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CH 37

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Even though it was late at night, light could be seen through the window. When Eugène hid against the dark wall and looked inside, he saw Louise in a dressing gown writing a letter. Round glasses, which were only taken out to write, were hung on the tip of her nose. She had a habit of biting the quill pen in her mouth while writing like a child, so there was a small ink stain around her lips.

Eugène felt strange when he saw it. It was because he realized that he still remembered one little habit of hers. They weren’t close, but it seems like they were once a married couple after all. Eugène glanced over to see if there was anyone else in the room and then lightly knocked on the window. 

She couldn’t make out the first signal and just looked around, but only after Eugène knocked on the window a second time did she realize that someone was sending a signal from outside. When she saw the black silhouette of the man wavering outside the window on the second floor, she jumped up from her seat out of shock.

“Baron…? Is it Baron Amieux?”

She, who would have almost troubled Eugène by screaming, luckily found out his identity before it was too late. Louise recognized who he was, and rushed to the window as if she were rolling over and opened it. Eugène, after watching the scene as it was, somehow felt like a hooligan who broke into a lady’s residence. … Truthfully, in a way, it wasn’t quite the wrong expression either.

“I apologize for dropping by so suddenly in the middle of the night without any prior contact.” 

Eugène said politely, asking for her understanding regarding the disrespect already caused. Then Louise shook her head violently. She clasped both of her hands in front of him as if she didn’t know what else to do, then turned them to the side, and frantically expressed her gratitude.

“Please do not be like that. Thank you so much for coming here. I was not expecting it.”

Eugène crossed the window and entered the room. Louise took a long look outside and quickly closed the curtain.

“It is late at night, what were you doing?”

He picked a time when the security was weak, and he intentionally came near midnight. It was too late when he arrived, so he was worried about what would happen if she had already fallen asleep, but he was glad that she was still awake.

Louise smiled faintly at Eugène’s awkward question and turned to the desk, which was littered with envelopes. There was an ink stain on her index finger, which had just been holding the pen.

“I was writing a reply to an invitation to the Countess. Managing the invitations is a job left to the newest of the ladies-in-waiting.”

“Do you mean every invitation to the Countess?” 

“Yes. Probably because there are many invitations from honorable people.”

Louise said so in a naive tone, though it seemed like bullying to Eugène.

Louise’s slender silhouette stood out even more in the dim light. Even the shadow cast under her feet was faint, making her look as light as a phantom that would blow away with a breath.

It is like the specter of someone I have not seen in a long time. 

Eugène looked at her and thought to himself. The reason that she was reflected in that way was largely due to the influence of her weakened body, but it was more because of the air that somehow seemed empty.

“I was worried about what I saw during the day, so I stopped by like this. I hope I was not mistaken.”

Eugène looked at Louise and informed her of his business. Louise sighed with a strange expression, unknown whether she was relieved or sad, and then nodded her head briefly.

“You were not mistaken. You actually caught on.” 

After answering quietly, she found a nearby chair and sat down helplessly.

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Upon hearing Eugène’s question, Louise sighed deeply once more. She rubbed her other forearm briefly with one hand as if she were feeling a chill, then opened her mouth softly. 

“It seems that things beyond my knowledge are happening around me these days. Not only around me but also on my body… There is a serious abnormality. I have a hunch, but if it is true, then I am truly afraid of my surroundings. There is nobody to talk to when even though this is happening. I have no friends here. I desperately needed someone I could trust.”

She quietly dropped her dry face and confessed in a melancholy manner. Her small, drooping shoulders looked unbearably lonely. She said that she had no one to talk to even though her life was in danger, and looked utterly forlorn.

She was shy, but liked people and enjoyed inviting her friends, so how did she end up like this? Seeing her like that, even Eugène felt sad.

“Then I met you in the garden. The moment I met you, I had this really odd thought. Maybe this person could help me. No matter what I do, you would not just turn away from me… It also reminded me of the past. From a long time ago, you used to be particularly aware of these kinds of things. I suddenly remembered that.” 

She took a deep breath and looked at Eugène. She was diligently trying to act brave, but the situation she was currently going through was too heavy for her to bear alone.

“If this does not trouble you, could you tell me what situation I am in right now? I trust you. If you could confirm, I think I can be sure.”

Eugène nodded his head softly. He was on his way to help anyway. Everyone may different opinions about her wrongdoings, but at least Eugène didn’t think she was wrong enough to deserve like this.

