Sick Husband's Contract Wife - Chapter 40
Something like wanting to involuntarily commit someone to a mental hospital. Even if I was acting a little insane for a couple of weeks, this is absurd! What the hell?
I wanted to rush over to Camilla and shake her by the collar if I could. But…
Relax and consider it. I have nothing to gain by going up against Camilla in this house. The chances of being taken straight to a mental institution for defying her were apparently very high.
It’s clear that Camilla could easily arrange for me to be admitted for whatever reason. Even more so that the other nobility had no knowledge of my identity.
In social circles, only Amoide’s marriage was known, but no one knew who the other party was. She could employ such a daring technique since no one knows who I am. Nobody would even look for me or be concerned if I suddenly vanished.
And she’d then use that as an excuse to divorce me and Amoide, find him a new wife, and call it quits with me. And subsequently force that new person to bear an heir for the family…
“That’s really amazing.”
For her, it would be as simple as changing a worn-out dress.
What made such a thing cross Camilla’s mind? Was it really just born from Camilla’s concern?
The questions that surfaced in my mind quickly grew in scope.
Camilla could have done this years ago. But why is it only coming up now?
<Lady Camilla is always worried for your well-being. Not only physical maladies, but also mental ones. She takes the comments of others around her seriously.>
“The words of those around her…”
If someone’s words close to Camilla are involved, Greta was the most likely candidate.
‘Why is she being so suspicious of me?’
Greta’s actions gradually became clear to me. Greta was arrogant to begin with. Because she had Camilla’s trust, no one on the estate could stand in her way.
But what about me? A powerless duchess.
‘It looks like my recent activities angered her. I was someone she could overlook since I was not someone who would bother her even from a higher position.’
Moving the kitchen, investing money, importing high-quality products… Greta previously had control of all these matters. Even a child will wail if a sweet in their possession is taken away, let alone management of the ducal household.
She would have liked to avoid me.
‘The problem is that all of this is just speculation on my side.’
I can’t just ask Camilla if Greta coerced her into committing me to a mental institution.
After hearing a knock, I hastily straightened up out of my jelly-like posture.
“Come on in.”
I looked at the door while hugging a pillow.
Nobody, absolutely no one, can find out about this mental breakdown.
“The Madame’s maid is here.”
A young looking maid followed Rona and dropped her head into a bow as soon as she met my eyes, obscuring her face. She looked to be a maid who had just arrived at the estate.
“What’s the matter?”
The maid took a deep breath before responding to my question.
“Um, the lady of the house is calling for you.”
“She will be in the ‘Nightingale Room.'”
Camilla was the only one using that room, and it was regularly used to greet visitors. The nightingale mural on the ceiling inspired the name.
“The sun is shining brightly today, so she decided to have tea on the terrace…”
‘Let’s have tea,’ Camilla said almost every time the moment came for a reprimand.
I wonder what she was going to criticize me for this time.
* * *
As I stood in front of the Nightingale Room, I breathed in deeply.
This is the person who sought to commit me to a mental institution. The person in command of my life and the person in possession of the contract.
My eyes immediately went wide as I saw the scene in front of me.
‘What in the world is going on?’
Camilla similarly looked at me with wide eyes, surprised.
The problem was that there were other people there besides Camilla. Three noble women sat around the tea table, all eyes on me.
‘She wouldn’t have summoned me, so what’s going on?’
Camilla would make certain that I couldn’t even step into the vicinity of her tea party. I couldn’t have accidentally gone to Camilla’s tea party since I never sought her company on my own unless I was summoned.
And yet somehow this happened.
My brain screeched to a halt because I was so upset. Camilla, on the other hand, was looking at me with a ‘why-on-earth-are-you-here’ face.
“Oh my, isn’t this the Duchess?”
A cheerful voice filled the air. The owner of the voice was the youngest of the three wealthy ladies.
“So nice to see your face!”
“Oh my, to see the lady of the Ifrit Ducal House.”
“Really, this is fortunate. It would be great to have some tea together.”
The other noble women joined in on the conversation. Camilla’s face distorted into a phony grin as she finally comprehended I was there. Then something happened that I’d never have expected.
