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While a certain someone’s head was filled with happy thoughts about her plan to go out, there was someone else whose head was going crazy. No, although the inside of her head was going crazy, her appearance only indicated that she was immersed so deep in thoughts.
That person was none other than Gwen, the head of the maids.
She heaved several deep sighs whenever she thought of her master’s marriage condition and the weird turns of events…
She had been serving the Schwartzen household before it raised its rank to a ducal household. She was Allen’s wet nurse who had watched Allen grow up, so Allen was like her own son whom she cared a lot about.
Being by his side for so long, Gwen understood very well the bitterness that Allen had to swallow when he grew up, the difficulties he had to encounter to rise up to where he was now, and so, she wished nothing but happiness for him.
One of the things that could decide someone’s lifelong happiness was marriage.
When Allen kept on delaying his marriage, Gwen thought that Allen was simply waiting for the woman he truly loved so he could be happy in his marriage. Never had Gwen thought that Allen would agree on a political marriage all of a sudden.
Being one of the most senior maids, coupled with the fact that she was close to Allen, encouraged Gwen to try persuading Allen out of this idea at first.
“Allen-sama, please reconsider. This matter is related to your happiness. Please think about yourself more,” Gwen advised.
“It will be fine, Gwen. My parents were politically married too, weren’t they? I know what I’m doing,” Allen stayed with his decision, and Gwen couldn’t say anything else.
Allen’s political marriage was quite tricky. It was with the long-standing noble Claritianta family. Other than strengthening the territory, it seemed that Allen’s marriage with the daughter of the Claritianta family was done to monitor the Claritianta family as well.
Thus, Allen felt a little bit guilty towards his wife and promised to treat her well. It was always his belief that children were innocent no matter what their parents’ standing might be. If Marquis Claritianta was proven to have conducted any wrong doings, then it would be his mistake alone. The Claritianta family would be implicated, but a daughter who was married out was like a spilled water. If his wife was innocent, then he would definitely protect her even if her parents were guilty.
Arlea Pristine Claritianta was the Claritianta family’s only daughter whose existence was shrouded in mystery, so nobody knew how she actually was. The only rumor people knew about her was that she had a weak constitution and had to recuperate in the rural areas in her childhood, and that she was really treasured by her family. She rarely mingled with the other nobles—she was the sheltered daughter.
Even when their speedy engagement and marriage were decided, Arlea refused to meet Allen despite Allen offering a few times to meet her.
Allen could helplessly proceed without meeting her at all before their marriage.
Therefore, neither Allen nor anyone in the Schwartzen household was prepared to face the kind of villainess Arlea was.
On the day of their marriage, Gwen first thought that the ‘distance’ Allen and Arlea exercised were due to Allen’s consideration of Arlea. Gwen thought that her master was going to wait until Arlea was ready to be real husband and wife with him before proceeding.
She was surprised and almost leaped out of anger when she found out that Arlea shunned Allen on their first meeting and that Arlea had said, “Don’t touch me, filthy” to Allen.
When she talked to Allen about it, she found out that Allen thought Arlea still couldn’t accept her political marriage and that they should give her time.
Gwen knew better than anyone that it was the first alarm that something was off.
Later on, Arlea indeed caused difficulties to Allen, but Allen was accommodating to her. Gwen thought that perhaps this leniency caused Arlea to forget her position and act arrogantly.
She would never forget the one incident where Arlea was going overboard for the first time.
At that time, Arlea was dissatisfied with how things were in the Schwartzen household. Allen had told her many times to treat the workers right, only to have those words enter Arlea’s right ear and exit her left ear. In short, Arlea didn’t see anything wrong with her treatment.
A young maid happened to bear the brunt of Arlea’s anger at that time. At that time, Arlea requested for a high-grade tea that was currently unavailable. Dissatisfied with that, she nitpicked everything, like how bad the tea tasted. The young maid apologized, but Arlea wasn’t satisfied. She threw the hot tea towards the poor young maid who was startled and fell. Arlea wanted the young maid be punished just to vent out her anger, but none of the senior workers agreed.
As the head of the maids, Gwen was called by Arlea. Arlea lectured on how the poor young maid should be punished, but Gwen remained still with her opinion that Arlea was the one being outrageous.
“How dare you speak back to me? You are all just servants, you should obey your masters! Just how were you educated?!” Arlea was very upset that none of the things were going in the way she wanted things to be.
