The sun begins to set and night falls on the courtyard.
I was headed for the main house, when I could hear Claire’s desperate voice coming from the opposite direction. I hurriedly change my destination and headed towards her voice.
Then, just beyond the bushes, I witnessed pure madness illuminated by torchlight.
The first thing I saw were red flames. A father-like character and several knights surrounded the infected people and servants, including Michelle, with torches in hand.
The servants are sitting on a pyre that is made up of straw and firewood wet with oil. It is obvious what is about to happen.
“Otou-sama, please stop! Please, listen to me!”
“Claire, I understand your feelings, truly. I want the same thing as you.”
“Then, please, stop this!”
“I can’t do that, I have an obligation to protect my people, I can’t even imagine how many more may die if I do not stop this disease here.”
“But they serve the Grances family!”
“I have the same feeling as you, but if I were to give them special treatment because of that, other people would do the same. This way the disease would never be stopped!”
“But if we treat them properly, they will be cured!”
“That is only your wish.”
“Then, where did you get such knowledge?”
Claire bit her lip. The reason for that is because my secret would be revealed if she said anything. But that silence will only increase father’s misunderstanding.
“That’s enough. They are already afflicted. Nothing can be done.”
“Claire-sama, your feelings are enough.”
While other maids trembled, Michelle, who had kept up her resolute attitude, spoke up.
“… Michelle, do you know what you are saying?”
“I do not want to die. But if things remain as they are the disease may spread to the people of our province. If I had to choose between the two, I hope for death…”
“No…….I hate it, Michelle, please do not say something like that!”
“–Claire-sama, do not come near me!”
Michelle rejected Claire’s attempt to hug her.
Michelle’s fear should be unimaginable at this point. Though she seems to be resolute in her decision.
I could see the deep love Michelle had for Claire and I could see Claire felt the same. I came to a complete stop on the verge of tears.
“….Claire, you need to leave.”
Our father gives instructions to one of the knights, who then proceeded to restrain Claire. Claire was unable to resist.
……Was the burden I put on Claire too much after all…
I had hoped that Claire would have been able to persuade father, but it seems that it cannot be helped. I approached my father who was about to begin issuing new orders out to his knights.
“Father, please listen!”
“What is it now–Leon? Why are you here?”
My father raises a dismayed voice, and Claire’s eyes widen in surprise. Furthermore, all of the knights begin to talk amongst themselves.
The first time we’ve been face to face in over four years.
For someone like me, who lost his parents early in my previous life, I hold a special meaning to the connection between family.
Therefore, I didn’t want to hold a grudge, and was hoping to be able to talk with my father.
……But now is not the time. Now I need to focus on helping Michelle; I take a deep breath and begin to try to persuade my father.
“I’m here because there is something I need to discuss with you.”
“….Was it you that gave Claire such strange ideas?”
“It is not strange, it was accurate knowledge of this disease.”
“So, I’m supposed to believe you? You, who has spent your entire life alone, somehow has the knowledge to cure this disease?”
It looks like he doesn’t believe me, but that is within my expectations. First of all, I’ll tell him of general knowledge I have of this disease to pique his interest.
“In addition to high fever, discomfort and loss of appetite, unlike with a common cold, symptoms appear suddenly, the disease is characterized by symptoms that span the entire body, and it is also common during a dry and cold season. The disease is known as influenza, a highly infectious disease.”
“….Influenza, you say? You say you know what this disease is?”
“Yes, I know about it well.”
Now that I’ve piqued his interest I can hopefully persuade him.
Even if it is influenza, there are various kinds, so it is impossible to determine the exact type of influenza affecting the province now.
But, knowing that, Michelle and the other’s fate is decided. I stare straight into my father’s eyes and continue to, desperately, try to convince him.
“I assume, by the fact that you appear so confident, you know how to cure it?”
“Yes, I know how to.”
Without averting my eyes I answer, and let out a sigh of relief in my heart.
I need him to understand that I can save Michelle and the others — I turn my eyes to the trembling housemaids.
Any children who are not physically fit and elderly people have a lower chance of survival, but fortunately they all look like they’re in their twenties. If we prepare an environment where they can rest well, even without medicine, there is still a good possibility of recovery.
