Chapter 21 – Working as a Claes family maid
My name is Anne Sherry.
I was born in a countryside baron’s family, and when I turned fifteen, I apprenticed myself to the Claes family and began to serve them. And so, I became the personal maid of Katarina Claes, the only daughter of Duke Claes.
The first time that I met Katarina-sama, while her face was cute in its own way, her tight, upturned eyes gave off quite the strong impression. At that time, Katarina was a typical spoiled rich brat, and she had quite the arrogant and selfish personality.
After working for such a Katarina-sama for a few months, one day Katarina-sama tripped and fell while visiting the castle garden, and hit her head strongly on a rock. That accident caused a severe cut on Katarina-sama, and because of that, she was bedridden with a high fever for several days.
And then, when Katarina-sama woke up again, it was as if she had become a completely different person.
She always looked down on the servants so arrogantly, such a Katarina-sama who was used to living in the lap of luxury, had completely calmed down, to the point where the servants were worried about her, she’s completely turned into a kind and benevolent lady.
Ojou-sama’s personality must have changed because she was hit in the head and had a high fever. She’s become a calm and friendly lady…… While the servants were shocked at first, it turned into joy afterwards. Right now, Katarina-sama was only able to get out of bed for a little time at a while.
After her fever subsided, and Katarina-sama was able to get out of bed…… She became even more of a problem child than before she had hit her head.
When Katarina-sama got out of bed, for some reason she ran off to the library with bloodshot eyes, and kept confusing the butler with her eccentric behavior…… Just after I thought she’s calmed down a bit, now she’s breathing excitedly while declaring that she would begin training in swordsmanship and magic……
And so she began her swordsmanship practice but, only her fervor was praiseworthy, her movements were so clumsy that it seemed more likely she would injure herself before hitting her opponent, and it was scary to be near her.
And after that, saying she was going to train her magic power, she put on work clothes, began digging in the earth with a hoe, and began to create a field in the esteemed Claes family garden.
And she would always spend most of her time in the garden, and do things like roll up her dress and climb a tree, or fish in the small stream in the garden, she almost drove all the fish in the stream to extinction.
Thus, she caused an endless amount of problems, and no matter how many times her mother got angry at her, it did nothing to affect Katarina-sama. Sure, she’ll be depressed right after being scolded, but the next day she’ll bounce right back to her usual self.
It seems that, no matter how angry you get at Katarina-sama, she has a downright enviable ability to forget about everything the next day.
And now, she’ll be turning 15 this year, but unfortunately Katarina-sama hasn’t changed one bit.
At least she doesn’t climb trees in a dress anymore, but…… This one time, she kept insisting on her own that a mushroom growing in the garden was “definitely edible,” and upset her stomach after eating it, and lightning descended upon Katarina after her mother found out…… And now for some reason she’s suddenly decided to study agriculture, rummaging through books on agriculture, and she’s been working at enlarging her field. Really, she hasn’t changed at all since she was eight. I’ve served beside her for seven years now, but I’m still completely unable to predict her actions or understand her thoughts.
However, even though Katarina-sama is such a terrible problem child…… She’s very popular with some people.
For example, Katarina-sama’s fiance, the third prince of this country, Prince Jared Stuart. Prince Jared, who’s very handsome and excellent, seems to be quite enamored with Katarina-sama. Whenever Prince Jared is with Katarina-sama, he seems to be having a lot of fun, and his expression looks like he loves Katarina-sama to the point where he can’t bear to be without her.
Even though he has such an expression directed at her, it seems that Katarina-sama hasn’t noticed Prince Jared’s feelings at all.
At the time when the incredibly dense Katarina-sama tried to cancel the engagement, Prince Jared was truly frightening to behold.
It was because the scar that caused Prince Jared to become engaged to Katarina-sama had completely disappeared.
One day, when Katarina-sama noticed that the scar she received when she was eight had vanished, she was overjoyed. However, I never even dreamed that she would use that as an opportunity to suggest cancelling her engagement to Prince Jared.
Even though Prince Jared obviously loved Katarina-sama so much, I realized for the first time then that she’s been completely oblivious to everything.
