“Eh, we’re staying here in the royal capital until tomorrow?”
“Yes. Tomorrow, I’m to attend a tea party and meet some nobles to make connections. After all, we couldn’t even greet anyone at the House of Lords.”
“So that’s it. Then, I’ll wait for you guys here tomorrow.”
“No, you’re attending as well. You’ll be accompanying me as my retainer, is what the earl said.”
We were staying at the earl’s place, and we just finished a luxurious dinner served for the master of the house that had just returned after a long absence. Since Kamil didn’t have noble status himself, he hadn’t attended the meeting at the House of Lords earlier, and I had just informed him of our change in plans for tomorrow.
The two of us had remained in the dining hall after dinner to talk, while drinking the tea that the maids had brewed for me. With the influx of refugees and the incident of Viscount Galbaito’s death, there were so many things that had to be done, I finally felt like I could relax a little bit for now.
“So, this means that the earl is seriously trying to make me into Charlie’s retainer, right?”
“What are you saying, at this late hour. It was probably decided from the time that you accompanied me at my birthday celebration.”
Kamil tilted his head slightly as if he had just realized it, but I was shocked at how late he seems to have recognized it himself. My birthday celebration wasn’t about unveiling me only, but also showing who was going to become my vassal in the future.
“—. Mmm…… that’s so. Sorry, it’s nothing.”
Kamil slowly shook his head. It was as if he was trying to rid himself of his thoughts. “I’m sorry to have said something strange,” said Kamil as he smiled, it felt like there was a mix of feelings, and for some reason my voice got stuck in my throat.
“Excuse me! Eija-dono, I’ve brought your letter!”
The words that I was about to say were interrupted by a certain someone rudely rushing into the dining hall without even knocking. Even though it’s after eating, Claudia was like a typhoon and showed no decrease in her energy level at all, and she had charged straight into the dining hall. And what’s more, this time, she’s gotten my name completely off the mark.
“I’m so sorry! Elise-dono’s letter that she entrusted me with, I forgot about it until now!”
She headed straight for me and held out an envelope right in front of my face, and she rushed so fast that she ran right into the chair’s backrest. It’s good that there had been a cushion, but if this had been a normal chair, it surely would have left quite a bump.
“No, no, I’m being taken care of by you now, so something like this is nothing to me!”
You’re declaring that this is nothing, but no matter how I look at it, it’s impossible for covering two days worth of distance on horseback by yourself all in order to deliver a letter to be considered “no big deal.” As expected, I don’t understand this girl.
As I received the letter, I could clearly feel my cheek twitching again. – At that moment, I suddenly recalled a phrase from my previous life. That’s right, her sort of action is known as “ruining the mood.”
Kamil next to me had fallen into stunned silence at the sudden intruder. Oh yeah, come to think of it Kamil hasn’t talked much with Claudia before, and he probably didn’t even know that she was already here today. Uwaa…… I had no room in my heart for squealing like that.
“You’re having tea together after dinner? Can I join in?”
Why does her expression seem so excited and sparkling at a few mere teacups on the table, I wonder. Just as I was about to sigh and say something, Claudia already flew off somewhere.
“I still haven’t even said anything yet……”
“……Eh, wasn’t that Claudia-sama? Why was she here? Come to think of it, how did she get here?”
Kamil seems to have finally accepted the situation in front of him for reality, and finally spoke up in a rather confused voice. That’s…… before I had time to explain the situation to him, Claudia returned here from the hallway. She had a mountain of sweets in her right arm, while her left hand was dragging along a maid with a teacup and saucer.
In the end, we were forced to accompany Claudia, and drank tea until it was so late at night that we were reprimanded by the maids. Such a small child is still up at this time! is what the old maid said as she pointed at me glared at Claudia, maybe she knew Claudia from before as well, there was no mercy in her lecture. As expected, even Claudia slunk out of the room as if she had wilted, and I took my letter as Kamil and I returned to our rooms.
It’s now late at night, but there’s still things I want to do before I sleep. I sat at the writing desk with a piece of paper, and opened an ink bottle in order to begin writing a reply.
Unluckily, there had been cracks in the film sealing the ink bottle, and the ink spilled. It got all over my right hand, the desk, and partially on the paper I had just brought out. I sighed as I wiped myself and the desk with a cloth. I couldn’t get the ink out of the paper, oh well, paper is used for writing on anyway.
And so I finally began to read Elise’s letter, her handwriting was quite slender, I felt like I could tell how weak she was even through the way she used a pen.
After beginning with a standard greeting that conformed to noble etiquette, she began talking about how she’s began walking around outside, what she’s seen, about herself, and her interactions with the people in the mansion. It was very Elise-like, nothing but gentle scenes with a peaceful heart.
As I continued reading the letter, the topic changed to worry about me and how busy I’ve been the past few days.
Unlike Claudia who moved about freely outside the mansion, the last time I had seen the sickly Elise had been on the day I received the news about the refugees. It’s only natural for her to be worried.
It’s not really that good for a girl who’s supposed to have come here for recuperation to be worrying about me. Even a little bit of stress can cause her illness to become worse.
I wrote an appropriate reply, and just in case I missed something, I checked over Elise’s letter again. There seems to have been a postscript written casually on the back of the letter, so I scanned its contents.
P.S. I would like to meet Eliza-sama’s distant relative, Elise-sama. I heard from Bellway-sama that she also has a weak body like me. Since she’s also named Elise and is sickly as well, I’m really curious……
Just what exactly is that Bellway doing.
I entrusted him with the care of the child locked up in the innermost part of the mansion, but I didn’t expect that he would make the mistake of allowing the person with the name she’s borrowed, Elise, to find out about her.
Of course there had been a reason for me to go to the trouble of allowing guests, and then giving the same name to that child. It’s in order to not give accurate information about the mansion to the outside.
Because she had a weak body, the original Elise would be limited from meeting people, and the child that was nominally sick and had the same name was also limited in the contact allowed to her. It’s because I want to limit the knowledge of that child’s existence as much as possible.
With two sickly Elises in the mansion at the same time, if information ever leaks outside, it could be confusing to others. If it’s an ambiguous story, the information about the Elise that’s been entrusted to me will be mixed with that child’s information. That’s what I’m aiming for.
Of course, there was no way I could let the original Elise know about it herself. But, it seems that the other “Elise’s” existence has already been exposed to her. This won’t be easy to hide anymore.
……Elise and Maya, will be returning to the Sherstok domain after at most three years. During this time, as long as Elise remains in my demesne, and doesn’t leave the mansion, hopefully it won’t be a big problem.
While praying that more information about that child wouldn’t become more widespread, I ignored Elise’s postscript. Since it had been written all the way on the back, a reply wasn’t expected.