The Third Prince is Too Dazzling! I Can’t Look at Him Directly! Translation

34. The Third Prince is Too Dazzling! I Can’t Look at Him Directly!

Chapter Thirty-Four: The Girl Chat Became Rambunctious (I)

“Welcome back, Lady Lina.”

Hadi and her familiar smile have been waiting for me. Thankfully, she has prepared simpler and more comfortable clothes for me to wear.

I quickly change clothes and go back to the living room where everyone is waiting for me, seated at a table where tea is being poured.

“Your face color has returned to normal a bit. That’s a relief.”

“But the bags below your eyes are a dreadful sight. Poor Lina.”

“I recommend you don’t go to bed today with your stomach empty, and also warm yourself by the fire for a while.”

“Yes, you will have a better sleep that way.”

How kind. Everyone is being so kind to me. I feel really fortunate…

Almost immediately after taking my seat, Miss Hadi serves the table with a pot of black tea and sandwiches that look just the right size to snack on. I look in all directions at everyone’s faces, and then I hang my head.

“Everyone, I’m really thankful for today.”

I raise my face afterward. I can’t feel more at ease than being in this familiar room surrounded by my friends. I let out a deep, contented sigh.

“We all just wanted to help, even if just a bit. Please don’t worry about it.”

“I really took note when my father alerted me that the head of House Artaud and his eldest son were making suspicious moves.”

“I should have warned Lina that something felt off as of late.”

“At any rate, it is a good thing we weren’t too late. Looks like all of us making a run for it was the right choice.”

The eyes looking at me are full of incredible kindness and genuine concern.

“A report came in while you were changing, Lina. It appears that Orban was caught shortly after the incident just now and has been thrown into a prison, but the head of his House, Benoit, is still at large.”

“What is taking the guards so long? Lady Lina won’t be safe alone until both mastermind and perpetrator are behind bars.”

“Obviously, those two need to be brought to justice, but I can’t forgive Glenn Artaud either. I feel I won’t be satisfied until he gets his comeuppance.”

“U-um, ladies…”

Maribel seems to want to say something, and she suddenly finds herself the center of attention.

“I-I’m embarrassed to say this, but I don’t understand everything that has been happening, so… could someone pretty please explain?”

She shrugs her shoulders as if trying to disappear from the embarrassment, but it’s fine. Even the person at the center of these happenings, me, is clueless, you know.

“Actually, I don’t understand it very well myself. Just that Sir Glenn had some plan, and it required delivering right into enemy hands.”

Maribel seems to relax her shoulders. Rest assured, I’m not the kind who stays silent just to pretend she is in the know. And I certainly won’t let poor Maribel look like the only one who needs to be clued in.

“I’ll leave it to you to explain,” Merlia says to Laila, who nods knowingly.

“I am not sure I grasp the entire situation, so please point out if you find any missing pieces or if you have any questions.”

So starts Laila, but truthfully, I have such confidence in her perception and reasoning that I feel I can believe her take on things. But I’ll do my best to see if any details are missing.

“Benoit and Orban are chamberlains to Her Majesty the Queen and the Crown Prince, respectively. And it goes without saying they both belong to the Queen’s faction. These recent developments, the Third Prince’s princess candidate selection and His Majesty the King’s health issue, have been the trigger that caused a change in the status quo and a destabilization in the Queen’s power base. So they endeavored to remove the primary source of instability, Lady Lina’s presence. Taking her life would cause too many complications, so they figured that if Lady Lina’s chastity were to be defiled and rumors spread about it, she would lose her qualifications as a princess candidate. Such was their objective with this action. Is everyone following so far?”

Maribel and I nod as if learning something we have never thought about, but which makes so much sense once it is revealed.

“Looking only at this situation, these two are certainly nefarious, but the true problem is Glenn Artaud. Considering what we heard from both him and Lina earlier, it is clear that he served Lina as bait fully knowingly. Why would he do that? If his father and brother were to be disgraced, his House would fall into his hands. This occasion  represented an irresistible chance to make such a thing happen, and it was so that perhaps he prioritized his own interests over Lady Lina’s safety.”

That scheming, no-good…! To use people as fodder for his ambitions!

“But wouldn’t the blame and disgrace extend to the entire Artaud family?”

Good point, Maribel!

“You would think that, but no. The disagreement within the Artaud family is well known, and it is an open secret that the House’s head and the eldest son supported the Queen while the youngest, namely Glenn Artaud, belonged to the Third Prince’s faction. And by virtue of his long tenure in the service of the Third Prince’s chamberlain, he has placed himself beyond such reproach.”