“Prince Jared, the scar on my forehead has disappeared. That means that you won’t have to take responsibility for me anymore, and can cancel the engagement.”
When Katarina-sama informed him so happily, Prince Jared opened his eyes wide and seemed rather shocked, but then…… After that, his smile immediately returned. However, there was no laughter in his eyes.
“Oh, really? Why don’t you show me.”
Prince Jared approached Katarina-sama, and rather forcefully parted her bangs to the side. Even though her forehead should be completely healed and all the scars gone, but……
“On the contrary, a few scars remain.”
Prince Jared said so as he stared at Katarina-sama’s forehead which was perfectly unblemished.
“Eh!? But I confirmed it in the mirror many times…… I even showed Anne……”
Wait a minute, Katarina-sama, please don’t get me involved in this……
“Well, that’s wrong. There’s still some scars remaining. Hey, don’t you think so as well?”
Even though Prince Jared was smiling beautifully, his eyes were staring at me without any sign of laughter. I was so scared of him, that I simply agreed with him by nodding my head vigorously.
And so, even though the scars have completely disappeared, Prince Jared insisted that they didn’t, and said firmly that “the engagement absolutely can’t be cancelled” as he smiled with no laughter in his eyes, ending this conversation.
Honestly, I was so terrified that I felt like I had lost several years from my lifespan.
Then, about Katarina-sama’s stepbrother, Keith Claes-sama. The first time I met him, Keith-sama was a skinny, gloomy boy, but now he’s a handsome young man that many women are chasing after. And, since he treated all women gently and kindly, he was very popular. Moreover, as he grew, he’s begun to emit a tremendous amount of sex appeal. Honestly, amongst the servants as well, several have fallen for Keith-sama’s sex appeal.
Keith-sama is also absolutely crazy about Katarina-sama. He would always go wherever Katarina-sama went, it was as if he was her shadow.
And, with the passionate way he looked at Katarina-sama, it was clear he had more than brotherly feelings for her.
However, of course the incredibly dense Katarina-sama wouldn’t notice Keith-sama’s gaze either. That’s not all, she seems to be completely unaware of Keith-sama’s overflowing sex appeal. It’s as expected of her.
“People say that I’m so sexy…… But if the person in question that I’m in love with doesn’t notice anything, isn’t it all useless in the end……”
Coincidentally, I once heard Keith-sama muttering so to himself with a sad face. He seemed really pitiful.
Such a Keith-sama allied himself with Katarina-sama’s mother, with both of them saying “Katarina (nee-san) isn’t fit to be a prince’s bride,” and they fought together to cancel the engagement, but unfortunately for them, they’ve been unsuccessful so far due to Prince Jared’s interference.
Also, the fourth prince of this country, Prince Jared’s younger twin brother, Prince Alan Stuart, is yet another person that’s head over heels in love with Katarina-sama.
He’s called the poster child for being blessed by the god of music, Prince Alan is known for his talent everywhere, and the streets are always filled to the brim with people that want to hear him perform. He would always invite Katarina-sama every time.
And, the way that Prince Alan looks at Katarina-sama, it’s almost like he’s overflowing with affection.
However, there’s one regrettable thing about Prince Alan, it’s that even after seven years of affectionately gazing at Katarina-sama, he still hasn’t seemed to realize his own feelings. Not having realized that he’s clearly in love with Katarina-sama, I think the way he seems as he stays by her is somewhat pitiful as well.
But, I know that it’s not just a problem of Prince Alan being dense. Since Prince Jared and Keith-sama don’t want their rivals to increase even more, they’re making sure that Prince Alan doesn’t notice his own feelings.
In particular, someone that’s really amazing among Katarina-sama’s admirers is Prince Alan’s fiancee, Mary Hunt-sama.
And that’s because, the normal situation would be, Mary-sama wouldn’t want Katarina-sama stealing Prince Alan away from her, but…… I know that’s not what’s happening here.
Mary-sama is yet another person that’s completely fallen for Katarina-sama.
When I first met Prince Alan’s fiancee, Mary Hunt-sama, she was really such a nervous and shy little girl, but in these seven years she’s become recognized by society and transformed into a splendid lady among ladies.
