Meanwhile, in the heart of Blois Mansion, the kitchen, which supplied meals to everyone in the mansion without a break throughout the day, Agwen, along with the chef, was preparing snacks for Rowaine.
“Is the Madam still busy?”
The chef, who was steadily filling a tray with Rowaine’s favorite snacks, asked Agwen.
“Don’t even mention it. She even brings documents to the bedroom. It seems like she’s getting busier and busier.”
“It seems like people outside are saying bad things about the Madam.”
It seemed that even the chef, who was working tirelessly in the kitchen day and night, had heard unfavorable rumors about her. Even though he spoke as if he couldn’t understand, his expression was more concerned than accusatory.
“I’ve heard that the stray cat shapeshifters are nothing but sinful thieves, so why does the Madam invite such people to Blois?”
Agwen, who had developed friendly feelings towards the cat shapeshifters while following Rowaine, jumped up and refuted.
“Do you think they want to steal? If their true identity is revealed, they might be chased away or sold into slavery, and no matter where they try to work, there is no place that will accept them. They don’t know how to blend in with humans, so they pretend to be cats and steal food to survive.”
The chef chuckled as he pushed the plated tray over to Agwen.
“You’re becoming more and more like the Madam.”
“That’s a compliment, right? Madam is a kind person, after all.”
“She’s a kind person. Hurry and take it before the tea gets cold. And this.”
Then, as the chef personally placed the few remaining cookies wrapped in a handkerchief into Agwen’s pocket, she smiled with delight and winked her eye.
However, at that moment, a maid slipped between the two friendly people.
“Oh my, there’s a stain on the teaspoon.”
Taking the teaspoon from the tray, she wiped it clean with a clean cloth and set it back down. At that, Agwen checked the maid’s face and then gently pushed her with her shoulder.
“What are you doing right now?”
The maid looked up with innocent eyes and hesitated.
“Well, I just… there was a stain—”
“This is my job, so don’t meddle in it.”
As Agwen glared at her disapprovingly, the maid lowered her head and stepped back in response. She then shook her head as she watched the maid retreat in that manner.
“The maids brought by Madam Elbas constantly interfere without understanding their place.”
The chef also cast a wary look at the retreating maid.
“Ugh, I’ve had them peeling potatoes all day for a day or two. I still can’t trust those people. I’m warning them, making sure they don’t even touch the food, and yet, they are out there every time I look away.”
At the Blois Mansion, there was a strange tension between the employees brought by Cayetana and the existing employees.
Since Cayetana had brought in so many employees, they were primarily assigned to do labor-intensive tasks in places like the laundry room. However, they couldn’t cram people into the laundry room to the point of it bursting at the seams. As a result, her employees were scattered in various places throughout the mansion, even in the kitchen.
The new employees had yet to cause any trouble. They were skilled workers to the point of being suspiciously competent, and they rarely made mistakes or stood out unless they unexpectedly intervened, like just now.
Agwen thought that they were shady. She couldn’t bring herself to trust them.
The next moment, she looked carefully at the teaspoon that the unfamiliar maid had fiddled with before sniffing it and returning it to its place. There didn’t seem to be any particular cause for suspicion.
‘Okay. They won’t be that reckless.’
It was when she was about to leave with the tray that Lena, Grand Madam Rosanne’s maid, who had been in the kitchen for some time, suddenly blocked her way.
“Will you excuse me for a moment?”
Agwen stepped back with a slightly nervous expression.
If Cayetana employees were perceived as shady and bothersome, Grand Madam Rosanne’s people were somewhat difficult in their own way.
It was because most of them were older, and the Grand Madam’s fondness for them was evident. Furthermore, Grand Madam Rosanne’s people moved with perfect precision, almost like they were measured and maintained a strict decorum. This made them seem even more formidable.
Lena calmly asked Agwen.
“May I examine this teaspoon?”
She thought the teaspoon that had passed through many hands felt somehow unclean, so she readily agreed, thinking that she should use a new one.
“Yes, please go ahead.”
Lena carefully observed the teaspoon closely and then suddenly lifted it to her nose and sniffed it. After quietly sighing, she approached the maid who had touched the teaspoon earlier.
Agwen’s eyes widened at what happened the next moment.
It was because Lena violently grabbed the problematic maid and, without any explanation, rummaged through her apron pocket, taking out the cloth used to wipe the teaspoon. As she sniffed the cloth, she firmly gripped the maid’s hair without any noticeable change in her expression.
“What are you doing?!”
“I’m sure you know full well what you’ve done, so don’t talk nonsense and follow me.”
