“Then, all of a sudden, the Della Valle family demanded that you fulfill the promise. But…”
Adele’s gaze flitted to Cesare.
“Currently, the Buonaparte’s direct line has no daughters, so the Della Valle family demanded that the son should honor the agreement instead. Thus, Cesare Buonaparte needs a woman to break the pact.”
Jude turned to Cesare, their expressions mirroring each other. Although the plan seemed flawless, it was still of significant importance.
Cesare, who had been smoking his cigar the entire time, finally began to speak.
“Do you know why they suddenly brought up the promise?”
It sounded like a simple question, but it was also a question that couldn’t be answered if one hadn’t read the newspaper.
Adele spoke without hesitation.
“I think Lucrezia Della Valle plans to use this in hopes of marrying you.”
That must have been the case.
Lucrezia Della Valle is the beloved youngest daughter of the Della Valle family.
Even the stray cats in Fornatier knew how much she loved Cesare.
After hearing Adele’s answer, the corners of Cesare’s pretty lips raised into an arc.
“That’s right. Lucrezia’s crazy plan is so blatant that even a shoe polisher in Fornatier knows about it.”
He didn’t have an ounce of respect for the lady, but that was of no concern to Adele.
The most key factor is that Cesare needs a woman.
And she preferred to be sold to a noble family rather than a brothel.
“I think you don’t want to marry her. Although the family’s pact is sacred, you want to rid yourself of it immediately.”
Aside from the faint frosty smile, the surprisingly cold golden eyes turned to Adele.
“Therefore, please use me.”
Adele did not shy away from his gaze.
“As the daughter of the Buonaparte family, I will be given to the Della Valle family. Then you won’t have to marry her, right?”
The man who was said to have received the greatest love from fate and God looked at the woman in front of him.
He took a deep draw from the cigar and exhaled gently.
‘But is this really a woman?’
His inquiring gaze turned to the woman in question.
She had on a baggy hat that was large enough to fit two heads, along with a blackened, ragged face. The sight was beyond ugly and didn’t resemble a human face at all.
He wouldn’t have thought she was a woman if not for her sweet voice.
Yes, her words were definitely pleasing to the ear, which was quite confusing.
But that was it.
Santnar, a country comprising two main islands and dozens of smaller islands, has a culture that deeply values ‘la bella figura’.
Which meant one had to be beautiful and attractive in every way.
In this regard, Adele Vivi was disqualified from the preliminary round.
“It’s not going to work.”
At Cesare’s words, Adele Vivi slowly stopped breathing.
When she readied herself to question his reasoning, Cesare tapped his chin and grinned.
“Miss Adele Vivi. Shouldn’t you at least look good if you want to sell yourself?”
‘At this point, I’m sure she’ll back down on her accord,’ he thought.
However, Adele Vivi uttered a strange exclamation and suddenly grabbed her hat.
“I see. Wait just a moment.”
Before Cesare grew even more confused, Adele flicked off her hat.
At that moment, the hair tucked inside her hat fell around her like a waterfall.
Her thick, glossy black hair, which was as smooth as silk, shimmered beneath the Fornatier sun.
Even Cesare, who grew up surrounded by only the most beautiful things in Fornatier, was speechless for a moment.
“Such magnificent hair!” Jude cried out beside him. His eyes, which brightened whenever he viewed art and beauty, were flashing with curiosity.
“Your hair reminds me of a mermaid. How do you take care of it?”
“Sometimes I use fish oil.”
“That’s it?! It’s amazing and quite pretty… ”
Jude’s gaze alternated between Cesare and Adele’s hair.
“…It looks similar to his! Oh, of course, the overtones are different, but you both have a shade akin to black pearls, right? This is amazing. Now that I’m looking closely, her eye color seems to be golden. Or is it closer to honey?”
“Are you comparing me to a shoe polisher now?” Cesare asked with furrowed brows and a cigar hanging from his lips.
“It’s just hair. No man is going to fall in love with the back of a woman’s head.”
