For those who want locksleyu to translate more Candy Candy Final Story to English, please cast your vote on his post “What should I translate?” now. 😀 So far, he has done an excellent job translating the prologue, Chapter 1 (part 1) and Chapter 1 (part 2).
Thank you for following “A man in love”. Unlike the previous chapter, this one is slightly longer (as a compensation). 🙂 Those who have encouraged me through your positive feedback on Chapter 14 or on Facebook, please accept my appreciation. 💓💓💓
— Ms Puddle
Master William has his priorities straight and concentrates only on the urgent cases. Before long, we can set off to pay his aunt a surprise visit.
While heading towards my car with Master William, I’m wondering if he will bring up the topic about what transpired this morning with Miss Candice. Nobody can force him to explain anything to me, of course. Yet, almost as soon as I start the car, he’s seized with a fit of sneezing.
In fact, he can hardly stop sneezing that I beg him for his permission to alter the route. Rather than going to the Ardlay’s mansion, I’ll take him back to my house. Nanny will surely know what to do and how to take care of her beloved master.
The first thing she does is to ask me to give him an extra layer of clothes, so after Master William gets changed into casual clothes, I give him my light sweater to keep him warmer. By then, Nanny has steeped two tea bags in a pot of boiling water for some time. She pours a warm cup of tea with three slices of lemon for the young master. “Make sure you drink lots of warm fluids to fight the germs, Master William!”
Having said that, she retreats into the kitchen to make a hearty soup with lots of vegetables. While the master is taking a rest in my living room, he beckons me to join him, but when I get near, he suggests I take a chair to keep some distance from him.
I gladly oblige and settle down on an armchair with my own cup of tea. To my great surprise, he voluntarily reveals to me a frightening incident in Lakewood years ago. That is, not only he had met Miss Candice but also rescued her from drowning in the waterfall. In other words, he had been contemplating giving her a hand when he received his nephews’ persuasive letters one after one. That was when he made one of the most important decisions in life, despite anticipating imminent oppositions.
“What happened? How did Miss Candice end up in the rapids?”
He throws me a knowing glance. “Do you remember her trip to Mexico, Georges?” he answers with a question.
“How can I forget that?” I couldn’t have responded faster. “It’s a peculiar experience. When I saw her for the first time, I was indignant. She was but an innocent girl, how could-”
I stop abruptly, reprimanding myself in secret. I shouldn’t badmouth anyone in my master’s family. Yet, a sigh escapes Master William’s throat, and he brings the cup to his mouth to take a sip of his lemon tea. “Right on. I was incensed at their ruthless treatment, making a helpless girl lodge in the stable with the horses.”
I wasn’t aware of this. I believe in normal circumstances stablemen can reside with the other servants. Master William then relates to me his first encounter with the poor girl by the waterfall. When he finishes the rest of the warm liquid in his cup, I pour him some more tea from the teapot on the coffee table. With a smile, he thanks me and continues the story. Back then, when he managed to take her all the way back to the mountain lodge, they were both soaking wet. She had already lost her consciousness, and her arms were icy cold. Hence, Master William had no choice but to change her into his shirt and cover her up with a thick blanket. As soon as he started the fire he got his drenched clothes off himself and hung them up to dry too. It wasn’t until her clothes were ready that she came to.
I have been listening in silence until a full-beard image appears in my mind. “Wait a minute,” I interrupt his storytelling. “Did you have your disguises on?”
He bursts into a laughter. “Good memory, Georges.”
That was when he lied to her. That this Albert was a homeless vagabond breaking into the unoccupied lodge that belonged to the Ardlays. “My original idea was to ask her to keep my existence a secret. Little did I expect she would be ecstatic to meet someone like me, a man without a shelter. Her face essentially glowed with joy, and I was mesmerized to speechlessness, if not shamefulness. Not only that, she trusted me enough that we spent a night together under the same roof, and she took the initiative to tell me a great deal about herself, including being abandoned at her birth and the hardships she endured at the Lagans. That day, she was pushed to a point that she wanted to leave all this behind; thus, she randomly got on a small boat, which eventually led her down the waterfall.”