Without releasing her grip on the maid’s hair, she seemed to be leading her somewhere. Lena, who had been heading for the kitchen entrance, unperturbed by the stares, paused for a moment and turned to Agwen.
“It would be a good idea to prepare the refreshments again. This person has played a dirty trick. In the future, it’s better to carefully inspect all the food and utensils that the Duchess uses.”
Agwen, with her mouth agape, nervously tossed the teaspoon into the sink. At the same time, the chef also hurried over, snatched the tray, and dumped all the contents into the trash can.
The two of them faltered, their hands trembling.
“It feels like my head almost came off.”
“Oh my God, for something like this to happen…”
The chef, overcome with emotion, stood up and rushed over to Cayetana’s employees, who huddled in a corner and slapped one of them harshly on the cheek.
“You’re all in on it, too!”
“No, no! It’s not true…!”
“We didn’t know!”
“Shut up! Don’t show your faces in the kitchen anymore!”
“…Something like that happened?”
When Agwen came running to me crying and told me what had happened, I was left speechless and sighed.
“I can’t believe such an extreme drama would happen to me…”
I knew that Madam Elbas was skilled in using poisons and had cursed Dimitri using similar magical poison techniques. However, when I heard that I had almost fallen victim to it, it didn’t feel real.
I couldn’t comprehend how Lady Elves had used such a reckless method, so I asked Azin about it.
“You mentioned that Grandmother Rosanne’s maid said she must have used poison, right?”
Agwen seemed to shudder at just the mention of that word.
“She didn’t exactly say poison, but she mentioned that she played a dirty trick.”
“Isn’t that the same thing?”
She then knelt down in front of me.
“I’m sorry, Madam. I almost gave it to you carelessly.”
“It’s fine. It didn’t even happen, so get up, Agwen.”
She shook her head, tears streaming down her face.
“Even though I learned not to use dishes or utensils that others have touched, I didn’t think it looked dirty. My carelessness must have caused harm to you, Madam. I’ll accept any punishment.”
I was about to lift Agwen to her feet, but when I saw the tears streaming down her face, I stopped.
‘Yeah, it would be better to punish her.’
In some ways, receiving punishment was a way to serve as a way to cleanse one’s guilt. Since you have received the punishment you deserve, you can forget your mistakes and feel relieved. In the end, I decided to give her a punishment that wasn’t too heavy to take away her guilt.
“All right, Agwen. I’ll tell the head maid to deduct two months’ worth of your salary, and I want you to stand in front of my study all day today with your hand raised until I call for you.”
Only then did Agwen get up from her seat and leave the study.
As if suffering from a headache, I pressed my temples to calm my startled mind, and it was at that moment that the butler knocked and entered.
“Have you punished Agwen?”
“Yes. What’s going on?”
“Grand Madam Rosanne is asking for you to come to her room.”
It seemed to be related to something that had happened with Madam Elbas’s employee.
Even so, I had already planned to visit Grandmother Rosanne without Madam Elbas’s knowledge, so I immediately got up from my seat. As I left my study, I noticed Agwen standing in a corner of the corridor, her hand still raised and tears streaming down her face.
Seeing her like this, my anger and frustration only increased.
‘…My people were hurt because of Madam Elbas.’
I couldn’t just let this incident slide.
When I entered Grandmother Rosanne’s room, she was sitting at the table, waiting for me. She gestured for me to take a seat.
“Sit down, Rowaine.”
“I’ve heard the general details. Did Madam Elbas poison me?”
However, Grandmother Rosanne gave a cryptic response.
“It could be poison, or it might not be.”
Perplexed, I furrowed my brow at the incomprehensible words and looked at her in confusion, and she asked me.
“Do you know about the tale of the moon?”
“Rowaine, have you revealed the fact to Cayetana that you’re not pregnant?”
I felt embarrassed. Since I had been putting off having a proper conversation with her, as a result, I still hadn’t told Cayetana yet.
“No, not yet…”
Then, Grandmother Rosanne closed her eyes tightly and let out a sigh.
“I suspected as much, but I hoped it wasn’t. I hoped it wasn’t the case…”
Grandmother Rosanne gazed at me with a pained expression as if her heart had just been shattered.
“Cayetana has already put herbs with ingredients that induce miscarriage into the tea and food you’ve consumed several times.”
“She did that publicly? Why?”
As far as I knew, Madam Elbas wasn’t the type to engage in such blatant actions that could get her caught so quickly.
Grandmother sighed as if she knew exactly what I was thinking.
“That’s precisely the malicious aspect about her.”