Chapter 57 – Max’s Resolve (1)
“You’ve only just recovered, so don’t stay outdoors for too long.”
“I-it’ll just be a short walk.” She smiled at Rudis and walked away.
The quiet and calm maid, who rarely talked unless necessary, one day slowly began to fuss over her like a sister would. All she did was say a word or two out of concern without crossing the line, but that was enough to warm Max’s heart.
Is this really… my house… home?
Her eyes glazed around castle Calypse, the notion bringing to mind her life back in castle Croix. She had spent her whole life there, yet she had nothing she was emotional about. No people, place or anything for that matter, that could remotely make her miss the place. A cold castle that had once sheltered her for so long but she couldn’t bring herself to call ‘home’ – for it never felt like one.
She hoped that she just might be able to fill her life with new things completely different from that of her past. She hoped she would grow fond of this castle and its people, and hoped she would find love here and make this place her home. The pitiful, smidgen of hope that had erupted within made her heart tighten.
Is it really possible?
Leaving Croix didn’t mean she had become a completely different person. She was still that stutterer they had labelled dumb and inconsequential. Someday he’d also realize that I’m useless. Then everything might change. She felt her blood chill with the thoughts of losing his amorous, affectionate touch or burning gaze. What if he suddenly turns into my father and…?!
“Madam? I think you are still sick….”
She must have looked anxious as Rudis gave her a look. Max shook her head, as if the action was enough to dismiss the negative thoughts plaguing her. “I’m oh-okay. I would li-like a war-warm cup of t-tea.”
“I’ll prepare one right away.”
Max took this moment to gather herself. She had a decision to make. If she wanted her fears to never see the light of the day, she had to trudge far across the great unknown, beyond the haunting past of the halls of castle Croix, the reproached Maximilian and unfamiliar future. A resolve, a patient, but rather steely one was burning inside her heart.
I can change. I must start acting like a lady. I’ll become a dependable landlady for him.
By the next day, Max had fully recovered. Although she was yet to regain her full strength, she felt enervated.
This day, she had a visitor–Merchant Aderon. Had it been the usual timid Max, she would have avoided the meeting, but today she had an intent to fulfill.
Without hesitation, she met with the merchant and discussed the plans for the Great Hall. She carefully listened to his explanations without interrupting, before launching into a few questions of her own. After much consideration, she decided to lay faintly jade-toned, white marbles on the floor of the banquet hall in the Great Hall and have all windows furnished into exquisite glass. Before he took his leave, the merchant assured he would bring in workers from the guild and commence the work the very next day.
With that settled, she made a beeline for the library with the transaction statement she’d just received from Aderon. She skimmed through several, heavy tomes, and worked on recording it in the account books as how Rodrigo did it. By the time she had finished writing the items with her clumsy, almost non-descript, handwriting, the sun had sunk low into the horizon.
This hectic and busy schedule continued for days as there were many places in need of repair and there seemed to be no end to things she had to purchase. Each day she met with Aderon early in the morning to be guided on areas that needed fixture and flair. After buying more auxiliary landscaping, she would check to see if the workers were working properly.
In the afternoon, she met with the landscaper Aderon had arranged to garnish the dreary garden, and then the engineers to confer on the patterns to be engraved on the railings and window frames. Her day exhausted by a flurry of work, Max would then wrestle late into the night with a mishmash of item statements. Her anxiety piled up with the lack of guidance and uncertainty for her endeavors.
A worried Rudis would cajole her, “Madam, you look very tired. You should take some rest….”
“I-I’m all right,” she would say immediately.
Max checked the banquet hall where the crew was dutifully removing the stone plates and then went straight down to the first floor to rein in items coming in from the upper branch. As if on cue, Aderon and his workers pulled in a large carriage into the castle. The servants of the castle unloaded the luggages inside the carriage and carefully carried it into the castle.
“They’re some marble plates and tools required for the process.”
“Wh-what about the wi-windows…?”
“The upper branch in Anatol doesn’t have that much glass. We have to order it from the capital or from Libadon to get decent quality glass. For now, I’ll send a telegram to see if we can purchase in bulk quantities of glass from a nearby branch.”
She almost replied with her thanks at the words that seemed like they were out of kindness.
Then, Max took him to the living room, swallowing a sigh on her own. She was acting like a deep-rooted servile person as the zealous merchant began to explain the time and cost of the refurnishings before the maid could even bring him a cup of tea.
Max tried to be attentive to every detail, grasping every inch of what he was saying without missing anything. However, as soon as Aderon began to use a mixture of unfamiliar currency names, her head became more and more of a convoluted mess. She sweated hard as she tried to catch up with all the calculations. One Soldem is 20 Lilams, 20 Lilams equals 240 Derhams, 240 Derhams equal 12 Denars, and 30 Denars equal….
“Oh my, I was too excited just now. Please forgive me!”
The merchant ceased his rambles just when she felt her head was about to explode. She flashed him a narrow smile.
“N-No, it’s all right.”
“I guess I can’t help but feel enthused at the thought of contributing to the redecoration of the great Lord Calypse’s castle.”
“Th-thank you, For think-thinking like that….”