“It’s a misunderstanding, this is where I work-.”
“Did you see the Countess of Harden and Duke Herace coming together?”
At that moment a shrill voice rang out. It was the voice of one of the ladies who were looking at the dresses in other sections. Kyle slowly rolled his eyes and looked at the direction where the sound was coming from.
“Contrary to the rumors, she seems to be thinking of remarrying, isn’t that right?
The sharp words of these voices are directed at Countess Harden. The voices of the noble wives got closer, and then they came closer to the dressing room area. Kyle clicked his tongue briefly, then pulled the curtain back and entered the dressing room.
“Yes, Your Grace?”
For a moment I was surprised, I stuck to the wall like a rat in a corner avoiding Kyle. With his back closely attached to the wall, he looked up at Kyle, relying on a beam of light coming at an angle. The voices of the ladies resounded through the red curtain.
“About the two of them, their friendly appearance is a little too close to simply being close friends…….”
“Oh, So, I’m not the only one who felt that way?”
Suspicions about the relationship between the Countess of Harden and the Duke of Herace were evident in the conversation. Kyle clenched his jaw and stared into the air with bleary eyes. Being alone with him in a place quiet enough for me to hear his breath, but to him I seemed invisible.
“Is it possible? I feel sorry for the lonely countess, but what a shame that she refused to remarry.”
“The Duke had also been a close friend of Count Harden.”
Then, the loud laughter of the ladies was heard. Kyle and I both knew it was gossip disguised as sympathy.
Kyle peered through the curtain with his sullen eyes, but didn’t step forward. Probably because he knew that feeding the ladies with gossip would be the best.
Feeling strange, I kept my mouth shut. But, on the other hand, this might be the only time I could steal glances from his face.
Kyle smirked as he fixed his eyes on the dark red curtain. He turned his gaze away with boredom and looked at me, who was staring at him, relying on the light beam. I shivered and looked down as if I had been caught stealing.
Kyle’s eyes examined me, and it was not long after that he spoke in a low pitched voice.
“Is the proposed contract still valid?”
“What are you……”
I looked up hearing the words that didn’t fit the situation.
“I have no intention to use my fortune meaninglessly. And I also don’t intend to naturally connect with the Karena family. A sponsorship is enough.”
Your Excellency? I blinked listening to the soft voice as if possessed. Not being able to keep up with my dull head, I looked up at him, he smiled self-assuredly. He seemed to give a clear and concise answer for me who couldn’t understand.
“Let’s do it, the marriage”
Kyle pulled back the end of the curtain with his eyes still fixed on me. A blindingly intense light illuminated him and hit his face. The scene of a man and woman in very close proximity face to face with each other was exposed in the open dressing room. The intense light pierced my eyes, but I couldn’t even blink my eyes because of the surprise.
“O-Oh my god……. He is…….”
The sound of the startled ladies swallowing their breath pierced my ears. Kyle raised his lips and tilted his face obliquely whispering. His voice was coated with sarcasm.
“What a relief/I’m glad.”
“A marriage with a clear purpose.”
In the unbelievable situation, my fingertips trembled, and my face became pale. Although, Contempt was read in the eyes that mine met, but it was a fluke for me. I clenched my fists to the point of making my hands turn white, and grabbed the fluke that had come into my grasp.
Because this is the only way I can be by his side.
“I have nothing to take with me.”
I slowly looked around the room, which had just an old bed. A sad smile hung on the corner of my lips. I guess, It’s time to say goodbye to this place.
The only thing that shines in this attic is the small amount of sunlight coming through the window during the day, but it was the only place in the house where I could avoid/hide from my father’s eyes.
I was so surprised when Kyle accepted the offer, and adding the stunned gazes of the ladies on me, I felt so overwhelmed that I ran away from the boutique and went home.
The next day, if not for the carriage with the Duke of Herace’s Insignia, I would’ve thought that I had been dreaming and just let it pass.
I smiled self-consciously and approached the table in the center. I ran my trembling fingers on the table along the grain of the wood. Soon, it was time for the carriage to arrive.
“I have to go.”
I smiled softly and brushed my hands together. I had to say my last goodbyes to my father.
“You fucking bitch!”
(“이 망할 년이!”:- 망할-can mean damn/fucking; 년- can mean wench/bitch!)
