Chapter 38 - The Guest
Isabel wandered mindlessly in a foggy dreamworld. She was looking for something. No matter how much she ran, she could not find what she was looking for, and she had no idea what in the world she was looking for, either.
She heard something. Isabel focused on the sound. “Wake up.”
“Oi. I said, wake up!”
Gasping, Isabel opened her eyes. Dominating her field of view was Lilith, who was wearing a lovely, light blue dress. A small amount of makeup had been applied to her face and her long, silver hair was styled perfectly into cute ringlets.
She had been the one asking Isabel to wake up.
“You’re living in someone else’s house, yet you have the gall to sleep until this hour?”
Lilith, who had already been frowning unpleasantly, seemed suddenly even more irritated. “I told you not to call me by my name.”
“You’re so dumb. How many times do I have to say it for you to understand? Ah, I’m so annoyed.”
“W-what brings you here?” Seeing Ghyria in her room had been a surprise, but it was even rarer for Lilith to visit her room.
Lilith stared at Isabel and hesitated. “By any chance, did you go to Viscount Garth’s banquet yesterday?”
Isabel stiffened, her heart jumping to her throat. Lilith luckily did not catch the change in her expression since Isabel kept her head bowed. “N-no.” ‘Did she see me? When? Ah, she might have seen me when the Grand Duke was approaching me.’
“Yes, I really didn’t go,” she lied. “Why?”
Her heart was pounding. She broke out into a cold sweat, petrified.
“Why should I tell you?”
“I mean, I guess there’s no way someone like you would come. Oi, you’ve heard that a guest is staying over and that you’re not allowed to come out for the next few days, right?”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Are you sure? I told you so many times not to call me by name yet you forget every time. I just wanted to make sure that stupid head of yours really understands what’s going to happen.”
Isabel had envied Lilith when they were younger. As long as Isabel was removed from the equation, the baron’s family maintained a pretty respectable household. The baron did not care much about his children, but he was a good father in certain regards. His wife loved her children very much. She believed in and supported her eldest son, Allen, and loved and doted on Lilith. So, if Isabel had never entered the picture, then…
She had wanted to be loved like Lilith, so she tried calling Ghyria, “Mother.” That act rewarded her with her first beating. Isabel had cried as the whip struck her young body, which subjected her to further punishments for crying.
As a young girl, she had struggled to understand why she received so much hatred. Her surname was Lance, too, but she was never considered part of the family. She was obviously the baron’s daughter, too, but he ignored her. Ghyria loathed her, Lilith rejected her, and Allen simply looked on at her mistreatment with folded arms.
Only later did Isabel realize why they called her blood tainted and why she was called vulgar blood. She was an illegitimate child who was never meant to be part of the family in the first place.
“Stay out of sight and stay in the room.”
Lilith glared at Isabel in distaste and left her room.
Once evening came, the guest finally arrived at the manor. Isabel had not expected her to be Viscount Garth’s daughter. She knew that the Lances were not acquainted with the viscount’s family, so her presence was peculiar. Had she been invited over because Lilith became well acquainted with her during the banquet yesterday? The mansion became slightly livelier upon the guest’s arrival. Isabel’s dinner that night was fresh and of good quality, unlike the usual fare brought to her. The night passed and morning came. Again, the meal served to her for breakfast was good as well.
Occasionally, she would see Lilith and Viscount Garth’s daughter roaming outside her window. They were wearing pretty lace dresses and matching headdresses, strolling around the garden with white-gloved hands holding pure white parasols.
“The garden is really pretty. I can see how much the madam cares about the garden.”
“Mother would be very happy to hear that. They say that the garden is the face of the household, so she paid a lot of attention to it.”
“Ah, my mother mentioned that too.”
“I guess all mothers are like that. I’m surprised to see we have so much in common, Lana.”
‘So that girl can talk like that, too.’ Isabel looked out the half-covered window.
“Likewise. You’re really pretty, Lilith. I thought you’d be slightly harder to approach. Ah, I don’t mean it negatively, you know?”
“Thank you for the compliment. I actually really envy your blue eyes, Lana, since mine are so plain.”
As they conversed, they sang praises to one another like birds. Tea time arrived and a table covered with a white tablecloth was arranged for them on one side of the garden. ‘So that’s how ladies gather and interact with each other.’
Isabel had heard of the kinds of activities noble ladies normally indulged in, but this was her first time witnessing them partake in person. She was a little—perhaps only very slightly—envious. She envied Lilith for having someone to talk to in such a familiar fashion instead of in formalities.