Act 03 – Lady
I woke up earlier than usual.
Today was Ladies’ Day.
I just said that but it’s not like it’s a special day or anything.
It is only called Ladies’ Day because of lectures such as manners and dances which are taken on this day. They are necessary for the female aristocrat children of this Kingdom.
And that is why I am up earlier than usual.
I thought that it would be fine if I dressed like I normally did since I wasn’t going to a ball or anything, but the people around me wouldn’t allow it.
Specially my dance teacher and the maids.
The teacher thought that it would be better for me to wear dresses and get used to them. Therefore I am obliged to wear a dress whenever Ladies’ Day came around.
I felt like the maids were just simply having fun dressing me up.
However I did agree that I had to get used to dresses, so I spent the whole day in a dress on Ladies’ Day.
I didn’t just wear dresses on Ladies’ Day, I also had my makeup and hair done; everything from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes, so it took time to prepare in the mornings.
Therefore, I must get up earlier than usual and head to the Royal Palace.
I wake up, dress in something simple and then go to the Royal Palace even before the sun had risen.
The maids stood in wait at the room that was prepared for me.
There were also different coloured dresses, shoes and accessories in the room.
The people at the Royal Palace had prepared all this.
I was surprised that the dresses and shoes fitted me perfectly.
I wanted to believe that they already had these things on hand and didn’t just prepare all these it just for me.
I wanted to ask the Civil Official about it but I had a feeling that I’d be forced to accept all this just for asking so I didn’t ask because I was afraid.
For the time being, I decided that the outfits were a loan from the Royal Palace.
The maids seemed to be happily consulting with themselves about which dress would be perfect for today as they were looked over the rental dresses.
“It looks like everyone’s having fun.”
“It’s fun to choose out what outfits to use out of this large mountain of clothes.”
I said with a wry smile to Marie-san, the head maid standing by my side and she replied with a bitter smile.
The maids who were helping me on Ladies’ Day also attended to me when I was summoned and helped me prepare for my audience with the King.
Somehow, it felt like they were my personal maids.
Amongst the maids was Marie-san, who was a little older than me and have been working at the Royal Palace for a long time.
She was a sociable person who sometimes strictly guided the newer maids.
Today too, while they were choosing the dresses, they were talking about popular dress designs in the Royal City and also about things such as confectionary.
“How about this dress for today?”
They seemed to have decided on a dress after a short while and a maid came up to me to show it to me.
The dress presented to me was a fluffy saffron dress.
It wasn’t a showy dress and I like it, but the colour was too pretty. I’m worried it might be too flashy for me.
“Isn’t the colour a bit too flashy for me?”
“It’s not. See.”
I was worried so I asked Marie-san for opinion, she told me that it was no problem.
It certainly didn’t look that flashy when I looked at it through a mirror.
As expected of the choice made by the Royal Palace maids.
“If you match these together then it won’t be so flashy, right?”
“Do you want to try these?”
Once the dress was decided, next was the makeup and hairdo.
I left these those to the maids.
It would turn out better if I left it to them instead of doing it myself.
I hope that they wouldn’t make my makeup too dark.
The maids also prepared shoes and accessories to go with the dress while they were doing my makeup.
I closed my eyes for a long time so that they could apply my makeup, and because of that I didn’t know which shoes and accessories were being chosen for me.
I could only tell that from the maid’s voices that they were having just as much fun as when they were picking the dress.
It was certainly fun to choose things out from the mountain of things here.
I couldn’t go shopping for clothes or accessory in Japan because work was busy, but the rare chances that I had to go shopping were fun.
The maids must feel the same as I do at that time.
However, it was a different story if you wore the things yourself.
The outfit prepared for me suited my preferences and there were a lot of simple items.
But that was to this kingdom’s standard, if you compared it to Japan’s standard’s it was quite gorgeous.
I was once again reminded of Japan as I wore the clothes and I was filled with dread and winced.
Well, I had the option of not wearing the clothes but I couldn’t refuse when I thought about the happy maids who picked out the outfit for me.
So I gave up and decided to think that the jewel was an imitation.
But then the biggest problem wasn’t the dress or the accessories.
I was finally going to put on the dress when they finished my makeup but there was a problem.
“Well then, here I go.”
Marie-san signal and then the ribbon was tightened.
I inadvertently wanted to groan“Oof”, but I managed to hold it down.
The maids were tightening the corset ribbon.
The ideal image for women in this country was narrow waists that looked like it would easily break. The aristocrat women wore corsets to constrict their waists.
Well, I did come from another world and even though the dress prepared was to this country’s standards, my waist still appeared to be thick.
I was also not accustomed to corsets so the maids didn’t tighten it too much.
Even so, the sound wanted to escape from my mouth.
