“Good morning, Nigel-sama. Have I kept you waiting?”
“Good morning, Luthia. No, not really.”
The maid quickly lowers the document box in front of His Highness.
His Highness Nigel does his work when he has a little time to spare.
There is something rather serious and industrious about him.
…maybe there’s a bit of a company slave in there.
Well, His Highness Nigel is not in a position to be hired, but to be hiring…
But I think His Highness probably has a strong sense of being a public servant.
The Crown Prince…and the King.
I think there is a somewhat strong perception that he is not the one being served, but rather he is the one who serves his country, or nation.
That’s what I’ve heard from Phil and the others, and based on all the things he’s done so far, he’s not one to cut too many corners.
His Highness is the one who can do everything above average.
He doesn’t refuse to do it because it can be done.
Of course, he is not just a person who takes care of his own work, but he also has an eye for assessing the competence of others, so he will not give up an unreasonable amount of work, and the amount of work His Highness must eventually do is likely to be a large amount.
His Highness stood up and pulled up a chair.
“Thank you, Nigel-sama.”
I sit down gently and shallowly to look as graceful as possible.
I don’t have the cushions that I would normally have put up in advance.
Uh, where is…
All the chairs in this palace are for adults. Many of them are slightly larger than I expected because of the decorations.
It’s too big for me, and if I sit down deep enough to lean on the back of the chair, my knees will rest on the seat surface, so I can only sit shallowly. There is always a cushion provided in my chair to fill the gap, but it has been tucked away somewhere else.
Accidentally or intenionally…this is something I should be a more aware of.
I sneak in a small sigh.
“Donna Vissel, I need a cushion.”
His Highness, who’s eyes were wide open, lightly raised an eyebrow and frowned.
Ah, that’s a look of slight displeasure.
I don’t know who did what, but whether it was intentional or not, it will get the attention it deserves.
His Highness is very overprotective of me.
If it was intentional, I might have thought it was because I no longer had the backing of His Majesty…
How one can think of doing this to me with a husband and protector like His Highness Nigel is a mystery to me.
“…Well. I’m sorry, Your Highness. I apologize for my temperamental maids…”
“No. It’s okay, Anya.”
Anya…Anna Maria Erlène Donna Aristia Vissel, former assistant lady-in-waiting to the crown prince, will unofficially be named Head lady-in-waiting after the coronation.
The chief lady-in-waiting is the head of all the maids and ladies-in-waiting in the palace. The Head of the Rear Palace is, so to speak, the Head lady-in-waiting of the King’s Household, and is not directly under the Queen’s control.
Phil-Lynn told me that the appointment of the Head lady-in-waiting was a difficult one, since the Queen was the highest-ranking person in the court and had her own chief lady-in-waiting.
The post of Chief was also the head of the ladies-in-waiting (including the maidservants) who worked in the main palace.
This is because, although they may work in the main palace, all of the courtesans belong to the rear palace. This is evidenced by the fact that the residences of all the maidservants and attendants are located in the palace’s rear wing.
The Countess Leidsfeld, the Crown Prince’s lady-in-waiting, had asked for time off many years ago, but due to the lack of a successor and the collapse of the His Majesty the King, she has remained in the palace until now.
Although there were three assistant governesses to the crown prince, His Highness said that Anya, the youngest of the three, was selected because of her close relationship with me.
It’s hard to judge any of the three of them in terms of their ability to perform their duties, so they were chosen based on other factors.
Since the rear palace is my residence, it would be meaningless for her to be the head lady-in-waiting who cannot give me the utmost consideration. He said so plainly in his usual tone of voice.
I was very happy to hear His Highness say that.
I’m also happy that Anya, despite her busy schedule, is willing to do my work for me whenever she is able.
Anya gently places my favorite cushion on my back as usual.
“Thank you as always.”
“No, that’s very kind of you.”
I recently learned that Anya was once a maid for my mother…Efinia. Lilia told me from someone who knew her at the time that they were a very close master and servant.
I’m sure Anya’s attention and fondness for me must include some of those memories.
