My Observational Diary of Elena Evoy - Chapter 11
At the start of the weekend, Elena left the academy early in the morning. There were a lot of carriages waiting for their owners in front of the main gate, but there was none of Elena’s. Elena walked for a long time past the carriage procession like she used to.
“Here’s ten tants.”
“Leave it there and get on.”
After passing the well-paved road and entering a stony road, she found a wagonette. The wagonette, a modified wagon, was available for 10 copper coins. It was not a small amount of money for the common people because they could buy two loaves of bread and bacon, but she had no other choice since her destination was not within walking distance.
The carriage carrying six people, including Elena, ran slowly along the rough road. The roughly laid blankets were scrubby on every touch, and the wooden chairs rattled constantly. It was not uncommon to bump into the next person because of the narrow interior. But a carriage is still a carriage, so it was much better than going there on foot.
The Evoy viscounty was located in a residential area on the outskirts of the mainland. The money her father had accumulated for them in his life and her mother’s wages disappeared over the years for only a small brick house and medical bills. It took another long walk after getting off the wagonette before Elena could get home.
“Mom, I’m home.”
Chloe, as known as Viscountess Evoy, lifted her frail body to welcome her daughter warmly. Elena carefully examined her mother’s condition, dissuading her from standing up for no good reason. Unfortunately, the hem of her ruffled dress and her skinny body was still the same.
“Stay here for a minute. I’ll go get some ingredients for the soup.”
“No, Elena. We have some pie that Mr. Dank brought us.”
Chloe waved her hand and walked to the kitchen. As Elena was able to follow her, a basket on the old side table caught her sight. Inside it was laces embroidered with elaborate patterns.
“Take it to Madame in the evening. I couldn’t make much, but it’d still be worth something.”
“Mom, you shouldn’t be using your hands.”
“No, dear. I just had nothing to do so I just made these for fun.”
As Elena’s expression darkened, Chloe, who had seen her expression, spoke brightly as if nothing had happened. It seems that she worked in secret to avoid Elena’s nagging. But Elena couldn’t turn a blind eye to it. It’s obvious what she had been doing for a month. Elena knew well, since she did the same.
Chloe was suffering from joint disease. Elena was hurt because she knew how much effort was put into making those with the hands that would hurt just by opening and closing. And her symptoms would get worse the more she worked.
‘Doing nothing would be helping.’
Elena swallowed the words on the tip of her tongue. Nevertheless, I shouldn’t say that. Elena looked at Chloe instead. Her frizzy hair and increased wrinkles showed signs of hardships. Yet, she maintained a warm smile. So, Elena could only smile along.
“Why would you say that? If it wasn’t for Mom, I wouldn’t have been able to go to the academy.”
“Silly girl. That was all because you did well.”
“You’re the one who suggested we move here and the one who signed me for the test. See? You did everything, Mom. All credit goes to Viscountess Evoy.”
“You talk so well.” Chloe beamed at Elena’s kindness. Elena smiled along.
“So you joined the club without paying for the membership fee?”
“Amazing, right? Learning to make potions will definitely help me later. I had no idea before Windsor proposed this offer.”
“He seems like a good senior. That sounds great.”
Sharing a small pie, Elena kept chattering. One day I did something with someone, the other day this and that happened… Her daily routine sounded very pleasant. Listening to her daughter’s stories, Chloe sometimes couldn’t hold back her laughter.
Despite spending much more time at the Academy, Elena spoke more during her day and a half stay at home. Maybe she didn’t talk much outside because she talked to her fill at home.
Elena could brightly smile only at home. Elena could not stop talking for the sake of her mother who, despite being bedridden, sent her only daughter to the academy at any cost.
* * *
The Plentasia Avenue was a high-end shopping district visited by aristocrats and some wealthy commoners for shopping. The dress shop run by Madame Angrede was located at the entrance of Plentasia Boulevard.
“Let’s see, oh my! Seems like Viscountess Evoy has been using her hands again.”