He paused here, stirring the sugar in his now third cup of tea. “In summary, she had my full pity. I was truly worried about her well-being, and I knew better than anyone that I could easily grant her much better prospects in life. Yet, if she found out who I really was, our budding friendship would be forever doomed. She would no longer regard me the same, and she would always bear in mind the vast social gap that existed between us. I valued her friendship, so I decided to keep my homeless image… I was the wanderer whom she could identify with and treat as equal.”
He’s essentially telling me not to misunderstand their relationship; they have always been good friends… that no matter what I saw today, they are still friends…
“You really wanted to be her friend, sir,” I remark in a low voice. Without a word, he nods at me, a strained smile gracing his lips. Then my housekeeper comes in and announces the soup is ready. It’s my favorite, but I let Master William have more. Nanny grins from ear to ear when she sees the master has two big bowls in a row. Later, he asks Nanny for the recipe of the delicious soup, and she happily agrees. I know, he wants Miss Candice to enjoy it too.
“Remember to go to bed earlier tonight, Master William!” Nanny says with motherly love when we leave, to which Master William replies, “Yes, I will. No worries.”
During the ride, he murmurs, “Hopefully Candy did take a hot bath as suggested. I didn’t have time for that today.”
For a moment I’m at a loss of how to respond. I believe he’s in an attempt to fish for information from me, but I’m honestly reluctant to let my boss know that I witnessed quite a scene between Miss Candice and him this morning. Soon enough, he comes to my rescue, “We were stranded in the middle of nowhere last night.”
“I… I beg your pardon?” I stutter, and my jaw drops.
“You heard it right, Georges,” he says, his expression extraordinarily calm. “I pushed my poor car way too much… I floored the pedal when it wasn’t running as fast as I wanted it to…”
His voice fades as he casts me a mortified glance. My jaw must have dropped even further that he has to avoid my stare when he goes on, “When I realized I had hopelessly lost control of the car, it was too late. I slammed on the brakes, but to no avail. Instead, the tires burst, and the wheels broke off next-”
“Don’t tell me the car fell apart and rolled down a ditch!” I cut him off. My horrified expression might have helped him figure out that I just described my worst nightmare. Hence, his face breaks into a rueful frown when he admits, “Your imagination isn’t far off, my smart assistant.”
He continues saying something like he should thank God that he was still sleek and agile, and he managed to escape in a split second to avoid serious injury. I can’t hear his words clearly; my thumping heartbeat is roaring in my ears. Never have I anticipated such a terrible outcome, and I’m too startled to keep driving. As a result, I park my car on the roadside and turn off the engine. Then I take a deep breath before asking, “Master William, why were you there in the first place? What’s the rush?”
“It’s Neal,” he answers, looking me in the eyes, his face pinched with disgust.
“Master Neal Lagan?” I can’t be more bewildered to hear his name at this moment.
“Yes, Candy fell for his scheme.”
“Scheme?” I echo.
“Didn’t I tell you it’s a long story?”
After he lets out a bitter chuckle, he begins, “Candy wasn’t home when I went home. I searched the neighborhood, including the clinic. Dr. Martin told me she seemed to have left with a man. The doctor assumed she knew the man. Then, based on what the kids in the park had observed, I became aware that the short-haired man couldn’t be Archie.”
“So you were skeptical, sir,” I deduce.
Nodding slowly, Master William proceeds to give me a summary. He was tremendously worried about Miss Candice and had no idea why she would follow a stranger to the countryside. It was by luck that he could locate her not long after he had jumped out of the wreckage that was rushing down the hill. It was as though his car knew where to break down.
