Chapter 9

Translator: Alice

Editor: SoaringPeaches

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Huge thanks to Roxypeony for the kofis! (2/3)

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“It’s all yours.”

 

‘What did His Excellency mean by that?’

 

Eileen couldn’t read Cesare’s intentions, but she knew herself well enough. She wished to marry for love, not out of necessity.

 

They were too different to begin with. Cesare was able to kiss any potential spouse, while Eillen could only kiss the person she loved.

 

Instead of becoming a duchess in this political marriage, equal to Cesare in every respect, she would remain a ‘child’ in his eyes. Was this immature of her? The anxiety she felt about the whole situation did not diminish.

 

‘Should I ask him to call off this engagement when I see him today? To save me in some other way?’

 

Maybe she should be bold and ask him openly to help her with her research.

 

Even if she had been caught, she had already completed half of her work. Morpheus would undoubtedly be enough to warrant a pardon for creating such a dr*g. 

 

Eileen may not have experienced the world, but she was confident in her abilities. It was a fact that she was academically inclined, and she had spent half her life nurturing this trait.

 

‘I was always the one who needed help. So I wished to be of some use in return.’

 

Part of her wanted to admit that she had researched powerful painkillers just for Cesare’s sake. Gloom overtook her as she caressed the white petals. No matter what she said at the banquet, she will undoubtedly be seen as a brat.

 

‘I won’t run away. I made him a promise.’

 

Eileen rose from the sofa, muttering to herself about the preparations she needed to make. She carefully arranged the lilies in a vase before focusing on the preparations for the banquet.

 

Cesare sent her a variety of dresses and jewellery for the occasion. The lady who arrived to help her dress was intrusive and curious about the entire situation. She proved to be quite tiresome. Eileen reluctantly accepted help with her clothing, but dismissed the helper as soon as possible.

 

Preparing alone was difficult, but she persevered, grumbling the whole way. She was dressed somewhat sloppily, but presentable enough.

 

She had no desire to stand out at the banquet. Her plan was to quietly stay in a corner, exchange quick congratulations with Cesare, and then make a swift exit.

 

As she finished getting ready, a car pulled up in front of the house, ready to take Eileen. Cesare’s soldier escorted her to the palace.

 

Eileen had yet to make her high society debut, so arriving at her first banquet left her feeling nervous and unprepared. Despite her efforts to maintain composure, apprehension gripped her as she entered the banquet hall, her steps faltering in a frozen panic.

 

The opulence of the imperial palace banquet hall far exceeded her expectations. Every detail shimmered, casting a brilliant aura around her, possibly heightened by her awareness of the Grand Duke’s presence.

 

In the grandeur of the luxurious banquet hall, extravagantly dressed men and women mingled, their laughter and chatter filling the air as they eagerly awaited the star of the show.

 

Unmarried young ladies dressed meticulously, exuding an aura of refined elegance. The fragrant scent of various perfumes surrounded them, like a garden of vibrant blooms.

 

Amidst the lively exchanges and jovial greetings among the young attendees, Eileen melted with the background like wallpaper.

 

Even when discussing the woman who received the Grand Duke’s affection, they failed to recognise the subject of their conversation. She listened carefully. Apparently, she was rumoured to be a peerless beauty who received a bouquet of flowers.

 

It was only natural for them to embellish the truth.

 

After all, she looked unsophisticated, all big glasses and bushy fringe. The extravagant dress looked out of place on its wearer. She felt ridiculous.

 

To think that such a rustic person, who always confined herself to her laboratory, would attend such a lavish banquet. She was a pebble on a smooth, cultivated path.

 

The nervousness made Eileen want to vomit. Even the dance card on her wrist felt too heavy as she entered the banquet hall.

 

The dance card, which was pre-filled with the names of the people with whom one would dance, was completely blank. Unmarried women who do not receive dance requests were referred to as ‘wallflowers’ in high society, but calling Eileen a flower was overly generous.

 

‘I’m little more than a weed in this flowerfield.’

 

It appeared that it would take a while for Cesare to show up. She had to play the role of a wallflower until he arrived.

 

The sudden clamour in the banquet hall signalled the arrival of soldiers clad in resplendent uniforms. Nearby, Eileen overheard a young lady marvelling and gossiping lively with another guest.