“It’s more amazing that you can tell every time.”
“Of course, otherwise I couldn’t survive in this field,” Angrede grinned and saved the lace that Elena brought. Laces embroidered with flowers and leaves were used in various ways everywhere in high-end clothing. A lot of it were needed but there’s a limit to how much designers working at the shop can make, so Madame Angrede shared labors with temporary hires like Elena.
Angrede remembered her first encounter with Viscountess Evoy, who came to the shop donning a determined face with an embroidered lace. She was a woman who embroidered as meticulously as her delicate beautiful face. Their relationship that lasted for many years, now connected the Madame to Viscountess Evoy’s daughter. Angrede addressed the lady whose face resembled Viscountess Evoy’s.
“Would you like one frant? Or will you take it for 20 francs like last time?”
“20 francs, please.”
One frant was one gold coin, which was equivalent to 20 francs of silver. It’s the amount you would get working your eyes out doing embroidery for a month. It was enough money for a very ordinary, low-income family of four to live with for a month, but it was tight for the two because more than half of the money was spent on her mother’s medication.
‘We’re almost out of medicine.’
It costs a lot of money to call over a doctor who rarely leaves the city center. Elena sighed as she counted the cost of the medicines and visits from last month in her head.
All I do is study and work, but we’re still short of money. She thought that must be how it feels to pour water into a bottomless jar. Their biggest source of income, embroidered lace, took too long to be made. Besides, she can’t get a fair price for it because she can’t sell it under her own name.
“Miss Elena, have you ever made clothes?”
“What do you mean…”
“I mean a dress. One of our apprentices had an issue so they quit. So, I was just wondering if Miss Elena was skilled in sewing a dress.”
A dress. Elena glanced at the dress displayed by the window. The laces on the sleeves and collar were products Elena had delivered to Angrede, but the dress itself was a designer’s work. The bottom of the dress bulging like a flower bud looked really nice.
“I’ve made simple one-piece dresses before, but never like one of those.”
“Oh, that’s a shame. Anyway, let me know if you ever need any extra fabric. I can’t just give it to you, but I’ll give it to you at a cheap price.”
The first thing Elena learned in a house without household supplies was to make and make use of anything. Elena, who inherited Chloe’s sewing skills, grew up sewing from an early age. Whether it was an embroidered lace, plain lace or clothes, none of them were difficult to learn as they were similar in making.
The only proper dress left by Viscount Evoy was an old dress that Chloe could not bear to dispose of. The rest were too pitiful to be called dresses.
‘I need to undo the stitches of a dress to know the pattern.’
Elena, who was struggling, shook her head. Even if I knew the pattern, it’d take me even more time and resources to make my own dress. Also, it’s impossible at the moment since I’m being ground between the academy and work.
Elena eventually gave up. No use fretting over impossible things. Elena left Madame Angrede’s dress shop feeling down. She had to cross the whole Plentasia Boulevard and walk again to get on a public wagonette. Despite it being the same area, she still had a long distance to travel.
A large carriage slid into the neatly carved road. The carriage engraved with a yellow rose crest belonged to Count Yorcy. The flashy golden crest seemed to tell the story of Count Yorcy’s wealth.
Bellissa Jorsi, the lady on board, looked out the window with a bored face when she tilted her head. She saw a familiar person coming out of the shop at a distance.
Her profile was facing sideways but that was Elena Evoy for sure. It’s the girl I’ve been noticing lately because I oddly often encounter her next to Johann.
It’s the name of the store that Elena Evoy had just left. For a store located on Plentasia Boulevard, the price range was low, but the shop had a good name because the quality of the clothes they made was not bad. I heard that some nobles with light pockets or sometimes even regular aristocrats come here for simple outdoor clothes.
‘Did she come to buy a dress?’
Elena Evoy’s blue dress was faded and out of fashion. Even if a noble doesn’t participate in high society, to go around dressed like that is below a noble’s dignity.
