Chapter 13: The Reason She Became Shortsighted
First published on Ainushi
Carol and Celia looked at the livery catalogue placed on top of Bernard’s work desk and started choosing whilst exclaiming, “Not this, not that”.
「You two, pick your choices in your rooms」
「That’s because, doesn’t master want to pick the one he likes?」
「Between a cute looking one or a mature looking one, which one is better?」
「It’s your attire, do whatever the hell you want!」
「You’re so heartless!」
With the complaints thrown at him, he reluctantly glanced down at the catalogue.
The puffy sleeved liveries had slightly shorter hems than what they usually wore. The skirt which flows airily came with frills that were sewn on the shoulder and hem of the apron was the cutting-edge design.
「What’s this! Even the skirt is short, it’s a coquettish attire!」
「This is the latest fashion!」
「A long skirt will just get in the way when cleaning you know!」
「I-Is that so」
Bernard was overwhelmed by the twins’ enthusiasm.
After their excitement died down, Eric reprimanded his sisters for their reckless behavior.
「Carol, Celia, you mustn’t talk like that to the master」
「Y, you took too long to reprimand your sisters!!」
With a nonchalant expression, Eric apologized. He ordered Carol and Celia to withdraw.
Eric inquired what to do with Agnes’s livery to his master who had a pouty face.
「No, whatever’s fine――」
He thought that he ought not to pry on the likes of a woman’s appearances and decided to leave it to Gigille as always. But if Agnes says that she also wants a 『puff-sleeve 』dress, he realized that it will be especially sophisticated on her.
Bernard flipped, turning the pages and pointed at a picture of an old woman wearing livery that had a long skirt and was quite old fashioned than the ones Gigille normally wore.
「This will do for her livery」
Eric glanced down at the dress catalogue and narrowed his eyes. He made an expression that seemed like he wanted to ask 「Are you really going to request for such boorish kind of clothing?」.
「Do you have any complaints!?」
「No. Well then, I’ll put an order for these」
「I’ll leave it to you」
「Leave it to me」
With this, even if Agnes were to be seen by a guest, they will only see her as a plain and unrefined servant.
「Agnes Le Verges wishes to report about her work today」
「Ah, regarding being the kitten’s caretaker. Tell her to come in」
After waiting for a moment, there was a reserved knock on the door.
Bernard moved from his work desk to the couch and sat down before answering her.
Agnes walked into the room carrying a basket.
「Welcome back, Master」 
「Never mind that,sit down」
After giving an elegant aristocratic lady’s bow, she sat down on the couch.
Since she’s not currently on the job, she was wearing what can arguably be a white dress that she own.
Bernard became troubled, wondering why such a refined and elegant beautiful lady was doing in his house.
「My apologies for intruding when you’re this exhausted」
「No, I’m not tired 」
「Is, Is that so. If I may, you seem to be down…..」
And that was where the conversation stopped. Without uttering a word, an awkward mood washed over the both of them.
Tongue-tied, Agnes could only muster 「The cat」while slightly raising the basket that was on her knees. Bernard managed to swallow his reply「So what!?」just before the words got out of his mouth.
「Um, I’ve… decided it’s name. It’s Miel」
Agnes talked about the kitten’s condition for the day. It seems like it was a productive time for her. He thought that an Ojou-sama like her won’t be able to work as a servant but if she was given the right task, she won’t be gazing about absentmindedly..
「Ah, the contract」
It was was a newly written up contract with the addition clause prohibiting her from going out. Once again, he went to his work desk to fetch the contract to get her signature.
「It’s the new contract with the additional terms」
Dipping the pen into the ink jar that was on the desk, he presented the contract to her.
Agnes placed the basket with the kitten inside it beside her and accepted the documents. Bringing the papers close to her face, she read the contents carefully.
After she was done reading it, she left the contract on the desk and squinted her eyes. Figuring out where the pen and the ink jar was, she picked them up..
「Why do you have bad eyesight?」
Blinking continously, Agnes looked at Bernard’s face.
After blinking once more, as if she figured out the significance of the question, her cheeks suddenly became bright red.
「T, That is, well, it’s an embarrassing story…..」
「It’s fine if you don’t want to talk about it」
「N, No, would you like to hear about it?」
Like a confession, Agnes began to tell the story bit by bit.
「The truth is I read books in my room in the dark, that’s why my eyesight deteriorated……」
「Why are you reading books in that sort of situation」
「That is―― because it was to hide the fact I was reading from father and the servants」
Being able to read books at night was the only enjoyment she had every day.
But there was a reason why Agnes acted that way.
After her mother passed away, her father began to change.
Even though he had never said a word to her till then, he suddenly planned her marriage to a royalty.
Agnes was twelve at that time.
A female child from a noble family at that age should have finished her etiquette studies but there was much she needed to learn in order to marry into royalty. There was three years until her social debut so it was forced onto her. Naturally it was not something that could be learned in a short period of time
With teachers taking turns coming and going every single day, Agnes became self-absorbed in her studies.
It was only during her visits to the orphanage that abled her to relax.
As her social debut drew closer, the agenda for Agnes’s lessons was as packed as it could be, from morning till night without any leisure time.
It was excessive and coupled with her anxiety from the pressure her father gave everyday, it became hard for her to sleep at night.
Her salvation was the visits she continued to keep to the orphanage under her father’s orders.
「Unable to withstand the pressure everyday, I felt trapped and when I consulted a sister at the orphanage, she told me I had insomnia…..」
The cheerful sister from the orphanage then recommended her a fashionable novel in town.
She told her that if she read before going to bed she might be able to sleep and loaned her lots of books.
The free world in the books continued to surprise Agnes.
Adventure, friendship, comedies – She borrowed all sorts of books from the sister to read.
They were all children books but they contain stories full of hopes and dreams that touch the heart.
「And you were reading those books in a dark room」
By the year of her social debut, her eyesight had completely deteriorated.
「Even till the night of my social debut, I was absorbed in reading an adventure novel」
「What were you reading?」
「It was『THE GREATEST ADVENTURES OF THE BEAR KNIGHT』」
When she encountered Bernard at that time, she learnt from an attendant that his name meant 『a man who was strong like a bear』and that he was a knight, and so curious about what sort of person he was, she squinted her eyes.
What appeared in her line of sight was a tall boy standing tensely with a straight back. Possessing gentle eyes and light brown hair, Bernard was just like the bear knight in the storybook.
Agnes wondered what sort of man he was and wanted to get to know him.
「I wanted to speak with you but Orlellian-sama, you were gone in a flash…….」
「That’s because I misunderstood」
「Mm. When you squinted your eyes I thought you were making a fool out of me」
With a faint voice, Agnes apologized. She did not mean any harm.
「I thought of having glasses for a long time but father might get at mad at me so I was scared」
「Well, seeing a woman wearing glasses is rare after all」
Only elderly men wore glasses.
Expensive, they weighed considerably so it could be seen as a nuisance for women to wear glasses.
He recalled the male clerk in the Order of the Knights wore glasses
With two thick lenses for his glasses, it looked awfully uncomfortable.
「In the end it was something that I wasn’t able to say in my position, an object that I could never have」
In a lonely voice, Agnes muttered 「You reap what you sow」.
 Agnes calls Bernard as Goshujin-sama (ご主人様) while Gigille and the rest of the servants calls him Danna-sama (旦那様 ).
I also call these recently released chapters as Underwear Chapters or Cloth Chapters.