Benedict stopped as he led Rowena across the first-floor courtyard and into the corridor.
“This is a portrait of Lady Herrace.
She’s his excellency’s aunt.”
Rowena raised her head slowly.
It was a portrait that the artist had painstakingly painted, stroke by stroke, within a golden frame.
She saw a portrait of a noblewoman with pitch-black hair, green eyes that shone like emeralds, and a rosewood chair, layered with satin, looking at her with lazy eyes.
Rowena looked up at the woman in the painting and admired her.
“She is so beautiful.”
“Yes, she is.
The direct descendants of the Devonshire family were renowned for their beauty, regardless of age or gender.”
Rowena nodded her head in agreement.
When she thought about it, the same was true for Killian’s aunt, the Marquis of Essex.
Even at first glance, it was clear that she had been a very beautiful woman in her youth.
After a moment of hesitation at the face that suddenly appeared in her mind, Rowena slowly asked.
“By the way, the Marquis of Essex is….”
“The Marquis of Essex has returned to her home to recuperate.”
Benedict, who answered even before she could finish her line, smiled blankly.
“She probably won’t be back, so don’t worry.”
Rowena replied awkwardly.
Benedict, who was looking down at her, suddenly asked a question.
“Lady Herrace passed away when she was about your age, Miss Philone.”
Rowena’s eyes widened as if she had heard a bad joke.
She couldn’t believe that such a beautiful woman had died so young.
“She was married to a foreign grand duke.
Unlike him, who had fallen in love with her at first sight when he had come to Ethelwood as an envoy, it was a marriage she did not want.
She took her own life less than a year after the marriage.”
It was a shocking story, but a more shocking outcome followed.
“She had a lover.
It was later revealed that she was already carrying her lover’s child in her womb by the time she got married.
The story goes that she had a miscarriage and took her life due to the shock.
It is a past that is hidden even within the family.”
“That-…Then the lover-..”
“He was a subordinate under the command of the previous Duke; he even received a title from the Duke for his achievements during the war.
Also, he was executed without anyone knowing.”
The story was so cruel that RLeila couldn’t believe her ears.
Benedict walked past the frozen Rowena and, this time, stopped in front of a man’s portrait.
Rowena walked as if possessed and stood beside him.
“This is the previous duke, his excellency’s father.”
The man had the same black hair and jet-black eyes as the noblewoman she had just seen.
He had a slightly timid look that differed from his son’s, but his mouth and chin line showed a slight resemblance.
“As you probably know, he died in a burning mansion with the actress he was living with.
She was his mistress before his marriage.”
Rowena swallowed her trembling breath.
Benedict, smiling, asked quietly.
“Do you know why the Duke’s middle name is Maximilian”
As she replied, Rowena rolled the name on the tip of her tongue.
It was the first time she had pronounced his full name in a long time.
Killian Maximilian Devonshire.
He hated it so much that he never mentioned his middle name unless it was on an official document.
“Because it was taken from the name of that mistress.”
She was bombarded with a heavy shock…
Rowena’s eyes widened, and she clasped her fingertips tightly.
She felt she understood why he had cut her off from his life before his engagement.
“The blood of the Duke family seems to carry a curse.
One that makes them unable to love but a single person in their life.”
Rowena, hardened like a stone statue, looked at Benedict.
He pointed to the portrait next to it.
“This girl is…”
As if expecting Rowena to collapse, he supported her and then asked softly.
“Do you know who she is”
It was impossible not to.
She has a face that looked exactly like her in her childhood.
Looking at her pale white face, he added.
“She is his excellency’s late fiancée.
She looks just like you, Miss Philone.”