The sudden chill in the air was brought on by Martine, a maid who had come to work for a marquis in the centre of Ezon a few years earlier.
Normally a quiet woman, Martine’s face was flushed an unfamiliar shade of red.
The other maids, seeing the fiery anger in his eyes, hesitated, then shut up.
Martine shouted in a furious voice.
“What do you know, you don’t have a master in this house. Noble men don’t see maids as people. There are no good memories or romance there.”
“They’re all scum. You know, the better the face, the better they think they are. Courtesans gets paid to sleep with them, and the maids are worse than a urinal. Know this and think about it.”
The maids fell silent. Perhaps encouraged by Martine’s words, the other maid, Geneviève, who had been silent until now, spoke up.
“I know, they’re all scum.”
“You, too, Geneviève?”
The colour rose to her cheeks and her lashes fluttered. Clenching her fists, she calmly told her story.
“The master at the previous house i worked for, he pulled me by the waist and pinned me down even when I was just eating. I cried and begged him to let go, but he didn’t even care…”
“God, that’s nasty.”
“I’m supposed to be dicing chillies!”
“But I was lucky enough to escape. It was my friend who got caught next that was the problem.”
Sighing deeply, she blinked back tears and mumbled.
“She, she fell for that devil’s twist in the end. My God, she gave that crazy pervert her heart in the end. My friend told me every day: Geneviève, he’s nice to me, he’s pretty sweet to me…”
Amélie Gagnier, who had been staring at her empty plate, turned her head toward Geneviève.
“Geneviève… What happened to her?”
A tear fell from Geneviève’s eye.
“She threw herself into the well and died on the day of the lord’s wedding. She didn’t leave a will or anything like that. But we all knew why she died.”
Everyone fell silent.
“Do you know how impudent the master and mistress were? They had the maid’s room searched to see if she’d left anything behind–a diary, a letter, anything of the sort–and then they told the footman to give all her belongings to them, and then they burned them.”
The other maids patted Geneviève’s shoulder with concern.
“Martine is right.”
Amélie said quietly.
“We’re not even people to them. And I don’t think someone like Olivier Dampierre would be any different. We’d have to be a noblewoman, at least, to look like a human being in their eyes. There’s going to be a lot of perverts this time, so be careful, everyone. Especially you, the youngest.”
“Yes, Sister Amelie.”
The apprentice maid, who had always been a cheerful chatterbox but was now terrified by the gory tales, shook her head coldly.
“Ugh, what’s so great about handsome guys anyway? My nose is stuffy1It means that there is no time to help others because the situation you are in or the problem to be solved is so urgent that you do not have time to wipe your nose even though you are dripping three drops of mucus.!”
Denise picked at the dirt under her fingernails while grumbling. The tip of her finger that burst and deflated from contact with the kitchen detergent was sore and red.
“It’s fortunate if I could avoid the indecent advances of my master towards a maid…”
Heavy sighs flowed out here and there.
Just then, the bell rang to signal the end of break time. The maids, who had risen from their seats in disarray, returned to their respective positions.”
* * *
“Honey. What’s all this…”
The Countess of Biché stared up at the main hall of the outbuilding, her mouth agape.
The party was to be held in the hunting grounds of the Count of Biché’s estate. A dense forest bordering the lake moderately obscured the outbuilding, so that it could not be seen from the main house.
But the Count and Countess Biché had been keeping a close eye on their daughter’s unruly party for some time, and tonight they decided it was time for a crackdown. So they ventured out to the outbuilding and snooped around.
“”Definitely like Ezon’s… cabaret.”
Count Biché said with a stern face.
Indeed, it was quite an apt comment, given the state of the main hall, which seemed to be a direct copy of Ezon’s cabaret. But the Count, who had unwittingly blurted out the word ‘cabaret’ in front of his wife, gave her a sidelong glance.
He appeared to be a fairly upstanding family man, but in fact, a couple of times a week, he would spend some private time with the dancers at Ezon’s cabaret.
Fortunately, the Countess heard nothing. Her confused gaze was fixed on the can-can2a lively, high-kicking stage dance originating in 19th-century Parisian music halls and performed by women in long skirts and petticoats. dancers who, without so much as a greeting in the presence of noblemen, walked up and down in front of them with their chins held high.
