< — Truth & Lies — > (4)
TN: Hello, hello. Enjoy!
In the afternoon, Captain Elliot submitted a report. Its contents were related to the past poisoning incident that was mistaken for an epidemic. The incident was resolved smoothly.
After finding the root of the problem and digging into it, there was no sign of ill will. All the mushrooms obtained were retrieved and disposed of. The upper-end person in charge was to be fined a large amount of money as punishment for gross negligence.
“Any other villages harmed?”
“Apart from the two villages discovered at early stages, none yet. Since the upper levels has been mostly examined, I don’t imagine there will be further damages in the future.”
The report was requesting approval from Hugo so that the incident to be finalized. The top figure at the root of the problem was under investigation and their feet were bound.
If Hugo were to give his approval, the principal figure would have to pay compensations plus fines and would be able to restart their activities in the upper levels.
It was practically the same as asking the principal figure to pay a significant amount of money without complaints and expecting no more problems.
However, having a certain name enter Hugo’s eyes was the beginning of misfortune for the top figure waiting for the trade approval to come through.
“…Wales? Is the principal owner, the Count of Wales?”
It was the rule that no matter the owner, upper-end affairs were to be resolved by commercial law. A business transaction issue was resolved with money and as long as the owner did not go bankrupt, no responsibility was given to the owner’s family.
The fact that Hugo now knew the name of the person at the top was related to the reason of having no need for concerned.
A dark spark was lit in Hugo’s eyes. Because he saw her crying figure, he harbored a huge grudge towards the ringleader of the garden party incident. Because of his wife’s beseechment, he couldn’t interfere time and time again, so he felt vexed. Since he had finally chanced upon a case, he clung tenaciously to the long-awaited opportunity.
Through one channel or another, he knew about the garden party incident in relatively good detail. Naturally, he also knew that the prime leader at that time was the Countess of Wales. Just as he was considering how to warn the old snake, he had caught an unbelievable case.
Hugo commanded with a grave expression.
“This case cannot be passed over lightly.”
“I’m afraid I cannot erase the thought that there was a certain intention behind this matter. Thoroughly investigate the past transaction details, including the taxes paid.”
“By thoroughly, you mean…”
“Down to the last detail. Shake the dust out.”
Elliot was a typical knight, insensitive to plots or trickery however in this matter, his Lord seemed to have noticed something to watch for.
He didn’t know why but that top figure was certainly marked by his Lord. Somehow Elliot felt sympathetic.
“Understood. I will investigate thoroughly.”
Subordinates who assisted the Duke in close proximity were rather familiar with the Duke’s character. The Duke was definitely not a magnanimous and virtuous person. He was indifferent in most cases however once he locked onto something and began to dig into it, he was closer to persistent and obstinate.
In other words, he held long grudges.
* * *
It was a month and a half since Damian left for the Academy. Damian was hardly gone before Lucia wrote him a letter and received a reply to it about 20 days later.
Today, she received his reply to the second letter she sent him. Lucia’s heart pounded as she opened the envelope. Its contents, full of pages fell out. When she read the first line of the letter starting with, ‘To Mother,’ she trembled and hugged the letter to her chest.
As she read the letter step by step, her face blossomed, full of smiles. The letter’s contents seemed like some kind of report. What was taught in class, what was eaten, who he had a conversation with.
Lucia felt happy as she read the rigid contents that expressed little emotion. She felt like she could see into the child’s livelihood.
― The day is getting colder. Be careful about your health. Sincerely, Damian.
When the lengthy letter came to an end, Lucia felt a huge sense of regret.
“He seems to be doing well so I’m glad.”
The end of the year was approaching so Lucia was preparing a gift to send to Damian.
“Milady, a guest requests to see you.”
A maid announced to her. If it was Lady Milton that came, the maid would not say it was a guest.
“A guest? Who?”
“It is the Countess of Wales.”
Lucia knit her brows slightly. She didn’t know why the Countess of Wales would commit an act of rudeness and suddenly come to find her. She considered sending her back but finally settled on listening to what business the Countess had and if it was nonsense, to kick her out.
The maid served tea. Lucia did not call for Jerome. She didn’t want to serve the delicious tea that Jerome prepares to the Countess of Wales. Unlike Lucia who sat with a slightly chilled attitude, the Countess of Wales looked intimidated. In the time they hadn’t seen, her face had grown quite haggard.
Perhaps a cold? Lucia was suspicious of the Countess’ very different complexion from the past garden party.
“What brings you here?” (Lucia)
“It was discourteous of me to suddenly request a meeting like this. Has Duchess been well in the meantime?”
“There’s no reason why I wouldn’t be well. Frankly, I am dissatisfied with Countess. It was my first party prepared on a large scale. Surely, madam won’t deny having a sizeable responsibility for it ending in such a way?”
“What can I say? When one gets old, sometimes one’s ability to judge falls. I came to find Duchess in hopes that one can generously overlook this matter.”
Lucia, who had purposefully come on strong, weakened her icy expression at the Countess acting humble.
“Is this what today’s visit is in regards to?”
“Yes. I came to apologize.”
Lucia didn’t know the Countess of Wales would docilely lower herself like this. As the Countess was older and a leading figure in the circles, Lucia tried to gradually apply pressure rather than having a head-on confrontation.
‘Something is strange here…’
The rather unusual intimidated attitudes of the other ladies was already weighing on her mind and since even the Countess of Wales was like this, perhaps there was something she was missing.
“If that’s all you really want, I understand. I will accept Countess’ apology. However, I do not wish to talk for long today.” (Lucia)
“Do you have more to say?”
“To Duchess…there is something I would like to sincerely request…”
A request? Really, how shameless. Lucia chuckled sarcastically to herself. In any case, the Countess of Wales seemed to see her as meek and naïve child. Lucia was not a good girl that would not take any action. She had a fairly cold side in her relationships with people.
“I do not take private special requests.”
“It is not a special request, Duchess. Please relieve the anger of His Grace the Duke.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
The Countess revealed that the top-levels owned by her family were currently encountering difficulty. The explanation was lengthy and mostly self-justification. However, from the congested story, Lucia grasped the key point.
“The top committed a blunder and was punished. Are you now associating your personal feelings with the official work of His Grace the Duke?”
“No. No. The guilt is not being denied. I know the Duke is indeed a thorough person that separates business and pleasure. But he is a little strict so I ask of you to have some mercy. Please forgive this old one for hurriedly rushing over without principle.”
After the Countess of Wales left, Lucia fell into deep thought. In the first place, from the perspective of the one being punished, a generous punishment did not exist. From what she could tell, it wasn’t that fault was being found with an innocent man.
Punishment of crime was within the scope of authority of the Duke of Taran who was the overseer of order in the North.
The thought that maybe he was punishing them excessively because of her did not cross her mind for a second. She wasn’t that conceited.
‘So he’s quite strict on the people under him.’
Lucia couldn’t imagine it since she had never seen that side of him. In any case, the reason the ladies have been so careful of her mood lately must also be because of this. Perhaps they happened upon his strict side several times recently.
Lucia filed it in her head to ask him in passing. She didn’t really take it seriously.
*Lucia does not refer to the countess as ‘madam’ but as ‘wife’. It’s a kind of title that doesn’t translate well to English.
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