“Her physical appearance” Liz-san asks, a wrinkle forming between her brows.
The whole dining hall falls deathly silent at this, a thick tension hanging in the air.
I’d like to hear your appraisal of her physical appearance.”
“I… can’t do that…..
One’s looks aren’t everything! How could I judge a person based solely on that” Liz-san demands while staring at me, contempt hardening her gaze.
I knew she’d definitely say something like that! Those are the words I’ve been waiting for!
“Regardless of what she wears or looks like, I like her for who she is.
Who cares if she doesn’t dress herself up!” Liz-san declares, her voice growing louder and stronger.
Her devoted followers from within the crowd all appear quite moved by her words.
They all nod their heads vigorously at her righteous statement.
“This isn’t a matter of liking her or not.
We’re talking about an estimation of value, one that society is most definitely already assigning to each and every person.
And to the rest of society, it’s not what’s inside that counts.
Seeing a person’s appearance is more than enough for others to make base judgments.”
“That’s just wrong.” Liz-san looks appalled by the very thought.
“Is it” I ask, quietly.
“Yes! That’s just horrible!”
“Someone who’s ugly on the inside like you should just do us all a favor! Quit attending the academy already!”
Suddenly, the crowd turns boisterous with their hissing insults and exclamations.
I feel like I’ve been transported into a zoo.
I wish the peanut gallery would kindly keep their mouths shut.
“Did you know There was a study done on this very subject.
It compared how someone who was dressed in filthy, ragged clothes who had collapsed on the side of the road was treated versus someone who was dressed in a pure, clean attire.”
As I speak, a hush falls over the previously raucous crowd.
Seeing them quiet down and listen attentively while someone else is speaking really shows just how good of an upbringing they all had.
They aren’t entirely lacking in the basics.
“What do you think the results were” I ask in a subdued tone, searching Liz-san’s face.
She closes her mouth and doesn’t speak.
…..So she isn’t completely blind and oblivious after all.
She still has a capable head on her shoulders so she understands some things it seems.
As expected, the saintess can’t be a hopeless idiot.
“No one stopped to help the person dressed in rags.
They all passed them by, turning a blind eye to their suffering.
But the person dressed cleanly, with a neat and tidy appearance had people calling out to them almost immediately to offer them assistance.
And this is merely the effect that clothes can have on a person.
It was the same person playing both roles so we can be sure that their apparent inner beauty had no effect on the passersby,” as I speak, the corners of my lips draw up in a satisfied arch.
“Humans are beings that live by choosing others.
Certainly, it might be an unconscious decision, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are chosen ones and those who are ignored and mercilessly abandoned for the slightest of reasons.”
“How does any of this pertain to Emma’s charms” Liz-san challenges.
And next to her, that girl, Emma, nods her head frantically as she stares at me.
“If I were to assess her appearance…..
Hmm, let’s see….
I think I’d give her three points.
Now I wonder if that means she’d be helped if she were to collapse on the roadside” I say while looking her up and down.
At my words, Emma’s mouth falls open far enough to allow an entire apple to be shoved into it.
Liz-san as well can’t seem to believe that I just said such a thing.
The two of them are gawking at me with twin expressions of stunned incredulity.
“Wait, three points Where did those even come from” Gilles asks while gazing at the two girls with a slight sneer.
“I felt bad giving her a zero…..
They were pity points.
I was just trying to be compassionate.”
“That’s rich coming from you, Alicia.
Acting like some saint all of a sudden.”
I can be at least a little considerate of people at times!”
“She’s entirely cute and lovely! She doesn’t have one bad feature!” Liz-san shouts before Gilles can reply.
She had straightened her back in righteous indignation, raising her chin like a proud, avenging angel trying to look down on us from high.
I’m sure we must make quite the scene together.
I wish someone could have taken a picture of this fun confrontation.
It feels just like a true battle between a villainess and a saintess! How wonderful!
“Despite being a noble, her hair is a mess of split ends and is in clear need of a wash.
It’s frightfully oily and clumped together.
Her socks as well have threads sticking out, and the elastic is obviously mangled and deformed from overuse….
She certainly doesn’t present an appearance of someone whom I would want to form a connection with.”
And of course, I seriously doubt she’d want to become even a millimeter closer with me either.
Emma’s eyes start to shine as they stare at me.
Though I’m not sure if it’s from rage, hatred, bitterness, or some combination of the three.
“I have no qualms with those who don’t ‘dress themselves up’ as you say.
Simplicity in itself is not a bad thing.
However, her lack of adornments are not doing her any favors.
Her utter disregard for her appearance is glaringly apparent, and like I said before, leaves her with zero charm and appeal.”
“You don’t even know her! How can you say such horrible things without bothering to first understand her better!”
“It’s precisely because I don’t know her that these base judgments are all I can make.
And it isn’t just me.
You can’t pretend to believe that everyone else here isn’t doing the same thing.
