Ch. 14 I’ll Protect My Family (1)
“What caused you to suddenly start exercising?”
Derek was told that Elena had started working out, but he thought it wouldn’t be long before she quit. As the cherished daughters of the count, Elena and Mirabelle had grown up sheltered like plants in a greenhouse. Mirabelle was exceptionally weak, and Elena to a smaller extent. He thought Elena would quit at any moment, but she exercised steadily for days, piquing his curiosity.
Now that he ran with her, he couldn’t help but see his sister in a different light. She wasn’t one to quit overnight. She must have some sort of strong will driving her.
“Fitness is important no matter what you do. My dear brother may not know this, but I can’t do the housework if my body is weak.”
“…Is that so?”
“Yes. Are you going to exercise more? I’ll go now.”
“Yes, but don’t overdo it. If you push yourself too hard at first, you will hurt your body.”
“I’ll keep it in mind.”
Elena bowed lightly to Derek and went back into the castle, while he looked proudly at her retreating figure.
As soon as Elena arrived to her room, she checked the ankle weights on her feet. There were three small sandbags tied each slender ankle. Even by sight one could tell they were of considerable weight. Contrary to Derek’s advice, she was doing all she could to become as fit as possible in a short amount of time. She would suffer from severe muscle pain for several days, but she knew from experience that this would eventually disappear. She looked at the ankle weights and murmured to herself.
“…Should I add another one?”
Fortunately, the life of a noblewoman was remarkably simple, if monotonous. Most of the noble young women would have breakfast, lunch, then dinner, then spend the rest of their time improving their appearance. Changing hairstyles, choosing dresses, or getting skin care. Everything was centered around grooming oneself. The easiest way for women to ascend in status was to marry higher-ranked men, and there was no fiercer competition than in beauty.
Elena’s case was unusual, as she personally managed her father’s wealth. Normally after marriage the wife would manage the household, but since Alphord had not remarried it fell upon her. Perhaps that was why she was mature for her age. After calculating her father’s salary, family spending, and other miscellaneous expenses, she had a realization. Other aristocrats would normally spent extravagantly, and it was understandable that the noblemen wanted to marry off their daughters.
Furthermore, if the children failed to increase their status, most of them ended up married in a class similar to their own. Then the cost of extravagance invested since childhood was simply wasted. When she looked at the other children in that way, she naturally saved money and refused to attend social gatherings unless it was necessary. Elena loved the extra time she had. After she took care of her family’s meals and did her duties as a hostess, she was left alone and not interrupted by anyone.
After morning exercises and basic tasks as usual, Elena sat down at her desk in her office. A wave of emotion swept over this once lost familiarity, but she was able to adjust to it quickly. She still didn’t know if she was able to go to Glenn’s wedding, and there were many documents that had piled up the past several days. She could have dealt with it all at once, but for the moment it was important to build up stamina, so she pushed herself a little bit every day. It was when Elena was mechanically examining the documents and stamping the Blaise’s seal of approval that an invitation that caught her eye.
“This…when did this come?”
An red eagle stamped in the center of the white envelope was a seal from a household Elena knew well. Marchioness Holland. The emperor had posthumously bestowed the title of Marquis to a man who died in one of his wars. In some ways it was meaningless to have a marchioness without a marquis, but in this case it was not so.
Marissa Holland, the wife of the man who died in the war, was enjoying her position a powerful figure in southern high society. She sent invitations and personally held tea parties, and used the money collected to help the underprivileged. They were gatherings anyone would have to attend, even if they were less active in society.
It had already been a week since Carlisle promised to visit her in ten days. That would be three days from now, and the tea party was the day before. She wanted to train as much as possible before meeting Carlisle again, and it was frustrating to think that she should spend her time in unexpected social events.
‘What did I do in my past life? Did I attend this tea party?’
She remembered the important events, but her two-decade old memories were sparse on the smaller details. She wondered if she had anything suitable for the tea party. She didn’t like to spend money on luxury items such as dresses and jewelry, and often mended old dresses to wear. Elena like to live as simply as possible, but she was aware she was still part of the aristocracy. If she looked like a pushover it would only be natural for the Blaise’s to be ignored. She had no desire to catch anyone’s eye at these gathering, but she didn’t want to appear sloppy either.
“…I wish I didn’t have to do this.”
Despite her complaints about unnecessary work, Elena pushed her chair aside and walked towards her dressing room. It had been a while since she made an appearance in high society, but she hadn’t forgotten what she was taught as a child. It was full of gossip and criticism. If she wore a dress that was behind in fashion trends, she could only imagine what the other ladies would say.
‘There’s no need to be too flashy. I just need enough to attend.’
Just as Elena expected. all of her clothes in her wardrobe were too old-fashioned. Not long ago when she was trying on clothes for when she would meet her father, she realized she was in a miserable situation.
She couldn’t stop a sigh from escaping from her lips. There was a squeak as the door to the room opened and Mirabelle poked her head in.
“What are you doing, sister?”
