Episode 10: Leaving the Duke’s Mansion
With determination, she carried the sealed envelope containing the documents and headed to the study.
The tightly closed door, whether he was present or not, seemed to signify the rift between him and her.
‘Goodbye, Ru. Goodbye, my first love. I couldn’t win against your long-lost first love.’
Having bid her farewell in her heart, Ellie told the nearby servant.
“Madam, please forgive me, but the Duke is currently absent.”
“I said open it.”
The servant was perplexed by the unusual behavior of the Duchess, who was usually quite gentle.
It was rare for this frail lady to visit the Duke first, and it was a curious coincidence that she chose today of all days.
There were no definite guesses, but lately, there had been no news about what happened after her maid went to see the Duke. While a few of the Duke’s closest knights seemed to be aware of the situation, this servant was not among them.
So the powerless servant could do nothing but follow her request.
“Why do you talk so much? I just want to leave this on His Grace’s desk. You can go inside, put it there, and then leave.”
She extended the envelope she was holding. The servant’s eyes quickly scanned the outer surface, but they couldn’t see the contents inside the unmarked envelope. It seemed to be securely sealed.
The servant reluctantly accepted it and opened the study door before placing it on the desk and leaving.
The Duke’s study door opened before her eyes and then closed. Even though the servant, whose name she didn’t know, was allowed inside, she, as his wife, was not granted that privilege.
‘…Now the servants are blatantly ignoring me.’
No matter how their master was Ruphlyon, preventing the entry and exit of the Duchess wasn’t normal. Knights, on the other hand, were a different story.
However, she didn’t want to point out such things individually. Since she was going to leave anyway, what did it matter? That was her state of mind.
She turned around irritably. The servant only now realized the gravity of his mistake and started making excuses.
“Madam…! Please forgive me. His Grace can be quite…very…”
“Enough. I don’t want to hear it.”
It was time to leave.
The not-so-heavy suitcase seemed to describe her situation.
She returned to her room to pick up her belongings and started walking down the corridor.
The suitcase was quite noticeable. Even if it was held by the Duchess, the items that could be carried by her included a handkerchief, a fan, and small accessories for her use.
The servants she encountered along the way looked confused and quickly averted their eyes from the suitcase.
While she was walking steadily, her heart was subtly throbbing.
‘…Why do I keep bumping into people?’
She needed to get outside quickly.
She was about to exit the main building of the Duke’s Mansion when a servant chased after her and called out to her, almost out of breath.
Had someone she encountered along the way rushed over to inform them? She was the servant who had taken care of her lately. It was possible, and she was prepared for it. Ellie tried to appear as composed as possible.
“Madam, what’s going on? H-hey…please wait.”
“Your Grace, it’s not allowed for you to leave when His Grace is absent!”
What’s the reason for that? What grounds do they have for simply saying it’s not allowed?
It seemed as if the tension was dissipating, but it also sounded like she hadn’t gained his trust.
Even if I was scorned by you, I never betrayed you. But you, you took my servant and lived your life every day as if nothing happened. When I returned from my trip, you didn’t even want to see my face.
Does it really need to be said what that means?
We are done.
Ellie said coldly with a frigid tone.
“…I don’t need to know anymore.”
With those words, she continued walking. Marking footsteps here that would never return. Winter was far away, but it would have been nice if it snowed!
The servant panicked.
It was Serena.
After returning from Salmon Island, Serena visited Ellie’s room every day. Each time, she played with her without showing her inner turmoil, but she had forgotten the most important thing.
‘I had to give you your book back, but I kept forgetting. It’s funny, isn’t it? In this vast Duke’s Mansion, the only two beings who comforted me were you and Gerard.’
Since she thought it was all over, she decided not to hide any more secrets.
She briefly put down the suitcase and, kneeling down, spoke kindly.
“Serena, you have to take care from now on.”
Ellie spoke very kindly.
“…I won’t be living here anymore. Serena’s eighth birthday party is an important day, so I’ll congratulate you in advance. I’ll be cheering you from afar. Got it? Study well for your future role, and be a great Duchess who brings happiness to both the island and Salmon Island.”
Serena whispered softly in her ear.
“Are you going to Salmon Island?!”