 

“Oh my! Their uniforms are really to die for!”

 

Soldiers who had returned from the war after three long years rejoined their social circles once again. Many of the attending ladies set their sights on the Grand Duke’s soldiers.

 

Generously rewarded for their triumphs, the returning soldiers were undoubtedly wealthy and thus became desirable bachelors. Some women were more attracted to the soldiers’ rugged charm than to the gentlemen, who only indulged in shooting and hunting as a hobby.

 

“It’s as if they’d protect us no matter what,” one lady remarked, her voice tinged with admiration. “So dependable.”

 

“Indeed, their physique is quite impressive,” another added with a suggestive tone. “And one can only imagine their prowess under the sheets as well.”

 

Eileen’s cheeks flushed with indignation at the overtly suggestive remarks. Discreetly distancing herself from the group, she watched as the soldiers made their entrance into the banquet hall. Among them, she spotted Lotan and Diego, Cesare’s personal knights.

 

They looked very dignified in their ceremonial uniforms. Lotan, as always, appeared neat, while Diego, with all of his piercings and jewellery removed, exuded sophistication.

 

She figured a simple nod to them would suffice for the time being. It would be too conspicuous to acknowledge them outright.

 

“…!”

 

Eileen’s gaze met that of a soldier scanning the banquet hall. Even though he was a stranger, recognition flashed in his widening eyes when he saw her. He quickly signalled her presence to his comrades, who then turned to face her.

 

Eileen’s shoulders trembled with the weight of their scrutiny as Lotan and Diego approached. As the distinguished duo made their way diagonally across the banquet hall, all eyes naturally focused on them. Their arrival piqued the interest of other soldiers, who gathered around them.

 

“Miss!”

 

Diego, in his haste, pushed Lotan aside and advanced quickly.

 

“Miss the dance card! Show me the dance card!”

 

He deftly snatched Eileen’s dance card and quickly signed his name on the second line. Diego smiled proudly, having successfully written his name before Lotan.

 

While Diego basked in his momentary triumph, Lotan smoothly took the dance card to write his name as Eileen’s third dancing partner.

 

“Miss Eileen, thank you for coming. His Highness will be delighted.”

 

As he kindly spoke, other soldiers also subtly approached Eileen.

 

“Miss Eileen, do you happen to remember me? I was the one who found the book you lost when you were twelve.”

 

“Oh, of course, I remember! I was extremely grateful.”

 

“Then may I request a dance?”

 

“Oh, of course.”

 

To be honest, the memory had faded with time, yet the sense of gratitude remained, prompting her to acknowledge their presence. Just as she did, another soldier approached her directly.

 

“Miss Eileen, I would also like to ask you for a dance! You may not remember, but when you were fifteen,

 

And so the night went, in a whirlwind of conversations with the knights. She greeted them with haste and responded to their questions and requests left and right. Before she knew it, her dancing card was scribbled with names upon names upon names.

 

And yet, when left with a moment to check, Eileen was left in bewilderment when she saw the blank space on the first line.

 

‘What? Why?’

 

All the soldiers who asked her for a dance avoided it like a plague. Even Diego, the first to write his name, looked at it with a mixed expression.

 

‘Wait a minute… Shouldn’t the lady be the one to write her partner’s names?!’

 

In all of their haste, Eileen was left with legitimate signatures from these people. She looked at Diego, feeling quite bamboozled. She didn’t mind it, of course, so she voiced it as well. Diego chuckled nervously as he tried to justify himself.

 

“Will you look at that?! After being absent from high society for so long… I became quite a ruffian. I can’t believe I got my etiquette all mixed up. Ha ha ha!”

 

Eileen looked at him sceptically, but he seemed sincere enough. Then again, who was she to judge, knowing very little of social etiquette herself? While the young ladies were learning it, Eileen was away at the university playing scientist.

 

When she returned to society, her family was in financial ruin, and they could not afford to hire an etiquette tutor. Eileen later made a living by making and selling medicine, but she could not afford to make her high-society debut, which required a significant investment.

 

Nonetheless, she roughly mimicked some of what she had learned when she visited the palace as a child.

 

‘Still, it doesn’t explain why the first line was left empty?’


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Notes

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