Interlude 24 – Concerning a certain custom of nobles


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– Arthur PoV –

“Hello, I’m glad to meet you. I’m Arthur von Benno Baumeister.” (Arthur)

“It is I who should be glad to meet you. I’m Amadeus Freitag von Breithilde.” (Breithilde)

Once I recall it, it was a weird greeting.
Though I’m currently retired, I served as family head of the Knight Baumeister household for more than 30 years, but it’s the first time I have met with Margrave Breithilde who is our patron.
Usually that’s highly improbable, but the Great League Mountain Range between the previous Knight Baumeister territory and Breithilde Margraviate made that a reality.
Now that I remember, it was the previous Margrave Breithilde whom I greeted while on the way to the capital to appear at the peerage succession ceremony after the sudden death of my father.
Accompanying the merchant group on their return to Breitburg, I greeted the predecessor together with Klaus who was at that time as young as I was and familiar with crossing the mountains. The former Margrave Breithilde had us lodge in his mansion until our departure with the magic airship’s flight towards the capital.
The fare for two people for the round trip with the magic airship and the inn costs in the capital were a little expensive.
In reality I wanted to go by myself, but even as a poor Knight I was hesitating to go to the capital alone and thus the expenses got costly.
Nevertheless, since father died from sickness previously, I had to take the peerage succession ceremony as soon as possible.
Klaus, who shouldered the heavy-looking box with the armour and sword inside, looked apologetic for me having to be in charge of all our expenses.
Usually it’s very unlikely for an attendant to worry about such matters.
That means that we were poor to such a degree.
However, it’s also a fact that I got angry at Klaus for apparently taking me for a fool, once I saw that look from him while instinctively thinking that we don’t suit each other.
Klaus is excellent, but he was unable to cooperate with me.
This might have been the time when I realized it the strongest for the first time.
Even the chief retainers of the Margrave Breithilde household faced me with a look as if I was an idiot.
If one says that it can’t be helped, then that’s all there is to it, but it was something that made me feel offended after all.
However, that abominable lot was killed in action in the Demon Forest alongside the previous Margrave Breithilde.
It was a heavy blow for us as well, but it might be the truth that I felt gratified about just that one thing.

“Unable to restrain his foolish, rampaging heir, he is an incompetent family predecessor.”

“Err, well… I guess it would have resulted in a similar outcome even for me at that site… Unless it’s Wendelin-san.”

The current generation’s Margrave Breithilde doesn’t seem to be an arrogant person to the degree of his predecessor even though he is young.
It’s because he’s at least paying attention to such an incompetent, retired old geezer.

“It’s unnecessary for you to be considerate. I wasn’t able to make the decision for Wendelin to succeed. That’s why I’m an incompetent, former family head.” (Arthur)

“If you had done that, I have a feeling that there would have been a lot of opposition, but…”

“The other elder brothers. If possible, Erich? If I made that guy succeed, he might have used Wendelin skilfully. But let’s stop the idle complaints.”

“I guess so.”

I cease talking about the already impossible choices and possibilities. As a matter of fact, the reason why I was summoned by Margrave Breithilde is because it’s wrong as Wendelin’s father if I don’t decide something important.
If it was until now, it would have been impossible to arrive in Breitburg within merely a day even if I was suddenly summoned by Margrave Breithilde.
But nowadays I can arrive immediately if I board the magic airships which are regularly coming to Paul’s new territory where I migrated to.
The necessity to cross the Great League Mountain Range, while being ready for the danger of mountain sickness and attacks by wyverns and wild animals, disappeared.
Even the development of the territory is advancing well thanks to Wendelin’s magic.
Paul has formed a retainer group by calling his former guard colleagues and and their acquaintances. Accepting the fief’s residents who couldn’t stay in Knight Baumeister territory due to their involvement in the incident with Kurt, the population is exceeding 200 people nowadays.
You might call that an astounding speed considering it’s been only two months since Kurt’s death.

“The issue is about the 『arranged woman』, isn’t it?”

“Well, that’s how it is.”

