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Chapter 48

As she had Raymond all to herself the entire day, Isella looked absolutely enthralled during tonight’s dinner. She didn’t tire out at all, and it didn’t seem like her mouth was exhausted from flapping.

Since he was a parent, how could Verdic not know what his child was feeling when he saw how bright the look in her eyes was? Verdic smiled at his one and only daughter.

“My dear, what is it this time?”

“Huh?”

She was in such a good mood that she’s out of it. When Verdic guffawed, Isella turned red and held out the bracelet on her wrist to her father.

“Did Sir Raymond give this to you?”

“Uh-huh. Pretty, right?”

Actually, a trinket like this wouldn’t be able to compare to the things she already had. But the important thing was that Raymond gave this to her. It was good thinking on Verdic’s part to send out an attendant to Raymond in advance to recommend the most suitable jewelry.

Verdic took a step back, keeping this little secret to himself that he wouldn’t reveal to his daughter.

Next to him, the fief lord spoke in a low voice.

“Mister Evans, it’s a relief to see that your daughter is in a great mood.”

“Your Lordship won’t have to worry about something like that again.”

The fief lord had been letting out passive-aggressive jabs to point out how rude Verdic’s daughter had been for the past several days. Disregarding the fief lord outright, Verdic had a pleased look on his face as he watched his daughter and her fiancé sitting together. Isella was just being too sensitive.

With Carynne, who was so overly beautiful for a young lady of her age, out of sight, Isella Evans returned to her vivacious demeanor around her fiancé.

At the same time, Raymond carried himself like the well-bred nobleman that he was as he gently led the atmosphere and shared pleasant conversation that Isella found interesting. The level of his wit was befitting of a man of his ability.

Verdic didn’t want the young man to treat Isella like a mere fling. However, he also wanted to protect his dear child’s fantasy for even a little bit.

When he shouted at her last time, it had been necessary to shatter that false illusion that she saw, but it was his hope after all to see his daughter—who was prone to crying—laugh to her heart’s content. Even if what he was doing was nothing short of cold-bloodedly pounding away at a calculator to achieve this.

Like any parent, he sorted his emotions for his child. Then, Verdic turned to the fief lord when he brought up a question.

“Does your daughter look like her mother?”

“She resembles me more than her mother.”

“My daughter looks exactly like her mother. Have you heard about it?”

“Lady Catherine’s renown is very widely known, isn’t it? At one point, we wanted to sponsor her some clothes.”

However, she retired just a year after she had debuted in high society and thereafter got stuck in this backwoods countryside. She remained secluded, and then she passed away like that.

Verdic held no special feelings for Catherine, but he felt sorry for Carynne because of their close resemblance.

“Then I would be grateful if you could help out my daughter with her clothes when she makes her debut.”

“…I will keep that in mind.”

Verdic gritted his teeth.

This status!

Even though Verdic had all the rights to the fief, the Evans family’s position still fell under the Hare family. All because of this status difference. This country was governed by the nobility and the royalty, and so there was no other choice but to bow down and show respect.

“It would be wonderful to see Your Lordship’s daughter and my daughter make their debut together.”

It’d be quite the sight to see how this Hare household’s daughter would turn into a mere handmaiden for the Evans family.

Chuckling, Verdic raised a glass towards the fief lord.

Completely different from Verdic’s own daughter, all the fief lord’s daughter had going for her was her beauty. Both her silence and her smile were her ornaments. Was the maturity beyond her age in which she carried herself a product of her rough upbringing? If so, then much of the adversities she experienced must have been created by Verdic himself.

Like Isella, he’s sure that he’s had a lot of influence on Carynne’s current personality. Verdic believed that all young people were childish. It was normal even with teenagers as old as Isella. So a teenager like Carynne, who was excessively reserved and well behaved, wasn’t actually mature in thinking. She’s just been knocked down to that point.

“Your Lordship’s daughter must not be feeling well.”

