The luncheon went off without a hitch—That’s right. Except for the massive physical damage it did to my stomach!
I was quite nervous at first, but it was more of a matter of getting used to it than learning it, so it was nothing to worry about. Maybe I’m more brazen than I thought.
“…Your Highness, it would have been better if you had left some.”
“You can’t just leave something that is that delicious!”
“Princess, your stomach is not that big…”
Lilia looks at me as if staring at a helpless child.
“I know, I know!…But it was delicious…”
It is probably because of Maya’s strong senses that she feels guilty about leaving something on her plate.
I know that what I left behind will not go to waste, but I still feel resistance to leaving it behind.
And you know what, it’s not that it’s too bad to eat, it’s just that it’s so delicious.
Besides, today’s menu was the result of all the painstaking work I’d done with the head chef and Viscount Rada. There was no way I could leave anything behind.
As I sipped the tea Alice had made to soothe my stomach, I looked at Lilia with a straight face.
Unlike His Highness Nigel, who is busy with audiences and meetings until the evening party began, I’ve been told to rest in my room. I’ll have plenty of time to spare for a while.
“…So? Why was my plate so big?”
When I say large portions, I mean that it was big for me.
Although I grew up with it, unfortunately my stomach isn’t that big and I can’t eat in quantity.
So what is served to me at any given time is usually half of what His Highness would eat…except for sweets.
And yet, it came for one person normally
“…I’m sorry, I don’t know.”
Lilia shook her head with a sigh.
“As far as I know, it was the waiter who made the mistake…Everything that was supposed to be brought to Her Highness was sent to storage.”
“Storage? What’s that about?”
“Every meal prepared for the royal family in the palace is made and stored with at least one extra meal. The storage period is two days. This is for investigation in case the food is poisoned.”
“Yes. Who was directing the serving of the lunch today?”
“It was Elinia.”
“Elinia Nerke. She’s a junior maid and commoner in the rear palace.”
“Who is the guarantor?”
I ask because no mere commoner can serve in the royal court.
“It is Viscount Nastia. Viscount Nastia works at the Court of Justice, and Elinia is his concubine’s daughter.”
Only commoners who can be guaranteed by a nobleman can serve in the royal court. But a nobleman is not so easily the guarantor of a commoner.
But if it’s you child, that’s a different story.
And in fact, even with a guarantor, a commoner can’t normally be a maid or a lady-in-waiting.
Lilia said she was a junior lady-in-waiting, but essentially, there is no such position. The lady-in-waiting is only a lady-in-waiting, and there is no distinction between lower and upper ranks.
But when you are a commoner and your abilities are recognized, and you are chosen to do a special job that was not originally assigned to a commoner, you are given a position that is said to be appropriate for a lady-in-waiting. To distinguish it from a normal lady-in-waiting, it is called a junior maid.
In Elinia’s case, she falls under that category.
“Then what does Viscount Nastia think of me? Or does Elinia have her own agenda? They’ll look into it and tell you.”
There was a slight pause. Perhaps it’s an acquaintance of Lilia’s.
“…Does Your Highness believe that Elinia did this deliberately?”
Her expression is a little stiff.
“Well, the cutlery wasn’t mine either…I think it could be a mistake if it’s just one thing, but I it’s strange if two things were wrong.
My hands are small. And they’re not very strong. That’s why normal cutlery is heavy. In the beginning, I used the normal ones, but when I started having breakfast with His Highness, His Highness had taken care to use special cutlery.
It’s hard to believe that someone who is a commoner and yet is capable enough to become a junior maid would make a series of simple mistakes.
Lilia nods. She looks a little hesitant or unconvinced even in her expressionlessness.
Lilia is still easier to understand than His Highness.
His Highness’s poker face surpassed Lilia’s by several times.
“Lilia, I think you misunderstand. I never said that Elinia-Nerke did it with malice in mind.”
“Maybe there was something wrong with my private dish that made it normal…Maybe there was something that made the cutlery unusable in the same way. I’m not trying to punish her in any way. I just want to know why.”
