Ellencia asked with a puzzled look on her face.
Instead of answering his daughter’s question, Eustis looked at the people in the room.
“16 years ago from now. My wife closed her eyes while giving birth.”
There was a solemn atmosphere in the room at the mention of the former Empress.
Unhealed scars were visible on the profile of the man who was bringing up the past.
“The place where the child was born was the house of Catherine Hounds, an old friend of my wife. At the time, Catherine also had a newborn baby.”
No one could even guess why Eustis was bringing up the past.
Until they heard his next words.
“On that day, my child, and Catherine’s were switched. By mistake.”
Everyone except the one who spoke took a deep breath.
Philomel, too, opened her eyes wide in surprise.
“But Your Majesty…!”
It was the youngest maid who dared to question. However, as everyone gave her a harsh look, she hastily bowed and shut her mouth.
In the silence, Ellencia opened her mouth with a trembling voice.
“What do you mean by that? I’m sure my mom had some purpose…”
Eustis looked at his daughter with unusually dark eyes.
“If it’s her fault, she’ll have to pay for her sins with her death.”
Ellencia looked around and shut her mouth.
She seems to have realized it. She has no choice but to go with it to save Catherine, like she requested.
Philomel also realized. What do the people gathering here have in common?
These were the ones who knew that Catherine had deliberately swapped the two children; not from rumors, but from harsh facts.
Presumably, the nanny was called to the palace to see if Ellencia looked like the empress.The book went through a similar verification process.
And maybe Catherine, who was captured and brought in front of Eustis, confessed her sins and turned it from a rumor into facts.
Considering that the time when Countess Deles witnessed Catherine coincided with the time at which the nanny appeared at the Imperial Palace, it is a persuasive guess.
‘The knights must be the ones who captured Catherine, and the maids must be the ones who serve Ellencia.’
The nanny must have cursed Catherine so much that the maids next to her couldn’t not know by now. It was obvious without looking.
“Catherine didn’t know that the child had been changed at first… “
At this point, I could feel the Emperor grinding his teeth.
“As time went by, she found out the truth when she saw how much the child resembled the late Empress. And when she met Philomel by chance, she confessed.”
With this, the cover story was completed.
The Emperor made eye contact with each one of them.
“I know what’s in the air right now. Soon it’ll be a subdued rumor. If not…”
The Emperor didn’t continue, however everyone could imagine what he would have said next with one glance at his fierce expression and daring eyes.
“I trust that everyone will take care of it themselves.”
* * *
After the Emperor’s non-threatening threats were over, everyone returned to their work.
When Count Polan withdrew, there were only three people left in the office.
“With this, that woman will no longer be the subject of public trial or punishment.”
Eustis said in a low voice.
“But since the sins committed will not fade away like this, she won’t be able to escape imprisonment. However, I’ll have her transferred to a better environment than right now, like you wished.”
Ellencia was lost in thought, and at the call of her name she came back to her senses.
“Oh, yeah… thank you for granting me my wish! Above all, I’m happy that my dad thinks of me this much.”
“I have to pass this good news on to my nanny. I’ll go first.”
Ellencia quickly left the office after pouring out her words.
When Ellencia left, only Eustis and Philomel remained in the office.
In the awkward silence, Philomel spoke first.
“Why… Did you make that decision for Ellencia?”
In the book, he couldn’t overcome his anger and killed Catherine immediately and even took care of the body.
Philomel swallowed the unsaid words.
Eustis announced that he would cover the sins of the woman who had replaced his daughter a moment ago.
For over sixteen years, he did not know the daughter his wife gave birth to in exchange for her life, because of Catherine. Philomel’s sure it isn’t easy to just let the sinner go like that.
He replied calmly.
“No one will hold your mother accountable, so don’t shrink for nothing. Originally, you weren’t meant to feel responsible at all.”
Was it just Philomel or did Eustis also take her into consideration in covering up for Catherine’s crime?
That’s ridiculous. Philomel is reading too much into his words.
“… I see.”
So, Philomel returned to her quarters in a rather complicated mood.
“Then you’re staying here all the time?”
When Philomel told her remaining maids that their imprisoned colleagues would soon be freed, they were overjoyed.
They were all the more delighted at the news of Philomel’s longer stay.
“Then we should postpone the invitation to our territory until later.”
Countess Deles said with a smile.
“I will definitely go when I have time.”
Count Deles wanted to visit in peace after finishing their business here.
“It is a promise. But if you want to move to the Southern Palace, I have to pack your things right away.”
“I won’t be taking much belongings.”
