The Ever Correct Mother I
Today, a letter arrived from a dead woman.
It read as follows.
Dear His Highness, Prince Andy.
It’s the time of year when the cold truly seeps into my bones, but I hope that you are still keeping your health.
I’m sure that you’re working very hard, carrying out the inspections near the border…
After that, the words on the paper wished him good luck with his work and prayed for his swift and safe return.
She didn’t mention even once just once in her beautifully penned letter just what she was doing with her time.
Not once, in those letters inked in a deep blue hue, like the rising tide.
The Crown Prince Andy held the letter between his shaking fingers.
(Why… why was I sent such a thing!?)
It was the exact same letter that she had sent Andy, fifteen years ago.
(Things were definitely the same back then as well. When I was on inspection duty with my father fifteen years ago, I received this exact same letter, in this exact same house… Everything, from the colour of the ink, to the handwriting, to the message, it’s all the exact same…!!)
He looked it over constantly, trying to convince himself he was mistaken.
But, eventually he had to accept that he wasn’t remembering wrong. Back then, when he was still being deceived by that woman’s true nature, he had read her letters over and over again when they came.
I will definitely write to you again soon. Until then, please take care of yourself.
She was the only one who could have written this letter.
After betraying Andy and being exiled from the kingdom, his former fiancée who was unfortunately waylaid by bandits on the road…
It was only Maria Wenschlee who could have written this letter.
The window rattled, causing Andy to jerk his pale face upward.
But, it was just the wind.
Of course, it couldn’t be anything else, since this was the third floor of the mansion. Even though he should have known that, Andy’s heart was beating so hard in his chest he felt like it might burst.
Andy told himself that.
(I’m not… I’m not a bad person… I’m not a bad person, not bad, not bad at all!! I made the right choice in Lilith! Lilith is the only one worthy of being my Queen. I absolutely didn’t do anything wrong!!)
He clasped a hand against his chest, squeezing his shirt. The dirty jacket he had been wearing whilst working through the day had been flung over the armrest of a nearby seat.
“Dear. Heeeey, dear, can you help me?”
From below, he heard the voice of his wife, Lilith.
“This man, he’s the useless sort of lord who can’t bring in the proper amount of tax. If you don’t hurry, I might forget myself and dirty my dress as well.”
Andy bit his lip as he sighed deeply.
Grabbing his jacket which was filthy with blood, he replied as he threw it over his shoulders.
“I’m coming now, my beloved Lilith.”
He scrunched the letter between his hands and threw it into the fireplace, only leaving when he was convinced that the flames had taken it. Then, he headed towards the stairs.
(That letter has to be some sort of childish prank… Someone must have written it on that Maria’s behalf.)
That had to be the case.
The Maria who had betrayed him was long since dead. And dead women do not write letters.
At the age of sixteen, the young lady called Evelyn who was daughter to a Marquis, was sure of the fact that she was the loveliest flower of high society.
She had inherited her mother’s beauty and her father’s glossy black hair. Whenever Evelyn dressed up in finery, men would fall over themselves blindly in an attempt to take her hand for a dance.
(Fufu. Everyone is so desperate to take my hand and marry me!)
But, Evelyn wasn’t the kind of girl to simply take anyone’s offer.
Evelyn also had a certain type. Unless they were clever, handsome, interesting and also the same age as she was, then they were absolutely no good.
But most important of all, in order to dance with Evelyn, they first had to be designated by her mother’s ‘instructions’.
“Evelyn. Today, your first dance ought to be with the eldest son of House Ellias.”
“The next shall be the young man just over there… Count Sidley. He may have been a second son, but he inherited the family’s title at a young age and is still unmarried.”
“I understand, mother.”
The only thing that Evelyn believed in more than her own beauty were her mother’s words.
“Listen to me, Evelyn. So long as you do what your mother tells you, then you shall definitely be happy. Because you look just like your mother, thus you are a true beauty…!”
She knew that even if she wasn’t told.
She believed in her mother’s words, since they were always the truth. They had never failed her yet.
Evelyn was beautiful, after all. And of course, everyone treated her like she was!
“Please don’t worry, mother. I’ll always make sure to follow your words.”
“You’re such a good girl, Evelyn.”
(So, you’ll definitely make me happy, won’t you… mother?)
That day, a ball was being held in the royal palace, and as per usual Evelyn was dressed up in one of her finest dresses and travelled to attend via carraige.
She did up her hair the way her mother had told her and wore the dress her mother had picked out. Because of her mother’s help, the moment she entered the hall, all sorts of eyes swiveled to look Evelyn’s way.
“You see, Evelyn? Everyone is head over heels for you.”
