I gave strength to both hands, holding the hem of the dress.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. Ever since I was a child, whenever I sang, the surroundings used to get cold.
And, this time would be no exception.
Because I’m going to sing the theme song of the masterpiece musical 〈 The Phantom of the Opera 〉
One of the closest marquis whispered something to the person next to him with a face full of things to say.
Of course, I couldn’t hear it, but I could guess the content. Perhaps, something along the lines of I am more of a fool than I look, or something like that. Nevertheless, it didn’t matter since that was the reaction I wanted.
"Young, Young Lady Evelyn!"
Someone hurriedly shouted from below the stage. Looking down, he was the servant of the Duke of Brudenell.
"What song should I tell the band to play?"
"Tell them to stay still. It’s a song I wrote myself."
I replied loudly.
It must have been heard by everyone in the banquet hall.
Astonishment spread like a wave through the crowd. Even if I were to sing a common song, it would be compared to the great soprano who sang a while ago, though now, I wanted to sing my self-composed song.
It was crazy, unless I was a hidden genius.
In fact, crazy was right too.
I took a deep breath.
Now, it was time to start.
I opened my mouth wide and sang the first line of the theme song of 〈 The Phantom of the Opera 〉
…It was ruined.
I could feel it the moment the word first escaped my throat.
This was really messed up. A voice that wasn’t well-tuned trembled unsteadily in the air… In fact, it was packed up, and in a word, the sound of a duck squeaking came out.
The faces of the people gathered near the stage instantly reminded me of the expression, ‘I knew I couldn’t sing, but I didn’t know it would be this much.’
To make an excuse, I’m not usually bad at singing to this extent. The feeling of tension and pressure, and the thought of making a fool of myself, produced a considerable amount of noise pollution.
‘This is better.’
It was far better to achieve the purpose of a sudden failure when you fail halfway than not being able to remove the shell of Cassius.
I continued singing in a trembling voice.
There was a particularly noticeable reaction among the faces that were rotting without proper expression management.
‘…As expected, she doesn’t care.’
It was Princess Hermia.
While others tried to remain expressionless in consideration of the dignity of the Duke, but Princess Hermia was smiling openly and shaking her head.
Nonetheless, I tried to find Cassius, though it was more difficult than I thought to find him, who mingled with the crowd while I was singing an intricate song.
Finally, the song was over.
I came down slowly.
There was no thunderous applause or enthusiastic response like when the soprano had finished singing a moment ago. Only, the expressions on their faces that seemed to have just passed by as if they couldn’t even speak.
It was because no one would dare speak out that openly in front of the Duke of Brudenell.
I hurriedly try to find Cassius again.
‘Obviously, he must have been disappointed in me…!’
Oddly enough, he was barely visible despite his striking appearance.
‘Did he get so angry that he left the banquet hall?’
The possibility was high enough. Since Cassius had a higher standard than the average person, he would have expected that my singing ability would also be at the level of a soprano.
My body stiffened by itself.
‘…Would he be more angry than I expected?’
What if Cassius, and even the Duke and Duchess of Brudenell are pulsing with the momentum to drive me out because he couldn’t be seen now at all?
All of my three guesses were wrong.
Even though I was certain that Cassius’ face should be angry all the way from his head down…
However, his face was full of laughter that I had never seen before.
Furthermore, he started applauding.
Clap, clap, clap.
The sound of applause resounded loudly in the silence of the banquet hall.
Of course, it wouldn’t be possible for others just to watch him applaud alone. It didn’t take long for the nobles, who had been silently listening to the eardrum terror until just a moment ago, to applaud as well.
As I got closer to him, I heard an even more terrifying conversation.
"As expected, she’s my fiancée. That was so lovely."
Cassius was bragging proudly to the noble Young Lord of his age right next to him. Judging by the way they talked, they were rather friendly. Because of that, the other party openly revealed that he did not agree with his opinion.
"…Still, I think she needs to practice singing a little. What was that?"
Cassius squinted his eyes and stared openly at his close friend with whom he was conversing before opening his mouth again.
"Did you say that Evelyn needs to practice singing?"
The friend answered sternly.
