The hours went miraculously fast this day, Hime had just acquired the basics steps of waltz from Miss Swann and the two hours spent under the old woman’s company was not surely a joke.
One mistake and Miss Swann will not hesitate to lash her hands ever so slightly with a stick. It was her way of teaching in professionalism.
Today was heartbreaking especially since she wasn’t able to catch up the breakfast with her mother.
In moments like this, when she’s feeling down, it was a habit of hers to sneakily exit from the back to take a nap in her safe place, under the aged-oak tree planted at the backside of the manor house, wherein she talks to no one but birds.
“And where exactly are you going?”
A voice popped out of nowhere, ceasing her from her furtive steps.
Hime was clutching on her yellow dress to elevate its hemlines from the ground, so it won’t be a bother if she had to run.
Caught in the act, she said, “I am done with today’s lessons with Miss Swann so I decided to roam around. I was not actually going anywhere, Mr. Charles.”
“Mr. Charles? I believe he is organizing materials for your birthday bash at the moment.”
Cain answered as he came to pick up Hime’s hat that fell on the ground the moment she halted from her pace. He didn’t see Hime’s heavy sigh.
She turned around to face him, her chin was up, her arms were now crossed to each other.
Ignoring the lady’s glare, he complimented, “This lovely hat is a lot better on your head.” He said while putting it back on Hime. “There.”
“Why are you following me, Cain?” Hime inquired.
Cain tilted his head lower, the young lady was only leveled to his chin.
“It is the rule I am concerned about. The Marchioness strongly ordered me not to lose sight of you. Especially during class hours.”
“The rules, the rules! Why are you acting like this, anyway? You are my personal servant not a martinet! How can you be my servant if you are not following my orders?” Hime squealed.
“I do not consider you a good present at all, you are such a nag!”
“I will take that as a compliment.” He said, marching forward while his hands on his back.
Hime growled inside, stomping her one foot on ground before she followed Cain to the rear entrance of the manor house.
“I shall tell mother about this, just wait and see.”
“Would you like me to help you deliver the message?” He suggested.
She was standing beside the fireplace with her hands on her back. A maid whose name was unknown to her, and perhaps she was new, was adding wood into the hearth.
She was facing her mother who was sitting on the couch, and even though the Marchioness was her mother she couldn’t help but feel anxious around her.
“Mother, Margaret said you wanted to see me.” She said.
“Yes.” The Marchioness uttered as she closed the book she was reading, she looked at her daughter.
“I have heard that you did not like the present I brought. Mr. Charles also said that you were not getting along with Cain since this morning. It has been only yesterday. May I know why?”
Hime was speechless, yet she was open-mouthed in surprise. How did her mother come to know about this matter?
And she didn’t say she dislikes the present, she just doesn’t considerthatboy a birthday present at all. He’s a worthless servant whose concerns were just about‘the rules, the rules!’and nothing else.
“It is not proper for a lady to hang her mouth open longer than a minute without anything to say. Seriously, what is wrong with you lately?” The timbre of her voice was upsetting.
Hime immediately shook her head, “I am sorry, Mother. But I have to correct what you’ve heard, I truly appreciated the gift you gave me. But mother, you cannot expect me to like his personality, in fact, Cain does not even listen to me! I mean, I respect your rules mother, but I think he does not respect me.”
“Yes. The one you set.” Hime’s voice became lower than usual.
“I did not set any. Cain sets his own rules, if, in case, you don’t give any orders at all.” The Marchioness said, uncrossing her legs.
“I don’t understand, mother.” She said, clasping her hands together. “I thought of him as a present, but it appears to be that he’s my bodyguard.”
The maid next to her had just finished piling more wood at the fireplace, she gave a pitiable glance at her before she made her way to the exit.
“It was true when I said that Cain is your personal servant, a present, but let me restate what I have said,” She beckoned to indicate Hime to have a sit beside her.
“He is not a slave. I brought him here because I saw his potentials. During my visit on Nottingham, our carriage was ambushed by some bandits,”
“Oh my! That was terrible, mother! Why did you just say it now?” Hime widened her eyes while both of her palms were clipped on her supple cheeks.
“Will it change something if I spread the news?” Marchioness Melia asked, when her daughter shook her head, she continued, “That small boy saved my life, he was ragged then, an orphan. In my gratitude I gave him rewards, he didn’t take it.”
“He’s got some pride!” She squeaked.
“At first it didn’t matter to me since I know how plebeians think, they were poker faces. But to think that a Marchioness owes her life to an ordinary boy? Scandalous. So I had him investigated. It appeared to be that he was a son of a noble lord before, whose empire went busted, his parents died and he started to wander off town to town.”
“What happened then?” She asked, her eyes were widening in anticipation by each phrase.
“I asked him if he wants to get back to the luxurious life he had before, he said no.”
“Then why is he here now?” Hime inquired.
“Well, I offered him work, with a great deal of course. Did you know what Cain said?”
Marchioness Melia elicited a sarcastic laugh before she added, “I will accept your offer, Madame, not because of your riches, but because I wanted to bring back the dignity of my parents. I will continue their legacy that will lead into restoration of honor in our sullied names.”
“That was the most stupid reason I ever heard. But then again, he had a pride of his own.” Her mother added.
“He had a tragic life, doesn’t he?” Hime said, sighing with a little bit of sympathy.
“But becoming a servant of someone will not bring back his parents’ honor and dignity, would it, mother?”
“It is a matter of perspective, my daughter. But you are not the one to talk about honor and pride, the road is still very wide for you to take.”
“Yes, mother.” She sighed.