Even though Lydia rebelled against the Duke’s house, the real truth unexpectedly popped up. Lydia was a young woman, so she fantasized about sleeping on a canopied bed, reading a book while buried in many cushions, or having a tea party dressed in a lovely dress.
It couldn’t be helped that the room seemed to fulfill all of those wishes. When she stepped inside, Lydia could faintly smell the sweet, flowery aroma.
No, don’t… don’t let this happen to you!
At the end of the room was an old trunk that seemed out of place. Lydia should be able to retrieve her luggage.
“I’m glad you like it. My father chose the furniture and fabrics, especially for you.”
“If you’re going to lie, make it a little more realistic… There’s no way that cold person would choose a floral curtain.”
Brad, a competent secretary and adopted child, must have arranged it. Lydia gasped at the unfeasible defense.
“It is the truth. My father is a very clumsy man, but he has been very caring of his daughter after he knew you existed. He had tea ready for you earlier, and I think he wanted to talk more with his daughter.”
“If I wanted to enjoy tea and compromise, I wouldn’t ask a girl I just met today to get engaged. Moreover, it was in an ordering tone.”
As Lydia pointed out so, Brad looked troubled. He also knew that Isaac’s behavior was inappropriate for his first meeting with his daughter.
“Political marriage is commonplace in aristocratic society, so I am not offended by my father.”
“Right there! That’s weird! At least the Duke was free to fall in love when he was about our age, wasn’t he? And yet he forces his daughter and stepson to marry politically?”
Lydia’s mother, Amy, was said to have been this mansion’s maid. It was quite contradictory for Isaac to decide who Lydia would marry, even though he was enjoying a romance with his servant.
“Because he is worried about you.”
“Well… I know how it feels because the daughter of a butcher in the neighborhood lamented about the same thing.”
“The same thing?”
“Her father insisted that his daughter’s marriage should be to someone tall, strong and professional. But, you know, he was on his feet until he got married, and it was only after he became a son-in-law that he picked up a butcher knife.”
The butcher’s daughter was some years older than Lydia and was a good friend. When she tried to introduce her lover to her parents at an early age, her father was in definite opposition to him. Ultimately, her mother was able to mediate and reconcile, but Lydia’s friend was so serious she planned an elopement.
“I see. She was made to say and do things that negated her younger self, didn’t she?”
“Yes. I understand the rationale of wishing for one’s daughter’s happiness, but I can’t accept what you’re saying. So my refusal is justified.”
While talking, Lydia walked around her room.
“What are these dresses?”
Thinking to put away the trunk Lydia brought with her for now, she opened the closet and found several dresses hanging inside.
Evening dresses with delicate laces, easy-to-move cotton day dresses. These were all things that Lydia had only ever seen displayed in the show windows of high-end dress stores, and she was far from familiar with them.
“They are designed to be easily adjustable, but they belong to you, Lady Lydia.”
“All of them?”
“Yes. A maid will be assigned to you, so please let her know through the bell if you need to change your clothes.”
Although she was interested in the dresses, Lydia closed the sliding closet door for now.
While she would love to wear them, Lydia was also concerned that if she stayed too long in the ducal residence, she might get stuck in a luxurious life.
Lydia checked everywhere in the private room with opulent amenities such as a bed with a canopy, a writing desk, sofas by the windows, and a bath dedicated to her.
Finally, she noticed a door that had not yet been opened. From the hallway side, Lydia’s room appeared to be a corner room, yet the main room windows were all on one side. Then, this door would be the room facing the building’s side.
“Please open it.”
For some reason, Brad seemed strangely happy.
When Lydia opened the wooden door, she instantly blinked at the brightness beyond. This room was a sunroom with a pillar and a glass wall. However, it was obvious from what was placed there that it was not meant for relaxing.
Easels, cartons, canvases, and even a replica of a famous sculpture made of plaster filled the room. This was Lydia’s atelier for painting.
“Can I use this place?”
“Yes. We have renovated the sunroom for you. Depending on the material, it may not be good in sunlight, so it is possible to cover the room with blackout curtains.”
Approaching the window, Brad touched the dark blue curtain and explained to her.
“Is this also the Duke’s instruction?”
Lydia wondered what she was doing by asking that. If this was Isaac’s consideration, would Lydia admit her father’s existence? She didn’t quite understand it herself.
“When it comes to the atelier, I’m the one who suggested it… As you know, we learned of your existence about a year ago, and eventually, we were preparing to tell you the truth and to let you live in the Duke’s mansion. We also knew that you were a painter.”
Lydia could tell from just one day together that Brad was a brilliant person. While Lydia was convinced, she was also disappointed. She contradicted herself, even though she had unleashed a strong rejection against her father.
However, she was honestly glad to have an atelier ready at the same time. Even if Brad was considering marrying Lydia at Isaac’s behest, which was why he was so considerate, it was unlike Lydia not to be grateful.
Lydia wanted to thank him, but for some reason, she could not put it into words right away.
“Do you not like it?”
“Oh… I do… I-I may be a stubborn person, but I am not the kind to say that I don’t like something if I like it… T-thank you… it is very nice,” Lydia whispered her gratitude as she turned bright red.
“I am glad you are pleased.”
“But the atelier and the engagement are two different things!”
The exclusive atelier was attractive, and she was glad to have it. However, Lydia was unwilling to offer her freedom as a price for this generous hospitality. The policy of escaping from the Duke’s house remained unchanged.
“Yes… I shall be prepared for the long haul.”
The duke’s loyal dog—that was the perfect word. It was clear that Brad had no intention of overturning his engagement.
“I’m still troubled, even if I look happy.”
After spending some tea time with Brad, Lydia said she would look around the mansion and went out.
“It is not allowed to go out alone. Whether you’re shopping or taking a walk, I’ll be there.”
As expected, Brad tried to follow her. He was anticipating Lydia to escape, and it was unlikely she would be able to do so. Perhaps she should be prepared for a long confrontation.
“What should I do if I want to think alone?”
“You can do so in your private room, atelier, or library.”
“No way. I like being outside.”
“Outside? You may feel free to use the garden. “
In any case, Lydia had no intention of running away at this time. She would first figure out the mansion’s structure and find a place to sneak out. With Brad’s permission, Lydia began exploring the garden.
Lydia walked for a while, checked the area around the wall, and sat on a bench when tired.
He said I could be alone, but… I am not alone at all.
Lydia was free to look around the garden. However, the servants were waiting for her at a distance, just out of sight. They did this in case Lydia was in danger or needed something.
It’s like a lively tavern here.
Art supply stores were open until the evening, while restaurants opened in the evening. When the tavern owned by a friend of Lydia became busy, she was sometimes asked to help with serving.
The tavern proprietress often said that a pleasant tavern was one where the waiter came when you wanted to order, and if your glass were empty, they would immediately offer you a refill.
The environment where the servants would come right away in case of trouble might be comfortable when one became used to it. However, if it lasted forever, Lydia, a commoner, would not become used to it any time soon.
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