Chapter 10 – I was invited to a tea party
As the seasons changed, it finally became summer. I, Katarina Claes, became nine years old.
For birthday presents, father gave me a lovely dress, and Keith got me a flower bouquet. As for my mother, she gave me a mountain of books on manners.
Prince Jared brought me a somewhat expensive looking necklace for some reason, but…… Because I can’t accept such an expensive thing, I refused with all my might. Still, the prince insisted on giving me something, so I asked for watermelon seeds. I wanted some fruits in my field.
When I asked for seeds, the prince froze solid for quite a while, but he did send me some splendid seeds the next day. I immediately planted them in the field. When the watermelon is ripe, let’s share some with the prince.
By the way, my doting father seemed to have wanted to celebrate a big birthday party for me, but…… I really hated the idea of it, and mother also said “please stop as it would only further expose our embarrassment.”
However, it seems that the social debut party upon reaching fifteen years old was unavoidable for a family of the Duke’s stature.
“I’ll figure something out before then,” said mother enthusiastically, and my Spartan mother powered up the horrifying etiquette lessons even further.
My long-sought after magic tutor has finally arrived, and magic training began. My magic tutor taught me that “interacting with oneself’s own source of magic power does not mean interacting with the earth,” apparently making a field wouldn’t strengthen my magic after all. However, since it’s now become a hobby, I’ll continue with it.
A few months after beginning magic training, Keith was able to considerably improve his control over magic. He is quite the stepbrother indeed. As for me…… well, I was able to improve Earth Thud from two, three centimeters all the way to seven, eight centimeters. To me, this is quite something. At this rate, I should be able to control an earth golem as freely as Keith pretty soon.
And in this way, even though I can’t say that everything was smooth sailing, I had a daily life that was fulfilling in its own way, but……
“……Hmm. I wonder what it is.”
I let out a huge sigh and squatted in the field.
Standing by my side, was my perfectly cute stepbrother that I had taken to, and Prince Jared who had been coming over for the last three days to see his fiancee.
“What’s wrong? Nee-san.”
“What’s the matter? Katarina.”
Keith and Prince Jared asked me.
I showed them a corner of the field.
“Look at this.”
The vegetables I pointed at were completely wilted. Even though it’s almost time for the harvest…… this doesn’t seem like it will bear fruit.
“This, is something I have planted and taken care of.”
I was downhearted. Why…… Only the place where I planted and took care of……
In the previous life I wasn’t very good at taking care of plants. From a morning glory flowerpot, to the loofah plant that everyone had in school, everything I took care of wilted.
But, I have been reincarnated. This time, I’ll definitely be able to raise them well! …… Is what I thought. I stared sadly at the wilted vegetables.
“Nee-san, aren’t you just tired from working too hard? We should take a break here.”
“That’s right. Katarina, you should get some rest here.”
The drooping me was comforted by both Keith and Prince Jared, and both of them held out their hands to me. They stared at each other while holding their hands out.
“Prince Jared, I’ll be taking nee-san. It’s fine even if you don’t come to visit her all the time!”
“Since Katarina is my fiancee, I’ll be taking her. Keith, you don’t always have to stick so close to Katarina all the time!”
Two people that had almost no contact in the game, were now getting along great. They were both laughing at each other, and both seemed to be having fun while talking.
And so, after giving them a sidelong glance, I went back to staring at the wilted vegetables and gave another loud sigh.
“Katarina, you’ve been invited to a tea party, would you like to give it a try and go?”
“A tea party?”
I listened to father while talking with a mouth full of bread. And, since mother glared at me, I swallowed the bread in a hurry.
“That’s right, a tea party. Since you’re nine years old already, how about trying to attend one?”
Tea parties here, seem to be common here for noble children around nine or ten years old to have in order prepare them for their social debut at age fifteen. It serves the purpose of allowing noble children of similar age to interact with each other.
“Impossible! Katarina has no manners whatsoever!”
My reply was forcibly interrupted by my mother.
“Well, even if that’s so…… it might be beneficial for her to learn by getting some real practice once in a while. And this time, it’s our relatives inviting us, instead of some other family, so I think it’ll be perfect for her first time.”
Father glanced at me briefly. Huh? What did father just say? Why is he looking away?
“……Indeed, maybe if she got some real experience, she could learn some etiquette……”
Mother looked at me with empty eyes. Why does she have those eyes?
“Oh yes, how about letting Keith tag along. If Keith goes, I’ll be relieved.”
“Yes, indeed. I’ll be more at ease if Keith goes too.”
Mother agreed with what she considered to be father’s good idea.
In the few months since Keith’s come here, his evaluation has been quite excellent, unlike his older sister.
“Keith, would you go along with Katarina to her tea party?”
