< — The Ducal couple — > (8)
TN: Thank you for not complaining and letting me translate at my pace. It really helps XD. Also, since I don’t really split in the middle, more like ‘oh this seems like a good place to stop’, my part 2’s will generally be pretty short. Finally, there’s a poll below, please do if you can.
The first tea party was pretty small. She had invited a total of eight people, mainly wives of the duke’s vassals and elderly noble women. She followed Jerome’s advice on whom to invite and the atmosphere of the party stayed amicable.
Lucia was a bit nervous at first but after she got to her seat, she realized there was no need to be nervous.
The social system here was a different one from the one in the capital where you had to be ready at any time to fight tooth and nail in such gatherings. In the north and as the Duchess of Taran, she was already in a superior position.
They all exchanged pleasantries and were harmonious so there was no needless consciousness of her mood. If Lucia had used her authority and hurt any of these old lady’s pride, no matter how much they laughed in front of her, the instant they were at her back, they would heap criticisms.
Lucia kept her courtesy at a level where it was not too much but neither was it too little but this was Lucia’s first time being the host for a tea party.
In her dream, Count Matin pestered her excessively to socialize but he never supported her properly. After all, once you open a tea party once, you have to keep opening one.
Throwing a tea party once and then deciding to quit was not something one could do. There was also the fact that throwing tea parties regularly cost a pretty good amount of money.
Count Matin was a miser who would grasp money tightly and wouldn’t let go. On that subject, her body was pretty lenient on her considering what she ate and used.
Although Lucia’s experience as a host was lacking, for many years, she had attended countless parties in her dream. Even though it was mainly from having listened to someone else’s words and then hastily putting it into action, experience was experience.
All the noble women in attendance were experienced madams. The atmosphere of the party flowed well even if Lucia did not take the lead. Or rather, the elderly noble women were easier to handle than the young maidens.
There was no need for the needless exchange of nerves, prominent amongst young female nobles and everyone here was in a relationship where they would be seeing each other’s faces for a long time so there was no need to hide what they wanted to or not wanted to say.
As she listened to the conversations of the madams, there were times where she’d join in the chat or even laugh. The ones who were surprised were the noblewomen. The young Duchess was now 18 years of age but she was not nervous in the slightest.
The women here had daughters or even granddaughters of the same age as the Duchess, but compared to the Duchess, their children could only be described as immature.
‘Indeed, a princess.’
‘She’s full of elegance.’
‘To think she’d be so steady.’
Lucia was merely one of the common princesses in the palace but she was of the royal household. In the northern social circles, it was a big occasion for one to go to the capital and visit the royal palace and for the nobles, the status of a princess, even if it was just one, was an existence they had to look up to.
Compared to those her age, she was unusually calm and they had all accepted her with dignity and elegance. The older they were, the more satisfied they were with the young Duchess’ serene appearance.
The young Duke of Taran was a very rash, coarse and hard to approach opponent so the relatively mild Duchess was very appealing to these noble madams.
“Soon, are you going to open up a grand ball? My granddaughter told me to definitely ask you.”
“No, there is no plan for that yet. I prefer this, just accompanying the madams to talk about trivial matters. A ball is too noisy and complex.” (Lucia)
“That is a very good point. If you open up a ball, the younger ones will be the ones coming over to play.”
“I agree. Drinking until dawn and then staggering around doesn’t look so good.”
The noble madams swiftly supported that. Memories of themselves playing around in their youth seemed to have simultaneously disappeared from their minds.
“Please excuse my rudeness.”
Jerome came into the terrace as their conversation was reaching its peak. A tea party was an event for women alone, even the people serving were to be women only so it was customary for men to not interfere.
“Is something the matter, steward?” (Lucia)
“I apologize for disrupting your Grace’s enjoyment. His Grace sent a present to celebrate your Grace’s first social event. May it be brought in?”
The expressions of the madams filled with excitement at once and they exchanged glances. With her face slightly red, Lucia gave her approval and maids filed in. They all held beautiful flowers in their bosom. It was a feast of beautiful red flowers; roses, tulips, chrysanthemums, geraniums…
It was indeed an assortment of red flowers. The maids began to put them in every corner of the terrace, they put some in vases, then they started to decorate all around the table.
Very quickly, the interior of the terrace was filled with sweet floral scents. At the very least thousands of the flowers were fully bloomed.
“Oh my, oh my goodness.”
“I never thought the Duke would be such a romantic person.”
No matter how old they got, women loved flowers. The madams tossed away their etiquette and cheered happily. Now that they had grown older, the fluttering heart for love that they had in their younger days had waned but upon witnessing this unexpected romance, their passion was rekindled. Having received this unexpected gift, Lucia’s heart also beat faster.
“You say His Grace sent this gift…did he have any words for me?”
The experienced steward did not panic at her question.
“He hoped that you’d take kindly to the theme for today’s present.”
Lucia’s eyes widened slightly then she gave the steward a soft smile.
“You’ve done well, Steward. I would like to give his Grace my thanks personally.”
Continuously, till the tea party ended, the noble women mentioned how envious they were of her. Surrounded by them and their words, Lucia’s face reddened till it looked like one of the flower petals. Lucia gave each one of them a bundle of flowers to take with them as they made to leave.
Even then, there were still many flowers remaining. The noble madams returned to their homes, extremely satisfied with the beautiful present that was neither overbearing nor lacking.
“You’ve worked hard, your Grace. Looking at the bright expression on the faces of the noble madams, it seems that they all enjoyed the tea party.”
“I also enjoyed myself and you too have worked hard, Jerome. But, I have something to ask.”
In that instant, Jerome’s shoulders stiffened. These days, her Grace rarely went on the offensive.
“…Yes, your Grace.”
“The flower present. His Grace did not order it, right?”
Jerome frantically exclaimed despite himself and asked her a question. As Jerome slowly turned pale from astonishment, Lucia couldn’t help but chuckle.
“At first, I had thought it was a gift from him. I would have been deceived if you hadn’t said anything after that. ‘He hopes that you’d take kindly to today’s theme’. That person is not the delicate type. How could you not know him better than I do?”
If Jerome had said that his Grace had no words for her, she would have thought that the gift was something Hugo had sent.
“Ah…that…Your Grace. W-well, it..it’s…”
Lucia warmly comforted Jerome who was stuttering pitifully.
“It’s okay. Thank you for the present. Jerome.”
“Your Grace! It’s not like that. His Grace really wanted to send a gift but he did not know what to send. That’s why I sent flowers…”
“Yes. It’s the truth. Please trust me, your Grace.”
Lucia examined Jerome whose complexion was pale and stiff with doubtful eyes then gave a low hum. His expression looked so pitiful she decided to drop the topic here.
“Your Grace, it truly is.”
“I said I understand. I will give my thanks to his Grace.”
In a different way, Jerome was now difficult to deal with. If she were to give her thanks personally to the duke and something went wrong…but at this point, she couldn’t say no. Even if he meant well, undeniably it was an act to deceive her.
“I shall be sitting here for a little while longer. The flowers smell very nice.”
“Yes, your Grace. Shall I bring you some tea?”
“I’ve already drank a lot of tea. There’s no need to.”
Jerome withdrew and Lucia sat for a while in the quiet terrace, enjoying the scent of the flowers.
* What do you guys like better? Butler or Steward? Let me know in this poll: https://www.strawpoll.me/15511763 .
Or you can comment. Either way is fine.