FOR A PERFECT young lady (5)
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Nowadays, the Earl maintained a habit to walk around the corridor at down, without noise or light. Beth sneaked into the study of the mansion and walked towards the books related to the Laws of Etiquette of Aristocracy.
Fortunately, I taught myself to write after that from time to time.
It was possible that there might be books on the Code of Social Conduct in the neighborhood bookstore, but they would not have any advanced books on Social Conduct.
Since the etiquette was for just one day, she only needed to learn about the basic and important ones. Beth felt that she might be able to teach Claire the basics.
Even if it’s said to be a party organized for the sake of Claire, in any case, it’s all about adults.
After she confirmed that the door was locked, Beth took out a candle from her bosom and lit it. There was only weak moonlight in the study, but as the candle was lit, the light spread outwards.
Social Conduct…..Social conduct, Social Conduct. Beth ran her fingers over the spotless new books as she skimmed through the titles swiftly. Whenever she came across a word she couldn’t understand, she could only sigh about her insufficient vocabulary.
She put down the candle carefully on the floor and sat down. She took out a small notepad and ink pen. If she removed the book from the library, it would be found out by the maid responsible for cleaning this place. Before sunrise….. before other employers came, she must copy as much as possible.
Time is not enough. Even every night might not be enough.
* * *
On the 3rd day.
“Young Miss, when greeting, you must slightly lift up your skirt like this.”
At every meal, Beth began to teach Claire without fail. Somedays, she would also teach Claire in her play time. Even when Claire changed dresses, Beth would educate Claire on etiquette. Everything was just basics, but for Claire, without any foundation, it was of great help.
Beth would practice what she read in the book at night or in the morning in front of the mirror continuously, and the next morning she would demonstrate it in front of Claire.
Today’s breakfast was salad with Smoked Salmon and bagel with cream cheese. Claire, who had been used to eat hard and tasteless bagels, became stiff the moment she saw the bread. But when she realized that it was sweeter than other things, with shiny eyes, she sliced it and ate in small bites.
If it was as usual, Claire would have gobbled it up without even slicing the bagel. But since Beth started to teach her table manners for the Banquet, in order to review what she learned, Claire cut the bagel and ate it one bite at a time.
Beth felt both proud and touched when she saw this and looked at Claire with a loving smile.
There is also a limit to how much I can teach her. She needed to take care of the people in the Earl Mansion as soon as possible, then a decent teacher would be arranged for Claire. In order to accomplish this, Beth decided to put her plans into action.
* * *
“Nowadays Miss Claire seems more and more like a daughter of an aristocrat than before. What do you think of it?”
Without making any clattering sound, the Viscountess put down her teacup and asked Beth.
She called Beth to serve her tea just to ask if there was anything Beth knew on this matter. Beth looked as the Viscountess with innocent eyes as if she didn’t know anything and diligently made up a lie to put forth.
“Even if one doesn’t want to, seeing the elegant demeanour of Viscountess, isn’t it natural to incur some changes? With all due respect, even when I first saw Viscountess, each of Viscountess ’s gestures were so beautiful that I wanted to emulate you.”
Those were words without even a bit of truth. Elegant, my ass, the possessions of ants that carried those biscuit crumbles were more elegant. That was Beth’s heartfelt evaluation… that ants were more elegant than her.
As if she had felt good hearing Beth’s amiable and pleasant words, the Viscountess looked at her with gentle eyes. No, the Viscountess was always a gentle person towards all the employees.
But Beth didn’t like her.
I feel sick.
The Mrs. of Viscount Effie acted like her act of kindness was akin to giving alms to the servants. It was impossible to form any sort of attachment to such a woman. She was completely aware of the fact that the nobility lived a much better life than the commoners, but that never meant that all the common people had to live their lives in misery.
No, Beth did think she lived a miserable life, but to assume her as a pitiful person on her own and showing kindheartedness as she pleased, Beth hated it.
“So, you are saying is Miss Claire is imitating me.”
“In truth…. it’s something I shouldn’t be saying……”
“Let me hear it.”
