< — Damian — > (3)
“It’s a pleasure to meet you for the first time. My greetings are late, I am Damian.”
Damian approached the Duchess and bowed his head, keeping an appropriate distance.
“Ah…nice to meet you.”
Damian glanced sideways at her when she replied in a gentle tone.
‘Is she too shocked that she can’t understand the current situation?’
There was no hostility or disgust in the amber colored eyes of the Duchess. Maybe she was yet to put her emotions in order or she was a high-level actress. Damian couldn’t decide yet.
Her appearance alone was different from the image he had pictured. He had imagined a lady filled with the pride and gracefulness of a princess. She looked more like she was filled with innocence and gentleness, than pride and gracefulness.
He couldn’t understand why Ashin had answered evasively when he asked him if she was pretty.
‘But she is pretty…’
“Milady, the young master just came back from a long carriage journey and mentioned he would like to rest.” (Jerome)
“Ah. He should get some rest. I know how exhausting a carriage trip can be. It’s around the time for lunch, has he eaten?” (Lucia)
“…He’s not in the mood for it.”
“Even so, he can’t continue to have an empty stomach till evening, he’s at the prime of his growth. Steward, have them prepare something easy on the stomach and bring it out. For dinner too, prepare something that digests easily.”
The boy who had been silently staring at Lucia, bowed his head and followed a servant. When the boy had gone far enough that he wouldn’t see her, Lucia grabbed her reddening face with both hands.
‘Oh my goodness! So cute!’
He was a mini Duke! He was the childhood of the Duke that Lucia had not seen. It wasn’t just his appearance but his stiff and cold expressions were practically a carbon copy.
Jerome was worried that her Grace would be shocked but when she turned her head, her eyes were twinkling.
“You said he was eight, right Jerome?”
“That is correct. The young master was born with an uncommonly huge physique.”
“I see…Indeed, I don’t think it would make any sense if his son was small.”
“He’s a much cuter child than I expected. Looks kind too.”
The word ‘cute’ was definitely not a word that matched the young master. It may have during his early childhood but definitely not now.
And kind? Where did she see that? The young master resembles the Duke in looking like he wouldn’t bleed even if you stabbed him. Her Grace’s eyes were questionable. (1)
“If I say I want to have dinner together, would it be uncomfortable?” (Lucia)
“…If Milady isn’t uncomfortable, then…” (Jerome)
“Uncomfortable indeed. I’m looking forward to dinner tonight.”
Jerome watched as the Madam left the receiving room cheerfully then fell into deep thought. The Madam had the completely opposite reaction that the normal person would have.
It was the tragic situation of a new bride marrying in and within a few months of marriage, her husband’s older son shows up. The Madam’s reaction was definitely not normal. Maybe she didn’t know the seriousness of the situation or maybe the Madam was just someone with no discretion.
Jerome then grabbed Ashin and pulled him into the steward’s office. He glared sharply at Ashin while Ashin was trying his best to avoid the gaze on him, his eyes wandering all over the ceiling.
“What the hell is going on, Sir Ashin?”
“What do you mean?”
“Why did you not tell me that you would be picking up the young master?”
“That… well, I thought you already knew.”
“Even if you thought that way, you should have informed me or Milady.”
“…that…His Grace didn’t give any instruction to do so…”
Jerome grabbed him by the neck. It wasn’t like Ashin was a rookie that had just become an administrative officer so was that something a secretary like him should say? For someone who had worked for as long as Ashin had, he should have figured out the Duke’s nature by now.
The Duke had the tendency to frequently give orders without the process to carry it out, and if one person could pass on his words to others, then that was the end of that. He had no interest in whether his subordinates communicated with each other or not. It was all on their heads if there was a problem due to lack of communication. Which is why the vassals of the Duke would often have short meetings among themselves to check if there were any holes in their knowledge.
“Do I have to point things out to you to that extent, Sir Ashin?”
Occasionally, there were some areas where the usually swift Ashin would have his flexibility drop to the bottom when it came to work regarding the Duke. It was strange.
