Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 24: Elizabeth Lewis’ Memorandum
“Now I’ve done it…”
Crouching in a back alley, I lamented my own thoughtlessness.
Idiot me! Fool! Even though I should know that no matter how different my hair or the color of my eyes were, there was no guarantee he wouldn’t realize I was Marquess Lewis’ daughter… I had almost definitely been exposed as a noble’s daughter, at the very least!
Even if I weren’t tried for lèse-majesté, I might face retaliation for the deception… The second prince was the type to cheat against a lady, after all. Moreover, I didn’t change my handwriting on that coupon…
“Alright, I’ll just do my best not to come into contact with the prince. Give it a few years and my features will have changed; plus if I start changing my handwriting now, it’ll be fine. Furthermore, he’ll probably forget all about a little girl he’s only ever met once while incognito. But I can’t let my guard down when it comes to destruction of evidence. Yuuuup, it’s decided.”
My decision was swift.
“Setting the matter of the second prince aside, what should I do now…?”
Thanks to some time having passed, I cooled down a lot. I’d even thought of saying to heck with it all and leaving home to live as a commoner. But it was impossible for a 10-year-old child of nobility who had no sort of connections to live as such without being found out by their family. It was true that I had been born shouldering my parents’ expectations for me to become a weapon, but—
“Vinnie and House Olcott love me…”
Vinnie called me sis and looked up to me. And House Olcott doted on me. Whatever Grandpa thought of me, he was really sweet towards me, and although Linus and I were cousins, perhaps because we were far apart in age, he and his wife would treat me as if I were their actual daughter. Linus’ son Theodore was a year older than me and practically like a brother, and his younger siblings also saw me as their older sister. Even if I wasn’t loved by my parents, I—
“…I’m well and truly loved.”
A tear slid down my cheek, but I viciously scrubbed it away with my sleeve before standing up. I wouldn’t say I didn’t feel the sadness of being unloved. However, I wasn’t the heroine of some tragedy. Neither did I wish to think of myself as pitiful.
“…Let’s head home.”
I knew I was acting tough. Even so, I could only live on as the daughter of Marquess Lewis. After all, I didn’t want to cut ties with the people who loved me. That essentially meant that I couldn’t abandon my existence as Marquess Lewis’ daughter.
If I was so against it all I could simply run away, throwing away everything to do with matters of nobility. But if I chose not to run, I had to accept my own destiny. Whether it was my birthright as Marquess Lewis’ daughter, or my painstakingly crafted bloodline… Hence—
“My home is House Lewis. Because I am Julianna Lewis…”
So I murmured as if to persuade myself.
I started back towards the mansion. Twilight was already gathering in the sky.
Having stealthily returned to the mansion, I had dropped by Howard’s place, returned to my original attire, and now stood in the entrance to the main building. Possibly because my disappearance had caused a stir, the servants looked at me with surprised expressions. The head maid looked positively demonic…
“Lady Julianna! Where have you been?! I– How worried do you think I’ve been…”
“I’ll give you a proper earful later.”
“However… I’m relieved that you’re unharmed.”
“…Sorry for making you worry.”
The head maid was angry, but her love for me was evident.
“Come on and go show Young Master Vincent your lively self. He was making a huge fuss saying he’d go searching for you, you know?”
“Mm. I’ll apologize properly to Vinnie too.”
Upon entering Vincent’s room, I was met by my brother running over and embracing me with all his might. Such intimacy after months apart had me feeling somewhat abashed. I noticed the fact that Vincent’s head was no longer at the level I remembered it to be, but instead higher than that… I’d figured that he would have grown up, but to think that he’d surpass my height? That was a little impertinent. I unconsciously let out a laugh.
“Fufu, sorry for making you worry, Vinnie.”
“What are you laughing about, sis?! How worried did you think I was?”
“Mm, I know.”
“No, you don’t know. When I considered that you probably hadn’t read that all the way to the end… I was beside myself with worry.”
Although the mention of ‘that‘ piqued my curiosity a little, I apologized meekly.
