How happy I was when my missing husband came back. She greeted him with tears of joy because of how they cared and loved each other unlike your usual noble couple. Of course, the happiness stopped when she saw the little child in his arms.
During the two years he went missing, his sudden appearance of holding a child he had from another woman made me feel the pain of betrayal.
But that’s the adult’s business, and the child is innocent. I knew it, I was confident that I hadn’t been able to treat him kindly, but raised him without fail.
If it were like everyone else, I would have abandoned the illegitimate child as soon as my husband died, but I thought I was a good stepmother who was still thinking about the child’s future.
My daughter is eighteen years old now. Usually, if a noble is a woman, she would be in the society after completing her debutante at the age of 17, but my daughter, who I rarely see once in a month, did not even hear about her own debutante.
Of course, I could go and ask her first, but as I said, we weren’t very close and I didn’t want to encourage myself because I didn’t want to.
However, it is time to decide as an adult whether to keep her in the family like this or decide whether I should marry her off after her debutante.
Ah, I sighed unconsciously. I know the fact that I hate her. I hated the expression written on her face, she didn’t show a single hint of sadness even though her father, who decided to take her back with him, died.
Since then, our relationship, which became more awkward, hasn’t recovered yet, and it has been difficult to deal with because of the guilt and hatred pressing down on my chest when I met her for the first time. Maybe I’m thinking like this because I want to get rid of her quickly.
Ordinary noble women get engaged in their late teens and get married in their early 20s, so it may not seem strange to others.
When I asked other noble ladies, they said that if I had done this to a child who I’m not related to, it would be alright, and if I found a good marriage partner for them, it would be for the better.
All of them are just answers to give relief to one’s mind. I knew that it was something that only benefits me, but it was also true that I felt a little relieved. So I called the priest who I always asked for prayers and shared my worries.
Priest Theodore, who has been taking care of the family’s prayers for a long time and roughly knows the situation, smiled kindly and asked if it would be good to ask her daughter for her thoughts, but she couldn’t easily answer that. The child has a knack for making people uncomfortable, so I don’t think he’ll be satisfied with any answer.
There was a knock.
“What’s the matter?”
“The priest is asking for another meeting.”
Why did he come back today after he had finished his prayers and counseling? Agatha accepted, clearly showing a puzzled expression, to let him come in immediately. Theodore opened the door and as if he was waiting in front of it, he came in quickly and closed the door himself.
His face was serious. He just had a gentle smile on his face when he was praying with me, but something happened during that short period of time. I had known him for a long time, so something must have happened. I offered him a seat on the sofa and he sat on the other side.
“How is the lady doing?”
As soon as he sat down, I felt a little unfamiliar with the person who just asked about my daughter in a voice full of impatience.
Of course, I consulted him until a while ago, but Theodore and the child basically don’t know each other. He doesn’t have any clue of the child’s status in the family, so he never asked about my daughter so directly.
Unfortunately, Agatha had nothing to say much about his question. As I said, it’s difficult to see each other even once a month.
I didn’t ask about how the child was doing and what she needed. I just guessed that she was doing so well that it could be solved between the butler and her maid.
“Well, she’s just a quiet kid. She’s doing fine, no major problems.”
“No problem, you say?”
A glimpse of anger flashed across his face. Of course, it wasn’t completely out of anger towards her, but it was enough to upset Agatha. Before she can say anything, she opens her mouth once more and looked at Theodore.
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but I just met the lady in the garden.”
She was usually a child who was locked up in the room and didn’t come out at all. Although, she often strolled through the gardens. Oh, by the way, did I mention that my daughter’s room caught fire today?
I remember hearing that the closet burned a little bit due to carelessness, but the fire was wiped quickly so I don’t have to worry about it too much. Maybe she was out for a while because they had to clean the room.
“She was sitting barefoot under a tree in her pajamas.”
In the middle of winter?
On this cold day?
I don’t understand at all, so I ask again with my eyes wide open. No, there must be maids with her, but what are they doing to keep the grown-up girl in pajamas, and barefoot outside?
