Chapter 20

***

Translated and edited by ether_ria

***

 

Ten years ago, I received a piano as a gift from Karen.

 

“You have to cultivate culture.”

 

That’s what she said when she gave it.

 

It was a piano that Karen bought for herself. However, one day one of the keys on the piano broke, so Karen ordered to take it away with her face saying that she was tired of playing it.

 

And that expensive piano was then headed towards my room.

 

Did the servants treat my room as a large dumpster? However, I was not concerned about it in the first place.

 

It was my first present.

 

It felt mysterious when sounds were coming from the piano when I pressed the keys hard. I grew interested in it and started playing it often and with time got very well in it. My skills improved dramatically.

 

“Stella plays the piano very well.”

 

After Joseph’s warm compliment, I felt like I played harder everyday.

 

Now that I look back, all the effort was all in vain. It was just their shallow interest in me but it was all precious back then.

 

“This is my treasure.”

 

Coincidentally, I happened to show Clyde how to play the piano. Perhaps he liked it, so he came to hear the piano more and more often.

 

“If you come at 4 p.m, I’ll start to be happy at 3 p.m.” Like the famous phrase in a book called “1)”,* I became happy even before Clyde came. Though I didn’t even know when he’d come.

 

The only one who found my world was a reticent but reliable boy.

 

So, if the sound of the piano went out of the door of my room, it would probably lead him to me. I was full of anticipation and happiness that he will knock on my door one day.

 

It hit.

 

The warm sunlight hit and filled her vision as she escaped from her thoughts. The warmth of the afternoon sun permeated between the two of them, leaving a lasting impression, just like a memory.

 

 ‘You still remember…’

 

Stella brushed her fingertips on the keys, recalling a familiar tune.

 

While remembering her bitter childhood, how a boy who had not been tamed by anyone looked at her. She felt his gaze, but she didn’t look back.

 

He then tried to remember the tune completely, and played a precarious tune that seemed to break, groping through each memory after memory. Stella pedaled and tried to recreate the sound as fully as possible. This simple tune was all she could give to the man who returned her piano. A lot has changed, but she wanted to tell him that there is one thing that hasn’t changed.

 

The sound of the calm music spread.

 

* * *

 

“45 trillion!”

 

The emperor suddenly spoke up in a loud voice because he felt sick.

 

So, was Stella’s calm attitude and words not pretentious? She didn’t get her dignity from begging the nobility, nor from the affection of any man. It was entirely her own effort.

 

That made it even more unique and he couldn’t help but stare in awe.

 

The emperor couldn’t help but exceed his expectations. The finance minister replied calmly.

“I found out that it was true. Her entire fortune is said to be kept safe in the Golden Bank of the Evanders family. Now, even if the princess breathes, it’s interesting enough….”

 

“Is it really true that she has 45 trillion? 45 trillion gold?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Uh-huh. The emperor clicked his tongue.

 

Come to think of it, money is the most needed thing for the imperial family.

 

It’s not worth it to bow your head in the face of the arrogant Evanders’ golden table because of his money, but 45 trillion!

 

His eyes glistened.

 

‘I’m proud of you. I’m very proud.’

 

‘Not only that. I’d like to make a donation to the Stella Ethelanche Foundation.’

 

“Letters are coming to the palace one by one. I’m sure the nobles who wanted to follow Princess Stella reached out first.”

 

“You’ve already won the hearts of the nobles! Haha, that’s my daughter!”

 

The Emperor laughed loudly and roared.

 

The Empress stared at her husband silently. She had a pale complexion on her face.

 

The emperor, unable to control his joy, held the empress arms and said,

 

“Why are you not smiling on this fine day? My daughter isn’t just a billionaire, she’s a Trillionaire, huh.”

“She won’t miss me.”

 

“What?”

 

“If she has a lot of money and there are precious people who regard her as her family, she will not miss her ugly mother. I was thinking…”

 

“What are you talking about now?”

 

“I heard Karen didn’t pick Stella up on the street. Stella, she…. you said she had a letter that she wrote herself, and there was a family Stella missed in her letter. Let’s find those good people and talk with them. How she’s been, what she likes. Honey, l mean we…”

 

“You.”

 

The emperor’s face darkened.

 

“Do you even know what that means?”

 

“I’m just…”

 

“She told me not to touch them. Don’t try to know, don’t try to be curious. She said she hated us so much, so just treat her well, feed her well, and dress her well. Why are you trying to mess things up? Do what the child tells you to do.”

 

“I can’t even speak? My child is sick of me. She comes back and says I’m not her mother, grabs another man’s hand and turns her back on me and then you say I shouldn’t do anything? It is enough for you to ignore that I am from another country. Even now, I get information about those people I’m grateful for from Karen.”

 

“She did it because you weren’t even like a mother.”

 

“You…”

 

“You’d better behave if you want to be her mother even now. Misella, Don’t do anything useless.”

 

“It’s like this every day. Every day. My words don’t even make sense to you? What a good father you were then…”

 

Karen watched the two through a gap in the open door and took a step back.

 

‘I’m sick and tired of it.’

 

The fight between these two people everyday. It’s all because of Stella. Karen swallowed her seething anger.

 

Nothing has changed since she was young and now.

