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Magi Craft Meister 591

18 Further Progress Arc

18-11 Gossip 32: Malloum and Beana

My name is Malloum.

I am a maid who serves Earl Kuzuma.

This year marks the 24th year since I started working as an apprentice maid for the father of the current Earl, Master Lewis, back when the former was in good health.

I first arrived at this residence shortly after Master Lewis was born.

Both the former Earl Kuzuma and his wife were really good people, and although this job was really difficult for me until I really learned how to do my job well, I faced almost no hardships during my time here.

I came from a family of merchants, but my father’s business failed and the family split up. As a result, I had to take care of my young sister, so I started looking for work, and that’s how I ended up working here as an apprentice maid under the former Earl.

I started working here back when I was 14. …I suppose that makes my age evident now, doesn’t it? That’s right, I will be turning 38 years old this year.

But I digress.

After nearly three years of apprenticeship, I managed to become a formal maid from an apprenticeship. The head maid at the time was named Aluna, and she was a gentle but strict superior.

Everything I know as a maid, I learned from Aluna.

In the winter of that same year, the former Master’s wife succumbed to illness. Little Lewis was only 3 years old at the time.

It was then decided that young Master Lewis would be put under my care.

The reason for that decision was quite simple. Among the maids, I was the one who was the closest in age to the former Master’s deceased wife. She had been only 19 years old, and I was 17 at the time. The other maids, though also young, have already crossed their mid-twenties.

For a while, young Master Lewis could not understand that his mother had passed away –which was only natural as he was only 3 years old– and he would cry every night.

As a result, a maid would be chosen to sleep with him at night, and I was the chosen one.

After I started sleeping with him, the young Master stopped crying at night.

However, being appointed to this role would result in me becoming too old to get married.

The ideal age for marriage for women is between 15 and 25 years old. But I had dedicated that period of my life to the young Master.

But I have no regrets. It would be unscrupulous of me to think of such a thing, but I’ve always thought of young Master Lewis as my own son. For seven years until he turned 10, I served the young Master not only as her personal maid, but as her nanny as well.

The former Master, that is, the young Master’s father, never chose another wife. I believe he couldn’t bring himself to remarrying and leaving her memory behind

Even from my own point of view, the young Master’s late mother had truly been a wonderful person.

A little later after young Master Lewis’ 10th birthday, a dispute broke out on the border with the neighboring Celuroa Kingdom.

That dispute would soon bring misfortune to this house.

The former Earl was forced to join a troop as their commander and was sent to the battlefield, where he would later lose his life.

When the news of his fall came in, the young Master Lewis accepted the fact without shedding tears.

In the world of the nobles, 10 years of age is old enough to inherit the family estate.

At that moment, my “young Master” disappeared and became the “Master” of the Kuzuma family.

After becoming the new family head, as well as the new “Earl Kuzuma”, Master Lewis found himself at his desk every single day.

He wanted to learn as much as he could from the family’s steward so that he could become a fine family head, worthy enough to succeed the previous Earl, as soon as possible.

But I knew the truth.

I knew that at night, when everyone was asleep, Master Lewis would lock himself inside his room, all alone, to cry in silence.

Time passed in the blink of an eye, and Master Lewis grew up splendidly to the point where he started to take part in national affairs.

And before I knew it, I was entrusted with the role of leading the servitude of this house as the head maid.

Aluna had retired after she turned 50 years old.

And my little sister, who had once been young, had also grown up in the blink of an eye, and ended up getting happily married to a merchant.

*   *   *

Then one day…

The young Master… no, Master Lewis, brought a young woman into the residence.

Her name was Beana, and was a Magi Craftswoman.

I remember wondering how, despite being so young, she managed to have such a solid way of thinking. She had a fervent desire to make things that could make people’s lives easier.

I thought it was quite remarkable of her.

She also had a younger brother and sister, and they started working here in the mansion as apprentice butler and maid respectively –though their work at first was only superficial at most.