I came to my senses by the sudden liquid pouring down my face.
It was because my father had poured the drink he was drinking on me. The smell of alcohol hit my nose, and my previously neat dress was now wet and clinging on my body heavily. The gin had wet my hair and was now dripping from the tip of the hair.
I just told my father I’d be getting married, and thus severing ties with him, but he turned red as if he had been humiliated and got angry.
“Just like that orabi of yours who left me and ran away, it’s the same, isn’t that right?”
(Orabi – older brother of a female)
Father’s twisted voice resonated through the old house. He approached the table and poured gin into an empty glass. Even though he was staggering and hiccuping on his way, it wouldn’t be strange if he collapsed right away.
My father hadn’t always been like this. Looking at the fragments of my memories, there was a time when my father laughed and stroked my hair. When he held me in his arms and said, ‘You’re so pretty.’
My mother jumped in the lake to save my brother from drowning, and while he lived, she died. From then on, My father became addicted to alcohol and started resenting my brother.
“No, no. You look like your mother.”
Father raised his head with a grotesque laugh and tilted the glass to his mouth.
I lifted my eyes and stared at the scene emotionlessly, just then my father’s eyes suddenly pierced me like an arrow.
He looked like he was drinking, but then he poured gin over my face again. I wiped away the drops that had covered my vision with the back of my hand and shook my hand.
“A woman with no sense of grace.”
(The word used here is 계집 ≺gye-jib≻ means female but the word includes looking down on women. and that is not used in real life and at present. It is an old word that we can hear in historical dramas.)
My father put the glass on the table with an audible sound, and started making his way to the door. Before he could grab the doorknob and turn it, I calmly opened my mouth.
“He said he would sponsor you.”
Father frowned and asked sharply.
“He said he was going to sponsor you, my father.”
My father’s eyes widened, and then he turned around with a smile on his face. A gleam flashed in his drunken eyes.
“W-who is your fiancé!”
At that moment, I kept my mouth firmly shut as if a heavy stone had been placed on it. Kyle would soon sponsor Father, and Father would know who I would marry even if I didn’t want him to know.
But I didn’t want to tell my father through my own mouth, so I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to say his name in front of my father, to whom I had never spoken about it to.
In front of the person who was more concerned about filling his pocket than caring about his daughter’s happiness.
“Who is it?!”
After I kept my mouth shut for a while, my father screamed and crumpled his face. His eyes were ferocious as if he was going to throw his drunken body and attack me right away.
“This is the only time.”
“By the looks of it, it’s a good place, so why should I let you, isn’t that right? He takes you, and my cash cow will be gone! So, he should be giving me a fair amount of money!”
My father twisted his jaw and stared at me with disgust. Like a habit, I clasped my one hand in the other. Even though I was no longer young, I was as nervous and almost freezed when I stood in front of my father.
I slowly lifted my gaze and looked at my father. It’s been a long time since I made eye contact with my father. My father, who had a shabby appearance and a shaggy beard, seemed to have a musty odor all over his body.
“You won’t appear in front of me and that person.”
Then I will promise to support you. Incidentally, my father’s eyes lit up with sparks. How long has it been? By the time my fingers were numb and trembling, All of a sudden he shaped his eyes in a gentle manner.
I thought he would run to the table and throw a drink at me. Contrary to what I was prepared for, my father raised his lips and showed a rare smile.
“How about this? Let me meet him.”
“I beg your pardon?”
I distorted my face as if it were cracked and lifted my gaze slowly. There was an expression of unexplained joy on my father’s face.
“I’ll meet that person. I’ll meet-.”
“No, Father, you can’t meet him.”
Father narrowed his eyebrows and breathed heavily with an angry face. He seemed as if he was about to burst in anger at any given moment.
“Father, Please, don’t be like this, I beg of you.”
I closed my eyes with a feeling of distress. Partly because I didn’t want to see my father’s face, the past years flashed through my mind. In the past, I had supported my father as a child, in place of my older brother.
I hoped that the older brother who had left would come back, waiting patiently. I always tried to keep a place for him when he would come back. But he didn’t return, and there was no reason to stay any longer.
“Please don’t appear in front of me any more.”
I clenched my fists until they turned white, and my eyes shone fiercely.
My father pointed at me with his finger as if he was upset, and backed away.