Jerome heard a knock as he was about to continue speaking and shortly after, the door slowly opened and Fabian’s head peeked in.
“What’s going on? Oh, Sir Ashin, It has been a long time.”
“Fabian! It has been a while. Then you brothers can sort yourselves out… I’ll just…”
They shared a brief handshake, lightly knocked their shoulders and as soon as the greeting was over, Ashin felt as if he had given a rope to survival and immediately scurried off.
“What’s the matter?” (Fabian)
Jerome sighed deeply.
“It’s not a big deal. Master isn’t here right now, what is it? Didn’t you hear he was going to deal with the barbarians?” (Jerome)
“I know. I received a different order so I came here. It seems like the young master is here?”
“He arrived a little while ago.”
“Your expression doesn’t seem good. Is Her Grace very unhappy?”
“No, it’s not like that.”
Unhappy? She liked it so much that even her steps grew lighter. Jerome gave up on explaining to Fabian because Fabian would just call it nonsense. He would allow Fabian to see it with his own eyes.
“I was suddenly asked to bring the family registry document so was wondering what was going on. The young master is back, huh.”
“Although I don’t know if Her Grace has given her consent. How are those two these days? Is His Grace still in his honeymoon mood?”
“Watch your words.”
Jerome seemed very unimpressed with the topic as he frowned intensely and Fabian awkwardly shrugged his shoulders.
“What about the capital? Anything new?” (Jerome)
“There’s always something new in that place.” (Fabian)
Fabian recalled an incident that had caused a racket in the high society not too long ago. Roy Krotin, the current escort to the crown prince, beat a knight of a Count’s family half-dead.
It wouldn’t be a problem if it was a legitimate duel but the duel was quite undefined. It would be correct to say that the knight was suppressed by Roy’s skills but the method was controversial. Roy provoked the Knight by not drawing his sword; saying that if he was made to draw his sword, he would admit defeat, causing the opposing knight to blow his top.
And Roy beat up the knight that jumped at him with his sword, like a rag doll.
When Fabian first heard the news, he was speechless but afterwards, he couldn’t stop laughing. He knew that Roy was someone his lord often wreaked havoc on, to beat sense into him.
Sure enough, there was controversy as to whether it had been a fair duel. The count ran around asking what type of duel that was, meanwhile at the crown prince’s side, when the Crown Prince heard that Roy had crushed them with his skills, he had burst into laughter.
And so, thanks to this, Roy suddenly and swiftly became the center of interest in the high society. Fabian found the situation extremely hilarious but he didn’t think Jerome would find it funny too so he just kept it to himself.
“Ah right. These days, there’s a rumor floating around, about the mine that His Grace gave as a dowry.” (Fabian)
“Why has that turned into a rumor?” (Jerome)
A dowry was a private matter that only those involved in the exchange should know about. For the receiver, it said how much one sold their daughter for, and for the giver, it said how much money one paid for their wife. Due to this, for appearances’ sake, it was the proper courtesy to not talk about it.
“What do you think? It’s obvious who spread it. The King must have boasted about it so it spread.” (Fabian)
The two brothers clicked their tongue in disapproval at the senseless king.
“Anyways, that’s why all sorts of rumors are flying around. They say that because Her Grace is such a beauty, even if a man looks at her from afar he would fall for her, so His Grace fell for her at a glance, gave away his entire mine and dragged her to his estate so that no one could see her.”
Honestly speaking, Her Grace wasn’t that beautiful. Looking at the sight of Fabian giggling away, Jerome clicked his tongue.
“Milady is beautiful.”
“…Did you eat something wrong?”
“Mmn, the problem is you poking fun at other people without any basis. That’s too much…”
“What’s too much? His Grace doesn’t care about things like rumors.”
Was it really like that? Jerome had a hunch that his master wouldn’t be indifferent when it came to rumors concerning her Grace. He was almost certain of it.
1. Basically it’s saying that they are tough men to the extent that you have to wonder if they truly have blood in their veins.