Chapter 34: Diana’s Visit
That day, Susanna suggested that I take a stroll outside, so I did.
I didn’t feel like taking a walk because of what had happened with Claude the other day, so I thought about a reason to decline, and I wasn’t in the mood to go on a picnic, but she forcefully said, “You need a change of pace.”
The outside of Claude’s mansion was rich in nature and didn’t lose to the Rosenstein mansion.
Sloping fields, deep green trees that withstand the strong sunlight, hills in the distance and white smoky skies.
On both sides of the path that stretched straight through, the fields were comprised of overgrown grass and tall sunflowers which swayed in the warm wind.
“This is a beautiful place.”
“Do you like it?”
“Yes,” I answered, and Susanna replied with a gentle smile, “Then please stay as long as you like.”
“Claude-sama and us servants like having you here. We’ll be happy if you stayed. Claire-san as well.”
“I’m not joking, I’m being serious.”
We walked leisurely while enjoying the scenery, and when we approached the forest, we chose an appropriate place to sit down and spread a large cloth out on the ground.
The basket that Susanna had brought with her contained: bread, sausages, ham, cheese, cakes and other food as well as wine. She quickly arranged them on the cloth, and Susanna, Claire and I ate together while talking.
“Claire-san, can you drink wine?”
“Just a little.”
I don’t talk much at times like this.
If it had only been Claire and I, then we wouldn’t have much to talk about and it would be quiet, but since Susanna was here, it was lively, and I didn’t need to talk.
Come to think of it, I went out on picnics a lot not long after I married.
Orpheus and I brought simple meals with us, took horses to the suburbs and sat under the shade to enjoy our food.
He was always kind to me―――.
I recalled the past that I couldn’t go back to, and my chest hurt.
I suddenly felt hurt.
I shook my head and denied the idea that came into my mind.
I’m starting to get impatient.
Ten days have passed since then, but I still haven’t come up with an answer.
I came up with various ways to atone, but they all contradicted, so I couldn’t come up with a decision. I’m lost.
Rather, it’ll be easier if I can just plough through and get it over with―――.
Why must humans, why must I be like this? Is it my troublesome nature?
The more I think about it, the more I hate myself.
I chewed on my bread and drank my wine as I listened to the odd conversation that the two maids were having which differed from my thoughts. I sat in the shade and peeked up at the light that was shining in through the leaves. I listened to the birds chirp.
“Why don’t we go to look at the brook after we’re done with eating? It’s just over there. It’s small, but fish live in there,” Susanna said as she passed Claire a ham and cheese sandwich. Claire’s eyes sparkled and she yelled in excitement, “Madam, let’s go!”
Let’s stop thinking for now ―――.
Susanna and Claire are having fun, but if I continue to worry and show a gloomy expression on my face, then I’ll spoil the picnic.
And, I’ll also feel bad towards Susanna, who had invited me out.
“Alright. Let’s go,” I put a smile on my face and pretended that I was having fun and said in a cheerful voice.
When I got back from the picnic, Monica was waiting for me and informed me, “You have a visitor.”
“Is it my… husband?”
“No. It’s a young lady named Diana Forst. Lord Rosenstein’s cousin.”
No way, I can’t believe Diana’s here ―――.
I was surprised.
She rarely went out of the house, so it must be something serious.
I gave Claire my parasol and hat and rushed to the parlour.
“Diana!” A blonde woman was sitting on a leather couch in the middle of a dimly lit room with orange lights. When I called out to her, she stood up like she had snapped, and turned her face towards the entrance of the room.
“Yes, that’s right.”
I quickly crossed the room, stood in front of Diana and took her hand so that she would understand that I was right in front of her.
“You surprised me. Did you come by yourself?”
“No. Marion is with me.”
Behind the couch stood Diana’s maid, Marion, and she bowed at me when our eyes met.
“It’s been a while, Ophelia. How are you?”
I didn’t know how to answer, but I said, “I’m fine.”
“How about you Diana?”
“I want to say that I am, but I’m not really.”
I looked at Diana’s white face and feebly replied, “Is that so?”
She always had a bright smile on her face like a sunflower, but she was barely smiling now, and she lacked her brilliance.
“So, why are you here today?” I had Diana sit down since she looked like she was going to faint at any moment and sat down on the couch across from her before asking.