“Selene, please come on in.”
Camilla smiled and reached her hand out to me.
Of course, my feet did not move. For good reason.
‘You didn’t invite me,’ for example.
‘This is a dubious plot. A ruse. Someone pranked us.’ I was screaming inside.
But I couldn’t tell these lovely ladies.
I had to act as if this were a routine situation, just like Camilla.
I took the most graceful steps I could muster and made my way to the tea table where the women were seated.
“She is very shy. She dislikes standing out in front of others. I called her in specially today to meet the ladies.”
Camilla even gave me a full hug.
As soon as her fingers touched mine, I shook them off and jerked my hand away.
I feigned another grin as Camilla scowled at me, ensuring none of the other aristocratic women saw.
“I am pleased to meet you.”
I made direct eye contact with every lady, their glowing eyes all gazing in my direction.
“Shall we start with introductions?”
Camilla smiled, raising the corners of her mouth. A slight twitch at the corner of her eye surfaced as a result of her forced grin.
“First, this is the Countess of Mord.”
A woman with brown hair flecked with gray was looking at me with curiosity. We exchanged glances and a small smile.
“Second, the Countess of Lafang.”
A lovely blonde lady approached me and smiled pleasantly. She was the youngest of the three noble ladies.
“And last but not least… The Countess of Aiven.”
A little woman with gentle eyes smiled at me.
I couldn’t help but pique the interest of the three aristocratic women.
“Oh my, I can see why Duke Ifrit would want to keep you hidden; you are such a beauty.”
As the compliments piled up, I felt like thorns were sprouting from the seat I was sitting in.
“However, I’ve heard that the Duchess avoids social gatherings due to the Duke’s ill health…”
The Countess of Mord looked at me expectantly while Camilla pursed her lips and did the same.
‘Perhaps you’re afraid I’ll say something odd?’
Attending today’s tea gathering may have been a mistake, but I wasn’t stupid enough to spread dirt on Camilla’s face.
“Yes, my husband has been ill, and he finds it difficult to participate in social activities. Prudence is a virtue, and thus I acted accordingly.”
Camilla’s lips curled slightly, as if she were satisfied.
“All I want for my husband is for him to recover quickly.”
I raised my head, my eyes sad and my mouth set solemnly.
“Goodness… The Duke must be overjoyed to have such a wise wife.”
“He will certainly recover.”
Each lady offered words of consolation.
“I really appreciate it. I’ll never forget the ladies’ kind words.”
Camilla exhaled gently in relief as she glanced at me.
“What exactly are you all doing? Come on, the tea is beginning to chill. I hope you enjoy the refreshments we have prepared.”
“It’s something prepared in the Ifrit Duchy. How could it possibly not be to our liking?”
Camilla’s words urged the ladies to raise their teacups and savor the flavor.
I lifted my teacup and grinned hastily along with them. I wanted to grab my hem and leave the room running, but I couldn’t. I felt trapped. The leisurely afternoon tea gathering, where elegance and charm are the currency.
Tea parties were more than just get-togethers with a cup of tea. They were events where a variety of sweets and tea were served as a taste of what the hosting home has to offer. The subjects of conversation ranged all the way from gossip to political matters.
Today was no exception.
“Did you hear what I said? I’m referring to Count Sulton’s House.”
Lady Lafang initiated the conversation.
She was definitely eager to bring this up, but she seemed to have been waiting for the right moment.
“It’s been 5 years since they got married, and there hasn’t been any news.”
Lady Mord picked up where she left off, as if she too had been waiting for this topic.
“Because that family has only produced one child per generation for the last five generations, having an heir would be extremely valuable.”
“So, there are rumors that the Count is trying to have a child with another woman.”
“But that would be an illegitimate child.”
“Not so. I overheard his mother, the Countess, remark that if an heir is born, she will accept the child as legitimate, mistress or not.”
“As predicted, even a thousand-year love goes cold in the face of succession difficulties.”
How should one respond to this matter in order to be gracious and maintain the courteous manner expected of a noble lady? I nodded a few times and plastered a silly grin on my face.
Camilla, on the other hand, did not appear to have that objective.