Chapter 9

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On the day of the New Year’s banquet, Ryan naturally stayed out overnight. Ines, who normally would have been nervous, did not get angry or look for Ryan this time.

 

‘Well, I knew this.’

 

She just accepted it.

 

After that, Ines summoned Mary, her personal maid.

 

“Mary.” 

 

“Yes, madam.”

 

“When the Elton newspaper is delivered in the morning, bring it to me first unconditionally.”

 

Mary had a puzzled face at the somewhat sudden command, but then nodded her head. 

 

“Yes, madam.”

 

Ines, who had sent Mary back like that, strengthened her heart.

 

‘I will somehow get back everything that was stolen.’

 

Dark green eyes gleamed coldly.

 

‘Now the only hope is the Duke of Sussex.’

 

Her life, her work. Everything.

 

***

 

A few days later.

 

Ines’ eyes, which had opened the advertisement page of Elton newspaper like a habit, grew round.

 

<I still have not forgotten the conversation we had three nights ago.

 

The gift you gave me is cherished. 

 

I’d like to talk a little bit more about that gift.

 

 I look forward to your visit at any time. 

 

From S.>

 

A small text in one corner of the advertisement page.

 

Ines looked intently at each letter of the advertisement, as if trying to memorize it. 

 

‘If it was the night three days ago, surely…… ’

 

It was the day of the new year’s banquet hosted by the royal family.

 

Meeting the Duke of Sussex alone, she revealed the secrets of paintings that have been published under Ryan’s name.

 

Besides, the initial S…

 

‘It’s the Duke of Sussex!’

 

She was trying to avoid Ryan’s eyes and contact him in some way, but she couldn’t believe the Duke would put a message on the advertisement page.

 

Ines, who was smiling brightly, got up.

 

As she quickly changed clothes and put on light makeup, Mary became puzzled and asked a question.

 

“Madam, are you going out?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Ines looked into the mirror and smiled.

 

Then, the maid turned bright and clinged to Ines

 

 “It’s a really good idea. Sometimes when you go out, your mood changes.”

 

“Thank you, Mary.”

 

Ines’s smile grew a little darker.

 

Now, finally.

 

It was time to go change her life.

 

****

 

Enoch sat in the parlor, deep in thought.

 

In front of him was an advertisement for Elton newspaper published this morning.

 

‘I told her to pay attention to the ad, so she’ll probably see it and visit soon.’

 

Ines’ dark green eyes that were shining brightly suddenly flashed in his mind. It was curiosity that moved Enoch now.

 

Speaking of the Countess of Brierton, she was a lady with a high rank in the kingdom. She came to Enoch alone and spoke her opinion clearly even with a very nervous face.

 

The desperation in that attitude was also desperation, but above all else.

 

‘If Count Brierton really has the Countess as a substitute painter…..’ 

 

For a moment, Enoch’s eyes narrowed. … Why didn’t he think of it before?

 

Perhaps, he thought that this evil may have existed a long time ago. Because of the conservative atmosphere of the kingdom, it was almost impossible for women and commoners to carry out artistic activities under their own names.

 

However, so far, such matters had never been publicly discussed. That was because…

 

‘Because everyone was obsessed with the prejudice that women do not engage in artistic activities.’

 

Even Enoch, who tried to think quite progressively, didn’t think of it until he heard it from Ines.

 

He couldn’t even imagine the idea of ​​”using a woman as a proxy artist”. But now Enoch listened to Ines and confirmed that such evil actually existed.

 

Then.

 

‘This is a deception for the kingdom and the art world on the entire continent.’

 

Enoch thought that he could not just tolerate such evils. Just then…

 

“Duke.”

 

The old butler, who had been serving Enoch for a long time, spoke politely.

 

 “Countess Brierton is here.” 

 

Why does she come right away as soon as I think about her? Enoch smiled and nodded.

 

“Bring her inside.”

 

After a while.

 

Ines, who appeared, politely greeted him. 

 

“Hello, how have you been, Duke of Sussex?”

 

“Yes, I’ve been well. Countess Brierton?”

 

“Thank you for your concern, I’ve been well.”

 

we have had a good time.” Ines smiled softly.

 

After looking at her for a moment, Enoch suggested a seat.