I wish I could hear my mom’s story someday…
I want to know more than just the memories of His Highness Nigel; I want to know my mother.
I want to know what my mother was like, who His Highness says was his first love.
Well, this isn’t jealousy or anything.
I know that we seem to look very much alike.
But you see, I’m still wondering a lot of things, aren’t I?
After a few moments of settling in, breakfast is brought to us.
It is my chef who makes the breakfast.
His Highness has decided to have breakfast with me as long as time permits.
We no longer have to keep up the appearance of a morning tea time.
For that reason alone, I’m glad to have come to the Rear Palace.
It means I don’t have to be reserved.
The breakfast menu focuses on vegetables.
His Highness avoids vegetables whenever I show any signs of weakness, so I make sure that he gets plenty of them.
First up is a salad of leafy greens, mostly lettuce and cheshire greens, with plenty of grated onions and carrots in an edible dressing. I’ve mixed in some torn up steamed chicken into the mix, since he wouldn’t want to eat it otherwise.
Then, fluffy scrambled eggs and a thick ham steak.
The bread is a walnut-filled germ bread with zade butter on the side.
The beautiful golden consommé soup is filled with small diced vegetables like carrots, radishes and potatoes.
And dessert is served with vitamin-packed oranges freshly grown in a greenhouse.
“This salad has crisp vegetables and a nice dressing.”
“Yeah, that’s right…I don’t like vegetable so much, but there’s meat, so it’s not bad.”
It took a lot of trial and error to find the perfect amount of dressing for the onions and carrots. Until this was done, my new cooks ate all kinds of vegetable salads at every meal, and I heard that some of them lost a lot of weight and became very healthy.
Even if I don’t praise him so much, I know that His Highness really doesn’t think it’s a bad idea.
Because he usually still eats them.
If he really doesn’t like something, he usually eats it faster, as if trying to swallow it as quickly as possible.
“The eggs are fluffy too.”
“Oh, I’m getting better at controlling the heat.”
When the serving girl heard His Highness’ words, her eyes widened in a small way.
A word of praise must be quite rare.
The fluffy scrambled eggs are simply seasoned with butter, salt and pepper, but the egg yolk is so rich and delicious.
I want to make pudding with these eggs.
I’m sure His Highness Nigel would love it.
Adult flavored pudding with slightly bittersweet caramel…With these eggs and the milk here, it would be the best!
“Where is this ham from? It tastes so much better.”
“I instructed Miredei’s family farm to make it specially.”
The thick ham was slightly browned on the surface.
The cooks were instructed to char the fat just enough to keep it from burning too much. The smell of burnt fat is very appetizing.
I had it marinated in seasoning and smoked.
In essence, you might think of it as a soft type of prosciutto that isn’t as matured, and then made into a steak.
That way, you can enjoy the concentrated flavor of the meat, but it also lasts longer if you let it dry out and mature further.
His Highness tilts his head as he laughs, saying that it is very luxurious.
“Yes…Is there something wrong with it?”
“No, that’s not what I meant. Luthia always insists on freshness, so I thought you didn’t like smoking and preserving.”
“I’m don’t want to discriminate in that sense. Any kind of preserved food, whether smoked, bottled or canned, is important for ingredients. Of course, I don’t care what they look like. The only thing in the food is whether it’s good or bad.”
I tell him with a serious face because it’s important.
Oh, portable rations are different!
“Nigel-sama, good food is justice!”
Yes. As long as it tastes good, it doesn’t matter what it looks like.
As long as it tastes good, I can forgive most things.
“…Good food is justice…”
“Yes…I don’t really like liver or anything like that, but I think a well-made liver pâté is the best, and what is gyursk without the offal? But I think liver pâté, made deliciously, is the best, and a ‘gyursk’ without any offal* is not a ‘gyursk’, is it?” (***offal is the entrails and internal organs of an animal used for food)
‘Gyursk’ is one of the specialties of Dardinia. Originally, it was a stew in a pot that was eaten in the border region between the eastern and northern regions, and since it was a favorite dish of His Majesty the King a few generations ago, it became a popular dish in the capital.
