‘Woah… Honestly, isn’t this the novel version of a play This place is full of good actors.’
He came next to me in a second, walking with his long legs as if using a spell to shorten the distance.
Lucas roughly bowed his head towards Mia and held out his hand to me.
“You better take a rest, Princess.
You don’t look good.”
“Ah, I think that’d be a good idea.
I wanted to be at my beloved brother’s engagement ceremony… but I think my ears will bleed now.
Such a shame.”
Your ears shouldn’t be bleeding.
I’ll take you to your room.”
Aiden, as well.”
Aiden flinched as if startled by the sudden call and stood on the side opposite of me.
Of course, he was smiling, too.
‘The title of this play must be ‘The man who laughs.’ Ah, isn’t that plagiarism Scratch that.’1
“Follow me, too.
You came here anyway because Father ordered you to.”
Mia, at loss after hearing the word ‘father,’ looked at me.
Lucas, Aiden, and I were reflected in those shaking pupils…
‘How can you even look up… Anyway, how does it feel to watch a play like this That’s exactly how I felt before.’
I fixed my gaze on Mia and said to the man standing next to me,
‘I couldn’t help it.
Isn’t it a bit strange to talk while looking to the side’
“Aiden, I called you here because my father was worried about me.
I didn’t call you to do other people’s requests.
So, if something like this happens once more, politely reject them naming the Duke.”
I spoke as if only telling that to Aiden.
But yeah, I guess I shouldn’t have said that while looking at Mia.
Either way, it seemed to have worked as a clear warning for her.
To be honest, my words weren’t that logical.
While talking I was trying to figure out what kind of bull** I was uttering, but it seemed everyone understood what I was trying to convey.
The princess was siding with Aiden, not Mia!
That was enough.
I was the high-ranked person here except for the duke and duchess, the young lord, the Imperial Princess, and the Crown Prince, who was present on behalf of the Emperor.
At least, among the group of people watching this spectacle, I had the highest status.
Therefore, in a society where status weighed more than anything else, they would inevitably roll the floor with laughter even if I said something like ‘how long has it been since I ate an orange’
‘If you know how to act, life is a game of wits.’
Taking Lucas’s hand, I turned around and headed towards the center of the venue where today’s protagonists were gathered.
Even if I had to leave, I had to greet the main characters first.
‘Oh, actually, I forgot something else.’
When I stood still, Lucas, who was escorting me, and Aiden, who was following me, stopped walking.
I turned around and beckoned Aiden to step out for a while.
When I, who had been hidden behind Aiden’s back, was in her sight again, Mia looked at me with eyes that still had not given up hope.
The other nobles also turned their eyes to me curiously wondering what I stopped walking for.
I glanced around and opened my mouth again.
“How long has it been since I ate an orange”
People froze in the suddenly strange atmosphere.
Lucas and Aiden also glanced at me, their faces stiff.
As I shrugged and glanced as if pondering, a quick-witted young lady started laughing awkwardly from the back.
That was the ignition point, and an awkward and forced roar of laughter spread like wildfire.
Looking satisfactorily at the wildfire-like laughter, I grinned as I turned around.
* * *
“What Selena, are you hurt somewhere”
“No, it’s not that.
Maybe I’m feeling a bit dizzy because I’m not used to crowded places.”
Selena’s parents and the Crown Prince were talking a little further away.
I glanced over there and headed to my brother and Princess Ariel without hesitation.
When I said I was going back first, my brother looked at me with a worried expression on his face.
The same expression was on the pretty and kind heroine’s face.
“Okay, then go ahead and rest.
I’ll talk with the Duke and my older brother.”
The care and worries of the good and innocent prospective couple made me feel guilty, but I bowed my head and turned back, thinking that there were lies out of goodwill in life.
Well, to be honest, it was a little annoying to see the Crown Prince’s face…
I hadn’t been here for long, but I was tired of having to be conscious of myself and act politely to look good in front of others.
‘Right now, um… This is the best I can do.’
Wasn’t I already doing just fine with my family I mean, this much was okay.
I didn’t want to increase the number of people.
The walk to the room was quiet.
Since the banquet hall was quite far from the mansion along with the garden, you could walk to the mansion while enjoying the beautiful night view of the garden.
The surroundings were bright under the big full moon.
Three long shadows were walking side by side, and the sound of grasshoppers echoed around them.
Fortunately, the bugs flocked to the brightly lit banquet hall, so we could only appreciate the quaint sound.
The night wind brushed my face with the sound of grass bugs in early summer.
‘Ah… This is what an early summer night is like.’
I closed my eyes and remembered my last summer.
An air conditioner made a calm sound of a spinning fan.
In the middle of it, my younger brother was sleeping soundly and I watched him quietly.
The sound of the bugs outside was so noisy I wanted to cover my ears.
Uncomfortable chairs and bed we weren’t used to at all.
Early summer days were a very tiring season for my younger brother, who was not in good physical condition.
