Ch. 73 Madonna At The Ball (1)
The man standing on the platform seemed very accustomed to his position, and naturally was selected to host the ceremony to select the Madonna. He opened his mouth broadly to speak, holding a sheet of paper as he pointed to a large ballot box.
“Thanks to your participation, the vote for Madonna went smoothly.”
Elena looked at the paper in his hand in curiosity and Mirabelle quietly explained.
“While you were gone they handed out ballots to each person. I hear the lady over there is expected to be one of the candidates for Madonna.”
“Oh, I see…”
Elena thought back to the ball in her last life. Her memory was dim, but she seemed to recall voting on such a piece of paper in the past. Elena nodded in understanding, while Margaret explained it to her further.
“Since it’s an imperial event, they change the way we elect the Madonna each time so it’s fair. Last time, I heard that you could nominated yourself and people would line up after you.”
She didn’t know that the voting method changed each time, as she had only attended once in her last life. But no matter what the draw was, she already knew who the honor would be bestowed upon this night. Elena glanced expectantly towards that young lady.
The Marquis Necrensi’s family were highly reputed as members of the nobility in the capital city. Yulia in particular was a young lady regarded as the Flower of the Capital City. It was no exaggeration to say that Yulia’s fine clothing and jewelry led the fashion among Ruford nobility. And in this ball, Yulia was the most beautiful in Elena’s eyes. She had stunning feminine charm, and was called “A beauty without a smile” because of her proud features. As she was an intense point of interest among young nobles in southern society, Elena had heard quite a lot about her.
The man on the platform spoke again.
“First, I will announce the three honored candidates!”
Many people whistled and cheered.
“The first candidate is Lady Yulia, the treasure of the Necrensi family and the Flower of Society!”
Everyone applauded and congratulated her as if they knew it was fate. However, Yulia stood up on stage with an indifferent expression.
“The second candidate is the pride of southern society. Lady Helen, the only daughter of Marquis Selby!”
Sarah squealed next to Helen. Sarah was part of the scheme to give salty tea to Elena, and still appeared to be on friendly terms with Helen. Sarah’s scream drew more eyes to Helen. The latter, who had a sour look on her face, raised her head proudly and gave a satisfied smile.
“And the third and last candidate is–”
Elena looked puzzled as she listened to the host. It suddenly occurred to her that only a single Madonna candidate was announced in her last life. Come to think of it, why were there three?
“No one expected this hidden gem until today! It’s Lady Elena from House Blaise!”
Mirabelle whooped joyfully.
“Wow! I knew this would happen! Congratulations, sister!”
“Oh, congratulations Lady Blaise.”
Following Margaret and Mirabelle’s congratulations, Elena could not help but be amazed. She had already realized that the future wouldn’t always flow in the same way, but she didn’t expect this to happen. Many eyes turned to the shocked Elena. It seemed that yet again she attracted the attention of the nobility tonight. First for her beautiful appearance, then when she was asked the first dance by Prince Carlisle. Now she was nominated as the Madonna of the ball. Perhaps she would be the woman that was most talked about after tonight.
“Come on, you three, up to the platform!”
Yulia, Helen and Elena ascended to the platform. From her vantage point, Elena could see Mirabelle and Margaret looking at her supportively. She also caught sight of Carlisle standing some distance away. He was with Emperor Sullivan, who seemed to be deep in intimate conversation with the upper nobility. Perhaps Sullivan was using this opportunity to ingratiate Carlisle further into imperial aristocracy.
Carlisle, however, was looking towards the platform where Elena was standing. She could feel his strong gaze from this distance, and she swallowed dryly. The predatory look was in his eye again. Elena always seemed nervous in front of Carlisle for some reason.
“Ah, His Highness is looking at me…”
Elena turned her head, and she saw Helen staring agog at Carlisle. It seemed a bit strange, and Elena suddenly wondered,
‘Do they know each other?’
Helen noticed Elena looking at her, and she returned an icy gaze. She whispered in a fierce voice.
“You’re not taking anything from me from now on.”
Elena was puzzled by the meaning of Helen’s words. She hadn’t taken anything from Helen. But before she could respond, the host began to proceed.
“Three beautiful young women in one place is enough to turn the whole room blind. Isn’t that right?”
The nobles who were watching burst into laughter, but there was truth to his words. The three different beauties seemed to glow radiantly, as if a garden bloom of ten thousand flowers.
“These were the three young ladies who had the most votes. From these three, select the one you think is the most beautiful of the night.”
The host pointed to a small crown.
“The one who is chosen as the Madonna will receive this tiara.”
Many young ladies coveted the tiara not for its price, but it’s honor. While Elena was looking at it, she heard a loud voice interrupt the room.
“I would like to be the one to crown the Madonna, if that is acceptable?”
From the direction of the voice stood a handsome man, red hair blazing like a sunset. Although she had only seen him only a few times in the distance, Elena was able to recall him without difficulty.
He was Redfield, the second prince of the Ruford Empire. He was the one Carlisle mentioned in their conversation in the garden and was a possible successor to the throne, supported by the Empress and House Anita, the biggest threat to Carlisle presently.
‘Why did he suddenly…?’
It was the first time in the history of the ceremony that a prince had ever crowned the Madonna himself. The host was taken aback at first, but soon he bowed and spoke politely.
“Of course, Your Highness. It would be an even greater honor for the Madonna chosen.”
He couldn’t refuse Redfield. There were few who could stand up to him, knowing that the Empress and the Anita’s family were behind him.
“Fantastic. So which of these three young ladies will wear the tiara?”
He gave Elena a sly smile, and she couldn’t help but feel bewildered. In the past she had not been nominated for Madonna, much less expected to be crowned one like right now. Did all of this change because of her? She felt a small panic at the thought. Too many events were upset after she saved Carlisle.
“All three ladies will turn around. Everyone else, place the rose behind the one you think is the most beautiful. She who receives the most roses will be crowned Madonna tonight!”
Some of the nobles responded excitedly, lifting the atmosphere in anticipation. The host tilted his head in gesture of appreciation then gestured to a large mass of roses prepared by the servants.
“Please take the flowers from here!”
She saw a sea of people surge to take a rose. It was always enjoyable to participate in imperial events. She attended the same ball in her last life, and she knew better than anyone else.
At the host’s signal Elena, Helen and Yulia turned around. The sound of countless footsteps reached their ears. Because the guests passed each lady in order, it was impossible to tell which one had the most flowers even by the sound of their feet.
‘…Will it really be me?’
She wouldn’t refuse the honor of Madonna, but she didn’t want anything more to change from what she knew from her previous life.
“Oh! You’ve all picked someone completely unexpected.”
Each of the three young woman wore a different expression. Yulia looked uninterested, Helen was hopeful, and Elena looked puzzled.
“Now young ladies, please turn around!”
Elena slowly turned around and looked at the roses in front of her.