RotFK Ch. 116 A Closer Eye (1)
The social scene was dominated with gossip about Carlisle’s and Elena’s marriage announcement. There used to be all kinds of dark rumors about Carlisle’s time on the battlefield, but now he had attracted the interest of many young women since his appearance at the ball. From his love affair with Elena to his sudden marriage announcement, the public’s attention was keenly focused on all the dramatic developments.
Aside from the massive public exposure, there were many smaller happenings in the capital as well. Helen, for example, who had almost been left to dust, had suddenly ascended as the Empress’ lady-in-waiting.
Presently, Margaret was now visiting Blaise mansion.
“I heard about your wedding, Lady Blaise. Congratulations.”
“Thank you. Because of your help at the party I was able to silence the rumors spread by Lady Selby.”
Margaret was abashed by Elena’s humble gratitude.
“Oh, that’s not really because of me. It was when the Crown Prince showed up with the noble’s head that everyone had no choice.”
Though Margaret was nearly frightened to death at that time, she couldn’t help but notice Carlisle’s intense aura of charisma about him.
“At first I thought the Crown Prince was terrifying, but when I looked back…I think he did it all for you, Lady Blaise. I envy that you are so loved.”
“Thank you. You will be even more loved by your husband.”
Margaret gave a shy smile at Elena’s warm words. Since the party, Elena and Margaret had been exchanging letters and had grown close. There were many things that Margaret had to say, but she had to speak of the most important now.
“Are you busy preparing for the wedding? I came here because what I heard about Lady Selby. Do you know about her appointment as the Empress’ lady-in-waiting?”
“Yes, I just found out.”
“I wonder why the Empress would have Lady Selby by her side…I came here because I was worried what will happen now that Lady Selby is in power.”
Elena was also concerned about what further scheming Helen was up to. It really must have been Lady Selby that Mirabelle spotted in the carriage the day they went to the palace.
And if the Empress and Helen really did meet, what would they have talk about? Elena couldn’t shake off her unease.
‘I’ve never met the Empress formally, but somehow I have a feeling of dread.’
She was already on her guard after Carlisle had warned her about the Empress. But even without it, she knew her relationship with the Empress was already troubled for some reason.
“Are you planning to return to the south?”
“Yes. I don’t mind staying in the capital, but there’s not much for me to do here. I’m thinking of returning after your wedding.”
The south wasn’t entirely comfortable for Margaret after all those bad rumors about her, but she had even less peace of mind in the capital with Helen’s ascension as lady-in-waiting. That was why Margaret came to Elena to warn her for the last time before preparing to leave. Although there was less cause for concern with Carlisle by Elena’s side, there were still many spheres of society where men couldn’t get involved. Margaret was worried about Elena being left alone.
Elena sensed the sincerity of Margaret’s heart without her even speaking.
“Lady Lawrence, would you stay in the capital for my sake?”
“What do you mean?”
“As soon as I become crown princess, I would like to appoint you as my first lady-in-waiting.”
It was perhaps the Empress who wielded the greatest power in the Imperial Family, but that didn’t mean the crown princess could be ignored.
The two women in the imperial family were capable of appointing their ladies-in-waiting and granting them permission to freely come and go from the Imperial Palace. Compared to the ladies-in-waiting appointed by the Empress, the ladies-in-waiting appointed by the crown princess could be weaker in power. However, it was not a position that could be overlooked.
Elena planned to create her own circle. She needed a woman of intelligence and a woman of power, and–most importantly–a woman she could trust. Capricious types could not be depended on, no matter how competent they were. Amid the fierce political battles of the Imperial Court, Elena needed someone to be on her side more than anyone else.
But trust wasn’t easy to find, and Elena’s future was a stake. For a while now, she had considered making Margaret her first lady-in-waiting.
“When you become a crown princess, many ladies will want to follow you. I’m only a countess, so how can I…”
“I don’t need strangers. I wish for Lady Lawrence to be by my side. You are simple and kind and have more heart than anyone else, and I admire that.”
Margaret’s eyes rounded at those unexpected words. Although House Lawrence was a well-to-do family, Margaret did not get along much with others because of her stammer and passive personality. She was satisfied when Helen, with her smile and cunning charm around people, tolerate her and kept her around. Even though Margaret was still ignored, it was better than before.
Elena was the first person to express her appreciation for Margaret’s character and say, “I want you to be by my side.” Margaret was so moved that tears began to overflow from her eyes.
Elena was alarmed at Margaret’s sudden tears and hurriedly took a tissue from the table and handed it to her. Instead of taking it however, Margaret clasped Elena’s hand and swallowed thickly.
“Heug, Lady Blaise. I-I’m so touched. No one has ever said that to me before. Even if a man proposes to me in the future, I won’t be as happy as I am now.”
“Don’t say that. Please don’t cry.”
Elena couldn’t help but feel embarrassed that she had reduced Margaret to tears. That was even more warmly reflected in Margaret’s eyes, causing her to sobbingly choke even more.
“Thank you, Lady Blaise.”
“Oh, don’t cry.”
Elena hurried to wipe away the traces of her weeping, but it hardly stopped. For Margaret, this was the first time anyone had reached out to her this way.
After a long cry, Margaret dabbed her eyes and smiled a smile brighter than had ever been.
“I’ll stay in the capital. When you become a princess, I’ll work harder for you than anyone else. You will never regret making me your first imperial lady-in-waiting.”
Because of Margaret’s sudden outburst of crying, Elena was surprised at the boldness of her answer. Elena could feel that Margaret’s sincerity was true, however, and so she returned a gentle smile. Just like before, Elena truly felt that Margaret was her first friend. A friend who would hopefully stay with her for a long time.
“Thank you very much, Lady Lawrence.”
“There’s nothing to thank me for, Lady Blaise. Being a lady-in-waiting of the Imperial Court is a great honor to me. My father will be very happy.”
“Then I’m glad. Let’s work hard in the future.”
Elena and Margaret smiled warmly at each other.