Chapter 57 – Mother-in-law…
But it was all in his head. Once Helen noticed that Ciel was standing some distance behind her, she greeted him politely with a casual expression.
“I didn’t know you were here, Your Grace.”
“No, I just arrived. Um, it’s a good day out.”
“Do you think so? It seems like an especially hot day today…”
Feeling a bit flustered by Helen’s response, Ciel replied with utmost courtesy.
“If it’s alright, I would like to have a cup of tea with you…”
“Tea with me?”
She didn’t expect to hear this, and so she was taken aback for a moment. Even so, she spoke to the servants nearby who were awaiting her instructions.
“Bring these to the usual place as fertilizer.”
After the servants left, Helen answered Ciel.
“My maid shall lead you there. If you can wait a moment, I’ll have the tea prepared and meet you there.”
Leaving behind the baroness, Ciel followed the maid into the mansion and was led to a drawing room. After Helen changed her clothes, she soon arrived with another maid.
He watched as aromatic tea was poured into their cups, and he waited for the baroness to dismiss the maid before opening his lips to speak.
“It’s very fragrant.”
“Thank you. It’s an herbal tea made from herbs I’ve dried myself.”
Ciel was surprised to know that she made this herself. He was expecting to hear that these were high-quality tea leaves manufactured elsewhere. He had never heard of tea leaves being made at home.
Taking notice of his pure surprise, Helen answered.
“As you may know now, Duke, it’s not just a hobby. My family can’t afford to buy high-quality tea leaves, so we just make do with what we have.”
Ciel was savoring the light flavor of the aromatic tea, but he nearly choked as he heard this. Indeed, he couldn’t help but be taken aback by the way this family carried themselves—like aristocrats, but not aristocrats.
“Mmh… I admire your resourcefulness.”
“Thank you for your kind understanding, but I’m sure you must feel that we don’t live like other nobles would.”
Ciel had never felt so tongue-tied before, and he felt a sense of wonder again about why was it that his back seemed to be sweating.
Setting down her cup with an elegant gesture, Helen continued.
“I’m aware that you met my husband before this. Isn’t that why you came to see me?”
“…You’re right. I’m here to ask you for a favor, Baroness.”
Without another word, Ciel took out a pouch that he had prepared beforehand and placed it on the table.
“I’m not done with my business here at the Closch estate yet. I hope that you can let me and my brother stay here for a while more…”
A keen look in her eyes, Helen asked immediately before Ciel was even done explaining.
Trying not to make a big deal out of it, he replied.
“Just fifty gold coins.”
Ciel’s ducal household owned various properties across the country, and whenever he had to travel, he could just stay in one of the many townhouses he owned.
Sometimes, however, when he didn’t have a townhouse nearby around the area he was in, he would stay in another noble family’s residence and pay them a certain amount for their hospitality.
Even if he was welcomed because he was a duke, there was a difference between repaying and not repaying the courtesy he had been given. Briefly, he recalled the viscount household he visited before, and the viscount kept beating around the bush about this…
However, as Ciel noticed the baroness’s increasingly hardening expression, he felt his posture gradually straightening out due to the tension in the air.
When he first saw her, he already thought that she wasn’t just an ordinary noblewoman, but right now, he was getting nervous for some reason.
Because Lady Closch was his wife, the baroness was technically his mother-in-law.
This idea struck him like a lightning bolt, but after realizing this fact, it clicked in his head perfectly.
Why did it occur to him only now? It was so right that he felt stupid for realizing belatedly. He used to hear this saying in Korea, that love for the son-in-law comes from his mother-in-law, but why… Why was she looking at him with such sharp eyes?
Evidently displeased, Helen slowly opened her lips.
“I apologize for not being able to serve you more satisfactorily due to my family’s financial situation. But I never asked for this.”
“…I just don’t want to burden you, Baroness.”
“It’s not that I don’t understand Your Grace’s intentions, but you doing this is making me rather uncomfortable.”
Ciel was completely lost. He didn’t know how to respond to Helen’s firm attitude now. He had never met a noble who didn’t like gold coins, so it was right to say that he was just baffled right now.
Usually, they would pretend to be modest at first, but would later tuck the pouch into their inner pockets. He had no clue on what to do next, whether he should take the gold coins back or insist again that she should take it.
At that moment, like a helping hand, a knock could be heard on the door.
“Mom, are you in there?”
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