The Eldest Daughter Walks Down The Flower Path - Chapter 24
He didn’t laugh at her as she fell so disgracefully, nor did he sneer at her atrocious dress.
He was just trying to help a girl who had fallen on the ground.
“…Ah? Um, yes.”
“Let me help you. Hold onto my arm.”
Radis managed to stand up with his support. It was awkward.
It was the first time she was supported by someone in such a long time. The last time this happened was during her childhood when she still couldn’t walk well.
Holding someone’s arm like this was also a first.
His warmth spilled over to her, and it was so vivid that Radis had to let go of his arm as soon as she managed to stand on her own two feet.
Radis suddenly realized just how close they were.
When she was about to step back, the man grabbed Radis’ arm.
There was a small smile on his red lips when he saw how flustered Radis was.
“I didn’t mean to surprise you. There is some dust over here.”
He took out a silk handkerchief from his coat pocket and dusted off Radis’ arm himself.
The handkerchief felt more like a feather as her arm was touched, and every time the handkerchief fluttered, a sweet scent wafted around it.
Radis felt like she was dreaming.
When he gently dusted her off with the handkerchief, he spoke in a low, beautiful voice that sounded as if he was singing.
“It must be a tough day for you.”
Radis couldn’t figure out if he was saying that about her shoes, her dress or about something else entirely.
However, he continued speaking as though he didn’t want her to question that.
“Even so, if you have the courage for it, you’ll get through it all no matter how hard it is.”
He smiled softly, staring at her with those clear purple eyes.
How beautiful that smile was. Radis didn’t even realize that he gave her the handkerchief.
He nodded slightly towards Radis in goodbye, then returned to the garden, towards the crowd—to the world where he belonged.
All the people who moved from the balcony on the second floor and towards the garden all flocked around one person, praising him just to get to his good side.
“The garden is so beautiful.”
“I can’t believe I can spend a dream-like time in a beautiful mansion with centuries of history! Thank you for inviting me today, Marquis Russell!”
Surrounded by those people was Yves Russell, the head of the Russell Marquisate and the host of this spectacular banquet.
“To be more exact, this is a separate building.”
Amidst the clamor of the people around him, his voice was dry and dull.
He definitely stood out among the nobles who were dressed in colorful clothes.
Even his clothes expressed his demeanor.
Except for his barely visible shirt collar, everything else was black, including the vest covering his sculpted chest, the coat over his wide shoulders and the pants that were tight around his thighs.
On top of that, most men had their hair styled with pomade, neatly swept back or at least pulled up to reveal their faces, but the marquis had almost half of his face covered with his black fringe that reached to the bridge of his nose.
With his entire countenance tinged with black, even his eyes, Marquis Russell, who was a hard man to read, looked quite intimidating.
The terrifying rumors surrounding him also added to this atmosphere.
There were rumors that monsters had either cursed him or deprived him of his soul. Worse yet, people would say that he was a monster himself.
His gaze, which held no enthusiasm for conversation, stopped in one place.
The corners of Yves Russell’s lips rose. With a posture of seeming deference, he greeted the real protagonist of tonight’s banquet.
“We celebrate tonight the birthday of the Third Prince of the Cardia Empire. Does the banquet suit Your Highness’ expectations, Prince Olivier Arpend?”
As he returned to his place in the spotlight, there was no trace of the beautiful smile that Olivier Arpend had shown to Radis.
He looked like a glass sculpture with shining purple jewels embedded in the place where eyes should be.
“I’m very happy. I’m even happier now than when I spent my coming-of-age ceremony quietly last year.”
With that cold, yet dignified voice, the crowd’s attention shifted from Yves Russell to Olivier instantly.
“I greet you happy birthday once again, Your Highness!”
“Next year, how about spending your twentieth birthday next year at Marquis Russell’s estate once more?”
Contrary to the sweet voices of the people congratulating him, there was no feeling of joy or pleasure being reflected in Olivier’s clear eyes.
He was like a doll who would only speak when the string on his back would be pulled.
“Now, it’s time for the party to start in earnest tonight. Shall we all return to the banquet hall?”
At someone’s suggestion, the crowd began to move back towards the second floor balcony.
Then Yves Russell, who had been observing Olivier with a curious gaze thus far, spoke to him.
“So, ‘that’ is Your Highness’ preference?”
Olivier shifted his empty eyes and looked at Yves.
His gaze was the same as when he was being congratulated by all those people earlier.
“I don’t understand what you mean, Marquis Russell.”
Surrounded by his followers, Olivier returned to the banquet hall.
As he looked at the prince’s retreating figure, there was a strange smile on Yves Russell’s lips.