Chapter 15: I love your smile.
「Such shameless bastards…and they’re my family!」
The second son of the Shylocks said with a heart-breaking moan as he jumped out of the mansion.
His heart was torn by the outrageous way the other Shylocks had schemed against the Duke and his wife.
He was a personable lad, so it made him want to flee, covering his ears, not wanting to even breathe the same air as the other Shylocks.
After gulping down the small amount of vomit, he staggered and headed to the gate.
He suffered from such guilt and self-loathing, his vision was shaking.
His legs tangled as he attempted to walk and he was about to fall over.
Even though he attempted to re-right himself, he nearly fell flat on his face.
「Master! That’s dangerous!」
Marie, a seamstress that occasionally came to the Shylock’s, rushed to his side and supported him quickly.
She called to him and lifted him up from his slump.
He stopped, stood, and then looked at Marie in a daze.
「N…no, it’s perfectly fine.」
She tried to smile to him as she huffed from the weight she was supporting, but upon seeing the paleness of his face, she was stunned,
「What’s wrong, master?! You’re so pale. Like you’ve seen a ghost!」
His face seemed to haggard that she was staring at him worriedly.
Seeing her kind, violet eyes made him break and cling to her.
The focus in his eyes finally seemed to return.
He clung to her like a lost child clings to his mother.
「Wa…master! What? You can’t do that in a place like this!」
Marie was upset, and her earlobes flushed red.
「It would have been better if I HAD seen a ghost! My family are filled with a bunch of bloody demons! The Shylocks are insanity itself! Cowardly, cruel, cunning, and I…」
Ethelreed tried to make a small grin.
But even so, there were tears in his face.
「Heh, heh, dammit, I’m the same as them! What did I do when they devoured Howard’s life? I just ran away from the mansion! I don’t have the power or courage to stop them. No matter how angry I get or cry, pretend to be a good person, it’s all about me! I’m still a coward! I’m just the same.」
A solemn breeze floated through the Shylock garden.
Ethelreed’s dry self-mockery ended in an agony-filled groan.
The trees swayed in the black shadows.
「Master…I don’t like the way you laugh…please laugh like you usually do.」
He hugged on to Marie and groaned, continuing,
「I…can’t, can’t laugh. I’ve forgotten how to. How can I laugh when I have this cursed Shylock blood! I’m so ashamed I long to die!」
Her hand hesitated at first, then gently stroked Ethelreed’s back, as if she had decided something.
「I don’t know what happened, but Ethelreed is still Ethelreed. No matter what who his family is.」
Saying the name Ethelreed, she blushed a bit, continuing,
「You have such a warm smile, so different from the other family members!」
「But…but…I’m still cursed by them! They’re nature is in me!」
「I’m illiterate, so I can’t write you in words, but I feel you are different in my heart. You have a wonderful smile, Ethelreed. You’re a good person, there’s no doubt in my mind!」
Marie said so, powerfully.
There was no reason in her words, just heart-felt emotion.
It was a single statement of trust that pierced Ethelreed’s heart.
「Marie, you’re always ready to save me. I can’t bear this burden alone. Come with me…if you’re here, then I won’t forget to laugh…」
「Huh? What? You mean….」
Marie begins to panic at the words of Ethelreed.
It has the sound of a proposal.
「Um…I…there’s no way you mean…」
Marie looks almost ready to flee.
But seeing Ethelreed trembling there like a naked birdling made Marie pause. She quietly held him strongly again and smiled.
「I have nothing…no family, no education, no money. All I can do is cry for you Ethelreed, but if you’re fine with me, I’d love to be beside you forever.」
「That’s fine! Enough, Marie!」
He suddenly stood stock straight and held her in both hands.
She looked forward at him and nodded.
「I won’t leave you, Ethelreed. If you’re this sad and suffering, and can’t take it anymore, I can bear the burden. I’ll be as strong as a donkey. Give your burdens to me, and I’ll carry them. That will allow me to be closer that anyone else to you and continually see your smile, Ethelreed.」
He suddenly laughed at her, she who just finished with her heavy-breathed declaration of love.
