Adele stood up as the servant sobbed and bowed her head. People told and whispered her things to prepare for her to what she was about to see, but she ignored them and kept walking with a straight face. As she stepped outside the castle, the mud tarnished her dress but there was neither the time to care for the dirt nor for the commoners throwing glances at her at the port. She kept on walking, not caring about the commoners standing near the port who glanced at her. She passed the merchants who shed tears for the lost goods and the drowned money.
Finally, she arrived in front of a wooden coffin… The lid had a name engraved on it and it said “Maktus”. Arthur, the family servant stood in front of the coffin and it seemed he too was a bit hesitant to see Adele…
“Uhm, my lady…” He said while looking at her but not meeting her gaze.
“Open it.” She demanded with a stern look.
“I think you need to prepare your heart first…”
“I said open it!”
There was nothing to ask or say after the order from Adele. Arthur paused for a moment, and then lifted the lid of the coffin heavy-heartedly.
Inside the coffin laid her husband, who had held her hands just a few days ago. Arthur wept and tried to hold his tears while standing behind her.
“We were hit by a storm, and master was standing at the bow when the winds groaned and threw him into the water. It was too late when we brought him up…”
The corpse of Enon Maktus slept with a white cloth covering the face, this was a required tradition as he was a nobleman.
As Adele raised the fabric with trembling hands, she saw a familiar face. The corners of his eyes and the nose, his square jaw, were the same. However, the little lips that used to shine bright red had turned black.
The body was swollen with water, and his skin was rotten in some parts. She recalled what Enon said to her as she saw the handkerchief she had once given to him, crumpled in his still pale hands now.
“There might be rumors going on just because this foolish man married a perfect wife.”
He did not love her. This was just a marriage arranged by their parents. He never loved her as his woman.
“This time, I’ll buy you a bunch of things you like. You can expect it!” He had said the last time she had seen him.
He was a kind man who did everything he could for her. An unquestionably good person. He was someone she felt comfortable around and that satisfied her. She was contented with this life and didn’t wish for anything else. But why this?! Why was this being done to her?
Adele stumbled when in her defeated state, she thought saw the ghost of her long-dead mother instead of Enon’s body.
‘It has happened again…’
Trembling, she sat down and held onto the wooden coffin, silent tears rolled down her cheeks… ‘All my dear ones have left me just like this! Now I lost another one.’ Her mind kept repeating the words over and over again.
‘Why? Why am I being punished like this? Ugh!’
A groan spit out of Adele’s throat. It sounded like a hole that was blocked but in pain, and she heaved heavily while holding onto her throat. The terrible shock had made her short of breath and the coughed continuously.
“Sister-in-law.” She held herself, or tried to at least, and looked up to face Noah. He was looking at her with concern smeared in his eyes. The soreness of her throat did not lessen and the coughing and mourning continued.
Surprisingly, Noah pulled Adele into his arms and slowly, she leaned into his wide arms. Noah wrapped her waist with his sturdy arms and lifted her chin. He whispered softly into her ears.
“Slowly, breathe out. Yes. Just like that.”
As Adele’s breathing slowed and she began to get control of her breathe, the loud commotion became quiet. Her body leaned forward, and her fingers touched Enon’s body. Adele looked at him with eyes that had lost their focus.
Noah took her into his arms. “Let’s go.”
He said and carried her at once. Holding Adele who was taller than other women, he showed no signs of difficulty. Rather, he walked with a stoic face to the castle, those who saw them moved to the sides to make a way for them.
The commoners whispered and gossiped among each other.
“Gosh! Her husband is dead. What will now happen to the lady?”
“Wait, you don’t know?”
“She’ll be marrying her brother-in-law, of course!”
“Oh, how could such a thing happen…”
“There’s nothing you can do, it’s the law of this country. If the brother dies, then she becomes the wife of the younger brother…”