Disappointment swelled inside Gwen’s heart. She knew that there were nobles who treated commoners and servants really unfairly like that, but she didn’t expect that her master’s wife would be one of such nobles. Arlea’s gazes towards the servants were those of disdain and belittlement. It was as if they weren’t seen as proper human beings…
Despite the viciousness Arlea showed, Gwen steeled herself as she stood up between Arlea and the poor maid.
“I’m sorry, Arlea-sama, but that’s not how this house operates. I believe that she has been punished enough. How else are you going to punish her?” Gwen asked.
“I want her to be fired!” Arlea said in her irritation.
Gwen still stood up on the behalf of the maid who was scared to her wits on the floor.
In her anger, Arlea hit the teacup she was grabbing to the table, causing it to be broken. In the fit of her anger due to Gwen’s opposition, Arlea raised the broken teacup and swung it to Gwen’s face…
Gwen remained unmoving as the broken teacup grazed her cheek, just right under her eye…
Arlea continued to berate Gwen until the other servants came rushing to separate them and treat Gwen…
But in the end, the scared young maid felt so guilty and took her own initiative to resign… Arlea was just that scary, she could force people to quit.
Being the direct receiving end of Arlea’s anger and disdain, Gwen could never forget her gaze at that time. Her hostile and vicious eyes… The eyes of her own master’s wife…
“Hmm? What’s the matter, Gwen?”
The same lady was standing right in front of her at this time, tilting her head as she looked straight at Gwen’s eyes with her moist and innocent eyes.
The hostile, vicious eyes full of disdain were certainly these very same eyes, but there was no longer a trace of hostility, viciousness, and disdain.
Rather, those eyes were pure and there was even a hint of respect in those eyes that were looking at her. It was as if Arlea was looking at her with respect as an elder.
Gwen was taken aback by the contrast between the eyes she remembered and the eyes she was facing right now.
After her master’s wife injured herself in one of her fits, her personality seemed to change in one night. She was skeptical before, but after facing the innocent eyes again this time, hope started to blossom in her heart.
Could her master’s wife really have changed? Is this how the heavens finally answer her prayers?
This ‘new wife’ was more amicable and kinder than the one before the incident…And her interaction with her master—though it couldn’t be said as a lovey dovey interaction, there was a certain warmth now.
…There was finally hope.
Could she believe in that now?
“Gwen? Is something the matter?” Arlea’s innocent face came close to Gwen’s view.
Behind her, the halfling maid, Faye, was peeking curiously.
That’s right. This current Arlea even treated a child maid well—she was even a halfling yet she was really treasured.
Could she really believe that Arlea-sama really had changed, that there was finally hope for happiness in Allen’s marriage?
…No, she wanted to believe that no matter what.
“Arlea-sama…I…,” Gwen opened her mouth hesitantly—but as her eyes met with Arlea’s innocent eyes, she became resolute.
“I humbly apologize for misunderstanding you,” Gwen bowed deeply.
“Eh, it’s fine. There’s no need for you to bow that deeply. I understand,” Arlea smiled helplessly.
Gwen was taken aback by Arlea’s understanding. Other people might feel vexed and annoyed, but Arlea said that it was understandable instead…
“Thank you for your kindness, Arlea-sama. I promise I will definitely instruct the other maids to treat you well. On behalf of them, I humbly apologize again,” Gwen still bowed.
“Really, it’s fine…,” Arlea was troubled by Gwen’s insistence.
“Would you like me to assign a few more people by your side?” Gwen asked.
“Eh, no, that’s fine. Faye is enough,” Arlea quickly answered. She was a modern person anyway, she could actually make do with just herself…
“There’s no need to hold back, Arlea-sama.”
“No, I mean it…”
“I heard you’re going out in the afternoon. Would you like me to assign some maids—”
“Gwen, it’s fine. I’m used to doing things alone, it will be better for me to keep things that way,” Arlea smiled helplessly.
“Then, if you really would like to request any assistance, please don’t hold back and tell this Gwen,” Gwen didn’t insist in the end.
“Yes, I will be relying on you, Gwen. Thanks for your hard work,” Arlea smiled.
Gwen raised her head in her surprise.
Thanks for your hard work.
That’s the one thing Gwen had never expected she would hear from Arlea’s mouth.
In an instant, the harmonious image of Allen and Arlea as she served them floated in her mind.
…Perhaps that future was possible, after all.
“…No, that’s my duty…,” Gwen said in a weak voice.
She closed her eyes as she prayed in her heart.
Please, let this kind Arlea-sama stay. Please, grant Allen-sama happiness.
That is all I ask for.