“Okay, you’re doing a good— Ah!”
Matilda hurriedly bowed her head, and Vanessa walked over to her and clicked her tongue.
“You can’t even do one of these things right?!”
Looking sideways at Matilda being scolded, Cordelia, who had her bandaged leg resting on her opposite leg, bowed her head and raised the corner of her mouth.
Things like that happen.
And Matilda, please be gentler.”
I’ll be careful next time.”
After the two maids left, Vanessa looked at Claudia with a frown on her face.
“What you just said is getting on my nerves.
Is it really okay to leave that child Matilda alone?”
“Don’t be so sensitive.
It was just a mistake.”
Ashmia soothed Vanessa.
“I’m planning to make it to the Black Lion’s mansion safely tomorrow.
For that reason, let’s rest early today.”
“Take it easy!”
After answering their farewells with a wave, Ashmia laid down on her bed.
* * *
“Cordelia, wake up.”
At the call of a maid, Cordelia rubbed her eyes and got up from her bed.
“It’s your shift.”
Cordelia nodded as she was handed a lantern.
Do you know who’s next?”
“Yeah, and good job.
With her lantern, Cordelia went out into the hallway.
After Cordelia had walked around the mansion, she stepped carefully to avoid making noise with her footsteps, looked around, and dimmed the light of her lantern.
Then, she sneaked into the storage room where cleaning supplies were kept.
After setting her lantern on the shelf, Cordelia went to a hidden corner of the room, and with familiar hands, she pulled out a small box cleverly hidden under a floorboard.
Cordelia looked around once more and pressed the knob of the wireless telegraph in the box.
But when Cordelia started sending a code to somewhere.
“What are you doing there, Cordelia?”
Cordelia’s hand stopped at the voice that came from behind her.
Matilda spoke to Cordelia as she cocked her pistol.
“Raise your hands, stand up slowly, and turn around.”
“Oh, Matilda! Why are you awake at a time like this? You aren’t even on night watch today, are you?”
Cordelia looked startled and tried to approach Matilda, but Matilda took a step back from her and pointed the small pistol in her hand at Cordelia’s face.
“Don’t come close! Tell me what you were doing there!”
“What is this? Is that a gun?! Oh my god…! Matilda, why are you doing this? You’re scaring me.”
If you won’t answer, then get out of my way! I’ll see it with my own eyes.”
“I-I heard something from here… I thought there were rats, so I just came in for a while.
“Get out of the way! If you speak one more word of nonsense, I’ll really shoot you!”
“Oh my god! O-okay.
I’ll move out of the way.
Cordelia took a step towards her and continued speaking.
“Don’t you know?”
“Stop talking nonsense.”
“You can’t kill anyone if you shoot a gun like that at this distance.”
Cordelia’s surprise attack was quick as she lowered her body and rushed in.
Cordelia grabbed the hand Matilda held her gun in and punched her with her other hand.
Matilda managed to block Cordelia’s heavy fist.
But Cordelia grabbed the arm Matilda used to block her punch and pushed her against the wall.
Matilda clenched her teeth in shock and pulled the trigger.
Matilda’s actions only seemed to waste two bullets as they shot into the air, but Cordelia frowned.
You’ve been meaning to do this from the start.”
Matilda smiled at Cordelia’s words, raising her eyes.
“It’s too late.
People are coming now.”
But Cordelia let out a smirk and slammed her knee into Matilda’s side.
When Cordelia let go of the hands she was holding, Matilda dropped her pistol and slumped down.
“Will you still be alive by then?”
Cordelia took a dagger out of her sleeve.
“I’ll kill you before they come, then put all the blame on you.
Cordelia grabbed Matilda’s black bobbed hair.
“Honestly, I’ve been wanting to kill you for quite some time.”
Cordelia struck Matilda in the face with the hilt of the dagger.
“My stomach churns every time I see your insolent face.”
Hearing Matilda’s mutter, Cordelia burst into laughter.
“What, are you begging for help now? Where can you unlucky wench even go—”
Before she could finish her words, Cordelia fell backwards due to being hit on the chin by Matilda’s outstretched palm.