I could painfully understand why people in the old days would faint from this.
I’ve slimmed down since coming to this world so I thought I would be fine with wearing a corset.
I had the corset tightened a little.
I didn’t think it would be this painful……
I got used to it after a while and it wasn’t as painful as before but my breathing was more shallow than normal.
If I get used to it a bit more, would it become less painful?
“Are you alright?”
Marie-san asked when I was tired from having the corset tightened.
I wanted to shout out that it was impossible but I endured it.
I overcame today’s challenge while praying that I would get used to it one day.
The next thing to do after the corset was tightened was to wear the dress.
It was quick from here on out.
Then I could finally head towards my lecture after everything was finished.
The morning lectures were about mannerism.
I studied various things such as how to walk and how to greet people. I was surprisingly good at it.
To the eye, my gestures were beautiful and I used muscles I didn’t normally use.
My leg muscles started trembling while my posture was being corrected in the middle of bowing.
It was a bit hard for someone like me who didn’t exercise.
It was probably consuming a lot of energy because my waist was tightened with a corset.
The teacher in charge of the lecture is a first class teacher who taught high ranking aristocrat children, so her teachings were a little strict.
It was worth following her strict instructions because I was able to move gracefully and beautifully.
“You’ve improved a lot.”
The teacher praised me while she was teaching me how to curtsy.
I was all the more happy to be praised by someone who was usually strict.
I wondered if it was necessary to do it so thoroughly, but once I started I couldn’t stop. It was inevitable since it was a trait of mine.
But I thought that it must have been difficult for the aristocrats of this kingdom to live every day with this in mind.
This might not be so if they were used to it.
In the afternoon there were dance lessons.
We started off with how to stands. Then I learnt steps for beginners and recently on occasions, I’ve danced with the teacher as my partner.
According to the teacher, we were rushing this lecture.
Because of that I was secretly revisiting the room every day.
My muscles were in pain the first time because I wasn’t used to these postures.
The moves weren’t that vigorous so I moved my body less than I thought I would but I don’t know if this was the same for skilled dancers.
I think it’s better to put some strength into my moves.
The teacher and I were the only ones in this wide room.
Today as well, we started by reviewing the steps and I danced with the teacher.
I heard a knock at the door when I was moving to the beat of the teacher’s voice.
No one has ever disturbed my lessons before.
We stopped dancing and the teacher headed towards the door.
I looked wondering who it was and the person that appeared was the Captain.
I was surprised at the Captain’s sudden appearance.
A troubled smile appeared on his face when I asked him what was wrong.
“I’m sorry for disturbing you in the middle of your lesson. I’m not here for any particular reason…… I just thought I would come to see how you are doing.”
The Captain told us the reason why he came after hesitating for a while.
“Could I watch?”
I somehow managed to dance with the teacher but it wasn’t good enough for people to see.
It was embarrassing so I tried to refuse but the teacher had already replied.
“Oh, Hawk-sama. How gracious of you. If you would like, how about joining in too?”
I inadvertently turned around at the teacher’s words.
What does she mean join in?
The teacher noticed my stare and told me why she was smiling.
“You also learn by having a difference dance partner once in a while.”
“That’s true but……”
I understood what the teacher was saying but I only recently became able to dance with a partner.
Even then, I had only managed somehow because the teacher was leading.
Can I dance well with the Captain in my state?
It was very doubtful that I could but the teacher and Captain both seemed keen.
The Captain has been learning this since he was little so if I follow him, it’ll probably turn out okay?
I somehow had managed even while dancing with the teacher.
The Captain held out his hand to me while I was hesitating.
I looked at his gentle smile and his hand.
My anxiety grew but it would be rude if I didn’t take his hand.
I took a deep breath and prepared myself.
I corrected my posture and put my left hand into his and he pulled me closer to him.
The Captain swiftly placed his right hand on my left shoulder.
I put my right hand into his left, looked up at him and inadvertently gulped.
Well, I knew this would happen because I practiced with the teacher, I knew but……!
This was something that happened all the time when we rode the horse together and we were sitting relatively close to each other in the carriage when we went to the Capital.
So I thought that I would be used to being this close to him.
Uh yeah, I haven’t gotten used to it at all.
To being face to face with him that is.
Up until now I’ve only been sitting behind him or beside him.
I realized that the embarrassment I felt when facing him was nothing compared to those times.
The Captain smiled and asked curiously at me, who was looking up at him frozen.
I somehow managed to reply and hastily dropped my eyes to his chest.
My ears are hot.
Calm down, me.
I’m in the middle of a lesson.
I took another deep breath and somehow managed to calm myself down before looking up at him.
The Captain who was facing me already found out how I was feeling but he pretended not to notice.
We took the first step when the teacher said, “Begin”.
