When I woke up the next day, I felt as though what I did yesterday was totally meaningless. In the morning, Leah had to spend another day alone. I wanted to tell a lady-in-waiting to play with Leah for a while, but she had to sadly see me off in the end. When I pushed the door open, I happened to see head lady-in-waiting Maria, standing at our door. She had her hair perfectly done as always; her sharp eyes were still as intimidating as ever. I was genuinely worried that she came to off me on behalf of Queen Sisi… or maybe she’d pull out a knife and tell me to do it myself. I shook as I stood before Maria.
“Her Majesty told me to come t-“
“Before you drop the extremely bad news on me, can I make a request first? I swear I will not cause any trouble. I will secretively leave the imperial palace to never return and swear an oath to never leak a word, so can you spare my life?”
I carefully questioned Maria to see if I could plead my way out. The Queen didn’t come, personally, which proved that I still had a chance to plead Maria. Killing me was the same as me vanishing, anyway. Therefore, if I quietly left and never returned, then I vanished. I was just a minor character. I wouldn’t think Queen Sisi would go as far as sending pursuers to hunt me down.
Maria didn’t have the foggiest idea as to what I was talking about. Thus, she frowned: “What are you talking about? Didn’t you ask Her Majesty to have someone take care of the child? I was sent to carry out the task.”
“You?!” I was so astonished that I yelled. I then realised that something was odd. I, therefore, quickly cleared my throat: “I am sorry. I am not suspecting you… I wholeheartedly trust you… I just never thought it would be you…”
“Yes, I did not think I would be chosen, either. I am Her Majesty’s head lady-in-waiting., not your child’s babysitter. With that said, it is precisely because I am Her Majesty’s head lady-in-waiting that I obey Her Majesty’s orders. Since Her Majesty has arranged for me to take care of this child, I will be sure to take good care of her.”
I felt relieved. Head Lady-in-waiting Maria used to be my nightmare, but she was someone I trusted. She was Queen Sisi’s favourite and most trusted head lady-in-waiting; you could even classify her as the lady-in-waiting who specifically took care of Queen Sisi. Her stern, earnest and upright nature was definitely to Leah’s benefit. Furthermore, Queen Sisi’s loathsome character was a clear sign of her wilfulness as a child, a trait that was possibly thanks to Maria taking care of Queen Sisi as a child. In all fairness, Maria doted on children; I’d even argue that she was affectionate towards them. Children she babysat grew up wilful, true, but Leah would be able to be as upright and tenacious as Queen Sisi. Given the above, Maria was actually a splendid candidate. It seemed Queen Sisi sincerely put some thought into selecting a candidate.
Leah hid in the room and cautiously looked over in our direction from the door frame. I turned around and, with a smile, called, “Come here, Leah. Come meet, erm… mmm… Auntie. From now on, she’ll be taking care of you during the day. She was once Papa’s superior. I’m sure she’ll take good care of you. She might look scary, but she’s gentle. Come say hello.”
I pulled Leah out in front of me. She nervously hid behind me, however. Obviously, I could understand her concern. Any child would be frightened upon meeting Maria for the first time. Maria looked down at Leah cordially. She suddenly relaxed her tense expression to reveal a gentle smile. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine Maria could reveal such a gentle smile. Maria rubbed Leah’s head and affectionately conveyed, “Your name was Leah, was it? I once took care of Her Majesty. She was the same as you when she was young. I see Her Majesty when she was young in you. I believe I can nurture you into an outstanding talent as Her Majesty is.”
Leah appeared to relax a little once she saw Maria’s smile. was It clear that Leah was reluctant to part with me. I rubbed her head then told Maria, “I am entrusting her to you, then, head lady-in-waiting. I shall head into the palace now.”
“How… is your foot?’
To me, it seemed as though Maria hesitated for a long time before asking me that. While it was just a simple greeting from my perspective, it wasn’t something that we could casually ask between us. First, we weren’t friends. Second, Maria knew how my foot injury came to be. I could even go as far as to say that she believed I deserved it. Why? Because she cared about Queen Sisi’s painting that I ruined. She was angry with me about it, so she wouldn’t feel I deserved pity. The fact that she asked me the question indicated that she had begun to think that she was in the wrong. I was in the right. True, I ruined the Queen’s painting, but I did the right thing.
Surprised, I lingered for a moment before replying, “Pretty much all right now. It will not affect my work.”
“I see… Previously I thought you deserved to break your leg for falling and ruining Her Majesty’s painting. I, personally, raised Her Majesty. I thought I knew her very well. I thought she cherished the painting. She should’ve been as happy as she was in the past under my care; however, I believe I was wrong now. I’ve realised that she preferred an empty wall. Ever since you joined Her Majesty, she appears to have brightened up a little. Perhaps she has grown up, while I am still a maid living in the past. Maybe I no longer understand Sisi. You might be able to make her happier than I can. After all, she no longer likes flowers and skirts but serving the nation. Unfortunately, I can’t comprehend any of that.”
“Do you think I understand it?”
“I know you’re a sharp one.”
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