If it was too hot, would he get a skin disease if it was too cold, would he catch a cold
The parents that were truly worried about him went home and slept comfortably.
They left everything to me.
I opened my eyes again.
The vivid memories of the past disappeared before my eyes, and only the flowers that were blown by the strong wind filled my sight.
‘Beautiful, beautiful, it’s beautiful… that’s all.’
I couldn’t feel any more emotions or say anything.
It was hard to feel something you haven’t experienced before.
Couldn’t I feel the beauty right away because what I had been through wasn’t beautiful
“Miss, are you okay”
As I stopped walking, lost in thought, Aiden, who was behind, asked.
He, too, seemed to have been distracted by sudden memories of a distant past.
At Aiden’s words, Sir Lucas looked down at me while examining my complexion.
‘Only now As expected of a half-baked escort.’
Looking at Lucas, I turned my head and looked at Aiden.
His blonde hair was glistening in the moonlight.
‘Is the worried face acting or not’
“I’m okay, I’m just a little tired.”
“Selena, are you really okay”
As soon as I finished answering, Lucas intervened from the side.
“Yes, I’m fine… wait, what do you mean ‘Selena’”
Suddenly, instead of titles like ‘Miss’ or ‘Young Lady,’ the name ‘Selena’ took place.
‘In this world, calling by name is something that only close friends do, isn’t it’
I clearly turned down Lucas’s offer to be friends.
“I said I would treat you as my dear friend’s dear sister earlier.
People say silence is affirmation… I thought it was affirmation.”2
‘A dear friend’s dear sibling.
Ah, come to think of it, he did say that.’
I couldn’t answer because I opened the door and ran away at that moment… I remembered something I had forgotten.
‘He’s a really unhelpful person.’
But I was going to decline.”
“Oh… Without knowing it, I had already told Aaron and the Princess.
They both really liked it very, very much, quite a bit…”
The faces of the two men, who smiled with joy in front of me, shimmered.
‘People are like medicine…’
‘Right, at least for a few days… do whatever you want…’
After all, it was natural to be called by my first name in my previous life.
“…Then do whatever you want.”
The moonlight shone on Lucas’ face.
A bright and dazzling face that somehow felt dark.
“Thank you, Selena.”
* * *
A dizzying past flashed through Aiden’s mind.
The first day he took a walk… The memory of walking alone from the side like a sack of barley…
Now, it was no different from that day except that he was placed behind.
However, he felt a little sad today.
He couldn’t believe he was hurt by some nobles’ conversation.
That was amusing.
The back of the two neatly dressed people walking side by side along the garden road looked quite picturesque.
Aiden’s eyes slowly headed to the floor.
Because his shadow on the dark floor was just like him.
* * *
When we arrived at the room, Lucas kissed my hand in front of the door.
Honestly, it was awkward and strange, but there was nothing I could do about the escort greeting method here.
‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do…’
“Well then, have a nice dream, Selena.”
‘I don’t want to dream, I just want to sleep soundly!’
I shouted inwardly while nodding.
Lucas smiled once more and turned around.
‘Yeah, goodbye and let’s not see each other again.
I’m not going to take a walk anymore, so stop visiting me.’
“Aiden, you must be tired too, so go ahead.”
Aiden, who had been standing by the door like a shadow until Lucas left, bowed.
However, he didn’t bow right away, he just stood for a moment.
“That’s… I’m grateful for what happened earlier.”
I assumed he would say thank you.
Actually, considering Aiden’s personality, it was a bit late.
However, it was okay to not be thanked in particular because it was something I had done in return.
I did it in return for saving me earlier.
Now you have to keep it a secret for sure.”
“Then go now.”
After that, Aiden bowed again, with a more relieved expression, and turned around.
I saw him leaving and closed the door with both hands.
‘Oh, it was a very tiring and exhausting day.’
I should be lying in bed for at least three days.
I pulled the string with firm determination.
‘I can’t take off the party dress by myself… It’s really annoying in many ways.’
* * *
“How long has it been since I ate an orange”
Standing alone in the garden, Lucas burst into laughter.
It wasn’t an enjoyable thing that could be solved with just a smile.
He didn’t think she would say that.
‘What the hell is she thinking behind that indifferent face…’
Wiping the tears from his eyes, Lucas headed back to the banquet hall.
By now, it would be discreetly noisy with the Princess’s story.
Even if vain rumors leaked out, things would get annoying.
Fools that didn’t even know their places and dared to talk about her.
Lucas’s eyes shone with a strange light.
[The Man Who Laughs is a novel by Victor Hugo, originally published in April 1869 under the French title L’Homme qui rit.
You can also find an adaptation film of 1928 and another adaptation of 2012.
Good story, strongly recommended by this humble servant of yours]
[I made a mistake in the translation of Ch 11.
In that chapter, this line was said from Selena’s POV and now as we can see, it was actually Lucas who said it.
I’ll try to fix it right away, but for now, I wanted to add a note for readers.