Chapter 50 – Don’t Cry, Queen (1)
Gifts from friends and relatives began to arrive five days before my birthday. My family was already moneyed, but after I became empress I lived a more luxurious lifestyle. Of course, much of my wealth was spent on various welfare projects and state subsidies, and I didn’t often buy things for my own pleasure. Because of this, most of the gifts given to me were meaningful, rather than expensive. Especially the one my mother sent me…
“The duchess must have been worried about you, Your Majesty.”
I smiled awkwardly as Countess Eliza pored through my mother’s gift, a semi-annual magazine called La Trang, which contained portraits of the most popular actors of the day. My mother sent me one that featured only male actors. It was not meant to hurt Sovieshu, but perhaps she thought that taking my own lover would settle my mind, and actors were a popular choice among nobles.
“Ah, this one’s wonderful. Look at this man, Your Majesty. His shoulders are so broad.”
“Isn’t this one better? That one has bad rumors about him.”
“His sexuality is apparently rather strange. Well…Al—Hmm. I’ll keep them anonymous. A baroness said that she and that actor tried to play with fire, and she ended up nearly burning for real.”
(TN: “Play with fire” can also refer to a short but passionate romance.)
…The ladies-in-waiting seemed to enjoy the gift more than I did.
Meanwhile, my father had sent me the latest fashionable dresses, as well as rare books, fabrics, and jewelry from abroad.
There was also an anonymous gift…called the “Elixir Of Love.”
…It was too awkward for me to use.
It was two days before my birthday.
Most of the presents had already arrived, and by tomorrow morning I would leave for the royal villa. I packed a suitcase for two days and spread several books on my bed. As I was deciding which ones to take, I heard the sound of wings pattering in the air.
I rushed to the half-opened window and widened it even further.
It was Queen, but he couldn’t easily enter the room like usual. His small head bobbed in and out of the window frame, and when I looked over I saw him carrying a large box tied with string.
Surprised, I stretched out my hand, and Queen deposited the box and flew through the window. He fell onto my bed and panted for breath.
“Did you bring this by yourself?”
I tested the box Queen brought. It was quite heavy even in my hand, and I was surprised that he carried this himself. He was a large bird, but he was still a bird. Queen lifted his head, nodded helplessly, then flopped again.
“Prince Heinley has gone too far. He should’ve come in person or asked someone else to bring it here.”
“Why are you shaking your head? Didn’t Prince Heinley make you do this?”
“You don’t like me saying bad things about Prince Heinley?”
He nodded his head.
“Alright…I’ll be nice.”
Queen had no energy to lift himself up, and settled in with a flop of his wings. I patted his rear, he was so startled that he jolted, but then he went limp as if he were feeling weak again. I sat beside Queen and put the box on my lap. What in the world did Prince Heinley send?
Inside was a large cake, and on the lid of the box was a letter. I opened it to read the contents.
– I think I’m good at cooking. I hope someone will compliment me.
Queen had risen and seated himself quietly next to me, and stole a glance in my direction. I placed one hand over Queen’s shoulder, and dipped a finger from my other hand into the frosting and placed it between my lips. It had a simple, sweet taste of fresh cream without any greasiness.
“Did he make the cream all by himself?”
I laughed, and Queen shook his tail and rubbed his head against my arm.
“It must have been heavy. Thank you for bringing this to me, Queen.”
“I’ll thank Prince Heinley separately.”
“Your owner is a very nice person.”
“Haha, why are you so embarrassed?”
I placed the cake to one side, then placed Queen on my lap and kissed his forehead. He turned completely into stone. I found his reaction so amusing that I smothered him with more kisses here and there.
Afterwards, I took the cake to the table, cut a slice and placed it on a place. I soon discovered that the cake wasn’t the only gift.
I let out an involuntary gasp. Embedded in the soft sponge were jewels of various sizes and color. I plucked one out and discovered it was a blue-colored diamond. I felt a poke, and turned and saw Queen blinking up at me with his large purple eyes, as if he was worried about my reaction. He looked so serious that I couldn’t help but answer honestly.
“It’s a little too much.”
It was acceptable to receive gifts even more extravagant than this from a foreign delegation. But Prince Heinley had given this as a friend. The cost wasn’t a problem to him, of course, but the meaning of the gift was ambiguous.
I set the jewel aside, and when I saw Queen I looked at him in surprise and hugged him.
“Why are you crying, Queen?”