Where Tara confronts the Countess and the Family discovers an awful truth.
This chapter is dedicated to Lell ! Thank you for your continuous support!
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Episode 240. About 10 months.
The heads of my family members and the people gathered outside in the hallway instantly turned at the sound of Duchess Helen's voice.
"Indeed. Thanks to Lady Tara, we just had a fruitful and enjoyable teatime."
As Helen's friends corroborated her story, the crowd naturally cleared a space in front of the door. Before long, the two old ladies from the 'Excellent Crown' Club with Duchess Helen in the lead, stood firmly right in front of my room.
It seemed nobody immediately understood what the Duchess was talking about. That was understandable.
It was shocking that the most reliable, virtuous, and reputable members of the most prestigious club in the Empire would spend time with the fifth daughter of a Count of no significant standing.
I looked straight into the Duchess's eyes and thanked her silently from the bottom of my heart.
‘Oh! Thank you very much, Duchess Helen. I will never forget this favor and repay it tenfold!'
‘Hmph.... Tell me the reason why you kept this quiet later.'
‘With pleasure, Duchess Helen. Hehehe.'
I wanted to rub my palms together, but held back and only nodded slightly.
After our rapid and quiet exchange, the Duchess's eyes went straight to Victoria, and she calmly asked. "Is this enough, Countess Victoria Elias?"
"....No... This doesn't make any sense..."
Ignoring Victoria, who was stuttering in dismay, the Duchess spoke to Lloyd this time.
"Count Lloyd, do you believe me? Your daughter is very clever. She taught us a lot of fun games. No one wanted to spend time with us old ladies, but your daughter was the exception. Thanks to her, we really enjoyed ourselves today."
Her words stirred the crowd again. My father smiled as he walked up to the door to greet her.
"It brings us honour that my humble daughter entertained you so well. We shall strive to do even better in the future..."
I quickly approached Victoria. From a distance, it might have looked like we were hugging each other affectionately when I whispered in her ear.
"There were three people. A commission from Donnie's Gambling House. And sleeping pills."
"Wh… What are you talking about...?"
She continued to deny it, but her reactions did not live up to her words.
Victoria's eyes widened for a moment and her body trembled softly as she looked at me.
"Of course, I'd prefer if the Countess didn't stop there. Please continue, if you dare."
"If you keep pushing me so recklessly, I will expose your vile plans to everyone. This is your last chance to save your honour, Countess."
"Easy... First, let's send the guests back. And then we'll talk about this."
I stepped back and crossed my arms while we stared at each other. My expression seemed to break her confidence. Victoria's eyes dulled over and her face turned white. The corner of her lips slowly rose....
I got goosebumps.
Was she going to lose it?
But fortunately, Victoria hadn't lost all sense of reason. She went to the door and politely apologized to the people gathered there.
Yes. Now that I knew everything, Victoria realized things would only get worse for her from here on out if everything was divulged in public.
"I was so worried that I greatly misunderstood my lovely daughter. I also used to love those kinds of romances... It seems my daughter’s only crime was acting like any young lady her age. Haha."
She sounded quite natural.
"Yes. Everyone around that age is like that. There are still plenty of events prepared for Lady Tara's birthday. We should all go rest for tomorrow." Duchess Helen finished gracefully and closed the door herself.
It became quiet.
Victoria and Father stood facing the door while Chloe stood beside it. Aria and my mother were in front of one sofa while Logan sat on the other across from them. No one said anything about Beth, who was quietly stationed with a food tray on the table next to her.
When the murmurs of conversation grew far enough away, indicating the hallway was now empty, Father spoke.
"What? ... What is going on, Tara?"
"I found out that the Countess commissioned a place called Donnie's Gambling House under her former childhood name, Johanna. I also discovered that her request was related to me. Am I wrong, Countess?"
".... Explain yourself, Victoria."
All eyes in the room turned towards her.
Victoria looked around at the family and, to everyone's surprise, burst out laughing. "Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho...!"
"What is there to explain? Are there only 1 or 2 Johannas in the Empire? This whole thing is just a misunderstanding. Didn't you hear what she said earlier? She said she copied it from a romance novel...!"
It was the first time I had ever seen Chloe scream like that.
Everyone stared at her in amazement. She was shaking with her fists clenched.
"What? Why?... Why are you screaming at me like that?"
"Tell them the truth. Then get down on your knees and beg for forgiveness. I'll pray with you then."
"It’s.... not my fault...." Victoria recoiled, trying to distance herself from Chloe.
Lloyd, startled by Chloe's desperate plea, grabbed Victoria's forearm and squeezed it.
"You, what the hell have you done?" Lloyd growled.
Victoria waved her hands wildly.
"What did I do? I.... Yes. I went to find her. But she wasn't there! I - I'm tired. I need to rest! The outdoor birthday party is tomorrow..."
"It's late, but there is still plenty of time to prove it. I thought this would be enough to get a confession. So, please wait and I'll show you the evidence. Beth, could you please go get Master Andrei?"
