Chapter Two: His Highness’ Visit
A while after the marriage proposal, my stepbrother had my portrait made and sent to the fourth prince for caution’s sake. This was to ensure that I was the woman he fell in love with at first sight. However, even after being handed the portrait, the fourth prince insisted that I, Liese Teddy, really was the woman that he had fallen in love with.
After that, there wasn’t anything else we could do but to accept. As the heroine of the fairy tale about the luckiest woman of the century, I started receiving the cold shoulder and nasty looks from everyone on the estate.
My stepbrother, who had finally gotten his chance to chase me out of the estate, happily worked towards making this strange marriage happen. He threatened that if I missed this opportunity, I wouldn’t ever get another proposal again. Fearing the worst, I gathered leaflets from around town, and with them under my arm, went to beg my stepbrother.
“Stepbrother, I will leave this house, so please forgive me!”
“What are you talking about, Liese?”
He knit his thick eyebrows and stared at me with hatred evident on his face. I spread the recruiting notices in front of my stepbrother.
“I think that I should just leave and start working. I can’t stay here forever as a freeloader… So I’ll just go out on my own.”
He forcefully pulled the bundle of leaflets from my hand, looked them over in an uncaring manner, and scoffed, before crushing them all with his hands.
“Inns… Restaurants… These are no places a lady from the Teddy Family can work at. Just how stupid are you?”
Since my stepfather had died, I haven’t ever been treated like a lady of this house and have worked as a servant taking care of miscellaneous tasks around the estate. I can work just fine.
“I won’t let you leave this place. Besides, my father had told me often that he would leave you in my care after he dies.”
It’s the first time I’m hearing about this. I persisted, which was rare… However, I really wanted to avoid this marriage at all costs.
“If that’s true, and if you want me to be happy, please let me work outside.”
My stepbrother threw the papers onto the ground and caught my arm, yelling in a terrifying voice: “You just want to refuse the marriage, don’t you!?”
—Ah, what should I do…? He figured it out.
“Do you really think that such a thing is possible for our family!?”
I turned pale. My stepbrother was blocking my only way out.
“What would we do if His Highness Teddy commits suicide as he said he would after you refuse his proposal? That would be the end of the Teddy Family.”
“…But, this has to be some mistake!”
“Don’t forget who you are!”
My stepbrother left in a rage as if telling me that our talk was over. I could do nothing more now.
After such and such things, the time finally came when the fourth prince would come to visit the Teddy Estate to confirm the marriage. That day, together with my sister Leticia, we waited for our soon-to-be-here visitor, the fourth prince.
When the time came that the horse wagon reached our grounds, I stood up straight and waited. The fourth prince’s horse wagon was more modest than I expected. It was a bit of a let-down after imagining a white horse wagon with golden ornaments. While I was listening to the horse wagon’s sounds, my stepbrother rushed out of the estate in a hurry.
I kneeled as the horse wagon stopped in front of us. And after a creak, the doors opened. I gripped my fists tight as my heart beat faster and faster with nervousness. It was the first time I’d be seeing the fourth prince’s face. I wasn’t wondering what he would look like, what he would talk about, or what his expression would be as he dismounted. In my nervousness, my head was completely blank.
A single man got down from the horse wagon and showed himself off. Standing before me was a tall man with platinum blonde hair. He had a beautiful face and a well-proportioned build. Just standing there, I could already feel just how impressive his presence was. Had such a charming man really fallen for me?
“I’ve been wanting to meet you, Liese!”
The fourth prince, without hesitation, gallantly extended his arm towards… My sister, Leticia.
“I… I’m Liese, but…”
After I ashamedly pointed out the fourth prince’s mistake, he suddenly opened his eyes wide. He averted his gaze from Leticia and caught me in his sight. For a moment, he looked at me with a surprised expression. Then, after slowly blinking as he kept staring at me, he continued speaking monotonously as if nothing had happened.
“Liese, I’ve waited so long to meet you.”
