Chapter 36 – Lady of the Castle
The maid picked up the firewood from the basket she carried, tossed it into the fireplace, stabbed it a few times with a poker before hanging wet clothes a few feet above it.
Not far from where she stood, Max could be seen quivering in cold. She was only wearing linen drawers, her body clad in nothing but a thin cloth. Starting on her tasks, the maid poured hot water into a small basin and dropped an amount of perfume oil in it. She then dipped a piece of clean cloth and gently wiped her mistress’ face, neck, and arms. Afterward, she handed Max a gorgeous skirt that reached the top of her ankle.
It suited her. Dressed in the elegant dress with the intricately embroidered patterns, Max looked stunning—the sunshine-like golden dress, with butterfly wings on its sleeves, was every bit as beautiful as Rosetta’s.
“Is it too tight?” Rudys asked thoughtfully, tying a red chest strap under her swollen chest. Max shook her head, her eyes trained on the image reflected in the mirror on the wall as she did so. As she was in high spirits, her pale face looked brighter, and her reddish-brown hair, which always seemed messy and tousled, looked surprisingly elegant in this beautiful, golden dress.
“Would you like me to braid your hair?”
As she sat in the chair by the window, the maid tilted the mirror, adjusting its position for Max’s view. Not long after, she grabbed an ivory comb and brushed Max’s hair carefully, her hands gliding between the intertwined locks and tresses.
Max looked out the window and listened to the sounds that resonated inside the room. She couldn’t help but staren at the steep, gray walls that seemed to reach all the way to the sky.
“Would you like me to bring you some food?”
She wasn’t famished still and would rather venture around the castle more. But somehow, she felt reluctant in expressing her desire—a trait she inherited from her previous situation.
But on the corner of her mind, her freedom finally came to realization. There was no half-sister here to look down on her nor a father to hurt her. She could go anywhere freely.
Hence, she defiantly raised her head and said, “I’ll eat later…”
Rudys laid down the comb having braided her hair competently and quickly. As a final touch, she brought Max her pair of shoes and slipped it onto her dainty feet.
Max gazed at herself in the mirror. She wasn’t used to having a maid help her dress like this. What would Riftan think?
“B-by the way, w-where is Riftan?”
“…The Lord has been out since dawn.” The maid responded with a slight irritation in her voice. “Do you need him for anything?”
“Oh, just…” Max shook her head, not knowing why she was asking. The feeling of being excited for a moment from wearing pretty clothes faded as quickly as it had come. Like a lie which filled her with a flicker of shame.
“Ah, ah, no um…no.”
She answered in an unstable voice that even she had hated to hear. Max could not comprehend the shame the maid made her feel. Rudys hurried out of the room—embarrassment written on her face.
“Madam, ma’am, let me guide you to the dining hall.” Rudys was nervous but Max just nodded in acquiesce. Even so, she was grateful that the maid treated her respectfully.
“This way… ”
Rudys led her to the stairs. She looked around the castle that she had seen for the first time just the day before. The gray walls and arched windows give the place a solid and tremendous beauty. Sunlight pouring from the window casted a light shadow on the floor. She stepped out into the room and narrowed her eyes.
The town of Anatol was very different from what she saw in the darkness of late evening. Yesterday, It had seemed dreary and bleak and rather old-fashioned. But now it was no less than a King’s castle straight out of a fairy tale.
Is there any special food you prefer, or dislike?”
“Oh, just… . ”
She blurted out words which in hesitation, suddenly died in her throat. An awkward look flashed across the maid’s face which caught Max’s notice.
Is she lamenting the fact that she has to serve someone as difficult as me? A sense of inferiority rushed over her. Nonetheless, she shook off the negative thoughts and followed the maid into the kitchen. A long cherry-wood table lay in the middle of a spacious dining room.
As she approached, one of the servants on the other side of the room quickly pulled out a chair. “Did you sleep well, ma’am?”
“Yes, I slept well.”
“I couldn’t introduce myself yesterday, because I didn’t want to bother you. I’m Rodrigo Seric. I oversee all the servants of this castle. ”
She nodded and found out that he was the old man who had yelled at Riftan yesterday.
“N… Nice to meet you.”
As politely as possible, Rodrigo bowed. “I will serve you with all my heart. If you need anything, feel free to tell me.”
“Oh, which made me think, yes-yesterday, t-the lord…. he told me I c-could decorate the c-castle…”
“In fact, early this morning, Lord Riftan asked me to assist you in any way possible. We’re planning to call the merchants to the castle soon, but would you like to take a look around in advance to get familiar with the Lord’s property?”
“Yes… yes please.”