Chapter 8 – Strange Groans (1)
Rei hid herself for the next four days. She buried herself into the layers of thick blankets like an animal going into hibernation and didn’t dare poke her head out.
Heish grew impatient on the very first day and knocked at her door incessantly. Her lack of replies aggravated him even more until he didn’t stop by at all.
The servants were indifferent towards her. They were distant yet courteous. Aside from bringing her clear soup, they didn’t seem to care about her and didn’t give her any attention. To them, Rei was only a bit sick.
But Rei knew the problem wasn’t with her body. It was her mind that was troubled. An indescribable feeling was festering inside her and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t seem to suppress it.
The only female servant in the manor was Mary. Before Rei had come to the mansion, her only duty was to cook, but now she was in charge of looking after her.
She would come from time to time to give Rei some medicine. She’d always do her work without speaking much and would go back as soon as she was done, so Rei assumed she’d be the same today as well. But surprisingly, she decided to ask her a question this time.
“Are you like this because of the Master?”
Mary asked as she fed the medicine to her. Rei fell silent at the abrupt question but then shook her head weakly.
“If it’s anyone’s fault, it’s mine.”
She was too ashamed of her lack of elegance to face him. But Mary didn’t understand her and jumped to conclusions.
“You might want to escape from here before it gets too late.”
“W-what do you mean?”
“You don’t need to lie to me. I saw you with the master. You two were quite… chummy.”
Mary’s tone seemed sardonic, yet Rei couldn’t find any trace of emotion on her face. No matter what, she couldn’t figure out the meaning behind Mary’s words.
“Do you not…like the lord?” Rei asked boldly.
“I’m a mere servant. Why would my opinion matter?”
“I-I met an old woman named Della, and I sensed the same thing back then. She didn’t speak well of the lord.”
“Della is the master’s nanny. A poor creature, really… But she’s the only one who can come and go out of this house as she pleases, so she might as well be the luckiest one out of all of us.”
Mary left after making these vague comments. She offered no explanation, leaving Rei behind to ponder upon the meaning.
The next day, Mary’s attitude changed completely. She made small talk about the weather and checked up on Rei’s condition, as if extremely concerned about her health. But the thing that shocked Rei the most were the jokes Mary cracked.
“He must be out of his mind by now.”
“Who else would it be? I’m talking about the one who lives upstairs.”
“You mean the lord?”
“He’s at his zenith right now, so please excuse him.”
Rei’s fever had gone down, so she was relishing a cool sherbet now. She took her sweet time while putting down the spoon, content with the refreshing feeling the beverage filled her with. Mary’s nose twitched in impatience as she watched her slow actions.
“He’s been agitated ever since you came to this manor. And it’s only become worse since he couldn’t see you these days. Well, I’m sure you’re aware of that though.”
“I think t-there’s been a misunderstanding. There’s nothing going on between Lord Clodan and me.”
Mary’s actions stopped upon hearing her words. She let go of the bedsheet she’d been tidying and snorted loudly.
“Lady, have you never seen a man before?”
Well… It was obviously impossible for her to meet any man unless she was betrothed to someone. But Mary didn’t seem to care about that. She took one look at Rei’s expression and mocked her.
“Who on earth would invest in such an idiotic business unless it were an interest in a woman?”
The servants were familiar with Heish’s plans. Even they knew how hopeless his idea was. Forget the profit, it’d be a miracle if he even managed to earn back the principal money. No sane person would ever invest in such a business.
“He lent him money because he’s your brother. But don’t worry, lady. Master always gets his money back, no matter what the cost.”
Rei hung her head as she considered the implications. He’d do anything to get his money back, right? Then… Would they be kicked out if Heish failed to pay him back?
“Will I be asked to leave?”
Such a thing was impossible. Mary could only laugh at Rei’s naivety.
“It would actually be the opposite.”
From then on, Mary would often gossip about Clodan. The contents of her talk were too embarrassing for the shy and timid Rei, who could only blush in reply. She was so flustered that she’d beg Mary to stop.
“It’s true, you know?”
“Please… Please stop!”
“A tall man is always well-endowed. You’ve seen first-hand how tall he is. There’s no denying it. You will surely have a hard time.””
“I-I’m not hungry anymore. That’s enough for today!”
“Ah, but it’ll be fine after a while. You’ll get used to it, I’m sure of it! You have such a lovely voice, I’m sure the master will be dying to hear it every night.”
There were no limits to Mary’s words. She chattered incessantly, constantly going on about her master’s physical features and how lucky Rei was to be able to see and experience them.
Rei’s face burned with embarrassment and she buried herself inside the blankets once again, waiting for Mary to leave her alone.
“I’m t-tired, Mary.”
“Don’t look at this situation in a bad way. It’ll be better for you.”
Mary’s voice took on a sudden, grim tone, almost like she was warning her. Rei unconsciously lowered her blanket.
“What are you…talking about?”
“Please think of it as if you’ve met your soulmate. Think of it…as if it is your fate.”
She pinned Rei with an intense gaze. It was important that she knew this.
“I won’t be able to come the day after tomorrow.”
“Is there a problem?”
“Do not come out of your room that day, no matter what. Please.”
“Why? What’s wrong?”
Mary didn’t bother replying. Rei just needed to confine herself to the room until the week was over. And she hoped she’d listen.
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