Chapter 15 At the masquerade ball
A week later.
I’ve decided to attend my first ever masquerade ball.
I kept it a secret from my husband and my mother of course.
It did feel wrong to go out to a place where one goes to for night-time fun but the curiosity in wanting to find out the truth they’ve been concealing won over.
I asked a favor from the maid and had her help me prepare my getup in secret.
I donned a blonde wig and had it pinned at the back of my head in a braid. The plan was to conceal my eyes with the mask. The color of my eyes, which was proof of my royal lineage, was being covered up by colored lenses so no one could tell.
I chose a lovely, light-pink dress. It was a hue that I would never be able to wear stylishly during my time with black hair but it suited the blonde hair well.
I had to pay attention to my jewelries and small accessories.
There’s a chance my identity could get found out by an article I wore once in high society.
So I simply wrapped a bright red ribbon and tied it on my neck for this evening party. To some extent, it was a fashion attire too.
When I checked myself in the mirror I looked like a completely different person.
My disguise was flawless.
I decided to depart after hearing that Mother had fallen asleep.
I’d been told that my husband will come back home tomorrow noon so I don’t have to worry about that.
Exiting from the back door, I headed to the venue on a carriage that had been waiting in the street.
The location was a social meeting place located at the main street.
I’d thought it would be held somewhere in secret but it was held somewhere unexpectedly grand instead.
Wearing a mask, I climbed down the carriage.
After I presented my written invitation at the reception, I was led inside.
The orchestra performance was reverberating at a very loud volume at the reception hall. Light music was flowing in, different from the average evening party. It appeared like everyone was having fun dancing.
The venue was filled with so much people that it was hard to walk.
It’s only natural but with everyone wearing a mask, I don’t know who’s who.
I’d gotten overwhelmed by the difference in atmosphere of this place from the ones I’m used to.
When I’d decided to head to the salon of the white lily women’s association that I heard from friend for the time being, I picked up on a conversation the ladies near me were talking about.
「Look, it’s the young silver-haired noble！」
「Oh, you’re right！」
It seems the so-called young silver-haired noble of the rumours has promptly entered the stage.
I also took a look at him.
Like what my friends had described, the man had silver-hair and an elegant air about him.
He quickly took one lady’s hand and disappeared into the middle of the dance floor.
His hand had been alarmingly fast.
If he’s surrounded by that much people, it would be impossible to investigate his real identity.
So I decided to quickly head to the salon like I hadn’t seen the young silver-haired noble.
However, I’d made light of the thing called a masquerade ball.
After taking just one step, I was invited to dance.
Since it was rare for a gentlemen outside of relatives to invite me to dance in an evening party, I ended up flinching.
Held forcefully by the arm, I was made to dance with someone who I didn’t even know by name.
It seems the fast tempo song made me giddy as I was assaulted by a dizzying nauseating feeling from just one dance.
I was feeling thirsty so I took the drink offered by the waiter. But what I drank in one gulp turned out to be an alcohol that was expensive by several degrees.
Not only did it not quench my thirst, it burned the tip of my tongue.
‘What was I doing?”, I asked myself in self-loathing.
Thinking I should at least complete my objective, I walked unsteadily to the salon.
I was invited to dance during my way there as well, but I firmly refused them this time.
An assembly that made a point of crowding around a leading female figure and enjoying conversation around alcoholic tea was held at the white lily’s madame association.
They had masks on so no one knew who was who, but because of that, they were more prone to talking.
I tried steering the main topic to my husband by implicitly bringing up his name.
When I did so, one member talked about the tea party she’d been invited to by my husband.
According to her, it had been one strange tea party.
「Even though that gentleman passionately invited me, he didn’t look interested at all when I went to the designated place……」
Many other members showed their agreement by saying, “yeah, that’s true”.
It seems my husband simply made another man look good and hadn’t acted like he was seducing a woman.
「Somehow, those two had a strange air between them, didn’t they?」
Though they didn’t look like they were friends, there was an air of familiarity between them.
「I wonder what’s the best way to describe it……」
「Hm~mm, let me think」
「Like a student and teacher？」
「Oh, that’s it！」
A student and teacher?
