Dad looked at Lady Aphelia with a narrowed gaze.
“How dare you disregard the Phaeraton.”
Lady Aphelia’s expression wavered.
“This family is not so lightly regarded that it would allow a person with no connection to it to organize a banquet for the Phaeraton, which has only been open for four years.”
Well done, Dad!
“I’m sorry. I couldn’t just let the birthday of the Empire’s hero, the Duke, pass like this. It was only because I couldn’t bear it… I didn’t mean anything else.”
“Well, in that case, it’s even more inappropriate for an old lady like you to take charge.”
Lady Aphelia’s gaze turned toward me at my words.
“How can we entrust the organization of the event to someone who can’t even properly distinguish situations where it’s not appropriate to interfere?”
Lady Aphelia’s lips trembled as she looked at me.
“Common sense, what would people think if an old lady is hosting a banquet for my dad’s birthday at the duchy that’s being held after four years?”
They would think she is the next Duchess.
Of course, that was probably her intention.
“Even our five-year-old baby Ruru could understand that.”
As I deliberately tilted my head and spoke like a child, Lady Aphelia looked at me with a puzzled expression.
She seems surprised that I would say such things.
Auntie, this old lady is gradually revealing her true colors, so I should start taking action now.
Well, it doesn’t matter even if she really decides to host it without any thoughts.
When you reach that age, you should take responsibility for your words, right?
‘I don’t realize it until I’m in the middle of it. But I hate sweet potatoes1used to describe someone who is being overly sweet or affectionate, often to the point of being insincere or fake,…typically used in a somewhat negative or mocking way to describe someone who is trying too hard to gain someone’s favor or approval.’
Even a child can see it.
This old lady is also guilty of not properly educating her daughter, so let’s take that responsibility together.
“Well, now I want to prepare well for the party that’s only five days away. It’s not just a neighborhood gathering, it’s the Phaeraton’s party. We shouldn’t take it too take it lightly, right?”
“Ha, haha. That’s not the case. I just want to offer congratulations in a modest way—.”
“Modest? If it’s a Phaeraton party, which has opened its doors after four years, turns out to be mediocre, people will criticize it for a long time. My dad’s birthday will be remembered for a long time in a different way.”
Lady Aphelia’s eyes suddenly twitched. But she soon forced a smile and said to her Dad.
“Oh my? Ruatisha is very smart!”
“Everyone says she takes after me.”
Dad boasted with a smirk.
Lady Aphelia’s lips pressed tightly together.
After a brief silence, she spoke again.
“Still, it’s a shame. Even if it’s just a family gathering, it would be nice to have a party without inviting outsiders.”
Ugh, she still hasn’t given up?
‘Surely she doesn’t think she’s part of this family?’
But even if she wasn’t invited, it would still be a problem.
If we were to exclude guests who were staying at the palace from the party held in the house, it would be a major insult.
Above all, Lady Aphelia had introduced herself in the palace as an envoy, so snubbing her could harm the imperial family’s reputation.
As Dad frowned, she quickly spoke up.
“Isn’t Ruatisha also disappointed? Don’t you want to congratulate your father on his birthday?”
Dad looked at me before slowly opening his mouth.
“…It wouldn’t be too bad to invite family and guests like we did for the New Year’s party.”
Lady Aphelia’s face brightened.
“Ruru, do you want to prepare for it?”
I glanced at Lady Aphelia’s face.
Her gaze was so intimidating that I was taken aback.
But as if she had never sent such a gaze before, Lady Aphelia smiled brightly and said to me,
“Oh, that would be great too. It’s important to gain experience. I’ll help you a lot. I’ve hosted many parties before.”
I could only express admiration at this point.
“But still, isn’t it your first time hosting a party? And Ruatisha is still too young, and even if we only invite people from within the household…”
“Haah, Lady Aphelia.”
I put down the cookie I was eating and looked at Lady Aphelia.
“Do I really have to be so blunt with you?”
“No means no. It means it’s fine, and I’m turning it down because I don’t need Auntie’s help.”
Lady Aphelia pressed her lips tightly.
“Our family is different from other places. If Auntie has experience hosting palace parties, it would be helpful, but…”
It doesn’t make sense.
Her face turned red at the clear meaning.
“Chadwick is such a capable butler. And I can just ask for help from Hedwig.”
Upon my words, Hedwig, the chief butler of the ducal residence, bowed his head.
“I am deeply grateful for your recognition, Miss.”