More precisely, her gaze lingered on their outlandish attire, their underwear peeking out below their navel, and the garter belts around their thighs.
“Oh, my God…”
Blushing and taking several deep breaths, the woman looked away, then turned her attention to the male dancer and gasped again.
With his bulging muscular chest unabashedly exposed, the tightly-clad male dancer was warming up by spreading his legs wide.
Fanning herself to cool off, the countess clutched her husband’s arm.
“How could our daughter do this… honey. Really, what do you think of this?”
“Well, I think it’s very…”
The Count of Biché tilted his head, his eyes fixed on a single point. A whimper of admiration escaped his lips, and then his mouth closed.
“…Decadent! That’s right, decadence.”
Swallowing hard, the Count murmured mesmerised.
“Ezon says it’s all the rage these days. It’s so freeing and… human, so unlike anything… ever…”
A dancer, clad in clothes that clung to every curve of her body and wearing a rabbit tail around her hips, had just finished practising her choreography, flicking her tail.
Unable to take his eyes off the swaying hips, the Count of Biché nodded his head in assurance and added,
“My daughter is… up to date, and even freer than last time. Very philosophical, very naked, projecting human desire.”
He shoved his hands into his pockets and coughed in a series of grunts as he tried to control his bulging front.
The Countess, who had been staring at her husband in astonishment, stopped when she saw the tiny bunny tail, his flushed face, and his bulging bottom.
“I see all the crazy fads! Yes, it would be nice to know a lot about dog shit philosophy.”
Madame Biché, still fuming, stalked out of the outbuilding. The Count made a cursory attempt to run after her, but eventually found himself absorbed in watching the dancers.
He wondered if he could slip in among the young women later, but that would have frightened Katarina. But he can watch the fun…
Katarina came running out, panting. She was in full command of tonight’s events, holding the schedule and guest list in her hands.
“What do you think?”
Count Biché felt the blood drain from his body as his daughter, covered in snowballs of make-up, asked with a wide smile.
After bulging up to the top, it suddenly collapsed like a ghostly presence. Of course, those who stripped off easily were all commoners, so the more they stripped, the happier he would be…
But if it is the precious only daughter of his family, the story is bound to be different.
“Well, dear, you…”
If he’d say, ‘You shouldn’t be doing that,’ his daughter would say that her father was unfashionable, and she would go on a rampage. So the count could hardly hide his embarrassment, and he fidgeted, looking up and down at his precious only daughter.
So his daughter is dressed just like those raunchy dancers…
“What do you think?”
Katarina craned her neck stiffly. Her dress clung to her body until her nipples were visible, showing every curve.
“It’s all the rage in Ezon these days. Everyone wants to come to my parties, even the Count of Monceau, the Marquis of Armand, and Jacques Belfre…”
What…? The Count of Biché’s expression became dubious again. He couldn’t help but be amused by the names that had come out of his daughter’s mouth.
Katarina shrugged proudly.
“The Duke Olivier Dampierre wrote back to say that he’ll be attending.”
His heart suddenly felt a little better about his daughter’s crazy antics. Or rather, his heart began to beat harder.
That name always worked wonders. Dampierre, Dampierre! The family’s glorious history is worthy of the imperial family.
It doesn’t matter that the Duke of Dampierre and his friends have a reputation for being rascals. The family is as grand as ever. It would be a good investment to make some sort of connection.
What if his daughter were to marry Dampierre? The Count of Biché, who had begun to calculate wildly, lost all sense of discontent at that point. Even the sight of his daughter’s dull eye make-up was forgotten.
No matter how foolish the little duke was, if only he could be caught. Even if it’s his daughter who he cherishes, he can just tell her to endure it.
So, in the end, Count Biché decided to tolerate the debauchery of the party.
Even the vulgar appearance of his daughter going up and down the naked male dancer, saying, ‘You come in here, shake your hips, and then exit the other way.’
- 1It means that there is no time to help others because the situation you are in or the problem to be solved is so urgent that you do not have time to wipe your nose even though you are dripping three drops of mucus.
- 2a lively, high-kicking stage dance originating in 19th-century Parisian music halls and performed by women in long skirts and petticoats.