Remarried Empress - Chapter 2
Chapter 2 – Early Signs Of An Affair (1)
“Other things to talk about? Your Majesty, I did not suggest anything unusual . As the owner of the Imperial Palace, I am only asking if you brought in an injured woman . It’s never happened before . ”
Was I overdoing it? I had my usual tone and gentle smile on my lips . I spoke casually in order not to appear overbearing, as if discussing the New Year’s Day preparations .
Sovieshu looked markedly uneasy, however . He seemed to want to avoid the topic as much as possible, and the atmosphere became increasingly uncomfortable .
“Are you asking because you’re only curious?”
Sovieshu looked at me suspiciously, and I blinked at him .
“I wouldn’t be asking if I wasn’t curious . ”
“She was accidentally caught in one of my traps, and I brought her here so she could be treated . She’s not too injured, so I’ve had her put in a room with a maid to look after her . ”
“…I see . ”
“Don’t worry . I won’t call your ladies-in-waiting again . ”
Sovieshu resumed cutting his steak, the knife cracking like a woodpecker and echoing in the dining room . He usually had so much to talk about, but this time he remained silent .
“What did His Majesty say?”
When I returned to the west palace after dinner, a group of my ladies-in-waiting who were gathered in my room anxiously approached me .
“He…he didn’t say much . ”
Countess Eliza’s eyebrows lifted at my lukewarm answer . She didn’t seem to believe me .
“Then you would not be so sullen . ”
“It’s alright . Talk to us, Your Majesty . That way we can be prepared . ”
“He said the woman was accidentally caught in one of his traps . There was no mention of her being a runaway slave or anything like that…”
Come to think of it, I didn’t even get a name .
“He said he was taking care of her, and he seemed unhappy to keep talking about it . ”
As soon as I finished, Laura stamped her foot with a resounding thud . The other more genteel ladies gave her a look, but Laura was already pouting and not paying attention to them .
“Your Majesty, do you know that’s exactly what my father was doing at the beginning of his affair?”
Laura raised her voice and Countess Eliza said her name in warning . Laura, however, had already gone this far and wouldn’t stop .
“That’s what it looks like . Those are exactly the early signs of an affair . Why wouldn’t he want to talk about it?”
The ladies scolded Laura for talking too bluntly, but they did not deny her words .
Countess Eliza finally took it upon herself to shoo the ladies out when I was looking depressed, then sat me in front of the dressing table and started combing my hair .
“The Emperor is a man who likes to hunt . He is doing this because it must seem like a miracle to him to find a beautiful woman caught in his trap . ”
“Countess . ”
“Yes, Your Majesty . ”
“Before…my mother told me . Even if the Emperor takes another woman as his lover, I should not let myself be hurt . There are so many cases like that, and I shouldn’t expect it to be any different . ”
The middle of Countess Eliza’s forehead creased . Countess Eliza had a rare marriage of love to her husband, and to such a person, my mother’s advice might sound ridiculous .
I continued .
“I didn’t say this in front of the other ladies, but I am a little prepared . Even if the Emperor welcomes a slave woman as his concubine . ”
“But when he doesn’t speak to me…I feel a little down . ”
Countess Eliza set the comb down on the dresser . I looked up at her and asked her honestly .
“Whether he has ten or a hundred concubines, they’re still concubines and I’m the empress . He and I never loved each other to the point that we would die for each other…so theoretically, we should still be fine . Yet why do I feel so empty?”
Countess Eliza reached out to embrace my head and shoulders . She held me still for a moment, then withdrew before speaking .
“Even though yours is a political marriage, you’ve been together since you were children up until marriage . It’s no surprise that you’re upset . I would feel the same if my child were to bring someone else in as their foster parent . I would feel upset if my parents took another child and favored them because they were more beautiful . And I would feel upset if my best friend brought someone else in and was more friendly to them . It’s a natural emotion . ”
“Then would the Emperor feel that way if I had another man next to me?”
Countess Eliza picked up the comb and started brushing my hair again, and I took her silence as a “no . ” After a moment, she finally spoke .
“To be honest, I don’t know, Your Majesty . The more powerful your love is, the harder it is to look around . ”
So I had no choice but to deal with my heartbreak by myself . I forced myself to smile .
“I see . I’m sure I’ll feel better soon . She and I won’t have to meet each other…”
“Yes . Even if the slave becomes a concubine, she still cannot enter into high society . ”
Being a slave didn’t mean one couldn’t rise in status . It was also the case for the innocent who became slaves due to collective punishment caused by their family members . Every year, the country restored a certain number of slaves to commoner status, but it was never the case for a runaway slave .
Being a slave meant that one had a life sentence for some crime they committed . Because a runaway slave escaped without paying the price, they were considered the same as an escaped prisoner . An extra charge of guilt was added, and a runaway slave was considered the dregs of society to aristocrats . No matter how much Sovieshu lavished the woman, there was no opportunity for her to debut in high society or for me to run into her . I nodded my head and gathered myself .
Yes, Countess Eliza . It was natural that I felt empty when someone who had been my husband for a long time had a sudden interest in another lover .
But I couldn’t get more emotional now . No matter if he had another woman, he couldn’t cut me off . There was only one Empress in this empire after all .
“The Emperor goes to see the slave day after day?”
“I heard he even brings her food himself . ”
“He’s acting so calm too . The audacity . ”
“He even called a court doctor to treat her leg . ”
There were voices whispering between the bushes . Although the Imperial Palace gardens had flowering walls higher than one’s head, I could still hear the gossip that filtered through . I designed this garden myself, and deliberately placed a nest-shaped swing chair in an area not frequented by many . It was like my secret place . I didn’t bring my ladies-in-waiting here, and so people said things aloud without them noticing me .
‘About a week has passed…’
I closed my book and placed it on my lap . As Sovieshu’s interest in the slave woman grew, so did the stories . Everyone’s attention was on the woman who managed to capture the Emperor’s interest . Wasn’t it fortunate that she and I never ran into each other?
The next time I had dinner with Sovieshu, I didn’t ask about her . I instead I acted as if nothing had happened, and brought up the New Year’s preparations .
I decided to compromise at this point in time . Ignorance . Pretend I didn’t know .
But coincidence came out of nowhere and confronted me .
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