“Welcome to Madame Shirka’s salon!”
A high-pitched voice sounded above the chatter. The heavy curtains in the front tilted to the side revealing Madame Shirka, who was skinny rather than slender. She greeted the audience with her arms wide open, bowing. The women ceased talking.
“Of course, the new dresses I’m going to show you today will only be made into one pair. Only those who order now can wear it. It’s your chance to buy a unique dress that everyone will admire.”
Madame Shirka’s words were both ardent and subtle. She promoted exclusivity that touched the snobbish part of a person. There were people who had good business skills, Madame Shirka was one.
After enjoying the adverts of a skillful professional for a while, my thoughts flowed back to Schway and the killer. Will it matter to me if the whole country burns down? My family would go back to the Wishburn estate if there is a problem anyway. Our territory is the safest.
Then, wouldn’t that man also be safe if he stays locked up in his own territory? Well, he’s a royal, though… Even if it doesn’t cause much harm to the Glouster estate, if something happens to the royal family, he would also be undoubtedly affected. I sighed. How bothersome. It’s very difficult to consider everything.
But we only have to catch this killer, right? Since they did it once, they would do it again and aim for another noblewoman. However, there begs the question of what kind of woman they are targeting. Perhaps, a victim where they can meet as quietly as possible by distracting the servants away. A woman of loose morals? Does the killer have a grudge against those kinds of women?
“All right!” Madame Shirka’s voice sounded over my thoughts. “Then I will give you time to think. My children will be here, so feel free to look at the clothes up close.”
Young women in sample dresses walked, spun round and round, as noble ladies raised their hands and called for them to see the dresses up close. But it seems that they have made up their minds already. Mother has also chosen a dress. As for whether other can buy it first, well… if the Marchioness of Wishburn wants to buy it, I doubt there is anyone who would stand in her way.
Madame Shirka also sat at the very edge and the talk flowed back and forth, from dress and back again to Countess Ward. Someone asked Madame Shirka.
“Didn’t that person come here to buy clothes?”
“Countess Ward? She didn’t even pay for her credit… It’s been a while since she set foot in our store.” Madame Shirka looked down at her well-kept nails and replied with a disinterested attitude.
Aristocrats without money were ignored by even wealthy commoners. Money wielded power. Others murmured, finding nothing amiss.
“Indeed, it must have been a little luxurious for her. It’s been a long time since the rumors about the Count cutting off her spending money abounded.”
“Then what, or whose, money has she been spending lately? I heard she was quite a spendthrift just recently.”
“She might have thought that the count would pay it back. No husband leaves his wife’s debt alone. Won’t that be embarrassing?”
“Even with her recent lovers? Weren’t there any rumors about her recent affairs?”
“If there was a rumor, wouldn’t even the Royal Knights have gone to catch him? I’m sure the royal family would know as well.”
“Does the royal family care about this? When they can’t even control the princess. At the debut party – ”
Someone was about to speak but she remembered in time that mother and I were in the same room. Ah, they mean the incident that happened with us.
“Everyone has to guard their own safety. That’s why we’re all employing guards, aren’t we? When you invite a stranger into your house, you have to be prepared for that risk,” Mother said with a gentle smile.
Impressive. So that’s what a smile with hidden thorns looks like. Mother, I am truly learning a lot. Aren’t I lucky to be learning the subterfuge of words from my experienced parent? Others smiled awkwardly. If my mom was a stranger, I would also have the same reaction. How can one ignore the royal family like this? It wouldn’t be strange if this was taken for treason.
Something suddenly came to my mind. I asked my mother quietly. “Where do penniless nobles go to exchange money for their belongings..?” Mother looked at me, startled.
“You mean a pawnshop?” she said.
Oh, as expected, the concept of a pawnshops existed here. Of course, wherever there is money, there has to be such a thing. I nodded.
My mother turned back to the ladies. “Have you ever heard of Countess Ward having business at a pawnshop?” At her question, everyone looked at my mother. As expected of my mother, she’s quick-witted.. I wished she wouldn’t ask me why I asked her. I didn’t have anything to answer.
“I’ve never heard of it, but…”
“I know. That’s a little…”
Everyone glanced at each other and smiled awkwardly, but Madame Shirka was different. Her red lips curled up in a smile. She looked at us, raised one hand slightly.
“I’ve heard of it,” she started. “But it doesn’t seem like she went through the usual pawnshops. If so, word would reach the Count right away. Those pawnbrokers know Count Ward well.”