“Most people can be helped, if treated as I say.”
I fixed my eyes directly on my father. Immediately afterwards, the surrounding knights started to make noise.
To them I appear to be nothing more than a young child – none of them appear to be taking me seriously.
“……Hmm…what kind of treatment is that?”
Only my father posed a question to my earlier words.
“In a clean, humid, warm room, let them rest and give them plenty of water and nutritional meals and they should recover in about ten days.”
“Hou, so you’re saying they don’t even need to take any medicine?”
To tell the truth, I would like antipyretic agents. But that is more of a story of if that type of medicine really exists in this world.
When Earth was around the same time period as this world, poisons were openly used when they were believed to be medicine. It is an honest answer that we do not want to have the sick take any drugs when the exact effect is not known.
“They just ‘get better’, if allowed to rest?”
“The most important thing is first creating the appropriate environment for them to rest in.”
Suffering from influenza and being pushed into a warehouse in winter, the sick are just as likely to die from the cold as they are from the disease.
“If what you’ve said is true, it would be wonderful…but how do you intend to prove it?”
“…….I’m sorry, but I can not prove anything in the current situation. If you do what I say, I should be able to prove it in ten days.”
“Certainly, that may very well be true. However, I can not risk that.”
…….Just as I thought.
“–Just to check, you never even believed my story from the start, correct?”
“Of course not. I do not know where you would have even obtained such knowledge….”
That’s when my father turned his eyes on Claire.
……huh? Maybe it’s become clear that Claire has been coming to visit me for quite some time? No, is it because Claire and I have said near identical things?
But if I think about it, even from just a little while ago he may have been able to determine as much. Because I came to the aid of Claire, it may have just been by process of elimination….either way, it can not be helped now.
“Anyway, you do not look like you’re lying, I think there is value to your story.”
“Then, please tell me why you can not do it.”
“Because the risk is too high, you said that earlier that it is a highly contagious disease, if you are not able to manage their symptoms, how will you take responsibility if you infect others?”
“That can be prevented by isolating them appropriately.”
“However, in order for them to rest properly, we would need someone healthy to care for them. Are you saying that we should potentially sacrifice someone with such unproven information?”
Certainly that risk remains. It is impossible to say that the sick will recover without medicine, and the possibility exists that whoever cares for the sick may become infected as well.
So I already have an answer to that question. If someone needs to take risks, then there is an obvious choice for that.
“–If that is the case, then I will take care of them.”
A dignified voice echoes from behind me unexpectedly just before I am able to speak. It was a voice that belonged to someone that shouldn’t be here, I quickly turn to look toward the voice.
“Milli, why are you here!?”
“That is because, I expected if Leon-sama were successful in persuading your father, you would need someone to care for the sick.”
“I said that I am always on your side Leon-sama.”
Milli shows a mischievous smile, and stands next to me. Then, I turned to face my father.
“Robert-sama, long time no see.”
“………Milli. You will take care of them?”
“Yes, that’s right”
“But…you heard everything too, if you take care of them, you realize you will be putting yourself in danger, right?”
“I understand as much. But, above all else, I trust Leon-sama.”
Without even a hint of doubt in Milli’s voice, Milli answered my father flatly. Father showed a slightly troubled expression at Milli’s attitude.
“…Are you serious?”
“Yes, of course.”
They stared at each other quietly for a while. Eventually it was father that broke the silence.
“…Understood….. If you say so, let’s leave their fate to you.”
In this way, all of the sick people were left to us. I thought that I would have to go through a lot more trouble, but suddenly the flow of the conversation changed once Milli arrived.
There was a long silence after the previous exchange between Milli and my father.
Unexpectedly, the knights did not raise any objections. They believed my father’s judgment rather than believing anything I had said. Or maybe it was just because they did not want to kill everyone.
“Well then, I would like to take them with us now. Is that okay?”
“Well, we can gather the necessary items later.”
At the approval of my father, Milli walks toward the maids who are trembling due to the cold and their fear. I’m afraid that after they were forced out into the cold night their condition may have worsened. They are all trying so hard.
