* * *
It was my first time going out to town. As I got into the carriage, Mercy gave me a hat.
“People are very interested in His Majesty and the other leading figures of the uprising, so it’s better that you use that.”
“They’re interested in me, too?”
“His Majesty is advocating for you so extensively. Honestly, it would be more difficult to find people who don’t know you.”
I had absolutely no idea because I never went out of the palace, but it seemed like my name was already known.
The utterly loyal individual who was the only one with him inside the tower. And, it’s rumored that the place where she and Albert stayed was exceptionally brutal.
After that, Rosé participated in the rebellion and made great contributions, for which she was rewarded with a jump in status—from a maid to a noblewoman—and right now, she was a loyal subject who Albert favored very much.
And she was a powerful mage… or so the story went.
Honestly, I couldn’t help but think that Mercy was exaggerating. I was a woman, and Albert was a man.
But even so, I was a maid, and Albert was the king who was ruling over this country. It’s impossible for me to be accepted just purely based on the reason that I had received his favor.
Mercy watched my reaction, and it’s as if she could read my thoughts perfectly.
“Over there, can you see the people following after the carriage?”
Mercy pointed to the back of our carriage.
As I turned my head, I looked out the back window to see people waving.
And they were all beaming.
“After His Majesty stabilized the power balance inside the palace, the first thing he did was to distribute food. That was proof enough that Rosteratu had been deceiving his people.”
“And whenever His Majesty goes out to meet the public, he always mentions that it’s all thanks to you that he managed to leave the tower. It’s only natural that the public sentiment towards you is bound to be positive.”
Every single move was planned meticulously, just like how the electricity spell had been. Seeing the knowing smile on Mercy’s lips, I realized again just how considerate Albert was of me.
He was aware of how much I was bothered about rumors, and so he was handling them well.
What kind of gift could I give to a man who was as thoughtful as him? It had to be something he would like.
After all, I knew just how beautiful Albert was whenever he smiled sincerely.
With how thoughtful he was, and with how lovely his voice was as he would call my name.
He likes how I call his name. He likes potato soup, and he likes reading books at a spot beneath the shade in an otherwise sunny room.
But there were so many things about him that I didn’t know just yet. What’s his favorite color? What kind of music does he like best?
Maybe Mercy knows? She’s known Albert far longer than I have, so she might know that side of him.
“About the Prince, I mean, about His Majesty. Would you happen to know what he likes?”
Mercy’s eyes grew wide, then she shook her head.
“I don’t know. Honestly, I think you know him better than I do.”
“No way. You’ve known him much longer than I have. We can’t ignore the time you’ve spent knowing each other.”
“It’s been a long time, sure, but I only know as far as His Majesty’s face. Really, I still feel awkward seeing him smile. It’s probably the same with the Duke and Schubert, too.”
I don’t think I could believe that even Schubert was the same. He’s the one who seems to know Albert more than anyone else.
Facing me, Mercy raised one hand and drew a line in the air.
“His Majesty isn’t the kind of person who’ll reveal his feelings to just anyone. He looks like he’s open to people, but there are always walls around him.”
“You’re the one who opened his heart. The walls around His Majesty that no one during his entire life had been able to break down.”
Mercy sneaked right in front of me and asked.
“How in the world did you do that?”
“…Nothing, I just acted normally.”
I was flustered. I really didn’t do anything.
But as she heard my response, Mercy hummed and crossed her arms in front of her.
“Well, you’re the only one who knows the answer.”
“Then, shall we get off?”
I alighted the carriage with Mercy. We arrived in front of a large three-story building, and there, a woman was waiting for us.
As soon as the elegantly dressed woman saw us, she bowed politely and took my hand in both of hers.
Her gaze as she looked at me was overwhelmingly sparkly.
“Hello, Lady Rosé Artius. I am Crowell, a designer from this boutique. It’s truly an honor to meet you!”
Her enthusiastic greeting was entirely sincere, not a hint of dishonesty anywhere.
With a perplexed expression in my face as my hand was in her grasp, I noticed that other people were starting to surround the carriage.
More and more people started staring at me, them with their dresses and their hair up. Their curious gazes stung more than I expected.
It seemed as if a majority was looking at me unfamiliarly, but… I felt conflicted.
Honestly, it’s as if I’ve become a zoo animal that’s being gawked at.
“Yes, that person…”
Even if they hid their lips or faces behind folding fans or parasols, they were still talking loudly enough to hear. Umm, maybe this is a high society thing?
I still have one more month until I’d have to deal with this in earnest. It crossed my mind that maybe I should start getting acquainted with them, but can I do well?
After living in seclusion for so long, I forgot how stressful human relationships are.
Albert himself was a complicated man, but it wasn’t all that hard to match his tune.
But it’s not like all the people in the world were the same. Now that I’m here, I recalled the many kinds of people I met at work before.
Researching how I’ll survive being Blanc’s contractor is already a headache enough…
Reality seemed to be catching up to me little by little.
Okay. I’ve made up my mind.
It’s something I’d have to go through later anyway, so let’s just take it easy. The stress of being the center of rumors was one of the reasons why I wanted to distance myself from Albert, but…
Well, if it’s too hard, I know that I can just ask Albert for help.
But I don’t want to rely entirely on Albert.
So, I smiled at them.
There’s a saying that goes like this: You can’t spit on a smiling face.
It’s important to make an unquestionable first impression.
Comments for chapter "Chapter 160"
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