Chapter 15 Part 2
The next day.
Marie was hurriedly running down a forest road that led to the Shylock mansion.
Her complexion had changed.
There was a leather bag in her hand that was filled with ringing copper coins.
It was money dropped on her from the Shylocks.
While she was away, an employee from the Shylocks had pushed Marie’s father rather hard.
Under pressure from a tall and strong looking employee, Marie’s father had received a bevy of copper coins. There was also the message given that people of such different statuses would not be a good match anyway, so the relationship should end. And for the poor father, that jingle of copper coins seemed so irresistible.
「Why me?! I had just promised Ethelreed yesterday that I would never leave him!」
When Marie returned home, her blood froze. She yelled at her father and snatched up the bag of copper.
She scrambled from the house to the Shylocks in order to return the bag, never looking back.
Marie was always such a warm girl, but now she had almost a menacing look, and as her father made excuses from behind she ran down the path.
「Master Ethelreed! I will never betray you!」
She was desperate to fulfill her promise to him.
She imagined his face as it was yesterday, troubled, crying, pained.
And upon remembering her promise, her breast became hot again.
There was nothing that clouded his smile yesterday.
Marie’s mind was filled only with the thoughts of her Ethelreed.
That’s why she didn’t notice the faint sound of footsteps from behind.
She didn’t realize what had happened when someone bumped her.
She turned with a look of terror on her face.
There was a trembling boy, staring straight at her.
Tattered clothes. Emaciated. With a rusty knife clenched in his hand.
And the tip of the knife was stained with blood.
In a second, she could feel a wave of pain course through her body.
Almost like the body was being roasted inside by a glowing rod of hot iron.
Her legs weakened and she staggered. She fell back against a tree trunk and slid down, trying hard to gain her footing.
The leather bag left her hand and several coins rolled out.
She suddenly saw a pool of red blood spread from her waist, slowly engulfing her clothes.
The boy jumped on the leather bag and clutched it to his chest.
As Marie’s solitary question, the boy looked up and answered,
「Now I can finally give some bread to my sisters! We haven’t eaten for days!」
It was a small cry, almost sounding gargled with blood.
「A really flashy dressed woman told me some girl would pass here with lots of money, so….」
She bit her lips in pain. She was cornered and would die.
「I…I can see…why…」
She realized it all.
The figure of that damned Ambrosine and her putrid laugh came to her mind.
She tried to muster some strength, but the weakness was slowly engulfing her.
The blade had hit her internal organs and the bleeding wasn’t stopping.
At that time, she heard a scream from down the road,
「Helllllp! Someone! Someone! Help herrrrr!」
There was a middle-aged lady with a dropped basket, shouting.
She had encountered them, and seeing Marie, blood-covered, with a boy and a blood-soaked knife, she quickly realized what had happened and called for help.
There was now the voice of men approaching from far up the path.
The boy’s face was pale with fear.
Murder and robbery meant hanging, or a sword to the neck, no matter what the age.
Then his little sisters would starve as well.
Marie blinked a few times.
She squeezed down the pain and then said again, stronger,
「Go! Hurry! With the bag! Before anyone comes!」
Then she smiled at him.
「I’m fine…help your sisters…」
The boy’s mouth dropped and tears formed in his eyes, he bowed, and scrambled into the woods.
Watching him disappear, she then breathed deeply and looked up into the sky.
The azure sky passing over verdant treetops…beautiful.
She was losing consciousness due to pain, and it was about to leave her.
「I wonder…if I lived…like a proper human being…」
Her senses were failing, but she could hear her own words.
「I…wanted to see…Ethelreed again…」
It’s useless now. Losing consciousness…
I think…my face…looks horrid.
If I die, looking…as if I suffered…Ethelreed with be…sad.
I have to smile. I can’t write words, so my last message will be a smile.
He said he loved my smile.
It was a short life, but I’m very happy to have lived it…with all the feelings I had.
It’s disappointing that I can’t see him smile anymore.
My promise was a lie. I can no longer walk with him.
But I can still watch over him always.
And even though I die early, I still had the chance to love him, even with his vulnerabilities and kindness.
I wonder if I’m smiling well enough for you…
Can you tell that I was happy?
Thank you, Master Ethelreed.
Goodbye, my favorite Ethelreed.
I really did love your smile.
So keep laughing…be happier than anyone else.
My favorite Ethelreed.
Am I showing my feelings?
Am I smiling right?
