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Chapter 53

“Have I died before?”

“Yes.”

“Mm… I see. How?”

“I think it’s because you got so upset from suffering under Mister Verdic.”

Carynne tried to trace her memories. The fief lord didn’t die every time. There were times when he lived and stayed with Carynne until the day before she died. But in most cases, he didn’t live.

As the fief lord had been thoroughly beaten by Verdic, he often went in shock and became bedridden, and after a long bout of this illness, he would pass away.

“I think you had a hard time after the business failed.”

Carynne lowered her voice to a whisper. Fortunately, Verdic and Raymond’s attention were on Isella instead of this side.

“…I didn’t think I would care about it so much.”

After his wife died, he considered everything else ephemeral. Be it the land or its people. Did he even feel any passion? The fief lord felt a bit disturbed.

Carynne comforted her father by patting him on the arm.

“Humans are more multifaceted than they think they are. But in the next life, I’ll be sure to observe your death more closely, Father.”

“T-Thank you.”

“It’s nothing.”

Clink.

Over there, the countess was ridiculing Isella to her face. And sure enough, Isella was entirely flushed red. Whenever Isella was embarrassed, her movements grew stiffer and her voice would get louder, making her all the more difficult to deal with.

Carynne looked fondly at her adorable rival. Meanwhile, Verdic couldn’t bear to look and even covered his eyes with his hands.

“Verdic’s face looks funny.”

“Isella over there looks interesting, too.”

One pair of father and daughter sipped their champagne as they watched another pair of father and daughter embarrass themselves. The fief lord set down his glass and got up from his seat. To this, Carynne asked.

“Where are you going?”

“To do Mister Verdic a favor.”

“Ugh.”

Carynne could feel a headache coming in as she thought of what she’s about to go through as Isella’s lady-in-waiting. A lot of things happened this time, so she was getting even more peeved.

‘I should have killed Isella first.’

It’s already come to this though, so what could she do with regrets? Still, it was a good thing that Nancy, the person closest to Carynne, had died like that.

Determined not to be bogged down by such trivial matters, Carynne smiled as she saw Isella approaching.

“Miss Isella.”

“Ca…rynne.”

“Sit down and drink some brandy to calm you down.”

“Thank you.”

Contrary to her courteous words however, Isella downed her alcohol with a murderous expression. Carynne thought that if the two of them were at the scene of a murder right now, fingers would be pointed to Isella as soon as people would see her face.

Isella glared at Lady Elva at the other side of the hall. The mistake she committed against the countess was small, but not negligible. Rather than calling the countess Lady Elva, Isella had called her by her last name—Lady Orphen.

“Uuugh…”

“It’s Lady Elva, not Lady Orphen. You have to call her by her first name, not the last name. She is not only the wife of Count Orphen, but also the daughter of Baron Ronoix, you know.”

“Where’s my mistake there though?”

“Because calling her by her surname is like looking down on her.”

“Yeah but why the hell!”

“…Keep your voice down, Isella. Lady Elva is the daughter of Baron Ronoix, but the baron’s noble peerage had been forfeited, but was reinstated more than a decade ago. Calling her Lady Orphen instead of Lady Elva is a lingering reminder of that disgraceful past.”

“…Okaaay? But what about that is disgraceful?”

See this, she’s originally like that.

While looking at Isella’s dumbstruck face, Carynne felt like crying.

Yeah, okay. No need for you to think about anything. That Lady Elva over there borrowed money from Verdic Evans, and you’re that man’s daughter, so what could possibly be the problem here. You really don’t have to think of anything, yes yes.

Regardless of name, of reputation, of trifling etiquette and decorum—it’s alright for you to disregard all of that, sure. Verdic’s money will cover all that disgrace, won’t he? You don’t have to worry about every little thing. It’s all okay.

“That name harks back to the time before she became a Lady, when she was once a commoner because her father was not an aristocrat at the time. When she made her debut, she entered high society as a lady-in-waiting of Count Orphen’s mother. What’s worse was that she didn’t even have the title of Lady back then. And even after she got married, she wasn’t Lady Elva, but Lady Orphen. It was only after Baron Ronoix got reinstated that she became Lady Elva. That’s what you should pay special attention to.”

“Ha…”

But Carynne didn’t tell the real situation behind it. Even if Isella made a mistake, any well-educated noblewoman wouldn’t get angry towards someone who’d make a mistake like that. When Carynne made this mistake a long time ago, she just smiled awkwardly, and in contemplation, her lady-in-waiting came over to tell her about it.