“……Everyone, I know you are in pain, but are you able to walk out to the guest house?”(TN: Yep, I reluctantly settled on calling Leon’s “home” a guest house, even after saying I didn’t like it.)
The housemaids somehow managed to stand up without any help.
“Leon-sama, what needs to be done now?”
I look at my father, expecting to be questioned or possibly imprisoned.
“I’d like to ask you many questions, but that can wait until we find out if you really can cure these people. You should do what needs to be done now.”
Hmm, does he mean to say he will wait to make his decision on what to do with me until the sick have either died or been cured? Then, I have to do whatever I can to cure them.
“Thank you Father, and do not forget to wash your hands and gargle some water when you return to the mansion, please also hang wet towels in your room.”
“There may be other infected people, doing this should help prevent against influenza and the probability of infection should drop.”
“Understood, I’ll also notify the population of the province as well as the residence of the mansion. However, seeing you here is really………No, even if I say anything, it won’t help.”
Father leaves me with meaningful words muttered under his breath and leaves with his knights following behind him. I returned my gaze to Milli.
“I’ll return to the guest house to help you with the sick.”
“……even if I tell you to remain away from the guest house because it’s not safe, you wouldn’t listen.”
“If it were me asking you to stay away Milli, do you think you would listen?”
“……I understand, it was a foolish thing to say. Then, I will be returning first.”
“What are you talking about, I’ll be going back with you too, right?”
“No. Don’t you still have important business to take care of Leon-sama?”
Milli says this and turns her eyes to look behind me. There was the figure of Claire who had been desperately holding back her tears this entire time.
What’s the matter? Regardless of Michelle, was it painful for her to see the servants like that? As I thought, Milli had taken this time as a chance to leave with the other servants..
The moment Milli is no longer in sight, Claire jumped into my arms.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, it’s all my fault!”
“…Why are you apologizing?”
“Because of me, your secret was revealed to father!”
“Ah…..so it’s about that.”
Even now father would still have little trust for me, but that may change if Michelle helps us. And if what happened here reaches Caroline’s ears…Milli…
“Otouto-kun, let me nurse the sick too.”
“If Caroline found out she would never forgive you.”
If Caroline believed I was forcibly keeping Claire with me, I do not know what she would do. In the worst case scenario, she may bring back Claire and kill the infected people.
Claire bit her lip with regret, I think she was able to understand.
“…I’m sorry, otouto-kun, I only caused you trouble. I do not know if you can ever forgive me, but if there is something I can do tell me.”
“Something you can do?”
“Yes, I will do anything if it means you will forgive me.”
Claire is staring straight at me while her tears continue to stream down her cheeks. Her jade eyes revealed her earnest feelings, I can tell how serious her words are.
Geeze, a girl shouldn’t be saying that she will do anything. What are you planning to do if you are asked to do something strange? She is old enough to understand something like this.
Well anyway, demanding some kind of perverted request from my sister would be impossible.
“Will you really do anything?”
“Yes, I’ll do whatever I can.”
“Okay……then Claire, please smile.”
“……Eh? Otouto-kun what are you saying?”
“So, that is my request. I couldn’t stand by and watch as you cried, so I decided to help. So that’s why, it’s just enough if Claire is smiling.”
“Bu..But, that isn’t a punishment.”
“You did say that you’d do anything, right? You shouldn’t go back on your word.”
“……That’s unfair, if that’s all you ask……I can’t possibly go against it.”
I guess Claire had been preparing herself to receive punishment. She looked like she was either about to burst out into laughter or tears.
I understand the feeling, but I want Claire to smile. I made a difficult choice in coming to help Claire, but this is truly all I want.
“Smile, please, Claire.”
That’s something both Milli and I would enjoy — Claire continued, almost inaudibly.
“…..Mean…Although otouto-kun is gentle, you can be quite mean, but it’s a promise…If you say you like it when I smile, then I will always be smiling.”
“Yes, please do.”
“Thank you…Thank you, otouto-kun. Really…thank you.”
With tears still streaming down her face Claire let out a beautiful smile. I continued to hug her delicate body until her tears stopped.