Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 26: Pledge, All for The Sake of A Long-Cherished Desire
“Have you come to lecture us?”
I asked as I sipped the tea the head maid had brewed. However, I knew that she was not listening to our conversation while suppressing her presence just to give us a lecture. She knew something, and the fact that she came out at that exact moment probably meant that she wanted to tell us about it.
“I’m not going to lecture you. I also thought I should apologize to you. …Lady Julianna, I’m sorry for asking you to write a birthday card for Master. It is my fault for upsetting you, my lady, and making you leave the house as a result.”
“It’s all right. As the head maid, you work exclusively for Father. It is only natural that you would put him before me.”
“Sis… It’s true that the head maid was just trying to be considerate. The blame is entirely on Father.”
“I would like to talk to you about Master.”
‘It was finally time to get down to business,’ I thought as I nibbled on a piece of pastry. I believed it was important to consume some sugar before talking to people.
“Very well. Go ahead.”
“What I’m about to tell you is what Master originally instructed me not to share with the two of you yet. The reason why I’m voluntarily telling you is that you are too smart and thus may put yourselves in danger. In other words, I’m saying that the two of you put me in a position to talk. As one would expect from the children of House Lewis, the house reputed to handle intel.”
“You think our approach to Mother’s death could be dangerous?”
“Indeed. I will explain everything in detail.”
“Please, Head Maid.”
“First, are you aware that there are two political factions, the religious and the royalist?”
“I only know of their existence.”
“House Lewis is one of the leading nobles of the royalist faction. And the leading noble family of the religious faction that is gaining momentum is House Macmillan. …It was the Macmillans who killed Madam Karen and her baby.”
“Did they kill her because she was the wife of a political enemy?”
“That may be part of it, but… I suspect a more significant reason than that. Duke Macmillan originally proposed to Madam Elizabeth. But because of her frailty and the customs of House Olcott, she refused.”
One of House Olcott’s custom was to find your own marriage partner. Unlike other noble families, House Olcott was a family that passed down its bloodline through romantic marriages. House Olcott was a male-dominated family. Girls were rarely born. And Mother was the first girl born in a long time. So even if she was a girl, the custom remained the same in House Olcott. …Maybe she just didn’t want to marry Duke Macmillan, so she used that as a pretext to refuse him. To begin with, no one as loyal as Mother would marry the head of an enemy faction.
“Later, Duke Macmillan married another woman, and they had a child. Then Madam Elizabeth married Master, gave birth to Lady Julianna, and died. That made Duke Macmillan loathe Master deeply… though he had always hated him. His hatred was not limited to Master, but extended to his children and Madam Karen as well.”
I agreed inwardly with what Vincent bitterly said.
“I concur. When you two were born, Master was at a loss as to how to deal with the two of you, as you resembled Madam Elizabeth and himself. I swear on my life that Master loves you both from the bottom of his heart. It’s just… he doesn’t have an ounce of courage anywhere in his body.”
He loves us, huh… I couldn’t imagine that from that stern man. But it was definitely written in our mothers’ diaries. So—-
“Father is a good-for-nothing, isn’t he?”
“Yes, no doubt about it.”
Those words from the head maid, who has served Father since he was little, carried weight. Or was it because of her immediate answer…?
“Pfft, Father is a good-for-nothing…”
Vincent covered his mouth to suppress his laughter. It seemed that it had tickled his funny bone.
“Rest assured. You two are not like him because you take after the madams. So, back to what I was saying, Master couldn’t interact with you two very well. And when he was finally able to, things took a turn. House Macmillan started sending assassins. Duke Macmillan hated Master the most. Therefore, Master decided to move everyone from the enemy-filled royal capital to the well-protected Lewis territory. He did it quickly since Madam Karen was also pregnant.”
“Then, word leaked out from somewhere, and Mother and our younger sibling died, while Sister and I survived by sheer chance because we were suffering from a cold.”
“Yes, that’s right. By tracing the message that Madam Karen risked her life to leave and following the unscheduled route of the carriage… Master quickly determined that her death was not an accident but was caused by House Macmillan. However, there was no conclusive evidence, and the other party, although an enemy faction, was of the nobility representing Rowlands. If he were to destroy them, it would have caused a great deal of turmoil in the country. I also believe that this was caused by the negligence of House Lewis—by Master. This House is known to be in charge of intelligence, after all. So, we bore the shame.”