“I really wanted to see you before I left the mansion.” I dropped my shoulders when I heard those words.
Left the mansion ―――.
She hasn’t changed her mind after all?
She probably didn’t listen to Orpheus’s persuasions.
There was a knock at the door and Monica appeared, so Diana shut her mouth.
Monica was only bringing tea for us, so she put it on the table, bowed, and left the room as soon as she could.
“I read… your letter.” A short while after Monica left, Diana looked down and said in hesitation.
“I have to apologise to you again. I’m sorry, Ophelia. I’m so sorry.”
“No, it’s fine.”
To tell the truth, I sent a letter to Diana and Juris three days ago.
I told them what I’ve been thinking, and what I was trying to accomplish. I frankly told them everything. I told them that I didn’t blame them, what I wanted the two of them to do, and also about my hopes.
I had asked Orpheus to persuade them, but I thought that there would be parts that wouldn’t get through to them, so I wrote them both a letter.
“I can understand your feelings so well that it hurts. Will you not change your mind after all? Orpheus also…”
“Yes, he spoke to me. He told me that if I’m prepared to throw away my status, then I should get married to Juris. He said he would help me if needed.”
“I’m sure you’re prepared to throw your status away.”
“Of course. If I could be with him, then whether it be my status or everything I have, I can give them all up. Well, from the moment I lost my eyesight and parents, my status is nearly non-existent,” she said and looked into the distance. Her light blue eyes flickered with sadness.
Is she remembering the days when she lost her important things one and another, then fell into despair and sorrow?
“No. I told you, didn’t I? We can’t let ourselves feel good while we ruin the relationship between you and Orpheus. I’m a selfish and hateful woman who used your feelings, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sensible. My plans dragged out longer than I expected, but I’m leaving that mansion tomorrow.”
Why are they so against it when the person who was used said that she didn’t blame them and wants them to get married?
If she feels guilty towards me, then she should grant my wish and not seclude herself in the mansion at the fief.
“Was what you did really that bad? You only wanted to stay by the person you love.”
“Then, I’ll say the same thing to you. Was what you did so bad? You only wanted Orpheus to be happy.”
“You and I are completely different,” I objected in irritation.
“In my case, it was just a misunderstanding, and my methods were wrong.”
“That’s similar to what happened with me. I misunderstood things, and used the wrong methods,” Diana said, then smiled wryly.
She fumbled around for the cup and drank the lukewarm tea quietly.
In the meantime, I stared at the flowers by the window. The stunning blue flower looked like spiderwort.
“Ophelia, I also understand your feelings so well that it hurts,” she said, and I turned back. Diana, who had stopped smiling, looked serious.
“I know that you feel guilty about something. I can tell you not to care about outsiders, and go back to your normal self, but you won’t listen, will you? You have always been like this.”
“I understand your feelings so well that it hurts,” Diana repeated.
“I know what kind of person you are. I know, that’s why I’ll say this. It doesn’t matter if it’s cowardly or if people speak ill of you. ――― Go back to Orpheus and start over.”
“Wait,” I leaned forward.
“I’m in the middle of thinking about how to make amends, we can’t start ―――.”
“If you start over with Orpheus, then I’ll marry Juris.”
Ah, is that so ―――?
I finally realised Diana’s purpose.
She didn’t come here to say goodbye, but to bring me back.
Knowing full well how she could move me.
I felt dizzy even though I was sitting down and fell back.
I wanted to scream at her and tell her she was being unfair, but I couldn’t move my body like I wanted, and could only stare at her in amazement.
“If you won’t start over with him, then I’ll leave tomorrow as planned. I decided this after talking it over with Juris. We thought it was better if we grant your wish instead making amends for our own self-satisfaction. We thought that we shouldn’t hurt you any more than this by acting against your wishes.”
Make amends or have the two be happy? If I were asked to choose, then of course I would choose the latter.
As Diana said, we can’t destroy someone’s life for the sake of making amends.
“No matter what, this method isn’t fair. Why did Juris also agree…?”
“I know. It’s a cowardly threat. But, if I don’t do this, then you won’t come back. You won’t return if I use logic.”
“I haven’t atoned for anything yet.”
