I gently knocked on the door. Leah caught up to me with light steps. Someone came running up to the door from the other side and vigorously opened it. I was surprised to see a maid dressed in a black and white uniform. She was so startled that she didn’t know what to do. She was literally going to prostate herself. She loudly apologised, “Umm, umm, umm, I am sincerely sorry about the handkerchief!! I am sincerely sorry! If you do not mind… just burn the handkerchief, umm, umm, umm… sorry!!”
I quickly grabbed the maid’s arm to stop her: “What are you talking about? As it belongs to a maiden, I should return it to her. I do not mind. Would it not be a pity to burn such a beautiful handkerchief?”
The maid nearly leapt up upon hearing my response. Surprised, she shoved me back. I noticed panic and terror from her reaction. Her reaction made it seem as though I mentioned something considered treason; I even begun to suspect if I said something I shouldn’t have. But nonetheless, after carefully mulling on it, I couldn’t figure out what I said that was out of place. Wasn’t it normal for me to return it?
“Ar-Ar-Are you not afraid?! H-Have you not heard… the… the… evil spirit…”
“I have. I don’t mind, though. I don’t believe in evil spirits. This is the maiden’s handkerchief, so I should return it to her.”
I handed the maid the handkerchief, but she continued to back down. She didn’t dare to approach me. She turned around and yelled, “An evil spirit has come! The evil spirit itself has come! Th-The evil spirit has come!!! Save me!!!”
I watched the maid pathetically flee helter skelter. I lingered in place before looking down at Leah. Confused, I asked, “Leah, did Papa just say something rude?”
“Leah doesn’t know, either… Mm… Leah doesn’t think there was anything wrong with what you said, Papa… Has Leah misunderstood something?”
“No… I don’t think there was anything wrong with what I said.”
I peered inside the house. I didn’t know if I should enter or not… The interior was, well, plain. There were no unnecessary decorations or expensive items. There was only ordinary furniture. It didn’t look as though the pope was particularly wealthy. In other words, he must’ve spent his money on treating his daughter.
I heard footsteps approaching from within. I looked over in the direction of the footsteps to see a calm, mature and gracious lady walk over. Next to her was the maid, cautiously following after her with her head down. The respectable lady came up to us with a refined smile and bowed: “Thank you very much, kind and just Sir. It has been a very long time since someone has said something so nice about my daughter. Ever since she fell ill, people believed she an evil spirit cursed her, therefore keeping their distance from us.”
I nodded and replied with a smile: “This is the young miss’ handkerchief.”
“Thank you so much. Would you like to come in for some tea? It would give my daughter the chance to see you. Everyone avoids her, so I am sure she would be very happy to have a guest over to share some tea with her.”
Judging from the look in her eyes, she appeared to hope for me to accept her offer. She must’ve really hoped to bring some happiness to her daughter’s lonely life.
According to my inference, the pope’s daughter must’ve contracted some sort of contagious disease. I was putting myself at risk; however, I also knew contagious diseases didn’t just inevitably infect everyone it came into contact with. Business meant making gambles. The same went for this job with Queen Sisi. If I won the gamble, I’d obtain everything I wanted. My life was the most worthless thing to me. Even if I did contract it, I could ask cute Lucia for help. I was certain the elves could treat me with their medicines…
“Leah, go and wait for me in the carriage,” I said, caressing Leah’s head. “This is adults’ business. Children should not be present. With that said, Papa will definitely tell you what exactly happened, so there’s no need to be scared.”
“Mm…” Leah instantly looked displeased and wanted to shout something; fortunately, upon seeing my absolutely serious expression, she obediently nodded, albeit with a tinge of loneliness. I rubbed her head then watched her return to the carriage.
I followed the gracious lady into the house and shut the door. She walked ahead of me and led me to a room. It was a type of room that was rarely seen. There were three huge folding windows that extended down to the ground. Although glass already existed in this era, it seemed as though it was very dear. A glass window that extended down to the ground must’ve been very expensive. Outside of the window was a field of flowers currently in bloom, so I presumed it the space was a flower garden.
“After my daughter fell ill, several maids contracted the same disease and passed away. That is why lots of people believe her illness is a demon spirit’s curse that will curse others, as well. Consequently, people around us and friends all left. Nobody ever visited us again. I am certain my daughter will be very happy to see you.”
We sat down at the table below the window. The maid placed cups for us onto the table then bowed and went off to prepare tea. The lady sat opposite me and finished her story with a smile. She then turned to a staircase and called out. I heard the sound of clothing rustling after she called out. Curious, I shifted my line of sight over in the direction of the sound.
I saw a white robe appear at the corner of the staircase. A thin pair of hands appeared on the rails. I looked over to see a face as white as a sheet, a result of being subjected to the torment of her disease. She wore a face veil, but I could still see her pale face and lifeless eyes. She looked as though she was weightless and was drifting over similarly to a spirit. She looked frail enough to bid the world farewell the next instant.
When she saw me, surprise surfaced in her eyes. She tipped sideways as she accidently stepped onto thin air, thereby falling down. The lady was startled, but I had already leapt over, ignoring the sharp shot of pain from my left ankle and rushing to the stairs to catch the girl who fell.
The girl was very light. Her entire body crashed into mine, I didn’t feel any pushback. She wrapped her arms tightly around my neck. Her fragrance wasn’t very strong. In fact, the scent was more akin to the ordinary smell of washing detergent. Normally, all girls had the scent on them. Those who are about to die wouldn’t have the scent, though.
“This girl in front of me may be tightly hugging me, still feel warm, still have her touch sensations and still be breathing and panting, but she’s going to die soon, isn’t she? She really will become a wandering spirit soon, won’t she?” I thought.
I heard a soft voice next to my ear. I didn’t reply; instead, I tightened my arms around her…
MYSD Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/wjzmysd