Chapter 13 – A Late-night Visit (2)
This was not the only work that Jorge had given to her.
“Lady Anna, isn’t the water too hot?”
“No, it’s warm and pleasant.”
In the evenings Chloe began looking after Anna, Evan’s youngest sister. The baby of the Cupiheat family, she was more than 20 years younger than Evan. She had reportedly suffered from autism and insomnia since childhood. Even Aaron, the butler at Graham Mansion, visited the family daily for her care—this was the extent of everyone’s affection for her.
Poor girl, inflicted with insomnia at such a young age.
Chloe would clean the medicine storage by day, and by night stay with Anna until she fell asleep. While caring for Anna was other nurses’ responsibility, everyone truly hated the task, as the insomnia was incurable and all they could do was to watch Anna suffer.
I hear the Cupiheats are one of the best families in the capital.
This was why Anna’s care had previously been assigned only to senior nurses. However, given that, as a slave, Chloe wasn’t permitted to speak of Anna’s condition to anyone.
Anna’s late parents, despite their tender love for her and their various efforts, had failed to cure Anna’s insomnia and almost gave up.
Even though Anna was wary of Chloe at first, she gradually opened up after seeing her sincere, daily efforts.
It had already been a week since Chloe had begun caring for Anna. They had many conversations, and through these she learned that Anna’s autism and insomnia were congenital illnesses.
Considering Anna’s young age, Chloe figured that light aromatherapy might be helpful. In fact, it was one of the ways in which she had coped during her horrific marriage to Gilbert.
She decided to extract essential oils from plants herself. Noblewomen often bathed with flower petals or scented oil, but as their purpose was to permeate the ladies’ bodies with fragrance, all of such oils had overly powerful scents that gave her headaches. On the other hand Chloe’s scented oils were very subtle, and provided a cooling sensation to the head.
Anna asked to bathe with these oils for hours each day. She felt her headaches fade more and more each day, and began falling asleep faster. She relished the soothing scent whose gentle whiffs she could continue to detect after her baths, when she lay upon her plush bed.
“…So today I went…riding and…mmm…”
Chloe found it peaceful to watch Anna drift off to sleep. Of course, considering Lord Evan Cupiheat’s status as a duke, frequenting his mansion went against her wish to live an inconspicuous, quiet life as a slave. And yet meeting Anna, and watching her recovery, filled her with pride and satisfaction.
It had been almost 2 months since Chloe had begun looking after Anna. Chloe thought of Anna as her own sister, and aided Anna’s recovery with all her heart. To Chloe the relationship was more than that of a mistress and her slave. This was the case for Anna as well.
“Men bathe with scented oil, too?”
Anna explained to her second eldest brother, Aaron—who was feeling quite stressed out lately—about aromatherapeutic baths. Aaron, blindly dragged there by Anna, could not bring himself to trust the work of—not even a nurse but a slave. So Chloe, describing scented baths and scented candles as types of psychological treatments, explained that they were frequently carried out by everyone in the foreign country where her mother used to live.
“Yes, sir. But these are not the flower-scented oils that we typically use in the empire.”
“Then what kind are they?” Aaron still could not overcome his suspicion. What if her oils were addictive, or the kind used in anesthesia or hypnosis?
“I really cannot trust this aromatherapy rubbish.”
“Oh brother, please try! It truly makes your anxiety disappear and helps you feel at peace. It takes all your stress away.”
Aaron, who had been looking at the women disapprovingly, wiggled his eyebrows at the ‘It takes all your stress away’ part. He had been dealing with crushing stress, thanks to the issue of his master’s marriage, and the enormous pressure from Duncan Graham regarding the matter.
I feel as if I’m being strangled, he thought. Duncan kept attempting to match the Archduke with a daughter of an aristocrat, and Alexandro continued placing Aaron in difficult situations. Stuck in the middle, Aaron was in a helpless situation. His shoulders were heavy, and his head throbbed at the thought of the Archduke’s need to marry.
That Lady Clara Bandorras also seems like trouble.
Though he was a capable butler who never complained, Aaron was having a difficult time, so much so that he found it painful to report to work each day. That morning he had even sent a message to the Archduke explaining that he was unable to work that day, using Anna as an excuse.
Knowing that Aaron had never missed a day of work before, the Archduke did not make a fuss. Even though having to tend to Anna was not a good reason to miss work, Aaron direly needed a day off, even if it was to be gained under false pretenses.
Aaron found the claim about complete stress relief simply outlandish. He resented the devious little slave girl for having bewitched his sister like a quack would. But he was also curious.
“Are you sure it’s not dangerous?”
The Archduke was, for the first time in a while, out riding with his old comrades in arms. His beautiful black stallion, which he had raised himself, was an exceptionally wonderful horse. Sensing his master’s mood, the beloved horse galloped fiercely through the wind.
Rough mountains could not stop them. The first in his group to arrive at the destination, Alexandro caught his breath, inhaling the clean mountain air.
His father, Duncan Graham, had visited the mansion the previous day.
Even though Graham Mansion technically belonged to Duncan, since he had moved completely into the palace the house was effectively under Alexandro’s authority. Duncan only rarely visited.
Father thinks that the palace is his home.
Hence, there must have been an ulterior motive for Duncan’s visit. Alexandro was certain.