You can’t call that an overly great custom, but before the heir of a noble or such marries, an 『arranged woman』 teaches them about women.
Since it would be a disaster if the heir couldn’t make children as result of ending up failing due to not being taught, royalty, nobles, merchants and wealthy farmers allocate such a woman to their heirs.
Mostly such women are only allocated to the succeeding eldest son, but there are also households which assign one to their second and third sons if they have economical leeway.
You might say it’s being handled case-by-case.
However, the selection conditions are severe.
Even for Margrave Breithilde, with whom I’m consulting, in front of me, it’s a problem to the extent of him being lost in thoughts.
First of, a prostitute is no good.
That’s because there’s the issue of illnesses.
Since there are also women who have problematic characters, there was even the possibility of them using it as material for extortion at worst or announcing their relationship to society on large scale.
Next, women with loose tongues or women with strong desires, even if they are respectable, are useless.
It will be known and become a rumour inside the territory anyway, but since she won’t be a formal mistress, it will be painful to watch if she clashes with the married wives later on.
If the man’s side tries to push her into the position of mistress due to being strangely pleased with her as she was his first woman, it would be a cause for a quarrel due to the inner ranking hierarchy getting disturbed.
The cases where the woman herself harboured ambitions and deceived the man weren’t few by no means.

“Aren’t there widows or such among the fief’s population?”

“There are, but they are the wives of dependants who were involved in that incident.”

Given that they are former wives of the accomplices of Kurt who tried to assassinate Wendelin, there was definitely no way that we could allocate one of them to him.

“I’m taking part in the consultation since I’m a man, but referring one with my household is harsh.”

If it was the heir of the old Knight Baumeister territory, Margrave Breithilde could have recommended one right away.
However, once one considers the influence of the current Wendelin, introducing an 『arranged woman』 unskillfully will cause criticism towards Margrave Breithilde if that woman does something unnecessary.
He also doesn’t want to take too much risk, I guess.
Having said that, it’s not like I can be relied on in this matter either.
That’s because the current me is a simple, retired geezer.

“It won’t work with passing a book or such?”

Given that it’s not possible to allocate an『arranged woman』 to all children, most of those below second son take lessons by reading such books.
Even the women who will become wives study by being shown such books by their mothers before their marriages.

“Though I feel ashamed to talk about something very private, how was it in your case, Arthur-san?”

“There was no special『arranged woman』.”

In my early days the women originating from southern territories had uninhibited natures.
Albeit being married women, they had affairs without batting an eyelid.
Moreover, as it was naturally impolite to refuse the invitation from a woman, I kept quite a few of them company.
But then, once the priest Meister-dono learned of it, that custom died out right away.
The me in those days, well, had his youthful indiscretions, I guess?

『What a slovenly custom! Can you boldly talk about such deeds to god?』 (Meister)

Meister-dono, who was an old person since those days, was usually gentle, but just at this time he got angry like a raging fire to the degree of scaring the villagers.
That fellow Klaus apparently looked at me with blaming eyes, but at that time I thought that I wanted him to switch with me in that case.
In spite of knowing how much the people are striving towards harmony within the territory, he was a truly detestable guy.

“For me it was the usual way.”

With his elder brother, who was the heir, having a weak constitution, it seems that such women were allocated to him who was treated as a spare.

“It was the daughter of a certain retainer in a humble position. She was a widow after having lost her husband in the early days.”

Naturally women, who are experienced, are chosen because they teach about that kind of thing.
Furthermore, given that the story will get complicated if there’s a husband, it’s always a widow.

“Finishing the relationship at the time of my marriage, it came to an end with me paying something like a fee for troubling her.”

It seems that that woman has now become the second wife of a certain elder retainer.
Of course she is staying silent as she had been given detailed instructions together with that retainer.
I was envious of Margrave Breithilde due to the fact of making her seal her mouth.

“How about Kurt-san?”

“We didn’t have such leeway…”

Since it was a confined, isolated territory, it’s easy to cause a problem if one allocated such a woman.
Therefore we had him make do by handing a book to him.
Now that I think about it, that part might also be included in the cause for Kurt becoming odd.
He might have asked himself, even though I’m the heir of a noble’s household, why is the treatment of heirs in other households different?
By no means do I believe that, but there is the bitterness that I can’t declare that this isn’t the reason with 100% probability.

