Chapter 23 – I Don’t Want To Be Misunderstood (2)
A banquet for the new semester, this weekend night at Lassen Hall. Voluntary attendance and formal dress. This notice was posted in approval of the managing director.
From time to time Louise worried if the party would be a success, however when she entered the partially decorated Lassen Hall on the morning of the event, she admitted that her concerns were without merit. She could believe it was a venue suited for the noble families of the capital city, even though she had never been to one their parties herself.
Louise looked at a painting in the middle of the hall done by an artist regarded as a rising star. The impression of the painting varied slightly depending on the angle of the picture.
“You’ll see something different again at night.”
Ian had slipped quietly beside her. He looked at the painting with a keen eye.
“I’ll have to see it again at the party. Who painted it?”
“Are you curious?”
“So am I.”
Instead of answering Ian nodded as if he received confirmation of what she was thinking. Louise did not bother asking. She could find out the artist’s name by looking at the planning documents later.
“What about chairs for the musicians?”
“They have been arranged perfectly.”
“They must have been heavy.”
Since there were no servants at the Academy, Ian hauled the chairs in himself, along with the help of the dean and the other students.
“Why didn’t you call me?”
Louise frowned sympathetically for the students who must be physically exhausted from carrying the heavy loads.
“That was my job. Now you have to do yours.”
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Look for a partner.”
As soon as he finished speaking, the door opened and people began to come in with the delivery of colorful plants from a nearby garden.
“Your work has arrived.”
Ian seemed to be thinking of leaving the hall entirely to Louise to decorate, and of course she would gladly do the job, but…
“What does that have to do with looking for a partner?”
She didn’t think he meant an olive tree to be her eternal partner.
“Think carefully, Louise Sweeney.”
Flowers were placed around them one by one and their fresh fragrance filled the space between the two.
“You will decorate this room beautifully, and the students will admire it.”
“Just as you wanted to know about that artist, others might be wondering who did the beautiful flower decorations.”
Was that true? Louise looked up at Ian with a slightly suspicious look, and he raised both hands defensively and sighed.
“Of course you won’t be able to enter those conversations with your social skills.”
Ugh, he was clearly provoking her.
“In addition, those flowers naturally connects with your future business.”
Louise wanted to inherit her father’s large greenhouse and run it successfully. In that sense, it was a good idea to attend a party with a partner who could direct guests’ conversation of the flowers towards Louise.
“Well, do you think you can trust me?”
Louise clenched her fist. This was a wonderful offer that could never be refused.
Ian had been about to pat Louise on the head but then he paused. His palms were covered with a layer of black dust from the chair legs. If he touched that tomboy’s head with this hand, she would definitely make a scene.
Naturally, Ian put his dirty hand over Louise’s head.
There was no response from Louise. Surely she must have seen how terrible his palms were.
she finally murmured, but there was no sign of anger.
“Why do people want to pet my hair?”
“…Who on earth?”
Louise was about to reply when she caught herself and quickly shut her mouth. It was Claire who patted her hair, but she remembered that Claire had asked her to keep it a secret.
“I can’t say.”
Ian frowned. It was one thing if she was mad at him because his hands were dirty, but if it were for the sake of another guy…who could it be? First she didn’t want to be misunderstood about their engagement, and now someone had patted her hair.
Louise lifted Ian’s hand still pressing on her head and held it to her eyes. She smiled at the layer of dust on his palm.
“It’s like my father’s hand.”
There was always the feeling of sunshine on his hands. He used his touch to make the plants that had lost their strength healthy again. She loved her father’s hands a lot.
Ian looked closely at Louise’s face. She seemed to miss her family. Well, her world was very warm and cozy, so much so that Ian understood the word “family” through the Sweeneys. Didn’t she say in Professor Hewitt’s class that one’s personal values came from their environment? Then Louise’s values were warm, friendly and cozy.
How could it be like this…
He put the brakes on his mind and jerked his hand away from Louise.
“…Do your best.”
“Oh, thank you.”
“And about patting your head. It’s just a human habit. It doesn’t mean anything, really.”
“Yes. So don’t let it get to you.”
