The Eighth Story – Wicked Girl, Agnes Le Verges
Note: Sorry for the laaate delay between releases. Este died, forgot about this chapter, then I died for a bit and let Este do his thing. Next chapter won’t take as long as this chapter took! Soon(TM)
TLN: Taffeta is a type of fabric made from silk or cuprammonium rayons. It’s a high-end fabric, often seen in fancy upper-class dinner parties and what not.
TLN: Twill is a type of textile weave with a pattern of diagonal parallel ribs.
The day after the storm, once it became morning, the weather outside was nice. Bernard thought it was like yesterday’s stormy weather was just a lie.
The attic, which had taken the most damage yesterday, was unusable due to the dampness. There was also the possibility that the floorboards were peeling off and needed to be replaced. He didn’t even want to think about the costs of repairs and such.
When Eric disinterestedly relayed the report, he ignored it while despairing.
Agnes was to temporarily use the guest room.
Bernard thought that this was just perfect. During the time he was deciding on how to deal with her, he decided to treat her courteously.
“And so, Agnes Le Verges.”
“It seems that you have a cold.”
“Because last night, your whole body was drenched in rain.”
Catching a cold from having her whole body drenched in rain was something Bernard couldn’t believe.
At present, he told Celia and Carol to nurse her.
“How may I serve you?”
“What do you mean how, if you just call a doctor-”
After saying that, he could only sigh.
It wasn’t good to have Agnes be seen by anyone who didn’t live in the mansion.
But even so, he couldn’t leave a sick person as they were.
“The doctor, it’s fine to call him, right?”
“Ah, aaaah. But–”
He ordered that the doctor’s mouth be forcibly shut by bribing him with money.
With a bow, Eric left the room.
From the repair fees to the medical expenses and the hush money, Bernard’s small fortune was steadily being whittled down.
Thinking that problems would occur time and time again, he let out a deep sigh.
After changing into his knight uniform, he passed time in the rest area until his working hours began.
“The Third Special Assault Force” that Bernard was attached to was composed of young knights in their early to mid twenties.
Today, there was a strange commotion in the morning.
The thing they were surrounding was a cheap-looking weekly publication. As the contents of the paper were the gossip of the nobles, it was extremely indecent.
This week’s edition sold so well that it nearly went out of stock. While boasting that he went through trouble to obtain this, one of the members held it out in front of Bernard.
“What’s written in here.”
“It’s concerning the rumored noblewoman.”
Without sticking his head out into the commotion, Bernard’s glance fell onto the periodical.
Though the front cover was a nude painting, things like that didn’t really matter.
The heading, “All About the Gaudy Way the Former Earl’s Daughter Lives and her unspeakable fraternization with the opposite Sex ~revealed by an acquaintance, this Is the Real Her~,” was written.
Just seeing that filled him with revulsion.
To Bernard, who showed no interest, the one colleague started to talk about the contents of the news story.
Agnes Le Verges.
A nineteen year-old born to a distinguished family, she was one of the very popular beauties in high society.
She invested much money and effort in preserving her beauty.
Her dresses were silken, made of satin and taffeta, as she would not wear anything that wasn’t made of first-class materials. It was said that, one day, she had fired a maid who had accidentally brought a dress made out of twill.
The people of high society had named that Agnes Le Verges as, “The Resplendent Rose.”
Reporters implied that it was natural she was beautiful considering all the money she spent, and they frankly reported that she lived indulgently and luxuriously.
Bernard had heard stories concerning her socialization with men from Djibril, but he was now hearing more detailed accounts from the self-proclaimed experts of his time.
“It’s amazing, isn’t it~. That she alternated between different men every year.”
“It must have been unbearable being those guys, huh. They gave her so many things too.”
“I had thought that Miss Agnes was pitiful, but now that I’ve heard the stories, it’s like she’s reaping what she’s sowed…”
“During a soiree, I just happened to catch a glimpse of her, but she was a reaal beauty.”
“But you know, it costs money to do so. And making her my wife if her personality is awful as well? No thank you.”
Without joining in the conversation, Bernard silently gazed down at the periodical.
If it was before, he might have joined them in their slander.
But now, he could only wrack his brain at the gossip happening in front of him.