"Or, at least make sure she doesn’t brag about her skills like that."
Cassius’s voice became threatening.
"Do you think it’s something that happens often, that Evelyn offered to sing like that?"
"This must be the first time."
"How can you say that even though you know that? What if she can’t sing well? Her voice is so pleasing."
The opposing nobleman lost his words and only stared at Cassius. He seemed to be trying to figure out if he was serious or joking.
It was the same for me.
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‘What kind of trick is that?’
Don’t tell me he was being serious. He couldn’t say that from the bottom of my heart if he wasn’t insane.
Oh, of course. He is crazy…
However, Cassius’s remarks did not end there.
"If my fiancée gets hurt because of you and doesn’t sing, will you take responsibility then?"
Uttering so, he put a strong emphasis on ‘my fiancée.’
"…It’s not that."
"Then, could you shut up before Evelyn hears?"
I already realized then.
This man knew from the beginning that I was listening to the conversation. Unfortunately, Cassius’s friend seemed to notice much later.
"Young, Young Lady Garneid…"
Without looking at him, I grabbed Cassius’ arm and smiled sweetly.
"Lord, how was it?"
"It was very beautiful."
He replied, smiled broadly and continued.
"How can you be so lovely… Don’t listen to stupid people like that. I’m happy to discover a new side of you."
I was at a loss for words. There was no lie or pretense mixed with his words. Only the madness of sincerity was delivered.
I unconsciously took a few steps away from him.
Cassius blinked in embarrassment. At the same time, I knew I was shocked, but I didn’t know why.
‘…I was deceived.’
A cold realization struck me.
Looking at that, Cassius Brudenell seemed to like, rather than dislike, stupid people. It was clear that Duchess Brudenell had deceived me from the very beginning. Seeing through my shallow insides and telling me to act like an idiot, which was Cassius’s taste…!
‘Wait a minute…’
I bit my lip.
In the original novel, Ophelia was clearly his taste.
By the way, was Ophelia an idiot…? Rather, she provoked Cassius over and over again due to her excessive insight.
My head was throbbing.
"Are you okay? Is this too much for you?. I’ll tell them to bring some medicine. Or, how about sitting down and resting?"
The abominable voices of Karthus continued to be heard.
I bowed my head.
"…Yes. I’m a little tired."
"Hey, the medicine…"
As he opened his mouth, I pulled Cassius’s sleeve. Humans were supposed to adapt to the past, so I was learning how to deal with him to some extent.
"I can’t trust anyone. Please bring it yourself, Lord."
Hearing my words, he nodded his head.
"Please wait a moment. I will be back soon."
I smiled bitterly as a reply.
Does Cassius know that what I need now is his absence?
After a while, the banquet hall where Cassius disappeared began to shake up in an instant.
Of course, the subject was me.
I shut my eyes.
It couldn’t have failed more horribly than this. Cassius’s feelings have already become serious, and it has reached a point where everything I do looks cute to him. Not only that, today’s action shattered my position in the social world.
It was inconceivable to build a foundation for independence from him now.
It was then.
Someone broke through the crowd and came up to me.
I blinked my eyes. It was because it was the first time I had seen him. A middle-aged man with a handsome white goatee grabbed my right hand and shook it vigorously.
"Nice to meet you, Young Lady Garneid."
It seemed like he was trying to win my favor by being kind while everyone else ridiculed me.
"Who are you?"
"It’s Gabian DeViro, Young Lady."
My eyes opened wide on their own.
If it was Gabian DeViro, wouldn’t it be that he was a reclusive genius…? How could such a person not only compose a song for my proposal, but also attend?
"I enjoyed Young Lady’s song."
"…I’m sure you must be joking."
I muttered hopelessly.
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Now that I look at it, it seems that he has come to mock me for my reputation for being eccentric.
"Do you think I look like those ignorant people?"
Surprisingly, Gabian seemed to be genuinely in a bad mood after hearing my words.
He grabbed my hand and spoke in a serious voice.
"Young Lady, this is the first time in my life as a composer that I have ever heard such a great song. Please, allow me to spread the Young Lady’s self-composed song to the world!"