that “sold off for a mere trifle”. Given her personality, she would probably try to convert the goods and coinage into ready money and then present it to Bernard. Or, she may even try to get back his brother’s share by going to the ruffians who had struck a hard bargain for a trifle. He could picture her doing something like that.
“He-Hey…! Where are you going? Yo!”
Paying no attention to Lutz shouting behind him, Bernard ran out of the mansion while the sun was beginning to set.