MuGyeom opened the door and entered the room. He gazed at the lady as she sat up from her bedding.
The blanket was draped over her lap, and she didn’t seem as disheveled as she claimed.
Actually, her hair and clothes looked so tidy that it was almost hard to believe that she had just woken up.
MuGyeom placed the washbasin down next to her. Then he took the small table and placed in on top of her lap before putting the washbasin on top of the table.
He did all this because the lady could only bend down.
She put her graceful hand into the water and began to wash her face. MuGyeom glanced at her.
He had a cotton cloth draped over his arm.
Every time she washed a part of her face, water splattered.
“Some of the water splashed out. What should I do?”
EunSeo turned her damp face to MuGyeom and gave him an apologetic look.
“It’s fine, my lady.”
MuGyeom replied stiffly as he held out the cotton cloth to her.
MuGyeom had never smiled for a woman before.
Other than his mother, he had never smiled at another woman in his life.
If he even so much as looked at them, the women had a tendency to want something from him. No, even if he left them alone, the women always gave him ogling looks.
Both servants and nobles alike, they all did this. One time, MuGyeom was serving his master and accompanied him to a brothel. The courtesans there began to flirt with him nonstop.
Because of all these experiences, MuGyeom’s heart didn’t race when he came across a woman. Instead, he avoided them.
There was another reason why MuGyeom kept his distance from women.
It was his status as a servant.
If he married a female servant and had children with her, his children wouldn’t be able to escape their status as servants. No matter how much they struggled, they wouldn’t be able to escape their fates.
He didn’t want to pass his status down to his children.
If a servant and a free civilian had a child, the child would be a servant.
If a servant and a noble had a child together, the child would unquestionably be a servant.
This was because a servant was a servant from the womb.
Because of this, MuGyeom never embraced a woman in his life.
He never planned on passing down his status as a servant to his children. He never wanted to give them the chains he had to bear.
“What’s your name?”
EunSeo asked quietly as she returned the cotton cloth to MuGyeom after wiping her face.
“My name is MuGyeom, my lady.”
“I see. MuGyeom.”
“If you have an order for me, please feel free to speak up at any time.”
“How is the weather outside?”
“The wind is not yet cold. The sunlight is also very nice…”
“Then can I have my breakfast on the floor outside?”
MuGyeom couldn’t help but stare at her when he heard the unexpected words.
A shadow of anxiety flickered across her face.
“I’m only asking because I feel that eating alone in my room will feel too suffocating. I’d like to slowly eat my breakfast as I take in the view of the yard.”
“I will prepare it, my lady.”
She gave him a small smile. However, her smile seemed so lifeless.
Although she was alive, she didn’t show any signs of life.
At least, that’s what she looked like in MuGyeom’s eyes.
The woman whose ears had burned red when he carried her into the house on the first day… There was no trace of her.
* * *
It wasn’t difficult to prepare her breakfast on the first day.
This was because the old housekeeper had prepared side dishes the day before she left.
“My lady always eats porridge in the morning, so you must make sure to prepare some porridge for her. She must take her medicine in the morning and in the evening. Even if she says she doesn’t want to take it because of the bitter taste, you must convince her to take it.”
The old housekeeper nagged him and left these instructions before she left.
He placed the bowl of porridge on top of the table and placed the table on the floor. MuGyeom then entered EunSeo’s room and carried her to the table.
Because she couldn’t walk on her own, she needed MuGyeom’s help.
“In your eyes…”
EunSeo picked up her chopsticks and spoke with her head lowered.
“I must look like a useless invalid, right?”
“Not at all, my lady.”
He wasn’t lying.
MuGyeom had never thought of her in this way before.
He didn’t have have any concern for EunSeo, and even if he did, he had never seen her as a useless invalid just because she couldn’t use her legs.
MuGyeom actually hated the way people belittled others.
MuGyeom had been treated with disdain and despised just because of his status.
He had been treated in contempt because of the unsurmountable chains of his servitude, so how could he look down on someone for something that was beyond their control like losing the use of their legs?
“I can’t leave my room without someone’s help, and I cannot do anything on my own. How am I not a useless invalid?”
“You’re merely sick, my lady.”
“I often wonder if I have to continue living on with a body like this.”
MuGyeom didn’t know why she was telling him this.
But if he thought about it, he could kind of understand how she felt.
For EunSeo, realizing that she had to live like this for the rest of her life was a terrible feeling.
She wouldn’t be able to walk or go where she wanted to go. She would always need someone’s help to move around. So it wasn’t surprising that EunSeo felt so terrible.
But how did EunSeo become like this?
Did she catch some kind of disease?
MuGyeom still didn’t know anything about EunSeo.
She was the youngest daughter of Lord Yoon, and she had been married off. However, she had been abandoned and returned. That’s all he knew so far.
“It must be nice for you. You can walk around with your own two legs.”
Her voice trembled at the end.
Although her head was lowered, MuGyeom felt like he could tell what kind of expression she was making.
Her eyebrows must be trembling, and she was probably biting her lips.
She was doing her best to hold in her tears and sorrow.
