< — To the Capital — > (1)
Lucia sat in the study reading a book then she closed the book and stood up. She could no longer endure the stabbing pain in her stomach. For a while now, she had been feeling stifled.
Even during dinner, it was hard for food to go down her throat. In any case, her stomach seemed to be disagreeing with her so she called for a maid.
“Bring me medicine for indigestion.”
Digestion medicine was a household medicine so there was no need to go out of the way to call a doctor. However, even after taking the medicine for indigestion, she still felt nauseous. After writhing in pain and finally throwing up, she felt much better.
“Milady, are you okay?”
“Yes. I feel much better after emptying my stomach.”
Hugo was busy preparing to leave on the morrow so Lucia sent word that she would be sleeping first. There was a lot to prepare and pack up for tomorrow so she decided to go to bed early.
* * *
Hugo left his office when it was almost midnight. Because he was suddenly going up to the capital, he had to a lot of work to finish up. There was no end to his work but since he had to ride to the capital at daybreak, he had to get some sleep.
‘Why did he have to die in a summer like this?’
What was worse than the hot weather, was his worry that a long carriage journey in this hot weather could ruin his wife’s health.
‘Couldn’t he have lived one more year before dying? That old fool. He should have thought of his health and played in moderation.’
It was a shameful death that made people speechless. Dying in the summer and now of all times. Hugo could only feel dissatisfied. To some extent, Hugo was beginning to settle into life in the north.
Once he went up to the Capital, he didn’t know when he would be able to focus on the north again. If he just let things be, he would end up with idiots that try to do the exact same thing like the idiots he killed last time.
Well, it was good either ways. If that happened, he could just kill them too. His worry was more on the variables that would appear once he went up to the capital.
He wouldn’t be able to keep his wife within his fences anymore. The mere thought of rogues approaching her made his head hurt. He hadn’t gotten her heart or even her childhood name yet.
He quickly finished his distracted bath and went into her bedroom as usual. He saw her figure lying on the bed and moved to lie down next to her. He was about to take her into his arms when he heard a feeble moan. It was a small sound of distress.
He sprang to his feet and turned on the lights in the room.
He raised up the thin blanket and turned her body over to face him. Her body felt hot to the touch. He placed a palm on her forehead and felt her forehead clammy with sweat and her body burning with a fever. He immediately pulled the rope to call a maid.
He called her name several times and patted her cheek lightly but there was no response at all. Flustered, he lifted her from her waist and took her into his arms. Feeling her body sink down powerlessly, Hugo was filled with terror.
Feeling the maid come in, Hugo didn’t bother to look and just yelled frantically.
“Call the doctor!”
The maid took off in a hurry. Those deeply asleep in the castle were rudely awakened by the fiery tempo.
Hugo placed the cold towel on her forehead and the maid responsible for waiting on the Duchess sat on her knees beside the bed. Hugo interrogated the maid and the maid explained the condition of the madam from around dinner with all her might.
“After dinner, Milady threw up everything and said she would be going to sleeping early.”
“You should have called a doctor then. Is this how you serve your madam?”
“I-I am sorry.”
The Duke’s fierce rebuke and frigid tone chilled the maid to the bones. The maid’s voice trembled pitifully. It wasn’t just her voice but her entire body was trembling.
Anna, who had run all the way from her bed, came into the bedroom. She immediately got down the symptoms from the maid.
“Milady has to regain consciousness before she can take medicine. She has to be wiped down with a towel to bring down the fever.” (Anna)
“She was fine until after dinner.” (Hugo)
“It seems to be acute indigestion.”
“If it’s indigestion, why this sort of fever?”
“Indigestion can cause body ache as well as high fever.”
Anna turned to the maid.
“Did Milady complain of a headache?”
“A headache…? No, she did not.” (Maid)
“Does indigestion cause headaches too?” (Hugo)
“Milady has frequent migraines so I’m just confirming.”
In an instant, the atmosphere turned prickly. Anna flinched.
“What do you mean frequent? How often?”
“…About once or twice a month. Milady was given medicine whenever she suffered from migraines.”
“This is new to me. Why don’t I know about this?”
“Milady said there was no need to inform Your Grace as it is a common ailment suffered by many.”
“When did this symptom start?”
“Milady said she often had headaches since she was a child. You don’t have to worry too much, Your Grace. Migraine is a common condition and Milady’s migraines are not on the harsher side.”
Anna’s explanation did not do much to change the atmosphere. The Duke’s silence was frightening.
Around when Anna began to break out in cold sweat, maids came in with a large pail of water and dozens of towels.
“All of you withdraw. I’ll do it myself.” (Hugo)
Hugo lay Lucia down on the bed and removed her nightwear. He dipped the towel in water, squeezed then proceeded to carefully wipe down her sweat-filled body. Her entire body was feverish and the every part he touched felt hot enough to burn.
‘How did you get such a high fever?’
Hugo knew that the prolonged state of unconsciousness while burning with a high fever was dangerous.
According to the doctor, it was a common symptom and nothing to be worried about. But Hugo was angry that he didn’t know about this ‘nothing to be worried about’ symptom.
Every time this happened, Hugo felt like there was an unbreakable wall between them. He hoped that one day, she would open her heart to him but waiting for that day was tedious.
He suppressed his irritation and anxiousness and continued to change the towels to cool down her body.