Chapter 17 An unforeseen visitor that stirs up trouble
It’s been a month since the masquerade ball. I’d been busy preparing to welcome the child into the family.
From baby clothes to underwear, cradles, large quantities of gauzes to cotton cloths, baby bathtubs to bathing agents and so on, the list goes on forever.
I made diapers, bibs, baby towels, baby wraps and the like together with Mother.
It’s been pretty tough but I couldn’t get myself to compromise, so I pricked the needle into the cloth quietly. There’s no better day than this to be glad I learned how to sew from Elke-oneesama.
Midway, we got some help from the newly-hired wet nurse. A baron’s wife by the name of Ilya von Reurink.
While sewing the diapers, I listened to important lessons about parenting from her. It seems her own kid was weaning so she’s been feeding him baby food now. But she’s still producing a lot of milk every day that she’s now in a pickle.
「This happened when I had my first and second born too. It’ll stop in about a year, but it’s tough to reach that point」
「Is that so. Mothers sure have it tough」
「Yeah, that’s true」
It seems she thought it’d be better to become a wet nurse since there was too much milk coming out of her.
Since she was Mother’s acquaintance and had talked about the matter during a tea party, her recruitment was decided right on the spot.
「Now then, Madame, Missus. With this much, I suppose there’s no need to worry, right?」
We had 30 pieces of diapers, 20 bibs, and 10 cotton baby towels.
After that, we knitted socks and hats as well.
The child was still with Keira von Plovak.
Mother told me it was better to take her in quickly since babies become attached but I’ve read in a book that the milk coming from their mother’s right after pregnancy was packed with nutrition that boosts a baby’s immunity. That’s why, partly for the child’s sake, the child was still left under her care.
My evenings turned to studying on parenting as a group. The reason I attach the word “group” was because my husband was there as well. That is to say, we were studying parenting together.
It seems he’s entrusting most of the work to his successor recently so he comes home early and had stopped going along even on their diplomatic trips.
Before our marriage, I’d feel relieved hearing that my husband wasn’t at home a lot, but I recently felt calm knowing my husband was here.
That’s because, an earl’s family had a lot of acquaintances and there were even days when a startling, highly-ranked individual occasionally pays a visit. So at times like these, knowing my husband was here was reassuring.
I still have much to learn in being hospitable to guests.
It seems my husband had gone to see Keira von Plovak and her child today.
「If you’d told me, I would’ve gone with you」
「It’s because I didn’t plan to stay for too long」
「Is that so?」
「Let’s go together again next time, alright?」
It’s not like they were lovers yet I felt my heart clench when I heard he went to see them.
As I was thinking over as to why that was, we’d moved on to next topic at hand.
「Good grief, I was so shocked. The child has her mother’s exact eyes and His Majesty’s nose and lips」
「Isn’t it bad if they look alike」
Well, it appears it wasn’t a problem as long as the traits of both her mother and father were combined. I was thinking from the bottom of my heart how great it was that she didn’t look like either one of them.
「Come to think of it, what did you say to His Highness regarding Keira von Plovak’s child?」
「I told him it was the viscount’s, of course. He doesn’t know about the divorce」
It seems His Highness had suspected that the child inside Keira von Plovak was his since, naturally, they had intercourse.
I hear my husband brought a different child as a fake and made it appear that that was the child she conceived.
That baby had inherited the Weigand traits completely. It seems he purposely brought back a Weigand baby that was conceived at the exact same period.
Thanks to his maneuvering, His Highness was convinced that the child wasn’t his.
「I’m so glad, he obediently got deceived」
「I find you frightening」
With a smile still on his face, my husband inclined his head. It seems he doesn’t realize his capacity to terrify.
「I’m sure I wouldn’t notice even if you lied to me」
「I wouldn’t lie to you, Hermina-sama」
「Is that really so? I think you’re the type to tell white lies」
When I said this, my husband looked stupefied.
「Is that how I appear？」
It’s not like white lies were a bad thing, I pondered.
