The Invitation With A Birch Tree-shaped Seal
The city of Swan, located in Swanton Kingdom, was filled with the scent of May flowers. Although Aunt Tabatha’s house, where Chloe and Alice lived, was far from the town square, the fresh scent of flowers was still delivered to them by the spring breeze.
“I feel dizzy. The perfume smell in the boutique earlier was way too strong,” said Alice, falling onto her bed and pretending to faint. It was this sort of posture that would prompt her father, Viscount Verdier, to tell her she was unladylike if he were here.
“Then how about we get some dinner? Auntie is worried about us.”
Chloe’s voice as she opened the window was full of concern.
“Wouldn’t she be happy to feed one less mouth, that stingy woman?”
The sisters were well aware that Tabatha, who was not happy with having family members as guests, had made a big decision for the upcoming social season and accepted them. And ever since the long war ended two years ago, Alice, searching for stability, has been looking for a wonderful potential husband within the kingdom.
“It’ll be nice tomorrow since I won’t have to wear my corset. But for you, don’t your legs hurt? We went around for a long time looking for the right boutique because that bloody horseman was hanging out elsewhere.”
Alice frowned at Chloe, who slammed her cane onto the floor. Chloe smiled while trying not to show off her left leg, which began to cramp hard because she had walked around on it too long today.
“Hey sis, I know you’re hurting. Take it one day at a time. You know you cannot have another accident like the last one, right?”
Alice had stayed at her aunt’s house during the last social season as well. Having recently become an adult, she had received over two dozen invitations thanks to her gorgeous appearance. However, at the third party, she had gotten so drunk off of five glasses of sherry she had to be carried out by the servant. Aunt Tabatha, who was actively seeking out Alice’s potential husband, had freaked out, telling her she was a disgrace to the family; that no man would dare come to her house.
“I couldn’t help that I was bored out of my mind. Heh-heh.”
Alice laughed, not knowing how Chloe felt inside.
“Still, it’ll be better this time since I get to go with my big sister and dance with you.”
Chloe thought that no one would invite Alice after last year’s drunken incident, which had created a little buzz in Swan. But a month ago an invitation had unexpectedly arrived at the Verdiers’ mansion. Oh, how shocked Viscount Verdier had been when he saw the invitation with a birch tree-shaped seal.
“C-C-Chloe. My daughter. From what I know there is only one family in this kingdom that uses this seal… Am I mistaken?”
“Nope. I think this is from Duke Teece.”
“Oh my god!”
Her father, who hadn’t gone to church in such a long time after the death of his wife, was so surprised he had said God’s name in vain.
“This isn’t a joke, Alice. Tomorrow you must be on your best behavior.”
It wasn’t just anyone, it was a ball hosted by Duke Damian Ernst Fawn Teece. The power of the young duke—the only son of a duke who had led a great victory of the war and succeeded the family early due to the death of his father—was great. His estate was located in the northern part of Teece, but his villa in Swan was rumored to be as beautiful as the royal palace. It was no exaggeration to say that recently there have been more roses blooming around the castle than roses blooming in the entire city when his mother, the sister of the current King, had been a princess.
Countless steps existed between Duke Teece—war hero and the King’s nephew—and Viscount Verdier, who managed a small estate in the countryside. Something like the distance from the top of the tallest building in the capital to the ground.
“At least look at the sender’s name.”
It was a great honor to be invited to a party of Swanton Kingdom’s high-ranking aristocrats, but Alice’s face only remained at ease.
“All right, all right. I will. I’ll just dress myself up like a doll, dance with all the guys there, and sip on lemonade instead of alcohol.”
Leaning against the window on the second floor next to the painting of a beech tree, Chloe’s heart got a bit heavier. As she approached the bed limping on one leg, Alice turned around and looked at her. She whispered to Alice who was tidying her curly bangs,
She had become an adult but still enjoyed running in the meadow more than attending formal parties. She felt uncomfortable because she felt like she had put a lot of burden on her sister. And her father as well.
“Sorry for what, Chloe? If there is any fault, it would be to our father, who loved mother so much that he spent all his fortune on hospital expenses and has failed to manage our land.”
Quietly soothing her, Chloe stroked Alice’s shoulder, who was pouting her mouth.
“It’s not his fault we’ve had bad crops for three years. This area with all these typhoons and droughts is controlled by God. Even if Father can’t tell us himself, he probably feels even more sorry for you.”
“Even in this situation, you can’t blame him.”
“That’s because he’s family. That’s the truth.”