Many thanks to my friends who have given me feedback on Facebook or Chapter 5. Your comments inspired me to keep writing, so thank you. 😘 This time it didn’t take me as long to write a new chapter to “A man in love”. 😍 Hope you like it. 🙂
— Ms Puddle
The nanny must have heard the noise; she whirls around, holding a spatula, and sees that Master William is no longer in the kitchen. When she gives me a quizzical look, I reassure her, “Don’t worry, Mrs. Evans. Let me talk to him. If he doesn’t feel like eating, I will.”
I dislike disappointing the kind, old lady, and the same applies to Master William, I know. That’s why I wasn’t the least surprised that he gave in and let her cook. I gather he had to leave the kitchen just now to have a minute to himself; yes, he needed space from me, who by chance had discovered his secret. This reminds me that I must do my best to pretend I have no idea who his roommate is. Otherwise, he might be offended or hide even more things from me.
When my housekeeper smiles and goes back to cooking, I skim through the news article and find keywords like House of Magnolia, Dr. Martin, Happy Clinic, genuine brotherly love, wounds, mysterious, hero, etc. Then I put it down and head over to the living room. The young master is standing right in front of the window that faces the bustling street, which means I can only see his back. He seems startled as I approach, but when I’m almost within his arm’s reach, he speaks up in a grave tone, “I couldn’t help it, Georges. I was…”
He pauses for two long seconds before he uses an almost inaudible voice to say the word “horrified”. That practically knocks me off my feet. First, he’s willing to make a confession without me probing him. But more importantly, he used a forbidden term in his aunt’s personal dictionary, which contains a set of adjectives to be avoided; those words will shed negative light on him as the rightful heir to a vast business empire.
Therefore, “Master William…” is my only reply, and he emits a bitter chuckle after that.
In fact, ever since Madam Elroy had custody of her nephew, she made a point to train him not to let his weaknesses show. When he began to get the hang of it, she demanded that he started learning to keep his emotions at bay. After his twelfth birthday, she took it one step further, teaching him to never respond to anyone if at that moment he felt he might not be able to control his feelings. In a sense, his runaway incident years ago ironically proved that he had successfully completed his training in that regard; none of us could perceive that the boy was fed up with his life and pushed to his limit, so much so that he’d rather leave everything behind.
At any rate, Master William should understand that I have no rights to interrogate him about anything, but he let me know, of his own accord, the reason behind his reckless actions. Is it possible that he actually wants to confide in someone whom he can trust? If talking to me provides a way for him to vent his feelings, it’s my honor indeed. Facing an escaped lion was a near death experience after all, and I delight to be his listener.
Right then, a thought pops in my head. Didn’t he say that he couldn’t help it? If so, I suppose he didn’t mean he couldn’t help taming the lion, but he likely referred to his action of shielding the girl from being harmed. Hence, my instinct tells me that he was horrified not because of the beast but because he was afraid of losing her, who is important enough for him to risk his life. Come to think of it, Master William should have recovered his memory yesterday. That is, he was fully aware of the consequences if something bad occurred to him.
Without another word, I come to his side. He makes a fleeting eye contact with me before he shifts his attention back to whatever is outside the window. I sense that he’s having an inner debate of what else to tell me. As the silence between us continues, I wait patiently beside him, my eyes staring far into the distance as well. I resolve not to give my opinion, hoping he will reveal some more, either about why he had fear or the girl he protected yesterday.
A few minutes later, he abruptly turns his face towards me as though he just snaps himself out of his trance. Hope rises within me, but to my utter disappointment, he dodges this topic, “I like to buy a car, Georges.”
As mentioned before, I didn’t sleep well last night, so I assume my ears are not functioning. He should know that there are at least a handful of cars at his disposal back home. Thus, I reply, “Sir, I beg your pardon?”
“Georges, don’t look so surprised,” he teases, smiling warmly at me, as if he has completely forgotten about the article in the newspaper. “I like to buy a car, I said… a used one to be exact. I suppose you can help me.”
This awkward twist is completely unexpected, and I’m speechless, unable to fathom why on earth he wants to pay for a used car. At this moment, he sniffs with exaggeration with his eyes closed. “Hmm…”
Soon enough, he opens his eyes, his face breaking into a grin. “I think the eggs and sausages are ready. Shall we share the breakfast, Georges?”
I have composed myself by now and agree by nodding my head, knowing that this is a request. As I have said earlier, he didn’t want to let his nanny down. When we are eating, the nanny leaves us alone. Then he asks me in earnest about the family business during his absence. “It’s doing exceptionally well, in spite of the great war…” I begin. He listens to me attentively, which is another remarkable change in him. I suppose I should be content with what took place earlier in my living room, but frankly I wish he could have disclosed more; he was so close to opening up but plausibly at the last minute decided to keep things to himself. Perhaps he can’t trust me with his private affairs yet?
No matter what, his confession of extreme brevity and the fact that he was holding back only reinforce the notion that there is more to his feelings for his roommate. Yet, I won’t push him when he isn’t ready. It’s time to restore our relationship first, and hopefully I will eventually cease playing guessing games in the near future. Hence, I do my part by relating to him about my visit to the grand mansion last night, omitting the details of the fight between his nephews and the discussion with his aunt.
“How many suits did you get?” he questions, the corner of his lips curving upward into an appreciative smile. I tell him and explain that they are probably too tight for him now. He appears unconvinced and believes his body hasn’t grown much.
