The First Story – The Humiliating Meeting
The meeting of the fifth son of the viscount’s family, Bernard Orlellian, and the daughter of the earl’s family, Agnes Le Verges, dates back five years ago.
Coincidentally, that was the very day Agnes made her debut into high society.
Having shining golden hair, blue eyes that were like jewels, and clear white porcelain skin, Agnes enraptured those who looked at her.
She was an unparalleled beauty.
Though she garnered plenty of attention with her looks alone, Agnes was the only daughter of the great noble family of Le Verges, which had a long history.
For second sons of families who did not have prospects of peerage and those of lower status, she was a woman who was very desperately desired as a partner.
Surrounded by many friends and acquaintances, Agnes was a like a jewel stored in a treasure box.
Being blessed in her high society debut, she was at the peak of happiness.
However, there was a man who looked at that Earl’s daughter with an eye devoid of emotion.
Bernard Orlellian. One year older than Agnes at sixteen years of age.
He was also attending the evening party to find a partner.
Bernard was Viscount Orlellian’s fifth child.
His father, believing that “Names reveal the person,” gave his children names with meaning.
From the oldest, ‘brilliant fame’ (Robert), ‘one who attains victory’ (Victor), ‘strong soldier’ (Matilde), ‘famous warrior’ (Louis).
However, the fifth was also a son, and the father who ran out of meaningful names gave him the name “Bernard.”
The meaning was ‘a man who was strong like a bear.’ In short, ‘bear man.’
With light brown hair, light brown eyes, and quirky hair, when he was a child, he was as lovely as a stuffed toy.
While his mother affectionately called him “Bear Cub,” when he grew older, that became depressing, and the year he joined the Order of the Knights, he tied his hair together into one long mass and cut his hair short. At present, nobody outside of his family knew that Bernard had frizzy hair.
Though his figure had not grown firmly like a bear, he still steadily grew tall.
Last year, that person was safely recognized as an adult and has been doing simple activities in the Order of the Knights.
Ever since Bernard had joined the Order of the Knights the previous year, he had been receiving written invitations to evening parties.
Occurring once a year, the evening party sponsored by the King was an occasion of large-scale social intercourse.
There, nobles would look for partners.
That said, to the young Bernard, marriage was not a realistic consideration.
A knight’s salary was meager, and being the fifth son, he did not have much from the distribution of property.
In terms of assets, the only thing he had was a modest white walled mansion in the outskirts of town.
The place Bernard was born, the Orlellian residence, was located in a rural area separated from the Imperial City.
The mansion in the Imperial City was from the start just a townhouse to live in during the time period of social intercourse. The year he became a knight, he inherited the mansion as proof of adulthood.
Living there was Bernard’s wet nurse’s family.
In the estate managed by the former wet nurse were the husband who managed the garden, the eldest son who was the steward, the second son who managed the kitchen, and the second and third daughters who were maids. The eldest daughter had gotten married two months prior.
Bernard lived together with that family.
The former wet nurse, Gigile, saw Bernard off with an expectant look that implored him to pick a great wife.
Last year, he tried hard in his own way.
He danced with his father’s acquaintances and noble daughters who seemed easy to talk to.
However, after hearing of Bernard’s living environment and circumstances, their attendants would always brusquely cut off their exchanges.
After that repeated a few times, even Bernard, who wasn’t clever, realized.
Assets were important for marriage.
For that reason, even with the beauty Agnes in front of him, Bernard was calm.
His colleague, Djibril Noailles, was inviting her to dance.
Djibril’s annual income and assets were not all that different from his.
Even though Bernard had told him that it was a worthless endeavor, he did not have ears to listen.
While she was forcibly dragged off by Djibril, Bernard had gone into the midst of Agnes’ entourage.
After continuing to wait for a long time, finally someone called out. But, that anticipated call was an attendant who had gotten information about Bernard and Djibril. After the attendant finished whispering into Agnes’ ear, Agnes scornfully glanced at them.
Bernard, seeing those eyes, turned around right then and there and rushed out of the evening party assembly hall.
Why did he have to be looked at with such eyes by a person he had just met!!
From when he was eleven years old, he had been separated from his parents, living alone in the Imperial City and exerting his body to become a knight.
In his life and in his birth, there was nothing to be ashamed of.
He had pride in himself, who was a knight.
That’s why being looked at with those eyes, he remembered his burning rage.
In that state, he headed straight back to his house and, without entering the bath, confined himself in his room.
Seething like a blaze, his rage did not abate easily.
The following year, whenever he went out for social intercourse, he would hear the rumor about Agnes time and time again.
He heard from a colleague that her father, being the prime minister, would scrutinize her marriage partner prospects.
“As I thought, will she pick a husband from civil officials who have future prospects…? Hey, Bernard, what do you think?”
“How should I know.”
A happy daughter of a nobleman.
To Bernard, she was an existence that he would never have a relation with in his life.
After one year had passed, he had forgotten his feeling of rage. Even he was happy and relieved at his bear like simplicity.
However, he encountered her in a peculiar place.
It was while Bernard was on patrol duty in the royal palace garden.
The second prince had called a large number of women to a grand tea party.
Just to be sure, many knights were stationed as bodyguards. Even Bernard, who was usually a bodyguard in the inner palace, was recruited.
Though it was called a tea party, it was not a conversation enjoyed on one table.
It was a large scale social gathering, more like a garden party.
Bernard was making a round around the maze-like rose garden.
As he was doing so, he heard a man yelling softly.
“Agnes~, fufufu, what a tomboy you are~”
A man and a woman running out in a race, Bernard clicked his tongue at the thought.
Preferring not to run into them, he went far off from the voice.
Even so, he encountered the girl at the turn.
The girl who was fluffy, soft, and sweet like a sugar pastry leaped into Bernard’s chest.
At once, he caught the body that was about to tumble onto the ground.
He noticed the faint shivering of her shoulder and hastily let go.
Then, he looked at the girl he had just come across and was startled.
Silklike blonde hair, blue eyes that were as clear as a jewel, and clear white porcelain skin.
Agnes Le Verges.
A year had passed, and she was wearing an innocent and sensual scent that rose from her body.
In that short time, he looked at her as if she could have changed that much.
At that same time, he also perceived a disaster.
She was breathing on his shoulder.
That she had forcefully flown out of nowhere, that her breathing had become rough, he realized that she had been running until now.
He thought, maybe she was one part of the man and woman who were racing.
That she was doing something dull in the unpopular rose garden – he sighed deeply.
During that time, Agnes’ eyes, upon meeting Bernard’s, suddenly narrowed.
That was the same despising look of the previous year.
Bernard’s whole body flared up into a rage, and he recalled his furious emotions.
He took a step forward, as if saying, say your complaints, and his sword on his waist made a clanging sound.
There, he noticed. It was that he was on duty, and he couldn’t let his personal feelings interfere at this time.
He quickly curbed his anger.
She wasn’t to blame.
He persuaded himself that what was to blame was the environment surrounding her, and naturally, he separated himself from the situation.
However, there was an unexpected development.
“Agne~s, where might you be~, little kitten~”
At the same time he heard that voice, the girl who was in the back, Agnes, grasped Bernard’s jacket tightly and entreated him.
“Sir Knight, please, save me!”
At that improbable request, Bernard’s eyes opened widely.