02. A man scorned
Realizing it belatedly, Lucas smiled as he shrugged.
“No way. That? What secret, when she’ll find out later since we’re about to be wed. Why, is that such a big deal? Wouldn’t Grace accept that much?”
Jaime tilted his head to the side.
That much? It’s not that much?
“Um… I’m not referring to that secret exactly, but. Ah, well. It’s not like there’s no connection between them. But still…”
“What then. Tell it to me straight. What in the world are you talking about, seriously.”
“Ugh! Why can’t you catch on! From generation to generation, isn’t there something about the men of House Blacke that’s special?! Augh, why must I say this with my own mouth!”
“When it comes to black stallions, they are PEER.LESS. are they not?!”
Lucas was about to ask cluelessly back once more, but he suddenly burst out in laughter, as though he found it ridiculous.
“What are you saying in front of one person involved in the matter?”
“Ugh, then what about me? I’m even the one who has to organize your underwear and pants separately!”
Lucas narrowed his eyes. One of his hands reached towards Jaime.
Jaime immediately squeezed his eyes shut, thinking that he’d be whacked on the head.
Very much on purpose, he put on a terrified expression.
That’s how he could ensure that the hit would be less painful.
And then, one long, slender finger flicked him right in the middle of his brows.
Letting out a short yell, Jaime furtively looked at Lucas with tears in his eyes.
“Stop spouting nonsense. Go see how it’s going in the kitchen.”
“Next time, you might be getting a punch instead of just a flick. Move quickly.”
“I-I’ll go. I’m going!”
Sigh. This much was fortunate, however.
Truthfully speaking, Jaime was a bit too rowdy.
If he had been in front of another aristocrat, he’d have already been reprimanded by his master for being so impudent. However, Jaime’s master was more compassionate than anyone would guess, and he’s quite fond of the aide.
“Anyway, there’s really more than meets the eye.”
Jaime speedily traversed through the hallway, rubbing his red and throbbing forehead. Still, with a broad smile on his face.
Right now, he needed to hurry up and go to the kitchen. This was so that he could check the first meal of his master and possible future madam here at the mansion.
* * *
“Yes! Thanks to Norman O’Ellin, we’re finally going to have a taste of Luna 20! I can’t believe it.”
“Haha, we made a truly good friend! I don’t see any other man as loyal as Norman!”
“I heard that there are only seven Luna 20s in the Royal Palace’s cellar. Just how did you get your hands on one, Norman?”
With Norman leading them, a group of young noblemen entered the O’Ellin residence. As he listened to the praises directed to him, Norman took them all in stride as though it was nothing. Then, he replied with a calm smile on his face.
“Duke Blacke sent it as a gift. It’s to strengthen the relationship between our families, I hear.”
To be precise, it was sent as a gift last week, when Lucas Blacke had asked about Grace’s well-being.
Of course, there were many other things that were sent along, but the only thing Norman could pick out for himself was this wine.
All else went straight to Marquis O’Ellin’s personal cellar.
“Duke Blacke? You mean, Blacke of the black stallions? As expected, House O’Ellin is very powerful. You’re already well-connected with House Blacke, aren’t you?”
Grinning, Norman just shrugged.
He didn’t say anything, but it was enough of an answer.
That grin made Norman’s friends whisper amongst themselves, their voices mixed with both admiration and envy.
“Anyway, isn’t it good for us that we’ll be partaking in the renowned Luna, which is said to be served only to royalty? I’m already looking forward to it!”
“By the way, as far as I know, isn’t Norman’s pretty younger sister also usually staying cooped up at home? I’ve also been looking forward to seeing her, but I couldn’t find her anywhere.”
Someone brought up Grace.
At this, Norman’s face immediately distorted.
The young lords who were following Norman up the stairs quickly changed the subject.
“That’s what I’m saying. Isn’t catching a glimpse of the Lady of the Yellow Lily tantamount to picking stars from the sky?”
“I’m curious, too. But Norman, this friend of ours, he just keeps persistently hiding her away.”
“She also doesn’t go to banquets often, so there’s only rumors about her. Doesn’t that just make one more curious?”
Barely holding back his nerves, Norman answered back.
“What are you talking about? Everyone seems to be interested in Grace, although she doesn’t like being in the limelight because she’s too shy. Hahaha.”
“Anyway, you really do seem to care about your younger sister. It’s nice to see that your family is getting along well!”
“Indeed, my younger sister is so smart and pretty, so I’ve got to serve as her shield.”
“Right, right. She’s smart, shy and beautiful. How could there be just one or two households that would want to take her in?”
Hearing Young Marquis Larcom’s sly insinuation, the others laughed and exchanged knowing glances.
Refusing to speak, Norman put on a forced smile.
They all knew that some of the young men here had already sent marriage proposal letters to Grace before, but they had all been shot down.
But the thing is…
‘She wasn’t raised and fed expensive medicine just to be used as a means of a connection with such lowly families.’
Norman thought so as he remained silent.
He knew that his father’s intentions weren’t so different from his own.
“With her being so frail, that just makes her more mysterious, like a flower— Ah! Norman, don’t get me wrong. I’m just saying that she’s a truly admirable woman.”
Objectively, Grace’s reputation amongst young nobles wasn’t bad.
And this was fortunate because it could be used to their advantage.
As a matter of fact, when looked at closely, she was nothing short of an impudent brat.
