Chapter 21.2

Chapter 21.2

In an aristocratic society, how can a lady from a respectable family get information about the prostitutes from a downtrodden place? I wondered. There was no way at all. It wasn’t necessary for me to care about those prostitutes and the murder. I could ignore everything just like my oh-so-noble family and worry about useless visits, and marriage and tea in the afternoon. The murders might not reach the Teresa District, and even if it did. The aristocrats cared more about Teresa district than they would ever care for the Underground District. Aristocrats were selfish like that.   

But what kind of person would aim for women in such downtrodden places? It was obvious. It was difficult to target the places where nobles lived. There were servants and guards. The place was never out of people. The servants were only let out of the house when nobles liked to cheat on their significant others when they weren’t home. But, even then, if a woman was killed and strung up for display in a public place, there would be an uproar. The murderer would be caught so quickly and his name would spread throughout Schway.

But… oh well. It was none of my business. Even if I made it my business, how am I supposed to gather information without sounding suspicious. A lady from a noble household asking around about prostitutes would be grounds for suspicion by default. I can just spruce myself up for men my parents chose for the visits and smile prettily. So, maybe I can marry a potential bachelor for a ‘worthy’ family. I sighed.

Should I just kill him after my marriage and make it look like an accident? I had taken many similar projects in my past life. There had been women who were so tired of their unhappy and sometimes, brutal marriage, that they would pay me to kill their husbands and make it look like a natural death. Sometimes, these people became my regular customers.  

Looking back, it didn’t sound that bad. I would live comfortably on my dead husband’s money. If I am not ‘allowed’ to work, then I will find a way to get the money. Here, I just feel like a burden. Mother was already saying she was proud and smiling at me as though to tell me to snag someone fast. I was a daughter of this household but already I was feeling like an outsider. I could never live off Alex, here on the estate, since everyone just implicitly keeps pushing me to find a man and marry good.

While I was sitting in front of a desk, reading a book and organizing a list of plants that would possibly help me make my partner’s death seem natural, Amy entered quietly.

“My Lady, your mother has asked for you in the Eastern Drawing Room.”

I folded my notes and slid it inside the book and headed downstairs, followed by Amy. The house was quiet. Grandfather had left.  My brothers seemed to have left too. I stood at the door to the drawing room.

“Come in,” said my mother. “Sit.”

She was seated on the sofa. This drawing room was only used when guests arrived at our house. A heap of letters was piled up on the table. There were three piles. One towered, the other was a slightly less towery and the third pile only had a few letters.

“Your father told me to do as I wished,” said my mother.

Well, I guess it would be strange for him to look through every marriage candidate to marry off his daughter. Men. Always leaving the dirty work to the women. I looked at the pile of letters.

“What criteria did you use to divide them?” I asked.

Mother looked at me. She pointed at the tallest pile. “These are people you don’t really have to meet,” she said. She pointed at the second pile. “These are the ones who are nice for consideration but not of much significance.” She then gestured to the smallest pile. “These ones are from very significant and important families. Those who are difficult to refuse.”

“Difficult to refuse?”

“You know, big families with high status. Families connected to our household and the sort. I discussed this pile with your father and grandfather for their approval. They approved.”

I guess everyone’s approval mattered except mine who was supposed to marry one of these oafs. I sighed. Sooner this is over with, the better. I guessed the third and the smallest pile was of greater importance.

“Okay then,” I said, “I guess we should start with the third pile.”

“No.” Mother suddenly pushed all the letters away. They fell on the floor. Letters flew and scattered. “There is no need.”

I blinked. What was she getting at? “We don’t need to do it if you don’t want to.”

Is she upset or angry because of what I said before? I stared at my mother trying to figure out what was going on in her mind. But I couldn’t read her. “Well, I think it would be better to get it over with,” I said. “Since I don’t really know any of them, I can go through them and meet the ones who you and father consider necessary.” I didn’t want to meet them at all. I don’t want a relationship. I don’t want a marriage. Oh well…

“No, I don’t mean only that,” said my mother. “Not only about going through the letters and choosing whoever we like. Your father and I, we would never consider you valuable only because of how many men will seek to court you and eventually marry.” 

I looked at her dumbfounded. Mother pressed her temples and let out a short sigh. “I didn’t know you felt that way,” she said. “Obviously I haven’t been paying attention to my dear girl as much as I should have. It’s just that you were always so excited about your debut party and the meetings afterwards. You used to perk up when you talked about finally being able to hold parties and gathering and receiving callers…. I thought I was trying to help make you happy.” She looked at me with a small smile. “I didn’t mean that I was proud of you for attracting men and receiving so many letters for visits and for being popular. You are so young. You are only fifteen. Anyone that age would be nervous and excited to make their debut along with the Princess. It was your big day and the Princess chose to pick our household for a fight. I thought it must have been very difficult for you at the time. But you carried yourself so admiringly. You weren’t nervous and you took control of the situation. You were so grand! That was what I am proud of. I meant what I said, I am proud of you.” 

I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t expected these words from her, or anyone after what I had said in the day. I hadn’t even considered that it might have been possible to have an open conversation about this. I listened to her quietly.



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