“It’s a matter I’d like you to prepare by yourself, Arthur-san. But…”

“You want me to avoid the surroundings of the Earl Baumeister household…”

Since there’s a large quantity of fresh retainers in the rising Earl household, it’s possible that I will create troubles if I decide from the side.
If it’s a woman linked awkwardly to some noble household, it’s very likely that they will meddle in the affairs over there as a partner of the rising Earl Baumeister household.
Given that the formation of the retainer group hasn’t finished, it’s possible that they will rise to chief retainer with that as the reason.
With her becoming the favourite mistress and giving birth to a child, they will wield their influence as maternal relatives and try to push for that child to become the heir.
It’s a common story, but we should probably avoid that kind of danger.

“It’s troublesome, isn’t it…?”

“Yes…”

I wondered whether it would be fine to use the wives of the accomplices of the other day, charging it with the meaning of it being like a punishment, but once I considered it prudently, their age wasn’t a good match.
Since that lot was in the same generation as Kurt, even if they were young, all their wives are older than 30 years.
Although saying that is impolite, there’s no meaning if Wendelin loses his interest in women due to having forced a woman well past her prime with an age above 30 onto him.

“Wendelin-san is still 15 years old.”

There’s no point unless we allocate an『arranged woman』 that is at the most in her twenties and has quite the beauty.
I end up believing that it’s really an annoying custom.

“With the connections of our Burkhart… Let’s stop right there…”

“That employed magician-dono?”

“Since he is an extreme advocate of staying unmarried, he might be unable to introduce anyone but prostitutes, but…”

Certainly, I also think that it’s better to have stopped there.

“From among the fief’s population…?”

Be that as it may, as Hermann has already become the family head, I can’t use my influence in the Knight Baumeister territory.
That domain already belongs to Hermann.

“I just came up with it now, but how about that lady?”

Margrave Breithilde-dono raised the name of a certain person.
Certainly, if it’s that person, she fits the criteria perfectly.
However, the problem is whether the person herself will accept that.
That’s because it’s just after such an incident happened.

“How about trying to ask the person herself? You might say『Giving birth is easier than being anxious』?”

“That’s true.”

In the end we arrived at the conclusion that we would hand him a book if she was no good. I returned to Paul’s territory after buying souvenirs and such for the family in Breitburg.

◆◇◆◇◆

 

“You mean me?”

“I do believe it’s wrong to request such a thing from you at this time, but…”

◆◇◆◇◆

Returning to Paul’s territory, I secretly called that person to a place with no human presences after handing over the souvenirs to my wife and grandchildren.
My wife had a disgusted expression at that time.
Since I didn’t bring along Leila at the time of moving here after my retirement, it seems she’s thinking that I’m making a move on her this time.
Certainly, I don’t hate women, but I still believe to know right from wrong at such parts.
I think there would be side benefits in Leila’s case as well, but I decided to judge calmly for the sake of a stable rule of the Knight Baumeister territory.
I have no doubt that Leila considered it in such manner as well.
Although she properly gave birth to sons who would become Klaus’ heirs, that was just a job for her.
Actually at that time she didn’t express any kind of dissatisfaction even when she was unable to live in the main house.
It might have been just fine for her to meet only for the sake of having children.
Even so, she did her job sufficiently.
Even if she didn’t follow the retired me, I had no particular complaints.
The matter of Leila is set with that.
The problem is my wife.
I don’t want to make her worry unnecessarily as an old geezer who is past the half of his fifties.
The current me teaches my grandchildren archery and swordsmanship, helps in the development in my free time, and secures food by hunting and gathering.
I also took lessons in kanji and calculation in 50 exercises.
My wife had the role of teacher, but now that I consider it, it seems it would have also been great if I had given such a task to her.
At my time as feudal lord I always didn’t notice it with all my might.
Also, there might have been resistance by the conservative residents in the Knight Baumeister household at that time, I guess?
Now that kind of group has been intentionally retired by Hermann and they have lost their influence.
Paul is always lacking manpower as he only just began development.
Therefore it wouldn’t be seen as too much of a problem even if women such as wives helped with the paperwork.
This is also because of the changing times, isn’t it?
Returning to the story; it will be wrong for me as father if I don’t allocate an『arranged woman』to Wendelin who became Earl Baumeister.
Moreover, it’s necessary to carry it out secretly so that my wife and the other women don’t get aware of it too much.
I can’t hide it anyway, but since it will be weird to request it too boldly, I end up calling the candidate in such secretive manner.
If it’s a major noble, they can probably have a retainer, they can trust, do it arbitrarily, but unfortunately that was impossible for our current family.

