The Fifth Story – Welcome to the Orlellian House
Note: This chapter was a pain in the ass to translate on multiple levels. Also, Agnes has myopia, while Bernard is myopic. Pff.
Gigille was showing Agnes around the inside of the mansion.
“To start off, before anything else, I’ll show you to your room. Eric!!”
Calling her son who was the butler, she instructed him to pick up the bag and then follow.
“Um, I’ll carry the bag myself.”
“It’s fine. Since here at the mansion, carrying heavy things is a man’s job.”
Gigille, turning to look at Agnes, told her, “My word as the head of servants is absolute,” and made Agnes properly repeat it back to her as well.
After that, while walking inside the mansion, Giselle guided Agnes around the rooms.
“The third floor is the residential area for servants, the second floor is Master’s living area, and the first floor is the kitchen as well as where we do work such as laundry.”
What was on the third floor were the servants’ private rooms, a storage room, a simple bathroom, a linen room, and so forth.
“The number of servants in this estate amounts to six people. Everyone is a member of my family. The one walking in front of us is my eldest son who works as a butler, Eric, the one in charge of the kitchen is the second son, Allen. We have all been cooperating to make meals. The ones who do subordinate work are my daughters, Carol and Celia. Since we look after Master and him alone, the mansion is not very big.”
Gigille spoke of how they were looking to hire a new servant, as her eldest daughter had just gotten married two months prior.
“That’s why this is perfect.”
“I’ll make an effort in order to be of use to you.”
“Give it your best. Well anyway, don’t worry about our lack of staff. Hitherto, on days when we’ve lacked manpower, we’ve hired day laborers to come and help, so.”
Grinning as she looked at the forward-looking Agnes, Gigille gave her a smile.
Because the servants’ residential area on the third floor was being used by a family, there was no separation between men and women.
“Long ago, when this mansion was being used as a townhouse, the servants lived in the basement and the third floor, separated between males and females. But rest assured, because the room you will be using has a secure lock.”
She said that it would be good to use the loft that the eldest daughter had used until two months ago.
“Though you might be worried because you’ll be using the same quarters as men, as unfortunate as it is, I don’t think you’re my sons’ type.”
When Agnes tilted her head as if saying what do you mean, Gigille narrowed her eyes and said.
“From when they were children, I recall them saying that they had no interest in girls who were blonde since they reminded them of me.”
“Please excuse them.”
While they were exchanging those words, they finally arrived at the loft which was located right in front of the stairs that went up from the third floor.
After placing the bag in front of the door, Eric left without a word.
Agnes ended up thanking the disappearing figure.
“Sorry about that. That boy is a bit weird.”
Gigille told her to forgive him since he does his work properly.
While smiling bitterly about her son’s attitude, she picked up the bundle of keys that was dangling from her waist.
“This is a door that hasn’t been opened for two months, huh.”
Fundamentally, the only rooms servants did not clean were the rooms they used.
To make up for not hiring more servants, that is what Bernard had decided.
“Well, only two months have passed, so it can’t be that bad–“
Once she unlocked the door and pulled it open, a dusty atmosphere drifted about in the air.
“I’m sorry, it’s just a bit more awful than I thought.”
While illuminating the room with the lantern she was holding, she went to open the window.
With a whoosh, the clear air from the forest blew in from the window, causing the dusty air inside to diminish a bit.
“Miss Agnes, could you hold this for a little bit?”
Handing the lantern to Agnes, she lit up the light that was hanging from the ceiling.
“She told me that moving furniture and such was troublesome and thus left most of it behind. If it’s alright with you, use them as you please.”
“Thank you very much.”
In the loft, the ceiling was low, and it wasn’t wide, either. Even so, the walls, the ceiling, and even the fireplace was white, and the interior had a feeling of cleanliness. On top of that, the round desk, the chair, all the way to the container for clothing, everything was uniformly white.
A large bed was in the middle of the room. Against the wall was a bookshelf that was so completely filled with books that there was not a single crack.
“You know, everything was painted. She worked her younger brothers hard.”
“It’s a lovely room that looks as if it had just come out of a fairy tale.”
“My daughter said something like that too.”
Gigille told her that she would bring the futon afterward.
“I guess we’ll have to clean after that.”
The floor was still lightly coated with a layer of dust. It needed to be cleaned.
They went to the bathroom and brought back water and cleaning equipment that was left there.
“Well then, let’s get started.”
Together, they cleaned up the room. Though she wasn’t used to the work, Agnes still did her best.
Bernard, who had headed straight to his home upon arrival, was perplexed as he sat in his couch.
–Why the heck did something like this happen!?
He had just meant to bully her a little.