“That’s enough. Since you came back to us, sis…”
“Mhm. I won’t be doing any more running away.”
“Is that so…? You! I’d like to be alone with sis for a bit, so could I trouble you to leave?”
Just as I was thinking about how kindly he was smiling at me, Vincent spoke coldly to the maid standing in the corner of the room. The maid was the same newcomer who’d brought me tea in my room before I’d fled from the house.
Looking incredibly reluctant, the maid made her exit. Once he tracked her out of earshot, Vincent tugged me into the walk-in closet.
“Hold on, Vinnie, if you have something to say, you can do so in the room, can’t you? Furthermore, treating the maids coldly with such blatant rudeness won’t fly.”
“I don’t want us to be overheard by anyone, sis. Besides, that maid spoke up without even bothering to read the room… Saying insensitive things such as how pitiable sis is, or how a kindhearted noble will definitely come for sis— It was incredibly vexing.”
Vincent had been seriously angered.
The two of us entered the closet and sat on the floor. Although it was a closet, given that it was also used for changing clothes, the interior was pretty spacious. Vincent then searched my face with a solemn expression.
“Sorry, sis. I…read this without permission.”
The item he held out to me was Mother Elizabeth’s diary.
“Read it, you say… You couldn’t have deciphered the text written in it, right?”
“No, I decrypted it. Apparently, I have cryptography-related talents… Even in military school, I was taught various things about cryptography by a professional instructor. Laughable, isn’t it? To have a talent for cryptography despite not being Mother Elizabeth’s child.”
I hadn’t known that Vincent had a talent for cryptography. It was likely that the man himself had also only found that out for the first time while at military school.
“Well, I’m not laughing. As expected of the little brother I’m proud of, eh… If you’ve read its contents, then you should understand, right?”
That I’m House Lewis’ tool. These words, I swallowed down.
“Sis, how much of this have you read?”
“Only the first page…”
“I knew it. The first part is of a level that even amateurs will somehow be able to decipher, after all.”
Vincent handed me a stack of papers.
“I’ve deciphered and transcribed Mother Elizabeth’s diary. Because everyone was desperately stopping me from going out to search for you, sis, I decided to work on deciphering the diary that seemed to be related to your disappearance. Go ahead and read it.”
“I’ve got it…”
I was amazed by my younger brother’s ability to decrypt the entire diary in half a day’s time. I read through the stack of papers I’d been given.
My dearest younger brother had asked me to read it, so I hid my tremendous anxiety as I began to unravel the secrets of my birth mother’s diary.
Today was the day of Lady Karen and Gerald’s wedding ceremony. As my health was good, I also attended the wedding. Lady Karen in a wedding dress looks charming and lovely. But unexpectedly, when the three of us spoke with each other, I got the strong impression that despite her outer gentility, she has great inner fortitude. Gerald quickly became the image of a henpecked husband, as expected of my childhood friend. I started laughing unconsciously. Gerald may be competent at work, but he might just be a good-for-nothing oaf when it comes to his personal life. I’ve discovered an unexpected fact. I’m relieved that it seems like I will be able to get along well with Lady Karen.
Recently, my body’s condition has been strange—as terrible as usual yet different… With such thoughts in mind, I had Howard give me a checkup and discovered I was with child. Four months after marriage, which is earlier than expected. However, my health is worsening by the year. That I managed to become pregnant before I am no longer able to give birth is fortunate. Lady Karen was overjoyed for me, but Gerald seems conflicted. This man really is a good-for-nothing oaf, after all. I know that Gerald harbors complicated feelings for this child. But if you adopt such an attitude towards this child, what exactly am I to do?
A few weeks after it was discovered that I’m expecting, Lady Karen’s pregnancy has now also been discovered. I’m really happy! We ate Karen’s favorite chocolat in celebration tonight. Having deepened our friendship, we’ve begun to call each other by name. I’m glad to have another lady friend. We made a promise to embroider our swaddling clothes together tomorrow. Embroidery… I’m not good at it, but I’ll do my best.
