< — Epilogue– > (2)
After summer ended, the cool autumn wind began to flow in. When it reached the month of the Duchess’ due date, the ducal residence went into full-scale preparation for the delivery.
The Royal palace sent a skilled doctor, a seasoned midwife who had delivered royal descendants for decades, and assistants. As the number of residents in the mansion grew, the extensive ducal residence felt crowded.
Everyone’s attention was focused on the Duchess. They were in a state of alert, waiting for the signs of the labor pains that could come at any moment.
Nowadays, Lucia was unable to be alone, anywhere. She felt uncomfortable being watched intently all day, but she endured it when she thought of the baby.
Lucia put her teacup down, held her stomach and frowned. Starting from a few days ago, her stomach felt stiff and her lower belly ached softly. However, since she woke up this morning, a tingling pain climbing up her waist came frequently. It came earlier and now it started again.
“Are you having pain?”
The midwife checked the hourglass by the window. The intervals were still far apart but they were regular.
“I think the labor is starting. Please escort the Madam to the bedroom.”
Suddenly, everyone began to move frantically. Jerome, who was serving the tea, blanched white. He blankly watched the maids help the Madam out of the receiving room, then he regained his sensed with a start. He remembered the first thing he had to do. He moved to inform his master of this news.
* * *
A carriage dashed into the ducal residence. Before the servant could open the doors from the outside, Hugo opened it personally and jumped out of the carriage.
Jerome sent a messenger to the palace to inform Hugo, but at the time, Hugo was in an important national conference. Two hours had already passed when he got the news after the meeting.
Hugo flew up the stairs, burst open the door to the bedroom, then he suddenly stopped. The bedroom was quiet, and when his wife saw him, she smiled sweetly at him from her spot on the bed.
Hugo approached her bed with confusion; he had run home, prepared to face a pandemonium.
“You’ve given birth?”
Pfft. Lucia burst out laughing and the people standing around, waiting on her, turned their heads away to laugh. Lucia gestured for everyone to leave and they emptied the room.
“They say it’s still starting. Mysteriously enough, I’ll be fine one moment, then the next, my stomach suddenly hurts a lot. And then I’m fine again.”
“If it is the start…how long will it take?”
“The midwife said that because it is my first delivery, it will take a long time. The baby will probably be born by tomorrow.”
She looked relaxed and carefree. He had been worried about the delivery since he had a vague concept of it, but if it was like this, then it was no big deal. As soon as Hugo thought that, Lucia grabbed her stomach in pain and curled her body.
She couldn’t even speak, her face had gone white and she was breathing hard. Seeing his wife like this, blood drained from Hugo’s face. He was thrown into disorder, fluttered around like a confused mess, then he screamed at the door.
“Is anyone outside?!”
The door opened, and people flooded in. The midwife quickly came to the bed. She began to stroke Lucia’s back and advise Lucia on how to breathe. As Lucia followed the midwife’s instruction, taking in deep breaths and exhaling, her expression gradually relaxed.
Although only a short period of time passed, beads of sweat had formed on Lucia’s forehead.
When Lucia finally settled down, the people waiting on her withdrew again. The bedroom became quiet again as if the commotion from earlier was a lie. Hugo felt helpless because he couldn’t do anything but just watch.
“Now I’ll be fine again for a bit. It comes regularly.”
He wanted to ask his wife, who was smiling sweetly as if nothing had happened: How could she smile like that after feeling such terrible pain, even if it was just for a moment?
‘She had to undergo this process until tomorrow?’
He was already stunned silly.
However, the situation worsened beyond his expectations. The labor intervals became shorter, the pain grew more severe, and from around midnight, Lucia began to scream while holding her belly and rolling around.
Hugo couldn’t ask her if she was okay. She was obviously not okay!
As Hugo listened to his wife scream, he grasped onto the midwife.
“She will get really hurt like this. Do something.”
“This is the process of entering childbirth.”
“She could die at this rate!”
“With Your Grace the Duke being restless here, the Madam cannot concentrate.”
The midwife completely chased out the Duke who was pestering her. Hugo was kicked out under the pretext of it being done for the Madam’s sake, and he was unable to utter any complaints.
Staring at the firmly closed bedroom door and listening to the screams coming from within, Hugo’s face was as pale as someone standing at death’s door. He would later remember this as the worst night of his life.