• Rina

Chapter 122


Things look up a little for Tara and Theodore Stuart makes an appearance.


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Episode 122. About 11 months (14)


"They say that they can secure a small amount of wolfsbane right now."


Wolfsbane had been the herb tied to the attempted assassination of the Emperor, it was also imported by Elias Pharmaceuticals as one of the ingredients for their medical research.


The amount wasn't very large, so after the third clinical trial they had managed to make a sample somehow, but they currently had far too little to commercialize it in large quantities.


So, they were forced to wait impatiently for Jason’s return.


However, the letter stated that the Black Society had retained some of the scarce medicinal herb.


It was also a small amount, but it would be possible to produce a small quantity of the drug to present to the Emperor.


“How?”


“The Imperial gardening department had quite a bit of wolfsbane, but right after the incident a Palace administrator bought up some of what was meant to be disposed of in a back-door deal. How on earth was his gut feeling so good? It's surprising they did that and somehow predicted its utility for the drug. Additionally, they already know about the betrothal.”


"Ha. That fast?"


“They probably have a spy assigned to us as well.”


"Should we look for them?"


“Leave it. As long as they don't abuse intelligence about our family. They're the Empire's largest intelligence guild, so it's not wise to make enemies out of them. By the way, Dylan?”


"Yes, Sir."


"Andrei Pitt said I'm breaking Tara's wings."


"Ah..."


“What a remarkable child she is. She managed to achieve such results with that stern old Duchess and rebuilt our bond so that our families can now sustain a friendship. Not to mention the constant attention and help she receives from that fox, Andrei... Did I truly try to break her wings?"


"Your Excellency, there could never be another marriage prospect better than this one. They’re one of the top five Ducal houses in the Empire. There are hundreds of aristocrats who make their social debut every year hoping for such a marriage. If she were another young lady, she would have been more upset to have had such a position refused when it was offered. Wasn't the Lord making this decision as a father who was thinking about his daughter's future?"


"Right. I was worried about missing a good marriage prospect. Not only is it not an easy prospect to come by, but any other young lady would have been upset by losing the chance to marry him."


“Perhaps it’s because she hasn’t debuted in the social world. She doesn’t seem to understand it yet. She'll appreciate it eventually. And don't worry too much, Sir, because the marriage arrangement went the way Lady Tara wished. Lady Tara certainly has a different depth to her way of thinking than most young noblewomen."


Lloyd smiled and patted Dylan on the shoulder.


"Ha. That's right, she's definitely an unusual child. It seems that I was a bit distracted by the idea of a betrothal with a ducal family."


"Anyone would want a marriage with a Duke."


"Yes. But I forgot for a moment that our Tara is quite different from ordinary young ladies. That child has never cared about living up to society’s expectations. Didn't she advocate for the legitimacy of her own path yesterday?”


"That's true."


“I can’t help her, but I shouldn’t interfere. And I'll try to do this right."


Dylan let out a brief exclamation, and then briefly remembered Tara when she had left the parlour last night, clearly exhausted.


Her expression was tired, but her eyes had been filled with determination. No, it hadn't been just yesterday when he’d seen that.


He had seen that expression for quite a while. He just hadn't been conscious of it.


“Certainly, she will go down a different path than other young ladies…”


Dylan would never forget those last words. And the Count already seemed to know what Dylan meant by it.


***


As I looked at Dylan after he had finished his story, I felt something fill my chest.


A kind of relief and desire to live up to his faith in me.


“So, my Lady, don't worry. And if you go to your room, there will be a letter from the head of the Black Society waiting. I heard at first glance that it was a gift for some kind of book."


"Ah… Yes."


The door to the office opened, just when I was getting up from my seat.


The Emperor's messenger, my father, the lawyer, and Dr. Oliver left the office one after another. I bowed to them and quietly approached my father.


"Did you hear from Dylan?"


"Yes."


“It's said that pioneers are never recognized in their hometowns, and I almost demonstrated that.”


"….!"


Wow. That was a truly great compliment.


I was stunned for a moment by the sudden fastball compliment, and I couldn't say anything in response.


"Now, we ought to discuss the Hunting Contest and what you can take on with the business."


"Pardon?"


I blanked again at the unexpected words...


"No! You don't have to do that already...!"


"Nonsense, Chloe and Logan each have their respective jobs at the company already. You've shown enough of your skills, so I think it's better to give you some small things to work on."


My head throbbed. I was already busy, but I really wouldn't have any time if I took over a job in the company.


This was why lying eventually led to catastrophe.


To prevent our execution, I had acted as if I was greedy for the position of the head of the family, and had taken on the challenge of becoming an administrator, but I had no real intention of actually becoming the family head.


When this was all over, I yearned to just leave for the countryside, meet a genuine and kind man, and live happily ever after.


I had only intended to enter the Imperial Palace. What was I supposed to do in the company?


I wanted to cry. However, I couldn't refuse, so I said, "Yes, Father."


“Overall, this matter has been solved very favourably, you came back safely from Durben, we have a new start with the Stuart family, and ummm. You were also approached for a betrothal, and umm well... therefore, for the first time I have prepared something for you.”


"Ah..."


On cue, Dylan held an envelope out to me. I took it with trembling hands.


Father and Dylan's eyes glinted with expectation over my reaction, to the point that their gazes felt overwhelmingly burdensome.


The first document I pulled out displayed an unfamiliar title.


<Pedigree Certificate: Arab and Ocerian Dutch Breed.>


The document I pulled out halfway was a pedigree certificate for livestock.


"Is this…?"


“The Lord heard that picnics and horseback riding are a big trend among young women these days. You'll have to debut in the social world soon, so he thought to prepare something nice for you. The Lord personally participated in the auction to obtain this."


