Hugo heaved a sigh when he saw the firm determination in Kwiz’s eyes.
A high position only gave immense headaches, there was nothing good that came out of it. The fact that he frequently went home late was something he really didn’t like. When he got back late, he could only see his daughter’s sleeping face while she got prettier every day, he couldn’t eat dinner with his wife, couldn’t take a walk with his wife, and he was even having a hard time getting some fun at night.
However, being close to the King was definitely convenient. He needed the king’s help in order for Damian to take over his position.
“It is not my hobby to work unpaid.” (Hugo)
“…Gong. Do you know what kind of position you are sitting in? If this king were to offer the position, there will be a string of people lining up to kiss this king’s feet.” (Kwiz)
“Then give it to one of those in the line.”
Kwiz groaned loudly.
“What do you want? I’m curious if there is anything this king can give you.”
“I need a title.”
“A title? What are you using that for?”
“I plan to introduce my son to the social circle at this New Year party.”
“Hoh. Is your son already that old? How old is he?”
“He will be thirteen soon.”
“But what title is given so early? There has never been such a case.”
A young successor may inherit a title due to the loss of his father, but such situations were very rare.
“Then this will be a new precedent.” (Hugo)
“I promised my son that I would help ensure that his succession is unshakable.”
“Alright. Alright. I’ll begin the process.”
“Is it possible to be ready by the New Year party?”
“Do you think titles are made and spat out overnight? There are a lot of procedures to get there.”
“Then, Your Majesty can do simply do the conferment ceremony at the New Year party and have the procedures done separately. And while you’re at it, please give me another title.”
“You want me to give two titles to your son? What’s he going to do with two?”
When Lucia heard that Hugo was going to ask the King to grand Damian a title, she was concerned.
[Damian just made a friend, so I’m worried that his relationship with his friend might become strained if his position suddenly rises.]
Hugo planned to resolve his wife’s concerns by giving Damian’s friend a title too.
“I would like it to be given to the second son of Marquis Philip.”
“Why Marquis Philip all of a sudden?”
“The Marquis’ second son is my son’s friend.”
“…so because he is Gong’s son’s friend. In other words, you’re going to give him help from behind?”
“In any case, he’s the second son of a Marquis so he’ll be getting a title someday anyways.”
Kwiz massaged his temple. Bestowing a title wasn’t something as simple as giving candy to a baby. Granting titles was the King’s sole unique right. It was a weapon for the King to use as much as he wished to coax the nobles who loved honor and reputation.
If a privilege got overused, its value would fall. There was a limit to the total number of titles that could be given out. Titles were returned due to circumstances such as a lack of descendants and so on, or the successor that was supposed to inherit the title from his father returned it, creating a vacancy. Therefore, there weren’t many titles that the king could bestow every year.
“Let’s be materialistic for a little bit. The responsibility that follows in accordance to the title held, isn’t an easy thing. What is going to happen to taxes? Your son aside, do you think Marquis Philip’s young second son can afford to pay taxes?”
People who received titles when they were around 20 were usually successors to their family. The children from second son and below usually received titles after they got married or they received a large residence on a piece of land from their father. There were also many cases where they didn’t get anything at all. The title-based tax was one of the reasons why it was important.
“Your Majesty can give him a title with tax exemption and that solves that. I can satisfy the tax deficit with another cause.”
Kwiz fixed Hugo a stare then he gave a deep sigh.
“It must be really nice to handle everything so simply, Gong.”
“If there’s an issue due to the limited number of titles, I can make two vacancies.”
“I will deal with that on my own.”
The way he would deal with it was most likely frightening. Kwiz wouldn’t put it past the Duke to reap two lives in order to make vacancies. He decided to be a benevolent king and save the two poor unknown lives.
“This king will handle that matter.”
When Kwiz thought about it, he wasn’t losing anything. Marquis Philip was a noble in the Royalist party and he was an inflexible person when it came to aristocratic politics, so he was someone that Kwiz trusted as a close associate. By gifting a tax-exempted title to the Marquis’ son while listening to the Duke’s request at the same time, he could lord it over both parties. In addition, the Duke of Taran said that he would repay the deficit from the tax-exemption. He had been given a lot of work to do during this holiday, but he could bear it.