It was a brown stew with a lot of onions and ginger, and the stew was made of gooey, mushy meat, and other ingredients, but it was very delicious when served hot.
I ate this at a stall in the Utoria district where His Highness had taken me out incognito.
“The best thing about seafood is that it should be fresh, but with meat, it has to be aged. Even cheese can be good when it’s fresh, but sometimes it’s better when it’s aged. It’s delicious! You can’t measure something with just one side alone.”
“Luthia is so wise.”
“…Your Highness, are you making fun of me?”
“No, I mean it…I’m always amazed when I talk to you.”
I nodded my head, not really understanding what His Highness meant. It’s not that I’m being ridiculous, but I don’t think I’m talking about something that would be considered wise either.
“The cooks at Luthia’s place are good at whatever they make. This bread is exceptional, too.”
“They’re all eager to learn.”
My team of six cooks consists of Cyril and Noi, who used to work for the Crown Prince’s Palace, plus Sage who returned from His Highness Al’s, and two new hires, and Elda, a pastry chef from Elzevert.
“This soup is also very tasty.”
“I used a bouillon made from dried vegetable peels and other ingredients.”
“It’s a rich, flavorful broth.”
“…When I’m with you, my mouth gets tongue-tied.”
“Your Highness is just fine even with that. I don’t think you should be carrying only portable food.”
I’ve heard that he still calls for portable rations during the day and night when we don’t eat together.
I’d like to do something about it eventually, but I don’t want to impose on him.
Let’s get more people to know how good breakfast and tea sweets are.
So I will make them think that day and night are not enough.
It won’t last long unless His Highness wants it for himself.
I’m going to keep bringing in more sweets and snacks as I have in the past.
The next goal is lunch.
I should proceed steadily, one step at a time.
“At today’s luncheon, I will introduce you to the four lords. Everyone knows that you have no memory due to the accident, so don’t worry about it.”
“Yes. Is there anything in particular you need to tell me about?
“No. Nothing in particular.”
Of the four dukes, the only one I’ve met is my father, the East Duke
For some reason, I’ve never had direct acquaintance with the remaining three.
“Is there anything else to be aware of?”
“The Four Dukes will not be hostile to you, and there is no need to doubt their loyalty to you. They might try to take special care of you, and make you feel uncomfortable though, so just be careful.”
“Take special care?”
“…you are special to them.”
That’s probably because I’m the only Elzevert…
“If it’s too much for you, you can just ignore it. You’re allowed to do that.”
I nodded at that, but I didn’t actually understand it.
I’m optimistic, so I easily decided that since I was with His Highness, it would be no problem.
If Nigel-sama is there, it’s fine.
It was strange to me, but I had absolute faith in him.
“Please, Nigel-sama, you must have oranges as well. They are fresh and delicious.”
It’s a little more tart than sweet, but the fresh fruit available at this time of year is precious.
Well, it’s all oranges almost every day.
We have winter-picked berries, but they’re a bit too sour to eat raw.
It won’t be possible today, but I think I’ll bake a cake for soon.
I can give Elda the recipe and have it baked.
Orange cake or…yeah, I can bake a tart with winter berries.
When the steamy Robb tea is served, it’s a sign that breakfast is about to end.
It’s a shame, but I have to leave soon.
“Thank you for the meal.”
I put down my napkin and stand up.
His Highness, who stood up as well, walked over to me.
His Highness takes my hand and places his favorite amethyst cufflinks over the buttons on the cuffs.
“I can’t give you accessories, but cufflinks should be fine.”
“It’s a good luck charm.”
What is this charm for? I thought, but stopped asking because His Highness seemed to be somewhat satisfied.
Just as a shadow cast over me, His Highness’s hair gently brushed my cheek and one kiss was dropped on my forehead.
“Then I’ll see you later.”
I wonder if it’s my imagination that I’ve been having more skinship lately…I knew I’d get another warm smile, but I thought I’d ask Lilia about it later.
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