Chapter 3 - Decided Fate
Covering her dirtied and bruised face with a washcloth, Edna silently walked to lay the firewood in the next room. Upon entering the room, she went white with fear and concealed her face with both hands, body stiffening. The conversation that took place between the three people earlier kept playing in her ears. A plot to gull the King and the Duke.
Edna stood tall and murmured inwardly, ‘To think that they would devise a plan to deceive both the King and the Duke, completely disregarding the life of another person, just so they could evade an immediate inconvenience. They must be crazy. How could they do this otherwise?’
Everyone in the castle knew that there was nothing Viscount William would not do in order to retain his assets and social status. Nevertheless, not even in her dreams had she imagined he would be so blinded as to come up with such a foolhardy idea.
Edna’s face turned even whiter. Those people meant business. The plan was as good as set in stone. Even if they didn’t put it into practice, they would never let her live, knowing what she now knew. With an ashen face, Edna clasped hard on the hem of her old, tattered rags. However, the idea that she could possibly break free from her maid’s life began to fill Edna’s head.
She, in turn, had heard many rumors about Eli. It was said that he had grown to become a demon who inflicted heavy corporal punishments without reserve on those whom he did not hold in favor. She was thoroughly terrified. But then again, at this point she was a dead soul anyway, even if she stayed here. Might as well go to Eli and try her luck.
Right then, the echo of footsteps was heard near the door. Edna was breathing hard and forced her stiff body to move, but the bucket of firewood slipped away and fell from her grasp. As soon as the loud ‘thump’ rang out, the head maid Lotta suddenly opened the door and said, “Won’t you look at this? I knew you’d be here, all absent-minded, like this again. I should whip you senseless, but the eldest lady is summoning you, so hurry and get going.”
“How many times do I have to tell you not to talk back? Do as you are told! Oh, the smell. You really reek with a stink that makes a person’s nose rot. You’re so lazy despite being young, there should be some use to you.”
Edna’s face was sporting all kinds of bruises. Yesterday, she had another bout of tussle with Gilbert, the Knights’ Head in the castle, in order to protect her chastity as if she were the daughter of some aristocrat. She didn’t even bat an eye despite being beaten bloody to the ground. Lotta was very displeased with Edna’s haughtiness. She didn’t like her clumsy labor akin to that of a person who had never worked a day in her life, nor her stupid look resulting from her unfocused self.
Edna picked up the fallen firewood piece by piece and went to Anna’s room.
Leaning against the window, Anna frowned at Edna as she entered with her head bowed. “Do you bathe at all? The nasty smell is so pungent despite you standing over there. My nose feels like it’s going to rot.”
“Whatever. I should have you bathe first before teaching you. I can’t stay in the same room as you for the life of me because of the stink. Lotta! Lotta! Hurry inside.”
Lotta soon entered as if she had been waiting outside, and right after, Anna pointed her chin toward Edna and coldly uttered. “Take her out and have her wash with hot water first.”
“Yes? You want me to make her take a bath? Then we can just get water from the pond…”
“You think her filth will come off if you do it like that? Heat up the water, wash her thoroughly until her skin is about to peel, then bring her back.”