120. The Battle Maiden is Raising a Black Dragon (10)
Apparently, the pond Jill had jumped into was located in Princess Natalie’s palace.
Natalie, whom returned with Jill, gave quick instructions to her ladies-in-waiting. While the maids were busy drying the wet princess, Jill was allowed to bath first. She was even lent a change of clothes.
“I’m alright. It’ll be annoying if a child like you were to dirty the palace, so go and get dressed. I don’t want to be blamed if you were to catch a cold.”
While turning her face away, Natalie snapped at Jill.
…She’s a good person. But, she’s also a bit ‘tsun’?
Surely, at that point, Natalie was sixteen years old. Jill desperately tried to recall her—
—however, her train of thought stopped the moment she noticed her appearance.
The dress which had been lent to her was black. Not only that, the sleeves were plump while a ribbon was tightly wound around the waist. Lace peeked out from the hem of the skirt which fluttered softly. To top it off, there was also a white apron.
“Um, does this outfit belongs to a maid?”
“What? Do you have any complaints? The only clothes your size are the servants’. Or, would you like to borrow one of my childhood dresses?”
Natalie glared at her from the drawing room to which Jill shook her head.
“No, that isn’t the case. I’m just wondering if a child this small can already work in the palace…”
“What are you talking about? You’re also below the age of fourteen, right?”
Thinking that Jill’s question was odd, Natalie raised her eyebrows.
As such, Jill had no choice but to pretend that she was a little girl.
After some contemplation, Natalie finally dropped the matter and explained.
“…Well, no wonder you wanted to die. Indeed, children under the age of fourteen can already work in this palace. However, that’s but a pretense—in truth, they’re actually candidates. That emperor has penchant for little girls, after all. Therefore, he needs comfort1.”
Jill managed to suppress her objection.
“Those three dukes are good-for-nothing. The maids they recruit are but gifts for that emperor. Originally, the emperor’s penchant for little girls was but a rumor, but he confirmed it himself after that announcement of his. Can you believe it? He said he’s married to an 11-years-old! Ever since then, little girls have been gathered from all over the place—huh? What’s wrong?”
That was the reason why Listeard lamented about their financial difficulties. Hadith absolutely refused to allow the recruitment of maids and other employees. However, aid fromthe houses backing him and the princess were another story. In the end, some underage maids had to be hired in the imperial palace.
Well, the reason I was chosen as the Dragon Princess is because I’m under the age of fourteen… no wonder people misunderstood Hadith as having a penchant for little girls…
As long as Jill was present, Hadith didn’t have any reason to look for a bride under the age of fourteen. Despite that, the emperor having a penchant for little girls wasn’t the problem here—
—there was also the fact that the emperor loved wearing aprons.
In short, there was nothing majestic about that emperor.
Natalie offered a chair to Jill who was slumped. Perhaps, she was sympathizing with Jill.
“For now, sit down. I’ll brew tea. Moreover, I’ve also prepared sweets.”
“Really!? Thank you!!”
“Leave us alone.”
After the maid had finished preparing sweets and tea, Natalie dismissed her. Then, Natalie sat beside Jill.
“If you’re at loss over what to do, I can help you.”
Confused, Jill asked in a low voice.
“Are you listening properly? C’mon, now, I’m the one who helped you. You can serve me instead. Even if you’re alone, you’ll manage. I’m a princess. You’ll be allowed to go enter and leave the palace from the back.”
Natalie raised her chin. That was when Jill realized, she hadn’t given Natalie her name.
To Natalie, Jill was a child who came to work in the palace and had just been made aware of the fact that she was to be offered to the emperor. Natalie probably thought that was the reason Jill tried to end her life by jumping into the pond.
“U, uhm, Your Highness Natalie, actually, I’m—”
“Older sister, Natalie—?”
Jill stopped talking as she turned to look at the origin of the bird-like voice.
From the slightly opened door, a little girl was peeking in. She had fluffy golden hair, and azure eyes. The girl was holding a big stuffed animal—it was a long-tailed white tiger doll.
“Frida? What’s wrong? Come in.”
Jill blinked at the name Listeard had occasionally mentioned.
It certainly belonged to the third princess who was still eight years old. That girl was scared of Hadith and always refused to come out—she was none other than Listeard’s little sister.
After being called by Natalie, Frida softly shook her head.
“There’s… a stranger.”
“Ah, you mean, me?”
When Jill asked back, Frida quickly hid behind the door. As Listeard said, Frida was shy.
“It’s alright, Frida, this girl will be serving me from now on.”
“Is that… so?”
It was hard to verify the third princess’ expression.
“F, for the time being, I will stay here and listen…”
“There are also sweets. C’mon in. Don’t be scared, you’re a princess, after all.”
Only after being beckoned by her half-sister, Natalie, Frida entered the room like a frightened animal.
***T/N: Let’s hope Hadith didn’t see Jill in a maid outfit…
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