Chapter 65: Early Morning
「I am awake」
It was still dark outside, yet I awoke.
It could still be early in the morning. The sun was not even up yet. But here I was, wide awake.
Today, I would be going out with Wilhelm-sama.
I had been too excited to go to sleep last night. And when I was finally able to sleep, I woke up too early like this.
What to do?
No matter what, it was still too early. Without sufficient sleep, I might become sleepy in the middle of the day. Regardless of that, lack of sleep is the skin’s greatest enemy.
I shall go back to sleep.
I closed my eyes.
And told myself to sleep well.
I could not sleep!
「What should I do……」
Even if I get up this early, there was nothing to do. I thought about knitting, but it was still dark outside.
I must not knit until a lamp is lit.
Similarly, I could not make documents for tomorrow. I was too excited last night. I upturned my jewelry box, wondering if there was anything suitable for my uniform, just before going to bed.
In the end, it turned out no accessories would suit my uniform. The only one I could prepare was a hair ornament. It was in the shape of a butterfly. Not too expensive, but it was given to me by my elder brother.
He said it was for receiving my first payment in the Order. I was wondering if it was still too grown-up for me, though.
I lay down in bed for the time being, but sleep did not seem to come at all. Rather, I am completely wide-awake.
Should I at least keep my eyes closed until the sun rose?
Suddenly, at the corner of my eye, I caught a glimmer of light.
My gaze shifted towards it.
「H……Huh, Ojou-sama, you are already awake? 」
Before I could wonder who it was, Mary was there with a lamp in hand.
Which reminded me, I heard there was a report from Richard that she kept up a good work attitude and was then entrusted with night watch duty. Night watch duty required staying awake all night and patrolling at regular intervals. Since they had to stay awake all night, they were given extra payment.
It was agreed on that Mary would not be paid nor given a day off, but it had already been a month since she started working as a servant. The reports stated she was doing well with her work, so it was agreed upon that she was to be treated like the rest of the servants.
And so, Mary now had proper remuneration. The Ambrose Ducal House is never black.
「Is it your shift? 」
「Y-Yes, I am in the middle of my rounds. It is still too early to rise……」
「Oh, I was really looking forward to my day out with Wilhelm-sama and woke up too soon」
Then, Mary lowered her small face.
Was there something wrong?
I had nothing in particular to do at the moment. Shall I ask about it?
「What is the matter, Mary? 」
「I do not mind if it is hard to say. I woke up too early and have nothing to do, so I only wanted to hear your thoughts」
Mary cleared her throat.
She placed her lamp on the nearby table, and then went down to her knees before me.
And lowered her head.
She was groveling.
「I deeply, truly……apologize, Ojou-sama……」
「What is it, all of a sudden? 」
「I have always, always, wanted to apologize……」
Did she do something?
The other day, she broke my favorite mug, but she had already apologized for that. Oh, there was the time before that when Mary overslept and was not able to come and make the documents. She apologized that following day, though. Then, could it be the time when she shredded my father’s clothes in the laundry? I would be at a loss if she apologized to me for that.
In my mind, I recalled the things Mary did, but I had no idea which one she was referring to.
「At first, it was just a sudden impulse……I thought, if things went well, my home…would have the royal family’s protection……」
「I heard rumors that His Highness and Ojou-sama do not get along very well……So I thought, I had a chance……」
「Aah, I see. This is about that? 」
It seemed like something of a distant past.
Or rather, I did not expect to be apologized to for this matter. For me, it was already over.
I never expected an apology about my engagement with His Highness at this point in time. Frankly speaking, I could not care less. His Highness already lost his birthright, and I was about to go out with Wilhelm-sama.
In other words, I held no grudge against Mary. Rather, I wanted to say thank you.
That was why I asked my mother to improve Mary’s labor conditions.
「It is true I lied so that Ojou-sama would be thought of poorly……. But I never expected for His Highness to act so impulsive……」
「Well, that is true……」
Did he ever have what it takes to truly succeed as the next king?
Well, I would never see him again, and there was nothing I could do if I cared anyway.
「Mary, I am not angry with you」
「Rather, I am grateful to you. Thanks to your breaking my engagement with His Highness, I could now look forward to going out with Wilhelm-sama. I would not start questioning your faults now」
Mary’s looked down with an expression of regret.
While I was struck with a good idea.
Since I was His Highness Rayford’s fiancée, I had never talked to men even during evening parties. It was more or less because there was a possibility that conversing with a man of the same age while being engaged to another could raise a question of propriety.
And so, I had not the slightest idea on how to interact with men. Most of what I knew of came from reading love stories.
In that case, how could I make Wilhelm-sama aware of me?
「If you truly feel sorry, can you tell me one thing? 」
「I-I will do my best」
I did not know the details, but Mary was once a baron’s daughter. Though we went to the same academy, she should still have been too far away from His Highness.
Then, her skill in approaching His Highness, ensnaring him, and leading him to break off our engagement could be considered notable.
It would help if she could tell me even a little bit of it.
Because I used love stories as an example, I became a pathetic woman who used the threat of her own death to coerce someone.
So, let me take Mary’s experience here as my reference.
「How did you make His Highness love you? 」
「His Highness……well, to someone like him, with you being a baron’s daughter, was it not difficult to approach him? 」
「Well……yes, that is so」
Mary nodded her head to my question.
The difference in status existed. While I am not so particular about my social status, His Highness showed off his royalty. No matter how I looked at it, trying to approach him would likely cause him to say 「mind the difference in our status」.
「In those circumstances, how did you manage to approach His Highness? 」
Mary could not look me in the eye.
Her brows merely creased in hesitance.
Well, it would certainly be difficult for her to talk about how she snatched my former fiancé away.
「It is all right. I would not get mad with whatever you tell me」
「You truly……would not? 」
「Yes, I swear it」
I nodded to Mary’s question as if to give her a nudge.
I did not think I would feel any anger anyway, if I was told how His Highness was approached.
「Umm……well, it was during…a party」
「That……I am…bigger than average……and I slightly…capitalized on that…how should I put it……」
「To show my chest better, I wore a revealing dress and deliberately pressed it against His Highness……. Then, he asked for my name……. For several times after that, I kept on pressing……」
I would not get mad, I said.
But what should I do? Anger welled up and simmered within me.
Was it in the breasts, after all? Was that it?!