Chapter 2 - The Illegitimate Daughter
Viscount William glared at the pair of mother and daughter with sharp eyes. Jocelyn’s breath caught in her throat the moment she glimpsed that glare. She was well aware of her husband’s temperament of not hesitating to do anything to protect his fortune and status. Sending Anna to Eli was nothing to her husband. Anna was also very familiar with her father’s personality. But she believed that going to Eli was akin to sentencing her to death so she couldn’t easily retreat like Jocelyn.
Anna sat down on the spot and started to cry. Anna’s tears had always been effective. Perhaps due to her delicate features and rumored beauty, her crying had always brought about results so she sobbed with all her might.
But things were a little different this time. Viscount William was beginning to get irritated. Looking at Anna’s crying back, her body trembling all over, he continued to pull at his mustache in a nervous gesture. Fixing Anna for a moment with glass-like cold, emotionless eyes, he abruptly jerked his head at the sound coming from the back. Anna had gone feral and momentarily forgot that the maid was in the room. She could see the back of the maid putting firewood in the chimney. Her shoulder-length hair was reddish blonde at the tips.
A thought flashed through his mind and, following that, Viscount William spoke to his daughter. “That’s right, I see. I can’t help it if you’re so solemn to the point of preparing to die.”
“Really? Father, is that true?”
“Yes, let’s send that child instead.”
Anna and Jocelyn looked behind them synchronously. As soon as they saw the tired-looking maid who was laying firewood with a worn-out, coarse brown muslin outfit, they immediately guessed at what Viscount William had in mind. Anna’s face instantly lit up like the sun.
“I can’t send my beloved daughter to such common blood. You should marry a man of much more consequence than him. That way, our family will thrive more.”
“But won’t it all be exposed fast? It’ll be easy to discern that she’s not Anna, how much time would it buy us? Besides, the King will not let us go if he finds out.”
Hearing Jocelyn’s worried concerns, Viscount William flew into a fit. “Then what the hell do you want me to do? You want me to give everything to the King as a penalty for disobedience to his orders, and have us beg in the streets? The daughter is immature and the mother is wandering in her dreams, what other tricks do you want me to come up with? Do you believe that all will be solved if you just cry?”
“Then what more do you want me to do?” Said Jocelyn and Viscount William replied in a calm, but cold tone, looking alternately at the pair of dim-witted mother and daughter.
“Let’s send that child to the monastery along with Anna, teach her manners for a week, and then dress her up like Anna. We’d say that our daughter has suddenly caught a serious illness. If we were to get caught, then we’d just pin the blame on her saying that we only sent her to relay news of Ana’s predicament but she lied to raise her status of an illegitimate daughter.”
This was a very shameless thing to say indeed, especially since the person concerned was still in the room. However, Viscount William did not seem to mind that fact in the slightest.
“If she tries to run away or spill out the truth, we’ll kill her immediately.”
Jocelyn disregarded the horrifying declaration and paid close attention to the word ‘illegitimate daughter’. The castle already had three children born to Viscount William out of wedlock. At first, everyone thought she was a newly hired maid; however, Jocelyn belatedly realized that the maid was, in fact, one of her husband’s bastard children. When Jocelyn’s accusing eyes, which seemed to ask, “Is that maid another unsolicited offspring of yours?” turned to Viscount William, he examined her eyes, coughed a little, and continued his words.
“The ignorant commoner that is Eli won’t notice right away. And let me make this clear, she’s not my illegitimate child but a maid I bought for cheap at the market so don’t go jumping to useless conclusions.” He emphasized.
Oblivious to the tension hanging in the air between Viscount William and Jocelyn, Anna grinned from ear to ear with a clap at the fact that she could shrivel her way out of marrying Eli. A brilliant idea flashed in Viscount William’s mind as he was pondering the fact that his daughter would do anything just as long as she didn’t have to marry Eli.
“I’ll teach her, Father. She’s not even worth the dirt on my boots, but she’ll fit very well together with Eli. A maid is a perfect match for a pig like him. But Father, a week is too short of a period.”
“A week or a month, what use would it be when she might die as soon as she makes it to Eli?”
“Well, that’s true. I’ll have to let Lotta in. Lotta! Lotta!” Anna called out for Lotta loudly. A cunning look had manifested on Anna’s face, which was brightly smiling with curled up lips as if she had never shed a tear.
Viscount William then spoke to Edna, the maid before his eyes, in a chilly voice.
“If you ever expose this, I’ll pull out your tongue and eyes. No matter if you get outside of our reach, the moment you open your mouth to tattle to Eli, you’ll die on the spot by his own hand. Understood? We’re done here, go and see to your business elsewhere.”
As soon as Edna mutely bowed her head and went outside, Viscount William started brewing foolproof plans with Anna and her mother.