“Give me a second,” Adele answered.
Then, without waiting for Cesare’s permission, she began wiping her face with her dirty clothes.
Rather it seemed as if she was tearing her face off than simply wiping it clean.
Jude groaned at the sight of her face peeling off.
Meanwhile, a thick mask that smelled strongly of shoe polish fell from Adele’s face.
Soon afterward, when a surprisingly thin and elegant face emerged beneath, Cesare had no choice but to bite his tongue.
Indeed, she was so beautiful that she could attempt to masquerade as a Buonaparte.
She had perfect almond-shaped eyes with a smooth jawline, and even her features were nearly symmetrical.
She was the definition of beauty, and it was surprising that Adele was in an environment that didn’t suit her looks.
Sometimes there were people who were born to seduce the opposite sex.
Cesare was a prime example of that, and so was Adele.
Cesare puffed on his cigar again and exhaled the smoke.
Next to him, Jude spoke with an enthusiastic voice.
“Isn’t this good enough? Don’t you think she’s perfect, Cesare?”
He wasn’t wrong. Based on her appearance alone, the woman in front of him would suit his purpose.
With her looks, he was confident that if he took her in immediately and taught her a moderate amount, then introduced her to high society, people would be so blinded by her beauty that they would ignore some of her flaws.
Adele spoke calmly, fully aware of her charm.
“I forgot to wipe it off earlier.”
‘She has a lot of guts.’
Cesare covered his mouth with the hand he was using to hold the cigar. For a brief moment, his mind was a fierce battle of conflicting thoughts.
But soon he shook his head.
“It’s too much work.”
“Why!” Jude exclaimed.
Cesare glanced at him coldly.
The one he originally sought to fulfill the pact with the Della Valle family was supposed to be a maiden from a fallen aristocratic family.
And the reason for that was simple. Because a noblewoman would be easier to educate.
“She probably hasn’t even mastered the six arts. Even if she could be educated, does she speak any foreign languages?”
“But she’s pretty!”
“Beauty isn’t everything.”
“I can’t believe you’re saying this while having a face like that!”
“But it’s true.”
Cesare leaned back against the backrest as if there was nothing more to say.
“If we want to deceive the Della Valle family, then she should at least have something in her head. They are a family of scholars, after all.”
Jude groaned because Cesare’s words were perfectly logical.
‘That should be enough to make her back down on her own accord,’ Cesare thought as he put down his cigar.
“Everything you said is correct.”
Adele didn’t relent.
Her calm confession drew Cesare’s gaze.
“I haven’t received much education, but I have put forth my best efforts to learn what I can.”
‘She is more persistent than I had thought.’
Cesare frowned for a moment and then smiled.
“What kind of efforts? Shoe polishing?”
“First of all, I’ll have you know that I made an effort to go to the Fornatier Civil Library.”
“I’m sure you’ve read a few books.”
“And I can speak Deneng and Alghese.”
Cesare became speechless when he learned she could speak Alghese, and it appeared as if she had been waiting to say that all along.
Jude, on the other hand, was thrilled. He seemed to marvel at the fact that this beautiful, mysterious creature, who was posing as a shoe polisher, could even speak a foreign language.
“Did you learn that from a book as well?”
“I learned the spoken language by speaking with foreigners living on the streets, then the grammar from books.”
“There are homeless people who speak Alghese?”
“Fornatier is frequented by foreigners, therefore, many such people live here.”
“You have such a passion for learning that it would be a waste to simply remain as an ordinary shoe polisher!”
“This was the only thing I could do.”
Adele gazed at Cesare again.
“My efforts were not just for polishing shoes.”
La bella figura: an Italian phrase that translates as “the beautiful figure.” It specifically means to dress well to make a good impression, which is an aspect that is deeply rooted in Italian culture.
The Six Arts: one of the original education methods in ancient China for the purpose of creating excellent, well-rounded members of society. The six aspects are: etiquette, music, archery, horseback riding, calligraphy, and arithmetic.