Chapter One: A Report on My Peaceful Everyday Life
I exhaled and tidied up the sewing and cut off the excess thread with scissors.
What I had made was a cushion cover. Thanks to the colorful threads, the embroidery of summer flowers I had made turned out amazing. To add to the operating costs, I intended to send it to the orphanage bazaar. Sewing, including embroidery, was my only special skill.
It had already been a year since I married my husband, the marquis.
The Kingdom of Cresion, located in the West of the continent, had a large and abundant territory. Several years after the war, the kingdom had become very blissful and peaceful.
The duty of my husband, who was the leader of the 1st Division, was to protect the royal capital. Along with the Verite Knights, he’d report to the royal family, who governed the Cresion. As such, he rarely returned to the mansion. As far as I knew, he had only returned five times in the past year. Four of them were late, and night, to which he proceeded to leave without waiting for the dawn—as such, we couldn’t meet. I greeted him because he had returned after dinner only once. However, I didn’t see him off because he told me that it was unnecessary.
Recalling that time, I felt a little depressed, but I hurriedly shook my head. Because of that, my pale gold hair flowed down my shoulder. My blonde hair had a light pigment—as close as it was to silver, it could still be said to be yellow. In addition to that, my eyes were the same overcast gray as the cloudy sky. I doubted that I could be called beautiful or cute. I was truly different from my beautiful stepmother and stepsister, who had walnut-colored hair and charming features.
I didn’t have a lavish dowry, and my biological mother was evil, so I didn’t have any backing. Lacking knowledge as a noble lady, I couldn’t even socialize, which was one of an aristocratic wife’s duties. I had too many drawbacks to be considered as wife material. Considering that, it wouldn’t be strange for my husband to dislike me.
However, my husband had been very good to me.
We didn’t meet or exchange words. I didn’t receive any presents or flowers, but thanks to my husband, I could live comfortably. Maybe, the maid had let him know that my hobby was sewing because soon after, a good sewing tool was provided for me. Besides, except for my husband’s study and bedroom, I could roam freely within that mansion. When I went out to the garden, no one would chastise me. I secretly took pleasure in taking a stroll with Elsa in the garden about once every three days.
When I was at my parents’ house, I was only allowed to leave the room when I went to the library once a week or when my parents or sister summoned me. Hence, it was truly refreshing.
—Hence, I was very grateful to my husband.
I was definitely the daughter of Count Eyton, who had a long history. However, my mother, Catherine, died when I was six months old. My father, Ramos, who already had a mistress before he married my mother, never loved me. Before the mourning period for his wife ended, he had already welcomed his mistress as his second wife.
My father’s mistress, who could marry into a count family despite being a baron, was called Sandra. She was supposed to be my stepmother, but she had always considered me abhorrent.
Regardless, I was still the daughter of my father. From the ages of five to seven, I received an education from a tutor. It was to achieve my purpose as a pawn in a political marriage.
However, when I was seven, the incident left an ugly scar on my body. Thus, I lost my worth as a noble lady. Still, my father and stepmother didn’t forsake me. Still, they considered their daughter ugly. So, except for going in and out of the library, I was basically ordered to spend time in a room given to me in the corner of the mansion.
I had a half-sister who was several months older, and a half-brother who was seven years younger. My sister despised me, but my younger brother loved me so much that he’d always sneak out to see me all the time. Back in my parents’ house, I had the most fun whenever Cedric, my brother, decided to meet me. Either because of pity or because Cedric was too cute, the servants never said a word about it. Thus, my parents and sister, who tended to be away, didn’t have any clue.
Cedric was a very kind boy and loved his ugly sister from the bottom of his heart. As a successor to the count family, he had a good tutor. Nevertheless, Cedric was wise enough to teach his ignorant sister what he had learned.
When my marriage was decided, despite being lonely, Cedric was the only one who congratulated me.
Even now, I’d receive a letter from him once a month. I desired to respond to Cedric, who wanted to meet his sister, but I was married to the marquis. As such, I couldn’t return to my parents’ house without the permission of my husband, nor could I invite guests, including my younger brother. Above all, my parents wouldn’t permit Cedric to see me.
In order to reply to his letter, I had to entrust it to Cedric’s friend, one of the countess’ apprentices, and a stable boy. I had him deliver the letter to Cedric directly. However, if the frequency were to go up, my parents might find out. As such, we could get only correspondence once a month.
Because my parents favored my older sister, I had an only concern regarding Cedric. I was worried about whether or not he was lonely or sad.
The modest knocking sound returned my awareness, which was swallowed by the whirlpool of thought. After answering, “You may come in.” I raised my face.
“Excuse me, Milady. I brought you some afternoon tea.”
It was Elsa—my personal maid. She entered while pushing a wagon. I put the needles and threads of embroidery into a sewing box with a nice floral design. The sewing box, made of white wood, was engraved with various flowers of soft wood grain on the lid and sides. Each one was carefully painted. It was a very exquisite and adorable sewing box.
Elsa wore a small headdress with white frills, with her flax-colored hair neatly tied up behind her. Her black dress had cute puff sleeves and a white round collar. A white apron with frills adorned her skirt, which extended to her angles. The other maid’s ribbon was white, but the red ribbon with the white lily embroidery which decorated Elsa’s neck was proof that she was my maid.
“Today, the chef has made Milady’s favorite strawberry tart.”
Elsa smiled and presented a plate of strawberry tart in front of me. The glossy red strawberries; the soft, yellow custard cream; and the white cream were beautiful. It looked as precious as a jewel. With a mere glance, I could tell that it was delicious.