Mirabelle was usually careful not to disturb her sister when she was doing household work, but she became curious when she chanced upon her sister going to the dressing room. When Elena saw the image of cute little Mirabelle, Elena answered her with a small smile.
“I received an invitation to a tea party, so I was looking for a dress to wear.”
“A tea party?”
“The invitation must have come in a while ago and I found out too late.”
“Well if it’s that important then I don’t think you have a dress to wear to something like that.”
Mirabelle knew Elena’s simple life better than anyone, so she didn’t have to check the dressing room to know the state of her wardrobe. Mirabelle wanted to nag her sister further but she kept her mouth shut at Elena’s furrowed expression. Elena looked at her dressing room and mumbled to herself.
“How long will it take to have one altered?”
Her dresses were out of style, but a couple of them seemed to be worth wearing if a tailor could add some extra lace in the sleeves or waistline. Mirabelle answered, shaking her head.
“There are probably so many orders for the crown prince’s debut ball that it won’t be possible if the tea party is soon.”
“Remember the last time we ordered gowns to attend a ball? We kept hearing that excuse why it was so slow to finish.”
Mirabelle’s words sounded similar to some other memory that happened long of ago. Mirabelle was eagerly looking forward to Prince Carlisle’s appearance and they felt like they had won a prize when their gowns were finally completely. Elena didn’t answer this of course, and Mirabelle looked at her strangely. Elena smiled awkwardly and quickly responded.
“Oh right. You did.”
Mirabelle stared at Elena for a moment, then looked around the dressing room that was too small to belong to a noblewoman.
“…Anyway, this is important.”
Although Elena wasn’t bitter, she couldn’t create from something they didn’t have. Although the Blaise’s were not extravagantly wealthy, she had never been short of money because of Elena’s simple lifestyle. However, she could still be caught up in bad gossip if she did something wrong. Elena took out the neatest-looking dress.
“Well, I can’t help it. It’s my responsibility for not being prepared.”
“No! I have a dress that was recently tailored. You can take the lace off the dress and attach it to yours.”
“Please, no. That will ruin your dress.”
“Oh come on, we can reattach it again later.”
“I don’t like it when people whisper about you. But in return there’s something I want.”
“What is it?”
Mirabelle may look young on the outside, but she was a smart child for her age. She hardly asked for anything which made Elena wonder what she wanted.
“I’m coming to this tea party with you!”
Elena was surprised by Mirabelle’s unexpected declaration. Mirabelle was too frail and weak to go out. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to make appearances in society, but rarely did so. Of course it wasn’t by her choice choice, but somehow it seemed a little odd that Mirabelle, who didn’t have much experience at parties, suddenly said she wanted to attend.
“Why do you want to attend a tea party like this all of a sudden? If it’s just to get some fresh air, I’ll take you to a more fancy party, not a small gathering like this.”
“Is Lady Selby going to be there too?”
“The party is hosted by Marchioness Holland, so she will be there unless something unusual happens.”
“That’s enough for me,”
Mirabelle said resolutely, further sparking Elena’s curiosity. Did Mirabelle not get along with Lady Selby? How could she have a grudge against someone when she had been absent at social gatherings? Mirabelle had received no attention in society at present. It wasn’t just her. Elena and the Blaise’s were never in the center of attention. She wondered what memory she had forgotten.
“What about Lady Selby?”
“Did you forget it already?”
Mirabelle didn’t elaborate any further. Elena tried to remember, casting her eyes upwards for a moment. When she couldn’t recall anything, she responded carefully again.
“…I don’t remember.”
“It’s okay. You don’t understand.”
“But even if you forget, Mirabelle never forgets a grudge. Oh, yes.”
This time Elena really looked curious, listening to her sister’s words that were inappropriate for her.
Mirabelle pulled the dress from Elena’s hands.
“Anyway, I’ll take your dress and fix it. You get permission from Father so I can go with you.”
With that, Mirabelle took her dress and left. Elena had some dim memories of Lady Selby, but she couldn’t think of anything else.
She was the only daughter of Marquis Shelby and lacked nothing in her life. She was admired for her beautiful appearance, slim figure, and a good pedigree. In Elena’s previous life, many of the noblemen had proposed to Lady Selby.
Her memories were dim on Lady Selby as Elena had immediately fled to another country beyond Ruford’s borders after her family’s deaths. Lady Selby might have married a man worthy of her. Only after Elena became a knight did she learn about the other nobles of Ruford Empire so she could take her revenge on Paveluc. However, a Marchioness Selby was not among the names she remembered. Was it because Lady Selby hadn’t been a noble within the capital city?
There was no way for her to know now. However, when she pondered on the name Helen Selby, she remembered a strange scene. When she went to a large party with many people, there was someone giving her a particular look. She couldn’t figure out why, but the feeling was ominous. She thought it was the beautiful Helen staring at her with cold eyes.
TN: The new character’s name is Ellen but it’s too similar to Elena, so I changed it to Helen