“Or else I would have kept driving aimlessly. Candy told me afterwards that she had prayed,” he finishes with a long sigh, lost in thought for a while. Then he resumes, “Unfortunately, when we found each other, we were the only souls as far as we could see. We had to spend the night in the dark by a lake, but at least I had your raincoat with me. It was extremely useful in a situation like this, thank goodness, and she could use it like a cloak.”
“Glad to be of help, sir,” I respond in great relief. They were marooned, true, but at least they were safe. “Did it rain out there during the night?”
“No, not until after the daybreak, but as you said, the temperature plummeted at night. Candy was jolted awake from her slumber because of the cold breeze from the lake.”
“I see… so did she wake you up, sir?”
He shakes his head. “I wasn’t even asleep…”
Right then, Master William sneezes again, so he conveniently drops the topic. Not only that, his features tense up in profuse embarrassment, his eyes downcast. I can tell by his violent blush that something happened between them last night. All I can say is that I know for a fact huddling together is a very effective way to get snugly warm and comfortable.
Did they cuddle under my raincoat, treating it as a blanket, like when they were sitting at the back of the truck on their way home?
Judging from their behavior this morning, it’s highly likely they did exactly that to keep each other warm. I wonder if Miss Candice is accustomed to nestle up to her big brother. She likes him a lot, no doubt about it. But if hugging has become their casual forms of physical touch, I think by any means it’s unwise for Master William to stay close to her. If he wants to seek her welfare, there are many other possible ways. Or else, he’s practically digging a trap for himself, the deeper he digs the harder he can come out of it.
Unless, he is aware of his dilemma but can’t help playing with fire…
Nonetheless, I won’t push him to open up for the time being. Besides, I think his discomfort is a signal for me to continue driving him home, so the moment I turn my car key to ignite the engine, I exclaim, “Look, Master William! The sunset is breathtaking. Haven’t you heard, that after every storm, there comes clear beautiful sky?”
He lifts up his blue eyes, relief painted all over his face. I’ve deliberately steered away from the original subject. I am getting used to his pensive look that often appears lately whenever he feels hesitant or uneasy to carry on the conversation.
Some moments of silence later, he questions, “Did I tell you Candy broke up with Terry? You know Terry, don’t you?”
“I believe you mean the son of Duke Granchester, am I right?” I answer in a placid tone. “Now a Broadway actor.”
So they were really in a relationship? For how long?
“That’s right,” he confirms, sniffing. “Neal sent the man to Happy Clinic, pretending to be a messenger from Terry, so Candy presumed Terry was waiting for her.” Master William takes a pause here to heave a sigh of resignation. “Do you know the famous actor has been missing for months?”
“Sorry sir. I don’t normally read the tabloids. However, what did Master Neal want from Miss Candice?” I ask with increasing puzzlement.
“He wants her,” he replies right away, a trace of exasperation in his voice.
“This can’t be real!” I respond aloud, raising my eyebrows incredulously.
“It is real, Georges. Weeks ago, because she turned him down, he threatened to disclose her living arrangement to the hospital staff.”
When Master William further elaborates, I understand that Master Neal wanted Miss Candice to come begging him for help after losing her job. Then I remember the fight between Master Archie and Master Neal I witnessed a while back in the mansion. Putting two to two together, Master Archie’s anger and frustration suddenly make sense. In other words, Master Neal must have persuaded Madam Elroy to influence the deputy director of St. Joanne’s hospital, and Master Archie was furious but could not afford to disclose anything to me, the right-hand man of Granduncle William.
While listening, I deliberately keep my mouth shut. After all, I’m not in the position to comment on Master Neal’s plot or reckless actions. All I care is that Miss Candice was able to escape from the Lagan’s villa, leaving hideous scratch marks on his face. What a contrast, she struggled to break loose from a man but undoubtedly delighted in her vagabond friend’s company, even spending a night with him alone.
