PDM Chapter 7
He stopped at a close distance and bowed his head, placing his hands on his chest. “My greetings are late. I’m the butler, Takan.”
My eyes met Takan, whose eyes were on me even with his head bowed. Before arriving at the mansion, I expected that no one would welcome me.
I was sure that was going to happen. But, there was a big difference between what I imagined and what I faced.
Even in the breath he exhaled, Takan was transparent in showing his dislike for me. His face clearly painted his thoughts. ‘You don’t belong in the family. I feel humiliated to have someone like you as my master.’
I blinked at Laura, who was behind me. What should I do in this case?
Laura whispered sternly, “You can answer however you want.”
Although technically I was an aristocrat, I had given up such a life a long time ago, and it felt unfamiliar to me than an employee greeted me. Still, I was determined to try and be worthy of being the Duke’s partner.
“Thank you, Takan.”
When I said hello, Takan only lifted his face. Then, he adjusted his monocle and turned around without hesitation.
“I will guide you to your room.”
At my urgent call, Takan stopped and only turned to face me after a moment. He didn’t hide his irritation.
I flinched but didn’t back down and asked, “Where is His Excellency?”
Takan narrowed his eyes but soon smirked and answered dryly, “He’s out of the house now. Then I’ll show you around.”
It was a seemingly innocuous tone. Haa… so he’s not in the mansion. I didn’t think that Kyle would show his face or welcome me warmly on the first day of our wedding, but it was rather bitter and sad.
She held herself for comfort before following Takan. Laura silently followed behind.
As we walked to the main hall, employees who were busy working appeared. They glanced at me and looked away in surprise when our eyes met.
They didn’t do anything wrong, but they looked awkwardly at me for no reason.
“Madam, be careful of the stairs,” Laura warned.
I picked up the hem of my dress and followed Takan upstairs. I unconsciously looked around, but my gaze stopped at a figure hanging on the wall of the landing.
Inside the frame, young Kyle and three people I assumed were the former Duke and Duchess smiling, staring straight ahead. Kyle’s childhood. What kind of childhood did he have?
The Countess knew all about Kyle’s childhood. I couldn’t help but feel envious.
“Madam.” Laura came over and looked at my complexion. “Are you feeling unwell?”
She must have thought it strange that I suddenly stopped. I looked around, and Takan had stopped walking.
“Ah, I’m alright.” I smiled.
Laura looked worried, but I meant it. At least I could be in the same space with Kyle. I continued walking upstairs.
Now that I’m in the mansion, I can stay by his side.
I filled my head with simple and foolish thoughts.
I realized that I was out of place.
I couldn’t help but be surprised to see the room that Takan had shown me. It was too glamorous.
The room I lived in had mold growing on every edge of the worn-out wood. Whenever it rained, water leaked through the damaged wood. The furniture was older than me, and the only decorations in the room were broken lights.
I suddenly remembered the shabby outfit I wore the day I first met Kyle. What was Kyle thinking? I must have been a mess.
I wasn’t wearing the same clothes, nor was Kyle here, but I self-consciously smoothed over my current outfit.
“I’ll excuse myself. Rest well.”
I probably would have continued looking around the room in a daze if Takan hadn’t bowed and said he would leave.
In the room, there was a canopy bed where three or four people could sleep. It was a simple room with only mahogany tables, chairs, and consoles, but the artworks decorated everywhere were dazzling.
I liked the balcony where I could smell the seasons. How nice it would be to open a window with him and watch the curtains swaying in the wind. It would be lovely to drink tea during the day and dance with him at night. I smiled softly at the dream that would not come true.
At that moment, someone knocked on the door.
When Laura opened the door, two maids stood side by side, bowing their heads and staring at the floor.
When I cast a puzzled look at Laura, Laura whispered, “These are the maids who will help me serve Madam.”
The maids approached me and bowed again. Finally, one of them looked at me, and our eyes met. She flinched and dropped her curious gaze back on the floor.
“Please take care of me.”
I was about to bow back but regretfully stopped. I looked up to see Laura slightly shaking her head. She meant that I, the Duchess, should not bow my head to the employee.
I was afraid it had become a habit. My body moved reflexively because I always lowered my head. I was no longer familiar with the situation where someone bowed to me.
I replaced my greeting with a smile.
Among the two maids, a black-haired servant standing on the left turned her head. She groaned, but I couldn’t hear it because she was far away.
Laura overtook me and stood in front of them. “Leave.”
At Laura’s stern voice, the two servants bowed their heads and retreated. The oak door closed.
Laura stared at the door for a long time, then opened it. She only approached me after making sure that no one was eavesdropping outside the door.
“What’s the matter, Laura?”
Laura bowed politely. “Madam, may I once again offer you some advice?”
“There was a word from your Excellency that the authority inside the mansion was not entrusted to Madam. Did you know that?”
Laura ended it with a worried tone. I could see what she was anxious about.
As we discussed the contract, I agreed with him when he said he would not relinquish his authority over the household. However, it was a warning that I couldn’t do anything in the family as I wanted. The only thing I could touch freely was the funds for maintaining my dignity as the Duchess.
Since I wasn’t a high-ranking noble in the first place, my position as the Duchess would be unstable if I wasn’t given the reigns to manage the house. Moreover, a person like me was no different than a commoner.
“Madam, you’ll have to speak informally to me in the future. The same goes for the other employees. Furthermore…”
Laura paused. I just smiled, knowing what she was going to say.
“Madam, you must never bow your head to anyone inside the mansion except for the Duke.”
“It’s become a habit. Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in a mansion pretending to be a commoner.”
Laura looked up sharply. Ah, right. I wasn’t used to it, so I kept using honorifics.
“I see,” Laura still used honorifics despite her stern behavior. She took a deep breath and lowered her gaze. “Contrary to your personality, you have to look more coldly and respond more coldly.”
“You have to know how to draw the line.”
I nodded as if I knew what Laura was saying. She was probably concerned that I was powerless in the mansion.
I wasn’t good enough, so I was worried. Maybe Laura was the only one in this mansion who would help me. I frowned playfully.
“Laura, you worry too much. Ah.” I shook my head and tapped my lips a couple of times. “There are a lot.”
Laura sighed deeply and groaned. She always saw through people. Looking out for others was ingrained in her.
I just laughed softly and whispered, “It’s still difficult, so I’ll take it slow.”
“He’s not here yet?”
I fell asleep while waiting for Kyle. I looked around and stared into the still, still room. I couldn’t hear anything inside or outside the room.
This wasn’t what I wanted.
It had been less than a day since I stayed in the mansion, but I discovered a world I had never known before. I was especially surprised when I ate.
The only food I ate was crusty bread, which was sold at a bargain, or a thin soup with a lot of water added to increase the quantity.
Alone at a large table, I sat in awe as they served me fresh food.
And the dress? It was gorgeous.
The gifts from the Duchy’s vassals and acquaintances we received to celebrate our wedding were also unexpected.
But I didn’t want that.