Chapter 13 - Staying Home
“Letters that have arrived for you, Lady Floyen.”
I sat up.
‘They came as expected.’
Although my social reputation was in shambles, it was nothing compared to people’s reverence of my father, a living hero.
“Please bring them here.”
Merilyn carried in a silver tray, stacked with a pile of letters.
“Here they are.”
I skimmed through the letters one by one, unable to resist the urge to laugh each time. Although there were dozens of letters, not a single one was sincere.
‘It’s as if they’re telling me that I have lived my life in vain.’
Although this left a bitter taste in my mouth, I wasn’t upset.
‘I am the only person to blame.’
In the past, I never cared about what other people thought of me because I was too busy trying to win Mikhail’s affection. While I frequently lashed out at people who offended me, I showed him favor no matter how he treated me. As a consequence, I became a loner. There was no one else to blame for this but me.
“Do you want me to put these letters away, Lady Floyen?”
I suddenly heard Merilyn speak, and I looked up at her. Since I was done skimming through the letters, she probably thought I wanted to put them away.
“No, I will reply to all of them myself.”
“Are you sure… you want to reply to these letters?” she widened her eyes.
I chuckled at her question. “Yes, I’m sure. They sent them to me out of concern, so I must personally reply to them.”
I knew very well that these people didn’t send me letters because they were worried about me. However, there were several reasons why I couldn’t ignore them like I usually did.
‘Many nobles are resentful towards me for ignoring them… I will have to show them that I’m not that kind of person anymore.’
No matter how poorly I was perceived before, people would change their opinion about me if I showed them my subtle but clear transformation into a better person. Writing replies to these letters was a part of my plan, but I ran into an obstacle before I even started.
‘What should I write?’
Since I had been extremely uninterested in the lives of other people, I didn’t know their preferences, much less how to strike a correspondence.
‘I don’t even know anyone well enough to compliment them.’
An idea sprung in my head when I glanced at Merilyn.
‘Now that I think about it, Merilyn must have written replies to these letters all this time.’
When one thinks of a maid, they usually think of a person who does the laundry or cleans the house. But unlike ordinary maids, maids-in-waiting were expected to possess good speaking skills and knowledge of social affairs. Because they were tasked with assisting aristocrats, they usually hailed from fallen noble families or middle-class families that could afford an education. In other words, Merilyn was like my secretary.
“I have a request, Merilyn.”
“Please do tell.”
“Can you help me reply to these letters?”
Merilyn widened her eyes and gaped at me with a bewildered expression. This was natural, given I had never asked for her help in the past.
‘Well, I’m not the stupidly prideful girl that I used to be anymore.’
I looked at Merilyn and said, “I just need to know a little bit about the families we usually interact with.”
“Yes, I will do my best.”
I smiled at her compliance and replied, “Thank you. It’s reassuring to have your help.”
At my words, Merilyn briefly looked at me strangely before quickly fixing her expression.
“Then, I will bring you a pen and some paper.”
* * *
Merilyn stood outside the door of the duke’s office with a stiff expression. Madam Perez, the head of housekeeping, glanced at her and announced, “This is the girl who serves Lady Jubelian, Master.”
There was no answer, but the door opened.
Merilyn gulped nervously and stepped inside the room. However, the sight before her turned her fear into admiration. The duke was standing in front of a large window, his silver hair dyed with red from the amber sunset. He looked like a picturesque painting.
His voice promptly brought Merilyn back to reality.
“What did Jubelian do today?”
“S-she wrote replies to letters after reading a book.”
Merilyn’s stuttered answer subtly changed the man’s stony expression.
“She read a book?”
His surprised expression left as quickly as it came. Merilyn glanced at the duke’s blue eyes, which reminded her of the vast sea, and did her best to keep herself together.
He then asked her another question.
“What kind of book?”
“Its main topic is about estate management.”
At Merilyn’s answer, the duke slightly frowned.
It was natural for him to ask this because Jubelian never read any books before. Merilyn recalled what Jubelian had said when she asked for the book.
“I’ll be a nuisance to my father if I don’t even know the basics.”
“She told me she doesn’t want to be a nuisance to you…”
“I still don’t understand why she would read something like that.”
He had an annoyed tone, but Merilyn could feel that it was markedly different from when he talked to her.
Merilyn spoke without thinking twice.
“Perhaps… she wants to talk to you.”
The duke stiffened at her words.
Merilyn gulped nervously.
‘Did I just say something stupid?’
At that moment, she heard him speak in a low voice.
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