As Long As You Are Happy
ina raised her head.
She was about to protest but her lips froze.
The Duke of Winfried was smiling at her.
For some reason, she found herself distracted and she could only blink, having forgotten what she was planning on saying.
“You said I was shameless but I think you are more, my lady.”
“No, I’m really not.”
Irina sneakily turned her head away.
“You’re peeking again, aren’t you?”
“No? I’m just drinking this tea, cough!”
The taste of the tea she had hurriedly gulped down to avoid getting caught sneaking glances was strange.
‘I-is it supposed to be this bitter?’
Did aristocrats typically drink tea as bitter as this?
Staring at the teacup, Irina sneakily pushed it away.
Winfried, who had approached her in the meantime murmured softly.
“You have marks on your wrist.”
It must have been the wrist the duke had grabbed earlier.
Surprised by his apology, Irina stared at Winfried.
Parting his lips, he apologised.
“I was having a nightmare when you came which was why I reacted so aggressively.”
He reached his hand out and carefully brushed against the marks on her wrist.
“If you leave it be, it might bruise.”
“I’ll call for our in-house physician, Mister Veron.
You should get treated before it bruises.”
Winfried turned around.
Just as he was about to leave the drawing room, Irina quickly grabbed the hem of his clothes.
As though wondering what was the matter, he stopped walking and looked down at Irina.
“You don’t need to call for one.”
“It’ll be better for you to see one.”
“It’ll disappear soon.”
Letting go of his clothes, Irina rubbed her wrist again.
She did not want to waste money going to a physician just for this.
But she also had other plans.
Irina glanced at Winfried.
“Instead of calling for a doctor, could you do me a favour instead?”
He nodded as if he was letting her continue.
Irina smiled and revealed her wish to execute her grand plan.
“Hire me as a maid of this estate!”
Instantly, silence befell the two.
Sweeping his hair back, Winfried sighed.
“As I said earlier, you are a guest in this estate.
You may remain here comfortably.”
Irina bit her lips.
“If I don’t work…”
“You little rat! How dare you skip cleaning this morning?”
A shrill voice echoed in her ears.
It had been just another day in the middle of winer.
A day when those who had slept on roadsides the night before would have frozen to death.
“You, do you know what they call people who don’t work and eat and play all day? A bum!”
‘I remember getting hit a lot back then.’
But what scared her more than getting hit was getting kicked out.
She did not want to die.
She wanted to live.
From that day forth, whether she felt feverish or was limping badly because of a fall the day before, she never took a break from work.
The work she did allowed Irina, or Rhett, to remain in that rundown inn.
Irina inhaled sharply.
“Work is the reason why I can continue to stay here.”
“I cannot just stay here.
If I do, then I can get kicked out at any given moment.”
She had no plans on leaving and she could not let herself return to the slums.
She had no idea what happened to Ben.
He could still be alive or perhaps he was already dead.
If Ben was still alive, she would be dead the moment she stepped into the slum and even if he was dead, nothing much would change.
Because there were lots of people in the slum who would take his place.
Any one of them could take Ben’s place and the moment she returned, she would be taken straight to Baron Barrodon’s estate.
‘That’s why I cannot be chased out.’
She had nowhere else to go now.
The Duke of Winfried might have told her she could stay but she could not be certain.
How much could she trust a promise sworn with only words?
How could she be sure that he would not change his mind?
Come to think of it, her parents must have assured her that they would return before they left for the battlefield.
But her parents never returned and she was left all alone.
That only made her believe empty promises made by only words even less.
‘In any case, I have no idea why the duke helped me.’
After chatting with Leo, she learned that her parents had once fought with the knights of the House of Winfried and that they were greatly indebted to her parents.
However, was that enough of a reason to search for her and take care of her like this?
Irina clenched her fists.
“I want to work.”
She looked up at Winfried.
And asked him earnestly.
‘Let me work for you.”
Staring at Irina, the Duke of Winfried narrowed his gaze.
As though he was pondering, the duke went silent for a moment before nodding.
“Alright, I’ll give you some work to do.”
“But not as a maid.”
Taken aback, Irina’s gaze wavered.
“I’m really good at cleaning…”
“Really? That’s too bad.
But I already have everyone I need to take care of the mansion.
If you want to work as a maid, I’ll need to cut someone off.”
She could not bring herself to take away someone else’s income.
Irina lowered her head sullenly but quickly raised it again.
“I can do all sorts of other work well.”
She answered courageously.
“Even though I might look unseemly, I’m good at lots of things other than cleaning.
I can wash dishes well and I can also wipe the grill spick and span after it has been used.”
Not only that, she could also change the sheets and do laundry.
Didn’t she always wash her laundry in the stream behind the slums even when it was freezing?
“Now that you cannot be a cleaning maid, are you going after a kitchen maid’s job now?”
Rogan flashed a soft smile as he looked at Irna.
“Unfortunately, I’ll have you do something else.”
Rogan reached his hand out.
The moment Irina placed her hands atop the rough ones covered in calluses, a tight grip wrapped around them as she was helped up from her seat.
“You will start work in a few days.”
He stared at Irina with a faint smile.
“But for today, I’ll show you around the estate.
You shouldn’t get lost and wander around the estate when you are working.”
It seemed like he really was going to grant her a job!
With her eyes sparkling, Irina nodded.
The smile spreading on Winfried’s face got a little wider.
“By the way, duke?”
Being naturally escorted out of the drawing room, Irina asked warily.
“What work will I be doing?”
With a smile lingering on his lips, the duke answered.
“That’s a secret.”
(1): They look something like this: https://www.darksword-armory.com/medieval-weapon/medieval-daggers/stiletto-1805/
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