“You can just think about that slowly after you return.”
No way, I can’t believe that Diana would choose this method to force me to start over with Orpheus ―――.
I closed my eyes and covered my face with both my hands.
My stomach sunk and I felt nauseous.
“Say, Ophelia. Do you like me? Do you still think of me as a friend?”
“I’ve never hated you. That was all an act.” It was unavoidable that I couldn’t contain my low voice.
I was desperate.
I racked my brains on how I could persuade Diana.
“But I can’t say that we’re friends. I pushed you.”
“I’m lucky that you only pushed me. I wouldn’t have complained even if you beat me up to the point that my face changed.”
“I didn’t push you with that intention in mind.”
“I know. It’s just a joke.” Diana giggled and I lightly glared at her.
However, it didn’t concern her at all since she couldn’t see.
“We can be friends again, right?”
“If you forgive me.”
“I’m not in the position to decide that. I should be the one who is begging for your forgiveness, but you won’t accept it no matter what even if I did. ――― Of course.”
Well, I’ll coerce her to marry with that condition.
“If you want me to be your friend again, then marry Juris and let me atone,” I could say.
It’s a cowardly deal, but Diana started it. I won’t let her complain.
However, Diana had the better end of the deal.
“Say, Ophelia. If you like me, and you’re my friend, then you’ll wish me happiness, right? If you go back to Orpheus, then I’ll stay by Juris’s side. So please.”
I couldn’t say anything when she stared at me with her moist dim eyes.
It felt as if she was holding onto my heart and I felt like choking.
Diana is cunning.
It’s really unfair of her to beg this of me with that expression on her face.
Speaking of which, she’s awful since she knew that I couldn’t refuse so she’s doing it on purpose.
“That’s not fair, Diana.”
“Yes, I know. But we’ll make no progress if things stay the way they are. You can hold a grudge against me.”
“At least give me time to think.”
“No. Give me an answer now.”
“I’m leaving tomorrow.” Diana was relentless.
She drove me into a corner with her angelic smile.
Diana is serious.
I can tell from her eyes.
If I refuse, then she’ll leave the Rosenstein mansion tomorrow like she had declared.
And she’ll never come back.
She won’t see Juris either.
In other words, this is my defeat.
I had no choice but to say that I will return to Orpheus.
The ten days that I spent worrying about how to atone have gone to waste.
“Alright. If you’re that worried about it, then I’ll extend my departure for a day. Give me an answer by tomorrow.” Diana compromised a little since I was struggling to answer her for a long time.
However, this didn’t change the fact that she had checkmated me.
She had only given me time to prepare myself.
“I’ll be waiting.”
Marion pulled Diana and they both left the parlour.
I also got up sluggishly and followed after them to see them off.
I felt bad and my legs were wobbling.
Claire was waiting outside the door. She bowed at Diana who had come out first, then ran up to me.
“What’s wrong, Claire? That box…”
The box that Claire was carrying carefully was the perfume that I hadn’t been able to give to her and was holding onto this whole time.
“I brought it here because I thought this would be the only time you could give it to her, but did I do something unnecessary?”
What a smart girl ―――.
“Thanks,” I said and patted her head.
I wanted to hug her since she waited in the corridor for this, but I held back since Diana and Marion were here.
“Diana. I have something to give to you. Take it.”
I stopped her before she rode on the carriage and handed her the perfume.
“What is this?”
“It’s something that I wanted to give to you. Please open it when you get back to the mansion.”
“Umm, Ophelia-sama,” Marion, who stood behind Diana and remained quiet, stepped forward and said.
She stared at me and bowed deeply.
“I’m sorry that I was rude to you at that time.”
She was probably referring to when I had pushed Diana and she had cussed at me.
She had certainly forgotten her position as a servant when she had said those words, but I was the one who had made her say them, and I couldn’t blame her since she had done that to defend her mistress.
“Don’t worry about it. You only did what was expected of you as Diana’s maid.”
However, Marion’s face stiffened even though I had forgiven her. She hung her head down as if to say that she couldn’t face me any longer.
“Can you forgive me again for making an impertinent remark?”
“I would also like to ask you to please come back. Come back and stay by Master’s side.”
“You also think I should do that?”
I couldn’t agree and could only smile vaguely.