8. I Don’t Care, So Let Me Go Home!
It’s been a few days since I started my new role (LOL).
These days have been nothing but misfortune. Someone please, give me back my old, peaceful life.
Further, to my surprise, I’d been receiving invitations for tea parties from individuals that I’d never even spoken to before. And, they were all people from quite high-ranking houses at that.
Thanks to this, whenever my father and mother received a letter, they passed it to me without looking at the address. It’s mixed in with the ones addressed to you, father. Father, mother, is it really okay to not look through your own mail?
Well, I rejected all of them. They’re all about Irene-sama anyway!
For the first time, I was glad to be born into a house with relatively low standing! I’m grateful, really. Father is a bureaucrat but has given up on career advancement due to his weak stomach, so that wasn’t a problem. Even the fief was self-reliant – facing a coast so fish were plentiful, while producing and consuming our own goods – so it was difficult for other territories to exert influence over us.
Well, I’m not sure about big brother, though. I didn’t understand my brother who recently looked like an empty husk repeating: “It’s over…” I don’t know what that’s about at all.
I had refused the invitation to last night’s party without question. Really, all this is making me feel like our house is being completely underestimated!
“Isn’t this a nice color? What do you think Magna? Does it suit me?” I asked, spinning around. I grinned at myself in the mirror and asked Magna for her opinion. Though, I’ll only accept compliments, okay?
“Yes, the soft green of the skirt looks beautiful in the light. It looks great with your odd, blonde hair, milady.”
Argh! That was one word too many, Magna!
…Although, it’s true that if you asked a hundred people, around sixty would say: “…Isn’t it brown?” The remaining forty would laugh – half-heartedly – and ask: “Is it really blonde?” (This test was conducted in our fiefdom, by the way).
I’d prefer a simple compliment, but because I’m feeling generous, I’ll just pretend that she said I look great.
After all, part of the money from selling the jewel that His Majesty had given me was used to buy this dress!
I had to start with convincing father, mother, and brother to sell the jewel. Father – who had been incredibly suspicious that it was a royal family heirloom – had it appraised by a jeweler he knew. It took a while, but we were finally able to exchange it for money.
It might have been stingy, buying only one dress, but the rest of the money will be saved for my dowry (though I have no partner in mind). I can really feel my family’s love! So, let’s be content even though the dress was only semi-ordered.
“Cute! How cute! You look good, Ria.” That’s my best friend, Sara Wales, praising me.
Unlike me, she has sparkling and straight golden hair. I had always envied this. Today, we’re having a tea party to try on the outfits we’ll be wearing when we attend the function tomorrow, which will be hosted by Irene-sama. (I don’t want to go). It’s just the two of us, though.
“Thank you, Sara. I’m glad I chose this! As expected, you have a great sense of style!”
“Of course, I do.” I’d praised her a little exaggeratedly, but she replied earnestly. Sigh. “Oh, by the way, Ria. It turns out at that party you were invited to, the one hosted by a frontier count, His Royal Highness made an appearance.”
Phew! I’m so glad I refused!
Usually, I only attend the balls hosted by the royal family. He’s showing up to harass me, isn’t he? Yeah, that’s got to be it.
“It must be nice being chased. You’re so popular Ria. Hmm, it sounds like a lot of fun.” Sara giggles. How mean! Even though she’s my best friend…
“It’s not fun, it’s not fun at all. In fact, I wish you’d take my place, Sara-sama.” Yes, that’s right! If someone like Sara, who was as pretty as a doll, was there, then she’d be able to take all the attention away from me. I could even run away as she distracted them! “It’s only fun for you because it’s someone else’s affair.”
Hmm, if we’re talking about the King’s handsome younger brother then Sara would definitely suit him better.
The person in question narrows her eyes, as if seeing through my intentions to push him onto her. “Besides, you’re tea time friends with His Majesty, you’re definitely moving up in the world, Ria.”
I swear, I hadn’t told Sara about being the ‘Official Venting Partner’ or anything. It’s need-to-know information involving the royal family, after all. Her knowing was definitely strange. How did she find out?
Actually, it’s okay, I don’t want to know. Yeah.
Considering the day after tomorrow, I will exercise my right to remain silent. (Even if it’s useless). I didn’t say anything, Your Majesty!
Sara leaves me alone after that, drinking her tea gracefully. I’ll have a cup too. Then, she says as if it’s nothing: “Oh, weren’t the spies of Duke Dilaver there too? They even came to my house.”
Whoa! (Oops, I spilt my tea).
Hey, hey, what are you saying, phrasing it like: ‘You know, right?’
“W-what?! I didn’t know that at all! Wh-when did they go to your place?”
“Oh my, is that so? They came yesterday.”
Yesterday? Yesterday, yesterday…What happened yesterday? C’mon brain!
I’d woken up in the morning and smelled freshly baked bread, so I’d thought it would be a good day. For the rest of the morning, I’d read books and written rejection letters. For the first time in a while, I’d eaten lunch in the garden with my big brother. The smoked salmon sandwich was delicious. I’d embroidered with my mother, interviewed some people for a new servant opening, and then in the evening – as oysters were in season – our entire family had a full course meal with them. After spending a nice time with my family, I’d returned to my room, finished a book and had a great night’s sleep.
Just when did the spies come to our house?
“Did they come without me knowing?”
“No, there were more interview candidates than usual, right? They just mixed themselves in with the regular ones.” Sara said plainly.
I’m unable to feign calmness.
…Indeed, I thought it was strange that there were thirteen people, when usually the turnout was closer to two or three. Oh, I really had thought that at the time, hadn’t I? I’d thought “Our family’s finally hit a popular moment!” and celebrated with father, hadn’t I?
“Of course, I thought it was weird, that is—”
“There’s a limit to bad acting, Ria.” Of course, only one person had been hired. Father and I had been happy about their competence, too.
“I’ve always wondered this, but how do you choose?”
“Oh, luck! Hmm…it’s intuition, really.” So, I just pick someone that seems capable of doing the job, right? Then, mysteriously, they end up being perfect for the work.
More pressingly, Sara seems to figure out exactly when a spy enters our house (it’s only happened a few times, okay?) Just how does she do it?
“Intuition…? Really, Ria, you’re so funny.” Oh my god! Cut it out with that expression! You’re scaring me, Sara-sama! It’s like a hungry dragon staring at a huge chunk of meat. No, a dragon doesn’t even convey the pressure that I’m feeling. It’s as if an ancient, evil dragon was smiling at a gold nugget. “Oh, but this time I repelled the spies that came to our house.”
“Oh, how unlike you. How’d you manage to do it?” Normally, I’d pretend not to notice.
“Hmm, through the willpower of ‘oh, people are trying to mess with my best friend’ I suppose.”
Hey, don’t embarrass me like that. Hehe, that’s my best friend for you!
“And, I’ve been kind of bored lately. It seemed like it would be fun.” That’s just my imagination, right Sara? Ahh! That face! It’s even scarier than before! It’s like an ancient, evil dragon intent on capturing its prey: a thief trying to steal the golden nugget!
How scary. Well, it’s still preferable to the Knight Commander’s expressions though. Still, she’s quite the terrifying woman.
…Hmm? Could it be that I’d become this brave because of Sara?
Well, whatever. “I’m glad you enjoyed yourself.”
“Oh, thank you,” she replied.
That’s how our happy tea party continued.
 Okay, major correction here. The guy that I’ve been calling the second prince is actually the Royal Prince. Meaning he’s the current king’s brother. This explains, like so much. I’m so sorry for the mistake! m(｡_｡；))m