Chapter 20

 

***

 


“…do you think this dress is the one I originally prepared?”

 

“Then, it’s not?

 

Haha. I see.

 

He completely forgot that I had prepared a silver dress that was paired with the silver suit he was wearing.

 

I knew that Philen was originally insensitive to this, but it was still disappointing.

 

As I remained silent, Philen tilted his head.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“It’s nothing.”

 

“You look unhappy. What do you mean nothing?”

 

Philen frowned slightly.

 

“What’s wrong with you? Did I say something wrong?”

 

“It’s really nothing.”

 

Philen opened his mouth as if he wanted to keep questioning, but the waltz ended in good timing.

 

I ran away from him and ran out of the hall. 

 

Philen tried to come after me, but he was caught by Duke Cloud, so he couldn’t do it.

 

Thanks to this, I was able to ease my emotions by myself, so I headed to the terrace.

 

I was going to stay quiet on the terrace away from the noisy people.

 

“Lady Thebesa, right?”

 

But I couldn’t because a lady had been pretending to know me.

 

It wasn’t polite to ignore someone who spoke kindly. It’s polite to respond appropriately, so I put on a smiling mask on my expressionless face and looked at the other person.

 

As it was the first time I appeared in the social world, I was a stranger to most of them. But this woman knew.

 

“Countess Marissa.”

 

“Oh my goodness, I don’t think I’ve introduced myself, but you know who I am.”

 

“Is there a noble in the Empire who doesn’t know Countess Marissa?”

 

It wasn’t empty words, it was the truth. That’s how famous she was. Whether it’s good or bad.

 

I had never appeared in the social world before, so that’s all I could say as far as I knew.

 

Countess Marissa shrugged her shoulders lightly as if it felt good to know.

 

“For Lady Thebesa, this banquet is your debut stage in the social world, right?

 

“Yes. For some reason, my debut was delayed.”

 

“It’s a long war, so there’s nothing you can do about it.”

 

“What kind of stories are you talking about so interestingly?”

 

“You’re Lady Thebesa, right? It’s my first time seeing you. I…”

 

While I was having a useless conversation with Countess Marissa, I was surrounded by numerous ladies and young children. 

 

It was the first time I was surrounded by so many people, so I was a little surprised, but I pretended not to be at all and greeted them with a smiling mask

 

“It’s your first time in the social world, yet you’re so good.”

 

A lady admired me and praised me. The other lady nodded her head.

 

“As expected for the next Duchess.”

 

“When are you getting married? The Duke is back, so you’ll do it soon, right?”

 

As expected, there’s a talk about marriage. I knew this would happen, so I was trying to run away. But the sweet champagne suddenly felt bitter. I forced a smile and nodded my head.

 

“Yes. I should.”

 

“If you get married, having children is the first, right?”

 

After marriage… is a story about children? I wasn’t surprised by the obvious sequence.

 

I didn’t say anything, but the ladies spoke arbitrarily.

 

“Of course. If you get married too late, does it make sense to have children later?”

 

“If it were someone else, they would have two children already.”

  

“Well, does it matter if you don’t have children? The Duke already has a successor.”

  

The tumultuous atmosphere froze suddenly at the sudden words.

 

I looked at the lady who froze the atmosphere.

 

Her fiery red hair was impressive.

 

Like Countess Marissa, she was one of the few ladies I knew beforehand. No, now that she’s married, I should call her a ‘wife’. 

 

I set the glass of champagne on the table next to me and called out the person’s name.

 

I put the champagne glass on the table next to me and called out that person’s name.

 

“Countess Bzantine.”

 

Sophia Bzantine. Her maiden name was Sophia Huddlen. The daughter of Duke Huddlen.

 

She was once mentioned as a candidate for Philen’s fiancée, with me.

 

At that time, people thought that the Duke and Duchess of Williot would naturally choose Sophia, the daughter of the Duke. I didn’t doubt Sophia, either. 

 

But contrary to everyone’s expectations, the Duke and Duchess of Williot chose me. They chose me, the daughter of a Count, as well as the daughter of a powerless provincial nobleman. 

 

“How dare you!”

 

Sophia was indignant about this and shouted.

 

“You must have used some kind of trick! Otherwise, there’s no way Duke Williot would choose you over me!”

 

“Did you seduce Duke Williot? Did you lift up your skirt and show him your bottom?”

 

She even came to Thebesa mansion, said vulgar things, and slapped me on the cheek.

 

Of course, it wasn’t known to the world that she slapped me on the cheek. Even the former Duke and Duchess of Williot didn’t know.

 

Everyone was silent because Duke Huddlen gave away the gold mine as a huge compensation to cover his daughter’s fault.

