Cry, Even Better if you Beg - Side Story 9
The Duke saw Leyla standing there still on the road and pulled his horse over to the side. Neither he nor the Duke’s companion who arrived after him were seen with their hunting weapons.
Leyla forced a shrug and tightly clenched the coin in her hand she was holding, unable to shake off her fear of him. The Duke was intimidating as he had always been, though he appeared to be out for a leisurely horseback ride rather than hunting today.
“Hello,” greeted the blond aristocrat, who was accompanying the Duke, with a smile. “It’s been a while.”
The Marquis of Lindman had a cheerful and slightly higher-pitched tone, despite his noble attitude, Leyla recognized him right once because being the Duke’s friend and cousin, he was a frequent visitor to Arvis.
Leyla nodded her head in acknowledgment and then scurried off to stand beneath a tree on the side of the road. She could hear the rapid heartbeats in her chest.
Seeing the Duke by coincidence on this particular day may not have been the best idea, but she was glad to see that he was with his friend and cousin, Marquis Lindman.
The Duke had taken to tormenting her, relentlessly pursuing her as if she were his prey back in the day like a lion haunting hyenas. It occurred regularly on the occasions when he happened to come across her while he was out hunting or horseback riding alone. The Duke liked it. He seemed to derive a twisted pleasure from this pursuit.
It was not that the Duke was inherently a cruel person, but to Leyla’s dismay, she was the only one who had witnessed this malicious side of him. Therefore, she felt trapped in a web, unable to escape and unable to confide in anyone about her plight. Leyla endured this mistreatment in silence, even though it was deeply unfair and distressing, secretly hoping the torment would over some day. She chose to keep her mouth shut, as she feared being branded a liar and expelled from Arvis if she spoke it out.
“Who is it?” The query was raised by a bystander.
“Ah. On this estate, I’ve been told, there’s an orphan. Surprisingly, a gardener chose to raise her.” A response came.
Several more comments were said after that, but the Duke’s voice was not heard.
Leyla gently raised her head as the sound of horse hooves grew louder; she had been steadfastly staring at the tips of her muddy shoes. Her light green eyes, which reflected the sight of the Duke riding by and expressed both terror and curiosity. Despite the time that had passed since she last saw him, Leyla took notice of his unchanged beauty and the new maturity that he seemed to have acquired.
Soon, he would be graduating from college and fulfilling his duty as an officer in the army to honor his family. And with that thought comes the realization that he won’t come back to Arvis during summers since there will be no vacation in the army.
This realization caused Leyla’s heart to race with a faint glimmer of hope.
As she stood there, staring at the group of dukes moving away, Leyla earnestly prayed. She hoped that the summer would come and he would not return. It was all she could do. Pray in her heart. The thought of him leaving and not coming back was a mixture of emotions for her. Deep down she felt a sadness for not seeing him again, but also a relief that the fear she had for him will not be there anymore.
After the group of young men on horses had disappeared and the thick dust caused by the hooves had settled, the forest once again regained its peaceful calm. But for Leyla, the tranquility of the forest was not enough to ease the turmoil in her heart, as she continued to stand there, lost in thoughts of the Duke’s uncertain future and her own feelings of hope and longing.
The sun was pressing down on her with its fierce heat as she strolled back to the cabin. She found it odd that the light felt so brilliant today even though dusk was drawing near.
It wasn’t until around 15 days later that Leyla realized the reason for her discomfort – her menstrual cycle had begun unexpectedly.
As she awoke to an unusual and unpleasant pain, she found that the cabin was still in the transparent silence of dawn and it seemed as if Uncle Bill hadn’t yet risen.
As she rose from her bed, her eyes were drawn to the remaining red stain on the sheet.
At first she believed it to be a dream, but upon further inspection, she found the same stains on her pajamas and underwear. The scene brought a mix of emotions for Leyla, knowing that this is what her friends had been whispering about in secret.
She heard the sound of Uncle Bill’s footsteps as he woke up. Torn between the relief that this is something normal and natural, and the feeling of hopelessness as she didn’t know how to deal with this.
