Then, Marquis Russell raised both his hands.
“Alright, let’s get to the point first.
Radis, come to the Marquisate of Russell.”
After saying this, he seemed to be expecting her reaction.
However, Radis’ facial expression remained the same—blank.
“The Marquisate? Why?”
“I’ve done a bit of digging around about you.
Most people don’t even know that you’re part of the Tilrod family, let alone that you exist.
And the few people who knew would say this, that you’re ‘not at all treated properly.’ Some people even said that you didn’t seem to be a biological child of the couple.”
As he said that she didn’t seem like a biological child, Radis’ eyes quivered a little.
But she still had an expressionless face.
“Apart from that, you were recently resigned to your situation and even dealt with the eldest sone’s admission to the academy for him.
This household is nothing but a bed of nails for you, that’s why this should be a chance for you.”
“You don’t want to?”
“Don’t ask whether I like it or not before telling me why you’re saying this.”
Radis relaxed her arms and propped her chin with one hand as she faced Marquis Russell.
It was like she was talking about someone else.
“Seeing how my parents are so restless, you must have talked about money—perhaps a considerable amount of money.
But why are you trying to take me to your Marquisate, Marquis?”
Yves Russell was shocked.
Girls about this age weren’t like this.
They didn’t even go out of their rooms before getting dressed and dolled up.
And even though they were in their own house, they would never try to walk in front of men.
And none of them would take a man to a backyard for a conversation.
But most of all, it was Radis’ attitude that surprised him.
She was a daughter of a humble family that had no title, but she didn’t seem to be intimidated at all in front of a Marquis—a Marquis who owned more than half of the southern territory of the empire.
He realized that his expectations had misled him.
Yves Russell thought that it would be a simple matter to take Radis.
According to the investigation done on her, she was a girl who wasn’t treated properly in her own household, so what he expected was that she’d fall to tears the moment a chance like this would come to her, then she would nod shyly while looking up at him.
Either that, or she would follow him while trembling in fear.
But right now, Radis was extremely cold.
“So to reiterate, you’re giving me a chance, Marquis Russell, and that I should look forward to it?”
But Yves Russell just hummed and looked down at her, staring straight at her face.
“The more I look at you, the more I don’t understand.”
His voice was low and smooth, and as Radis heard it closely, her ears were ringing.
Somehow holding back the urge to shrug, Radis asked.
“So, about me and my family?”
“Let me add one more thing.
The Third Prince has taken a liking to you.”
“Do you remember him? Olivier Arpend.”
Radis’ eyes slightly grew wider.
She was reminded of the initials engraved on the handkerchief.
Seeing her reaction, Marquis Russell nodded and continued to speak.
“Yes, he’s the one who helped you when you fell.
Of course, it’s what’s expected of a gentleman, but it was different.”
Yves Russell’s lips twisted slightly as he smirked.
“Do you think there have only been one or two young women who have fallen in front of the Third Prince so far? I’ve seen dozens of them do that.
Of course, the Third Prince treated them well like the gentleman that he is, but it was a little different with you.
How do I put it… Perhaps he took a liking to you.”
At his words, Radis had to struggle to manage her reaction.
That was Olivier Arpend.’
It was a name that really suited him.
With silvery hair and amethyst-like eyes shining under the moonlight…
When he saw that Radis’ cheeks ever so slightly blushed, Yves Russell’s smile twisted up further.
“Don’t you want to meet the Third Prince again?”
Radis noticed the insidious smile on Yves Russell’s lips.
Indeed, there was a difference like heaven and earth compared to Olivier’s smile.
And that difference was enough for Radis to come to her senses.
“You’re going to let me meet him again? Perhaps… Is that your goal?”
“Are you telling me to believe all that? You’re going to spend an enormous amount of money and take me to your Marquisate just to do that?”
“It’s not… just that!”
Suddenly, Yves Russell’s voice rose a tone higher.
“Do you know what kind of person the Third Prince is? There are rumors that he’s just a moving porcelain doll or a piece of breathing marble—maybe even a glass doll that needs to be winded with a key on his back.
No, no, wait, why are you nodding? It’s not because of his appearance, it’s because he feels no emotion at all.
And most importantly, he’s not interested in women! Even after his coming-of-age celebration!”
Radis’ mouth gaped open a little.
It wasn’t because she was shocked by the rumors surrounding Olivier, but because she was startled by how passionate the Marquis seemed to be when it came to this problem.
Unlike the cold first impression anyone would have on him, Marquis Russell seemed to be the kind of person who’d go into hysterics.
With one hand cupping his mouth, Yves Russell whispered in a very low voice.