Such a lady is really quite in love with Katarina-sama.
If you ask me just how much she loves her…… It’s to the extent where she wants to break the engagement to Prince Jared, and run away with Katarina-sama to another country, monopolizing her all to herself.
Mary-sama began enacting her plan several years ago. At one time, Mary-sama happened to tell Katarina-sama that Mary’s “not fit to be someone important like a prince’s wife.” After hearing such a perfect Mary complain, of course Katarina-sama would become unsettled as she’s even less like a noble girl.
Katarina-sama said that “then, I’m even more unfit for it. Whatever should I do?” When Mary-sama saw how dejected Katarina-sama was, she told her gently “let’s run away together to another country and break off our engagements” as she took her hands.
At first, I thought it was just a joke, but……
Mary-sama actually began to make preparations and plan for how to escape to another country…… I finally realized she was for serious. Mary-sama really intends to break off the engagements, and take Katarina-sama away with her to another country……
However, of course the incredibly dense Katarina-sama had no chance at all of noticing that Mary-sama was being serious…… She’s still giggling and saying that “Mary’s such a nice girl.”
And even though the twin princes, her stepbrother, and even the prince’s fiancee are all madly in love with her…… She has no idea whatsoever about her popularity.
The prime minister’s son, Nico Astarot-sama, is yet another person that’s smitten with Katarina-sama.
With black hair and eyes, and a perfect doll-like face, when the handsome Nico-sama made his social debut last year, it’s amazing how fast he immediately acquired his own fan club. Not only that, not only were there women in his fan club, it seems that it even included many men.
If we’re just talking about beauty, Prince Jared, Prince Alan, and Keith-sama are all very handsome as well, but Nico-sama has a strange captivating aura about him. Katarina-sama would always call him “the devilishly charming earl.”
As for Nico-sama, he was mostly expressionless, and hardly ever talked, and there were very few people in his fan club that had seen his different facial expressions before, but……
Such a Nico-sama would always smile so happily in front of Katarina-sama only. It’s really a smile that will melt people’s hearts, anyone that sees it will automatically lose their hearts to him…… That smile has already broken so many people among the servants……
However, as expected, the incredibly dense Katarina-sama never noticed that Nico-sama only behaved differently in front of her…… She would gasp that she absolutely had to “properly defend Mary and Keith from being captured by the devilish charm.”
Just like how she couldn’t feel Keith-sama’s sex appeal at all, Nico-sama’s magical smile had no effect on her as well.
Then, that Nico-sama’s younger sister, Sophia Ascarot, is also in love with Katarina-sama.
As Katarina-sama’s fellow romance novel enthusiast, she would always come over happily while recommending another book.
I already realized early on that Sophia-sama seems to have special feelings for her brother Nico-sama, but she kept earnestly appealing to Katarina-sama about how wonderful her brother was……
Of course, the incredibly dense Katarina-sama didn’t notice anything, and would arbitrarily say that “Sophia is really so nice to her onii-chan~” and misunderstand things.
In this manner, even though there’s so many problems with Katarina-sama, she seems to be popular with everyone for some reason. Keith-sama seems to call her a “clueless harem protagonist.”
Katarina-sama’s harem didn’t seem to be limited to only her noble friends.
The head gardener Tom, who hardly ever interacted with people, always seemed to have so much fun with Katarina-sama, when he was always so strict with both himself and others. Also, the head maid would always show Katarina-sama a gentle expression that she’s never shown to others before.
No matter how old she gets, this noble girl only causes problems and thinks completely outside the box, exactly what on earth attracts people to Katarina-sama…… Why is everyone in love with her……
Even though I say so, actually…… I already know.
I was born as Anne Sherry. My father is Baron Sherry, and my mother is one of his family servants. I grew up in a small house that was close by the Sherry mansion.
I was conceived in the mood of the moment, and mother would always tell me that she was Baron Sherry’s mistress for only a very short time.
“Please do as the Baron-sama says, and if he likes you you’ll be able to move up in the world. Never be rebellious.”
