23.2 The Demon sees its Reflection in Others
“The garden looked quite lively, so I came to investigate. As the duchess, I need to know what’s happening.”
“By that, does the Duchess of Lark mean to say she is unaware of everything?”
What? Why are all of you surprised? No matter where or what I do, it’s up to me. Do I seriously have to ask for this woman’s permission every time?
“Aries, this is my home. Would you refrain from selfish behavior?”
By tilting her head, Sofia looked as if she was troubled. I knew why she was behaving that way. She was trying to attract the attention of Leones’ escort knight.
Through her meek acting, she was trying to not only win his affection, but also paint me as being in the wrong.
You are such a great woman!
She’d wag her tail to receive even a sliver of a man’s attention. She’d take absolutely anyone. To put it simply, a whore.
“But my sister, that’s just terrible. Surely, this is my home, too?”
I’m sorry, but I’m not that stupid.
As if I’d fall for her ploy.
I began to shed tears. That was all I needed. That alone would tell everyone I was a pitiful child.
“No, it is not. You’re just a freeloader. Without any parents to protect you, or a mansion to reside, you’re nothing more than a poor baroness whom I took in so you can pay off your debt.”
“The Duchess of Lark is truly a benevolent person!”
Hah!? ‘Kind’!? Which part of her!? Are you a moron!?
Despite smiling at me, Lucifer’s words were infuriating.
“To shelter a person who not only owes a massive debt to the Lark family, but also spends money like drinking water, and not to mention, has robbed the duchess of her fiancé—I can’t imagine myself doing the same!”
At first glance, Lucifer’s words sounded like a praise for Sofia. However, that wasn’t the case. She phrased it in such a way to inform my surroundings of my situation. Despite that information most likely already being known, she reminded them.
Lucifer was the lady who proposed hosting a tea party at the duke’s residence. Therefore, she had been siding with Sofia since the beginning! I fell for it!
“It’s partly my fault for having spoiled her too much. Aries, I’m sorry, but I can’t welcome you to the duke’s house. I have succeeded the duke’s family. I’m sure that I’ll have an heir, soon.”
Apparently, Sofia was delusional.
“Do you honestly believe that you’ll have a decent marriage? You’re someone with a tarnished reputation! You’re a lady whose engagement has been annulled!”
“Still better than a woman who stole someone else’s man, though.”
I felt as if I was the one with the annulled engagement.
“With a hair that crude?!”
“This is what your fiancé did. Even if I can’t conceive an heir due to some mistake, I shall adopt and raise a proper child from the closest family branch. This family is on the verge of collapsing. I mustn’t make a single mistake. Thus, I deem it absolutely unnecessary to make a baroness my successor. To act like a member of the duke’s family, or to dismiss a maid of the House of Lark, I don’t remember ever giving you such authority, Aries.”
“Oh, my! Did Aries seriously do such a thing?”
Leones, who had been silently listening, was deliberately surprised.
Then, she followed up by criticizing me. “I can’t believe it. Who does she think she is?” It was as if I was the one to blame. By doing that, Leones was appealing to Sofia.
They are all pests swarming in power.
“I instructed that particular maid to work somewhere else temporarily. I did that so she doesn’t need to meet Aries.”
“My sister, I had a good reason.”
I had to shift the attention somehow.
All of the invited ladies were focused on Sofia. However, there was a single person who appeared to be on my side.
It was Everhart. I turned to look at him. Then, our gazes met.
Everything should be alright, soon!
He was renowned for being kind. Under such circumstances, he’d surely sympathize with me.
I tearfully glanced at him.
“Despite being a maid of the duke’s family, she kept gazing wantonly at other men. It’s been the case ever since His Highness Wagner and I got together. I’ve been patient, but I was at my limit!”
I cried and cried. Then, I snuck a glance at Everhart. He was unperturbed.
What is the meaning of this?
When such a delicate maiden is crying, why aren’t you offer her a handkerchief?
“She has merely been doing her job, and that is, to entertain our guests. I don’t think any normal lady would offer herself to a man just like that. You misunderstood, but that was inevitable. As His Highness Wagner is unable to meet you, you suspected her of being unscrupulous with him. That was exactly what you did back when he visited, after all.”
Sofia reminded everyone of what I did when he was still her fiancé.
Sofia gently approached me. When I wondered what she was going to do next, she spoke into my ears, “The demon sees its reflection in others. It’s only to be expected.”
In the next moment, I slapped Sofia with all my might.
Our surroundings became quiet. After I had struck her cheek, Sofia’s upper body bent backwards.
“Duchess of Lark.”
Leones, who was beside her, rushed to support Sofia. As a result, she didn’t fall to the ground.
I fell for it.
I fell for her provocation.
I saw it, she laughed at me when I struck her.
“Aries, do you realize what you’ve done? Who do you think you are? The reason you can remain here is due to the mercy of the Lark family! You could have been sent away at any time. Yet, to behave this violently, you should be more aware of your position!”
Leones’ fierce rebuke deafened my ears. Looking around, there was only hostility. I glanced at Everhart, pleading for help, but he only stood in wait and said nothing.
“Instead of being independent to pay off the debt you owe to the Lark, you keep leeching off them! Surely, today’s tea party is also being funded by the Lark family!”
“Aries, I came here today not only because of the tea party you held without my permission, but also because of an unpaid invoice that arrived at my house. You bought this tea set under the name of the Lark family, didn’t you?”
Shouldn’t that be obvious? Wasn’t the tea party being held at the Duke of Lark’s house? Besides, I didn’t have any money.
“Even if you live in the Lark’s mansion, you aren’t a Lark.”
That was because Sofia hadn’t immediately approved of my adoption. Why was she complaining so much? None of this was my fault.
“Hence, you can’t use the Lark’s money. The only money you can use is what is provided by His Highness Wagner.”
“But His Highness Wagner—”
“—Yes, he’s currently under house arrest. Meanwhile, shouldn’t you behave yourself?”
Why should I?
If there’s a problem with the annulment of their engagement, then it’s probably Sofia’s fault.
In fact, the reason it got annulled in the first place was because of her.
It couldn’t be helped that the annulment led to turmoil. It wasn’t Wagner’s fault. It wasn’t his fault at all.
“I’ll consider your punishment as soon as His Highness Wagner is free. Forgive me, everyone, but I shall be putting an end to this tea party. At a later date, I’ll make a formal apology from the duke’s family.”
“It’s not your fault, Duchess of Lark.”
“Yes, Aries, who didn’t understand her position, is the one at fault.”
Everyone scorned me and went home.
They were making a fool of me simply because I was a baroness.
***T/N: She’s truly Adley’s daughter. That top-notch shifting blame skill.
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