RotFK Ch. 76 There’s Trouble (2)
After listening to Margaret’s account, Elena was livid. The rumors were incredibly detailed, as if someone made every effort into it. Perhaps Elena had been followed for quite some time, as the story was perfectly crafted to her movements. Even to Elena’s ears the rumors sounded plausible.
In reality she had only left once in the middle of the night to visit Carlisle, but now she was branded as a woman who went to see a different man every night. She had done her best to quickly shut down the rumors at Blaise Castle, but Helen had secured several more witnesses–not only Sophie, but a few other servants who had heard the rumor as well.
That wasn’t all.
“And Lady Blaise…there is a man who claims he has bedded you.”
Elena clenched her jaw in order to hold back her surging anger.
‘…I can’t believe this.’
This rumor was more vicious and terrible than the one that first spread in Blaise Castle. Soon this would become a full-blown scandal, with Carlisle painted as another victim of Elena’s seduction. The rumors would be difficult to handle when they planned to be wedded as soon as possible.
‘What should I do?’
She wanted to prove that she had been honestly meeting with Carlisle, but if something went wrong, she might be discovered as his bodyguard Len. Helen may not have intended it, but she had caught Len in a trap as well. For example, it could not be revealed that Elena and Carlisle were at Flower Bridge together. There were many witnesses on the scene, and the only new face in the guard was Len. If Elena recklessly insisted on the story, Helen may notice a strange inconsistency. Elena had to resolve this in a way that was not related to Carlisle.
The hot flames in Elena’s chest seemed to soar, but she tried to temper it with a cool head. For the moment it was more important to handle the matter than to succumb to her anger. If it was not possible to collect spilt water, then it should be cleared away with no trace.
However, a solution did not come to mind. As was the case with gossip in society, words of ill spread faster than words of praise. No matter how much Elena claimed the rumors were false, how much could she really control people’s tongue? It was not easy to restore a bad reputation.
‘…No matter how much I think about it, it’s impossible to resolve.’
She feared the worst. Margaret noted Elena’s hardened expression and gingerly approached her.
“My Lady, are you all right?”
“…Yes. I just don’t know how to handle this.”
“I understand the feeling. I did not want to say this at first, but I had a difficult time after I was accused by Lady Selby. Don’t despair. It will slowly be forgotten over time.”
Margaret’s words may have comforted others, but not Elena. Elena had to marry Carlisle as soon as possible. Emperor Sullivan would die in a few months, and the traitor Paveluc would attempt to take the throne about a year from now. There was little time to be caught up in such rumors. Although Elena couldn’t hide her distress, she was grateful for Margaret’s concern.
“Thank you so much for coming in person to tell me about this, Lady Lawrence.”
“Of course. I was worried that Lady Selby was going to do something, but I didn’t know what. If I didn’t remember what I suffered under her I might’ve been fooled by the rumors too.”
While anyone might have been fooled by the rumors, Margaret had judged it to be a lie in one stroke. Elena thought back to the day of the tea party.
“I should have said back then that you were not the one who put the salt in the tea.”
At the time it didn’t matter to her who was the real culprit. Helen, Sarah and Margaret all planned to give Elena the salty tea, which was Mirabelle almost drank. Elena could not stand that fact. She was even less forgiving then because in her previous life it was Elena who really did end up drinking it.
Margaret waved her hands in protest.
“No! Though Lady Selby was the leader, I followed her as an accomplice. If I were you I would never have forgiven me, but you have a generous heart and for that I am thankful.”
The word “friend” suddenly came to Elena’s mind. In his last life, she had never given this word even to the comrades she fought with. She had no room left in her heart for it after she lost her family, and before that she never left the castle much, thus her relationships never went deeper than perfunctory greetings. She had never been friends with a woman her own age before. Elena’s present situation was not the worst she had experienced, but this emerging connection in her life brought a new warmth.
Elena wore a rare smile that she did not often show to others. Margaret’s eyes widened at the sight. Elena continued in a gentle voice.
Elena saw Margaret off when she finished speaking. Elena didn’t want to spend too long with her when her present situation was still difficult. However, no matter how hard Elena tried, she couldn’t think of a way to put the rumors to rest. There was only one way.
‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’
The way to fight a rumor…was with another rumor. Elena’s red eyes shone like blood.
“Don’t blame me for this, Lady Selby.”
It was she who touched the nose of a sleeping lioness.