“Yes, mother. It’s all thanks to mother’s suggestions, after all.”
Her mother nodded happily, as she scanned the room for the men of peerage. Meanwhile, Evelyn simply looked around with a smile on her face.
(Because I’m so beautiful, I feel sorry for everyone else around my age.)
Either because of their faces or their dresses, the other noble girls around her age couldn’t measure up to her own beauty, in her eyes. But, Evelyn turned up her nose.
(Every single lady here really isn’t my equal at all. As long as I’m here, no one will pay any attention to you at all…)
But, that was simply the way of things.
“I’ve made a decision, Evelyn. Your partner today shall be…”
But, just as her mother was speaking-
A man she didn’t know suddenly laid his hand on Evelyn’s shoulder.
“Ah, my deepest apologies for having surprised you. I saw an errant piece of lint on your shoulder and I simply couldn’t help myself, please forgive my thoughtlessness.”
Evelyn was breath taken as she stared at the man, who leaned in close and whispered so not to humiliate her.
(Just who is this!? This man, he’s so…!)
His smile was energetic, but it had a gentle warmth to it.
He had long, thin eyebrows, bordering his calming blue eyes. His nose was straight and there was something strangely alluring about those thin lips. Although he looked around Evelyn’s age, there was something in that smile that suggested he was mature beyond his years.
The hand that had brushed the lint from Evelyn’s shoulder looked strong and reliable.
“Hey, I heard the rumours, but is that perhaps…?”
“Oh my! If it isn’t the Prince himself…!?”
After hearing the nearby ladies whisper to each other, Evelyn’s eyes widened in shock as she heard her mother’s voice. Of course, her mother took a step forward, pushing Evelyn closer towards him as well.
“Thank you very much for your kind consideration of my daughter. If I may confirm, you are indeed His Highness, Prince Alfred…?”
“Yes. My name is Alfred J Laurenson, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
“Oh my, I was right after all…! This is my daughter, Evelyn, oldest daughter to Marquess Symonds.”
After listening to her mother speak, Alfred looked once more at Evelyn.
As she was faced with that gentlemanly smile, Evelyn’s heart fluttered.
(Just what is this? This feeling…)
She felt her cheeks flush as her heart pounded. Although he was royalty, just what was the Prince of another country doing here? She wondered just why he was at this ball of all places, but those thoughts were pushed aside by her deep desire to spend more time with him.
But even before Evelyn could gaze at her mother imploringly, she was already speaking.
“To be able to meet in such a way, I’m certain that this must be fate, Your Highness. If you agree, then by all means, could you take Evelyn’s hand in the first dance tonight…”
Her mother’s words were drowned out by the sudden commotion in the hall.
Everyone’s heads turned as one to see.
Even though all those gazes should have been cast Evelyn’s way, even Evelyn and her mother turned to look.
And there stood an astonishingly beautiful girl.
Her big eyes almost seemed translucent, as they glittered like stars.
Her small lips had a luscious thickness to them, coloured like a perfectly ripe apple. Her skin was as smooth and white as porcelain, completing an appearance that beggared belief. When one gazed at her, it was like she was the only person alive who could truly be described as having ‘doll-like beauty’.
Even Evelyn couldn’t stop that thought from floating through her mind.
The pale yellow dress she wore had a neckline that made it look like the inverted petal of a boutique rose, replete with all manner of ruffles and elegant drapery.
She stood upright and didn’t place a single foot wrong as she walked through the parting crowd of people, not the slightest bit intimidated by all the stares upon her.
(That girl, just who is she…?)
That eye-catching honey coloured blonde hair was intricately curled and braided, maintaining its shape perfectly even as she walked.
The hair that would usually have hung below her shoulders was raised, making her delicate white neck stand out even more.
One of the most important ministers of the country finally called out the name of the girl who had suddenly appeared. When they heard that, all in attendance finally understood just who it was that they beheld.
“She’s Princess Maria…?”
The daughter of the Crown Prince who had been studying abroad for two years… in other words, the grandchild of the King himself.
(Why is she here? No way, did she already make her social debut…!?)
She knew that she would come back one day. But, she didn’t think she would have to worry about a fourteen-year-old girl… No, even if it were a girl around her age, Evelyn had never considered any of them her equals before.
(Don’t lose faith, Evelyn! I’m sure that I can be much more beautiful than that girl!)
Balling her fists and trying to calm herself in her mind, she stared at Alfred who stood in front of her. But, with an apologetic smile, Alfred excused himself politely.
“My deepest apologies once again. I have already promised the first dance of the evening to another, but I am sure that we can dance together later.”
As soon as she heard those words of refusal, something ached in Evelyn’s chest.
