“Crazy? Why would you say something like that all of a sudden?”
“Jane was my guest. How could you take her to that living room? Besides, how did her fair, pretty face get so swollen? How could you embarrass me to such an extent?”
“I told you already. Jane was the one who acted discourteously.”
“How discourteous could she have been for you to slap her?”
“She deserved to get slapped. She told me she’d gift me a perfumed oil that you like. As if she had shared a bed with you before. I was thinking of informing the statesmen, but I decided to settle it out by myself.”
Theodore repeatedly opened and closed his mouth as if to protest something, but couldn’t think of an appropriate word.
Well, that was true. What more could he say?
As Rachel had said, it was quite fortunate that it only ended with a slap on the cheek.
Taking Jane to the statesmen was Theodore’s worst case scenario.
‘How dare you invite a commoner to your house? Even if you undermine the authority of noblemen, it’s still unacceptable!’
There were many nobles who committed infidelity, but bringing their affairs home was a different story.
The statesmen nobles, who were caught cheating, would punish Jane and Theodore more harshly to hide their own shame.
Theodore repeatedly opened his mouth like a carp before choking out an apology.
“Uh… um. I didn’t realize she was such an ill-mannered person. I’ll make sure she never comes back to this house again.”
How nice to hear.
“I’d appreciate it if you could do that.”
“I’ve been so busy with work that I’ve been a mess. I didn’t properly check Jane’s background.”
“It seems so. You have been coming home late nowadays, is it because you’re busy with work?”
“Yes. I’ve been busy with the preparations for the Emperor’s birthday banquet.”
“If you’re busy at work, why don’t you set up temporary accommodations near your workplace until your preparations are finished? I’m afraid your health will deteriorate like this.”
‘Then you won’t have to see my face, which you don’t wish to see anyways.’
Theodore brightened noticeably at Rachel’s words.
“Should I? Can I do that?”
“Of course, you can.”
“Hahaha! Thank you so much. I had considered this before, but I was afraid you’d hate that so I decided against it. I thought you’d want me to come home, regardless of how late I was.”
“Mother-in-law would probably hate it more than I do. Don’t forget that your mother has decided to come visit the mansion in a few days.”
“It’s fine. I can just pretend to be at the mansion when mother arrives. I need find out if there’s any good accommodations near my workplace as soon as possible.”
‘Please have a great time and don’t come near the mansion unless you absolutely need to,’ Rachel thought as she headed towards the bedroom with a light heart.
* * * * * * *
When she woke up the next morning, Theodore was already gone.
Carl, the butler greeted Rachel with a rounded monocle and keen eyes.
He was always at Theodore’s beck and call, helping him to leave the house with ease.
“Good morning, Madam.”
“Yes, Carl. Good morning to you too. How is Graham?”
“He just finished his breakfast and is playing at the moment.”
“No. He is playing with a different maid.”
How terrible of her. Rachel didn’t see her when Jane was here yesterday either. She was probably taking a nap once again.
“It’s good that she isn’t taking care of Graham at the moment. I do have something to tell Marsha. Call her to the living room.”
She would probably get up in a hurry and run over.
Rachel struggled to lower the corner of her lips, which had gone up, almost forming a smirk.
Carl stared at her face and asked politely, “… Alright. What other plans do you have scheduled for today?”
Rachel yawned loudly, touching her messy hair. She pretended to be drowsy, tired and absent-minded.
“Hmm… What should I do today? Well, I’ll have breakfast first, finish the novel I was reading yesterday, and… Oh! I want to go to the guild. Please get a carriage ready.”
Rachel could see the nervousness in Carl’s eyes even with the monocle on.
He knew just as well that it was a place to buy and sell information and services. Definitely not a place for a Countess to go in and out of.
In the original story, Rachel had visited the guild after she had found out about Theodore’s cheating. She had gone there to get someone to tail her husband.
“It’s a place where rugged folks gather. It’s too dangerous for you to go there, Madam.”
“Is it? But it’ll be my wedding anniversary soon. I want to prepare a special present. Something Theo cannot get from just anywhere.”
“Then I will call someone who works at the guild to the mansion.”
“Really? Could you do that? Then that’s fine with me.”
“I’ll have him come to the mansion by the end of the day.”
“Thank you, Carl,” Rachel said, smiling brightly.
Carl lowered his shoulders and nodded in relief.
“Then I believe you’re not leaving the residence today.” Carl bowed stiffly and left the room.
After organizing her messy hair and clothes, she made her way to the living room.
It was time to scold Marsha.
Rachel waited for a while before Marsha finally entered the room.
It was obvious that she had prepared herself in a hurry, but she showed no signs of nervousness.
It was because Rachel and Marsha met frequently to talk about Graham.
“You called for me, Ma’am.”
“I’ll go straight to the point, Marsha. Where were you last night?”
“I was with Young Master Graham last night.”
Seeing the way she lied so calmly, she really was shameless.