Leyla quickly hung the door and locked it, hiding the stained sheet and clothes under her bed. She quickly tried to fix the situation with a handkerchief, but before she could fully take care of it, she heard a bumpy knock on the door.
“Leyla! Are you awake? Are you sleeping in?” Uncle Bill’s voice called out.
“No!” Leyla answered with a scream, “I’m already awake, Uncle!”
“Oh, come on. Then get ready. Kyle will pick you up soon.”
Leyla thought in her mind of Kyle, this added more anxiety to her already confusing emotions. She was filled with confusion as she thought about an important promise that came to mind.
It was the day when all the village children had planned to go on a picnic together and Leyla had also decided to attend a play in the theater this afternoon for the first time, something she had been looking forward to. But now, that excitement has been replaced with uncertainty and the red stains of menstruation.
She quickly washed herself while Uncle Bill went out to attend to the livestock. The pain in her lower stomach had been growing increasingly more intense, but this vague situation has somewhat reduced her discomfort.
As Leyla changed her clothes and began to set the breakfast table, Kyle came to the cabin. He was stunned upon hearing Leyla’s answer that she would not be able to join the group for the picnic.
“What is wrong with you Leyla? You wanted to see the play so badly, didn’t you?”
Leyla opened the bread basket clumsily, “I don’t want to go anymore.” The bread she cut was distorted.
“I don’t believe you. What’s the real reason?” Kyle looked worried, “Oh! Are you feeling ill? You look like a ghost.”
“No, it’s not.”
“What do you mean, no. I know everything. Even if you are unwell, you still pretend to be fine. Let me hurry up and…”
“No! Stop!” Leyla spun around and shrieked. She thought to use the bread she was holding to strike Kyle.
“Kyle, I apologize”. Leyla pressed the bread against her hot cheeks. “Although it hurts somewhat, it’s not too bad. I simply need to rest at home.”
“What’s the issue? What do you think? If you don’t want me to inform my father, I won’t.”
Though Kyle was her closest friend and family member, she was unable to tell him her story. It was embarrassing to tell it to her friend, especially to a boy. “Please move quickly. You’ll show up late.” Leyla was now on the verge of crying. “Before I throw bread at you with all of my might.”
After Kyle left, Uncle Bill returned. He was taken aback to see Leyla, who was supposed to be going on a picnic, but he ultimately accepted her excuse that she was feeling ill. Her stomach was indeed hurting, so it was not entirely a lie.
“Alright then, you should rest well. Are you in a lot of pain? I can have Dr. Etman come over.”
“No!” Leyla interrupted firmly, not wanting to hear the same suggestion from her uncle that she had heard from Kyle. “I’ll eat well, stay at home, and rest. That’s all I need.”
Bill Remmer, who was observing Leyla as she repeated his usual request, erupted into a hearty laughter. He affectionately ruffled her hair and headed to work, leaving Leyla to rest and recover at home.
Once she was alone, Leyla spent the morning ruminating over her thoughts and reflecting on the pain that felt more pronounced. She felt too shy to confide in anyone, and didn’t want to owe them a favor if she could help it, but she also knew that she couldn’t handle this on her own.
With this realization, Leyla decided to leave the cabin. Though it was quite hot, she donned thick stockings and multiple layers of undergarments. She couldn’t shake her worries and apprehensions, which made her journey to the Duke’s mansion take twice as long as it usually did as she kept pausing to reflect on her decision.
Upon reaching the Duke’s residence, Leyla was greeted by the surprised expression of Mrs. Mona, who had just stumbled upon her in the drawing room. The other guests, who were resting after the Duke’s luncheon, also focused their attention on Leyla as she hesitantly peeked through the door.
“What brings you here, Leyla?” Mrs. Mona asked, surprised.
After a moment of hesitation, Leyla mustered the courage to speak, “I have something to tell you.”