I stepped in time with the Captain’s lead.
Although I was a bit awkward, I was able to dance since the Captain was good at leading.
Nonetheless, it was problematic that I was leaving everything up to him.
In order to be able to move by myself, I recalled and practiced all that I’ve learnt so far.
After a while, I heard a voice from above me.
“Have you calmed down?”
Well, I’ve just become more restless.
My eyes wandered about as if showing the disturbance in my innermost thoughts.
I was so focused on dancing that I finally forgot about the Captain but when I remembered that he was there my heart started beating fast.
I don’t know if he noticed this or not because he kept on talking.
“I heard that you never danced before in Japan……”
“Yes. I didn’t have the chance to dance there in the first place and there are many different dancing styles.”
I did learn folk dancing and the dance of my region during my school days for the sports festival.
It was completely different from the step dancing I was learning now.
“Then you’ve just started dancing?”
“Then you’re really talented to be able to dance like this already.”
“Huh? No way, I don’t think so?”
I don’t think I have a talent for dancing at all so even if he flatters me I don’t know how to reply.
I panicked and refuted and the Captain chuckled.
It seemed like he was teasing me.
I was frustrated and pouted, but there was nothing I can do because his smile grew wider and wider.
“You started learning after your audience with the King, isn’t that right? When I started learning, I wasn’t able to dance that well.”
“The lecture contents seem to be progressing at a fast pace. It seems that she’ll have the chance to dance in the near future.”
According to the teacher, the lectures felt crammed and the reason for this was because there was a dance in the near future.
I, who wasn’t even an aristocrat and just someone who worked at a research facility, didn’t think that I would get an invitation to the ball.
It was only my wishful thinking and things seldom went as one wished.
Well, I did recently have an audience with the King.
However, that wasn’t the only reason I was learning how to dance, I was also interested in it.
If not then I would have firmly refused even it was the Civil Official who had given me the recommendation.
“It’s the social season in a few months.”
“Social season? There’s something like that?”
“Yes. Several parties are held in the Capital in that season. You were also invited to a few of them, were you not Sei?”
I knew it.
It was fun to dance while twirling but it was questionable for me to attend such a dazzling party.
My feelings must have shown on my face because the Captain talked again.
“There are only one or two balls that you must attend, right? So it’ll be fine if you just refuse the rest.”
“Even so, I have to attend at least one of the balls, don’t I?”
“Yes. It’s a ball hosted by the King so you must attend.”
Certainly, one normally didn’t refuse if they were invited to a ball organised by the King.
That’s what I thought but I still didn’t want to attend.
If I had to attend a ball then I would want it to be something a little cozier.
“I don’t really like parties……”
He cut his words off there and I thought something was wrong so I looked at him.
Why are you looking at me like that?
I felt the Captain look at me softly and my pulse starts racing.
The Captain drew his face a little closer to mine and whispered.
“But if you attends then I want to escort you.”
Th-that kind of sweet whispering is foul-play!
I gave him an accusation look but it wasn’t effective. The Captain still had a smile on his face and it felt like he was waiting for my reply.
At that very moment, the teacher gave her signal and the dance finished.
That signal also indicated that the class was over for the day and I said my goodbyes to the teacher.
I was told that I danced well with someone who I’ve never danced before and I felt relieved.
It didn’t felt like practice anymore half way through the dance so I thought she was going to say something about it.
I watched blankly as the Captain said his goodbyes to the teacher.
I thought that it was possible for me to be invited to a ball but I didn’t think about the escort matter.
I couldn’t just go by myself, could I?
But I also didn’t want to enter the premises by myself while everyone was entering in pairs.
I would draw unwanted attention.
The Captain finally invited me so could I ask him to take me?
Ah, but if he escorts me to the ball then I also have to dance with him, wouldn’t I?
Do I like him?
The teacher had already left the room while I was endlessly worrying. It was only the Captain and I left in this room.
The Captain looked worried probably because I was pondering.
“Sorry, I was just thinking.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes. Mhm…… It’s about you escorting me to the ball.”
His face became more anxious when I said escort.
It’s because I was thinking about it so hard, isn’t it?
“Please escort me if you are fine with it, Hawk-sama.”
The Captain’s face suddenly brightened when I finished my sentence.
“Really?! Of course I am!”
I felt quite at ease that he looked so happy about it.
I still haven’t received any invitations yet so I still don’t know if we would have any balls to attend to together.
I didn’t think that it would be a bad idea for me to ask the Captain to escort me.
If an invitation had arrived I would have asked the Director about it anyways.
I’ve never been to a party before so it’s more reassuring for me to go with someone who was used to them.
That way my future worries would decrease by one.
This should be a good choice?
The Captain seemed happy to send me off into the room that was given to me at the Royal Palace.