“Could you show me your hand?” 

She nodded weakly and extended her long, dry hand to Eugène. As she stretched out her arm forward under the light, he saw spots sprouting up all over the place similar to those on the back of her hand. Each spot had a different degree of color loss, and the entire skin was blotchy and messy, like wrongly washed silk.

“When did these spots begin to appear?”

Eugène asked, taking her hand, approaching the candlestick, and looking closely at it. Louise, as if embarrassed to show such skin to others, had a gloomy complexion and whispered softly.

“About two weeks ago. At first, I thought it was okay because there were only one or two. I thought I had been sunburned because of poor self-maintenance. But as time went on, similarly shaped spots increased exponentially.” 

The more she talked, the more frightened her expression became.

“It was then that I came to a realization. I had seen people die from arsenic poisoning when I was a kid. Well, the spots I saw as a child were exactly the same as the ones on my arms.”

One of the most typical symptoms of arsenic poisoning was these discolored spots. Eugène knew that it was only when arsenic poisoning had reached a critical level that these spots appeared on the outside.

“Is it really arsenic?” 

Louise asked with her big frightened eyes. Eugène turned her hand and looked into her palm. He could see that keratinization was progressing on her hands, which were always milky-white. White lines on the nails, rough skin… It was undeniably arsenic poisoning.

Eugène hesitated for a moment, not knowing how to respond, and then quietly nodded. Upon hearing his confirmation, Louise contorted her lips as if crying.


The first thing she did when she found out she was being poisoned with arsenic was to wrap her hands around her belly. Even in such a situation, she could not tell him that she was with a child but instinctively checked that first. 

But there was no sort of sign on her flat stomach. The flat stomach, which was probably several months old, and had not even swelled, was as poor as her emaciated figure.

“The child will be fine.”

Eugène opened his mouth with difficulty after being silent for a while. Louise, who was desperately cuddling her body, opened her eyes wide as if she was shocked to hear those words.

“Ho-How do you know about the child?” 

There was an indescribably pitiful expression on her face as she stuttered and asked the question with difficulty. Tears welled up in her eyes, which had already turned red, and her lips trembled miserably. The body, which was smaller than before, was hunched over as if trying to protect something inside from an external attack.

“I had been guessing since the time the divorce trial was held. If there was no evidence, it could have been denied, but you could not do that.”

“Then did you know it all? Everything?”

“… Are you okay?” 

Eugène asked worriedly when he saw her deathly pale face. But despite Eugène’s caring attitude, she shook her head with a violent movement that was unlike her.

“No, I am not okay. I am not a single bit okay! This is all my fault. This happened because of me. It is my, a grown woman’s fault as I could not conduct myself properly, and it is because of that that the matter has reached this point.”

As if she couldn’t hold it back anymore, she blamed herself and began to sob with a badly distorted face. The deviation, which started as a small one, gradually inflated and grew to a size that one person could not deal with.

When she first fell in love with the handsome young gentleman, Louise would not have thought that such an outcome awaited her in the future. Eugène was fortunate enough to have the chance to escape this complicated situation after the divorce trial, but Louise was not spared such mercy as she had no choice but to become someone else’s long-term partner from the beginning. Until now, she could not get out of the vortex she started and had been stuck in the same place all this time. 

“If anything, the mother is such a woman, she even caused an innocent baby to suffer. Do you know? Even though I am over 6 months pregnant, I still wear a corset. I tug and tighten the strings every time I wear it, trembling in fear that someone would find out I was pregnant. How frustrating it must have been, my baby. I could not even eat what I wanted to eat… There was not even much space to frolic comfortably… Now I am being poisoned with arsenic.”

She was unable to continue talking and burst into tears. She couldn’t even cry out loud and called the child in her belly again and again with stifled cries.

Eugène took a handkerchief from his pocket and placed it in Louise’s hand. But Louise was too distressed to even think about wiping the tears away and continued to let them flow down her face.

“The child will be fine.” 

Eugène spoke to her again. In a tone full of conviction, as if he truly believed so.

“Arsenic is a poison that naturally penetrates the body from the outside. Look. Were your hands and feet not the first to show symptoms? Arsenic first affects the skin, causing it to decay, then reaches the internal organs and then the bones. If your skin has only been showing symptoms for about two weeks, your internal organs have not been damaged yet. That is why you need to compose yourself and be calm. Do you not wish to save the baby? If we do not catch the one who poisoned you, the baby will really die.”