She was sad, but she kept her eyes closed and bit her lips to hide her sorrow from others. MuGyeom knew that feeling very well.
MuGyeom had always felt this way whenever he had been treated unfairly, but he couldn’t do anything as a servant.
He couldn’t raise his fists to the offender or complain. At times like that, he merely lowered his head and bit his lips as his brow trembled.
“My lady, please eat your porridge before it cools.
“I don’t have an appetite.”
In the end, EunSeo put down her chopsticks.
Unable to convince her to change her mind, MuGyeom helplessly carried the porridge away.
* * *
“I’d like to stay here and enjoy the view for a little while longer. You can go and do what you need to do. Don’t mind me.”
EunSeo said as MuGyeom took her breakfast away.
Thanks to this, MuGyeom’s day was pretty carefree.
He placed the pot of EunSeo’s medicine on top of the brazier and went outside to rake the leaves. He put the pile of leaves into a straw bag. As he was doing this, he recalled that there were a lot of fallen leaves in the yard as well.
There was still some time left before the medicine was ready, and since he was already throwing out the leaves over here, he thought it would be a good idea for him to head back to the main building and rake the leaves there as well.
“Where… did she go?”
He carried a broom over to the yard of the main residence and didn’t see any sign of EunSeo. He was a bit bewildered.
EunSeo had definitely been sitting on the floor of the outer corridor when he left her.
But now she was gone.
Where could she have gone?
She couldn’t walk anywhere by herself.
‘Did she go back inside?’
She could have crawled back to her room.
She might have gotten bored and didn’t feel like calling for his help. She probably crawled back inside herself.
The door to her room was closed.
‘Should I check?’
But her door was closed, so it would be ridiculous for him to open it just to see if she was inside.
‘She might be crying inside all by herself.’
Judging from her expression this morning, it wasn’t too farfetched to think that she had shut herself up in her room to cry.
‘I better take care of the leaves first…’
As MuGyeom began to sweep the yard, he noticed something strange.
There were traces of something being dragged across the ground.
“What… is this?”
MuGyeom stared at the traces left behind on the ground.
The tracks started from the main residence corridor and went across the yard before disappearing through the inner gate.
The servants’ quarters were on the other side of the gate.
Why did these tracks head for the servants’ quarters?
‘It looks like someone dragged a sack across the ground…’
From one angle, it seemed like a sack had been dragged across the ground, and from a different angle, it looked like the tracks had been made by someone crawling on the ground.
MuGyeom raised his eyes.
The inner gate.
The servants’ quarters.
There was a well located in the back yard of the servants’ quarters.
The well was very deep, but there was no water inside.
MuGyeom threw down the broom.
He followed the tracks and began to run.
He hoped he was wrong. He ran through the gate and headed for the back yard of the servants’ quarters.
When he arrived at the back yard, he saw EunSeo using all her strength to try and pull herself over the well.
MuGyeom rushed over to her and grabbed her shoulders.
“Let me go!”
As soon as MuGyeom put his hand on her shoulder, she struggled to escape.
“Let go of me!”
EunSeo’s clothes were covered in dirt.
Her white nightclothes were a mess and covered in yellow dirt.
Her clothes weren’t the only things that were a complete mess.
Her face was also covered in tears.
“Let me go…!”
EunSeo did her best to hold onto the well.
Her hands were turning bright red.
She had tied up her legs and was trying to throw herself down the well. Her hands had been damaged from grabbing onto the rocks.
Her fingernails had split open, and her fingertips had been skinned raw. Seeing this, MuGyeom’s brows furrowed.
“What are you doing?!”
She had been planning this from the very beginning. That’s why she asked him to carry her out to the floor for breakfast. And that’s why she told him she’d spend some time alone and sent him away. She had planned to do this from the very start.
When the old housekeeper was here, she had stayed close to EunSeo’s side the whole time, so that was probably why she hadn’t been able to carry out her plan.
And when the old housekeeper had left the house, she realized that this was her chance. She had definitely planned on throwing herself down the well.
She planned to take her own life.
‘I often wonder if I have to continue living on with a body like this.’
Those words from this morning revealed her true thoughts.
MuGyeom scoffed in disbelief.
He couldn’t believe someone was trying to end their lives so easily like this.
Was life something you could end so easily?
To a noble, was a life something so trivial?
“I can’t live like this forever. So please let me go.”
EunSeo wept as she pleaded with MuGyeom who was still holding onto her.
“I can’t live like an invalid for the rest of my life…”
However, no matter what she said, MuGyeom didn’t plan on letting go of her. How did she not understand that throwing away a life was the scariest thing in the world?
So what if she couldn’t use her legs?
She wasn’t able to walk. That’s all.
But she still wanted to end her life because of something like that?
At such a bright, young age?
“You don’t know… You don’t understand…”
EunSeo burst into tears.
EunSeo sobbed into MuGyeom’s bulky arm that was holding onto her.
MuGyeom felt her tears on his arm, but he didn’t let go.
She cried out of self-hatred. She told him that he just didn’t understand. And still, MuGyeom held onto her and never let go.