The Earl’s Bad Wife 3

Chapter 3 The perfectly armed up Hermina

I was ordered by Mother to take a rest after that. Once I slept past lunch, I felt the dark bags under my eyes fade away a little.

After rejuvenating my mind, I took all possible measures in order to challenge him to a night battle.

In this case, the equipment was the dress, the fortress was the makeup, and the weapon was the fan. The more time I spent preparing, the more the path to victory opens.

I spent time taking a bath, polishing everything from my fingertips to my toes.

Of course, it was impossible with just me, so I borrowed a maid’s help.

Stepping out of the bath, I drank in a pitcher of hot water.

During baths, water leaves the body as sweat, so one had to be hydrated.

I often hear ladies talk about collapsing after stepping out of the bath, but that’s only because they’re dehydrated.

Sweat a lot, expel the unnecessary toxins and waste from the body, and properly hydrate. That, is the secret to retaining beauty. When I pointed it out to them out of kindness once, the mood in that place turned sour, so I never spoke about it after that.

Frail women who faint or lose weight are praised extravagantly in high society.

That’s why even that bit about collapsing in the bathroom was just to assert 「I’m this feeble」.

When I told my sisters as such, I got rebuked with a 「you can’t say this to anyone other than family」.

Even I recognized that vaguely.

Women in high society tend to value empathy. If you give an opinion that differs from everyone else’s, you’ll end up ostracized. I live in an extremely terrifying world.

When the maid in charge of clothes showed up in the bathroom, she asked.

「Hermina-sama, how would you like it done for today?」

Such a thing was already decided from the start.

「Make me the most beautiful in the world」

The maid bowed her head in a respectful manner.

I was at about the middle of my battle preparations.
◇◇◇

I just managed to finish dressing by evening.

I ordered the maid to have the makeup as thick as possible.

White skin that seems transparent and a bright-colored, flashy lipstick.
My eyelids had a gradient reminiscent of the night, and a spring color had been chosen for my blush.

My hair was woven in an elaborate braid and pinned together to the back of my head. The ornament pinning my hair was something that imitated a white flower. It was a pre-wedding gift from my sisters, and I like it very much.

The dress chosen was a bright red. It was a sleeveless evening dress with a wide gap design around the chest.

Decorating my chest was a large diamond necklace. This was something I borrowed from Mother and it had a dazzling brilliance. Since it shined with a dazzling sparkle, you could say it was an intimidation tactic or maybe a feint towards Erich Von Weimar, who was set to sit opposite me. I picked it for those reasons.

The bright red dress used a silk with a glossy finish, the feel of it was the best. The upper half followed the line of my body and my waist was held by a ribbon. The skirt was a round frame similar to a bird cage and was made in a lovely style.

When I looked at the mirror, a smile pursed my lips.

「How do you find it, Hermina-sama?」

「I’ll win with this. I’m sure of it」

「My goodness. That’s wonderful」

I thanked the maids who accompanied me in the long drawn session of dressing. “You’re all my pride”, I told them.

When I said that, there were some who had tears in their eyes. When I asked why, they told me they’ll be lonely that they will soon no longer be able to care for me.

What pure girls these were. I felt touched.

But I couldn’t tell them, “Don’t worry, I’ll bring you all with me”. I haven’t heard a clear answer from Erich Von Weimar yet, after all.

When I tried expressing my gratitude for the time being, firmly linking both my hands like a prayer, the joints on my fingers sounded with cracks. The maids gulfed down a shriek of 「hii!」.

The mood had just become good, but I ended up messing it up.
◇◇◇

At night, I was informed by the butler that Erich Von Weimar arrived right on the arranged time.

I received a fan made with a bird’s tail from the maid and waited while gracely fanning myself.

――……?

For some reason, I feel strange. My nose felt itchy, and my throat irritated.

Someone like me, catch a cold?

Was this body of mine, which didn’t catch a cold since the time ten or so years ago when I went out to play on a snowy day in a dress, ran around with a dog and returned home sopping wet, now telling me it was in bad shape?

Maybe I shouldn’t have stayed in the bath for so long.