“Then what did you do this morning?”
“I overslept because the young master kept me up with his whining all night.”
It made Rachel mad that she could have made up a different excuse, but chose to use Graham instead.
She wasn’t just looking down upon Graham but Rachel as well.
She tapped the armrest of the sofa with her fingers. “Marsha. I’m really angry right now.”
“Ma’am? What do you mean by that…”
“You went to a gathering. Yesterday and the day before.”
Marsha’s face turned pale.
Every night, Marsha went to a small social meeting.
Just as middle-aged men gathered in a salon to talk, it was a place where middle-aged women like Marsha sat, chatted, and shared food.
The problem was…
“Apparently, you’re setting an example? You’re the first one to arrive and also the last one to leave, listening to people’s worries, comforting them and cleaning up afterwards. The meeting is called… Solace Association.”
“H-How did you…”
How did I find out? She was being suspicious by using the back door at night so Rachel followed her and discovered the truth.
“Is how I found out important? What’s important is why that association makes me annoyed. Do you understand why I’m angry now?”
“Someone like you, who speaks so fluently, is suddenly at a loss for words. I have no choice, then. I’ll tell you why I’m angry. First of all, the fact that a worker of this residence was away without her employer’s permission, and even left before Graham, her charge, fell asleep.”
Rachel calmly continued to talk as she watched Martha tremble, “You were carrying food made in the mansion with both of your hands full. The teacup and tableware used at the association looked quite familiar too. Due to comforting people until dawn, you overslept. Just like today.”
“Did I say I was done talking? You cursed at Graham, who was nice and sweet because you couldn’t steal enough while on duty. You deceived me so many times, just like you’re trying to do now. To hide the fact that you were away, you continued to lie and whine about work being difficult and even asked me to pay you more money.”
In the beginning, Marsha didn’t have bad intentions.
Seeing as the name is Solace Association, she probably wanted to take care of people with difficult and lonely lives. Perhaps she gained energy from helping others.
However, it was only fair that she got punished for neglecting her work, stealing food and goods, and lying in order to receive more money.
Marsha, who had only been trembling, muttered after a long time, “…Ma’am.”
“Yeah, tell me everything. I’ll give you a chance to make an excuse.”
“I’ve devoted so much to the Elosa family. How can you do this to me?”
Rachel narrowed her eyes.
Marsha’s voice became even more powerful, “You’re accusing me of so much without any evidence, that’s too mean. I’m innocent. Ma’am, I don’t know where and what you’ve heard, but I never stole a thing or lied.”
“Marsha. Don’t do this. Just honestly admit your wrongdoings and apologize. I won’t punish you if you put the stolen tableware and items back in place. I’ve given you enough money, so think of it as a severance pay and leave quietly.”
“This is too unfair! You’re threatening to fire me for something I didn’t even do, and ask me to return something I didn’t take!”
She sighed and rested a hand on her forehead.
Did she have to show evidence after all?
“Remember, I did give you a chance.”
Rachel got up from my seat and approached the box she left on one side of the living room.
Inside it was an object found near the old house where the Solace association’s meetings took place.
After Rachel got out the box, put it on the table, and opened the lock, she heard a knock on the door.
“Madam, it’s Carl. I brought in the guild’s informant that I mentioned earlier.”
Marsha began to look ghastly pale.
Commoners like Marsha knew better about what guilds and guild informants did.
The guild did not consider status when exchanging requests.
The guild was not a place where talented commoners made small pocket money against other commoners or nobles.
Tailing, in particular, was something anyone could do if they had time even without much talent.
It was a very popular request because it paid well for the efforts it took.
“M-Ma’am… Did you put a tail on me?”
Rachel didn’t put a tail on her, instead she followed Marsha herself.
She couldn’t lie, so she didn’t answer.
She didn’t know the presence of the guild’s informant would be so helpful at that moment.
“Carl, let the informant in.”
“M-Ma’am! Ma’am! I’m sorry!”
Only then did Marsha lay flat on the floor, perhaps convinced Rachel had evidence.
“I told you to admit your faults and apologize, Marsha. I didn’t want to punish the person who took care of Graham.”
She lightly threw out the things that were in the box.
A promotional paper with the logo of the Solace association and Marsha’s name fluttered and fell on the floor.
A small glass rolled over and stopped in front of Marsha.
It was an expensive glass with the signs of the Elosa family engraved in an unnoticed place just in case it got stolen.
Only the person who made the tableware, the person who took care of it, the appraiser, and a member of the family could recognize the mark.
After confirming the evidence, Marsha lowered her head and just in time, the door opened. A young man covered by a black cape walked into the living room.
“I came immediately after receiving the call. I’m Arias, an informant of the guild.”
Rachel got up from her seat and approached the man, but soon stopped walking and frowned.
Arias was the pseudonym used when Sian, the father of the original female lead, Dolorosa and the only Grand Duke of the empire, traveled in disguise.
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