“Of course I know, right?! Even the last New Year’s banquet was prepared by Hedwig!”
“Yes, and I was the one who ordered the fresh strawberry milk you enjoyed. There’s usually no such thing at the Duke’s parties.”
Chadwick appealed subtly.
Lady Aphelia’s face, which I glimpsed for a moment, hardened.
It was only natural that she would feel treated as someone less capable than a butler.
Well then, lastly!
“Then, Dad, let’s leave it to Hedwig as well. Ruru is already so busy just thinking about Dad’s birthday present.”
“Let it be so. Since it’s a party within the family, we don’t need a host.”
Dad nodded his head.
The look on Lady Aphelia’s face at being deprived of hosting the party she wanted so badly by the butler was worth seeing.
* * *
“Wow, our Princess is so clever!”
“I felt so betrayed when she dared to assume the role of the duchess when she had no sincerity!”
“Isn’t it rude to interfere in the affairs of other families?”
“And yet, you, young lady, have stepped in and sorted it out once and for all!”
“How happy would the guests be if they heard this story?”
The maids sang a tune.
Lady Aphelia’s reputation hasn’t been bad so far.
Her association with Father had been almost exclusively business, and she had kept herself well-behaved.
‘But today, she went too far and ruined her reputation.’
Time passed, but there seemed to be no progress in her relationship with Father, which is making her anxious.
‘I thought I’d push the line a bit, and if it didn’t work, I’d just leave. But what do I do now? I completely ruined it by not acting as I had planned.’
Unlike the other chatty maids, Anna was wandering around my room.
“Anna, what are you looking for?”
“I can’t find the lady’s hair accessory. The one with a big sapphire on it.”
“I know where it is.”
“Really? Where is it?”
“I don’t have it right now. But don’t worry.”
I was going to keep an eye on her, but there was no need to do so now that I saw the situation.
“I’ll find it for you!”
I shouted bravely and pulled the rope.
Soon Orca, my personal butler, entered the room.
“Orca, the guests are staying longer than expected. We may need to do a thorough cleaning. We need to treat them well.”
Orca smiled silently at my words.
“Should we do it quietly or all together?”
“Well, it’s better to do it together.”
I’m the type who enjoys putting fish in the net.
Orca bowed calmly and left the room.
I giggled and sat on the sofa.
* * *
“Suddenly cleaning? Why?”
Cynthia sharply questioned with a frown.
“I’m sorry for any inconvenience. But we ask for your understanding as we provide a more pleasant environment.”
Orca maintained his consistent attitude as he spoke.
“It will take about two hours. During that time, you can enjoy the ambiance of the garden, play games in the game room, or listen to music as we have a quintet available.”
“Then I will enjoy refreshments in the courtyard.”
The courtyard was directly visible from the Duke’s office.
Although his intentions were clear, Orca did not show any reaction and bowed his head.
“I will prepare it right away. Would Lady Cynthia want to be accompanied?”
Cynthia turned her head and crossed her arms defiantly.
Lady Aphelia grabbed Cynthia’s arm.
“The situation is not good right now. The discussion about the Kanzain has already ended. We have no more excuses to be at the Duke’s residence.”
“If we continue like this, we might end up swallowing our own pride.”
Upon hearing those words, Cynthia bit her lip.
How long she had longed to become a Princess of Phearaton!
“While it is rare to do a thorough cleaning while guests are staying, there is no need to be upset, right? Besides, they have prepared activities for you to enjoy while they clean up.”
It wasn’t about ignoring them and kicking them out while cleaning.
Cynthia pursed her lips.
“…Then I’ll go see my older brother.”
After leaving Lady Aphelia’s room, Cynthia headed straight to her own room.
She went to the innermost dress hanging in the dressing room.
She thought it was quite pretty when she brought it, but now that she was at the Duke’s residence, it looked plain and unworthy of wearing.
Cynthia took something that she had fixed on the inner hem of the dress.
‘I doubt they would inspect the inside of the dress while cleaning.’
She didn’t want it to fall off as they moved the dress around.
‘I am thorough in my preparations, after all, right?’
For a moment, she felt satisfied with her own scheme, but then frustration welled up.
Cynthia stuffed the item into her pocket and walked with heavy steps.
‘But Ares is so kind and affectionate.’
He even looked sweet like honey.
How wonderful it was to have him as her brother.