Did he mean...


“Ha. It was nothing. This was hardly sufficient.”


"It doesn't look like much, but this is a top quality crossbreed, Lady. We were lucky that it was up for auction this time, and it was quite the challenge."


"Ah..."


I couldn't believe I had received a horse as a gift. A mine and a horse.


This was what it was like being one of the top 10 merchant families in the Empire. For me, who lived like a commoner when it came to my spending, this was like the difference between heaven and earth, and that was putting it lightly.


It was certainly of a different 'class'.


I swallowed and asked the question I was most curious about.


"How much was it?"


“The winning bid price is written there.”


Final bid - 1,300 gold. About 300 million Korean won.*


I had to forcefully bite my lip to prevent my mouth from hanging open.


Oh my god!


Was he going to get me a ranch as my next present? That would be nice. If I could get out of the crisis of this looming execution, I could sell the horses and ranch, buy a house in the countryside, and buy a building in the Ccapital.


Then I'd get monthly profit from the buildings and mine.


Ah... Just imagining it made me happy.


Yes, forget the family business! I didn't want to be some CEO who worked from 6 in the morning until late at night!


I wanted to rest going forward. Haha. A life of eating and playing. It was nice to think about!


“Train it well, and if you enjoy the horse, we'll take a tour of the ranch together sometime.”


Ooooh!


"Ah… Ha, ha. Yes. Father."


I deliberately pulled up another document to hide my growing smile.


"What is this?"


"Oh. That's what Lady Isabelle commissioned from Chloe's store. When he saw the bill, the Count paid in advance instead of Lady Isabelle."


"Hmm. It's nothing much."


My father's shoulders were raised, and he was waving his hands in front of him. But he glanced sideways to watch my reaction.


<Dress Supply Contract: Designer Givenchy>


Dresses tailored for: Tara Elias.


Dress Order Summary: 200 pieces in total. 40 seasonal evening, day, dinner, picnic, etc.


Special Outfits: 40 pieces including riding clothes, dance wear, administrative uniforms, etc. 200 pieces in total +a.**


Payment Method: Collective settlement after the first round of provisional payments.


Payable by: Earl Lloyd Elias.


Oh my, so many.


"Wow..."


I was genuinely speechless.


I'd never received a gift like this before.


The mine was also a surprise, but it was just a gift that made me equal to my other siblings. The quality of this gift was certainly different.


How should I respond to this kind of present? This was… My heart stirred. Of course, money doesn’t stink!***


Still, it would be better to refuse it once rather than to take it immediately...


"I still haven't used the emblem that Chloe gave me yet.”


"Hmm. Did Chloe give you that? That's a better gift than my own. It is what it is."


For a moment, my nose itched.


So this was what money tasted like.


"I don't know what to say. I never thought I'd get a gift like this from you, Dad."


“You should just enjoy the new clothes and riding your new horse. Ah… Well. Oh! And Dylan. Have everyone gather in the drawing room after dinner tonight. I have to convey a message regarding the Hunting Contest. Now, I'll take my leave."


"Yes, my Lord."


"Yes, Father."


My father patted me on the shoulder, and then calmly turned around and went back into his office.


A previously unseen and dazzling halo emanated from my father's departing figure, spreading out in all directions.


“My Lady, the designer, Givenchy, asked me to ask you when would be a good time to visit. So please pass that on to me through Beth. The horse will arrive this weekend."


"Ah… Yes. Thank you, Sir.”


As I went up to my room, I couldn't contain the tingling emotions that filled me. Then, a sudden thought came to me and stopped me in my tracks.


Unconsciously, I frowned deeply.


"But 200 pieces? When will I have a chance to fit all of those? Phew. It's unfortunate that I was robbed of those 8 hours a month...” I grumbled to myself.


Then, accepting there was nothing I could do, I began climbing the stairs again.


"Ha. But getting this kind of gift means I'll have to spend some time on it, and will also be working harder in the meantime. Whoo."


***


Three days later, the Stuart Duchy.


Theodore Stuart, soon to be 26 years old, was the second son of the Duke of Stuart and the Viscount of Morgana, an iron ore-rich estate in the North.


He was a talented person, who had studied sociology abroad for nearly three years in the Empire's neighboring countries, as befitted the grandson of Grand Duchess Helen Stuart.


He had graduated early from the Stuart Academy's sociology department at the age of 18, passed the special administrative examination at the Palace, and achieved a position as a First Aide of social policy analysis at the Ministry of Internal Affairs by the age of 23.


Theodore had already been nominated for a 3rd Vice Minister of Social Policy Analysis position at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but had refused an appointment letter from the Palace, stating that he would prefer to study further until next summer.


Helen stepped into the study, and was enveloped by the crackling sound of the fireplace. She stared briefly at the profile of her handsome grandson as he sat concentrating on his book.


‘He must be so handsome because he takes after me.'


"Yes, the young lady. Have you thought about it?"


—-

Editor’s Notes -


Fun fact: Wolfsbane is also referred to as monkshood or aconite and has been used in both folk medicine and poisons for thousands of years. Unlike in this novel though I don’t recommend using it to treat heart disease since ironically one of the known effects of severe wolfsbane poisoning is cardiac arrest.


* For context this is equivalent to around $210,000.00 USD (at the current conversion rate). That is one expensive horse!

** This ‘a+’ was in the original Korean text, and I assume it may be shorthand for something that went over my head. Who knows! I decided to leave it in anyway.


*** This might be in reference to the latin phrase pecunia non olet “money doesn’t stink,” which essentially means that the value of money is not tainted by its origins. Thank you to Sam for pointing this out!


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