Perhaps because of morning sickness, recently my appetite has been on the decline and I’ve been eating mostly fruit. But in terms of severity, Karen has it worse than me. If I, with my weak constitution, had morning sickness as bad as Karen’s, all jokes aside I might actually die. This child must be thinking of their mother.
Gerald invited a musical troupe to our home, saying it was good for prenatal education. Quiet music like the piano is alright, but there’s no way brass instruments make sense. Karen and I put a stop to it together.
Today, my older brother came to the mansion. Even though he should be up to his neck in work as a marshal… When I mentioned as much, he sulked about how there was nothing wrong with visiting his cute younger sister and her child. He was someone who already boasted grandchildren, and yet he was still such a childish person. I may say so, but I was honestly glad to be able to meet the older brother whom I’d always admired as a paternal figure. I am not long for this world. How many more times will I be able to see him?
Recently, this child has been moving frequently within me. Perhaps they want to be born quickly. They seem restless. I hear that rather than simply moving around, Karen’s child seems to be positively kicking up a frenzy. It could be that just maybe, Karen’s child is a boy.
Gerald has been putting his ear to my stomach recently. His face is that of incredible bliss. Quite some time has passed since we became husband and wife, but the seeds of love have never sprouted between us. Gerald has Karen, while I’ve never had an inclination towards love. This had always seemed normal and expected to me. But whenever the three of us are together, I have a lot of fun. It could be what they call family love.
During today’s checkup, Howard was direct with me. It seems I will be unable to endure the process of childbirth. I know my own body better than anyone. Perhaps because of that, I barely felt any shock hearing his words. I selfishly forced Howard into swearing to keep this matter a secret from Gerald and Karen.
I was the first to become pregnant, yet Karen’s bump is larger than mine. I have no basis for my conjecture, but I believe Karen’s child is indeed a boy. In which case, I reckon this child is a girl. If possible, I hope they inherit not my strawberry blond, but Gerald’s honey blond. As for eye color… as long as it’s not my purple eyes, any color will do. I do not wish for this child to have to shoulder unnecessary burdens. Even though it may not be for me to say, as someone who is already making them shoulder so many things.
Today, His Majesty and Queen Consort Dahlia arrived on an incognito visit. It would only be proper for me to greet them, but as I have been in poor health, I have recently found myself unable to so much as leave my bed. His Majesty and Queen Consort Dahlia apologized for causing us inconvenience… despite the fact that Gerald and I had done so entirely of our own volition. I ended up making an impudent request of the two of them: to please allow this child just a little freedom of choice, even if their very birth is for the sake of the second prince… Is this what they call maternal instinct? It very nearly caused my loyalty to waver.
Recently, my health has been especially poor. Perhaps because I continued to remain bedridden, Karen, who became suspicious of my situation, found out about the fact that my body cannot endure childbirth. Moreover, she confessed that she had also known from the beginning that Gerald and I had conceived this child for the sake of the second prince—which, by extension, is for the sake of the country’s political stability. When I appealed to her that I wished to bring this child into the world even at the cost of my life, I was told, “If you love the child within you that much, I won’t stop you.” Karen’s words made me realize: I love this child. I wish for this child to be born into a healthy body, unlike me. What can I do for this child’s sake…?
Today, I wrote a cryptanalysis book. There is no guarantee that this child will possess the same talent as me, but perhaps a day will come where it will be of use. Although I will not be able to watch over their growth, I want to help them in choosing a good future.
Gerald found out about my health situation. He got angry at me, and we quarreled for the first time in a long while. In the past, we would often have lengthy discussions about this country’s future, wouldn’t we…? It once again hit home that, to me, Gerald was not a “husband”, but a “like-minded comrade”.
Gerald came to apologize for losing his temper at me the other day. Apparently, His Majesty and Duke Inglot had had some choice words with him. I had completely forgotten about it… or more accurately, I hadn’t minded in the slightest. He told me that from now on we could make memories of the two of us, but when I said that it’d be great if Karen were included, he visibly wilted. This man is a little troublesome.