Bellissa clicked her tongue when she saw Elena look shabby by her standards. Meanwhile, her back was straight and her posture perfect. She even looked quite confident as she walked with her chin slightly raised.
I don’t like her. Bellissa looked away and leaned back against the soft cushion.
Elena paused for a moment as she opened the door. She entered expecting to meet Mark but saw a completely new face sitting alone.
The man resting his face on his chin with his eyes closed slowly opened them when he noticed a presence. He was a handsome man with cool air to him. The shadows falling under his towering nose created a languid atmosphere.
‘A new member perhaps?’
I heard that Johann’s influence has increased the number of applicants for the club. If the picky Windsor passed him, there must be a valid reason. Elena straightened her neck and took a seat.
‘I wonder when Mark will come.’
It’s almost time, so I hope he isn’t late. I don’t have time because I’ve got a lot to do so I’m getting impatient. I should have brought a book if I knew this would happen. She stared at the door blankly, but then felt a gaze from the other side.
When she met eyes with the foreign gaze, he realized something, rummaged through his pockets and put on his glasses. It was Mark.
“What a calm response for someone who didn’t recognize me.”
“I’m sorry, I’m not particularly perceptive.”
It was more like she wasn’t very interested in others, but Elena didn’t have a hobby of spouting unnecessary words.
Mark was grinning at her dull response when suddenly his expression became rigid. He felt Elena observing his face behind the glasses. Usually, in such a situation, people would sneak a peek, but this junior was observing him openly without any reserve.
‘Is she gonna talk about my face? Like how they don’t suit me or that it’s better to take them off.’
I’ve been through that enough times to know what comes next. Mark didn’t like it whenever this happened. He wasn’t wearing them because he wanted to but he couldn’t come up with a proper answer, even though he knew wearing them wasn’t a bad thing.
Besides, I don’t want more attention than before from her. Like the others, she’ll either ignore me or say, “The eldest is quite the looker but…” I dislike the hypocrisy of people who secretly compare me with my brother.
I knew it. Mark sighed inwardly.
“If you don’t mind, may I try them on?”
Mark was stupefied. Now that I see it, her openly curious eyes are not on my face, but on my glasses. To be precise, on the roundly-cut glass.
“Ha.” Mark, who laughed out loud at his ridiculous misunderstanding, gently took off his glasses. Elena took the glasses without even looking at Mark’s face. Then she carefully put them on and exclaimed in marvel.
“You look like you’re having fun.”
“This is fascinating.”
She brought the glasses to and away from her face. Elena moved the glasses back and forth with a very profound look. She found it curious to see the size of things change. After playing with them for a while, Elena returned the glasses with a word of gratitude.
“Here are the notes.”
“Thank you. I’ll return it to you in no time.”
“It’s fine. I don’t need them anymore.”
“You can keep it or throw it after you’re done using them,” Mark added nonchalantly. Elena, who stared at the notes for a while, hesitated a bit and said a little cautiously, “Can I sell it after using it?”
“Sell it? Well, it’s up to you. It’s not mine anymore.”
Like I thought. What an oddball, just like the Dotmillers. Mark shrugged his shoulders. If his brother, who graduated from the academy with excellent grades, had listened to this, he would have scorned her for uttering such an undignified thing and he may be correct in his own right.
‘But I don’t really care.’
It’s not mine once it leaves my hands, thought Mark.
“Let me know if you need anything else.”
“This is more than enough. You’ve treated me well in place of Windsor.”
Elena neatly rejected Mark’s offer. There’s no way that unsociable Windsor would take care of the club members, so the other members did it instead. I heard from Rita that all the members that left slowly expected something. It’s better to prevent more members from leaving.
“Then I’ll receive this gratefully. May I take my leave now?”
In this sort of situation, you’d usually ask1 despite yourself, but he didn’t care so he agreed quickly.
‘She should’ve been born a Dottmiller.’
He shook his head at the funny thought when the door opened. Elena, who was about to stand up with the notes, also turned towards the door. Standing by the door was none other than Johann.