“The surest way would be to ask the person in question. Won’t Anika Jin present herself in one of the social gatherings sooner or later?”
“I bet she would since she’s come to visit after such a long time. I have no idea which gathering that would be, but I’m sure it will be packed.”
Laughter broke out around the room as they agreed with each other.
“From what I heard, it seems like Anika Jin seldom shows herself in social gatherings in Hashi Kingdom. Which was quite a surprise to me as I’ve always thought that she would definitely want to be the star of the high society in Hashi.”
“Hmmm… Wouldn’t it because they fell short of her standard?”
“Well, it’s true that no high society is comparable to the one of the Holy City—the difference is of heavens and earth. Besides, Anika Jin is from the Arse family. She must have only seen and heard the best of the best.”
Their conversation entails that no one is indeed oblivious of Jin’s wherebouts even if she is away from the Holy City. The public interest in her withered just only a little when she left the city after her marriage. In her absence, her name was rarely heard in the mouths of the gossipers, but that didn’t mean she was completely excluded from people’s attention altogether.
This was primarily because nothing could change the fact that she is the one and only daughter of the Arses, and this prestigious family was always the first in the list of families everyone wishes to be acquainted of.
With the city’s booming economy, it would be a piece of cake to find a family who had either wealth or honor in their life, but it is exceptionally hard to find one who managed to have both, just like the Arse family. Therefore, every member of the Arse family was the cynosure of all eyes.
“Since Anika Jin had come all the way to visit, wouldn’t they throw a banquet at the Arse manor?”
“I think not. Lady Arse seems to have been in poor health for a very long time. If I’m not mistaken, I believe no banquet was ever thrown in their manor except for on Anika Jin’s first birthday.”
In silence, people started to murmur inwardly of the rumors which they weren’t so daring to mention out loud.
‘Is it true that Lady Arse’s health failed rapidly after giving birth to Anika Jin?’
‘Come to think of it, Lady Arse wasn’t even present at Anika Jin’s coming of age birthday celebration.’
‘The lady handed over the family business to Lord Enoch, much earlier than people expected… so the rumor about her health might be true after all.’
‘There also had been a rumor about Lady Arse favoring her two sons while she was utterly indifferent to her only daughter.’
Suddenly, someone piped in, “No one seemed to have been invited to the Arse manor as frequently as you, Anika Flora.”
“I am truly jealous. Anika Jin had never invited anyone else except for Anika Flora.”
Flora smiled and said not a word. Neither displaying pride nor regarding it as if it wasn’t a big deal was a wise act. It was best not to react much about it and stir just yet another gossip.
On her way back to her house, boarding her carriage, Flora felt like she couldn’t feel lonelier. People often looked up to her with a hint of envy in their eyes since she was the only one who had been invited numerous times to the Arse manor. But Flora knew very well that she was no more than a guest to the family. Jin was the true owner of that grand manor.
Why was it Jin? Why can someone like her get everything that she ever wanted in life?
‘I wouldn’t do that if I were her’. Whenever she was reminded of Jin, she would always feel a hint of regret. If only she were Jin, she imagined that she would have tried her best to earn a good reputation from people around her and would be a daughter whom her parents would be proud of. If she were in Jin’s shoes, she would be willing to do a life-long sacrifice—to live behind a mask; her true colors hidden for the rest of her life.
She just couldn’t understand Jin, who was foolish enough to flaunt her authority without looking at what’s coming ahead of her. It’s possible that she just had a bad disposition and Flora had hardly met anyone with good disposition in high society. However, she hadn’t met anyone as stupid as Jin before in her entire existence.
Flora, who was staring at the changing scenery outside her window, knocked at the carriage wall in great haste. As the vehicle came to a stop by the road, she got off quickly, opening the door on her own. She headed straight into the flower shop in sight and purchased an armful of flowers of all kinds. Now climbing back, she told the coachman of her new destination.
“To the Arse manor.”
“As you command, Anika.”
For the first time in years, seats were occupied around the dining table in the Arse manor. Patrick was so pleased to see his wife and his two sons as well as his daughter and son-in-law all gathered around the table, that he already felt full even before the meal was served.
‘It would have been perfect if Rene was here too.’
Patrick thought wistfully when Rene came to his mind.
Enoch and his wife Rene have just become parents after years of waiting. Patrick had no idea that the couple had been anxious for years about not conceiving and it took a toll on them. He had never once pressured them since he knew it would work out for them in due time.
But Enoch had another thing in mind. He was now practically the head of the family after being handed over most of the family business right after his coming of age. Not having an heir worried him gravely and this affected his wife too. Patrick had only found out about this after hearing that Rene had wailed when the child was finally born to the world.