The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 31
An invitation has arrived at Jenner’s mansion. The smooth red envelope containing the invitation looked luxurious at first glance. The butler, of course, thought that it had come to Lilian, the owner of the mansion, so he brought it to Lilian without much thought.
This was the most active time of the year for the social circle in Lavant. Every day, letters were delivered to the mansion saying that she was invited to social gatherings and proms. Lilian accepted the invitation with a sullen face. But the moment she saw the sentence on the envelope, her eyes widened.
A crest with a stag, a shield, and a crossed spear.
It was a pretty famous family crest not only in Lavant but also in Brimdel.
Lilian’s hand shook as she opened the envelope and hurriedly pulled out an invitation from it. The name of the recipient was written on the top of the invitation, which had a faint floral scent. When Lilian saw her name, she was surprised a second time, and she quickly began to read the words on the invitation.
“No, what is this…?”
After reading the contents of the invitation, Lilian raised her head and pursed her lips. It was a very ambiguous expression, neither happy nor sad.
“What does it say, Lady Jenner?”
When his master showed a surprised reaction, the butler, who could no longer hold back his curiosity, asked quietly. But Lilian did not answer his question. She jumped up from her seat, took a couple of deep breaths, and screamed.
Lilian’s loud voice echoed through the mansion.
* * *
“It came this morning.”
Herietta showed something to Edwin. A red envelope. It was used among nobles to convey something to celebrate, to bring happiness, or to invite a loved one.
As Edwin was about to ask what this was, a sentence stamped on the envelope came into view. It was a crest with a stag boasting stylish horns standing over the shield and spear.
Most nobles drew fantasy animals such as wild and violent beasts and dragons in their coats of arms to show off their family’s strength and bravery. That’s why herbivores tagged as weak prey were not very popular among them.
For that reason, the stag crest on the envelope was quite famous in Brimdel. Of course, it was the crest of a family that Edwin knew very well.
“It was from the Marquisate Richconnell. It’s an invitation to the masquerade next week.”
However, Herietta, unaware of this fact, kindly explained it to Edwin.
Edwin took Herietta’s envelope. When he opened the envelope, he could smell the sweet scent of flowers inside. There was no doubt that it was scented with saffron that was in full bloom at the back of the Richconnell mansion. He took the invitation out of the envelope and read it slowly.
Eventually, he raised his head and looked at Herietta.
“Why are they inviting Miss Herietta?”
Edwin’s eyes were wary as he asked the question.
Marquisate Richconnell was one of the most prestigious families in Brimdel. Although Marquis is the second-highest in the ranks, they were second to none of the dukes in terms of the prestige of the family. Perhaps because of that, they acted with a high nose even among nobles of the same rank and were famous for not even having any dealings with families below the rank of count unless there was a special reason.
Richconnell used to host a ball every summer. The ball held at their summer villa is considered to be of very good quality, and in Lavant alone, it was called the best. Naturally, many aristocrats were eager to attend the ball, and their popularity was so great that they even went back and forth to bribe. But Marquis Richconnell didn’t even bother with them.
‘If you want to receive an invitation, come up to the appropriate position.’
These were the words of Marquis Richconnell to a Viscount who was begging that he would like to attend the Marquis’ ball no matter what.
Because of that, the nobles living in or around Lavant sometimes joked that they were divided into two classes: those who were invited to Marquisate Richconnell’s ball and those who were not.
It was completely different from Count Shanks’ ball, which was merely large and invited almost all nobles.
By the way, why was Herietta, the daughter of a Viscount, invited to such a huge gathering? Wasn’t she from Philioche, a powerless family in the countryside?
It didn’t make sense to anyone.
“Edwin, you asked the same question as my aunt.”
Herietta smiled softly. She was thirsty, so she poured water into a glass and placed it on the table.
“Maybe it was done out of gratitude for helping Lady Vivianne, the daughter of Marquis Richconnell.”
“Otherwise, the person they want to invite might be someone other than me.”
Herietta pretended to be calm and said thoughtfully. Edwin, who had been listening to her, soon frowned because he understood what she meant and what she was trying to say.
“As I said before, I have nothing to do with Lady Vivianne.”
“I know, I know. As long as you have no feelings for her.”
Herietta, who intercepted Edwin’s words and finished them instead, took the glass and drank its contents. It had no taste, but just drinking water made her complicated thoughts feel refreshed.
She set the empty glass down on the table.
“Actually, I received another letter besides that. It was a letter direct from Lady Vivianne.”
“Yes. But I didn’t bring it here. She asked me to burn the letter as soon as I read it, just in case anyone might read it.”
Upon hearing Herietta’s words, Edwin was confused. Why did Vivian send a letter to Herietta? Maybe she was grateful for the day, and she had sent a thank-you letter. But if it was for that reason, she wouldn’t even have asked for it to be burned.
“Aren’t you going to ask what it is about?”
Edwin stood still, with a serious face, and Herietta glanced up at him. After thinking for a moment, he raised his head and met her eyes.
“Is it something I need to know?”
“Then, is it something that could endanger Miss Herietta’s life?”
Herietta once again recalled the contents of the letter she had received. She shook her head
“No. It’s not like that.”
“Then that’s all that matters. I don’t see any reason why I need to know.”
Edwin readily answered. Then, as if he was no longer interested in the subject of their conversation, he began to resume what he was doing. It was so simple and clear that she was stunned. Herietta hurriedly grabbed the hem of his robe.
“Wait, wait, Edwin. It was something you needed to know.”
“It doesn’t matter if I don’t know, as long as it doesn’t cause harm to Miss Herietta.”
“But aren’t you curious about what Lady Vivianne wrote about you?”
Herietta asked persistently as if she were trying to pull a reaction out of him. Did he notice it?
“But Miss Herietta is aware of it, so if you thought that it would cause problems, you would have informed me.”
In other words, he would completely trust her judgment. Herietta felt that his words were somehow heavier. As she rolled her eyes, she let out a deep sigh.
I guess I’m just like a big fish in a small pond, huh.
He must have done it on purpose, knowing that she would not be able to bear the weight and would confide in him. Herietta eventually had no choice but to raise the white flag to him.
She opened her mouth
“Lady Vivianne would like to see you again, Edwin. The invitation to the ball is just a tool that allows her to arrange a meeting for two people.”
“… It would have been better if I hadn’t listened.”
Edwin muttered with a hardened expression. Herrietta hurriedly added to his reaction, as if he didn’t want to hear any more.
“Hold on, Edwin. She thinks it wouldn’t hurt to see you one more time.”
“The two of you couldn’t even have a proper conversation because there was so little business that day. So, on this occasion, meet Lady Vivianne and tell her more about what had happened.”
Edwin interrupted Herietta. His smile was nowhere to be seen. For some reason, he looked very uncomfortable.
“What are you talking about now? See Lady Vivianne again? Didn’t you hate me more than anything because I was with her? Have you changed your mind?”
“Well, it’s not like that.”
“That’s enough. I don’t want to leave any room for anything, so I’ll pretend I haven’t heard of this story at all.”
Edwin tried to put an end to the situation quickly. From Herietta’s point of view, this kind of attitude may seem disappointing, but he saw it differently. When he thought she might not see her not long ago, he feared every day.