「See, Ethelreed! That’s the smile I love!」
Marie said, smiling back at her.
「There’s no evil person that can smile like that. I love your smile.」
「Is my smile the only thing you like? Or is it all of me? Please tell me.」he laughed again, now feeling a bit more relieved.
「Of course, I love you. Ethelreed…you.」
She said, almost now in a whisper.
「Well, I love you too Marie, as I love your smile. I want to see it. Smile for me.」
「Y…you can’t just ask like that! I can’t just be asked to smile!」
She seemed upset by his quick counterattack.
「No sense in just looking at me smile all the time. I want to see your smile up close as well. Or are you unable to smile with me?」
「Geez…it’s weird enough…don’t laugh at me.」
Marie said, smiling awkwardly.
「It’s weird? I think it’s a great smile. I have to apologize.」
He then embraced her with all his might.
「…no, I’m so happy, I can’t stop smiling.」
「Master Ethelreed, I feel the same! I love your smile…」
And so the two held each other.
Their warmth gave each of them courage.
The smiled at each others smile, bathing in the happiness that it brought.
The wind softly meandered around them, watching over them.
And from somewhere a solitary sad scream of a bird sounded.
Desmond’s face, full of scars and scratches, looked down in a bitter frown at the two of them. He took a step away from the window and sighed.
He was the head of the Shylock Company, and he appreciated the talent of his second son, Ethelreed. He actually wanted Ethelreed to succeed him and not his eldest son, Dexter.
But…the boy was too kind.
You couldn’t entrust the company to him.
That’s why he was going to marry his son off to another big company’s daughter and let him rough the seas of trade himself.
But that seamstress Marie was in the way.
「We should take this money and crush that girl with it.」
「Hey, don’t try to steal more than your share!」
The oldest son, Dexter, and oldest daughter, Ambrosine, were now competing for golden coins on the table.
Desmond sighed at the scene these two were causing. Large coins like that were rare in the Romalia Era. With a child like Ethelreed, you’d never see him swayed by gold, but these two were so crazy about the coins that they never heard the sigh leave their father’s mouth.
「I never said crush her, just get her away from Ethelreed. You can take a little cut, but we need a large amount to get her away from him. Even if Ethelreed asks about it later, it needs to be enough that she won’t leave a trace of him in her heart.」
All of this reminded him that Ethelreed was far more of a genius than the other two.
「I know…I just have to give Elly the money.」
「It’s MARIE. Don’t make a mistake…and don’t leave any unnecessary grudges. I’ll leave it all to you.」
After Desmond left the room, Dexter and Ambrosine looked at each other and groaned. But the both had a sadistic smile that would freeze anyone else that might witness it.
The two would usually struggle for profit, but when they were planning to do evil like they were now, they smiled and breathed heavily.
「Anyway, this seamstress…we should – give it – all to her – at once…」
「Yeah. Who knows what will happen to her afterwards.」
Dexter was so taken in by the beauty of these coins, he was wondering where in his room he would display them.
Ambrosine was already considering which clothes and jewelry to buy. She had no compassion for Marie, but just the desire to see these blindingly bright gold coins.
「We shouldn’t spend any of these gold coins. Copper coins are enough for wild rabbits like her.」
Ambrosine said dismissively with an agreement from Dexter.
The faces of the two, twisted in desire for gold, were as ugly as monsters.
The wind again swirled around the Shylock’s garden.
There was an inaudible scream of ghosts, earnest to warn the two lovers.
~Run away! Clasp hands and flee!~
~Away from this mansion! To the ends of the earth!~
~You’ll be lost! Everything you desire! Lost! Happiness!~
~You’ll spit up blood and groan in pain!~
~Like we did! Like us!~
The sad voices of grudging ghosts.
But this alarm doesn’t reach the ears of the two.
Then came the tragedy.