“I think it’s inexcusable to request such thing even though you just lost your husband, but…”

The one I asked to become Wendelin’s『arranged woman』was Amelie, the wife of Kurt who self-destructed.
She fits the criteria quite well.
First off, she is an experienced person since she has two children as the former wife of Kurt.
As a widow there is no husband who will kick up a fuss. She is the wife of Kurt who is the principal offender in the attempted assassination case, but different from the wives of the other accomplices, she is a noble.
Even if the surroundings learned of it, it would be advantageous as people would accept it in the manner of her atoning towards Wendelin instead of her husband who died.
With her age of 27 years she doesn’t look like a woman beyond her prime because of her looking young due to her childish face.
She isn’t that much of a beauty, but Wendelin is on good terms with cute types as well.
Since she’s also a person who often reads books, her hobby matches with Wendelin, too.
I believer her to be the best option.

“Yes, I will do it.”

Unexpectedly she accepted my request readily.
Once she reassures me, she begins to talk about her reason.

“Although I feel sorry towards you, father-in-law-sama, it’s naturally in my own interest.”

“That’s justified.”

For her there are the two sons which were left behind from her time with Kurt.
With them being Wendelin’s nephews, it was planned to have them succeed the surname Meinbach, which is her parent’s home, and distribute territory to them once they become adults.
However, when I was asked whether that promise would be definitely kept, even I couldn’t nod right away.
I believe that the wives of Wendelin will increase from now on.
No matter how much that guy refuses, it’s absolutely impossible for it to be zero.
The reason is that he’s a part of noble’s society.
Of course plenty of children will be born, I guess.
And they will create branch families according to the social positions of the wives and the territory, which has still a lot of undeveloped areas, should be distributed to them.
What if the territory allocated to his nephews was disappointing as a result of Wendelin giving priority to his own children?
It’s a cruel story, but it would probably be pointless even if they complained to Wendelin who has become a major noble at that point in time.
That’s why she wants to definitely secure the future of her grandchildren by offering her own body.
Beyond Wendelin having his social position to consider, the probability of him not taking the wish of a woman, who had that kind of relationship with him, into consideration is low.
If you call that selfishness, it’s just that, but it also means that she was affectionate as mother.

“Sorry. I’m burdening you with hardships.”
With her just having married into our family, it’s nothing but troubles for her.
Certainly she didn’t expect to knit ropes with straw as daughter of a noble. Our eating habits are skimpy. Even though he was my son, her husband Kurt was a hopeless man.
Even though he had already obtained it, he lost his rightful peerage and territory. He plotted an assassination against his younger brother and got killed in reverse. Even I had no way to cover up for him.
Moreover there’s also the issue of me having secretly settled the affairs after his death.
Usually that won’t turn into a problem, but since that guy did something foolish, it resulted in an excessive drop in evaluation.

“I don’t know when Wendelin-sama will be able to come to you, but…”

It’s probably no good unless he coordinates his schedule with me.
I can’t openly tell my wife too much either. It’s necessary to inform Paul, but I don’t want to tell his wife in the beginning as much as possible either.
It will leak out if they do it for a while anyway, but at the beginning it’s likely better to keep the uproar low.

“Just make sure to brace yourself please.”

“Understood.”

Once I told that to my non-consanguineous daughter, I began the preparations in a hurry.

◆◇◆◇◆

 

– Wendelin PoV –

『That’s how it is.』

“Haa…”

When I was working hard at public work today just like the other recent days, the calling alarm of my magic hand-held communication device suddenly rang.
Once I take it out in a hurry, it appears to be a private and absolutely important matter from father.
However, I had no idea about that important matter or whatever.
Father has already retired and is helping in the development of Paul-nii-san’s territory.
I didn’t hand over magic hand-held communication devices to anyone but a select few, but father didn’t actually get one.
Given that I have handed Paul-nii-san one, he probably has borrowed that one and is contacting me with it.
In that case, does that mean that it’s a matter Paul-nii-san is aware of as well?
Once I ask about the concrete details of that important matter, he wants to have a talk after meeting directly.