‘As for Ixion…’
Even though he was still young, he looked so handsome that my heart would flutter when we met and talked.
‘But he was so scary back then.’
Just recalling it sent shivers down my spine.
But at the same time, my expectations rose.
How special would it be to become the family of such a dangerous man?
Before getting angry, Ixion used to giggle and joke around.
‘He’s only doing it because he’s interested in me.’
Eventually, Ixion will treat me well, just like Ares does.
Like he does with that girl.
‘No, even more than that.’
Having such thoughts made my steps lighter.
Cynthia walked, singing a cheerful tune.
And then, as she turned the corner…
“Ouch! Where did you leave your eyes—.”
Cynthia’s voice abruptly stopped.
She covered her mouth as she looked at the little child who had fallen.
She didn’t expect someone from the family would be here, so she didn’t think she would collide with Ruatisha.
“My little sister, are you okay?”
“You’re the one who should watch where you’re looking.”
Cynthia smiled kindly as she confirmed Ares and Ixion’s presence.
“I didn’t know it was Ruru. If I had known, I wouldn’t have said that.”
It was true.
“Ruru, are you okay?”
Cynthia bent down and met Ruatisha at eye level.
“Oh, my poor baby is so clumsy. Here, let me help you up.”
As Cynthia reached out her arms towards Ruatisha…
Ruatisha looked at Cynthia with her blue eyes.
“What is this?”
When she looked in the direction she pointed, there was a jewel emitting a beautiful blue light lying on the ground.
Cynthia’s face turned pale.
“This belongs to me. Why did it come from you, Cynthia?”
Ares and Ixion also looked down at the ground.
“This is my sister’s hair accessory.”
“It’s from the tailor who always sends you clothes as a gift. It was on March 7th.”
“It was in the afternoon on March 7th. In the morning, you had your hair down.”
“…How do both of you remember something like that? I don’t even know when I did it.”
Ruatisha, who had been looking at her brothers with cloudy eyes, regained her composure and spoke to Cynthia.
“Anna worked hard all day to find this. If she hadn’t found it by evening, the other maids would have been severely punished.”
The child tilted her head as if she couldn’t understand.
“But why does Cynthia have it?”
* * *
I looked at Cynthia, who was biting her lips with a pale face.
Did she really think I wouldn’t notice her secretly stealing from my dressing room?
We were there together, okay?
“Ugh, she’s really something.”
“There’s no need to tolerate it anymore.”
Cynthia’s shoulders trembled at Ixion and Ares’ words.
She rolled her eyes around and licked her lips.
What excuse is she going to make?
Cynthia took a deep breath and lowered her head to me.
“I’m really sorry, Ruru!”
I was dumbfounded because I never expected her to apologize so sincerely.
“Well, even though she acts badly, she’s still a child after all.”
“The truth is, the nanny has a daughter.”
“The nanny’s daughter…?”
“Yeah, I’ve been seeing that child since she was born. And even though I knew she had bad habits, I couldn’t leave her alone, so I brought her here.”
I could tell what Cynthia was trying to say without even listening.
And it was something I really didn’t want to hear.
“Actually, that child sneaked into your room, and it seems like she liked it too much. Because of her young heart…”
My head went cold.
“But why does Cynthia have this? You’re not the nanny’s daughter.”
“I was actually on my way to put this back.”
“Sorry, I made a mistake too. I should have told you the truth and asked for forgiveness with that child.”
Cynthia covered her pitiful eyes and hid her lips.
“But she’s a girl of lowly status, and I don’t want her to……. to suffer irreparable punishment.”
This kid is truly amazing.
Not only did she steal and try to pin it on her, but now she’s playing the role of a kind child who has Dana wrapped around her finger!
And on top of that, why would we impose an ‘irreversible punishment’ on her just because she has a low status?!
As if she’s a good saint.
And I’m the bad XX.
To come up with such a story on the spot, even using improvisation.
Impressive, truly impressive.
“Anyone who lays a hand on my little sister’s belongings should be punished, no matter what the punishment may be.”
Ixion nodded in agreement to Ares’ words.
“Bring the nanny’s daughter here.”
“Uh, but she hadn’t learned and she doesn’t know anything. She’s still young…”
“Bring her here.”
Ares’ pupils flickered red.
- 1used to describe someone who is being overly sweet or affectionate, often to the point of being insincere or fake,…typically used in a somewhat negative or mocking way to describe someone who is trying too hard to gain someone’s favor or approval