If this was truly his intention, his defense is airtight.

“Let’s exact some payback on this Glenn Artaud.”

Alisa says absent-mindedly but with a smile that could send a chill through your spine. And still wearing the same smile, she continues, strengthening her tone.

“It’s understandable that, within the circles of power, it is important to take people with dangerous ideas out of the equation just as he did here, but if he goes about it seeking his own profit at the expense of exposing others to danger, isn’t that absolutely inexcusable!?”

Oh, indeed it is so.

“Let’s give him a taste of his own medicine.”

Alisa, do you mean…

“Hmm… That’d serve him right, no? If we presented him as a boy toy to an old widow… No, that’s too kind. Let’s strip him and have him delivered as a gift to one of those old geezers who have a thing for young men.”

Isn’t that a little extreme, Laila!?

“I have heard some rumors through some of our clients, so leave that information gathering to me.”

You sure are well connected and resourceful, as expected from an experienced merchant, Maribel! Wait… that’s not the point!

“U-um, certainly I can’t forgive Sir Glenn, but! Even so, he is a competent chamberlain and all-around servant, so… if he is injured or traumatized, um…”

I’m not trying to cover for him, but everyone is smiling a bit too wickedly. I want them to pull back a bit.

“Well, well… Lady Lina does care a lot about Lord Gilbert, doesn’t she?”

Merlia says while staring at me while my real intention is to put the brakes a little on this dark extravaganza. But Merlia raises her eyebrows and continues.

“Still! That is that, and this is this! Lady Lina, do you understand the events’ gravity? And to begin with, this all stems from Lord Gilbert’s negligence regarding your supervision!”

Maybe, but you’re throwing daggers at me with those eyes! Laila nods to her words in deep approval, though.

“Of course, the blackguards who planned should be the first targets of justice, but what Merlia is saying is true as well. It is absolutely outrageous to put an unmarried woman alone in a room with some ruffian. Even though we managed to show up in haste, that should be no excuse for those responsible.”

“I agree wholeheartedly. If someone else had witnessed the scene, it could have been all over for Lady Lina. It was the right answer for us to rush there the moment we figured it out, even if we did rush blindly.”

T-that’s right. I was lucky they did. I really got myself in trouble this time. Even though I was aware Orban was not the most stand-up guy out there because of his aura, I still went along with this reckless idea of serving as a decoy out of some misplaced sense of duty. I disregarded my personal risk too much.

“Becoming a noble lady is more dangerous than I thought. I’ll be careful from now on too.”

Everyone turns their eyes to Lady Maribel as she blurts out her new policy, giving me relief from their intense, dead-serious stares. The three noble ladies sigh at Maribel’s innocence, as usual.

“Don’t forget it then, both of you, OK?”

“Yes, ma’am!”

Maribel and I reply with downcast eyes to Merlia, who looks at us with a worried countenance.

“Hm, well, there’s no use in continuing to be on edge any longer. Let’s leave this idle talk for another time.”

Merlia places her hand on the cheek of her tilted head and lets her shoulders drop as if exhausted at us. I’m sorry to be such a demanding child…

“Let’s talk about something different.”

“We need a new topic.”

“Then, I would like to hear about His Highness and Lina!”

In response to Maribel’s last remark, I find myself once again the target of everyone’s eyes. And they seem filled with quite a bit of anticipation.

“Me and…? Um, what do you mean, um… specifically?”

“Isn’t it obvious!?”

My body reflexively flinches at this opening salvo of intense feminine interrogation. I sink into my chair.

“What do you like most about Lord Gilbert, Lady Lina?”

“How does His Highness act around you?”

“That necklace is a gift from His Highness, is it not?”

“Has he proposed already?”

W-whoa. W-what the… how do they know about the proposal and the necklace? Are they just guessing, or how did they find out about that? And how am I supposed to answer those other questions?

“Oh, Lady Lina! You are so cute when you blush and feel troubled! But don’t be shy and tell us, please!”

Merlia’s eyes are brimming with anticipation. I can barely speak under such pressure.

“I, um, actually I was the one who proposed…”

“Oh my! You’re a bold one indeed, Lady Lina! And then? And then?”

Alisa is really hooked on my every syllable.

“Um, not really boldness. I figured out that I may just as well put up a common front with His Highness rather than becoming Lord Jerik’s side princess…”