Chapter 32 – Drink Water And Sprout (1)
“Prince Heinley seems to be a completely different person than the rumors suggest.”
Countess Eliza, who was playing chess nearby, turned her head at my faintly spoken words.
“Hm? What did you say, Your Highness?”
I turned my book upside down and placed it on my lap. Could I tell them this? Would it sound strange?
My ladies-in-waiting knew I was the real letter friend, and so there was no need for me to say anything more. However, I thought it would be helpful if I could change any of the rumors about Prince Heinley with my own words…
“Prince Heinley. He seems better than I thought.”
I spoke nonchalantly as I picked up my teacup from the table and took a sip. Laura, who was playing opposite of Countess Eliza, surreptitiously changed a horse’s position while the Countess was not looking.
“Right. And he knew that the maid and the slave didn’t write those letters! Ah—that was wrong. Anyway, he found out quickly. Even though he’s a womanizer, he’s more faithful than other nobles.”
Countess Eliza had slapped Laura on the back of the hand and restored the horse’s original position on the board.
“Laura is right. Though he may seem like a carefree person, he’s not frivolous.”
A lady-in-waiting sitting comfortably on an armchair gave a vindictive laugh.
“Even more so, I liked it when the slave’s lie came to light.”
Sympathetic comments started to spring up from the other ladies.
“Did you see how his blood pressure went up when she lied so shamelessly to him?”
“The foreign nobles who mingle with her must have come to their senses by now.”
However, Artina, who was silently standing by the door, immediately threw cold water into situation.
“I don’t believe so.”
At Artina’s certain tone, the ladies-in-waiting all turned to him with questioning expressions. The knight nervously scratched his cheek, as if overwhelmed by the ladies looking at him all at once.
“Baron Lant is responsible for Miss Rashta’s affairs, and he talks about her differently.”
Laura eyes were wide as she questioned him. I also looked at Artina, setting the now empty cup back on the table.
I knew Baron Lant—he was Sovieshu’s secretary, and quite a brilliant man. Moreover, he was extremely fond of Rashta, and it was only good for her if Baron Lant was coming forward and turning the rumors around.
“Because of Miss Rashta’s beauty and charm, some say that the Emperor and Prince Heinley are fighting over her.”
When two conflicting rumors spread, there would be at least one that believed one story or the other. Baron Lant had planned this out carefully.
Laura shut the chessboard in frustration.
“I absolutely despise her!”
“Watch your mouth, Laura. You are a lady-in-waiting of the Empress, and offensive language will only hurt Her Majesty’s image.”
“I am careful in front of others, Countess Eliza. Yet still…I have no other way to express my emotions!”
Then, as Laura cried out her frustration, there was a tap on the window.
It had been several days since he came here last, and I quickly got up and opened the window to let him in. I was so happy to see him after such a long time that I held him tightly.
Queen embraced me with his wings, and Laura finally calmed down and gave a giggle.
“That bird is so sweet. Look how he holds Her Majesty. Maybe he’s not a bird.”
I scolded the ladies for teasing Queen, then I gently placed him on my lap and stroked his head.
Queen’s large purple eyes closed as he dozed off, but occasionally he startled and looked at me.
“I missed you.”
I confessed my feelings frankly to him, and he peered at me as if he understood me.
Strange. Why did this bird remind me of Prince Heinley? Well, perhaps it was because Prince Heinley was the bird’s owner.
I almost forget to check the note on his leg. I took the piece of paper, set Queen aside and opened it.
– I had wagered my identity. Why don’t you want to participate in the bet?
Did Prince Heinley know that I was the letter acquaintance or not? A few hours ago, I told myself that the writer was Prince Heinley, but I didn’t even have the time to ask him because Sovieshu and I immediately fought…
I hesitated before writing my response.
– Please keep our friendship by letter only.
Queen watched me patiently as I wrote. As soon as I lifted my hand from the paper, he checked the contents, then made a strange noises and started jumping up and down.
– Gu! Gu! Gu!
He seemed to be criticizing me on behalf of his owner.
“Don’t be so upset, Queen. I prefer it this way.”
“If your master and I meet each other, we will be the Eastern Empress and the Western Prince, not friends that can speak casually to each other. We would have to be careful how we behave in front of other people.”
“I have become a source of entertainment because of Sovieshu and Rashta. Under these circumstances, the rumors will worsen if it’s discovered that I’m exchanging letters with a womanizer.”
Maybe it was because Queen seemed so intelligent, but before I knew it, I was confessing my true feelings.
Queen’s beak opened as if in surprise. I closed his beak shut and hurriedly added an explanation.
“I know your master is not as bad as the rumors say. I think he’s a good person, in fact. Hm? Ha ha, why are you embarrassed?”