Thank you editors: jam, mook, dodo and Jasmine
3. Lily of the Valley
Even in front of the crowd like a swarm of clouds, Biern showed no signs of nervousness. From the moment he was born, he had been living in the interest of the whole kingdom, and it was familiar as if breathing. The slight discomfort that accompanied it was no different.
“Stand back! Everyone back off!”
The roaring cries of the servants resounded through the crowded platform. Even in the chaos of disorder, the spectators slowly retreated, paving the way for the prince’s procession.
Biern kept his back and neck upright and took a refreshing step in strides. They even exchanged light eye-to-eye greetings with those who touched them as if they were passing by. It was a kind of habit that had been repeated over the years and got into the body.
She, too, was nothing more than a crowd with such meaningless glimpses.
It was thanks to the amazing behavior of the little girl that the time his eyes stayed a little longer. The woman in a rustic old-fashioned dress wrapped in lace and ribbon looked like she would believe she had lived through the last century alone. As if a dress full of floral patterns was not enough, the hat was also dangling in harmony.
Passing by the woman, Biern turned his gaze once more, this time towards the man with the red-hot face. The man, who had been blaming the royal prodigal son with a strong point, staggered backwards, but Biern gave him a fair smile as well. Even in the midst of the chaos of criticism and admiration, he looked as if he had just gone out for an afternoon stroll.
Capturing and throwing away meaningless faces, Biern proceeded leisurely toward the train that had just entered the platform.
* * *
Knowing the address didn’t help much. Unfortunately, Erna only found out after getting lost and exhausted from wandering. The clear darkness was slowly falling over the city as the sun had set.
Erna staggered towards the fountain in the center of the square on Tara Boulevard. It felt like she could lie down like this, but she didn’t forget to open the handkerchief before sitting down on the railing.
For today, Erna wore the clothes she loved the most. It was a muslin dress that her grandmother gave her as a birthday present last year. Now, she didn’t want to show my father well, but she need to have proper manners and dignity like a lady. It was impossible to get those clothes dirty.
Calmly and gracefully. Like a lady anytime, anywhere.
It was a life motto that her grandmother had kept for the rest of her life, and it was also a legacy she wanted to pass down to her granddaughter. Although she inherited the surname of Hardi, Erna Hardi, the unmistakable lady of the Baden family, had an obligation to uphold its value.
While Erna was meticulously adjusting her outfit, the gas lamp in the square lit up. After finishing his work, the streetlight keeper got on his bike again and left for the next area.
After awhile, Erna got up again and packed her luggage after being immersed in the strange sight she had seen for the first time in her life. The pain in her swollen feet and legs disappeared spontaneously when she thought that she had to find a house before the night got deeper.
With the sound of footsteps, Erna walked along the street dyed with the light of gas lamps. It was beautiful enough to make her forget the fearful and dreary feelings for a while at night, where petals falling in the wind fluttered like snow.
Erna raised her head as she exclaimed like an innocent child. A white full moon could be seen through the branches full of flowers. Last night, it was like the moon floating in the night sky, she looked through the window after tossing and turning because she could hardly sleep. The relief given by that natural fact was unexpectedly quite large.
After holding her breath, Erna started walking down the road with a little more courage. And soon, shefound the house in the address she had been repeating like an earnest prayer. An old-fashioned mansion at the western end of Tara Boulevard, the very Hardi Garal that once used to be her home.
Before ringing the doorbell, Erna adjusted her dress once more. She kept het posture straight and kept her smile as soft and sociable as possible. She didn’t know how she would look, but it was, at least, good by Erna’s standards.
Deceiving herself with a lie that she thought was already a lie, Erna reached out her trembling hand towards the doorbell.
* * *
“I really don’t understand you.”
The chirping woman’s voice pierced through the melodies of the upbeat chamber music.
At that moment, Biern opened his eyes that had been slowly closed. As he lifted his head obliquely, Louise, who had come all the way to her nose, came into view. Unlike Louise, who was excited, Biern’s eyes looking at her sister were dry.
“You say Gladys is coming back. Don’t you know what this means?”
Biern’s gaze, who was slowly wandering through the hall filled with the dazzling chandelier lights, stopped again on Louise’s face.
“It’s going to be a pretty unlucky summer, or something like that.”
The blunt answer, which was thrown away with a bright smile, sounded even more poignant due to his sluggish tone of drowsiness.
“Oh my gosh. How could brother speak of Gladys like that? Gladys, whom my brother hurt and threw away!”
Louise was furious, as if it were herself who was insulted. Even with such a sister by his side, Biern calmly grabbed the glass of water. The water droplets that had condensed on the surface of the glass flowed down the long, smooth fingers.
The charity party was a success.