But the bath was warm, and the maid helped to frequently supplement warm water.

I inclined my head thinking about it.

While I was doing that, Erich Von Weimar finally arrived at the room.

I reluctantly stood up from my chair to greet him.

At the end of the wide open doors, a man with shiny golden hair and clear green eyes stood.

He had good looks that would leave one sighing unconsciously. He was infinitely more beautiful than what I remembered.

「――Nice to–」

When I tried to greet him, he came along walking straight at me with a smile.

I was surprised by the unimaginably fast movements so I concealed my expression with the fan, somewhat taken aback.

Who knew he’d quickly kneel down on one knee right in front of me. Holding a hand to his chest, he looked up at me. And then he spoke a few words in my direction.

「――Hermina-sama, I longed to meet you」

「Ha?」

While I was gaping, he asked if he could touch my fingers.

Of course you can’t — I wanted to say, but bringing a hand to the lips was just one of a gentleman’s greetings. That was why, I reluctantly consented. When I did so, this man gently held my hand and brought his lips to the tip of my fingers.

I was startled by that unexpected action and felt goosebumps on my skin, my entire body shaking. In other words, this was probably something called a chill.

I regretted not putting on gloves.

This was a classic ceremony move when knights swear allegiance to princesses. It was not a substitute for a greeting. What’s more, it was unthinkable for a knight employed by the royal family to do something like kneeling down to an individual other than them.

What a frivolous man.

I’m sure he does these sort of things to women all around the world.

If he does this, then even people who were angry with him would end up forgiving him.

I’m sure he does it knowing that. I’m completely amazed from the bottom of my heart.

Erich Von Weimar cast his eyes down, a sad expression on his face

「Hermina-sama, how best can I apologise to you?」

He had apologized in detail, about being late in coming to meet me, about not helping out on the engagement party preparations to say nothing of not coming to attend the appointed day, and various other things, while kneeling on the ground.

「――would you grant me your forgiveness, my beloved?」

For the second time this day, I felt cold air and then goosebumps rose up.

I wonder how he could say these things to someone he just met.

I feel like he’s a man with a personality lighter than air. Till now, he probably thought all his problems would be resolved if he lowers himself with that soft expression and apologized.

–naive. He’s way too naive.

I’ll likely only suffer in the future if I let him off with just an apology.

Although being a lenient woman was also important, I have to properly enforce the carrot and stick.

I closed the fan, placing the tip under Erich Von Weimar’s chin and lifting his face up.

「I wonder, is this how you’ve been asking for forgiveness so far?」

「No, that’s……」

「If so, then would you mind letting me see the sincerity that you’re truly sorry for causing such immense trouble and inconvenience in your own way?」

When I finished, I pulled back the fan, opened it up with a flap, and began gracefully fanning myself.

Then, a strange event happened to me once more.

――Nn? Is it just me or does my nose feels itchy again for some reason?

I wanted to bear with it because it was during a serious matter, but I wasn’t able to endure and ended up letting out a large sneeze.

「Are you alright?」, I wound up getting asked by Erich Von Weimar.

To have this sort of guy worrying about me, this is the greatest blunder of my life!!

After I’d thoroughly chewed my lips, he pointed out something to me.

「It looks like it might be an allergic reaction to something from an animal」

When I heard that, it dawned on me.

When I brought the fan made from feathers close to my nose, I was once again attacked by a sense of itchiness.

「I see」

I muttered, then handed back the fan to the maid. I ordered her to bring back a different article.

If it’s an allergic reaction, then it can’t be helped. That meant my body wasn’t frail.

That’s good, I thought in relief.

After the expression slackened on my face, my gaze met with Erich Von Weimar’s.

Oh, right. I’d been in the middle of questioning this gentleman’s sincerity.

I tightened my expression and pulled myself together, then posed the question.

「Well then, would you mind letting me hear the answer?」

「I’ll be Hermina-sama’s dog or manservant」

…is it just me or did I hear something absurd just now?

I unconsciously looked up at the ceiling.

An awkward silence dominated the room.

I decided I didn’t hear his sincerity and sat down in the chair.

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