Predatory Marriage — Chapter 122. Countess Melissa
Translator: Atlas / Editor: Regan
The King of Estia commanded the expulsion of the Kurkans. But recognizing that there had been mutual negligence, he did not expel them immediately. They had a grace period of two weeks.
It was decided that after the Kurkans left, Leah would leave the palace to go to the frontier border, several weeks ahead of schedule. She spent every day busy working and delegating tasks ahead of her departure.
Today her schedule was very busy. Before she began her list of chores, Countess Melissa brought a wooden comb and sat down to comb her hair. Her skills in styling Leah’s hair were as good as the years they had spent together. No one could manage her hair better.
“Byun Gyeongbaek will soon be heading to the western border,” she said. “But it looks like he wants to meet with you first.”
“That’s fine. Anyway, we must meet.”
The two continued to talk about certain matters, and as Leah watched how her silver hair was being styled, she said, “I haven’t seen Baroness Cinael.”
Countess Melissa’s diligent hand paused for a moment before she quietly replied.
“She has been suspended.”
She had handled the matter under the authority of head lady-in-waiting, but hadn’t informed Leah because she had been so busy lately.
“You’re treating her as the culprit,” Leah remarked calmly.
Countess Melissa set the comb down on the dressing table.
“I’m sorry, Princess. I tried to do something, but the situation was getting worse…so I thought it would be best if the Baroness went on sick leave and rested for a while.”
She was being isolated and treated as the culprit behind the theft of the purple silk dress, but the truth had not yet been discovered. Leah needed to meet with her and hear her defense.
“I have a couple of hours free this afternoon.”
She had set that time to get some rest, and even though she was officially free, she usually had tea while looking through documents.
“I’m going to visit Baroness Cinael.”
“Isn’t that too sudden?”
“There are things more important than etiquette.”
She shuddered, saying those words. She wasn’t used to saying that sort of thing, and Countess Melissa looked a little surprised. Leah continued briskly, setting it aside.
“Please make preparations for that. Since I’m going to visit her, I’ll have to bring a gift as a show of courtesy.”
After finishing her morning’s work, she had lunch and prepared to leave. Boarding the carriage, she had a package of cookies made by the head chef of the Princess Palace. They were Baroness Cinael’s favorite.
None of her ladies-in-waiting came from powerful family lineages, and the Baroness lived in an area some distance from the center of the capital. On the way there, Leah did some speculating of her own. It would have been better if things had proceeded discreetly. Her ladies-in-waiting would not have singled out and excluded the Baroness for no reason. She must have done something suspicious.
Perhaps she had stolen the dress to pay off some private loan. But Leah did not believe she had stolen the dress because of a personal problem. Knowing her personality, Leah thought the Baroness would have told her, and asked for help.
While she was making these speculations, she had arrived at the Baroness’s residence without realizing it. The royal carriage stopped in front of a modest mansion. The woman outside watering flowers in the garden widened her eyes when she saw the carriage, and saw Leah getting out.
Leah smiled and ran to hug her, tears bursting. The Baroness clung to her as if she would collapse. The Baron, who had stayed home to comfort his wife, was shocked to see the Princess. In silence, Leah hugged the Baroness, and when she was finally able to stop sobbing, the Baroness led Leah inside.As she poured the tea, she explained.
“I get no salary due to being suspended… I had to do without some employees to save a little. Anyway, I have nothing to do at home.”
The tea in the cup showed an attenuated pattern as it slowly cooled. Leah waited for her to speak. The Baroness remained silent until the tea was lukewarm and then began to cry again.
“I’m so frustrated…I was only following instructions…” She wiped the eyes with her handkerchief, but her eyes soon became moist again. She clutched the handkerchief as she continued. “That day I was told to take out the purple silk dress and take it to the servant outside…that’s what I did.”
“Who gave you that order?”
Baroness Cinael closed her eyes tightly. She couldn’t easily answer that question. After hesitating for a while, she finally spoke carefully.