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"I have placed Mrs Gyanne under house arrest. I am very sorry for the ...... discomfort I have caused you, Miss. I will ensure that this will not happen again.."

'It's fine, Constance. I don't mind."

Ortansia, who was immediately separated from Madame Guyenne, hurriedly soothed the steward, Constan who bowed deeply.

"But more importantly, if you don't mind, I'd like you to tell me a story about the Duchess. Perhaps the Duchess and Brother didn't get on very well…?"

When she asked this, Constan quickly narrowed his eyes and let out a small breath.

"...Yes, that's right. The young lady is already a member of the ducal family, you have the right to know enough. If it's alright with you, I'll tell you everything I know."

"Yes, please."

After some desperate pleading, Constan gave in to her request.

"The Duchess… Catherine was the daughter of a certain marquise. She was a bit of a difficult person and can be described as a perfectionist. She was not very good at socialising and often stayed at the castle, while her husband was in the capital. At first she kept her distance from her husband, who was married to her for political reasons, but after the birth of Master Gérard, her attitude changed drastically."

"After the birth of my brother?"

"Yes. Since he was very young, Gérard-sama has been a brilliant man, with a clear vision and a wonderful personality. He was a very good man, but he didn't tend to show his emotions, and he didn't smile very often... That seemed to bother the Duchess."

'My brother has always been like that.'

Ortansia tried to imagine the sight of young Gerard with a big smile on his face, but it didn't work.

'But, well, some people are like that.'

There are individual differences in human character. Gérard was often seen as cold-blooded, but he is by no means uncaring of others.

In her second life, Ortansia finally realised this.

"The Mistress began to find Master Gérard creepy and bland. She became so ill at heart that she gave birth to an imperfect child and only a few of the ladies-in-waiting, such as Madame Guyenne, were allowed near her, and we were often cursed by her. When rumours began to reach our ears that the Duke had a mistress in the capital, she became rougher and rougher… and her attitude towards Gérard-sama became more and more severe."

"No way..."

Just listening to it made her chest hurt.

Ortansia's chest was filled with warm memories of her mother.

Just by closing her eyes, she could still vividly recall her bright smile. Even now, several years after her death, her mother was like a star who guided her.

But Gérard was...

'How could Brother not be hurt when his mother hates him and says terrible things to him from such a young age?'

"Eventually, Master Gérard stopped showing his emotions and stopped smiling, as if he had killed his heart. The Duke took the situation very seriously and stopped entrusting his wife with Gérard's upbringing, taking him to the royal capital and keeping him at a distance from her. However, his wife's mental state did not improve and she eventually fell ill with a disease that took a toll on her body and she died after a battle with... the disease. For her devotion and support until the end of her life, the Master requested that Madame Guyenne be given a room and a salary at the château after his wife's death."

"Okay... Thank you for telling me, Constan."

It must have been a bad story for him, too, as it rehashed the past.

It would be easy enough to smoke out a child as young as Ortansia, but even so, Constan told her about events in the past.

He recognised Ortânsia as a member of the ducal family. She was so happy about it that she thanked him over and over again.

"For not being able to stop the Duchess from being hard on Gérard-sama, and for not being able to persuade the Duke to care about her more. I, too, carry the same indelible guilt."

Constan told her with eyes that held deep regret.

'But you can't say who's to blame.'

Naturally, Ortansia didn't  have a good impression of the Duchess for being so harsh with Gérard, who was a young child.

But her father and those around him were probably partly to blame for what happened to him.


"...When rumours began to reach her ears about her husband having a mistress in the royal capital and so on, she became rougher and rougher"

'Perhaps my mom is to blame… for pushing the Duchess over the edge.'

Ortansia wasn't  sure if the rumoured mistress was her mother or not. But she knew for sure that it's not a matter of blaming any one person.

'Before, I didn't know anything about it'

She had never tried to think deeply about the situation of the Duchess and her brother, Gérard.

But surely it's not too late.

"Thank you, Constan. I would like to have a long talk with you alone when My brother returns."

"Yes, my lady. I will tell Master Gérard that."

Ortansia smiled at Constan, who bowed his head deeply.


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