I don’t care if there was a reason or a flaw…It’s fine if it was purely a mistake, or if it was harassment, that’s fine. I simply want to know what the cause and effect is.
“Even if it was harassment, I wouldn’t dispose of someone for this.”
Even if it was harassment, it’s very modest, and the only damage is that my stomach is physically full. There is nothing to blame.
If we’re talking about harassment, I think there has been much worse harassment in the past.
…I just heard it in stories, but I don’t remember it.
For now, there’s nothing life-threatening at the moment, so there’s no need to worry too much about it.
Lilia bowed with a relieved expression and turned to leave.
“Oh, wait. I want to ask you about the others.”
Of course, I have a rough profile of the four dukes in mind before the luncheon.
But there are a few things I want to ask, or rather, confirm.
“Yes. Let’s leave the troublesome father out of it…First of all, the Duke of Grachie. He seems to be as strict as I’ve heard beforehand, but he’s soft on his wife, isn’t he?”
My first impression of the Duke of Grachie is that he is too thin and stubborn. In a word, he’s the kind of man a child would be afraid of at first sight.
“Yes. His wife is Elaine-Séphira. As you know, Elaine was born in Elzevert and is the second wife of the Duke of Grachie. The Duke was seven years older than his wife when he was twelve, and he remarried in his thirties after his first wife died when he was fifteen. Elaine was 15 years old at the time….The age difference between His Highness and Your Highness is the same. Before the marriage, he had a daughter by his side, but after the marriage, he has been protecting Elaine alone.”
“It wasn’t a political marriage?”
“Due to their age difference, the Duke feels that he is a guardian for Elaine. He’s always been a knight in shining armor, protecting Elaine, who was brought up in a box as a daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Elzevert. As if protecting the princess.”
Probably, they have been married for almost fifty years. I can’t even imagine fifty years from now, but I envy the closeness of their friendship.
…But that person felt a little dreamy, didn’t she?
Although the Duchess of Grachie had a very elegant air about her, it’s probably not just my imagination that she was a bit of an airhead.
“I don’t have a strong impression of the Duke and Duchess of Feldie…”
“Duke Feldie has been on the throne for only three years. He was succeeded by his father, who was the same age as the Duke of the North. His father, Lord Feldie, was a very strong man, and his son was not at all like him.”
Yeah, I understand. He was held down for a long time.
But that probably doesn’t mean he’s just unimpressive and calm.
The one who took over Feldie in the quotient shouldn’t be able to get by with that.
“Which is the wife?”
“It’s Alhane. She doesn’t have the red hair of the Alhane, but is the sister princess of the late Duke and his mother.”
“The Duke of Alhane seemed to like eating.”
“Yes…He is not a picky eater, but he is a genuine military man. He is a genuine soldier, not like His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, but he does not complain about the continuation of the portable rations.”
I take off my gown and change into my loungewear, with Miredei helping me out.
“How long has his wife been dead?”
“It must have been about seven years…She was a princess of royal lineage.”
“Is her daughter a child of that person?”
“Yes. His Highness Leon, the heir, and Renate, who was with us today, are the children of the Duchess.”
“The young lady seemed to like eating, too.”
“Alhane’s family is rather prone to that. Maybe it’s because there are so many warriors.”
Speaking of which, His Royal Highness Nigel once told me that one of the family teachings of the Duke of Alhane’s family is that eating is what builds the body.
“I don’t know about the son, but is he in the military?”
“No…Master Leon does not work in the army. He was born in Alhan, but he has a strong civilian disposition, and is often rumored to have been abolished.”
Then, at Margo’s urging, I climbed into bed.
I can’t believe I’m taking a nap at my age! But it can’t be helped because it’s recommended.
“Although there is a part of me that feels bad, there are some that say it’s because Renate-sama’s reputation is too high.”
Lilia flips the top cover up and makes room for me to sleep.
“Well then, Your Highness. Please sleep for two hours.”
I don’t sleep much, but I close my eyes as I think about it.
Maybe I was more tired than I thought I was.
Within three minutes of my vision closing in, I fell into a deep sleep.
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