Not everyone had the capacity to take in the whole truth.
When I think about it, sometimes lies were necessary.
My husband described me as 「a marvel」.
I decided to return those same words exactly as it was back at my husband.
A few days counting down to us picking up the child, a situation occurred.
His Highness Augusto abruptly came to visit.
My husband was away due to work. Even Mother was out.
It was a situation where I had to face the opponent alone.
What on earth was he here for?
According to the butler, it seems His Highness came to visit me.
I headed to the guest room filled with trepidation.
I bent my knee at His Highness who was leisurely sitting down on the couch.
While I was in the middle of doing the long-winded welcome greeting, I was ordered to ”just sit down already”.
Even though I was a little miffed, he wasn’t someone I could talk back to so I replied with a smile and obediently did as he said.
After he’d interrupted me, His Highness had elegantly sipped his tea.
Since we basically can’t initiate a discussion with royalty, I could only stare at him and wait.
It’s been a while since I last saw him but His Highness still looked like a high-strung, difficult to approach individual.
Having never exchanged words outside of greeting up till now, I’m getting curious as to just what he came here to talk about.
His Highness placed the cup on the saucer soundlessly and placed it on top of the table.
And then, he stared hard at me.
「I’ll cut to the chase. My bad since it’s sudden, but break up with Erich」
I wound up asking him to repeat what he said with an unintentionally sharp tone.
He remained silent and looked at me like he was scowling intently, so with a 「would you mind saying that once more?」, I distinctly made my request.
「Like I said, break up with Erich」
For the second time, I wound up raising my voice sharply again.
His Highness Augusto told me to divorce my husband.
To promptly scrap the vow I made in front of God was something inconceivable.
When I asked why he’d ever ask me that, he told me something ridiculous.
「Because of you, Erich’s changed. He turned into a fool after he got married」
「A fool? My husband？」
「That’s right. He’s even stopped lecturing me about work and goes home on the dot. He even started talking about his happy love life with you that it’s beyond annoying. It’s so painful to see Erich falling that low」
「That’s… my husband is――」
With His Highness going too far, I ended up trembling.
My husband had served him for so many years, that’s not the way His Highness should be talking about him.
My husband had not turned into a fool, he’s simply watching over His Highness who’d grown into an adult.
Well, there’s nothing I could say about the happy love life part, though. Just what had he been saying in front of royalty?
I returned to topic.
「Your Highness, with all due respect, but you’re mistaken in your perception」
「You really are a despicable woman. I bet you’ve been commenting just like that on every little thing you didn’t like about Erich and bossed him around, didn’t you?」
「What did you say！？」
「I’ve been hearing since way back that uncle’s youngest daughter was so aggressive that no one would take her as their bride」
I was at a loss for words after he said that. I was unaware that people said that about me. Nevertheless, it wasn’t in me to feel down and start sobbing uncontrollably.
「That… Who’s been saying this?」
「Who knows. It just happened to hear someone talking about it」
Unfortunately, I couldn’t grab the trail of the criminal who’d been speaking ill about me.
But that rumour had some bearing to it.
Had I been an ordinary aristocratic lady, my marriage should’ve been settled by my sixteenth to eighteenth year.
At that time, I was coming close to becoming twenty years old. Marriageable age had long past by.
My father had told me 「I don’t want to hand you over since you’re too cute」, but I can easily imagine it’s because he’d simply been turned down by the people he’d proposed my marriage to.
In those days, I’d obediently believed my father’s words.
But once I got married and started being able to see myself objectively, I began to notice the small changes in me.
「――Hey, are you listening?」
「Yes, of course」
I got lost in thought in front of His Highness.
But, it’s only natural. To suddenly be pressed for a divorce, there’s a limit to rudeness.
「There’s not going to be a problem if you do it before you have kids」
「You concern is unnecessary」
「What did you say?」
Looking straight at His Highness, I stated this clearly.
「I don’t have the slightest intention of divorcing my husband」