Agnes Le Verges—Very prideful, the worst kind of woman who would evaluate someone with just their outward appearance.
However, the Agnes Bernard knew differed greatly.
Quiet, well-mannered and one who used the miniscule amount of money she possessed to send provisions to her father who was in prison, she was a family-minded woman who could be found anywhere.
The wicked woman, Agnes, and the extremely ordinary girl, Agnes.
Bernard was unable to determine which Agnes was the real one.
As of now, he had only been around her for a short period of time. He thought it was too soon to come to a conclusion.
Once the hour for work began, the commanding officer, Lazarre, came around to start the morning assembly.
As there was a delay in the concealment of the vulgar publication, it was confiscated.
After finishing the day’s training, he headed to the office to report his results to his superior.
Once the bell signifying the end of working hours rang, Lazare told Bernard, “Thanks for your work,” before telling him to go home.
“—Ahhhh, that’s right, Orlellian. Dispose of this for me, won’t you.”
The thing he held out was the weekly publication that had gossip about Agnes written in it. With an unpleasant expression, he received it.
“Good grief, it’s a terrible thing.”
Bernard rolled up the not too thick periodical into a cylinder so the front cover faced inward and grasped it tightly in his hand.
While he was thinking that he should burn it somewhere before he returned, he heard Lazarre say something.
“If it were possible, I’d like to shelter her at home, but I can’t get a hold of any news of her.”
“… Are you alright?”
“Is what alright?”
“Something like saving the daughter of a house that has provoked the king’s displeasure.”
“It wouldn’t be good, but with articles like this coming out, the circumstances surrounding her are only getting worse.”
Even under normal circumstances, she would be treated coldly due to the scandal her father had caused, but now, even bad rumors about her had come forth. One could say her situation was steadily spiraling downward.
“It could be that perhaps she is in an orphanage in the streets to hide herself.”
“Why is that so?”
“My niece hung out with Agnes at one point, and it seems like she used to go to the orphanage once a week.”
Lazarre told him that she was a woman who actively performed charitable acts. Also that the things that were written in the magazine were probably bullshit.
“There was one time she came over to the house and greeted us, and she seemed like a polite young lady. This kind of thing must have been written to increase the magazine’s revenue. They’re doing two-bit things.”
He spat out that it was a detestable world where this kind of periodical sold well.
After that, there was a moment of silence.
The one who opened his mouth first was Lazarre.
“What is it?”
“I’m going to have to go to the assembly from now on. And as such, I have a request.”
Lazarre implored while lowering his head that he wanted Orlellian to occasionally visit the orphanage from now on, and that if Agnes was there, he wanted him to shelter her.
“If she is there, I want you to take her along to my house by coach. I’ll remunerate you.”
“No, it’s fine.”
“Don’t say that, I beg you.”
“… I’ll go to the orphanage. It’s on the way home, so I don’t need remuneration.”
“I-Is that so. That’s a big help.”
The Imperial City’s orphanage was near the boarding station for coaches. He refused the money, saying that it was only stopping by on the way home, so he didn’t need any.
After receiving a memo with the address of his superior’s residence written on it, he headed to the locker room to go get changed.
It took ten minutes to walk there from the knight order’s garrison. The boarding place for coaches in the central street was only a little while away from where the orphanage was.
Because he couldn’t go empty-handed, he bought some sweets from a nearby store and headed toward the orphanage.
The orphanage, which had ties to the church, was managed by donations from the nobles.
However, the livelihoods of the children who lived there were not of great quality.
For who knows how long, the person who managed the money that had been collected had not been disclosed.
Bernard peeked into the orphanage from outside the fence.
Children between the ages of five and ten were cheerfully running about.
One could tell they did not live in abundance by just looking at their clothes. There were children who were barefoot as well.
Bernard, who had always lived in an abundant environment, was looking at a spectacle that made him want to avert his eyes. —Having said that, he couldn’t go home in this state.
After circling about the entrance, he entered.
“Wow, it’s a visitor!”
At once, he was discovered by the children and ended up surrounded. Because there was a good smell coming from it, they peered into the paper bag that he was holding in his hands.
“W-Wait a minute.”
As he was being jostled about by the children, a sister came out from inside the building.
“You all, what are you doing to the visitor!”