“Yes, I’ll be more than happy to accompany nee-san.”
Upon being asked by father, Keith replied with a smile.
Huh? Even though I’m the older sister? Why am I being accompanied by Keith like a burdensome useless child?
Even though there were many points that were hard for me to swallow, thus I went together with Keith to attend my first tea party.
After very strict etiquette training from mother, accompanied by lots of nagging, the day of the tea party has finally arrived.
Father had a new dress specially made for me to wear to this tea party, and like so Keith and I arrived at the party organizer, Marquis Hunt’s family.
“Katarina-sama, Keith-sama, thank you very much for participating in our family’s tea party today.”
The person greeting us was the eldest daughter of the Hunt family, Lilia Hunt. She is a fourteen year old girl with honey-colored hair and eyes, the year right before she’s expected to make her social debut.
There were three girls standing behind Lady Lilia. They were probably all Lilia’s younger sisters. The Hunt family had four girls, including Lilia.
Lilia’s sisters began greeting us in order. The second and third daughters greeted us while smiling. Both of them had hair and eyes that looked very similar to their honey-colored older sister. I returned their greetings as gracefully as I could remember how to, with my mother’s lessons.
And then, after those two finished their greetings…… From behind them, one more girl walked out nervously.
“…… Pl, pleased to meet you. I’m the youngest daughter… M, Mary Hunt.”
She gave her name with a voice that could be barely heard, and her auburn hair and eyes was nothing like her sisters.
However, her large eyes and nice pink lips made her a very cute beauty. Meanwhile, I elegantly greeted her just as how I remembered with the others. And then, as soon as the greeting was over, Mary immediately retreated behind the others.
I wonder if she’s scared of my villainous face? Even though this face says “The Villain” but I certainly won’t bully you.
While becoming a little sad, I watched the Hunt sisters greet the next guest.
By the way, about this time’s tea party –
I promised mother that I would try to speak as little as possible, and just smile. I’m not allowed to stuff myself full of sweets. I must drink tea little by little. I must not roll up my skirt even by mistake. Mother told me all this while sticking to my ear so closely like an octopus.
Therefore, as I was allowed to, I just smiled gracefully, and sipped my tea.
This tea party’s buffet format consciously mimics high society’s dance parties.
The Hunt sisters were continuously greeting various other noble sons and daughters, they just kept coming, without giving them any time to have tea.
They repeated the greetings, walking all around the room several times before noticing, that they had finally finished and were dead tired when they were ultimately able to have their tea.
As for me, I was trying my best, to control my hand and only take a few cookies. Oh my? This cookie is delicious. Yeah, I’ll have one more. I’ll have another. Oh, there’s a muffin in a place like this. I’ll try one.
At any rate, there sure are a lot of sweets left. Since most of the guests were chatting with each other, these prepared sweets have barely decreased at all. Such a waste. ……If there’s any Tupperware I want to take some home. I wonder if I can borrow any Tupperware from the Hunt family.
Suddenly, I jumped up involuntarily when my stepbrother appeared from behind. While I was watching the greetings Keith had imperceptibly been standing behind me.
“You surprised me. Keith, you finished going around greeting everyone without incident?”
“Yep, just about finished with everyone. That aside, why are you spacing out here?”
“You couldn’t have been thinking about taking the extra sweets back home, could you?”
Keith is amazing!? What is this child, an esper? So awesome. Why is it that you know what I’m thinking.
“Amazing. You know me so well!”
“……I know you so well…… isn’t what you should be saying, nee-san. If you do such a thing, the Claes’ family dignity will become suspect. And if mother finds out, you’ll be banned from eating sweets for a while, nee-san.”
“…… Ugh. For sure.”
The other day, when I ate a cookie that fell by my bed during etiquette training using the three second rule, I was banned from eating sweets for three full days as punishment for eating it. If I get discovered trying to bring sweets home in Tupperware, I’ll probably be banned from eating sweets for three days to a week. That would be quite troubling…… Even though it’s regrettable…… I guess there’s no helping it.
And since I can’t take any of it back with me…… more and more of the sweets lined up ended up in my mouth suddenly. The promise with mother was forgotten to oblivion.
Keith said several times “that’s enough already, nee-san” and tried to stop me but I told him “just a little more” and kept devouring the sweets.
I mean, it would be such a waste since there’s still this much remaining. Besides, everything is so delicious.
Oh, this is also delicious. That one too, and this one over there…… As a result, I got carried away eating too many sweets and got a painful stomach ache.
I told Keith who was worried about my strange appearance that I was alright, and walked myself slowly in search of a restroom.
