“Will you be alright?” Hugo asked. “The Princess has a reputation for… being difficult.”
Ethan looked at his brother with a smirk. “Will you be alright?”
“That girl, Wishburn.”
Hugo rubbed his flushed cheek and then lowered his hand. “I know that I am not very noticeable no matter how well-off our family is,” he said, “And less so with the ladies. I am not as popular as you with women…”
“No, I didn’t mean it like that…” What should I say? Ethan still remembered the evil smirk on her face. How she had acted all helpless and wanton and came up to him only to…
“I only mean that…” began Ethan, “She isn’t like how you think she is. She is a bit… strange.”
“Miss Wishburn? Strange?”
This time Hugo looked at Ethan properly. She then turned away. “Stop drinking so much,” he said, “I don’t like seeing you walk so awkwardly.”
“It’s not like that!” said Ethan, “Just now, in the garden…”
“The garden?! Have you no shame?” snapped Hugo.
Ethan couldn’t tell him he had almost molested that girl in the garden. How could he tell him that she had knocked him out and humiliated him? It would sound ridiculous, and he didn’t want to fuel the dishonour they already felt he emanated.
“I meant that I just saw her with the Grand Duke of Glouster in the garden. They were alone.”
“So?” said Hugo, “The Grand Duke happens to be a relative to the Wishburn family. A woman and a man being alone might seem strange, but they were in an open space like the garden. Why would that be a problem?”
Ethan shut his mouth. Hugo shook his head. “I don’t know what you are planning, Ethan,” said Hugo. “But please don’t do anything that is going to upset father again. I just… I am not asking you to bend over backwards to do something with your life or do something extraordinary. Just wait till I inherit the title of the duke; I will provide you with enough living expenses, so you don’t have to worry. But… please, try not to get kicked out from the family. I don’t want you to be alone and lonely and wandering the streets. Do you understand?”
Neither his father nor his brother ever expected anything out of him. At least not anything useful. His mother had been there for him. Always by his side. But he had passed away so soon. His defiance as a coping mechanism against his brother and father had not become second nature to him. A part of him.
But if he could become someone close to Princess Eleanor, that would change. He and the Princess had the same enemy. If he could make the Wishburn girl pay via the Princess, that would be a bonus!
The King’s son-in-law… that would sound great! He could just spend the money he gets and try a bit in bed. That was nothing different than how he was now! Suddenly feeling much enthusiastic, Ethan looked around the room, inspecting the noblewomen who could give him any information regarding the princess.
It was almost morning when I finally returned home. I could see the sky lightening up. I took off my clothes and went for a wash. When I was finally ready for bed, the sun was already rising.
When I woke up, it was a little past lunch. My maid, Amy, rolled up the curtains and started chattering away as she brushed my hair about the letters I had received and such. “The letters are all piled up downstairs. My Lady, you succeeded highly! It is rare to get so many letters and requests for a visit as soon as the party is finished. Congratulations!”
I wanted to crawl back into my warm bed as soon as I heard that. What visits? Why are they coming? I wanted them all to go far away. I didn’t have time for this.
Amy had noticed my scowl. “This is very good!” she twittered. “Just think about it. So many girls don’t get so many choices. They go to many parties hoping someone good and gentlemanly will notice them. But you can choose!”
“Oh, come on!” I said, “That’s hardly true. Even if I was some ugly, no-good girl, half the country would still send me visitation letters just because I am the daughter to Marquess of Wishburn, not to mention a relative to the royal family from my mother’s side.”
Amy frowned. Amy, with her braided red hair and freckles on her face, was from the country. But she had soft hands and an eye for detail. She had worked at our house from very young so she knew all there was to know about how nobles functioned in society.
“That might be true, but still, your skills and your talent are unparalleled,” said Amy. “Don’t devalue your skills.”
“Being born with a pretty face in a noble household is not a ‘skill’, Amy.”
The detective… the Grand Duke would have disagreed… why am I thinking about him?! He had said that maintaining your appearance did take skill. Maybe… but looks can only take you so far.
“Now that is luck,” said Amy, “Think about all those who don’t have it! It is very cruel to not appreciate something like that.”
I shut my mouth. It was useless arguing with Amy. I decided to just leave myself to Amy’s skill to make me presentable before I headed down.