* * *
The sight of two men in tailcoats standing side by side in the lounge on the first floor wasn’t something one saw every day and even the employees couldn’t help but look from time to time. The gazes of the maids stayed especially longer. Some of the maids hid in the corner of the hallway and stole glances at the pair of father and son.
Their outward features of dark hair and red eyes were distinct but eerily similar like an image, but one of them was taller and more well-built, while the other, the younger one, radiated maturity. When you looked at the smaller, and younger one separately, you could see a perfectly grown youth, but when they stood side by side, he looked like a young boy.
“Her Grace is blessed indeed.”
“I know what you mean. I mean, the first day I saw the young master, I thought ‘what chaos is this’.”
The sudden appearance of the Duke’s grown-up son made people feel sorry for the Madam for a while. But as the maids watched the two men obediently listen to whatever their wife or mother said, they were jealous of the Madam who had obtained such a wonderful and filial son without going through the trouble of carrying him in her belly and raising him.
The maids who were peeking at the edge of the hallway, discovered the butler when he was clearing his throat and they were frightened. Upon seeing the butler frown, they flinched and quickly scuttled off.
Tsk. Jerome clicked his tongue as he watched the maid scattered, then with a tea tray in his hand, he approached the pair of father and son, who were standing idly, not saying anything to each other.
From her spot on the top of the stairs, Lucia watched her husband and her son, drink tea together, and her cheeks were stained with red. Antoine, who was right next to Lucia, also looked in the direction of her gaze and clasped her hands together, showing how moved she was. She was filled with joy to see the tailcoats she had personally made be worn by perfect creations.
‘Ah, my masterpieces. It’s perfect. It’s fantastic.’
As gentleman’s tailcoat consisted of only two colors, black and white, so although they all looked similar at a glance, it was a garment unique to noble parties. Designers put a lot of work into making delicate designs to overcome the limitations of the two colors. A gentleman’s tailcoat was in a more profound field than a noblewoman’s flashy dress.
Lucia commission Antoine for all the outfits for this New Year’s party. When Antoine first saw the small Duke of Taran, she held her chest and staggered, expressing her feelings in an exaggerated manner. She was excited to have new material to work with and made a bunch of tailcoats for Damian.
Antoine insisted that all of them had different designs but to Damian, they were all the same, so from his standpoint, he had to go through the trouble of trying out the same outfit many times.
Hugo’s tailcoat had the classic design of a high-class item that exuded sharpness. Antoine judged that it was more attractive to show off the Duke’s icy impression than suppress it. So, she chose the most basic design with no useless and unnecessary decoration, and put a brooch gemmed with rubies as the focus of the outfit.
Damian’s tailcoat was lined with dark blue fabric on the sleeves and collar, and the black base material shone with a blueish light when it was illuminated. It was a different design from the conventional practice so far of using just plain black fabrics. It wasn’t an outfit that an elderly person could pull off, but it blended well with Damian’s fresh and youthful aura, so it was luxurious without sacrificing formality.
Damian was momentarily stunned, looking at Lucia. It was his first time seeing Lucia groomed and draped in a party dress. Her silver dress, with elaborately woven fine beads, shone like butterfly wings reflected in sunlight. Her reddish brown hair drooped over her pearly white shoulders. It was only after Lucia came down the stairs with her hand in Hugo’s that Damian regained his senses and politely kissed the back of her hand.
“You look beautiful, Mother.”
“Thank you. You look dashing yourself. You will definitely be the main focus today.”
“I think you will be the main focus today, Mother. They all will not be able to take their eyes off you.”
Lucia burst out laughing. Damian was usually blunt and taciturn, but sometimes he said things that could shake a woman’s heart surprisingly well. Lucia alternated glances between father and son, and thought to herself, ‘as expected, like father, like son’. When she saw that Damian’s gaze was fixed on the second floor, she reassured him.
“It’s fine. Eve is asleep. She won’t wake up till tomorrow morning. Just enjoy your time at the banquet hall. Don’t worry about Eve.”
Lucia climbed into the carriage escorted by Hugo and Damian. She had once vaguely imagined that such a day would come. When was that? Lucia was filled with excitement and felt like she was dreaming.