Then, one day, while I was having a friendly conversation with Master Lewis…

He mentioned the possibility of taking this young woman, Beana, as his wife… And this made me feel a bit uneasy.

What exactly was Master Lewis’ happiness? I wondered.

Having become the only maid who had known the former Master and his late wife, I felt it was my duty to think about the happiness of my “young Master”.

One day, there was an event in the capital called “Golem Party”.

Being an Earl, Master Lewis was invited to participate, and so he decided to prepare a Golem for it..

As a result, he hired a young Magi Craftsman named Jin Nidou to build the Golem for the event.

I don’t know the first thing about Golems, but the one made by this Jin Nidou person looked really well made. My only complaint was that it looked just like Beana.

However, since it seemed this had been so at Master Lewis’ request, it wasn’t something I had any place interfering with.

Still, there was one thing that made me really happy.

A second Golem was commissioned from Jin Nidou to be presented to the Royal Family. This Golem was modeled after me.

And later I would learn that this Golem, which had been named “Lotte” had protected the king and the prince with her own body.

Having been selected as a model for a Golem to look just like me made me feel really proud, to be honest. And not only that, I was rejoiced that thanks to this Golem, which looked just like me, the Royal Family started to bear Master Lewis in mind in a more auspicious way.

*   *   *

Miss Beana then became Master’s fiancée.

Being born a commoner, Beana was unable to become the Master’s legal wife, and the most she could aspire to be was his concubine. For that reason, it had been arranged that Earl Bernard Hamus Lonsdale, a friend of the former Earl Kuzuma, would become her adoptive father..

However, Miss Beana’s behavior wasn’t that of a noble lady.

As the wife of this house’s Master –a man in charge of national affairs–, she had to behave in a way that befitted her…

A wife’s behavior can cause her husband to be taken lightly and looked down on.

Unfortunately, that’s how aristocratic society works.

For my Master’s sake, as well as for the sake of their happiness, I decided I would be very strict with her.

“That’s wrong, you shouldn’t pick up the hem of your skirt that much.”

“Okay.”

“The answer is not ‘okay’, it’s ‘yes’!”

“…Yes.”

And so I started training Miss Beana..

At the very least, making this woman worthy of the title of countess would make for a fine final duty for me as a maid.

“That’s wrong! When you drink tea, you must hold the saucer with your left hand.”

“…Yes.”

“Oh dear, you have to pick your cup with your fingertips, not hold it like that!”

“…Yes.”

Her dissatisfaction with me was clearly visible on her face, but still I continued to train her like this.

“You need to be more gentle when you’re cleaning! You’re whipping up a lot of dust like that!”

Apparently, Miss Beana has a bit of an impatient nature, so her cleaning would be rather sloppy.

“Being a nobleman’s wife doesn’t excuse you from having to know how to clean well. If you fail at house chores, it’ll hurt your husband’s reputation.”

We would practice hard from 6 AM to 8 PM. It was a lot of work for me as well, but I had to do it for Master’s sake.

“You may find yourself sharing a bathing area with other noblewomen in the future. You must remember to cover your front side with a towel, and whenever you pour hot water on your body, you ought to pay attention to my surroundings, so you don’t splash hot water on other people.”

“Yes…”

I had feared that Miss Beana would break under the immense amount of pressure I was putting on her and start yelling at any moment, but to my surprise, she followed my grueling training without uttering as much as a whisper.

“Listen, in the bedroom, you must not go to bed before your husband. You are to wait until your husband has gone to bed, and only then can you ask for permission to lay down.”

“…”

Still, I could see that she was constantly on the verge of exploding. Nevertheless, I continued to train her with the same intensity.

And Miss Beana endured two months of harsh training without letting her emotions explode.

Her resolve was fueled by the letters that Master –who had to go on a long business trip to the Royal Capital– sent her every day.