“Shut your rotten mouth.”
“This… You crazy wretch!”
With blood dripping from her mouth, Cordelia swung her dagger at Matilda.
Matilda hurriedly stood up and dodged sideways, but she didn’t have much space to avoid it in such a small room.
Matilda suffered no fatal wounds, but the number of cuts on her body continued to grow.
She was forced to escape to the hallway, but Cordelia’s sharp attacks didn’t allow it, and Matilda was quickly driven into a corner.
It was at that moment when the lantern entered Matilda’s sight.
Matilda, whose body moved before her mind, picked up the lantern, and Cordelia’s eyes widened as she saw it.
‘There’s no way?!’
Matilda threw the lantern on the floor without hesitation.
As flames engulfed the oil that spread across the floor, Cordelia retreated, covering her face with her arms.
Not missing the opportunity, Matilda stepped on the shelf and jumped over the fire, kicking Cordelia.
Cordelia’s dagger slipped out of her hand and rolled down into the hallway.
Matilda quickly extinguished the fire on her clothes and tried to get on top of the fallen Cordelia.
However, after a few back-and-forths, the struggle between the two of them ended in Cordelia’s victory.
Cordelia sat on top of Matilda and strangled her with her hands.
As Cordelia’s hands strangled her neck even more strongly, Matilda’s eyelids fluttered, eyes rolling to the back of her head.
The moment when the strength in Matilda’s hand drained away as she struggled against Cordelia.
There was a faint but clear sound of a pistol being reloaded.
The moment Cordelia raised her head, surprised.
With that one shot, Cordelia’s head was thrown backwards, and blood splashed across Matilda’s face.
Cordelia fell helplessly on top of Matilda, her eyes wide open.
“…Keuk! Cough! Khak, khak!”
Matilda took Cordelia’s hand off her neck and breathed heavily.
The sound of footsteps approached Matilda.
Claudia pushed Cordelia’s body as it laid on Matilda with her feet and looked down at Matilda as she held her gunpowder-smelling pistol.
“Can you stand up?”
* * *
Ashmia looked at the half-burnt wireless telegraph.
“I don’t think it’s a common model.”
“It’s adapted for military use.
We often use something similar to this on the Northern Front.”
“It’s for the military… so I was very careful.
Did you find anything on Cordelia?”
“There was nothing.
Except for her being a trained person.”
Cordelia’s dagger, which Claudia was holding, had a matte finish on the blade.
It was for either military use or assassination.
Ashmia licked her lips.
‘She seems to be a former soldier or a mercenary.’
But since she was dead, there was no other way to get more information.
Ashmia handed the wireless telegraph to Vanessa.
“Now, shall we hear your story?”
Ashmia’s gaze turned to Matilda.
But at that moment, Claudia quietly raised her hand.
Before that, can I say something?”
What is it?”
“I want to apologize.
Hiring a maid is my job as a butler.
Cordelia was also a child I hired myself two years ago.
I thought I had done enough research, but because of my negligence, Lady Ashmia almost suffered.
So, please punish me first.”
Vanessa and Matilda both looked surprised at those words, but Ashmia silently smoothed her lips.
“I will not deny your words.
But we’re not sure if Cordelia was a spy from the beginning.
It’s possible that we came into contact without our knowledge during that time.
So, I don’t think you can conclude that this is your responsibility.”
Then, I’ll think about that a bit more, but let’s hear from Matilda first.”
Ashmia turned her gaze back to Matilda.
“Should I say thank you first? Thanks to you, we caught a rat that we couldn’t find.”
“There’s no need.”
“Then, how did you know that Cordelia was a spy?”
Matilda hesitated for a moment before she answered.
“It was… a hunch.”
Vanessa made a face.
“Hey! If something wrong happened because of you, the lady could’ve been in danger!”
It was fortunate that the flames were extinguished quickly, but the fire that engulfed the warehouse could have spread if it was even a little later.
“Think more carefully and answer!”
Ashmia stopped Vanessa.
“So, you trusted your instincts and even bought a gun because of it?”
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