“Elise, tonight I may not return to the mansion.” (Wendelin)

『Got it.』 (Elise)

Thinking that it would be wrong if I didn’t hear him out, I finish the public works and leap to Paul-nii-san’s territory with magic after contacting Elise with my magic hand-held communication device.
Paul-nii-san’s territory is still in the middle of development, but the territory’s people are brimming with energy.
Forming a retainer group consisting of people he got to know as a guard, the retainers brought along slum dwellers, whom they got to know during patrols and supervision, and had them cultivate agricultural land.
Continuing with the maintenance of houses and roads, the construction of Paul-nii-san’s residence in the heart of the territory is advancing at a quick pace.
Currently he is carrying out the governmental affairs and such in an old house which had been relocated by Baron Rembrandt. Once I showed up there, father and Paul-nii-san awaited me.

“I’m glad you came.” (Arthur)

“Umm… what kind of business do you have with me?” (Wendelin)

“Err, that is… Paul.” (Arthur)

“Haa… Since we don’t need tea, leave the room. Make sure that no one is eavesdropping outside the door. You guys do understand what happens if it gets leaked, right?” (Paul)

Paul-nii-san sent the servants out of the study, and ordered them to stand watch so that no one eavesdrops at the entrance.
It seems to be quite the important talk.

“Will it become a disaster if revealed to the outside?” (Wendelin)

“That’s right. It’s better if there’s only few people who know about it.” (Arthur)

As father’s expression is serious, it seems to be quite the crucial talk.

“So, what’s it about?” (Wendelin)

“Wendelin, you became an upper noble. In addition, you are an Earl-sama possessing a vast territory.” (Arthur)

“Haa.” (Wendelin)

“Once you become an upper noble, there are especially important matters. Do you understand?” (Arthur)

“Is it about governing the territory smoothly?” (Wendelin)

“That’s of course important, too. However, before that it’s necessary to have the household continue into the next generation and those afterwards by making children.” (Arthur)

“I have Elise and the others though.” (Wendelin)

Hearing father’s statement, I end up wondering whether he is trying to push a concubine onto me.

“No, it looks like I gave you a misunderstanding. It’s not a talk about concubines or such. It’s for the sake of you being able to safely make children once you marry…” (Arthur)

Once I tilt my head to the side because father’s speech isn’t to the point in any way, Paul-nii-san, who watches from the side, assists by throwing a lifeline.

“Simply put, Wend, you are unskillful as you are still a virgin. That’s what it’s about.” (Paul)

“Are you telling me to go buy a woman?” (Wendelin)

I’m against buying a woman just because I’m told to do so by my father and elder brother. Burkhart-san and Erw aren’t here either. It was something complicated for the current me.
Besides, this body is a virgin, but it’s not like I have zero experience, though I can’t say it was a great number, from my previous life.
I consider it to be unnecessary worrying, but since there’s no way that I can inform them of that, I end up being lost in thought how to refuse it.

“As expected, even I know that I can’t advise an Earl-sama to buy a woman.” (Arthur)

“Then, how about learning it from a book?” (Wendelin)

Which reminds me, there were such books in the library of my parent’s home.
They were hidden horizontally in the inner part of the bookshelves so that their covers couldn’t be seen, but I remember that I didn’t feel like reading them much due to their questionable illustrations, going by my taste.
That was the moment I was once again made to realize that Japan is the best in that kind of field.

“No, there are『arranged women』for such times.” (Arthur)

It’s only vaguely, but I can imagine the general meaning of the word.
In short, it’s likely about getting experience by associating with such woman before the marriage.

“It’s a word I have heard for the first time.” (Wendelin)

“That’s because we were the lowest rank as nobles.” (Paul)

As Paul-nii-san gives an explanation, it seems to be a custom to allocate a widow or such to the heir of a noble household as『arranged women』 .
They have an inexperienced man associate with an experienced woman.
However, it happens behind the scenes in absolute secrecy until that heir marries.
Keeping it completely secret was impossible, but they try to not reveal her existence to the wives to be married as long as possible.
You can call it something like a time-limited mistress.

