My Engagement Got Broken, But I Don’t Remember Getting Engaged in the First Place - Ch 35
- My Engagement Got Broken, But I Don’t Remember Getting Engaged in the First Place
- Ch 35 - Seems Like The Duke Hates Me
Chapter 35: Seems Like The Duke Hates Me
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The manor of Duke Lindell was far enormous than they had thought, making the Kranz family gawk with awe at the luxurious decors and furnishings. Even the cup of tea they were served had a sophisticated design lined with beautiful streaks of gold. If they weren’t careful and broke it, the tea set alone would probably cost more than their whole manor. Nora hesitated to take a sip, staring at the rose petals in her teacup.
Duke Lindell appeared after a few moments of waiting. He was a man with rusty hair, amber eyes and an overall calm demeanor. The Callum twins and the King were in a league of their own, but he was a fine man on his own.
Is he perhaps a little older than His Majesty?
Nora was impressed by the dignified way with which he carried himself, befitting of his title as a duke, but she also felt he was being niggardly. Lord Karl and Perre had been trying to negotiate the increase in the toll fee, but the duke had been dismissing them as overstepping their bounds. When asked why they only raised the toll on their estate, he had evaded answering. His response had been curt, Perre had said, which Nora found rather displeasing. He could have at least told them the reason behind it, instead of just expecting them to blindly comply without complaints. It would have been better if he just said something like “I’m in a rather bad mood so let me get straight to the point. The duke’s family is powerful and distinguished, so quit with your futile struggle.”
“So, is that perhaps the rumored ‘Azure Nightingale’? She’s quite the talk of the town so I was expecting she must be stunningly beautiful but… Oh, pardon me.”
Mockery was evident in his words and feelings of anger flashed across Perre’s eyes.
Nora would normally have quipped with a remark along the lines of ‘you made assumptions on your own and was also disillusioned all on your own’, but they were up against the duke, so she held her tongue and simply gave him a wry smile.
“But you know, I find it strange that the ‘Pure-Hearted Nightingale’ had money to donate yet unable to pay for the toll.”
“That’s because the Pure-Hearted Nightingale was just born out of malicious rumors. We may come from an aristocratic lineage but we are as a matter-of-fact destitute.”
“A rumor, you say. Pray tell then, is that rumor true? That the money you donated was obtained through dirty means or that you had hoodwinked the marquis’ son—?
There was a smirk on the duke’s face as he looked at Nora. It was the first time she had met him, but it was clear to Nora that he hated her.
“One moment they say I’m pure-hearted, the next I’m dirty. One must never believe such erratic baseless trifles, Your Grace.”
“Well, I wonder.”
Nora noticed that the crease between Perre’s eyebrows had deepened further, so she decided to shift the topic.
“By the way, Lord Lindell, could you tell us why the toll fee was increased only in our estate? Was there perhaps a problem with road maintenance? Our estate is, as I’ve mentioned, poor and we’re unable to afford the increase. Could you please reconsider?” Nora pleaded as gently as she could, but the duke simply sipped his tea slowly.
“I had heard that the Azure Nightingale was chosen to perform at the founding ball.” The duke finally spoke but had abruptly changed the subject, looking towards Nora with a smug. “That’s quite a remarkable feat. The singer had already been chosen but you managed to replace her and cast her aside. Your temerity is impressive, I must say. How did you do it?”
It sounded like he was praising her, but Nora could feel the derision in his tone. She could hear the duke’s actual thoughts, “How brazen of you! You must have gotten it through dirty means, didn’t you?”
Even if she denied out of spite, she couldn’t be rude because he was a duke, after all. Perhaps that must also be the very reason he kept insisting on the increase in the toll fee despite their persistent pleas.
“It just happened through an acquaintance. It’s above my capacity indeed, but since I have been selected, I shall give it my best.” She came up with the most appropriate reply, but Duke Lindell simply scoffed at her.
“You’ve got such high spirits. Best of luck, then.”
“In the end, we couldn’t convince him to revoke the increase. It was clear that he didn’t like us. What an utter waste of time.” As soon as they were out of the gate of the duke’s manor, Perre spat out his complaints.
“The duke’s sister is one of the candidates for the Queen, and they’re a prestigious family, so they must not be in need of money. No matter how prestigious they are, I have no respect for anyone who mocks poor aristocrats.” Perre continued to grumble his grievances, but no one reprimanded him for they all shared the same sentiments.
“Worse, I had noticed how he kept leering at you, Nora. So disgusting!”
“It could just be your imagination.”
“I saw it clearly with eyes.”
“Fine, fine.” Trying to placate her irate younger brother as they walked, Nora felt something didn’t add up.
Why would the duke himself humor Nora’s presence just to sneer at her? Could he really just be bugged by curiosity, expecting to see a beautiful lady as the circulating rumors claimed? Perre had said that the duke had a bad reputation with women, so perhaps he wanted to confirm and examine her in person? If so, she felt relieved that he wasn’t up to his taste, but likewise felt regretful that they were unable to negotiate their toll fee.
She turned to look back at the duke’s manor. It was sizable and grandiose, and considering the numbers of servants and the luxurious furnishings, he was unlikely to be in need of money.
Or perhaps it wasn’t money he was after. It made sense but at the same time, he didn’t seem to have so much spare time to simply harass a poor baron family.
“…I wonder what he really wants.” As she looked at the manor, she could see a figure standing through one of the windows. Almost instantly, the shadow of a woman dressed in red with long blonde hair disappeared.
Is it the Duchess? Or one of the duke’s mistresses?
Deeming it irrelevant, Nora withdrew her gaze and let out a deep sigh as she mulled over how they would recover from the debt again.