"Yes, My Lady."
Beth, who had been quietly standing against the wall, stepped out and brought Andrei who had been waiting in the hallway.
Andrei entered the room, complaining that waiting in the hallway to be called in had been like watching paint dry. *
Then, due to the serious atmosphere, he shut his mouth and pulled a bunch of torn pieces of paper from his pocket and put them on the table.
What was that?
Everyone in my family, including myself, stared at him wondering what he was up to. Then, Aria approached and read the words on the scraps, which had been assembled together like a puzzle.
"Changing.... Sell. Confirm 2 days later. This part… I can't read it.... Notify. Originally planned... 1 hour later.... Target... Handwriting… Same. Huh? What is this?" **
"It's a note the Countess threw away in the common room. I found it in the trash. It was 'evidently' easy for me to collect. Hahaha!"
He had also collected evidence.
Andrei shrugged when no one laughed.
"Changing? Selling? What does this mean?" My father asked harshly.
"I'm not sure, but in this case, I think it's referring to human trafficking."
"Are you mad...?!"
Lloyd tightened his hold on Victoria's arm and the family gasped in surprise.
"Thank you, Master. There is one more thing to confirm. Beth? If you please."
Beth brought the tray of food and placed it on the table in the middle of the room.
"I found out about 4 hours ago that there were sleeping pills in that food. So, I kept it intact on a different plate. Master confirmed Beth's suspicions."
"What? Sleeping pills?"
The whole family, except for Chloe, was astonished again and stared at the tray. It was to be expected. They would be in her study with Bernard by now.
After subduing all of Donnie's men, Bernard had directly come to my grandmother's room.
[Lady Chloe came to the study in the middle of things and asked to witness the situation, saying she would not believe it so easily otherwise.]
[She doesn't want to believe it...]
Or course. Victoria was Chloe's mother.
"It wouldn't be surprising if the pills made me sleep for a couple of days. Logan, as a knight, you must have been trained to resist drugs, isn't that right?"
".... Yes. Let me check."
Logan walked slowly to the tray, drank a little of the punch, and immediately spat it out.
".... You're right. It seems to be a high-grade sleeping powder that untrained people would be unable to detect."
"So, what? What? What does that have to do with me?"
"As expected, until the end... Alright. Let's see if you can keep denying it after seeing this."
I opened the door and went to open the door of Chloe's study.
"Bring them in, Bernard."
Moments later, the three men from Donnie's Gambling House came in, strung up like sausages.
Shocked, my mother flopped down on the sofa, while Aria covered her mouth with her hands. Logan breathed in sharply, apparently quite surprised.
They were gagged, covered in wounds, and crying snotty tears.
They quickly knelt at Bernard's order.
As soon as Bernard removed Ferrero's gag, the man looked straight at Victoria and spoke in a garbled voice.
"Look what happened! I won't accept your payment..."
"No! No. This is a conspiracy. Yes, yes, a conspiracy! It's a plot devised by this vicious bitch who wants to kick me out!"
Ha! Was she really insisting on this?
Dumbfounded, I burst out laughing.
"This isn’t the first time you’ve commissioned Donnie's Gambling House."
Victoria's eyes widened for a moment and she flinched.
‘Work method identical to the first one.' That sentence had stuck with me this whole time, that was why I chose to mention it.
She was visibly agitated.
What had she asked for in the past?
When I approached Victoria for further questioning, Chloe strode to her mother with the scariest expression I had ever seen.
"This wasn’t the first time...?"
"Um. I don't know. I don't remember. Yes. I asked them to do something tonight! But I never asked for this. I was just trying to scare her! And I tried to save her before it happened! But then I was very surprised when they suddenly changed their plans. I was worried too!"
“… Oh My God."
My mother gulped audibly, and Aria watched intently with bated breath.
"G... God! Victoria, do you have any idea what you're saying? My daughter, a daughter of the Elias family, a nobleman's daughter, being sold by the Mistress of the House? Would this be something a normal person would do? THIS IS INSANE, VICTORIA!"
"You heard me! I told you everything. This isn't what I ordered them to do! Originally, I just asked them to scare her a bit, but they, they... They're blinded by money! But b - back then, with Brandon... Oh!"
She quickly covered her mouth with both hands.
Everyone came to attention at once.
The heavy atmosphere that settled in the room made it difficult to utter a single word. Victoria's eyes, full of dismay, endlessly roamed the place.
Editor's Notes -
* The original sentence was ' his neck had stretched more than a span'. (God that made me laugh!). The"neck becoming longer while staring" is a korean idiom that is the equivalent of "watching paint dry" in english, meaning he was bored out of his mind while waiting. https://storylearning.com/learn/korean/korean-tips/korean-idioms.
** Following the tend, I created a real version of the note from chapter 235 and had fun crumpling it, tearing it and blurring the ink so it would read the same as what Ari does in the chapter. It was so much fun doing it!
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