I asked a servant where the restroom was, and he offered to guide me, but I rejected that and ran towards the restroom on my own. If I’m guided there while trying to act graceful, I won’t make it in time. And somehow, I barely made it in time……
I had been running so desperately that I didn’t even know how to get back to the room with the tea party anymore. While the Hunt mansion was not as large as the Claes mansion, since they were a Marquis’s family, the mansion was still quite splendid. Briefly speaking, it didn’t seem likely that I could return to the tea party on my own. If only I could meet a servant, and ask the way back……
Like this, as I was walking around absentmindedly… A beautiful vision entered my sight. There were flowers spread out in some place sort of like a courtyard.
They were so beautiful that I ran up to them on reflex. Then, I saw a girl standing in the flowers all by her lonesome.
Having heard me, the confused girl noticed my presence and addressed me.
“……K, Katarina-sama. Why are you in a place like this?”
Oh yeah, thinking back, this girl seems to be the youngest daughter of the Hunt family that I greeted earlier, Mary.
“……Uh, just a little change of pace.”
There’s no way that I could tell her that I gave myself a stomach ache by eating too many sweets, and even got lost and couldn’t find the way back anymore. Since there way no way I could say it, I told a suitable white lie.
“As for Mary-sama, what are you doing here?”
Setting the matter of the lost me with a stomach ache aside, shouldn’t it be bad for the daughter of the party organizer to be here?
“……I’m, not, too good with really lively places……”
Mary said so with a quiet voice like when she greeted me and her head down. Even though she’s such a beautiful girl, it’s such a waste when she has her head down like that.
……Anyways, it must be that she’s scared of the villainous face…… However, if I use this villainous face to tell her “I definitely won’t bully you,” it’s quite likely that I’ll scare this pitiful beauty even more. For the time being, I’ve got to let her know that I mean her no harm!
“Th, this garden is quite something. All these flowers are really beautiful.”
For the time being, I’ll talk to her while trying my best to smile without giving off any villainous vibes.
However, what instantly came out of my mouth was my true feelings.
This garden was really beautiful, even more amazing than the one that the Claes family had. The flowers were all gorgeous in their full bloom. The gardener-san here must be really good at raising plants.
……That’s right!! I got a great idea. The person that brought up these amazing flowers, would surely also be able to revive my wilting field.
As soon as I thought of it, I asked Mary.
“Hey, Mary-sama, would it be possible for you to introduce the gardener-san responsible for this garden to me?”
“To the gardener-san that can grow such gorgeous flowers, I would love to be able to consult them on something.”
To the bewildered Mary, I begged her by all means possible, while breathing hard. Then, I heard her soft voice yet again.
“……It, it’s me.”
“I’m the one that’s taking care of this garden.”
What’s this!? Mary’s taking care of everything by herself!?
“Mary-sama’s taking care of it!? This entire garden!?”
“No, not everything by myself, just the flowers and plants that you see here are what I’m taking care of.”
So, this location’s wonderful blooming flowers are all Mary’s handiwork……
“It’s so amazing that you can create such a fine garden! How on earth did you get all the flowers to bloom beautifully like this! There must be some secret technique! Or some secret to the soil!”
“……Uh, uh, Katarina-sama.”
I was so excited that I had edged up to Mary instinctively. Then I noticed that the pitiful beauty had been completely scared by my excitability and rough breathing. Oh no…… I was too excited. I took a deep breath, and tried to smile as elegantly as possible.
“Well, by all means, I would like to request a consultation with Mary-sama that created such a garden.”
I told Mary about my field that was wilting before the summer harvest. At first, she asked me if I made the field myself, and was very, very surprised to hear that I had, but she listened to me seriously about the condition of my field. I was relieved to see that her expression was no longer as frightened as it was before. Then, she finished listening to the story.
“……Since you’re putting so much trust in my abilities, I would love to be of some help, but…… I’ve never grown vegetables before, so, I can’t say anything by just listening to your story. I’m really sorry to not have been of any help.”
“Well then, how about coming over to my place?”
To Mary who was bowing her head in sadness, I simply said this at a critical moment.
To the puzzled Mary, I argued vehemently that she would most definitely be welcome to come over.
This is a matter of life or death for my important field. I don’t want it to have a life like that of my previous morning glory and loofah plants all over again.
And then, as I desperately persuaded with Mary to the breaking point, I was finally able to obtain a promise of coming out to see the field herself. However, when I said “it’s really good to have met you,” I was rejected……
Well, I became happy at getting her promise, and was guided back to the tea party after that by Mary without any problems.
Then, Keith who had been worrying about me that disappeared for a long time scolded me, asking me exactly where I had been. Somehow, it feels like the positions of older sister and younger brother have been completely reversed.
Thus, I completed my first tea party safely without messing up big time somehow.