When I asked for more details, it seems the teacher was my husband and the student was the young, brown-haired man in glasses.
I organized the information.
My husband calls several ladies and invites them to a tea party.
After that, without seducing the ladies he invited, he’d mediate for the man who was like his student.
In other words, my husband wasn’t calling them to get along with the ladies himself but rather, calling them with the aim of introducing them to the man he was with.
First of all, I’ve confirmed that my husband was not a playboy.
I noticed another thing too.
When I heard about the student and teacher thing, I put two and two together.
The brown-haired man with tinted lenses was probably His Highness, Augusto.
My husband was perhaps introducing other ladies to His Highness, who had only Keira von Plovak in his eyes.
The mystery was cleared up so I felt refreshed.
When I realized it, the date had changed.
Maybe because of drowsiness, my head felt foggy. When I drank the tea without thinking, I forgot the fact that black tea was alcoholic and choked on it.
「Hey, you okay？」
「Y-yeah, I’m fine……」
「Well, if you say so. Anyway, leaving that aside――」
The members were now excited with a different topic.
Since I already got the information and was feeling a little giddy, I decided to allow myself to head home.
Once I traverse the reception hall, men asked me for a dance one after another.
I’d ended up getting fed up with this situation that would be impossible in an ordinary evening party.
When I refused them saying I don’t feel well, they’d grab my waist without my permission and suggest that we go to a place where I can rest.
As if I’d follow a stranger, I thought, as I pinched the back of their hands with all my might and escaped the danger.
I want to quickly go home and rest.
While I was thinking that, I advanced, pushing through people.
On the way, I crashed into a man.
I was only proceeding normally, but the other person, not caring who was behind, abruptly stepped back.
「What the hell!」
「Oh my, my apologies」
The tunic of the man, who turned to look back at me, was drenched with the alcohol he was holding in his hand.
I myself was hurting from the crash but I got a grip and swallowed back my own complaints.
The other person was drunk. I judged it wouldn’t be wise to argue.
「My clothes got dirty! What you give me to make up for this？」
I handed him a handkerchief.
「I’m sure you know that a handkerchief isn’t going to cut it, right?」
「Yeah, so it seems」
It turned into a troublesome situation.
The others around us were acting like they didn’t see us at all. I had to deal with this on my own, but I don’t know what was the best course of action in this situation.
「Why don’t you take responsibility？」
「What do you mean by that？」
「Well, let’s discuss in a quiet room」
I have a bad feeling about this.
I had my arm forcefully seized by that man. Feeling as if I was being stared at by slimy eyes, I reflexively slapped him on the cheeks with an open hand.
Maybe because it had been an unforeseen attack, the man’s eyes went wide open. At the edge of his mouth, blood was trickling out.
As if to retaliate, the man also had his hand raised.
I clenched my teeth.
I was the first to strike out so it can’t be helped.
Shutting my eyes, I’d braced myself for the impact, but the pain did not come.
Finding it strange, I opened my eyes and saw someone gripping the man’s raised hand.
It was, the young, silver-haired noble.
As the man tried to shake him off, the young silver-haired noble twisted the man’s hand behind his back and stopped him from moving about.
「Y-you son of a bitch, the hell you think you’re doing！」
The young silver-haired noble whispered something into the angry man’s ear.
When he did so, the furious man swiftly turned meek as a lamb.
The young silver-haired noble came to my side while I was dazed and handed me his hand.
I’d been staring at his hands without moving when he forcefully grabbed my hand and started walking.
I shook off his hand the moment we got out of the hall and into a dimly lit garden.
Where on earth was he planning to take me to?
First things first, I bent my knee to show my gratitude and said how grateful I was for helping me.
Hearing no response from him, I bid him a 「good day」 and turned back, but I was once again taken by the hand.
「What is it with you！？」
「Well, I was thinking of a punishment for my wife who so kindly indulged in evil pleasures」
Hearing the voice that whispered in my ear, I came close to shrieking.
Turning back to the young silver-haired noble, I forcefully tore off his mask.
Seeing the other person’s face, I felt my jaw drop in shock.