“Please don’t disclose this to Young Miss. If madam is to disclose, my head will be cut off.”
“Hehe, even if Miss Claire was to know about it, I will try to persuade her. So let me hear what it is.”
“To tell the truth. When Madam leaves, Young Miss Claire would stand in front of the mirror, walking here and there and also do some strange things standing there.”
“For how long?”
“I didn’t notice it on the first day, I only noticed it after seeing it repeatedly….. Yesterday, especially, she seemed to emulate madam.”
Something unknown flashed through the Viscountess’s eyes. Interestingly it didn’t hold any positive meaning. Those eyes were cruel, like they watched how beautiful creatures did everything and anything just to survive.
Even though Beth noticed the change in Viscountess, Beth continued on as if she didn’t notice it. “Truthfully speaking our Young Miss is just an Young Miss in name…… Don’t all know this? That she is not even a noble?”
“Oh ho, How can you put your words like that? Anyhow she is your master that you need to serve.”
“Madam Viscountess, I am well aware that it’s an honor to serve a noble~ In the beginning, I wanted to serve an elegant person – like Madam Viscountess .”
Beth talked in a pleasant and soft tone, which felt like sweet whispers to the Viscountess. After she observed the Viscountess for some days, Beth understood that Viscountess desired for a good reputation, so much so that she was weak towards praise.
To be more accurate, she was weak towards flattery.
For these past 3 days, though she talked with Beth, all she asked was some perfunctory questions like, Was Claire giving her a hard time?, or Whether working as a maid is backbreaking or not? Even her smile was also perfunctory.
Right now her skin was collapsing. Beth wondered for a second how it could be this easy to rip off her mask. Anyways, it doesn’t matter. She welcomed such easy games. Beth cleared up the thoughts looming in her mind.
“You really have a talent in talking so that others feel good.”
“I just only make respectable people feel better.”
After she heard what Beth said, the Viscountess paused for a moment and then laughed out loud. She didn’t forget to encourage her to say that – the commoners can only grow big if they are bold enough.
Beth saw the arrival of a carriage embossed with a symbol representing Viscount Effie. She stood up from her seat and went towards it. If things were according to procedure, she would have stayed in the Earl mansion to teach Claire, but to Beth’s relief, there was no guest room in the mansion.
The room that used to be the guest room was at the top floor of the mansion. But it was now no more. Because of that, the Viscountess was currently staying at a villa in the Earl’s fief.
“Come to the villa where I stay for you get a chance.”
“That will be my honour.”
Why the hell would I go there?
Yelling and blowing at her 100 times I mind, Beth bowed her head as she saw the Viscountess off. Beth clicked her tongue as she watched Viscountess leave in her carriage before dusk. She bluntly showed that she no longer intended to teach Claire at all.
Was it because today the Countess was absent, that she went back earlier?
Today, the Countess went out to order a new dress, so she was not in the house at the moment. When Viscountess came to know about it, her face showed her disappointment. It seems as though the Countess had forgotten to inform her about going out to buy a new dress.
As Beth stood in the garden in a daze, a familiar looking carriage entered into the Earl Mansion. The countess returned to the mansion in her carriage intermittently. There were some large boxes and some packages. One of the maids who were carrying them twisted her leg and fell down. Some letter envelopes and papers fell out of it.
“Be careful! Those are invitation letters to be sent to our distinguished guests!”
“Y . . . yes, I am sorry.”
“Tsk These must be sent out tomorrow morning itself, if some defect is to occur , there is no time to buy new…..”
Beth’s eyes flashed.
It might be easier to drive a wedge between them than expected. The Countess considered very much about those empty formalities and vanities. In that case, however close the relation between the Viscountess and the Countess, the Countess won’t go in person to hand over the invitation, rather she will send it over through someone.
Beth glanced at the people around and swiftly and stealthily sneaked into the house-hold office where the Butler worked.
The Butler was busy welcoming the Countess, so he was away from the office at the moment.