Agatha’s common sense couldn’t quite comprehend, so she blinked once after another to show her embarrassment. Theodore sighed and nodded his head.
“No, what are the maids doing?”
“When I asked her, she said the maids hid her slippers.”
No, what’s going on. I know it sounds stupid but I couldn’t stop asking. I hated this child. However, this level of hatred is just to the extent that it’s difficult to see her face, not the kind of hatred that you want the child to be harassed.
I was paying my employees a sufficient salary, and that pay means to do the job faithfully, not to harass anyone. Agatha pondered that far and rested her forehead for a moment.
“Looking at your reaction, I guess you didn’t know.”
“It’s embarrassing, but not at all. Not a bit.”
Theodore licked his lips as if he had something more to say, and Agatha seemed to have a headache, no, it was happening, she pressed down on her temples tight as she waited for his next words.
No matter how unwelcomed her daughter was, she was still a member of the duke’s family, but the servants were presumptuously harassing her. This fact alone almost made her throw up, but the fact that there are more has been tormenting her mind.
“It may not be just bullying.”
“What does that mean?”
As soon as Theodore finished speaking, Agatha screamed the maid’s name.
Her voice, mixed with anger and embarrassment, were deeply divided, and Theodore sat in front of her with his mouth shut and his face still.
At 6 o’clock sharp, his eldest son, Calex, returns. She was so nervous that even the sound of the clock’s quiet second hand felt like a noise.
Agatha sat in her room with her head on her head. Linda, a maid standing next to her, is rolling her eyes, unable to hide her anxiety.
I don’t know where my second son went, but I told a servant to get him right away, so he’ll probably arrive home around 6 o’clock as well. A deep, long sigh sticks to the floor.
After she talked to him, Theodore returned to the temple, and said that it was unlikely that he would intervene. Of course, she was asked to make a wise decision before he returns. In her heart, she wanted to find out the truth about the servants right away, but she couldn’t act hastily.
Basically, I don’t think my daughter, who isn’t interested in others, would have lied to a priest who doesn’t even know her face, but it was too long for her family and daughter to come to an immediate conclusion. First of all, it would be appropriate to talk to my two sons and solve them as quietly as possible.
“What? What’s going on?”
The first person who opened the door was her second son, Felix. He had a day off, and his face was a little red from where he had been drinking.
Agatha doesn’t hide her headache and points to the sofa opposite to her. Fortunately, Felix sat on the couch as if he wasn’t drunk much.
“You said there was a fire in Beatrice’s room this morning?”
“Oh, that? Well…”
The feisty second son takes his time scratching his head.
“It was a fire that Beatrice had set herself. It was a bit strange, so I was going to talk about it when the whole family gathers in the evening.”
“She set the fire herself?”
All I had heard from the maid was that the fire had been accidentally set on fire. She was not convinced, so she shot her maid a look, and Linda bowed her head in haste as if to apologize to her.
I tried to stare at her like I was scolding someone, but no words of rebuke came out. It was the Duchess’ job to manage household affairs and it was her will to be openly indifferent to the child.
I know that things have come to this point because he told me not to put Beatrice’s work on him as much as possible and so I never asked him first.
“She was half out of her mind, so it’s not strange that she did it.”
As Agatha gave him a warning, Felix ruffles his hair wildly and shakes his head.
“No, listen. Mother. It’s not something that she should have set fire to. But she said weird things, too.”
“What are you talking about?”
“When I heard about the fire, I went to look through her room, and there was a bunch of burnt rat carcasses in her closet.”
Agatha seemed to feel dizzy.
“She said that her maid likes rats, so she often releases them in her room.”
“That’s… Madam… That’s my… I’m sorry. I’ll look into it.”
I wanted to be polite, but I couldn’t be more angry because even the head maid in charge of the house didn’t know. It’s my fault. It’s all my fault. It’s obvious that the servants acted like that because they didn’t care and didn’t hide any signs of hatred for the child.