“There are even rumors that he likes men.”
With her mouth still gaped open, Radis covered both her ears with her hands.
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.”
“Do whatever pleases you.
So far, I thought that really was the case, and I even started to think twice about unbuttoning my shirt in front of him.
But then I saw that scene with you.
I’ve been by the Third Prince’s side for a while now, but I’ve never seen him smile.
And it was a really dazzling one at that.”
Radis stared at the Marquis Russell.
“Do you… by any chance… like men?”
“It’s our first time meeting today, but can I hit you?”
“No… But what does anything have to do with the Third Prince’s smile? Prince Olivier was just… He was just being kind.
That was all.
There’s nothing beyond that.”
Even the name that sounded so sweet was difficult for Radis to say out loud.
Marquis Russell straightened his posture and folded his arms over his torso.
“That’s up to me to judge.
Anyway, I’ve told you everything.
If the Third Prince showed you favor at least once, then he would be very happy to meet you again.
And all the people worried about him liking men would be relieved.
That alone would be enough merit to take you away from this place.
“I don’t understand how aristocrats think.”
“Don’t try to understand.
Just choose—will you follow me willingly or would you like to be dragged away by my hands?”
“What if I refuse both?”
Marquis Russell’s lips curled up into a vicious smile.
“Will your family leave you alone?”
Radis frowned slightly at his words.
He was right.
Margaret wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity like this.
If Marquis Russell had already said that he’d give money in return for taking Radis, Margaret herself would send off Radis to the Marquis even if it meant tying her up.
‘I wanted to leave this house, true, but I don’t want to be sold to such a strange person.’
Radis sighed as she leaned against the fence.
Marquis Russell muttered.
“Why are you sighing?”
Suddenly, he grabbed Radis’ shoulder.
Surprised by the unexpected contact, Radis looked up at him.
And the Marquis spoke in a sharp tone.
“It wouldn’t benefit you to stay here.
Get rid of any hope.
You should abandon them before they abandon you.”
“Grab the bull by its horns while you still can.”
“Is this such an opportunity? To be sold?”
“What’s wrong with being sold? If it’s unfair to be sold by other people, then you sell yourself!”
Marquis Russell spoke quickly in a cold voice.
“Let’s sign a contract.
I think you already know what this entails.
I’ll pay you 100 million rupens per year.
You’re sixteen years old now… and the minimum contract period is two years.
Until you turn 18 years old and have your coming-of-age ceremony, the Marquisate of Russell will take charge of you.”
Radis’ eyes grew wide.
“What did you just say?”
“Should we put it in writing?”
“No, no! Don’t write it down.
Wait, but why? Why are you being this way? You can take me anyway without having to sign this contract, right?”
“I could forcefully take you away, but that’s not what I want to do.
I need your voluntary cooperation.
And for that, money is of no matter.”
As though Radis’ reaction was satisfactory for him, Marquis Russell eased on his impatience and waited for her to answer in a relaxed manner again.
Radis’ eyes trembled.
100 million rupens.
And in two years, it would be 200 million rupens…!
That money would be enough to buy a cherry farm, and more.
It was too much money to even be upset about the fact that she was being sold.
Radis’ shoulders shook a little, only just a little, but then she straightened up again.
‘With that money… I can establish a cherry farm in the settlement areas as much as I want!’
In an instant, her gloomy future was enshrouded with the bright hope of cherries.
Radis stared at her employer—no, at Marquis Russell and asked.
“Are you… being serious?”
“Of course I am.”
Suddenly, there seemed to be a shining halo atop Marquis Russell’s head.
The effect of the magical words ‘100 million rupens’ was enormous.
Radis, who couldn’t even hold just a single copper coin throughout both her lives, had to struggle not to kneel in front of the Marquis.
Marquis Russell looked at the quiet Radis and spoke.
“I don’t make meaningless propositions.
Don’t make me repeat myself.
I need you.”
Radis looked up at the black-clad man in front of her, agonizing over what to do.
At the end of the day, she was still being sold, but the terms were so good that there would be no better contract to enter.
For her to leave the Tilrod household, as a minor, Radis had to find a guardian for herself anyway, along with a place to stay.
If both requirements could be fulfilled, she was even willing to become a squire, no, a servant during subjugations.
But she couldn’t believe that she was given such favorable conditions.
‘This is really ridiculous, but in its own way… isn’t this such a good opportunity?’
Deep in thought for a while as she bit her lower lip, Radis finally opened her mouth to speak.
Let’s… sign that contract.”
And it was only then that Marquis Russell gave a satisfactory smile.
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