Despite being a Prince of a neighbouring kingdom, it was still important for him to pay homage to the daughter of this land’s Crown Prince. She understood that, but it was still painful to hear those words.
Turning away from Evelyn, Prince Alfred walked straight towards Princess Maria.
“Your Highness, Maria.”
“Oh my, if it isn’t Alfred? What good fortune to meet you here.”
When Maria was called out to by Alfred, she beamed like the sun. It was a smile so adorable that even the people who had been gazing at Evelyn earlier stared and sighed at the sight.
“Look at that, Maria and Alfred are dancing with one another.”
“There are rumours that Maria is to be engaged to Prince Alfred, after all. The two of them certainly look a likely pair.”
That girl, she’s truly Alfred’s fiancée?
Evelyn’s chest began to ache even more. As she was staring in dejection, another man called out to her from behind.
“Lady Evelyn. If it pleases you, would you not dance with me instead?”
She looked back at her mother for instructions. What should she do? But, when she looked, Evelyn gasped.
(Mother… why does she look so scary…?)
Her mother was glaring hard at something. It was as if she was looking at something utterly detestable, something she couldn’t bear the sight of.
(Is she looking at Maria…?)
“Ah, it’s nothing… it should be fine, right? Then, let’s have a dance.”
She danced with that man, without daring to ask for her wrathful looking mother’s opinion that time. Using the excuse that becoming a wallflower was an even bigger crime than acting without her mother’s permission, she decided to take things into her own hands, just this once.
Although she was worried about just what had happened to her mother, she couldn’t dispel the thoughts of seeing Maria and Alfred together from her head.
(Is she just a bridal candidate? Or already a fiancée? The thought of Prince Alfred with that woman…)
Was that the reason why royalty from another country was invited to this ball? If he had come to such a place in order to seek out potential marriage candidates, then she was definitely still only a candidate, not yet his official fiancée.
As she ran through the steps of the dance without thinking, she lightly chewed her lip as she thought about it.
(Just what is this? It’s like I’ve lost to Maria…? No, that can’t be it. When it comes to real beauty or skill in dance, I’m definitely far superior! I have to be!!)
She shrugged off that defeatist feeling and tried to reassure herself.
(I am definitely more beautiful. That’s what mother said after all, that I’m the best. Mother is always right, mother is always right, mother is always…!! I’m sure that Prince Alfred knows that as well!!)
As she danced with the man whose name she didn’t even know, Evelyn turned to look Alfred’s way.
And there, in the center of the hall, the most eye-catching pair of all danced together. But, just for the briefest of moments, Alfred cast Evelyn a glance.
It was just an instant, but he definitely looked Evelyn’s way.
A steamy look full of passion. A face he would only show Evelyn.
At that moment, Evelyn felt like she finally understood, as her spirits were completely uplifted.
(Prince Alfred only has eyes for me!)
It was only to be expected. Evelyn was completely convinced that she was right.
(He did say that we could ‘dance later’, after all! He was only showing Maria a courtesy as a marriage candidate, he had no choice but to dance with her first! But, the truth is, the only one he has feelings for is me!)
And, if that was the case…
Then there was only one thing to do.
“Princess Maria, I’m honoured to finally meet you, my name is Evelyn Symonds.”
Between dances, Evelyn found the opportunity to approach Maria in a rare free moment when the crowd around the Princess had parted.
“It’s lovely to meet you too, Lady Evelyn. My father is always talking about just how much he relies upon your own father.”
“No, not at all. It’s the sincere honour of the nobility to serve the royal family with all we have.”
They smiled brightly as each other as they exchanged pleasantries.
(But, all the same…)
Maria’s smile really was incredibly sweet.
She exuded an atmosphere of a Princess whose only thoughts were pure, who didn’t ever consider the darkness that might lurk in people’s hearts.
(She really is different to me, isn’t she?)
The Symonds family was on the verge of ruin.
If Evelyn couldn’t secure a good husband, it was certain that her house would soon collapse. The burden to find the best man possible weighed heavily on Evelyn’s shoulders.
For that purpose, she had received all sorts of education from her mother.
When it comes to finding the perfect partner, you must consider the means to justify the ends.
“Princess Maria, I’m doubtless you’ve learned all manner of things whilst studying abroad. If it pleases you, I’d love to hear the fascinating tales you must have to tell of foreign lands.”
“Of course, if you’d like, you’re always welcome to come and visit my place so that we can play together.”
“My, I’m so happy!”
Evelyn smiled and laughed as she looked at the little princess who was naive to the wolves of the world.
But, she missed that when Maria cast her eyes down as she curtseyed, those blue eyes had become hard and chillingly cold.
Apparently, I also do novels on this site. Who knew?
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