The Sleepless Night of the Maid — Chapter 1
Translator: Eonnicorn / Editor: Vy
It was a cool autumn day. Everything she saw on that day, like scenery from a painting, was deeply and clearly embedded in her mind. The day for Eva’s father, Count Massies, to depart for a voyage for the second time.
The now twelve years old Eva took her father’s hand and walked through the moonlight garden. This was her favorite place. It was a place where flowers that vary from season to season emitted their unique scent during the day and when night fell, the fountain danced under the moonlight.
Every time she’s walked here with her father she’s felt happy, but not now. Aware that it’s now time to say goodbye, Eva held back the tears that threaten to fall. ‘Father is going to do great things for the Empire. So if I cry, Father will leave with heavy steps.’
“Dad will definitely come back and bring fortune. So don’t cry, my baby,” Count Massies stopped in his tracks, he must have heard her whimper, and touched her shoulder. She raised her head with a frown. There, in her father’s deep blue eyes, her reflection was wavering. Even a grown-up like her father seemed to be as distressed as she was, or perhaps even more.
“How long do I have to wait this time, Father? Is it like the last time? Do I have to wait for a year?”
“I can’t exactly promise you. But I’ll do my best to come back as soon as possible. I’m going to watch you become the Crown Princess,” he stroked Eva’s head gently to ease her mind.
The entire Empire knew that she was arranged to marry the Crown Prince. Since they were young, the Emperor and Count Massies have been close friends. For that reason, they made an agreement to marry off their own children. Eva has been qualified to be the Crown Princess ever since she was inside the womb.
“Therefore, don’t neglect your studies and always be cautious of your words and actions. Because you are going to be the most brilliant woman in this Empire.”
His voice was firm when he said that. It felt more like a vow to push himself. Rather than being confident, it seemed like he was struggling to overcome his anxiety. Eva knew the reason. The Imperial had invested in her father, however, he’d failed two previous explorations. He betrayed the expectations of the Emperor and the people who trusted and supported him. Her father was labeled as a traitor for wasting treasury funds, making the Imperial Family and the aristocrats pressure the Emperor into getting engaged. He has failed to live up to his Lord’s trust and to keep their friendship, even getting his daughter’s future blocked in the process.
Eva understands how agonized her father was. At last, he gets a loan by using all his assets as collateral and borrows money from his relatives as he leaves at his own expense. This was his last chance to get back what he’d lost. “Yes, Father. I’ll always be careful.”
It didn’t matter if she was Crown Princess or not. She didn’t want to bring shame to her father or the people around her.
“I’m very proud of you, Eva. Now wish your dad luck.”
The count bent down on one knee while he looked up at Eva. Hiding her sorrowful heart, she grinned and kissed her father on the crown of his head. ‘May Father’s arduous journey be full of luck.’
Finally, Count Massies left the mansion.
Eva stood there holding her nanny’s hand until the carriage left from the front gate of Bale Mansion, passing through the garden and out of her sight. “Hic. Nanny…” As soon as the carriage disappeared from view, Eva hugged Cecil and burst into tears.
“Please worry not, my lady. His Lord is the greatest explorer in the Empire. He’ll be back with plenty of treasure on the ship, so let’s wait.” Cecil hugged Eva with teary eyes while comforting her. Lawrence the head butler, Matthew the gardener, Paul the coachman, and all the servants embraced Eva.
Time kept ticking.
Eventually to one year later. Then another year. Then three full years passed by. It was by then, when she turned fifteen, that a report came, stating that Count Massies’ ship was wrecked, his crew as well himself were all dead.
She could only grieve for a moment, as misfortune soon stormed in after her. Both the Bale Mansion and the land that Count Massies secured as collateral were handed over to others. The Count was completely bankrupt, and Eva had nowhere to go. Even before her tears stopped flowing, the Imperial family had announced the broken-off engagement with the Crown Prince.