Philomel didn’t have any lingering feelings about most of the stuff in the eastern Palace, as she threw them away once already when she ran away.
‘They’re not even mine.’
Everything Philomel had ever eaten, worn, or possessed was not meant to be hers.
Even people were like that. So it’s only right to return it to its original owner, Ellencia.
At that very moment, the only entity unrelated to Ellencia approached Philomel and pretended to know her.
‘Ah, there is still this person.’
Philomel silently stroked the cat’s head, then spoke to everyone.
“Thank you for all the work you have done for me. From now on, I’m trying to lighten your burden.”
At Philomel’s words everyone stopped in their tracks and looked at her like she had grown a second head.
Countess Deles then asked with a puzzled expression.
“Excuse me, but what do you mean… “
“I mean that if you go to the Southern Palace with me, you don’t have to take care of me as closely as you do now. You can only do the work given at the appointed time according to the rules for the royal guests.”
Countess Deles and the maids were visibly embarrassed. It was unreasonable that Philomel, who had people waiting for her ever since she was born, suddenly declared that she would not accept it.
“Yes, however, the reason for why those rules got established is because the state guests staying at the Southern Palace always brought their private servants.”
It is unlikely that the distinguished guests, each of whom was a guest of the imperial palace, would not bring their own servants. Of course, it was a rule for the convenience of the guests, as the servants that originally served them were more like limbs than courtiers.
“Are you thinking of hiring other servants?”
Philomel shook her head.
“I’ll do it myself as far as I can.”
Philomel intends to use the period of her stay in the Imperial Palace to finally learn and stand on her own feet.
She has grown up as a flower in the Imperial greenhouse under the Emperor’s shadow.
She felt it in her few days of escape. She didn’t know how to bargain, so it was common to go overboard in the market, and if it wasn’t for Jeremiah, all of her money would have been stolen. It was like experiencing it firsthand what she had only learned in theory.
‘I thought I was all grown up, but I still have a long way to go.’
From basic grocery shopping to tips on choosing a safe place to stay.
If it weren’t for the people who were willing to lend a helping hand to her wandering around, not knowing how to do anything, she wouldn’t have survived even a single day, let alone a few days.
So, during her stay in the Palace, Philomel wants to do something meaningful other than finding out where Ellencia lived through a book. She wants to become her own whole person.
To do that, she has to distance herself from the things she had taken for granted until now.
“… Are you sure you don’t mind? The Southern Palace is too big. It will take a day just to clean up.”
Nancy, the maid, expressed her concern.
“I just have to not make too much of a mess. And it’s not like you all won’t be able to serve me at all.”
The state guest staying at the Southern Palace, entrusted the Palace courtiers with basic chores, once or twice a day. Which included cleaning and laundry.
Actually, Philomel wanted to do everything herself, but it’s impossible with one person’s strength. Nobles didn’t have so many servants just for show.
“It must be hard though…”
At the words of the maid who was concerned about her, Philomel grinned and said,
“If I can’t fix it, I’ll call you guys. Help me then.”
All that was left was to clean up the dishes she ate and brew the tea on her own, but everyone was very worried.
After the maids had reached some understanding, it was Countess Deles’ turn.
“… What should I do? It seems that Philomel does not need me anymore.”
Countess Deles muttered self-deprecatingly.
As an aristocrat, she couldn’t do chores like the maids. She was done with her role when Philomel ceased to be the princess in the first place.
And even now that Philomel is an honored guest, countess Deles couldn’t serve her as her lady-in-waiting, since she’s not a member of the Imperial Family.
“Madam can now rest in ease. You haven’t even seen the face of your daughter yet, have you? I’d like you to go back to the manor and spend time with your family for the time being.”
Philomel said the words she wanted to say before the sadness formed on her face.
“And come back and be my friend. Not as those who serve and those who are served, but equals.”
“From now on, since I’m no longer a princess, there will be fewer and fewer people visiting. So you should often come and spend time with me.”
Countess Deles replied with a choked voice.
“Yes. I will.”
Afterward, at Philomel’s request, the Countess, and the maids gathered together for dinner.
Everyone hesitated at the unconventional shape, but in the end, they accepted seeing Philomel’s stubbornness.
It was a bustling evening.
This chapter was translated by Bree.
Next chapter will be released on April, 26. To read chapters in advance support us on Patreon!!
2 thoughts on “TINPFF – CH049”
There’s a sort of bittersweet feeling to Philomel distancing herself from her role as a princess, it’s like she’s giving up on her past but also like she’s starting all over again.
Thank you for the beautiful translation like always!
Thank you for reading <3