‘Even if you make the same mistake, the cost to pay by the main character and by the supporting character is different.’

Carynne smiled.

The countess’ anger was more focused towards Verdic. Carynne and Isella’s position here was different because Isella was bound to Verdic’s wealth. In other words, Isella was someone that the countess didn’t want to be cordial with from the beginning.

“Aren’t you called Lady Carynne though?”

This was something that Carynne had already explained dozens of times before without fail. About sixty years ago, She got angry at Isella for not getting it even after having explained it many times, so Carynne got slapped in the face for it.

Her reaction was different this time, and she instead recited the lines one after another.

“My family is a fief owner, but we don’t have a noble peerage. Though I’m called Lady Hare, it is only as an ‘esteemed daughter’, not a ‘Lady’ like with Lady Elva.”

Isella was flabbergasted.

“You don’t get to use the title of Lady¹ like her either?”

“Yes, even if I’m from a fiefdom, I’d have to be from the five upper nobility classes to use that title in the way that the Countess does. The Hare Fief once used to be an independent state, but after the occupation, the fief is now under the Orphen County.”

That’s why it’s important to look good. Supposing that the story would go on.

“If I marry the son of a noble family, then Lady Hare… Rather, I’ll use the last name of my husband. The same goes for you, Isella. Once you’re married, you won’t be Lady Isella, but you’ll use Sir Raymond’s last name instead, and you’ll be known as Lady Saytes.”

“I prefer Lady Isella… If not that, then Evans is better. What a pity.”

“Suure…”

A smile crossed Carynne’s face.

“Why did you answer like that?”

Isella’s voice was sharp.

“No, you might not know it.”

“Are you mocking me for not being a fief lord’s daughter like you?”

“Don’t exaggerate, Isella. You’re the only one who thinks that.”

“But you smiled!”

“As if you don’t know, but am I not allowed to smile? If it made you feel bad, I apologize.”

“Y-You…”

“I’m sorry, Isella.”

“Are you mocking me right now?”

Yes.

As Isella was at a loss, Carynne thought that Isella was being quite adorable as she was showing a variety of expressions like this.

Now that she thought about it, why didn’t Verdic teach this to Isella? She wondered if this was because they were from a merchant class. Most lessons on etiquette should have been given before one’s debut in society. If there’s someone out there who’d want to speak ill of someone else, a minor mistake like this could blow out of proportion and become like high treason.

‘Then the person who taught me… It must have been Missus Deere, not Nancy.’

If this repeated life was true, then was it also true that this was a novel? How difficult. When rationality and insanity were so intertwined like this, truth, illusion, falsehood and hallucination were all mixed up—it made her so dizzy.

The biggest problem was that, thus far, she was enjoying her life as 「 Carynne 」 for so long only because she was under the faint presumption that she was an outsider of the novel. That she was not Carynne.

‘Is there a way to prove it?’

Carynne frowned. She heard that Catherine said so, but Carynne wasn’t sure because her mother also said that the world was like a novel. And beyond Carynne, Catherine might have been delusional herself, then she might have also fed that same delusion to her daughter.

“Carynne!”

“Give me a sec.”

She didn’t know which one of them was more pathetic, given that Carynne had already repeatedly explained the same thing to Isella about thirty times.

Carynne felt grim as she recalled that she had to teach Isella about high society one by one as she was her lady-in-waiting. At the core of it, Isella’s personality made it so that she didn’t take direction from others very well.

Sure, she’s good at crunching numbers, but when it came to etiquette and interpersonal relationships, she knew almost zilch about those. She held no curiosity for it, neither interest as well.

“It’s ’cause the parents ruined the child.”

“…What?”

Ah, the words left her lips. Carynne clicked her tongue at the words she uttered unconsciously.

And at the incoming palm she could already see, Carynne clenched her teeth.

SLAP—!

¹ the conversation about ‘Lady’ got a bit confusing in translation, but to explain, here are the different titles used in Korean:

레이디 – literally the English word ‘Lady’ but in Korean romanization; this is the title used for the countess (as Lady Elva or Lady Orphen)

영애 – means ‘esteemed daughter’ and is the title to politely call the young lady of another family, so I also translate this word as ‘Lady’; this is the title used for Carynne (as Lady Carynne or Lady Hare)

양 – also like 영애 but somewhat less formal, so I translate it as ‘Miss’; this is the title used for Isella (as Miss Isella or Miss Evans) and sometimes for Carynne (Verdic called her Miss before)

essentially, the hierarchy goes as: Miss (양) < Lady (영애) < Lady (레이디)

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