Those words were repeated to me so much that they were engraved into my body and soul.
I obeyed those words, and did as the baron said according to mother’s wishes, and never said anything against him, and was thus liked by him and moved up in the world.
As a result, while I wasn’t called to go live in the baron’s mansion, he didn’t treat me badly, and I was able to live comfortably.
However…… Those days finally had to come to an end.
It happened when I turned 15. Suddenly, a fire started in our house, and everything was gone in an instant.
I managed to escape somehow with only a big burn on my back, but my mother passed away.
While I was stunned at the sudden turn of events, the baron summoned me to his mansion for the first time since I was born.
“You have a terrible burn scar on your back now. That means that you’re useless now as a marriage candidate. I don’t need you anymore. Get out of here immediately.”
He said so as naturally as if he was saying “the weather’s nice today, isn’t it,” and I just stood there without saying anything back to him.
Up until now, I’ve been trying my hardest to gain the baron’s favor. I had gotten conceited because he never treated me badly. But, I think I made a mistake. He didn’t treat me badly because, he never had any interest in me…… To the baron, I was only a political tool…… And……
An existence that he didn’t need anymore……
Thus, having lost both my place to live and reason to be, I came to see Duke Claes who was distantly related to me, and was hired as a maid and began apprenticing myself here. And so, I became the personal maid of Katarina Claes, the only daughter of Duke Claes.
Probably because Katarina-sama had such a spoiled upbringing, she was really selfish, and treated us servants so arrogantly, that Katarina-sama’s personal maids would never last very long, but……
I didn’t quit like all the others. I mean, the other girls are able to go back home if they don’t like it here and want to quit, but I don’t have a home to go back to anymore. If I’m chased out of here, I won’t have anywhere else to go.
I had always listened to my mother, never going against the baron, trying to gain his favor to move up in the world.
So whatever Katarina-sama says, anything she wants, I won’t object to anything, I’ll fulfill my master’s demands, and become whatever master wishes……
And so, serving her like this, I was able to please her, and I passed my days without any problems. I was already living like this originally. All that’s changed is the master I now serve.
It would be great if I can get accustomed to becoming a tool again here.
However…… Ever since Katarina-sama was hit on the head with a rock, she’s changed.
Her arrogance and selfish words disappeared. She didn’t want people to toady to her like before either.
She became an extremely unorthodox noble girl that climbed trees, and plowed fields. How I can gain her favor, and what to do in order to please her, I have absolutely no idea anymore.
Up until now, I always lived trying to please others, and lived as others wished, I’ve never known how to live by my own will.
And so, I was extremely confused about how to get close to her now, but…… Before I realized it, I’ve learned how to speak up on my own and think for myself.
I didn’t have to flatter and toady to Katarina-sama all the time like before, and this Katarina-sama wasn’t so pompous and didn’t treat me badly…… But on the contrary, I longed for it.
I received my first-ever birthday present from her. It was a ticket that said “shoulder rub” on it in rather crooked letters, and every year from then on she would make me a wooden toy animal that I didn’t recognize, and I cherished them and stored all of them very carefully.
When that unbelievable Katarina-sama appeared, my daily life underwent a great change, but…… It was incomparable to my previous fifteen years of living in separation, and every day I got to experience new and fun things.
Just like this, I always want to stay beside Katarina-sama. Imperceptibly, I had begun to think like this.
Several years after coming to the Claes mansion, I received a letter from Baron Sherry who had never contacted me here before.
All it said was “your marriage has been decided upon, return to the mansion.”
It was as if all my blood drained from my body. A marriage was decided for me…… Even though I thought I had been discarded as a political tool because of the burn scar on my back……
If it was the me from before, I would have returned to the mansion immediately upon receiving this letter. I’m just a tool to the baron…… But I can’t disobey my master……
But…… I wasn’t the me from before anymore. I wanted to stay here.
That’s why, I tried to ignore the letter……
Despite that, a few weeks later, Baron Sherry himself came to visit Duke Claes.
When I was called out to meet him, Baron Sherry was sitting there, looking unchanged from several years ago.
