‘I assumed it was only gossip when I heard about them.’
Charlotte was pretty much well informed of the rumors circulating about the capital as she was frequently visited by the ladies who hoped to curry favor with her. And of them, there were the voluble ones who were always in good spirits, enough to make the rumor up out of whole cloth.
It’s most likely been more than a month since she had first learned of the rumor in passing, about the changes in the marital relationship between the king and the Queen, which she obviously considered only as a groundless rumor.
But as similar rumors came into her hearing progressively, she had loosely surmised that the rumor might be true indeed. However, it had failed to arouse her interest so as to make her want to ascertain the truth of the rumor herself.
Charlotte had a tendency to keep herself aloof from those who don’t fall under her category of interest. And despite bringing losses in its train, she still rather chose not to associate with those who she doesn’t see fit for her company.
If only Charlotte had tried to ingratiate herself with the Queen, she surely could have maintained a close relationship with the Queen as her closest associate without doubt. The Queen had shown her interest in Charlotte’s background as her mother’s side of the family had a good reputation in the Holy City.
However, Charlotte took no interest in neither flaunting nor abusing someone else’s authority. And if she had her tastes in power, then she wouldn’t have married Verus in the first place. As a Chancellor, Verus was now known as a man of power but at the time when they were just about to get married, he was neither an heir nor he was to be inherited with a large sum of family fortune.
From Charlotte’s perspective, the Queen was someone who she wanted to keep back from leaving all personal interests aside. So, after keeping the Queen at her arms length, it was not long before she was given a cold shoulder.
And as a result, she had not been receiving her occasional invitations to the gatherings since last year. However, Charlotte cared not a fig for all the gossip that was spoken behind her back.
But the curiosity of hers, which was first aroused from the Lark tree incident, had indeed turned to a great interest after her meet up with the Queen in the gathering, which she was invited to not very long ago.
So far, there never once was a time when her bad impression on someone had alternated with a good impression. However, she was truly astonished by the fact she did not find her encounter with the Queen to be offensive in the slightest, when she had met with her a few days ago. It was almost as if she was a different woman.
Although Charlotte wouldn’t have hesitated to refuse the Queen’s invitation in the past, she had rather gladly accepted her invitation this time at the thought that this could be a great occasion for her to keep a close eye on the Queen.
Charlotte had also ascertained the rumor about the king and the Queen to be true indeed from the very sight which she had witnessed with her own eyes a little while ago, as soon as she was brought to the terrace by a servant.
She was right in time to spot the moment when their intimate conversation, face only an inch apart, fell to a kiss. The affection she saw in their exchanging gaze was truthfully sincere without any doubt.
‘I can’t believe he was ignorant of such a significant matter.’
Charlotte clicked her tongue in annoyance of Verus’s tactlessness.
With Eugene trying to overcome her embarrassment and Charlotte lost in her thoughts, they stood in silence for a while until refreshments were brought in by the servant and Eugene offered Charlotte tea.
“Help yourself to some tea.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”
“I believe you have a boy of six if I am not mistaken. Is he coming along as well?”
“No, Your Majesty. As he is still too young for such a long trip.”
“Isn’t this his first time being apart from his mother for so long? It must be upsetting for him to see you off.”
Charlotte smiled at the thought of her young son who had wished for her safety throughout the long trip with such maturity, in contrast to his father who had been whiny all along if she really intended to be away for such a long time, leaving him alone in the capital.
“I hope I am not troubling you with my sudden notion. By putting you on such a tight schedule before a long trip ahead.”
“Not at all, Your Majesty. An arrangement for one wouldn’t be very time consuming and in fact, as I have lessened my worries on safety throughout the journey, I don’t think I will ever find another trip that would make me feel so eased at heart on departure. I feel none other than excitement to visit my parents for the first time in a long while.”
“I am very glad to hear that. That reminds me, what is the purpose of your visit today?”
“Pardon me, Your Majesty. I have wished to see you to give my concerns on the travel routes we’ll be taking to the Holy City. From what I have noticed, I regret that the newest paths which could bring us more convenience on our journey have failed to be reflected in full.”
“Is that true? I shall bring it into light then.”
“If I may, I have put together my findings for Your Majesty to have a quick look through.”
Eugene flipped through the pages of the thin notebook which she was handed over from Charlotte. The pages contained partially traced references of a map with simple descriptions written in such fine handwriting, making them easily understandable even to Eugene who was unfamiliar with geography. Like husband, like wife, Eugene thought, as she was simply stunned by her work.
Eugene asked questions to further grasp on the idea and gladly accepted the note from Charlotte.
“This would be of great help to us.”
“I only hope my nosiness is not causing you any unnecessary troubles, Your Majesty.”
“Not in the least. Your findings will surely be helpful on our trip ahead.”
Eugene then swiftly grabbed onto her chance to change the course of conversation. “And I believe you have been a great help to me in the past as well.”