Chapter 10: The Villainess Infers

“Wow~! Ilse is amazing~! You got first place in the test~!” Esther raised her face, not a single tear in sight, and cheered in front of the rankings.

This feels extra contrived.

“And Albert lost… Oh, you poor thing.”

“That’s right. Will you comfort me?”

“There, there~. Cheer up, Albert! I know you’ve been working very hard!” she said, not a drop of hesitation in her voice, and stroked Albert’s head.

She definitely could have reached without stretching, but I guess Esther isn’t one to miss such an easy opportunity to advertise her appeal. She made sure to show off her cute short stature by standing on her tiptoes and pulling Albert’s sleeve before reaching for his head.

And sure enough, Albert’s eyes lowered in a remarkably easy-to-read manner.

Once again, I could do nothing but watch and sigh.

The gap between our scores was usually much lower, but today it was a whole 15 points. It seems as though Albert never stopped to consider that Esther’s daily interruptions of his studies might be the cause of this sudden drop in performance.

“It’s really amazing that you can study even though you’re a girl! I admire you~… But, but, when I just got admitted to this school, an old lady from my neighborhood told me, ‘A smart woman isn’t cute.’ Isn’t that awful~?!” 

Well, It’s true that there are still many people who hold that opinion. Compared to my previous life, society in this world is a lot more patriarchal. Even though talented women are starting to get recognized, our society is still riddled with male chauvinism.

But Esther’s point had nothing to do with women’s rights, now did it?

“Oh, is that so? it looks like you’re not cute, Ilse.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re just a sore loser.” I shrugged at Albert, who said so jokingly.

“Oh my~, Albert, that’s so awful~,” Esther giggled and entwined her arm with Albert’s, having gotten her desired response. 

“But Ilse truly is incredible~! You’re almost like a man!”

Yeah, yeah. You’re so noisy.

“In that regard, It’s a good thing that Miss Jones is such a bundle of cuteness.” I smiled and said sarcastically, though I wasn’t sure it got through. After all, Esther’s grades were so bad that it was a wonder she was even admitted to this school. Far from showing up on the top rankings, she was almost at the bottom.

Esther smiled and made a sweet face, seemingly convinced she just got complimented. I am quite jealous of your ever-happy head.

“Huh~ I’m jealous. I wish I was as smart as Ilse~.”

“I think it’s fine for you to stay as you are.”

“But~, if I could study~, I could get along better with Albert…” Esther said and turned upturned eyes towards Albert, their arms still intertwined. Looks like she’s aiming for a killing blow. Albert, who had zero immunity, turned rigid.

“N-no, even without that, you’re—”

“Oh, if that’s the case, how about I lend you my tutor?”

“Eh~?”

I chose that moment to interrupt their pleasant atmosphere, and Esther made a goofy sound.

“Yeah, that sounds good! Of course, you wouldn’t have to pay for it. I’ve always wanted to contribute to improving the status of women. If Miss Jones wants to improve her performance, I’ll be happy to help.”

“Oh, but, uh, no, I’m sorry~.”

“It’s okay, don’t be shy! It’s a waste for you to just say you’re envious. If you really feel that way, your grades will go up before you know it. With a good teacher and a lot of hard work, you could get to the top of your grade in no time!”

I tried to pressure her with a rapid-fire series of arguments. Of course, my offer didn’t result from anything like “good intentions.”

I wasn’t content with being some convenient foil for such a shameless woman. 

It was pretty obvious that Esther has no intentions of actually studying, so my proposal should hopefully be exceedingly annoying. 

“No, that’s…”

Sure enough, Esther’s eyes jumped to-and-fro as she searched for an excuse to decline. At first glance, I was doing her a favor, so she couldn’t give a firm refusal in front of Albert.

“There’s no reason to go that far… I mean…”

“My! Isn’t it insane to willingly give up on an opportunity to study in the best possible environment?”

“Ilse, just leave it at that. Esther doesn’t have to work that hard.”

I tilted my head at Albert, who tried to stop me with a bitter smile.

“And why is that? Has she no aspirations? Then why did she even enter this school? Aren’t we all here to learn?” I turned to Esther, “Surely, you must be in trouble because of your poor grades, aren’t you? Yet I’ve never seen you study. Speaking of which, I’ve heard you didn’t even show up for any of the supplementary lessons. I only ever see you chatting happily with boys…” The last sentence I voiced in a thoughtful tone, as though talking to myself. I’m not half the actress Esther is, but this should be enough for Albert, who’d seen little other than books in his life.

“And you only ever do it with aristocrats… It’s almost as if you have a different goal in mind…” I glanced at Esther with an expression that looked as though an interesting thought just occurred to me.

She looks a little pale. And her smile is twitching.

“What?! You’re just overthinking it, aren’t you? Haha.”

“T-that’s right~! I’d just feel bad about taking away Ilse’s precious tutor! Fufu.”

I exchanged an empty laugh with them and stopped pursuing the matter. After all, the eyes of everyone around us were once again aimed at Esther and me, and I was not some insane person who would make unfounded accusations with no evidence just to give the other person a bad name.

Still, I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time. In this country, there were only a few places where nobles and commoners could intermingle. And in fact, there was nowhere better to do so than at this school, with its calm, controlled environment.

Quite possibly, Esther studied frantically before the entrance exam with the ultimate goal of marrying into a wealthy aristocratic house. And after that, she stopped studying, because she knew that her future would be assured as long as she could catch some promising green noble. That sounds about right.

To be honest, I don’t mind her working hard with a clear goal in mind. I don’t mind it, but it turned into a different story when she chose to get me involved.

She’d made a big mistake in turning me into an enemy.


Notes:

WordPress tells me someone visited this site by clinking on a link in Activtrak, which is a program used to track employee productivity in the workplace.

In other words, someone just got caught reading my translations at work. You have my condolences.

In other news, this chapter marks the halfway point in the novel, sans extra chapters. I should be able to finish everything in about two weeks, so please let me know if you have and requests or recommendations for a series I should pick up after I finish this one.


8 thoughts on “Chapter 10: The Villainess Infers

    1. A different genre would be fine too if you have a recommendation. I would probably read a few dozen chapters and see of I like it, so there’s no reason to restrict myself to any one genre.

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  1. Let’s continue hated ducal lady after this?

    There’s also the novel:

    Yotogi no Kuni no Gekkouhime whose last translations was March this year

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