“Alright, it’s nothing.”
“But don’t let anyone else do it.”
“Even though it doesn’t mean anything?”
Ian didn’t find an appropriate answer and simply stared at the top of Louise’s head. Who was the jerk who put his hand there?
While children respected their parents, they also desired to prove their differences from them. However, it was very difficult to do so in a society where titles and possessions were inherited, so young nobles would simply spend money in different ways, like sponsoring a new artist or changing dress designers. No art ever sat in power for a long time. A new generation soon opened the door to new trends, and it was only natural that young artists wanted to hang their pieces at the Academy party. To open up a new era, the artists had to have their works in front of the rising nobility.
It was no different with Louise. A large greenhouse would always provide a joyful retreat to the nobility, but the supply of flowers to their events could always be replaced if a new owner appeared. Louise decided to attend the Academy with largely business in mind. By staying close to future decision makers, the current deals could continue, and she could make more connections if possible. A bond always served as a bridge for strong transactions.
After spending a long time arranging the flowers, Louise slowly stretched her stiff fingers and looked around Lassen Hall. Her work wasn’t as remarkable as a seasoned expert within her family, but it was still quite good. The addition of flowers with the art uplifted the elegant atmosphere, and there still would be music later.
The door to the large hall opened just as she picked up the garden scissors that had been left on the floor. Ian, who had said he was going to get the professor, had returned with her.
The professor slowly inspected the room then drew a satisfied smile. Claire whispered to Louise in a small voice.
Claire whispered back so that the professor wouldn’t hear them.
“Professor Juliana Lassen is very strict.”
It was a familiar name. She thought she might’ve seen it many times in the original novel.
Louise carefully studied the professor’s appearance. A blouse that climbed up to her neck, severely combed hair, a slightly skinny body and strict eyes.
Oh, she remembered now. That was the professor who sponsored and helped the poverty-stricken Stella attend the Academy. She was also one of the few female Countesses in the country. Claire’s explanation continued while Louise tried to remember more details.
“Yes, the Lassen in Lassen Hall. This building was built under the patronage of the Lassen family.”
“It’s also the first time that the student council president thought of holding a party for the new semester here.”
“That’s why he brought her here?”
“Yes. In addition, she has a lot of decision-making power. We can show her the venue and get the final approval.”
Claire closed her mouth as the professor came near. The professor looked at everyone and spoke.
It was a short review, but enough. She rarely handed out praise. The student council members looked proudly at themselves.
Professor Lassen eyed each one of the tired, worn out students. Louise, who was standing at the far corner of the room, waited in anticipation for her to be noticed. Juliana Lassen was the fairy godmother of the original novel. Though she had a scary face, she was saddened by Stella’s crumbling noble house and helped her rebuild it. The professor’s aristocratic nature played a part in it too, but not everyone did good deeds. She had to be very nice.
Louise smiled as brightly as she could in effort to soon gain her favor. When it was finally Louise’s turn, the professor took a step in front of her.
“Louise Sweeney, the top student of the year, correct?”
Louise could feel her heart in her mouth. The fairy godmother was talking to her!
“Are you to attend the party?”
“Yes, I’m really happy to.”
Louise blurted her words. The professor’s face was dark, as if she was trying to recall something.
“What a shame.”
She seemed to be disappointed in something for a first time in a while.
“I thought I memorized all the faces of the great young ladies that have recently entered society.”
Louise stared dumbstruck at the professor. The meaning of her words was quite clear. Professor Lassen pointed out Louise’s status, who she considered too common–“special” was the word–to be in the highest social group. And there was something else implicit in her statement. It wasn’t appropriate for non-nobility like Louise to attend the party. She didn’t fit in.
“Of course, the Academy party is open to all students as long as they are properly dressed.”
Etiquette demanded formal attire as enjoyed by higher classes. In other words, the party claimed to be open to the public, but in fact it was nothing more than the normal rules of society brought into the Academy.
Louise shouldn’t dare be there. That was probably what the professor wanted to say. There were no errors in the interpretation. The professor’s face was disguised as a smile as she looked down on Louise like dirt.