 

A gold mine on one cheek. The Count and Countess of Thebesa immediately shut their mouths.

 

There’s nothing I could do about it. I wondered if I wasn’t just a daughter but a daughter they really cared about. I had my doubts, though.

 

Fearing Sophia would do anything wrong again, Duke Huddlen found a marriage partner and sent her right away. 

 

The marriage partner was Count Bzantine. Although not as good as Duke Williot, Count Bzantine was also a good marriage partner.

 

So Sophia became Countess Bzantine, and I had never met her since then. But I never thought I’d see her in a place like this. 

 

It wasn’t a very pleasant meeting, so I looked at Sophia without saying a word.

 

Sophia looked at me as if to chew on me and snorted.

 

“As expected, people should know my topic. That’s what happens when you covet high places without knowing the topic.”

 

“Madam, what are you talking…”

 

“Why?” 

 

A lady carefully reprimanded Sophia, and Sophia turned her head with a snort.

 

“Did I say something wrong? It’s true that Duke Williot has a child, right?”

 

“Madam Bzantine.”

 

“I heard that he really cares about the woman with the child. And she was the princess of the Mullis Kingdom.”

 

A smirk spread across Sophia’s lips.

 

“That woman has a better bloodline than Lady Thebesa.”

 

Now Sophia was sarcastic, pointing out that I wasn’t Countess Thebesa’s biological daughter. 

 

Count Thebesa tried to hide it, but there were no perfect secrets in the world.

 

Secretly, it became known that I was a flawed lady.

 

Most of the people here weren’t surprised and looked at me in the eye. It seemed like they already knew.

 

My hands were shaking and my head was pounding.

  

I was lucky to have put down my champagne glass beforehand. Or I’d have dropped it in an unsightly manner.

 

“Oh, did I hit the nail on the head?”

 

As I remained silent, Sophia grinned triumphantly and swayed her fan. It was a face that she had won.

 

Well, is that so? You have to see who’s laughing at the end.

 

I took a deep breath to calm my pounding heart and drew a shallow smile on the spot.

 

“I know, right?”

 

As I admitted obediently, Sophia frowned and looked at me.

 

“Obviously that woman’s bloodline is better than mine, but she is the princess of a fallen kingdom. So it seems unnecessary to discuss her bloodline.”

 

I continued without avoiding Sophia’s gaze.

 

“What matters is the present and the future. I will soon become a Duchess, but as a wife, you can never leave your position as a Countess for the rest of your life.”

 

It meant that I would rise to a higher position than you in the future, although my bloodline wasn’t as good as yours. Because women’s positions were supposed to follow their husband’s after marriage.

 

When I became a Duchess, even if you could talk behind my back, you couldn’t say anything out loud in front of me. 

 

The quick-witted Sophia immediately understood what I was saying and distorted her face in disbelief.

 

“Watch your mouth. You seem to think that it’s okay to say things rudely…!”

 

“It’s not me, it’s madam who speaks rudely.”

 

I wiped the smile from my lips and looked at Sophia with cool eyes.

 

“Can’t you feel how many eyes are on madam right now?”

 

It was only when I said that Sophia blushed and turned around, perhaps feeling the stinging gaze around her.

 

“I’ll never forget what happened today, Lady Thebesa! You’ll see!”

 

She poured out her malice towards me until the moment she left.

 

What the h*ll did I do so wrong?

 

It was absurd and ridiculous.

 

The conversation with Sophia lasted only a few words, but it was as exhausting as a long discussion.

 

I wanted to go back to the mansion and rest.

 

“My Lady…”

 

“I’m sorry, madam.”

 

But I couldn’t go back yet, so I smiled faintly and apologized to the wife who called me. 

 

“I want to rest alone for a while, is it possible?”

 

“Yes, Yes. Of course.”

 

I was worried about what would happen if they continued to stick around, but fortunately, they just walked away.

 

I left them sorry and went out to the terrace.

 

Unlike the inside that was muggy due to the heat of people, the terrace was cool due to the cool breeze.

 

I liked that there’s no loud music and no people talking here.

 

Sophia must have been chewing on me a lot while sharing it with others. Bringing up my birth and the story of Philen’s mistress.

 

With that in mind, I didn’t want to go back to the banquet hall again, but I had to go back because Philen would look for me soon.

 

“I really hate it…”

 

I’d rather wrestle with the documents for days.

 

The tight corset for a slim waist was also uncomfortable, and my feet hurt from needlessly high heels.

 

“I want to go back to the mansion.”

 

I grunted softly and leaned against the railing.

 

“I’ve just started, do you want to go back already?”

 

A blue-haired man walked into the terrace.