“Haa, with an experienced woman, you say…?” (Wendelin)
“There are many widows, aren’t there?” (Arthur)

It will be troublesome if a husband exists. As there’s no point even if they allocate an inexperienced woman, it can be considered as natural that it resulted in widows playing the role most of the times.

“(However…)” (Wendelin)

This place isn’t Breitburg or the capital.
If the conclusion is an experienced widow, I have to take into account the possibility of an outrageous old lady appearing.
Now that I think of it, there was also a situation where I got taken along to a sex service on my way home from a drinking party with my company’s superior during my time as new employee in my previous life.
According to that certain superior, it was apparently a shop with the fame of having many beautiful mature ladies and a very good service.
It’s not like I have ED* either. When I was waiting for my female partner while being nervous as I had a normal interest, a pigmon*, which was older than my mother, appeared. (T/N: ED = Erectile Dysfunction aka you can’t get a boner – Pigmon is an aerial monster originating from Ultraman, google it for pictures)
How to call her!? She was clearly a trap-hole.
I got stuck hurling curses at the superior, who led me to this shop, in my heart.
I tried to somehow swindle my way out of it by doing nothing, but Pigmon was very faithful to her professional duties.
In the end I finished the deed while remembering a beautiful female employee who joined the company at the same time as me, but from that time I lost my trust in anyone.
Attractive mature ladies or widows being wonderful happens only inside literary works to the bitter end.

“(Father is saying it out of kindness, I guess…)” (Wendelin)

It’s probably because a noble household’s heir, who seems to not have an『arranged woman』ends up being regarded one level lower.
To say nothing of the current me who is an Earl.
Father prepared such woman in order for me to not lose face.
I’m thankful about that, but he wouldn’t be able to get anyone but a Pigmon-like woman with a considerably high probability.

“(Will I have an erection, I wonder?) So, what kind of person is that woman?” (Wendelin)

“She is 12 years older than you, Wendelin.” (Arthur)

It seems I was able to avoid a grandmother with the pretext of her being an attractive mature lady.
But, I wasn’t able to let down my guard at all until I have seen the actual person.

“Speaking age-wise, she’s around Amelie-sister-in-law-san?” (Wendelin)

“It’s that Amelie.” (Arthur)

“Huh?” (Wendelin)

“The one who was most compatible with the conditions is Amelie. The person herself accepted it as well.” (Arthur)

The person who will teach me about women, is in fact the widow of my elder brother.
Even though I heard it as partial joke, I ended up lost for words on the spot after being informed that she’s indeed my『arranged woman』.

◆◇◆◇◆

“Paul-nii-san.” (Wendelin)

“Sorry! Even I can’t help you in this case!” (Paul)

Once I went to father’s place after being called all of a sudden, I was told that a woman will be allocated to me who will teach me about women and that this woman was my sister-in-law.
There was absolutely no way for me to consult with others about this. Moreover, since there wasn’t much time left any more until the marriage, it turned into a talk about having me keep her company from today onwards.
It’s something I want to prevent somehow, but as it’s impossible to discuss this with Elise, I first ask Roderich whom I have given a magic hand-held communication device.
I end up being splendidly abandoned with『The options I have in this matter are… It’s completely a father’s domain』.
In addition there was the follow-up『I will keep it a secret from the madams』, but for some reason I didn’t want to thank him for anything.
Next I try to ask Burkhart-san.
『The other side has prepared her for free. Be at least thankful. Well, for free also means that she’s not expensive though. Don’t get deceived by that widow』 he says. I completely receive advice like it’s somebody else’s problem. (E/N: It is someone else’s problem)
In other words, he says 『Do it』 without caring about it overly much.
In a certain sense he seems to have something of an older, fashionable man.

『There’s still someone left! For such times!』

In troubled times at the crucial moment there’s Erich-nii-san.
If it’s him, he might be able to come up with a move to successfully dodge the matter somehow.
Thinking so, I tried to contact him while putting my last hope on him.

『It’s absolutely not allowed to refuse an arranged woman.』 (Erich)

Due to Erich-nii-san’s gentle but forceful warning, I have no ways left to retreat any more.