 

“Please sit down.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Ines sat down without hesitation.

 

The two looked at each other as if exploring each other. So what Enoch realized.

 

‘It certainly doesn’t look like she’s feeling discouraged or uncomfortable.’

 

Rather, Ines was looking straight into Enoch’s eyes. Most nobles were intimidated in front of Enoch, so this reaction was refreshing. 

 

‘It’s fun.’

 

Enoch chuckled and finally opened his mouth.

 

“First of all, I want to praise you for telling me about this.”

 

“That means….”

 

“I know it takes a lot of courage to mention this.”

 

In an instant, a bright splendor appeared in the dark green eyes. Even Enoch knew what the light meant.

 

It was hope.

 

“However, regarding what the Countess was talking about, I felt that a more in-depth discussion was necessary, so I contacted you.”

 

“I will listen.”

 

“Actually, I thought it was a bit odd too.” 

 

Enoch slowly leaned back on the leather sofa and continued.

 

“Despite the fact that Count Brierton is such a famous painter, no one has ever actually seen the Count in action.”

 

His eyes, as deep as a lake, narrowed in deep thought.

 

“Of course, there is no reason to reveal one’s own work process, but there’s no reason to hide it.”

 

Long, graceful fingers tapped the armrest of the chair. 

 

“Obviously, if the Countess did the painting for him, I certainly understand why you didn’t want to expose your work.”

 

After doing so, Enoch raised his eyes and looked straight at Ines.

 

“Even if Count Brierton acts suspiciously, that’s not why I should cooperate with the Countess.”

 

In fact, it was half right and half wrong.

 

Now that he found out about this, Enoch could somehow sanction Count Brierton, even for the sake of the kingdom’s art world.

 

It was a thought. But first, he needed to see if Count Brierton really made the Countess his substitute painter.

 

‘Because the sanctions do not have to be in the direction of helping the Countess.” Enoch spoke calmly.

 

“So I think you should explain why I should help Countess Brierton.”

 

Ines felt her lips dry out.

 

“… I heard most nobles can’t even talk in front of the Duke of Sussex.’

 

In fact, facing Enoch, the pressure was great. 

 

‘But I have to overcome it.’

 

Ines, who had made up her mind, looked into Enoch’s eyes, and answered clearly.

 

“First of all, I know setting up a substitute painter is itself an act of corruption to the art world of the kingdom.”

 

Enoch nodded slightly, confirming her words.

 

Ines, who had gained strength from it, spoke quickly.

 

“So, the problem of proxy painters should be eradicated. But this is a principled and moral reason.”

 

In an instant, her dark green eyes shone brightly.

 

“The Duke of Sussex will also benefit from this.”

 

“…what will the benefits be?”

 

“The Duke of Sussex is the owner of Elton and a journalist. So why don’t I provide you with an interesting article?”

 

Ines continued to speak clearly.

 

“Why don’t I give the Duke the exclusive right to report on the sequence of my husband’s downfall?” 

 

For a moment, Enoch’s eyes turned a different color. He thought she was just an innocent lady, but in a good sense, she was quite presumptuous. But apart from liking the answer.

 

 “Hmm, the exclusive right to report.”

 

As he pondered Ines’s answer, Enoch tilted his head at an angle.

 

“Certainly, if the fall of the painter called the Hand of God… It’s a scandal worthy of Elton magazine.”

 

 Contrary to giving a positive answer, Enoch’s eyes were still cold.

 

“Then what does Countess Brierton gain from the scandal?”

 

Fortunately, that question had already been answered.

 

A firm voice rang out.

 

“My life.”

 

At that answer, Enoch’s eyes changed for the first time.

 

“I don’t want to live in my husband’s shadow anymore. I…”

 

Ines concluded the conversation resolutely.

 

“My life, my work, even my title. I want to get everything back.”

 

“….”

 

Enoch was silent for a moment.

 

‘She wants to get her life back.’ He had never thought about it in that direction.

 

The Kingdom of Lancaster was, in principle, a country in which women could inherit titles. However, how flimsy the principle was was clear when he considered how many women among the heads of noble families in the kingdom were.

 

‘Women are counted among the three fingers.’

 

Even so, these women were older and had the highest status in their families, a common trait.