“Thank you, Elsa. Please tell Chef Phil that I said thank you.”
“Yes, excuse me, Milady.”
With that said, Elsa also sat down on the sofa opposite me. She had the same strawberry tart and tea in front of her as mine.
Originally, it’d be unlikely for me, the marquess and the master, and a maid like Elsa to share a seat. Despite that, no matter how politely I treated Elsa, no one dared to criticize me. However, that didn’t mean I was praised, either.
Nevertheless, it was the kindness of Elsa and the others that allowed it.
When I first came to the mansion and was served tea, I couldn’t muster a single word. I didn’t know how to eat the glittering and jewel-like tart. It was the same with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After all, back when I was at my parents’ house, I only had bread and soup. I didn’t know anything. I was so scared to lift a spoon because I didn’t want to appear unladylike.
However, during the first day, Arthur, the house’s chief butler, told me not to use honorifics when I was addressing the servants. Yet still, I pathetically couldn’t speak to any of them.
Back in my home, if I didn’t use honorifics, my father and stepmother would whip and withhold meals from me. Being unable to eat wasn’t a problem, but my body could vividly recall their wrathful voices, the fear, the pain—as such, I was unable to call, ask, or reply to any servants.
The maid who helped me was none other than Elsa.
“…How delicious. The strawberries are very sweet, and the custard cream is rich.”
“Since it’s his own recipes, the head chef is very proud himself. He’s enthusiastic about making Milady’s favorite potato potage.”
“Is that true? I’m really looking forward to it.”
I laughed and sliced the tart into small pieces before carrying them to my mouth. The strawberry juice, the custard cream, and fresh cream gradually enveloped my mouth. The sourness of the strawberry only enhanced the deliciousness. The texture of the tart was also pleasant to the touch. The tea I had in-between had a rich fragrant of tea leaves—it improved the flavor of the tart. Elsa was the best tea brewer that I knew.
As I mentioned earlier, Elsa helped me when I couldn’t eat or speak.
During the first night of my marriage, I was weeping endlessly. I was refused to change my attire due to the ugly scar underneath. Elsa was kind enough to help me. After a month or so, I was finally honest about my fears and pains to Elsa. To me, she was like both a mother and a sister.
Thus, in compassion, Elsa hugged and proceeded to cry for me. She told me that it was alright to refer to her without honorifics. In addition, partly to teach me, we came to have tea and meal together in such a way.
Without Elsa, I wouldn’t know what would become of me. Elsa had become an irreplaceable existence for me.
Perhaps because Elsa had explained to the butler, Arthur, he was no longer strict towards me. Instead, he became gentle and overlooked my uncouthness, saying, “Milady can do it at her pace.”
Of course, I was learning the manners of a lady little by little through Elsa and Arthur. Despite so, I was aware that I was still quite lackluster when compared to others.
Nevertheless, the other servants were also very kind. I was truly glad that I was married to the Lutherford Family.
Thanks to everyone—including Elsa—my heart slowly thawed.
I couldn’t get my husband to love me, but the silver lining was the kind servants. Even if they did it out of sympathy, for I was a wife unloved by her own husband, or because I was an ignorant girl—it was enough for me.
While having a conversation with each other, tea time gradually passed.
Listening to Elsa, I asked for another cup of tea. Elsa returned with the wagon in the hallway ecstatically told me the story of her husband.
Elsa, who was five years older than me, was married to her childhood friend, also the head butler—Frederick. Frederick also happened to be my husband’s milk brother.
“Whenever Frederick comes, he’d buy me a dress before promising to take me out during the next vacation. Of course, it didn’t happen. How many dresses do you think I have accumulated in that way?”
My usually mature friend, Elsa, appeared cuter and girlish when annoyed.
I was truly looking forward to hearing more about Elsa and Frederick. It was because they looked like a happy couple from romance novels. The two, who were childhood friends, often quarrels without any reservation. To a bystander like me, it just sounded like the two were very much in love with each other. Of course, if asked whether or not I was envious of them, I’d deny it with all my might.
“Recently, it has been raining a lot.”
Elsa turned towards the window and made such a remark. I followed the direction of her gaze.
I felt that the rain had grown more intense than before I had tea. When I muttered, wondering if it’d continue to fall until night, I suddenly heard a commotion from the outside. Elsa and I stared at each other.
After standing up and looking outside the window, Elsa turned around, who was shocked.
“It looks like the lord has returned. His carriage is parked at the front door.”
“W, what should I do?”
Suddenly, I became anxious. He told me that he needn’t be sent off or meet, but it was the first time we got married that he returned so early.
“I’ll go take a look; Milady can stay here…”
The sound of knocking, which sounded to be rushing, interrupted Elsa’s words. After Elsa visually confirmed to me, she asked, “Who?”
“It’s me, Frederick, the head butler. Milady, I ask your permission to enter the room.”
“Y-you may come in…”
Frederick was Elsa’s husband. Even though he was the head butler, we rarely met because he served my husband, and was rarely in that mansion. Frederick couldn’t return because the lord rarely went home.
Frederick, who slammed the door open, had a frustrated and confused look on his usually cool face.
“Please calm down and listen to me, Milady.”
Immediately, an unusual atmosphere descended upon us.
Elsa stood beside me and clasped my hand. Due to her warmth, I managed to stand firm and waited for Frederick’s words.
“Master was injured during the training. It isn’t life-threatening, but after he had fallen, he supposedly hit his head… And as such, there’s a bit of an issue…”