I love your smile…knowing you…I really am…
And with a peaceful look on her face, a final smile, she took her last breath.
Ethelreed had mourned no other more than her.
「I am nothing now…I am…dead! I have nothing anymore!」
After screaming and squeezing her, he held her corpse and saying nothing, did not move from the spot. He just glared onward, wiping his tears, holding her, feeling her warmth disappear, trying to stop it from going.
When Ethelreed heard the news, he ran to her, finding her seated as if she was sleeping against the tree.
If it wasn’t for the blood-dyed dress, it might seem as if she was taking a nap.
It was such a peaceful death that it affected all that saw her.
The people pitied her immediately.
On the other hand, her father had arrived and quickly dissolved into wailing.
「If only I hadn’t taken those copper coins! I was blinded by greed! She was so important to me! I was so foolish! Sorry, my Marie! I’m sorry!」
He was clawing at the ground and sobbing.
All the people around that saw the situation were crestfallen.
Some were weeping and wiping their eyes.
Some knew of their love, and supported the love of two that came from such different homes.
The area was permeated in sorrow, but now an intruder appeared that broke it.
「My, why is everyone gathering here? Did some wild rabbit get slain?」
The voice broke the solemnity of the crowd.
Ambrosine approached the scene in a hurry.
If Ambrosine had avoided the scene, then it would be stranger that if she accidentally encountered it, or so she thought.
Then her brother, Dexter, followed.
Ambrosine looked down at Marie’s death with a snort,
「Ah, it’s the seamstress that comes to our house many a time…she’s died so peacefully. My…」
And abandoning the scene, looking bored, she leaned down to pick up a copper coin that had fallen on the ground.
「Well, seems that she found some copper coins, that’s why she’s happy. I really envy the poor because they can find happiness with so little.」
Because of those words, everyone else lost the ability to respond.
At those repulsive words, a few silver coins were thrown down to the father of Marie, who was looking up at them in the daze.
「She was so young…sad mess it is…you’re the father, right? My condolences. Don’t hold back, take it.」
Dexter, who had thrown the silver coins, said with a sneer.
The amount of money that Desmond had wanted to give Marie was 100 times that amount…the sum given to the father was a tear in the ocean.
「…you bastard! I don’t want this!」
Dexter sneered again at the angry father that had thrown the coins back.
「I can take it back…will you have money to pay for the funeral?」
The father now looked up, frightened.
He was a poor man, and Dexter’s words exacerbated that pain.
「Died so young, and on top of that, can’t afford a funeral…daughter wouldn’t like that.」
Knowing it to be true, Dexter shoved those words at him with even more mockery.
The father’s lips began to tremble.
「If someone had taken the money in the first place, maybe the girl wouldn’t have died. Now it seems that the father responsible can’t even give her a funeral.」
And that was the final twist of the dagger.
The father tried to throw the coins back, but clutched them and finally fell prostrate, crying into the dirt.
Everyone there was indignant at how the old man was treated, and they forgot their fear of the powerful Shylocks.
They all glared at the two…Ambrosine and Dexter.
Of course, the two siblings were iron-faced, not surprised at all by the reaction.
「Oh, even the poor have funerals. I was wondering if they just dig a hole in the ground and kick the corpse in. But with the nameless poor, a grave really doesn’t mean much.」
She said to the crowd with derision.
Ambrosine was the devil that found the boy with the starving sisters and had tempted him to stab Marie, not feeling the itch of regret in the plot. No normal human could propose such evil works. Only a person with an ego so huge and compassion so small could contrive of it.
Ethelreed was silent until then, but now muttered the two words at his sister.
They were said in a small voice, but they were clearly heard.
Ambrosine couldn’t respond, they were said so heavily.
Dexter forgot to grin.
Ethelreed just stared at them with his dark, glowing eyes.
He was still weeping, clutching the girl’s dead body.
「Don’t mock Marie by staying here. She was the most worthy person I knew…and yet trash like YOU Shylocks still live.」
The two siblings took a step back, turned pale, and trembled.
Ethelreed was weeping blood…no, he had pressed his thumbnail so hard under his eye, it had broken the skin.
He then raked his face from his lower eyelid to his chin with awesome power…there was a horrific sound.
It sounded like the hand would reach the bone.
Nails and skin were flayed. His face turned maroon.
「Because I’m a Shylock…I just got to know her… and she’s DEAD! It’s all my fault! Mine!」