For someone who had been dominating others since birth, controlling their impulses was almost impossible. This was true especially if the person in question is the successor of Eufgenschult, whom none dared to oppose, with the exception of his father. He had a very hot-tempered personality.
At the unbearable insult, Max looked down at the table with widened eyes, wine glass in hand. The Duke who had grasped his son’s inner deliberation on whether to throw the wine glass or not instantly, stopped him with a low voice.
“You shouldn’t be like that. Without thinking of the reason behind your father’s sarcasm, you are in a hurry to relieve your anger. Stop doing things you will regret and sit down.”
“Look at you, you should learn how to manage yourself while living in school. Everytime, I…”
Interrupting the Duke’s words, Max clenched his fists and looked straight at his father.
“Did you plan to send your smart illegitimate b*****d to the same school as me, for him to get good grades to compare with the foolish legitimate heir? Father always does this! You don’t even consider how I’ll be ridiculed if I was pushed down by that b*****d.”
“Be it my dignity or honor, Father, it’s you, who is always souring the order of how things should be. It’s always like this…!”
The clenched fist that held the wine glass rose tensely, and fell again in vain. Max stared at the duke with his lips curled angrily, before turning and leaving the table.
“Since it’s a school that you can’t enter unless you’re from nobility, you must have donated a lot to get an admission application. But what should I do, Father? As soon as I returned, I tore it apart in front of him and threw it in his face.”
“Max! How could you mess with your father’s business?”
“Anyways, Isaac said that he had no intention of going to school, so everything went well, don’t you think? No, don’t come and say anything anymore! Please don’t do anything useless and just leave it be!”
Max spat out angrily and left the dining room in big strides.
The Duke, who was watching his son’s retreating figure with burning eyes, also sighed after a long while, and went out of the other door.
At the Duke’s order to bring him alcohol, the butler, who stayed by the wall like a stone statue, moved hurriedly in response. The servants who were hardened in their positions, breathed out slightly at his signal.
The heavy atmosphere seemed to sink endlessly into a swamp due to his departure. The Duchess, who observed the father and son’s fight silently, took a sip of her glass of water with a frown on her face.
“Anyway, it’s been a while since we’ve met but isn’t it nice that you just left without a formal greeting? It’s really awkward for such situations to occur each time we meet.”
Carla laughed at the softly whispered sigh.
“My mother is also very…You’re aware of Max’s and Father’s personalities. Even if we are in the midst of a formal appearance, they will be busy keeping each other in check.”
“That’s the part that is weird. Max is Max, but your father is really… Max is the heir anyways, so I don’t understand why your father sides with that child.”
What do you mean you don’t know? Carla raised an eyebrow at the Duchess’s sly remarks and let out a subtle smile.
The reason behind the Duke’s favor towards Issac was apparent to Carla after meeting with Issac briefly. While Max had a quick temper and did as he pleased, Issac was calm and mature, making it hard to believe that he was the younger brother between the two.
Above all, he was just… wise.
Not only is he knowledgeable, his behaviour and speech changes depending on the person he’s talking to, in order to give them a good impression. It wasn’t merely being perceptive, but cunningness. With an infinitely innocent face, he wielded such tricks, As such, it would have been impossible for her to not like Issac, regardless of the Duke’s favor towards him.
As the hostess of the mansion, there was no way the Duchess could not know the true nature of the child. Nonetheless, the Duchess got Issac out of her mind with some effort, and with an nonchalant face, she touched her chest.
“If I leave this situation as it is, breakfast tomorrow will be ruined. Carla, go to Max as soon as you’ve finished eating. Won’t he feel better with your reassurance?”
“Well, will he?”
“No matter what happens, the two of you are twins. Besides you, who else would he open up to? Tell him about your school life and how the capital has been like these days.”
Without a moment’s pause, the Duchess rose from her seat and left the dining room with gentle footsteps. The handmaiden followed behind her, leaving only Carla and three maids in the dining room to clear the dishes when they’re done.
Carla, who had been gazing at her mother’s vacated seat, folded her napkin and stood from her seat very slowly. She let out a long sigh and disappeared with unwilling steps, leaving behind the uncomfortable silence typical to the dining room.
It was already midnight when she finished cleaning up the dining room. Dahlia hurriedly returned to the dormitory, washed up roughly, and then laid down on her bed. The sound of a sigh left her and fell over the soft lamp light. Edina, who was sewing her skirt across her, smiled and lifted her head.
“Are you tired from work today? In the first place, it has always been tricky to serve during mealtimes.”
“The work wasn’t difficult, but I was a little surprised because the atmosphere was so tense. Were the two masters not on good terms from the start?”
“The Master and the Little Duke?”
As she nodded, Edina narrowed her brows slightly and continued her words.
“At first, it was okay, but apparently their relationship worsened after the Duke brought the Young Master five years ago. It’s not something anyone can understand. I think I’ll be very upset if my dad suddenly introduces another person as my brother.”
