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Chapter 40

“You’re a huge help. Thank you.”

“I’m only grateful to have been given a good opportunity like this. Hello there?”

“…If I haven’t talked to you, don’t talk to me first.”

Despite the child’s words, Nancy smiled and held Carynne’s hand. Being the first time she met a black woman and having her hand touched like this, Carynne’s expression wrinkled for a moment, but when her mother reprimanded her, she only forced herself to look away. Nevertheless, the glare in her eyes didn’t look pleasant.

Catherine was the one who introduced Nancy to Carynne, and so she spoke sternly.

“Carynne. Nancy is someone Momma brought here. You shouldn’t have that kind of look.”

“That dirty…”

“Deere! You as well, please respect Nancy as you would respect me. She is the person who will help Carynne.”

However, with Nancy being brought in like this even though Deere was still there, this implied that Deere alone was not enough, and her influence would be reduced because of that much.

It was only natural that Deere did not like Nancy. And fortunately, Carynne didn’t like Nancy either.

The child kept going to Deere in order to avoid Nancy. Every time this happened, Deere would feel relieved.

While they were alone together, Deere would stroke Carynne’s hair. The more Carynne rejected Nancy, the more it was to Deere’s benefit.

“Nancy sang a lullaby? Preposterous. You did well, Carynne.”

“……”

“I’m sure that a gypsy like that woman would only sing strange songs.”

“Is it like that?”

“Of course. Now then, let’s get you to bed.”

A dark-skinned person, a wandering woman to boot, who hadn’t even been introduced by another reputable madam. Deere was extremely displeased that such a maid was assigned to her student.

The position of an exclusive maid was not a job for just any woman. Just as the lady of the house must never humiliate herself by showing an unkempt appearance, it was up to an exclusive maid to make sure that the lady she would serve was always pristine. She must also have a virtuous attitude and a heavy mouth that would keep quiet.

Carynne should have had at least a middle-class, educated lady as an exclusive maid, not a black fortune teller.

Deere was incensed.

But the fief lord did not listen to any of her advice.

“Deere, I’m not disparaging your teaching methods, but what Carynne needs right now is not education. Why don’t you just leave it up to Nancy?”

“Mister Hare, you mustn’t do that. How could you let a woman like that into the household? She keeps saying strange things to Carynne.”

Rubbing his temples with one hand, the fief lord replied.

“Deere. Carynne is not your daughter. Judging what’s good for the child is up to us. For the time being, why don’t you take a break somewhere else?”

Then, Deere asked angrily.

“Your Lordship, I am the only one who’s truly been devoted to Carynne these days. How long has it been since you’ve talked to Carynne instead of just talking about her?”

“Enough. You’re overstepping your bounds. Right now, besides the child… I have many important things to do. Leave and let me do them.”

“When the Madam passes away, Carynne—”

Bang!

Deere pitied the fief lord. He couldn’t come to the right decision because of his sick wife. The same was true with the sick Catherine. Deere was truly the only one who could only think of Carynne separately from Catherine.

She was a child who grew up at the hands of servants, not given any concern by her parents. And, just as the parents did not show any affection, so too did the employees not give her any warmth.

Deere had seen this much too often. And her mistrust was well founded.

“What… are you doing right now?”

“What do you mean. It’s Milady’s medicine that will help her.”

“What did you feed to Carynne? Did the doctor allow this?”

At Deere’s interrogation, Nancy snorted.

“If I did, what would they know? Don’t equate me with such fools, Teacher. They have their own methods, we have our own. This is better for Milady.”

The fief lord and the madam were daft in some strange way. It’s normal for adolescent children to daydream and create their own worlds inside their heads.

Although it was comparatively worse, Carynne’s seizures and delusions were not uncommon for children of her age. The adults around such a child should just discipline the child appropriately.

In such a situation, Deere became hugely infuriated about the fact that a gypsy was instead brought in and went ahead to spin strange stories to the child and give her some suspicious medicine.

Even so, ever since Nancy came, Carynne’s seizures had evidently decreased. The people of the manor, who had their hands full with Catherine alone, welcomed Carynne’s ensuing silence.

But in that silence, Carynne grew strange little by little.

“I can’t drink that.”

“Milady?”