Being so weak like that, Carynne was clearly inferior to Isella. With his head down, the fief lord mumbled out his answer.

“…Mm, her physical condition has weakened a little. Many different events and happenings are overlapping after all.”

Stay that way and never come out.

Verdic pleaded inwardly. It pleased him to see a pretty barmaid or a lovely handmaiden at home, but it was extremely annoying to see that his daughter’s rival was beautiful.

Wasn’t it so peaceful with Carynne gone? Verdic didn’t like how that young woman had a command over the atmosphere amongst people. Because of that face that was stunning for no particular merit, his daughter started feeling depressed and the deal was faltering.

Verdic wanted to proceed with the deal without a hitch.

“May I ask, is Lady Hare ill?”

Before Verdic knew it, Raymond approached the fief lord and inquired.

“Lord Raymond, rather than that…”

When Raymond walked over to ask the fief lord, Isella immediately clung to him. The two middle-aged men, at the same moment, turned blue in the face.

One man wanted to soothe his daughter as she was hurt, and the other man was slighted by the young woman’s clingy behavior.

Verdic glanced sideways at the fief lord, then spoke to Isella.

“Isella, why don’t you visit Lady Hare in her room later?”

“Huuuh?”

His daughter looked back at him as though she couldn’t understand why he was doing this. However, he urged Isella again.

“It seems like she’s very ill. She has even skipped dinner tonight.”

“Uh… Um… Alright, I’ll visit her.”

There was a sour look on her face as she clung tighter on Raymond’s arm. She looked at her father with nervousness in her eyes—those big eyes that looked innocent.

“Go and see if she’s doing alright. And tell her to be sure to attend the engagement ceremony that would take place three days later.”

It was a demand, not a request.

It was as if Verdic was the lord taking care of the guest. Even so, it’s Miss Hare here who was making a bigger mistake.

She was still under the illusion that her family was the owner of this land.

“Is there a need to force a sick person to attend?”

Unable to watch this scene unfold, Raymond stepped forward.

“Hoho, Sir Raymond. It’s good that you’re very popular.”

“Mister Verdic.”

“It’s nothing.”

Verdic gleefully admired the fief lord’s hardened expression. It didn’t matter whether Carynne really was ill, and neither did it matter whether Raymond was doing this because he wasn’t fully committed to this engagement. However, if Raymond were to say any more here, then he would only be confirming the latter.

“The Countess will be attending the marriage cere—ah, no, the engagement ceremony, so wouldn’t it be a shame? Isella will also be beholden to this land for a rather long time. In various ways, it would be good to be shown around, yes?” Verdic said.

“Hm, that’s an entertaining way of phrasing it.”

“Yes, yes.”

It seemed like the fief lord wanted to say something more, but he soon gave a smile again. He stepped back to instruct Dullan to do something.

The music had slowed down because the musicians had become wary of the brief war of nerves. On behalf of the fief lord, Verdic told the musicians to play a waltz.

The music then began anew, followed by an awkward meal full of empty laughter.

It really was the right decision to move up the engagement ceremony. Verdic saw his daughter’s complexion improving noticeably, and she picked up her silverware again. As if the finest ingredients had been brought in to celebrate the festivities, each dish set before them showed off exotic tastes.

‘Mm… It’s not as good as the dish that day though.’

But that was of no matter. Having an engagement ceremony was the same thing as having the wedding itself. Business was going smoothly, and the countess’ seat in the assembly was as good as his. Most of everything was smooth sailing.

But there was still something missing.

Just one thing.

What could it be?

His tongue yearned for the taste of ecstasy he had that day. Verdic smacked his lips together in regret. Verdic wished to test the level of food he could enjoy in this house—to their very limits. Once the countess arrived, would they recreate that gourmet feast and serve it again?

With the fief lord on one side, Raymond on another, and the coming negotiation with the countess, just the thought of it all made Verdic feel full. His eyes curved thinly as he looked at his daughter’s smiling face.

It’s all so smooth.

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