“Let’s not dilly dally any longer. The wine awaits.”
Norman ushered his friends with an amicable smile.
A harmonious front was imperative when it comes to building false repute.
They went on, past the hallway and towards the third floor’s drawing room.
As they passed by Grace’s room, the door opened.
And the moment it did, two maids who had been cleaning the room bowed their heads in surprise as they saw the group of young noblemen.
Norman just casually passed by, but what caught his strides was what Viscount Horonua said, peeking through the cleaning baskets being brought out through the open door.
“So this is what the dear Miss Flowering Plant’s room looks like, hm?”
Everyone stopped walking. Unable to hide their curiosity, the men craned their necks and looked into Grace’s room.
“What are you all doing?”
Despite Norman rebuking them, the men’s eyes were busy scanning through Grace’s room.
Then, the most vulgar of them all, Young Viscount Laxton, suddenly quipped.
“The owner’s not here, so can’t we take a look around a little? There’s quite the fragrance inside, too.”
“Sniff. I know right. It’s the scent of a blossoming flower!”
‘…These crazy brutes.’
Norman’s expression got all twisted up, but as the other men had their backs turned on him, they did not see this.
Yet again, Young Viscount Laxton blocked Norman from saying something.
“Alright, here. This is the pocket watch of the Quentium Royal Family that you want very much. Take this and just pretend you didn’t see anything!”
House Laxton had been major traders for many generations.
They even had businesses in the capitals of foreign countries, and so they were much richer than House O’Ellin.
Perhaps because he met many different foreigners, but he was unusually free-spirited and vulgar. Even still, his pockets were so heavy that no one could really punch him out of the scene.
With Norman’s lips momentarily sealed at the sight of the luxurious pocket watch, Laxton opened the door to Grace’s room.
“O’Ellin’s flowering plant sleeps and lives in a room like this, I see!”
It seemed like this was their chance as well, so the other men snuck a peak into her room as well.
“Everyone, come on. Stop being shameless and just step out.”
Nonetheless, Norman indeed pocketed the pocket watch, pretending that he couldn’t win against them.
In the meantime, Norman’s friends explored Grace’s room to their hearts’ content. They even went as far as touching this and that.
‘If that brat finds out, she’ll kick up another fuss. I’ll just have to get this cleaned up again. That pathetic, sharp temper of hers…’
Watching his friends act this way, Norman sighed as though he was troubled.
With the way things were going, it wouldn’t be bad to just show them around a little, then make them leave right after.
He wasn’t losing anything from this brief sightseeing session if the price was a pocket watch worth three million crous.
After some time, Norman began to urge his friends with a calm voice.
“Come on, stop making such a fuss now. Let’s step out now, yeah?”
“…Oh? What’s this?”
Just then, someone peeped into one of Grace’s drawers.
“Isn’t this a check from Thompson Bank? Man, as expected of a modern woman. Looks like the Lady can even access such a bank.”
Hearing those words, Norman’s head immediately jerked towards that direction.
* * *
‘Uwah, this mansion is huge.’
While Grace was waiting at the drawing room, Julie went downstairs for a while.
Gabriel had prepared a cup of warm rose tea for Grace, but with Grace as nervous as she was right now, what she needed was actually a glass of cold plum tea.
To the point that people say that they were the richest household in the entire country, it checked out. The Blacke Duchy’s mansion was enormous.
Julie wandered for a long time before she could find the kitchen in the mansion.
‘Why are there so few employees managing this residence when it’s so huge?’
It was incomparably large if compared to House O’Ellin’s townhouse, but she came across not a single servant on her way.
It wasn’t as if the mansion was dark, or that she couldn’t feel the presence of other people.
Fortunately, she saw a couple of mature maids working busily in the kitchen.
“You’re a maid from House O’Ellin, aren’t you? May I help you?”
Julie was surprised by how keenly they recognized her.
Ordinary kitchen maids rarely ever recognized their master’s guests.
“I’m here because Milady tends to get nervous and often has indigestion. May I have some plum tea, if you have it?”
“Of course. Please wait a moment.”
Julie was instantly impressed by the maids’ movements, manners and skillful smiles.
They’re pros. Real, actual pros!
Even though the maid was just taking out some plum tea, her hands were quick and nimble, no unnecessary movements at all.
And it was surprising how courteous they were towards a maid of another noble household like this.
Julie had a short chat with the kitchen maids, then she went back upstairs.
The maids were kind, and they satiated Julie’s curiosity so simply.
First, there were not many employees working in this residence.
There were less than half the usual number of employees here, but they were all experienced with their jobs.
‘Since there are only a few of us working here, I can’t possibly say that the work for us is less. But still, we’re given enough rest and compensation, so we’re doing alright here. His Grace the Duke and the butler are both respectable and earnest people.’
Another surprise was that they all agreed about their master and even praised him.
‘We just need to do the work that’s given to us here well, and the superiors don’t display any unfair or oppressive treatments towards us. You said your name is Julie, right? I’m sure you know what I’m saying—about how comfortable it is to have such things at work.’
In fact, she did not know.
It had been seven years since she had been serving the O’Ellin family, but she has had enough of the household’s family members 1 and 2.
They were two horrendous men who harassed not just servants, but each and every woman they’d come across.
‘…This place, I already love it so much!’
Don’t forget to rate and leave a review for this series on novel updates!
For update pings, novel discussions and/or to send mistake reports, join our discord server~