 

Mother and father always fought over Stella’s abilities, and the two fought over Stella’s abilities again, ten years later.

 

Stella.

 

Stella.

 

Again Stella.

 

It was fine though.

 

“I’m glad you’re a good girl, Karen.”

 

Karen was thankful for the sweet privilege she was given.

 

It was nice to be the only daughter who was loved and recognized and felt that she was special.

 

“Get out of the way, you useless thing.”

 

Useless thing. She brooded over the words.

 

Karen, who was walking down the aisle, greeted with her usual face as a familiar face approached on the other side.

 

“Princess?”

 

The owner of the distinctive voice was Jean Bezil.

 

Even Karen knew who he was.

 

He was a top-notch designer who pushed ‘El Vione’, the luxury clothing brand of Evanders, which had a legendary status in the market, with one skill.

 

When he shows his respect, Karen raises her chin and says,

 

“Raise your head.”

 

“It’s an honor to see you again. Princess Karen. I’m Jean Bezil, the most recognized designer of the Empire. The Ciel collection has been well received by ladies and girls. I greeted you at the front door earlier.”

 

Producers and consumers in the high-end clothing market were not aware of Jean Basil’s ‘Ciel Collection’.

 

The Ciel Collection was a collection perfectly suited to the times, well received by the conservative aristocratic community for its dramatic luxury and unrestrained beauty-seeking design.

 

It was also a dress label that was worn by Angelica Ridge, the Empire’s most famous heiress.

 

A label that was always mentioned as number one when it comes to dress among aristocrats. A dream dress.

 

‘Well, if he recommends so earnestly, then I might wear it with a simple design at least once…’

 

Karen raised her neck and opened her mouth in a slightly arrogant manner.

 

“I’ve heard of it. By the way, what’s that?”

 

Karen’s eyes turned to the envelope in Jang’s hand. Jean said with a big smile.

 

“Oh, this is an invitation. I was just looking for a servant to deliver this to the Princess, who was purely inspired. So Your Highness the Princess…

 

“Oh, of course. I’ll think about it.”

 

Karen snatched the envelope.

 

Jean Bezil blinked with a surprised look on his face. Then he shook his head and smiled brightly.

 

“No, no, no. Jean Bezil wanted to write a letter to Princess Stella, Princess Karen’s younger sister.”

 

“……..”

 

“I was going to ask Princess Karen, of course, but the thrifty Princess Karen is not interested in my collection, so what would you like to ask?”

 

Karen recalled what she had said to Stella in front of Jean Bezil.

 

“Is it a luxury to give money to the aristocrats now? Jean Bezil’s dress is like…”

 

“Okay, bye. I’ll deliver the letter.”

 

Karen’s hand trembled as she held the letter.

 

“Yes, please. So kind.”

 

Jean Bezil smiled indisputably, nodded and walked away.

 

Karen glanced at the invitation.

 

‘Yeah. I am the thrifty princess Karen Ethelanche. She is a good young lady.  She is unlike anyone who is extravagant.’

 

She turned around and quickly moved on.

 

* * *

 

“I heard you met Princess Stella.”

 

A woman who was looking out the window of a mansion turned around.

 

Jean Bezil, the designer, overwhelmed by her beauty, stiffened for a while, then picked up in a loud voice.

 

Even for him, who likes men, the woman in front of the huge window was so beautiful that it seemed impossible to take his eyes off her.

 

The slender woman was like a living, breathing doll. Thick eyelashes, long black hair cascaded down her shoulders, and her blue eyes seemed to be immersed in the depths of the water.

 

Her name was Angelica Reese.

 

She was a young heiress of Gustave Reese, who has become a hot topic. Gustave Resse was also the fourth richest man in the Empire.

 

“Everyone is curious about her. And me too, of course…”

 

When Angelica smiled faintly, Jean Bezil wondered if angels from heaven were surrounding her and blowing the trumpet.

 

Angelica moved slowly and sat on a luxurious sofa.

 

“Jean, what kind of person is she?”

 

When her eyes as clear as the sky turned to Jean Bezil, Jean was in awe.

 

‘I always get inspiration when I look into those eyes. Like “Ciel Collection”.’

 

Jean Bezil moved inside and sat down next to Angelica.

 

Angelica stroked the white brush with her hand.

 

“Princess Stella is my benefactor. Thanks to her foundation, I was able to prevent a big loss.”

 

“I see. It’s been a while since I heard good news. I needed a friend.”

 

“…friend?”

 

Jean Bezil blinked. Angelica nodded in conviction.

 

“I’m not a very courageous person, Jean.”

 

She lowered her eyes.

 

“I’m tired of my uncles, men who want to marry me, and scammers who are trying to cover my eyes and ears… Nevertheless, I couldn’t push them out.”

 

“Ah··.”

 

“That’s why, I think a strong person would be able to be a good friend. Don’t you think so as well?”

 

Angelica said with a sad face. Jean Bezil nodded.

 

“I think so, ma’am. Your Highness Princess Stella was the most courageous and dignified person I’ve ever seen. With that, she’s also wealthy like Miss Angelica, so I think she might understand you.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Angelica smiled softly.

 

“You’ll see her in society soon. …my benefactor.”

****

 

1) Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943, 4.