The Devil Duchess Adopts The Villainess Chapter 23
Chapter 23: A monster cannot raise a child
"Is this my new room?" Ashley asked in a confused tone.
They had arrived at the master bedroom of the castle and Elena gently held the little duchess as she wandered around the room for the first time. Her confusion drew knowing looks from the maids as even they were surprised the first time, they saw Lady Elise's bedroom.
Nobles were known for having lives of extravagance and luxury, being subject to adoration and envy by the common masses as they showered themselves with displays of wealth. Elise's parents were no exception to the rule and while her father was a relatively frugal man, her mother was obsessed with rare flowers and potted plants.
While Elise's parents were still alive, the master bedroom was almost like a miniature garden. Vines wrapped around the walls with colourful flowers blooming cheerfully, strange plants of various shapes and sizes were placed in pots lining the floor.
Truthfully the Duke was not exactly thrilled about the situation, but he indulged his wife and catered to her every whim. Elise would often sleep curled up in her mother's arms while her father was away.
She inherited her love of plants from her mother and there would often be quiet afternoons spent where you could see two figures, one big and one small watering plants while the fading light of day streamed down onto them.
The bedroom of today was vastly different, gone were the colourful decorations, wallpaper and ornaments. There was not a single plant in sight and no trace of the former warmth could be seen.
The room was completely bare with nothing inside except a single wooden bed, the only difference between the bedroom of Elise and that of a normal maidservant would be the size of the room.
"Is mommy having troubles with money?" Ashley asked teary-eyed, and Elena fought hard to control her laughter.
"My lady rest assured, the duchess has enough money to support you," Elena spoke up.
Little Ashley was quite troubled by her mom's room being so empty, she must clearly be lacking funds!
Elise could not have predicted that seeing her room would have such an effect on Ashley, but this was exactly the moment that caused her daughter to be called in the future,
'The Merchant Princess.'
But that is a story for another time
A knocking noise came from the door and a servant strode in with a man following him carefully, it was a middle-aged man with a plump figure and a jolly expression on his face.
"Good day my duchess, I am the head of a merchant company called 'Golden Mask' and I have brought the goods to decorate the bedroom. You can call me Mr.Rothfield"
Elena frowned slightly, "How did you know that this child was a future duchess?"
The man gave an unfathomable smile and replied, "Do not look down on the information channels my dear knight. All of the kingdom know now that the famous duchess of the north has taken the Precisily child as her ward."
He then gave a short bow to Ashley and swiftly turned around to yell at his employees to bring in the goods.
'What dangerous man,' Elena thought. She began to keep a more careful eye on him as he directed his employees.
"Here are the goods my ladyship, you can select how many you desire, and we will place it for you in the room," the merchant spoke.
Ashley stood starry eyed for a moment, there was so much stuff that some good spilled into the corridor outside. Gorgeous rugs, curtains and wallpapers of every colour imaginable lay on the ground to choose.
The highest class of furniture and books were on display with toys and even short swords with blunted edges that children could play with.
Elena nudged the girl who seemed stuck in place and gestured for her to take a look at what goods she liked. Lady Elise had clearly gone all out and had purchased all the goods present regardless of whether Ashley liked them or not.
All Ashley had to do was simply select an item and it would be placed in the room. No wonder even the head of the merchant company had come to deliver this large order.
It was under this atmosphere of excitement that Elise wandered into the room with Gerald following close behind her. There was no trace of the panic attack from before, but she could do little to hide the tiredness in her eyes.
Ashley spotted her immediately and dashed to her while hugging her legs tightly.
"Hello baby!" Elise smiled and bowed down to pick her daughter up. She planted a gentle kiss on her forehead and Ashley's eyes lit up as she gazed at her mother with an adorably cute expression of shock.
"Mommy look at this beautiful plant!" Ashley exclaimed.
Elise looked down to see her daughter clutching a potted lily flower with a great deal of enthusiasm. She paused for a moment as complex emotions flashed through her eyes, she seemed to recall another little girl who loved to tell her mom what her favourite flowers were.
"If you like it Ashley, we can decorate the corner of the room with an indoor garden," Elise paused slightly then replied.
Elise nodded at the merchant who bowed deeply in reply, the Golden Mask was a company her father had dealings with and had always told her that they were trustworthy and reliable. But he also warned her to never find herself in debt to them in a rare serious tone of voice.
Ashley cheered loudly and ran off to the trader's travelling shop with Elena in hand to buy a few more plants to put in her garden.
Elise gazed at her daughter and turned to Gerald standing behind her,
"I have been a fool all these years."
"Not at all my lady," Gerald immediately replied.
Elise stood still as she saw the room being rapidly decorated all around her, fresh new wallpaper was stuck onto the walls with a soft pink colour. There were a few portraits of angels and fairies hung on the sides of the room.
A small space was used to create a little garden with five potted plants each a different type that filled the air with a sweet-smelling fragrance.
Ashley was slightly embarrassed, but Elise also asked that a gigantic chest be bought and be filled with all the toys that money could buy. There were dolls, teddy bears, balls and anything else that the trader said little girls wanted.
She was determined to buy all the decorations and ornaments to make this room feel like home for Ashley.
"My lady, I do not believe the young miss will enjoy it if the room is only decorated for her, you should place some items you like as well," Gerald thoughtfully added.
Elise said nothing but her eyes shifted towards a certain corner, Gerald saw her gaze and looked towards the small garden. It was a brief moment of quiet as Ashley and Elena were in the corridor outside along with the maidservants curiously examining the remaining goods with the trader so the two were alone in the room.
"III like flowers," Elise muttered softly.
"But every time I see the room decorated like this, I can't stop seeing her."
"What if I start treating Ashley just like how my mom treated me until I." her voice trailed off shakily.
Elise was scared, she had known pain and loneliness most of her life until this little spark had shattered a hole in her frozen heart. She did not want to feel this kind of emotion that was simply a weakness on and off the battlefield.
Suddenly she no longer had the urge to protect just herself and her dukedom but the small child who had entered her life.
But what if she lost control? How could a woman known as a monster ever be fit to raise children?
Her hands shook slightly and a small tendril of darkness at her feet started to wrap around her legs.
A firm hand landed on her shoulder and Elise turned around to see the old butler staring at her.
"Do you think anyone is ready to be a parent?" he asked.
"My lady, so many people have called you a monster that you have started to believe it yourself. Do you think the people you protect in the dukedom call you a monster? Do you think the numerous refugees whose lives can now be filled with peace are afraid of you?" he continued.
Gerald was a man who had lived many years in the service of the Blackwolf house from Elise's grandfather to her father and had seen many kinds of men over the years. Men who wore masks of kindness with dark hearts, men who smiled while others died in front of them and men who were honorable who died to those that were not.
"I think you already know if you can be a good parent or not," the head butler was unafraid and directly looked at his duchess.
Elise said nothing but slowly unfurled her fists and retracted the tendrils lazily waving about by her feet. She walked outside slowly and soon the happy laughter of Ashley resounded through the castle and Elise began to hug her and spin around gently.
Gerald saw the figure of a mother and her child joyfully playing on a beautiful afternoon and the figures overlapped with the images he used to see all those years ago.
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