The children who were scolded apologized with a single word and dispersed.
“I am truly sorry.”
“No, it’s fine…”
For starters, he handed over the baked sweets he was holding. All of the sisters were delighted and received them with smiles.
After showing them the knights’ bracelet to reveal his social status, when he said that he wanted to hear stories concerning Agnes Le Verges, he was led into the building.
“I wished to tell you this from the beginning, but Miss Agnes is not here.”
Bernard retorted in his mind, ‘of course that’d be so.’
“… To this day, many reporters have come, mainly in order to hear things about Miss Agnes.”
The sister told him that she had told them all the same thing no matter which reporter it was.
“Miss Agnes came here on foot once every week. She was extremely kind and was a woman full of affection. The children also really looked forward to meeting with Miss Agnes. … Though it seems that no matter who it was, they didn’t write what I told them in their articles.”
She said that, upon seeing the weekly publication’s article, she felt utterly mortified.
Bernard silently listened to her story.
“—And so, why might you be here?”
“No, well, because my superior told me that if Agnes Le Verges were here, he wanted to shelter her.”
“Well, if that’s the case, there’s no reason to worry!”
What was there no reason to worry about? Agnes was at Bernard’s house, of course, so becoming curious about why the sister would assert such a thing, he asked her.
“Miss Agnes is currently at a certain knight’s house.”
Bernard felt perspiration form on his forehead as he asked where that information had come from. His heartbeat violently increased.
“I don’t know the particulars myself, either.”
“Because it’s something I heard from my mother.”
“F-From your mother?”
“Yes. My mother manages an inn, but…”
“Cottage of the Mountain Goat.” The sister stated that her mother was the hostess there.
“My family is large, so economically, things were a bit rough for us. … Since there were no people who would want to make the ugly daughter of a poor inn their wife, once I became twenty years-old, I became a nun. Speaking of which, this doesn’t matter, does it.”
In the same way as her, Agnes, who had nowhere to go, had, before anything else, come to the church to become a nun.
The one who had stopped her was the sister.
“If one becomes a sister, because one comes to serve God, one may not get married. … I thought that to a person as kind as Miss Agnes, who was loved by the children, not getting married for her entire life would be too much for her.”
However, Agnes’s determination had firmly become more certain. That from now on, she would use her life to serve God.
“But upon hearing that, well, there was a person she loved dearly, her cheeks became flushed, and she hung her head down in shame.”
Agnes had a person she loved.
Though it was difficult to realize her love immediately, the sister had recommended that, at least for the moment, she think about her future plans.
The sister had naturally inquired if Agnes would like to work at her parents’ “Cottage of the Mountain Goat.”
As she had said that this might not be of much help, she had suggested, “How about cutting the room charge in half in exchange for work.”
“And so, just a few days ago, Miss Agnes met with the knight she loved dearly and supposedly came out of the inn holding hands.”
“She doesn’t love him dearly, and she wasn’t holding hands either!”
“N-No, it was nothing.”
Because the sister was excited, the sister didn’t catch Bernard’s hint.
Thinking that it was really dangerous, he was greatly relieved.
“I’m sorry, my, I ended up talking too much…”
“This story, please keep it confidential.”
“Ahh, I have no intention of letting it out of my mouth.”
“You too, don’t say it to anyone else either.”
“Ehh, of course. Swearing by God, I’ll keep this in silence.”
Outside, it had become completely dark. The time for the last coach was drawing near.
After finishing his words, he threw the weekly publication that had written about Agnes into the fireplace.
Bernard bid farewell to the sister and walked to the boarding station for coaches.
The wind that was blowing today was chilly as well.
When he looked up at the sky, black clouds were being carried by the wind.
Bernard thought that he might possibly have a big misunderstanding concerning Agnes Le Verges.
Nevertheless, there was just one thing he didn’t understand.
Five years ago, why did Agnes look at Bernard with such scornful eyes.
After seeing the current Agnes, even if he had heard it from someone who knew her, it would be impossible that she would do something like looking down on a stranger.
No matter how much he thought, he couldn’t come up with an answer.
Besides, Bernard was unable to understand the meaning of Agnes’ expression of gratitude toward him a few days ago.
Quickly, he realized that asking her directly would be best.
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