Even if Agnes had taken up his offer, he was supposed to put her in her place and tell her, “It serves you right,” and then feel refreshed, but he didn’t feel refreshed in the least.
He just thought that if he offered to employ her, he would wound her self-respect and pride. –For all that, his plan was completely derailed. To his offer of employment, Agnes had given her thanks.
It seemed as if she were a completely different person from the Earl’s daughter who had scorned him five years ago.
He wondered if maybe it was just a misunderstanding, but recalling the memories of the countless occasions they had met afterward, he denied it, shaking his head furiously, while thinking that it was definitely his imagination.
As he was absent-mindedly passing the time in his room, there was a knock on the door.
The one who had come along was the butler, Eric.
“Master, this is the written contract for the new servant. Please confirm the details.”
He put the single sheet of the document on the desk.
After asking if Bernard would like to take a bath or to eat, Eric left the room with a bow.
Without even touching the document, Bernard just followed the letters with his eyes.
Written there were the details of an employment agreement.
A single question came to mind.
–Are we really, really hiring her!?
He asked himself in his mind.
Worrying that maybe they were rushing things, his forehead became covered in sweat.
After all this time, he finally realized that there must have been a reason that Agnes, who had been fussed over to such a degree by the people who surrounding her, was neglected. Bernard had not even been able to think of that.
However, he also wondered what would happen if he revoked the words he had said earlier.
–Ahhh, what a pain this was!!
He roughly scratched at his head that was engaged in thought.
He wanted to tear the contract and render it invalid right then and there. While thinking if only he hadn’t met Agnes at that time, he cursed his unluckiness.
While he was in the middle of chaos, suddenly, he remembered what his father had told him.
–When there’s something that you don’t know or that troubles you, just abide by the teachings of the Knight Order.
He remembered the words he had heard over and over in his younger days. As he firmly gathered his brow in a wrinkle, he ruminated upon the teachings of the Knight Order.
–Assisting the weak, honoring courtesy, defeating evil.
If he followed that motto, there was but one answer.
In the freezing cold, Agnes shivering with that shabby appearance did not appear to be an act. Therefore, Bernard thought, without a doubt, she became a person who he needed to protect.
In the middle his despair, he called Eric.
“Hey, call that woman here.”
“Are you talking about Agnes Le Verges?”
“Yes. Go quickly.”
“I will do so.”
He got a pen and inkwell from the office and roughly placed them on the desk.
Agnes immediately showed up.
“Mr. Orlellian, did you call for me?”
Bernard instructed her to sit at the couch in front of him.
After saying excuse me, Agnes sat down next to Bernard.
“W-Why are you sitting next to me!!”
“Um, b-because it looked like you were indicating this one.”
“This kind of situation would usually call for us being face-to-face, you know!?”
When she was about to get up with haste, he stopped her with his hand. Saying that it didn’t matter whether she sat here or there, he realized that where she sat was a petty issue.
He felt the intense beating of his heart as his heart thumped loudly.
As he had not come into many contact with females of his age for several years, he had come to be completely ignorant as to what kind of manners he should have around them.
Incidentally, he had known Gigille’s daughters from when he was a baby, so he did not think of them as members of the opposite sex.
He wanted to quickly finish this important matter and make her disappear from his room.
Grabbing the contract from his desk, he pointed it at Agnes’ direction.
“This is the written contract. Read it well and decide!!”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
While he expected Agnes to take the contract from him like that, Agnes leaned forward and started to read the words.
Bernard was surprised because she had drawn closer way too quickly.
A gently sweet fragrance hung in the air, which exacerbated his state of confusion.
“–W-Wai, you’re too close!!”
Agnes, who was right in front of his eyes, quickly and forcibly kept her distance. She placed the contract on her lap as if she were throwing it.
“I’m sorry, I couldn’t see very well.”
“You could at least take the paper yourself, you know!!”
“Please excuse me.”
Bernard, whose face had turned a bright red from anger, ignored Agnes’ heartfelt apology.
“I truly, truly apologize.”
“It’s fine so just read the contract quickly!”
Agnes began to read the contract after being pressed to do so by Bernard.
Bringing the paper right up to her eyes, with a serious face she perused the contents of the contract.
“I have read it.”
“Umm, from now on, please take care of me.”
The salary was by no means high. The working conditions and even the living conditions were not necessarily good, either.
Still, Agnes said that she wanted to work here.
Without a drop of enthusiasm, Bernard requested her signature for the contract.
“……If you have no objections to the contents, write your name at the bottom.”
Bringing her face close to the low desk, she signed her name, Agnes Le Verges. While looking at that figure, Bernard secretly let out a sigh.