Yes, it became just as you said. Serena, it’s not your fault. You were right. I just didn’t know because I was foolish and slow, and I lived with my eyes closed…
She didn’t respond. Even if it was revealed later, she didn’t want to reveal her destination right away in this situation.
The servant, who had been eavesdropping on their conversation from behind, stepped forward.
“Madam, please calm down. Uh, if you plan to stay at the Rubon House for a few days, I will inform you after His Grace returns. For now, please come inside and calm down. I’ll prepare lavender tea.”
Did they really think I was going to run away to the Rubon House?
Phanar Island was very large with regional differences in dialects. The east, where the Duke’s Mansion was located, and the southern part at the very bottom of the island had distinct dialects.
She didn’t want to give them any hints, so she responded vaguely.
“I’m definitely leaving from here.”
“I’ve already completed all the necessary procedures to inform His Grace about this. That’s it.”
She artfully covered the truth and didn’t tell a single lie.
With the knights leading and clearing out the Duke’s Mansion, there was no resistance. The soldiers and servants that were left behind had lower status than her and just stood there, bewildered.
If they were knights, they might have tried to physically stop her, right?
She exchanged a last glance with Serena, and the clueless child seemed to say something with her mouth.
Me, go, away…?
“Salmon Island is wide, as you said. And Rufellion hates that I ran away so he won’t let you go. We won’t be able to see each other again in the future.”
She bid Serena farewell in her heart.
Goodbye, Serena. You were a cute and lovely child. It would have been nice if you could have become my stepdaughter in the true sense, even if I didn’t give birth to you. You have every qualification to be deeply loved.
I also wanted to give you overflowing love. It would be Deluise Viscountess Young lady, not me. You and the new stepmother, who is overflowing with experience in the house and society, will get along well.
She walked away with her suitcase.
The shocked servant followed her, but there was no need to pay any attention.
Walking along the Duke’s Mansion wall and out of the back door, she was filled with mixed emotions.
The season when white flowers bloomed profusely, the unfulfilled destiny of love she had dreamed of when she entered here. She didn’t even know that this place was a prison that brutally tore her heart.
And today, she was leaving with tears on her cheeks.
‘…Why are you crying, Ellie? Pull yourself together. You have to go back to your place.’
She would have at least bought one. Even if it was a dark and gloomy color, it would have been okay to cover her disheveled face.
She didn’t know how the hats, which were stuck in the dressing room season by season and were never used, looked.
To make the Duke frightened, she thought about bringing them all out and starting a nearby hat business. It wouldn’t be a bad idea if she didn’t think about the aftermath.
It might have been better to close her eyes and spend just a day, even a half-day, trying to leave an unforgettable bizarre impression in his chest and his mind.
Ellie Milton was here.
‘I… If I start working on Salmon Island, I might regret the way I’m running away now, abandoning my dignity. It’s okay, it’s probably better than feeling choked up.’
As she walked along the wall, she finally saw the carriage and the coachman standing next to it, as promised.
This coachman seemed to have a poor hearing, and perhaps his age had something to do with it, so he readily accepted today’s reservation.
She shouted loudly from behind to make sure he heard.
He still couldn’t hear. Okay, then she would try a little trick to fool them.
“It’s Rubon House! I’m here.”
She falsely stated her destination and grabbed the coachman’s coat collar. Only then did he turn around with dull eyes and nodded.
“Oh, you’re the customer I was supposed to pick up earlier?”
“Yes, I’m going to the place I mentioned before.”
“Please get in.”
She entered the shabby carriage without the help of the coachman. The refreshing feeling she didn’t feel when she climbed the opulent carriage her husband had prepared now seemed to fill her.
Now she was free! She didn’t want this from the beginning, but…
The carriage carrying Ellie left without a trace.
The bewildered servant left behind could only exclaim in dismay.
“Madam! What should I do? What should I do?”
The carriage borrowed by the lady to leave the Duke’s Mansion looked horrendously ugly. Even the youngest maidservant who set foot in this household was horrified and wouldn’t want to get on it!
It wasn’t even polished to a shine, and the wheels of the carriage looked terribly shaky. What if it breaks down on the way?
Oh dear… Riding in such a thing. Even if it’s just for a moment, it looks like something you shouldn’t touch! And the coachman, who seemed like an old man trembling with hands, looked like he shouldn’t be doing this job!
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