After all, I had no choice but to admit that her strength came from her love of Master Kuzuma. So I could only root for her success. I didn’t mind if she would end up hating me for my harsh way of training her…

Then, at the end of August, two months later than expected, Master finally returned home. His delay had been caused by the need to clean up the aftermath of a Golem rampage that happened in the Royal Capital while he was working there.

“I’m home, Beana.”

“Lewis!”

Beena’s face, which had been finally released from the loneliness of not being able to see each other for five months, was shining like never before.

“Did you miss me? I missed you terribly.”

And Master’s face as he firmly took Miss Beana was something I had never seen before… It was the face of a loving husband.

It was at that moment that I realized that my “young Master” was no longer in this world.

That being said, I wasn’t sad. …No, to be honest, I was a little sad about it.

After all, I have no husband, and no children of my own. It may be a bit arrogant of me, but to me, the “young Master” was like my own son.

And no parent would be sad to see their son grow up to be a full-fledged adult who had found himself a fine wife.

With that realization, I finally felt the peace of mind to be able to honestly happy for the two of them.

*   *   *

Those two are getting married today.

I heard that the feudal lord, Duke Blue, would act as Master’s witness. A maid like me has no business attending a wedding being held in Duke Blue’s residence.

But praying for your happiness from here is good enough for me.

There’s nothing more I can do.

I slowly begin to pack my things.

I don’t want to get in the way of the young newlyweds. Besides, Miss Beana, who is officially becoming a countess today, will probably not want me around anymore.

I don’t think she’ll complain to my face, but I can’t blame her for not wanting to have a maid she doesn’t like, or even hate, at her side.

So it would be better to just leave quietly for the sake of the house.

Just like how the 14-year-old me was hired as an apprentice maid that day, it would be nice to hire a new person.

But still, with the maids currently employed by this household, there shouldn’t be any significant delays in the housework for the time being.

I feel a bit sad to be leaving the residence where I worked for 24 long years, but I should see this as a new beginning for me…

…But I can’t. I can barely hold my tears.

Today, Master and Miss Beana are starting a new life together. To be crying on this day would be a bad omen.

I throw out my chest and take a step forward…

*   *   *

“Ah.”

“Malloum?”

When I was about to leave through the front door, I ran into Master and his new wife. And here I was thinking that they wouldn’t be back for another few hours…

As I dwelled on that, the confused Master asked me a question.

“What… What’s the meaning of this?”

No matter how he looked at it, my clothes and the heavy luggage I was dragging behind me made me look like a person that was just about to leave for good.

“Malloum, what’s the matter? Why are you leaving?”

I had no choice but to answer with the truth.

“Young Ma… No, Master. From today onwards, you and your wife will be writing a new story for your family. There’s no need for old people like me anymore. So I…”

However, Master didn’t let me finish, and took the luggage from my hands.

“You say you no longer have a place here? Nonsense! You’re like a mother to me. What kind of son would drive his mother out just because he got married?!”

Hearing Masters’ words made me feel immensely happy. But what would his wife say…?

“That’s right, Malloum. I understand that you’re unhappy about calling a commoner like me your mistress, but for Lewis’ sake, please stay here. Besides, I’ve still got a lot to learn about being a noble lady, so I’d like for you to continue to help me with any areas I still need to improve on…”

I definitely wasn’t expecting that.

“Today, at the ceremony, I realized that this was the reason why you’ve been so strict with me all this time, Malloum. …Thank you. I would’ve definitely made a mess of myself if not for your teachings.”

The young lady turned out to be much kinder than I expected. No wonder Master chose her to be her wife.

“Are you sure…?”

“Please, I want you to stay with us.”

The young wife took my hand and lowered her head. His hand was so warm that I could no longer hold my tears…

And so, I remained in charge of the young maids as the head maid of Earl Kuzuma’s estate.

Right now, the thing I look forward to the most is to one day be able to hold Master’s own child in my arms.

May this happiness last forever.