Today, my nephew Linus—the minor fact that he was older than me aside—visited the mansion. I handed him the cryptanalysis book. During that time, we spoke about my affairs. It was because the Olcott family was there for me that I could swear my loyalty to the country, to His Majesty. I told him that those had been really, really blessed days for me. And, to please take care of this child. Gerald, the good-for-nothing oaf that he is, will probably be undependable, for the most part. No matter what happens, my family that is House Olcott will protect this child. Linus, who has good intuition, seems to have already gathered that my body will not be able to endure childbirth. After that conversation, we engaged in a lively debate regarding what to name this child. Because surely they will be a girl, at the end of our brainstorming session, we arrived at the conclusion that “Julianna” was just the name. We derived the name from that of my mother, the princess of Samerta who had fallen deeply in love with and married my father—”Juliet”. It isn’t that I wish for this child to fall in love, more so that I hope this child will become someone who grasps their own future just like my mother did. In the event that this child is a boy… I’ll have big brother give him a name.
The estimated date of birth is approaching. Today, Karen, Gerald, and I dined together. I could not get out of bed, so we ate sandwiches in my room. A meal unbefitting of nobility. However, it was unexpectedly fun.
The labor pains have started. Although it hurts a lot, it seems that the actual pain is far worse than this. The interval between contractions is gradually becoming shorter. The pain has receded for now, but it will surely return soon. I’m going to entrust this diary to Howard. I’m thinking of asking him to hand it to this child when they turn 10. When they decipher the diary, they will surely become disillusioned with me. Even so, I will entrust this diary to them. At the very end, let me convey my thoughts to this child ten years in the future.
To my dear child, whose future I am unable to witness,
The fact that you are reading this diary now must mean that you have learned of the reason you were born. No matter what excuses I list off, it is the irreplaceable truth that you were born for the sake of the second prince, the country’s politics, and out of Gerald’s and my patriotism and loyalty. We’re the worst parents, wouldn’t you say? So if, just perhaps, you think my death is your fault, please perish the thought. However, the time during which you were within me has been extremely precious to me. I have been looking forward to this day, the day I will be able to bring you forth into this world. I have caused you to bear the heavy shackle that is our bloodline. It will surely bring you suffering. But it is also a fact that this same bloodline will become a great weapon that no amount of simple effort can get you. Please use the blood that flows within you for the sake of your own future. I won’t tell you to become a patriotic spirit like us. Only to be happy. I pray that you will meet people to love and to be loved by, and be able to embrace a happy ending like me.
In truth, I really wanted to hold you right after you were born. I wanted to breastfeed you. I wanted to hear your first words be “mother”, to hear those words directed at me. I wanted to drink tea together with you. I wanted to accompany you to bed when you got lonely. For your first time attending a social event, I wanted to be there fretting over clothing choices with you as we dressed you up. I wanted to have familial quarrels with you. And, I wanted to embrace your coming-of-age alongside you.
For me, that is a future I cannot hope for. Therefore, when you become a parent, please do so for your own child. This is my selfish request as your mother.
Lastly. Right now, in this very moment, I love you more than anyone in the world. Thank you for being born as our child.
From your mother,
The chapter was getting lengthy, so I cut it off even though it was an awkward part to end on. Regardless of what the catalyst was, there’s no way she wouldn’t start to harbor love for the child she carried for months… so it goes. And also, Gerald who cannot be counted on. (laughs) Next time, we will enter the stage with the Lewis siblings who have now read the diary.
The older brother mentioned by Elizabeth
→The current Duke Olcott, the age difference between them is as large as a parent and their child
→His relationship with Julianna is that of uncle and niece (Julianna calls him Uncle Olcott)
→Duke Olcott’s eldest son
→Relationship with Elizabeth: aunt and nephew (but Linus is older)
→Relationship with Julianna: cousins
Theodore (has not made an appearance)
→Linus’ son and Duke Olcott’s grandson
→One year older than Julianna