More people arrived one after another until a total of fourteen people, which included seven members and their respective guests, were all gathered around the round table. The table surely was big enough to seat fourteen people without anyone feeling crowded.
“It’s so great to see everybody in the same room.”
“I couldn’t agree more. How long has it been since all the members have gathered around?”
“If I remember it right, I guess this is the first time.”
“Truly? Good Lord, it really is.”
With Dana’s long absence, the attendees never exceeded more than twelve people. And besides that, the other six members, too, have been absent from the monthly gatherings from time to time.
Since the attendance was never mandatory, there has been at least one absence at every monthly gathering, on the pretext of personal reasons. And the members didn’t accompany the guests every month but only once or twice a year. Therefore, it truly was the first time for as many as fourteen people to gather around the table.
Unlike Eugene’s expectation, the attention of the group wasn’t entirely focused on her nor mother. In fact, when everyone was seated after exchanging long greetings, their conversation revolved around a few ordinary topics.
The topics of the conversation involved something like the current weather, everyone’s health as well as the plays or books they have recently enjoyed. And it went on so peacefully without any awkward pauses, as if they were close acquaintances having a regular get-together.
And as time went by, Eugene started to feel her anxieties melt away as the seven middle aged women got carried away with their conversation, without introducing their respective young guests to one another.
‘I guess the guests are only invited as mere formality.’
However, she didn’t feel offended in the least as she wasn’t the only one who seemed to be left out of the conversation. Instead, it almost felt like a cozy afternoon to listen to the peaceful chatters among such refined ladies.
‘I think I can understand why my mother chose to attend this tea party.’
Truly, this was Dana’s very first reappearance in high society. Eugene didn’t think that her mother would have chosen an ordinary tea party to make an appearance in public, for the first time in a long while.
Moreover, after hearing that all its members are in fact highly reputed ladies in the Holy City, as well as that they would be accompanied either by their daughters or daughter-in-laws, Eugene somehow had pictured the gathering would be awfully suffocating, with intense war of nerves between the ladies.
But contrary to her expectation, nobody overstepped their marks nor caused upsets by being unquestionably nosy or rude. And neither of them extolled someone nor show any attempt to isolate someone from the group.
While Eugene nursed her tea, she carefully shifted her gaze around the room to examine the other guests. But the other young ladies too, did no more than sip at the tea in silence.
Of course, they could have struck up a conversation if the guests were seated together. But instead, all guest seats were designated right next to the member they accompanied. In other words, the only way for the guests to converse with each other was through the member who sat in between them. Which naturally hampered them from being acquainted. Therefore, they all just sat and drank their tea in silence.
‘I can’t tell who they are.’
Eugene has heard everything about the members before she came here. However, Dana herself had no idea who was coming as the guests since it’s been a long time since she last attended the gathering.
‘I bet everyone here today is renowned ladies in the Holy City. If so, I’m sure my imposter had at least a nodding acquaintance with them before she left for the kingdom.’
Despite having heard that her imposter was a rather active participant in social gatherings, it didn’t seem like she had any close acquaintances, as no such recollection has come to Eugene’s mind so far.
“The date is not set in stone yet, but I will be holding a banquet at the manor in the coming month.”
Everyone nodded without any hint of surprise when Dana naturally brought up the banquet during the conversation.
“I’ve heard that you’ll be making all the arrangements by yourself, is it true?”
Eugene wondered where the lady’s heard about it. However, she was soon reminded of her encounter with Lady Ditheo at the boutique yesterday.
‘The word has already gone out? That’s so fast.’
Eugene highly doubted that Lady Ditheo had visited all the other five ladies in person to inform them about the banquet. The only plausible explanation would be that the word about what happened in the boutique yesterday has already been going around from mouth to mouth.
“I’m afraid I might have lost my edge with time. So, my daughter agreed to help as well.”
At once, everyone looked in her direction in unison. Feeling uncomfortable with all the gazes on her, Eugene slowly placed down her teacup on the table.
“I don’t usually get very curious.” Kiran, the head of the Noba family, went on after clearing her throat.
“Is the necklace around Anika Jin’s neck, the very necklace I’ve heard so much about?”
The ladies, who wondered what Kiran was about to say, all broke into laughter.
“Yes, it is. I can guarantee it as I was there to see it with my own eyes yesterday.” Lady Ditheo was the one who responded instead.
“And I must say that the words about the Desert King having bought every item in Janette’s boutique yesterday isn’t an exaggeration at all. I’ve never seen anyone could spend such a fortune at once, without batting an eye. It’s a shame that my husband wasn’t there to see it.”
“I can’t believe I missed seeing it for myself. I hesitated about whether I should go out to get a new hat for myself yesterday.”
“Well, I thought it was only a groundless rumor when I heard Dana was seen with her daughter at the boutique.”
“I thought the same as well. I even assumed that people have started to make up stories now as there hasn’t been any scandal around high society for a while.”