Chapter 3: Chapter 3. The Villainess Turns The Hourglass, Part III
Chapter 3. The Villainess Turns The Hourglass, Part III
The jubilant Aria clasped the piece of the hourglass. Although the action caused numerous sharp pieces to dig into her small and fragile palm, it was not the pain, but the joyous relief that reminded her that she was living a second life.
Drops of scarlet blood fell onto the floor, dripping down and gradually condensing. It was both the remorse and the venom of the wicked woman wishing for revenge.
‘I will never forgive you.’
Slowly, Aria opened her hand and smiled.
The smile was so similar to that of a benevolent saint that even Jessie’s shivering stopped.
“It seems that Aria has been studying hard as of late.”
Several days had passed since Aria had returned to the past, and Aria’s clear and transparent recital of poetry had filled the dining hall. As a result, Count Roscent had praised Aria for the first time.
The countess, who smiled naturally, intelligently forged a pretense for Aria’s brilliance, “She enjoyed reading numerous books during our impoverished life, which is why she is elated by the opportunities to learn.”
A lie. Aria hadn’t even learned how to eat cleanly until she was sixteen years old. She had never touched the cover of a book before entering the county, which had similarly transitioned to her life after that as well.
She preferred playing over reading, and to dress up in luxury was her pleasure. This was also because that was all she knew how to do.
When she had been very young and ignorant, she had remembered how she had stumbled upon some of the poems that the count enjoyed and had memorized them in front of his weary state, but the receiver of any honor had always been Mielle.
It was natural that Mielle, who could recite the poems like songs, was praised over Aria, who had recited poems mechanically, like a book, just like now.
“It’s a famous poem handed down from generation to generation in Count Roscent’s county. It was written by the first count, and it was the first poem that I learned when I was four years old. The last verse, the woman’s reply to ‘The Woman I Love,’ is not well known, but only when the two become one is the poem complete.”
With her right hand on her chest, Mielle recited the poem quietly and clearly. There was a sense of satisfaction in the eyes of those who watched her. Aria’s mother, the countess, also looked toward her with a commendable expression. She seemed like the lead actress who succeeded the upbeat supporting actress.
“… and I will gather my admirable heart and scatter it all out into your future!”
When she finished her poetry recital, there was a round of applause in the dining hall. Unlike in the past, where she had gritted her teeth with envy and jealousy, Aria joined the audience this time. With blushing cheeks and a shy smile creeping from her mouth, Mielle had become the real protagonist of that day.
As always, it was an honor that was taken by her from Aria. An honor that would always return to the noble girl as opposed to staying with the girl of humble origins.
It could be that due to Aria’s presence that there was more praise being thrown at Mielle. It would be a compliment to say that all of that was a coordinated effort to trample on the petty pride of a stupid girl, so Aria decided to reclaim the glory that was stolen from her.
Since it wasn’t Mielle’s to begin with.
The applause died down, and Aria, the supporting actress asked without losing her smile and composure, “What a beautiful poem, Mielle. But do you know what?”
This sudden question caused Mielle’s eyes to widen.
Aria continued kindly, for it was obvious that Mielle did not know, “The fact is that this poem was created by the brother of the first count, who tried to assassinate him. This was the reason why this poem was not famous. Because the first count did not want the poem to spread.”
That was the reason why Aria had decided not to memorize it, because she had wanted to add that information… but she decided to test her luck all the same.
“I remember that not too long ago this poem was forbidden since there was an embedded metaphor in it wishing a curse on the family.”
Mielle’s fine face quickly hardened like ice because the poem she had so proudly recited could also be seen as her cursing the family. After achieving her first victory, Aria had to resist rolling on the floor with laughter.
It was the complete opposite of the past.
She had wanted to be recognized for something, so she had hired a tutor to prepare that poem. It had been then that her eyes had twinkled in anticipation, and she had recited the answer that she had long prepared in the presence of the count, who had returned after being away abroad on business for a long time. But her eyes had become instantly lifeless from the numerous sharp criticisms that followed.
It had not been long after the count entered the room that this incident had happened, and the person who had criticized her had been none other than her brother, Cain.
He was four years older than Aria, and had learned much from attending the academy, so he had used that knowledge to pick on everything that Aria had tried to do.
‘He must have known all of this.’
However, this time, he had kept his mouth shut the entire time, not wanting to insult his sister. No, it could be that, in the past, he had wanted to hurt Aria just like Mielle.
To confirm that, Aria just rolled her eyes and checked Cain’s face. He was staring at Aria with his mouth firmly fixed. Now that Mielle had been humiliated, it seems that he was unhappy about the situation.
Aria smiled awkwardly and decided to pretend to defend Mielle since she didn’t want to be openly hated.
“Mielle is only thirteen years old, so it is amazing that she was able to memorize the whole poem.”
However, the mood did not abate since it was clear that Mielle had memorized and recited that poem just now in quite the foolish manner.
‘How embarrassing would it be for her to berate the daughter of a shallow prostitute who was born and raised in the lowest places of society without even knowing what Aria knew?’
The count, who had warned her daughter in vain for the first time, encouraged everyone to continue eating as he raised his fork. Aria, who smiled like a child at her new father, took the messy-cut meat and brought it to her mouth.
That day’s meal was very satisfying.
The first thing Aria had done after returning to the past had been to hire a tutor. She was of low origin and hadn’t learned proper manners until she was about to die. Because of the things she had heard and learned in the last decade of her life, she tried to use elegant gestures whenever she could, but she hadn’t then.
There had been no need for that because she had retained her mother’s good looks. Her mother had stolen the count’s heart with her beauty alone, which was why no matter how reckless and rash she had acted, Aria had always had countless suitors. A beauty that one could get drunk with just by staring, she was essential to entertain a great party.
Although she had heard the growing criticism and vulgarities thrown at her back as time passed, she hadn’t thought of learning anything because there were many that loved her appearance, so Aria hadn’t felt the need. She had been humiliated several times at parties, but each time, a bunch of men had defended Aria.
Thinking back, it hadn’t been much help. They had done so to have a night with her, not to love or care for her. Just like moths jumping toward a light, men had been captivated by her appearance, chasing after a fantasy that could burn in a flash at any moment.
However, as time passed, the men that followed Aria were soon bound to their elegant, aristocratic paths and began engaging with others in their circle, and finally, none remained by Aria’s side. Of course, a few men who had confessed they had truly loved her came to mind, but she didn’t know if those words had been true.
‘Yes, if the opportunity comes, we’ll see what happens if I test those idiots.’