When it became known that the queen, who was respected and loved by the whole kingdom, was attending, ladies from the social circles rushed to Schwerin. The corner of the mouth of the head of the Royal Hospital, moved by the amount of mercy they had demonstrated with their donations, showed no sign of going down.
Great food and music, and social celebrities who have graced the guest list. It was a party with dignity enough that the Queen’s attendance would not be in vain. The sacrifice of the Grand Duke, who gave up his sleep to escort the Queen, was also not in vain. It’s not a bad spring weekend. Except for Princess Louise, who whizzes around like an angry bee.
“Brother, please, correct the mistake now. Yes?”
Louise now began to speak in a tone that seemed to appease even a child. Louise, who was also Gladys’s friend, supported Biern’s marriage more fervently than anyone else. After a tumultuous divorce, she turned into a more ferocious critic than anyone else.
“Of course, it’s not the kind of fault that can be forgiven, but if Gladys forgives, I’m sure the two of… … .”
“The Duchess of Heine.”
Biern put down the glass of water and cut off his sister’s words. Unlike his smiling lips, his eyes and tone were calm enough to give a sense of ingenuity.
“It seems that the duke is looking for his wife, but how about returning to your husband’s side?”
Biern blinked and pointed to the Duke of Heine, who was sneaking through the crowds of ladies beyond the hall. Louise licked her lips a few times, but with a deep sigh, replaced the unspeakable words.
When Louise reluctantly left, Biern got up. After a brief break, the band now began to play the waltz.
Biern leisurely passed among the ladies who threw their eyes at the coexistence of vigilance and anticipation. The terrace leading to the garden was crowded with men coming out to smoke cigars.
Seeing a familiar face beckoning, Biern turned towards it. The crowd that normally should have been engrossed in a nonsensical discussion was quiet today. Some of the dogs were sipping their drinks with somber faces that looked like they were about to burst into tears at any moment.
“The investment failed.”
said Peter, who held out a glass filled with amber brandy. Biern leaned at an angle to the railing and took a glass of wine.
“I invested in foreign bonds, but it was a scam or something.”
Peter clicked his tongue and delivered the tragic news. Only lightly frowned, Biern showed no reaction. It seemed that the number of idiots caught up in the fanciful investment craze that had stirred up other social clubs for a while was greater than expected.
“Thank you, my lord. Thanks to you, I am alive.”
Peter, who moved closer to Biern, lowered his voice and whispered.
After receiving the investment information that appeals to his ears, he went straight to Schwerin Palace. Because the orthodoxy of the social circles that Prince Biern must have had a gift from God, at least in two fields: women and money.
That day, after hearing the explanation from Peter, who was excited, Biern summarized the situation with a concise answer.
How insulting was that mundane word with a low and low voice. Peter Bergen almost committed a serious crime of assaulting the royal family. If it had been an opponent that could have been defeated, it would have certainly been.
But how about…
For a moment, he had to protect his property in exchange for becoming an asshole, so there was nothing that he couldn’t bear. Besides, didn’t he see a pretty big profit by investing in a steel company with the information he got from beating Biern? Just thinking about it made Peter feel like he could fall in love with that unlucky prince.
How much did Biern earn as he earned that level of income, who only barely tasted it after entering the water? Anyway, one of the talents of rolling money was certain to be something close to a gimmick. It was one of the important reasons for continuing this friendship by enduring it even if it was dirty and disrespectful.
“You must catch it by all means, Biern! It’s a serious crime with no one or two victims. isn’t it?”
The heir of a countess, who made eye contact with Biern, began to weep and recite the names of the scammers. Most of them were children of noble families who were members of the fraternity, but there were also some rather strange names mixed in.
“Viscount Hardi lost almost all of his fortune. He’s on the verge of committing suicide with a pistol right now?”
Hardy. The tedious grumbling ended with an unfamiliar name, perhaps the most serious idiot.
After smoking a cigar, Biern turned towards the garden over the railing. Through the hazy smoke, the colorful spring flowers with the water rising to the fullest were seen.
Biern’s gaze, who was slowly admiring the scenery, suddenly stopped on the flower bed full of small white flowers.
Lily of the valley.
Biern’s eyes narrowed as he remembered the name of the flower. The bouquet Gladys wore at the wedding. Thanks to this, the lily of the valley, which was nicknamed the flower of the Crown Princess, was loved enough to cause a shortage for a while. Of course, its popularity faded in less than a year.
Come to think of it, it was the flower that adorned the hat of the austere woman he saw at the station. That lily of the valley that has long since passed the fashion.
Biern hummed the waltz from the hall and let out the long cigarette smoke once more.
Leaving the lily of the valley flower bed without any regrets, his gaze was now on the white moon hanging over the night sky.
Even if he glanced at it, there was no luck.