Mrs. Mona exited the hallway, looked down at Leyla, and shut the lounge door. Even so, she led Leyla to the end of the corridor and turned to face her, as if she had realized that Leyla was having trouble communicating.
“Now, you seem to be OK here. Leyla, tell me. What is the issue?”
“It’s…” Leyla exhaled repeatedly, twisting her hands, which she had gripped tightly. “I believe I am now a lady,”
“Please wait, my love. You’re now…” As Mrs. Mona thought about what Leyla had told her, her eyes grew wider. “Oh, my.” She sighed as she observed Leyla, who was wearing attire that wasn’t suitable for the current season.
She mumbled, a variety of complex emotions visible on her face, “Oh my God, Leyla.”
Leyla was on the edge of crying from anxiety. But Mrs. Mona gave her a loving grin and a bear hug while comforting her by massaging her trembling shoulders and back.
“Leyla my dear, you have to be careful of men from now on. Do you understand!?”
Mrs. Mona sternly admonished Leyla, feeling humiliated and ashamed. She was an opinionated woman who had dealt with similar issues as the mother of three daughters. Leyla was confused and couldn’t quite make sense of what Mrs. Mona was saying, but she didn’t want to seek for explanation so she just nodded in agreement.
“It’s something to celebrate, but I’m also worried,” Mrs. Mona said with a look of pity on her face.
She knew that when a beautiful flower blooms in the field, its life is likely to be hard. She couldn’t bring herself to say these words to Leyla and instead, let out a deep sigh.
Leyla was a very lovely young girl. She was skinny and messy when she first arrived at Arvis, but with Bill Remmer’s care, she blossomed into a stunning rose as she got taller and put on weight. Even though she was still a young girl, Mrs. Mona was aware of how quickly a girl may develop into a lady.
However, her life wouldn’t be so bad, Mrs. Mona thought, because she had the support of someone strong like Bill Remmer. These thoughts allowed Mrs. Mona to smile again.
“It’s a school, a village, and in any case, think of all the men around you as thieves. That’s not entirely wrong either,” Mrs. Mona said with a hint of bitterness in her tone, warning Leyla to be cautious of men and their intentions.
When asked again, Leyla’s expression contorted in confusion. “Kyle too?”
“Kyle? Hmm… Anyway, he’ll be a man, so be careful. You’ll be fine.” Mrs. Mona felt a twinge of regret for the kind Dr. Etman, but she had already decided to group Kyle together with the other “thieves”.
As the time to prepare dinner approached, Mrs. Mona left the house with Leyla, giving her a small basket. She also didn’t forget to give her additional instructions on her way to the Duke’s residence.
“By the way, Leyla,” Mrs. Mona called out to Leyla as they reached the end of the road. She strode up to her and unexpectedly reached out and touched her chest. Leyla’s startled scream and Mrs. Mona’s laughter echoed in the still afternoon air.
“It’s a surprise. Yes, you have grown into a lovely woman.” She said, her eyes filled with a compassionate warmth as she looked at Leyla, who was now blushing profusely.
“You’ll likely require new undergarments, such as a bra. I told Mr. Remmer. No, there is no huge deal. You’re welcome to accompany me when I go downtown this weekend.”
“I’m grateful, ma’am. I sincerely appreciate it “Leyla said, expressing her gratitude by making a deep bow. As Leyla bowed, Mrs. Mona couldn’t help but notice the gentle and delicate features of her eyes, she gave her a few more pats on the back before quickly heading back to the Duke’s residence.
Leyla turned away as soon as Mrs. Mona’s back was no longer in view, her stomach still hurting, but she felt considerably better than she had that morning. She made an effort to convince herself that she could handle this, but as she moved on, she abruptly stopped again just past the mansion around the next curve. Lady Claudine Brandt and the Duke Herhardt were the source of the woman’s laughing and the man’s low, quiet voice that she overheard.
Leyla instinctively ducked behind the wall, frustrated. She wanted to go somewhere else and hide, but the couple’s footsteps were getting closer and closer to where she was hiding.