The Order Book
There was an order book sent to the store in advance at the night time. Because they need to receive the goods for the next morning.
Beth searched through the documents stacked up on the shelf with extreme care as not to cause any change in appearance. As expected, Beth found it in a very conspicuous place. Seeing the order book, Beth showed a satisfied smile.
Oh, it’s even signed.
This made things all the more easy. Because it was already confirmed by Earl itself, it will be sent directly to the store without re-examining. Beth took the ink pen placed on the table top and added a beautiful looking ‘0’ to the number listed next to the products.
When she was going to put the documents back with a content, she tilted her head and took another glance at the document. Then added 2 more zeros against the Veal meat. Though all this money is going to belong to Claire one day, right now it’s not hers yet.
Beth nodded her head and left the House-hold office leisurely.
The next day, a disturbance occurred in the Earl Mansion as Beth had planned. Because of the boisterous quantity of expensive food items delivered to the mansion, almost all the employees were taken back.
Those expensive foods were fresh items, so they must be eaten or taken care of as soon as possible. Certainly the list was confirmed by the Earl itself, so from where it get twisted? The butler was caught in the midst of this case which had no rhyme nor reason and he put the matters regarding the invitations to the back of his mind.
After discussing with other employees, the butler started to frantically search among the pile of documents. Suddenly someone knocked at the door.
“Butler-nim, it’s time to prepare for the breakfast.”
“Ah, come in!”
The maid entered after she heard the voice that granted permission. The maid watched the butler run around in confusion with a tray in hand and finally started to talk.
“Butler-nim, breakfast for the employees was somehow taken care of, but breakfast for the masters is not yet.”
He raised his voice which echoed his frustration and distress as he went back and forth unlike his usual demeanour. Because of the mistake he made, which was unexpected from him, the limited time was already ticking .
He was unsure whether they would give a refund if they used only a bit of the ordered materials. The maid went towards the Butler who paced and took out a herbal tea with a good aroma.
“Pardon me that this tea is of not high quality, but for now, it can relieve your headache.” The maid spoke in a kind tone and smiled sweetly as if she came here just to encourage the butler than to pressure him more.
The Butler whose complexion was haggard from the morning itself, saw the maid who seemed like an angel and his eyes were filled with tears. The woman who was rumored to be expressionless gave such a sweet smile.
Who knows, maybe she was interested in him.
“Th . . .Thank you…..”
“There are some remaining ingredients from yesterday. But I am not sure if it can solve the problem.”
The maid cheered him to solve the situation anyhow within the lunch time and left the room. The Butler who was left in a slightly ecstatic mood watched the closed door for a while and regained his concentration in his work.
Though he didn’t drink the tea, his head became clear.
Beth glanced at the closed door. Under the tray she was holding there was an envelope stuck to its beneath.
The recipient was Viscountess Effie. After she diverted the Butler’s attention, she swiftly took out the invitation for the Viscountess. Seems like she was quite more talented in theft than she expected.
Today’s breakfast was fried bread sided with salad with orange dressing and salmon steak. Though nothing can be done about the five point similarity to yesterday’s menu.
Since it was not her who was going to take the master’s anger, she didn’t bother with it. The usual morning breakfast for Claire reached before her door at the predetermined time of her breakfast. Now it’s the time for Young Miss to wake up. Beth knocked at the door.
“Young Miss, good morning.”
Claire usually woke up early in the morning. Beth showed a beautiful smile as always towards the little Young Miss who was sweetly smiling at her.
“The fire at the fireplace turned mild.”
“It’s fine, I am not that cold anymore.”
Beth nagged at Claire but in truth, her words were filled with care and affection. Of the invitation letter that was to be delivered to the Viscountess, the contents were kept in Beth’s pocket as she threw the envelope into the fireplace.
After she looked at the invitation which turned to ashes within a moment, Beth turned towards Claire and showed a gentle smile.
“Let’s wash up before going for Breakfast.”
The smile of Claire, who didn’t know anything about Beth’s actions, was like sunshine – devoid of any dust or dirt.
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