“I found a generous partner for you who’s willing to take you even though you’re damaged goods. What’s more, since you haven’t returned yet, I even took the trouble of coming to pick you up myself.”
He told me to be thankful about my marriage partner, who happened to be a man with a facial deformity, with many bad rumors floating about him in society, he was a rather elderly viscount with more mistresses than could be counted.
For this marriage proposal, Baron Sherry will probably be paid a considerable sum, but…… I definitely wouldn’t be able to find happiness. In the first place, I’ve begun to wonder if it’s wrong for a tool to want to find her own happiness. It was as if I’d lost all the blood in my body again, and I completely froze up.
“What are you taking so long for. I’ve already talked to Duke Claes-sama about everything, so let’s get going! Time to return to the mansion!”
Because I was just standing there silently, he became impatient with me.
Ahh, are my happy days here over now…… Am I going to be just a tool again…… I wanted to stay here longer…… By Katarina-sama’s side…… While I was thinking that, it happened.
Right after knocking, the person that immediately burst into the room, was my ojou-sama, Katarina-sama.
“You’re Anne’s father, right?”
As she asked so, Katarina-sama was looking at Baron Sherry with a sharp gaze. Suddenly, the girl that had burst in, lowered her head towards Baron Sherry and began pleading.
“I have a request! Please reconsider the matter of Anne’s marriage!”
Katarina-sama grabbed my arm as she said so.
“I really want to have Anne here with me! I absolutely need her beside me! So please, I’ll be troubled if you take her away!”
As Katarina-sama begged, the baron opened his eyes wide in shock and she bowed down even further.
Looking at the way the two of them looked, it was as if they were from completely different worlds.
Katarina-sama’s hand that’s gripping my arm is really warm. And, her body heat began warming up my frozen body.
I had always been living as just a tool for the sake of my master. But, while in the Claes family…… While beside Katarina-sama, I learned how to think for myself for the first time. Before I realized it, I wasn’t just a tool anymore.
I’m no longer a tool, I’m just Anne Sherry…… What’s more, I’m needed…… She’s saying that she wants to have me by her side.
Without noticing, my body that was completely frozen had become warm again. It was especially warm in the inner corners of my eyes. I was holding back my tears that were about to overflow.
In the end, because of Katarina-sama’s interference, my marriage proposal was cancelled, but…… After that, when Duke Claes heard about how horrible my proposed partner was, he completely broke off all ties to Baron Sherry. I’m really very grateful to Duke Claes.
What’s more, being worried about my welfare, Duke Claes said “if you would like, I’ll do my best to find a proper marriage partner for you,” but……
I just want to stay like this and continue serving Katarina-sama.
Thus, I continued working as Katarina-sama’s personal maid in the Claes family.
No matter how old she gets, this noble girl only causes problems and thinks completely outside the box, exactly what on earth attracts people to Katarina-sama…… Why is everyone in love with her……
Even though I say so, actually…… I already know. More than anyone……
Even though I was once just a tool to be used, I’ve become a human known as Anne Sherry.
I’ll never forget the warmth I experienced from her words and hand on the day that she grabbed my arm.
Of course, I’ll be going with her starting next year to magic school. Katarina said something like “I’ll be fine by myself,” but…… She can’t even put on a dress properly by herself, and if you leave her alone she won’t even comb her hair, there’s no way she’ll be fine by herself.
“Of course, I’ll be accompanying you,” is what I told her as she looked so dejected.
“But, Anne should be thinking about getting married now, I can’t always take you along with me……”
It seems that she’s a bit worried about my marriage prospects, and I laughed a little. Honestly speaking, I have no interest in getting married. I only have one wish.
“If I’m not here, who else would take care of ojou-sama. Of course, I’ll be going to school with you.”
When I said so, Katarina-sama became so happy.
From now on, whether Katarina-sama becomes Prince Jared’s bride as promised and goes to live in the castle, or even if Mary-sama succeeds in whisking her away to a distant land, I intend to keep following her wherever she may go.
After all, the place where I belong…… The place where I’m the happiest…… Is right next to Katarina-sama~
I only have one wish, Katarina-sama, to always be by your side.