“Neal is not unlike a typical spoiled brat,” my young boss concludes, oblivious to my inner thoughts. “The more Candy rejects him the more he craves for her. Apparently, he believes the end justifies the means; he’s willing to employ various tactics to obtain what he desires. This was what I told Candy. ‘Maybe Neal doesn’t know any other way to love a person.’”
Master William evidently used the ‘love’ word sarcastically. Yes, true love doesn’t necessarily mean to possess. At this moment, he adds, “Please keep an eye on Neal for me, Georges. I don’t want him to cause Candy more troubles.”
“Yes, sir!” I promise aloud.
Later, something dawns on me. I venture, “Does that mean Miss Candice still can’t get over Mr. Granchester?”
My master nods and looks at me in a way that implies ‘I told you so, right?’.
But he murmurs in uncertainty, “Perhaps I should use my power to start a search.”
“If you like, I can make some contacts, sir,” I offer.
He puts up a smile, despite appearing somewhat upset. “Let me think about it first, Georges.”
When my car is several blocks away from the House of Magnolia, near the marketplace, I pull the car to a stop, knowing that he may want to buy the ingredients for the soup. He promptly thanks me for my thoughtfulness and says, “Georges, you need not worry. I’ve learned a big lesson. I can assure you that I won’t consider buying a broken car again.”
I respond with an exaggerated sigh of relief. As he guffaws, I sincerely hope he will keep this promise, for his own good. “I’ll contact Mark the mechanic. He may be able to get a tow truck to clean up the mess.”
“Get well soon, sir.”
“Yes, see you tomorrow!”
We have thus postponed our plan to visit his aunt in the late afternoon on the following day, but Madam Elroy unexpectedly shows up again in the office in the morning. When she sees that her nephew is obviously under the weather, she instantly forgives his absence the day before. Then she expresses her displeasure that her wish is not being fulfilled. That is, her nephew still hasn’t hired bodyguards. Therefore, she will hire two for him, and they will directly report to her.
Needless to say, Master William greatly objects this proposal, and after some discussion, she acquiesces to let him interview the candidates, with the condition that he can no longer procrastinate the recruitment. That said, he has to get this done within a week. Once he passes the deadline, she will go ahead and proceed with her original plan.
The president finally opts to employ inexperienced but honest looking individuals. They will start working in three days. Moreover, they will take turns to drive the company car as his chauffeur, mainly taking the boss back and forth between my place and the office. Although his aunt isn’t pleased with her nephew’s decisions, at least she can have peace of mind from now on.
Time flies indeed. Almost three months have elapsed since Master William began working as the president, and nothing unusual happens after his car was towed, except that he has to work long hours and sometimes even on Sundays. One day Madam Elroy reminds her nephew in a matter-of-fact tone, “Don’t forget our agreement, William. It’s about time to come home. Let the servants take care of your daily needs.”
Upon hearing this, he nods in acknowledgement, his countenance changed nearly imperceptibly. “Let me make some arrangements first and settle the matter in an appropriate manner.”
This is no different from my speculation — Master William didn’t have a concrete plan in mind when he negotiated with his aunt back in her hospital room. Lucky for him, even though his reply is quite ambiguous, she appears somewhat satisfied. The reason may be a simple one; he doesn’t ask her for an extension. Sadly, a couple of days later, the matriarch is completely distracted by the tragic news we receive from France.
Note: You should know by now that this story is entirely my imagination based on the manga version, but this time I borrowed the waterfall scene from Candy Candy Final Story. 🙂 In addition, to the silent readers out there: thanks for reading. 🙂 To my dear friends below (not in any particular order), I’d like to thank you for your continued support and encouragement! ❤❤
Elen Harket, Tania Frias, Bertgirl, Loren Rios, JeannyJJ, marmalade, Mina Ferarri, Mariacristina Marchetti, Antlay, and Martha Cervantes Quiroga
This is my Christmas present to all my readers, including you wonderful ladies of course. If you like your name on it, please let me know so I’ll put it on my Facebook page. Merry Christmas!