Although Eugene acknowledged, she didn’t think she had bestowed them a favor. After all, no compensation would ever bring back the lives that were lost.
“The transgressors defied His Majesty and therefore deserved to be punished. However, as Your Grace has decided to be lenient, we have provided financial support to the family of those offenders by covering the funeral costs. They were immensely grateful and thank you deeply for your forbearance and benevolence.”
Eugene stilled. She felt awkward to receive such praise without doing anything. But there was nothing she could do about it anyway. “Very well. Thank you.”
Her decision to spare them was brought about by a tinge of sympathy in that spur of the moment. She had as soon forgotten all about the decision she had made. Let alone compassion, she wasn’t a person kind enough to feel sympathy towards a group of people she’d never met. Not only that, but this could also be considered an act of rebellion against the Desert King, who firmly believed that the people she’d helped were sinners.
“Will the financial support be of any help?”
Though she was willing and more than able to provide it, she was uncomfortable with the thought that money could replace the grief and pain of the family of the deceased. She wanted to rest assured and in so doing placate the speck of guilt forming within her.
“Your Grace, your financial support is only a small part of the kindness you have spared for the sinners. Disobeying the king is a serious offense and not without dire consequences.”
According to Marianne, holding a funeral for a felon was against the laws of the kingdom. Tainted by association, a criminal’s family was to be disregarded by society, thus compelling them to live the life of an outcast. Instead of facing the never-ending censure and opprobrium, some would choose to leave the kingdom, while the more sensitive ones, death.
Upon being given money and a funeral, the families should be able to continue living their normal life.
As she pondered over this carefully, Eugene felt this arrangement was not all that bad either. At least, they could have a semblance of respect as they lived the rest of their lives.
Today, there was one other thing that she came to terms with. She was someone who had lived a life without offending anyone, and at the same time, without caring too much about anyone. So the fact that she could influence someone’s life just by issuing a simple order, startled her. Such was the power of a queen.
The weight of responsibility suddenly hit her. She’d never lived with a responsibility half as big as this. She now held in her hands more power than she’d ever thought she’d have as a queen. Perhaps this was the reason she hadn’t felt like a queen until this very moment. Up until now, she had not involved herself in the matters of the kingdom. She seemed to have had a slight taste of it.
Do I need to be more serious?
“Does His Majesty know?”
“Yes, he does.”
“It is impossible to carry out your order without reporting it to the king.”
Eugene was at a loss for words. If the king knew, why wasn’t she suffering any consequences? Didn’t it mean she had defied him too? Let alone apprising him, she had issued a direct order behind his back and the order was even carried out. She hardly knew what to say and could only manage to ask a question in that regard.
“Did he… say anything?”
The Desert King believed that not only the person but the entire family was sinners too, deserving nothing but death. She thought that by asking Marianne to carry out the task, it meant the king wouldn’t have to know what she was up to.
Alas! She hadn’t made herself clear, that’s why her order had made it to the king’s ears.
“No. And since everything has already been done, His Majesty will not say furthermore. There will be no cause to worry.” As she spoke, Marianne carefully studied Eugene’s face. Her eyes moved searchingly as thoughts raced in her mind. The queen’s reaction was beginning to confuse her as well.
How have I gotten away with this? Eugene mused to herself.
“Is anything worrying you, Your Grace?” Marianne tried to probe.
“It’s just not like him.” Eugene’s confusion was very evident in her voice as well as her mien. “I didn’t think he would forgive them.”
Marianne put on a gentle smile as she pointed towards the truth. “Well, it was you, Your Grace.”
Eugene’s confusion slowly slipped into clarity-the king indeed chose to acquiesce with her order and spare her of his wrath.
“Perhaps the king chose to remain silent to save face?” Eugene suggested. It may have been merely a formal gesture of consideration, she thought.
It was better for the royal couple to have few disagreements, especially over matters of the kingdom. A harmonious king and queen meant a stable reign. There was no other meaning to this.
Still, she couldn’t help feeling proud of how things turned out. Her words carried weight, she held authority and Kasser hadn’t vetoed her. She sipped her tea to hide the grin spreading on her face.
“One more thing, Your Grace.”
Marianne pulled out a scroll, unveiling a piece of paper. On the paper was a drawing of a middle-aged man from his shoulders up, facing directly forward. His hair and pupils were colored in, but the whole drawing was missing significant details, and thus seemed incomplete.
Looks like a montage, Eugene noted.
“Your Grace, do you remember this man?”
Eugene shook her head.
“This is Count Wacommbe. He owns a business that only deals with precious collections and artifacts. You bought a collection of antique books from him.”
Quite fascinated, she studied the picture a little harder. The face in the drawings didn’t look familiar at all, but maybe if she met him again in person…?
“Do you have any memory of him?” Marianne pressed.
“No, my memory is still the same.”
She was only able to recall small fragments when she met certain people. Marianne, Chief General Sarah, and the two chamberlains. Also, she hadn’t even met anyone else, so there was no way of telling how much of her memory had revived even if in fragments.
She was finding it hard to recollect Jin’s memory and was starting to doubt if there was even a way. Spending the whole day in the study that Jin Anika had spent the most time in, clearly did not help. But there were no other ideas that were popping in her mind currently.
“You do not have to remember everyone, Your Grace. However, there are a number of people that are important that you have some memory of. So, I have decided to help you by bringing you their portraits.”
“Ah, what a good idea!” Eugene was delighted and impressed.
Marianne was a person who found things to do without being asked. It showed how diligent a person she was.
“I will bring one or two portraits a day,” Marianne promised.
“You can bring more than that.” Eugene wholeheartedly encouraged her. “I can remember more than two people.” She assured her.
Marianne looked disappointed, almost even embarrassed, to let Eugene down. But she had to come out with the truth.
“It takes a rather long time to draw the portraits, Your Grace.”
Oh, of course. I forgot that photographs don’t exist here.