“I’ll be disappointed with my dad, and I’d hate the child he brought,” Edina, who continued her passionate speech, frowned and added.
“Without the Young Master, the mansion would have been much more peaceful. It’s mostly because of the Young Master that the Little Duke is annoyed. It’s exhausting.”
“Is this also why the Duchess is angry at the Young Master?”
Unaware that she had frowned, Dahlia responded to her words. Her common sense could not comprehend how the dissatisfaction caused by the Masters’ finicky personalities could be concluded as the Young Master’s fault.
“There is nothing wrong with the Young Master.”
“Yes, he didn’t do anything wrong, but that’s the truth. This incident occurred because the Duke favors the Young Master only. Look at what happened today. If your father was prejudiced against you, wouldn’t you be angry? What’s more if you were someone with strong pride, like the Little Duke?“
Edina’s words made sense in her own way. Still, Dahlia’s displeasure did not go away, so she could only stare at the pitiful ceiling with her eyebrows raised. It is okay to be discriminated against, but it was not right of him to bully and beat his brother like that.
Furthermore, Max must have lived a peaceful life with the support of his family, as he is the successor. It was inappropriate. At the same time, she felt that Isaac was very pitiful.
“No, Edina. I feel sorry for the Little Duke, but what did the Young Master do wrong? Did he want to be born as an illegitimate child?”
“That’s also the reason why the Duke defends the Young Master. It must be because there is no one other than the Master that will take care of him.”
Hating is usually easier than tolerating someone.
If Max had made a slightly more difficult choice, if he had accepted Isaac as a brother instead of pushing him away, the atmosphere in the mansion might have been completely different from what it is today.
Of course, all of it were useless assumptions now. Dahlia recalled a helpless smile and continued to talk as if she was about to cry.
“…It’s difficult to see. I thought that if they were able to live like this, they would get along with their family. Why is it so disappointing to know that they bite each other?”
It was because of money. All because of that ‘great’ money, Dahlia tried to abandon her only sister.
[Editor: great is said sarcastically, hence the ‘ ’.]
She didn’t have such thoughts from the beginning. The bond between the two left behind in the world was full of affection. More than anyone, Dahlia loved and cared for her younger sister, her only family left in the world.
But such affections gradually lost its worth in the face of harsh reality.
Laurel was often very ill. Dahlia needed too much money to support living with her. Even though she saved money by sewing with fern-like hands and running errands, it was far from enough to take care of Laurel.
Laurel lived quietly to comfort her, but Dahlia’s heart broke in an instant. As she could not afford to pay for the medicine, her respiratory system could not be fixed. Even if she tried to forget about her situation, an episode of seizure would come and she would have to take care of Laurel. She was sick of it.
To a young Dahlia, her only sister had become a burden. She believed that her life would have become more comfortable, if her only blood relative had died and disappeared. Dahlia then came to a realization.
WIthout money, the smallest amount of dignity can’t be kept. People weren’t good from the beginning.
The sense of shame she felt then was still vivid, even until now. Along with her determination to not have such thoughts in the future, the notion that people living well would care for each other and live harmoniously took root in her mind. But as she watched the events of tonight’s dinner… She wondered to herself why did she had such a belief.
Having money doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is happy.
Is the Duchy particularly gloomy, or that other noble families also have the same atmosphere?
Dahlia, who had been contemplating as she lay down on her stomach and pinched her chin, felt a persistent gaze and turned her head to her side. Edina, who was looking at her with her curious gaze, put her hairbrush down on the side table, and then she stretched out her arm to pinch Dahlia’s cheek.
“Oh my, Miss Dahlia is so naive. Did you think that if you had enough money, everyone would be able to live peacefully, huh?”
“…Am I the only one who thought so?”
“Whether we’re living well or living in poverty, we’re all humans. No…that’s not right. Because we have more things, we become increasingly anxious to steal from each other.”
Mumbling in an unenergetic voice, Edina buried herself in bed.
“Working in a mansion… I don’t think there’s much difference with being a nobleman. They may behave elegantly, but the twisted things are the same in my house.”
After grumbling to herself, Edina stopped thinking about useless things and got up, closing the curtains and turning off the lamp. The smell of oil remained faintly in the darkened air, tickling the tip of the nose.
Dahlia followed the trajectory of her fluttering curtains with her eyes blankly, contemplating. In her head, Edina’s previous sentence reverberated strangely. Somehow she felt like she experienced deja vu, and thinking deeper about it, her words were very similar to what she heard this morning.
‘Even if they’re from nobility, they’re merely human beings.’
The empty echo lingered in her ears.
Why did the Young Master say that? Was his words spoken lightly like Edina did?
As her thoughts grew deeper, the heavier her eyelids became. While repeatedly recalling the low-pitched voice, Dahlia slowly fell into slumber’s embrace.