“You can try them on first. If my estimate is right, you’ll need to get new ones tailor made, sir.”
It turns out the jackets are a little tight but bearable. Apparently, he isn’t aware of his change. “My friend bought me clothes from the second hand stores from time to time… she said I wasn’t supposed to wear the same ones every day. For some reason, she happens to know my size too…” his voice trails off. The expression on his face was a mixture of dazed admiration and amazement, but that expression disappears as soon as it appears, and he hastily collects himself. “Georges, thanks for your suggestion. I don’t need new ones. It’s a waste to spend on clothes.” He even considers wearing his late father’s suits, which his aunt has kept all these years.
But he insists to buy a used car, the older the better. As much as this idea baffles me, I don’t challenge his judgement or motivation behind his decision. Our plan for the day will be shopping for cars first before giving Madam Elroy a surprise visit in the mansion.
Driving towards a car dealership that I’m familiar with, I ask my master if he came to my humble abode because he wanted to see his nanny again. He nods with emphasis, saying, “Yes, you’re right, Georges! You’re ever so observant…”
He pauses here, and I wait for him to go on, but a while later, he still doesn’t continue, so I follow up, asking why he didn’t stick to his original plan. He gives it a thought before answering, “My friend starts her new job today… she pushed me to go there with her…”
I’m relieved that Miss Candice has already found a new job, and interestingly but not surprisingly, she has the power to push my young master to do something. At present, he falters once again, contemplating for almost a minute as though he has to choose his words with caution. When I stop at an intersection, he resumes, “… so that Dr. Martin could examine my wounds. Rest assured… they’re healing well.”
I can hardly believe that poor doctor has enough income to hire a helper. Then, out of the blue, Master William unbuttons the first two buttons of his shirt and lifts up a part enough for me to peek behind the shirt. The sight of his torso swaddled in bandages inevitably makes me cringe. I immediately cough to conceal my reaction. “So she bandaged you up, sir?” I try my best to keep my tone neutral. A picture of him baring half of his body surfaces in my mind, which makes me feel uncomfortable. Has she seen him shirtless before? How many times?
He nods thoughtfully, but soon a tender smile flashes over his face. “Yes… today, after Dr. Martin’s examination, she wrapped me up again.”
Adoration is evident in his voice. At this very instant, it looks like he suddenly realizes his mistake; he turns sideways, peering out of the window and swiftly buttoning up his shirt. He doesn’t want me to observe his facial expression, does he?
Since then, he has kept his silence. I respect his wish, and for the rest of the trip, I don’t speak a word. Once we reach our destination, I contact the reliable salesperson whom I’ve known for years. After introducing my ‘friend’ as Mr. Williams to him, he speaks in his usual pleasant tone, “Certainly, Mr. Williams, how can I help you?”
Unfortunately, the used cars for sale are at most two years old, too new based on my master’s standard. The salesperson shoots my young master a peculiar look and then produces a business card from his pocket. “Here, Mr. Villers. I believe my mechanic friend Mark can help Mr. Williams.”
This Mark’s Garage is on the outskirts of Chicago, roughly ten miles from where Master William currently resides. However, all his second hand cars are in excellent conditions, and my master’s brow furrows in disapproval. After talking to Mark for several minutes, Master William reveals his dream to learn how to repair a car, so he prefers one in bad shape. The mechanic’s brown eyes light up as though he’s just found a friend who understands him like no one else. “In that case,” says Mark, rubbing his hands enthusiastically. “Please make your way to my garage, Mr. Williams.”
The vehicle in the garage was involved in a serious accident before, and the mechanic deems it a leisure activity in his spare time to bring it back to a drivable condition. Master William is visibly satisfied, and Mark agrees to inform me when it’s ready to be test driven. Only then he will discuss how much he’s going to charge.
All in all, I keep my mouth shut and give no comment regarding my master’s undeniably odd selection criteria. Why he is bent on purchasing a broken vehicle is beyond my comprehension, and I figure his dream was just an excuse in disguise. During the ride to the Ardlay’s mansion, an idea finally strikes me. Master William is but a homeless fellow in Miss Candice’s eyes, so for whatever reason he needs a car right now, he has to adhere to this image. He is unwilling to let her know he is more than capable to afford the best and newest car available in the market.
Now that he’s going to buy a broken car, what’s next? A dilapidated house that resembles Happy Clinic? Of course I won’t rule out this possibility, because I have a feeling that Master William will continue living with Miss Candice for at least another few months. If that’s true, how does he commute to work? Will he bring his suits ‘home’? No, I don’t think he will. It’s possibly too ‘risky’ for him; what if she suddenly sees tailor-made suits at home?
Therefore, I ask him point blank about his arrangement. Just as I have anticipated, he has all that already sorted out beforehand. He replies in a matter-of-fact tone, “Georges, I will come to your place every day before work, just like today. When the sun sets, I’ll go home myself.”
In summary, as far as his relationship with Miss Candice is concerned, he’d much rather keep her in the dark about his true identity.
Note: Again, this chapter is purely my imagination based on the Candy Candy manga. 🙂 Thank you, my friends, for your comments to my previous chapter: Mariacristina Marchetti, Cristina CV, Loren Rios, Delia Golds, Tania Frias, Gina Riquelme Orellana, Anonymous, JeannyJJ, Candy Bert, Tracy Jordan, and Antlay