He had a more detailed conversation with her. She, who was lamenting over the lost life in her belly, gradually stopped crying and looked at Eugène with wet eyes as he continued to speak.

“A-Are you sure?” 

She thought that she had lost her child without fail, and asked back in disbelief. As if she were holding onto the last straw, her terribly trembling eyes eagerly turned to Eugène.


“Th-Then is my baby still safe?”

“I think so. It is just that it might a problem next time.” 

Truth be told, he didn’t actually know if the baby was really okay or not. He had quite a bit of experience with physical trauma but had no knowledge of internal trauma. Moreover, when it came to pregnancy and childbirth, he was as ignorant as whales unaware of the existence of camels.

But he was left with no choice but to lie. He was afraid that she’d be devastated if he let her be, so he couldn’t just leave her alone. Even so, she was an unwell woman. A woman who had paid too much for her mistakes and was exhausted. He didn’t want Louise to lose more than what she had already lost so far.

The misfortune she had been through was enough.

“So, once again from the beginning, say it slowly. Since you have believed in me, I will repay you for your trust.” 

Otherwise, his mind would not be at ease. He was also responsible for her current state.

He was guilty of ignoring the Emperor’s conspiracy against her, despite being aware of it. By the time he found out, it was already after things had happened, and everything was coming to an end. But the very thing he had then passed on carelessly produced the pain that Louise was now suffering. And the pain was not only in the present, but would also continue to move onto the future.

Eugène gently patted her thin shoulder and quietly pacified her. Louise was relieved by the sound of his reliable voice, and slowly loosened her stiff shoulders. She struggled to wipe her eyes and rested her forehead on Eugène’s shoulder.

“Thank you so much for coming to help, Baron. You never turn away when I need help. I do not know how to repay this favor.” 

Eugène, who could not help her in a situation where he really should have helped once, smiled bitterly at the gratitude he did not deserve.


After returning from meeting Louise, Eugène properly made up his mind to ask the Emperor for help.

The problem was the timing. Amazingly, encounters would always take place when one least wants it to, putting one in a burdensome position, but the moment one decides to meet properly, that connection is instantly cut off. 

Negotiations with Kayediv, which had been difficult for a long time, had recently begun to take off. Despite the conditions unfavorable to them, Kayediv accepted all of the empire’s proposals. The two countries, which reached to an agreement after much difficulty, were extremely busy completing detailed follow-up measures, such as writing contracts or adjusting the ascending schedules of merchant ships that traded goods.

The settlement of the negotiations meant a new beginning, not the end. The Emperor and the imperial officials were busy carrying out the practical tasks that followed the conclusion of the trade agreement, so Eugène was forcibly liberated not only from the Emperor’s summons but also from political meetings for the time being.

In the background of this smooth negotiation, there was Prince Cyrill, the representative of the Kayediv envoys, who abruptly accepted the Emperor’s offer of a contract. Cyrill, who had successfully concluded the contract, which would have been controversial even within the envoys, left all external follow-up to Sir Oleg and returned to his home country one step ahead to fulfill the terms of the contract.

The Emperor could meet anyone he wanted to see, but for others, the Emperor was not easy enough to meet whenever they wanted to. Ordinary nobles couldn’t even speak to the Emperor unless the Emperor spoke to them first, and if they had a request, they had to ask for an audience first and wait for their turn until permission was granted. 

If there was no special command from the Emperor, Eugène was in the same position. He put in a request for an audience to comply with the steps, but strangely, permission was seldom granted.

He didn’t know why but the Emperor didn’t meet him to the point that Eugène felt like he was avoiding him. At first, he thought it was a coincidence, but as time passed, he began to suspect that it was intentional. If it was not intentional, why could the person who put in a request later be granted permission first? It wasn’t even once or twice.

Is this how a concubine felt after losing her favor? When he couldn’t even see the Emperor for a few days, when he had otherwise seen him face to face at most two or three times a day, Eugène smiled bitterly, thinking that his situation was like a concubine sitting in the back of the room.

For a while, he felt that he was one of the Emperor’s close associates, but he was completely disconnected these days. Eugène could not understand how the court nobles could spend their whole lives hoping for such an unstable favor. 

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