“Why should we put up with this!? Our family members were killed, and now we have to endure…”
I internally understood. If we retaliated against House Macmillan, the political balance would be upended, and House Macmillan’s business and citizens would be severely affected. It was not a matter for a single individual to act on their own emotions. As a nobleman who swore allegiance to his country and His Majesty, Father made the right choice. But… feelings were a different matter. Perhaps it was because I was inexperienced as a noble, but I could not remain silent after the murder of my family and loved ones. The head maid smiled gently at my indignation.
“Master is a good-for-nothing in his private life, but as a marquess and as the prime minister, he is so talented that he is mocked for being a sly fox. He is also a man who does what he has to do when necessary. How can he forget his resentment after his family name was disgraced and his loved ones were killed? What hesitation should he have in fighting to protect his remaining young treasures?”
The head maid’s powerful words seeped into my heart. I had thought that Father didn’t care about us as individuals. But what if he did? What did he think whenever he looked at me–?
“Master has granted His Majesty’s wishes, but he has never expressed his own. However, for the first and probably the last time, Master Lewis has stated a wish to His Majesty. In exchange for wiping out the nobility of the religious faction, House Lewis would be allowed to destroy House Macmillan… And so, he got His Majesty’s permission. A secret agreement between His Majesty and House Lewis.”
Wiping out the religious faction was a ridiculous condition, but for Father to strike a deal with His Majesty, his sovereign lord, was…
“Why is it that the secret agreement does not name Father personally, but House Lewis?”
“The master is convinced that even if he were to fall, his children would carry on his will.”
“Why was Father so stern with us then?”
“If word got out that Master and his children didn’t get along, it would make House Macmillan think you two could be useful to them. And it would keep both of you out of harm’s way.”
“Father sure is selfish… taking it all on himself without saying a word. I was under a false impression for a long, long time… Thinking that Father hated me… and that I was just a tool for him…”
“I still hate Father for causing Sis so much pain, then and now. But well, my opinion of him has changed a bit now…”
“Master was going to tell you about the secret agreement when the two of you were older. Howard gave Madam Elizabeth’s diary to my lady, and Master entrusted Madam Karen’s diary to the young master. He was trying to determine if the two of you were capable of getting close to the truth with the limited information available and whether or not you were ready to know about the secret agreement. I decided that both of you were qualified to be privy to it. I also thought that Master would hesitate to tell you because of his overprotectiveness, so I took the liberty of explaining the matter to you.”
House Lewis’ secret agreement. Father’s power alone would not be enough to fulfill it; what an utterly impossible task. But what could I do? No, I would not be able to do anything. I was just a little girl at the moment. However–
“I’m Father and Mother’s daughter, Vinnie’s and my unborn sibling’s older sister, and the proud eldest daughter of House Lewis. I’m not strong enough yet, but I will make them pay for murdering the people I love. The only talent I can boast of is my acting skills. I don’t know how I can use this ability. However, I will assimilate as much as I can and become a lady worthy of being the daughter of House Lewis. Then, I will… weaken House Macmillan’s power.”
Leaving the politics of the matter to Father, the prime minister, would be for the best. If House Macmillan was powerful enough to cause great turmoil in the country when the religious nobles got wiped out, destroying them would be impossible. I would never let it come to that.
“I will fight, too. I’m not so heartless as to keep quiet after someone in my family was killed. Above all, I have to protect my older sister. I’ll build up my strength at the military academy. Then I will acquire lots of information because it is a powerful weapon.”
Having Vincent backing me was reassuring. I was proud of him; he was talented, strong-minded, and more trustworthy than anyone else.
“I understand how you both feel. Now, will you swear upon House Lewis?”
I took a deep breath. Then, I looked at the head maid, my eyes unwavering, and swore the oath loud and clear.
“I, Julianna Lewis, the eldest daughter of Marquess Lewis, swear to keep our secret agreement with His Majesty and to carry out my vengeance without fail.”
“Likewise, I, Vincent Lewis, eldest son of Marquess Lewis, swear to keep our secret agreement with His Majesty and exact vengeance.”
Vincent swore his oath after me. Then the head maid, with tears in her eyes, knelt before us.
“Lady Julianna, Young Master Vincent, I am so delighted with how you two have grown up. I, Grace, the head maid of House Lewis, am entirely devoted to the Marquess’ family. Please utilize me to the fullest as a means to fulfill the secret agreement.”
To fulfill the long-cherished wish of House Lewis, we each embarked on our own paths.