Remarried Empress - Chapter 10
Chapter 10 – I Can’t Believe He’s Doing This To Me (1)
“Nonsense! Why should the Empress provide a lady-in-waiting for the concubine!”
The ladies-in-waiting who heard my story shouted angrily . Countess Eliza, who suffered from high blood pressure, rubbed her hands behind her neck while Viscountess Verdi fanned her and spoke in a soothing voice .
“Thank goodness Laura is not here . She is a fiery young woman and would act unbecomingly . ”
I sat immobile and hadn’t said a word, and the ladies gave me a nervous look .
“What are you going to do, Your Majesty?”
“Are you really going to find her a lady-in-waiting?”
“No one stepped forward when the Emperor’s secretaries searched for one . ”
I sighed .
“I wish I could say no…but he gave me a direct order himself . ”
All the ladies had tears of indignation, but there was no other suitable way . I sighed again .
A lady-in-waiting was usually of similar or lower rank than the noblewoman she was serving, but Rashta was not a noble at all . In this case, it would be appropriate to find one of the fallen or the lower nobles…but that posed a problem as many of them could not get to the palace . I considered it over for another moment before turning to Countess Eliza .
“We should start looking nearby, so please send an invitation to the young ladies and women in the capital . ”
“Yes, Your Majesty . ”
“A tea party with all the noblewomen?”
Rashta’s eyes rounded .
“Are you sure?”
Cherily, the maid who had given her the news, answered with “I told you already!”
“It’s hosted by the Empress . You can’t even imagine how grand it is . All the ladies of the capital have been gathering in the palace for hours . The invitations were sent out yesterday . ”
” …What about Rashta?”
“Ah! Even if you are not a noble, Miss Rashta, you’re still a person of His Majesty the Emperor…this really is a shame . ”
Rashta’s mouth turned downwards and her shoulders sagged .
“I thought so . The palace seemed to be noisy all day long…”
“The Empress is being unfair . She skipped the banquet because of New Year’s Day, but now she’s having a party that excludes Miss Rashta . ”
Tea parties and banquets differed in size and expectations of guests, but to Cherily and Rashta, who did not know about this, a party was a party, and to them it was unfair that Rashta was not invited .
Rashta pushed the floor with her toes and fell back onto her bed .
“Rashta must be hated… ”
“The Empress is just jealous because the Emperor loves you . ”
“Why don’t you dress up and go to the palace, too?”
“But Rashta wasn’t invited…?”
“Is the Empress the only one that lives here? This is Rashta’s home too . ”
The two maids took turns thinking up a plan, but Rashta shook her head and pulled the covers over herself .
“No . They don’t want me . ”
The maids’ eyes watered sympathetically .
“Poor Miss Rashta…”
Although only noblewomen were invited, the number of guests exceeded my expectations as women of high or low rank attended . I didn’t even know the names or faces of some of them, as they rarely made appearances in society .
The garden boasted a spread of puddings, jellies, and chocolates so that everyone could walk around and eat . At first, everyone seemed a little surprised to see a buffet layout at a tea party, but soon they were laughing and talking among themselves in amusement . When the time came, I called for their attention .
“His Majesty the Emperor has asked me to provide a lady-in-waiting for his concubine, Miss Rashta . Because it has to be before New Year’s Day, I cannot search far away for one . Is there anyone of your acquaintance who would want to be a companion for Miss Rashta?”
I did not directly say, “Who among you wants to be Miss Rashta’s lady-in-waiting?” Although the standards were lower than usual, those who lived in the capital city still had a certain amount of pride in their position . The nobles of the capital were not higher than the nobles of the provinces either, and there would be no one who would want to take the position below a commoner concubine . And so I chose my words carefully .
I finished and waited for someone to come forward . The women and young ladies exchanged glances, shaking their heads or shrugging their shoulders . Silence gripped the air . After an uncomfortable pause, Lady Alischute, Laura’s best friend, cautiously spoke up .
“Y-Your Majesty . This has been the talk for days, but…please don’t tell the Emperor what I’m about to say . You musn’t . ”
“You may speak, Lady Alischute . ”
“Isn’t it rumored that she is a runaway slave? Someone may want to serve her even if she is a commoner, except if the rumors are true instead…everyone is reluctant . ”
The other ladies nodded, putting in their own word or two .
“One will not be able to carry face if they become the lady-in-waiting of a runaway slave, Your Majesty . ”
“Even if there was someone suitable for the position, they’ll end up getting slapped after that rumor . ”
“To be the lady-in-waiting is not an honor, but an insult and a punishment . ”
The gossip seemed to have spread widely in society . The noblewomen hesitated before they asked me, “Is the rumor true, Your Majesty?”
I told them Sovieshu’s answer . She was a commoner who was injured by him on accident .
In the evening, the ladies all returned to their homes and I went back to the palace . Tonight I would have dinner with Sovieshu, and I had better inform him that I was unable to find a lady-in-waiting for Rashta .
To my surprise, there was no food on the dining table . Sovieshu was already seated . I looked down at the empty table, discomfited, and Sovieshu spoke to me in a calm voice .
“I heard the Empress summoned all the ladies and ate snacks for hours . I was worried that you would be full, and so I did not have the table set tonight . ”
“…That’s true . ”
“I can eat with Rashta, so don’t worry . ”
“What about Rashta’s lady-in-waiting? Have you found one?”
“I called all the women and young ladies, but none offered to serve, Your Majesty . ”
Sovieshu frowned .
“Yes . ”
“Then there must be a reason . ”
“The issue is not money . ”
“What does that mean?”
If I spoke about the rumor that Rashta was a runaway slave, I would be betraying the trust of the other noblewomen . Lady Alischute had asked me to keep it a secret, and so I did not speak a single word of it .
“It’s only my assumption, but with the New Year’s preparations going on, I don’t think anyone wants to take care of anyone else for now . They would be twice as busy . ”
Sovieshu pondered for a moment then spoke in a half playful voice .
“Did the Empress say something strange when she called the noblewomen?”
Although he was pretending to be amused, there was a sharp under bite to his tone .
“Of course not . I do not know anything about your concubine, but I wouldn’t say anything strange . ”
“People say things despite not knowing anything . ”
“That is true . But there are some people that doubt their partner without hearing or seeing anything for themselves…”
A flash of guilt crossed Sovieshu’s face at the implied meaning of my words . We looked at each other in silence .
“If that’s what you say, then I won’t doubt you . ”
It was Sovieshu that backed down first .
“I don’t doubt you either . ”
I stepped down too, and Sovieshu smiled and looked at me reassuringly .
“I was just asking, so don’t be offended . ”
I was already offended, but if I fought openly with the Emperor I would lose . I concealed my crumpled pride, but nausea ran through my body .
I gave him a mechanical smile and stood up from my seat .
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