At that moment, it felt like the previously established story about him falling for me at first sight, had collapsed, but the fourth prince did not look worried in the slightest. He suddenly moved his hand that had extended out to Leticia, took my hand, and said smoothly, as if he was simply reciting a line that he had thought up of before: “Liese, since I’ve laid my eyes upon you… I have been your prisoner. Please… Forgive me for making such a daring marriage proposal.”
I tried to gather my courage and ask him. To ask him the thing that I had to ask. My voice shook a bit.
“Uhm… I wonder… Where did Your Highness lay eyes upon me…?”
I instantly regretted asking such a thing.
The fourth prince looked at me with sharp eyes, and I stiffened from his cold gaze. His pale blue eyes silently warned me, telling me not to ask that question ever again. He smoothly ignored my question and turned toward my stepbrother.
“Viscount Teddy. Thank you very much for the invitation.”
“I am extremely delighted to have Your Highness honor us with your visit.”
My stepbrother guided the fourth prince into the estate’s parlor as if telling him that this was all he had to say.
As we entered the Teddy Estate’s parlor, I, the fourth prince, and my stepbrother sat on a sofa.
“Your Highness. Forgive me for being so bold, but about the church for the marriage ceremony…”
“You don’t need to call me Your Highness any longer. I’ve already abandoned such a title for this marriage.”
I furiously blinked my eyes.
“At the same time, I’ve abandoned the many ranks my father had granted me and the lands they brought under my control, along with my post at the Royal Palace… All to marry Liese.”
I could feel my blood pulling away after such an absurd development. Why was such a stupid thing happening?
No, why was this prince doing such a stupid thing?
Of course, my stepbrother was worried and started speaking: “So, Your Highness is currently…”
“I’ve moved to a county, the last property that remained under my control. I plan to welcome Liese there.”
The prince turned his face, which was as beautiful as a work of art, and started speaking endlessly about how calm, tranquil and beautiful the county was. However, this all entered from one ear and out the other. Before my dumbfounded eyes, my stepbrother and the prince started discussing marriage arrangements. I mobilized the remainder of my courage and asked my question once more. I felt that if I didn’t ask this now, I would be stuck in a great disaster.
“Uhm…! Your Highness…”
“Liese, I’m just a count now.”
“Count Nolan, just where did you see me?”
The count’s poor excuse for a smile instantly disappeared. He seized hold of my eyes, then said in a trembling, low voice: “It doesn’t matter.”
It… It does matter…
Isn’t that the whole premise of this marriage?
“No, but… I… Your Highness…”
“Uhhh… Uhm… I’m worried that you may have mistaken me for another woman…”
“Liese! How can you be so rude against His… No, the count!? There’s no way the count could make such a mistake!”
—Huh? But he even confused Leticia for me when we first met…
My stepbrother scratched his head and apologized to the count for his undisciplined sister. The count turned his face away and looked at me with insecure eyes.
“Liese. Are you telling me to die?”
Weren’t you the one willfully claiming that you want to kill yourself!?
“No, no! That’s… Of course not…”
“I’m glad to hear that, then.”
Glad to hear what?
“Actually, the marriage ceremony has already become quite the uproar for us.”
That was a hard truth to deny. The prince was undoubtedly good at making an uproar.
“With that in mind, my father has ordered me to refrain from a big announcement or a party to not create any more disturbance. For the time being, I’m thinking of a simple ceremony in a suitable church.”
How about we delay the marriage until everything calms down? About fifty years, maybe? Of course, I was in no position to say such a thing.
“I’ve also just come out of a mourning period.”
After such a subject suddenly appeared, my stepbrother and I were surprised. He was talking about when the fifth prince, His Highness Aaron, was killed. My stepbrother immediately tried to change the subject to not talk about this anymore.
“Yes, I understand! We should refrain from a showy, large-scale ceremony!”
“One of my attendants will participate in the ceremony, but if we get the chance, I want to send an invitation to the Royal Palace as well. For my other family members.”
He must be talking about the King and the Queen. I have no idea how I should act when I meet these people.
My stepbrother bulged his plump cheeks and replied while joining his hands together, “That would be fine, of course! In fact, it would be all the more preferable for our family as well.”