How many people have gone around whispering about how unpleasant and creepy I look wearing this eye patch I could be the most beautifully kind-hearted person in the world, and still strangers would have an aversion to my current appearance and instinctively find me disagreeable.”
Understanding lights up Liz-san’s face.
If I keep pushing forward like this, won’t I finally succeed in changing her mind about some things!
“And appearance isn’t the only thing people judge others on.
Their actions play a significant role as well.
When a woman crouches down to pick something up, whether she keeps her legs together demurely or spreads them wide open will make a hugely different impression.
Your appearance and your actions dictate how you’ll be seen by others.
That girl has no physical appeal, and her actions today have been vulgar and low at best…..
Up until now, how many people do you suppose have silently left her side for that exact reason And more will surely follow.” I punctuate my speech with a splendid smile at the two of them.
Emma’s face, which had been turning a pale, greenish color all this time, suddenly looks scared and shrinks back.
“She’s personally lowering her own value,” I add for good measure.
“Even if that’s the case, everything will be fine if she just fixes things from now on!” Liz-san says defiantly, holding her ground.
…..For now, it should be safe to assume she understood the gist of what I was trying to say, right She seems to have at least understood the fundamental truth that everyone is inevitably judged based on their appearance.
“After meeting someone once, you form a first impression of them, and it’s very difficult to get away from those initial thoughts.
At some point, even if they manage to completely revitalize their image, whenever you see them, you’ll end up remembering what they used to be like.
You won’t be able to help but think that deep down they haven’t changed at all.”
“Then you just need to stop seeing them like that and trust that they really have changed.”
“How pretty of a world would it be if that was how things worked But those sudden changes aren’t enough to overturn your previous impressions.
A good impression is something that can only be built slowly and steadily over time….
Like with you, Liz-san.
But, the more pristine someone’s image is, the more brittle it becomes.
It only takes one trivial slip up to ruin your hard earned reputation.
And once public opinion of you has turned sour, it takes nothing short of a miracle to make a full comeback.”
People want to see the best in you.
She… can change herself from here on….
For the better,” Liz-san says, looking straight at me seriously.
Her eyes tell me that she fully believes that Emma will be able to turn her life around, turning over a brand new pure and honest leaf.
She isn’t just spouting out empty words.
Anyone can tell that she believes it from the very bottom of her heart.
It’s one of the reasons that everyone loves her so much….
“She certainly may be able to change….
But please don’t just assume that all human beings can and are willing to put forth that effort,” I say calmly.
As Liz-san’s monitor, I need to make sure she has a firm, grounded understanding of how society truly works.
…..Of course, the way I see the world might not be a perfect representation of it either….
Where she’s an optimist, I might be considered more of a pessimist, with reality likely living somewhere between the two of us.
However, she needs to understand that not everyone will live following her idealistic logic.
There are those who mean harm, those who see no reason to change.
For instance, her dear friend might want to change, but she also very obviously meant me harm.
To think that she’d go so far as to record my voice in order to entrap me within a foul scheme.
She’s living proof that not everyone lives their lives trying to be perfect little angels.
Of course, such an event isn’t necessarily unwelcome for me.
Not only did this prove to be prime teaching material for Liz-san, but it is likely a good testament to my having become an influential villain in the academy.
It’s probably something worth celebrating!
But I think I’ve used this situation to as much of my advantage as possible now.
There’s no longer any meaning in me remaining here, so I think it’s about time for me to take my leave.
…..Ah! Wait! I almost forgot.
I’m about to turn away, but I quickly turn back and make my way over to Emma.
In the tense silence of the room, only the sound of my footsteps ring out loud and clear.
It’s almost as if in that moment the world was moving with me as the center.
As I draw near, Emma looks at me with a slightly frightened gaze.
“Your beloved Liz-san thinks your are charming enough as you are, so why don’t you stop trying to hide those freckles of yours” I whisper into her ear.
Her expression changes as her eyes widen.
know” she asks a bit hoarsely while staring at me.
I realized it merely by chance actually.
If you look closely enough, you can just barely see them.
To think that I noticed something that even Liz-san, her friend, the all-too-amazing heroine didn’t notice.
Could that mean that I’m just that amazin…… No, I can’t let myself get a big head over something so insignificant.
Keeping my cool, I turn to leave the dining hall.
My brothers and the rest of the boys open a path to allow me to walk past them.
Of course, they don’t look particularly happy as they do this.
Their gazes on me are remarkably pointed and sharp.
All except for Curtis-Sama and Duke-Sama who, as always, are watching me in amusement….
To be able to enjoy this sort of situation….
what are they 70-year-old men!
If you keep this up, you’re going to end up isolated and alone someday.”
The moment I’m about to walk out the door, I hear Liz-san’s clear voice ringing out from behind me.
‘Someday,’ she says….
I’m basically already isolated and alone.
But it’s no matter.
As long as I have Gilles by my side, such things won’t bother me.
“I know,” I turn back to say, sending a graceful smile over my shoulder.
And then Gilles and I leave the dining hall together.