“Nancy, it tastes strange.”

Deere was greatly shocked.

“Don’t be so polite¹ to the people who serve you, Carynne.”

“Yes? Ah.”

It started with the way she spoke. Carynne became stranger and stranger. She had once been ashamed to have a black woman as an exclusive maid, but now, she showed signs of being awkward about being that maid’s master. Nancy’s position was further raised little by little as well.

Carynne became distinctly calm. But in Deere’s eyes, this was nothing short of putting someone to sleep through drugs.

Carynne’s emotions gradually became dull, and her memories also progressively faded. The worst thing about this was how she regarded people.

During the days that Catherine was in a better condition, she would call Carynne, however these meetings would slowly decrease from once a week, to once every other week, then once a month.

On the other hand, Nancy spent more time caring for the child, from sun up to sun down, and her influence grew even stronger.

“Carynne… How are you these days?” asked Catherine.

“Not good. Nancy keeps reading me strange fairytales that I don’t understand and keeps making me drink weird medicine.”

“But you don’t harm yourself anymore or have any seizures, do you?”

“…Not anymore.”

“Then that’s enough.”

Catherine looked towards Deere with a clouded gaze. Her eyes had already lost their ability to see, and they were open almost only for the sake of courtesy.

“As long as there is life…”

In their final meeting, Carynne did not recognize her mother.

As if looking at something dirty, she was entirely appalled by her mother. She took a step back and held onto Nancy’s hand.

“Madam, these days, Carynne has been following Nancy around almost as if she was you, her mother.”

“…Truly?”

“She must be kicked out at once.”

“Deere.”

Catherine was as thin as a skeleton, and the beauty she had in her youth was already lost. The white nightgown she was wearing looked as if it was hanging on mere twigs, and the woman’s voice was no different from the creaking of a wooden piece of furniture.

“Deere. It’s been… quite a while since we’ve been together.”

“Madam Hare.”

“When I die, Carynne will be fine. Nancy will take good care of her for me.”

“She’s just… a maid.”

Deere was choked up.

“There’s no way a maid can replace you.”

“Say my name, please.”

“Madam Hare.”

“Not that.”

“…Enide.”

Catherine’s expression changed. But it's uncertain whether this was a smile or not.

* * *

Catherine died.

Up until she passed away, she had only her daughter’s portrait in her hands, stroking it dearly. Catherine wanted to see her daughter so very much, but she did not ask to meet her. She thought that it would be best if Carynne would forget about her.

The fief lord also agreed that it would be better for the child to forget about someone who would die not long later anyway. Even still, he did not leave Catherine’s room for a month after she had died. And he avoided meeting Carynne.

“Carynne?”

“Ah, yes. Hello.”

“Catherine passed away.”

“Pardon?”

Carynne looked blankly at Deere for one moment, then she shifted her gaze towards Nancy.

And what the child would say next was something that Deere would never be able to forget.

Carynne turned to Nancy and asked.

“Who is Catherine?”

Those words felt as though they were from a nightmare.

What made Carynne calm was the same as turning her into a dunce.

Deere was gobsmacked. But, after this, when she knocked on the fief lord’s door, he did not come out.

His daughter’s insanity was nothing new. Even this was trivial compared to his wife’s death.

The last time Deere saw the fief lord was when she was kicked out of the household. It wasn’t that she was driven out, but if she so wished to receive even a small pension, it would be no different than that.

¹ Carynne speaks with a polite speech level towards Nancy (-요), which normally should have been dropped to the informal level since Carynne is of a higher social standing

t/n: the author intended to highlight this, but i still would like to apologize for the blatant racism shown… when translating sensitive themes like this, i’m always at a loss when it comes to balancing accuracy and mild censorship. particularly in the last two chapters, i decided to stick with accurate translations when Deere/the narrative called Nancy ‘dark skinned’ (검은 피부), or when she was referred to as a ‘black gypsy/woman/(exclusive) maid/fortune teller’ (검은 집시/여인/시녀/점쟁). 

i’ll continue sticking with accurate translations vis-à-vis topics of this subject matter and other similarly sensitive matters for the sake of keeping the author’s intention intact, but i’m always open to suggestions and constructive criticism. thank you!

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