『Although he retired, father bowed his head to Amelie-sister-in-law-san in his duty as former family head.』 (Erich)

An『arranged woman』is assumed to be a present with the highest social status which a father provides to his succeeding son before leaving the household.
Though he tries to unexpectedly do that in secret, it apparently results in such treatment since the family’s head takes the responsibility for bringing someone in.
In addition, it’s not something any kind of household can prepare that easily.
Not preparing such woman happens often if it’s low-ranking noble family. Merchants and similar can’t prepare one unless they operate on large scale.
Using assets and connections, they allot such woman to their heirs even though it ends in a débâcle sometimes.

『It looks like he is giving her to you after choosing someone suitable, but I believe that father has struggled quite a bit in the selection of the woman.』 (Erich)

Refusing that is apparently a very rude conduct.

『Umm, Erich-nii-san, you too?』 (Wendelin)

『By father-in-law, to be honest.』 (Erich)

It appears that such a woman was allocated to him by Rüdiger-san and not father.
It seems to have been a widow through the connections of Viscount Mongérard after all, but the matter of fellow family heads secretly meeting and accommodating such wishes is also a proof that there’s mutual trust between both sides.
Both will be aware of the partner for the heir to lose his virginity.
For fellow nobles you can usually say that there isn’t this much mutual trust.

『Keep it a secret from Miriam.』 (Erich)

『As fellow man, that’s only natural.』 (Wendelin)

She might be suspecting it vaguely, but it’s wrong to voice it out.
There seems to be such a rule.

『I understand your feelings. Especially if I consider the relationship between you, Wend, and Kurt-nii-san. But, the surrounding nobles don’t consider it as particularly weird.』 (Erich)

I feel an ethical problem since she’s the former wife of my own elder brother, but there are no people in this world who think of it as especially odd.
I, who have the highest authority in that family, look after my sister-in-law who lost her husband.
This was something ordinary. This world isn’t that easy-going.
However, it’s not only receiving favours either. If she doesn’t properly do what she can, she can’t complain even if she’s driven out after being told 『I won’t support you any longer』.

『Amelie-sister-in-law-san is living in Paul-nii-san’s territory, but Wend, you are supporting her a lot, aren’t you?』 (Erich)

『Yes.』 (Wendelin)

I can’t say how much, but it’s a fact that I’ve been adding it to the aid for Paul-nii-san.

『The nephews will be given territory after they become adults. That’s right, isn’t it?』 (Erich)
『Yes.』 (Wendelin)

『Even if it’s Amelie-sister-in-law-san, isn’t she just worried? Such a great and selfish story, that doesn’t happen in the first place.』 (Erich)

If it’s another upper noble household, a person with a standing like Amelie-sister-in-law-san will apparently lead a mostly unfortunate life.

『Due to the scandal of the eldest son, the heir-ship of the main house changed to the youngest brother, but the young children of the eldest brother are still remaining. From the viewpoint of that youngest brother, the children left of the eldest brother are a nuisance, right?』 (Erich)

They are existences that are a hindrance to the succession of my own children.
In the worst-case scenario they would be killed by pretending that they died in a accident or to a disease.

『For us this possibility doesn’t exist, but whether the territory is safely distributed to our nephews depends on you, Wend. However, it won’t particularly become any kind of problem even if you annul that agreement.』 (Erich)

In the future, at the time when I would revoke that agreement, my authority would have become overwhelmingly large.
No matter how much Amelie-sister-in-law-san might complain, no one would probably listen to her, Erich-nii-san declared.

『I am…』 (Wendelin)

『I don’t think that you would do such a thing, Wend, but that’s also a fact in the worst case. As for Amelie-sister-in-law-san, she’d like to have a guarantee, right?』 (Erich)

If she has that kind of relationship with me, it will result in her seizing some sort of weakness of me and she hopes that the territory will be safely given to my nephews.

『Amelie-sister-in-law-san does it for the sake of her children. Wend, you have to think of it as her side benefit for having her teach you about women. I believe it’s fine for both sides to not overthink a situation of this level.』 (Erich)

『I see…』 (Wendelin)

Once I considered Amelie-sister-in-law-san’s situation as woman, at least a bit, after it turns into that kind of relationship, I was honestly depressed.
That might also apply to the other side. In that case, it’s fine as matching the selfishness of both sides will make it easier.
Indeed, as expected of Erich-nii-san.
He has been an ikemen since the old times, but he demonstrated his talent even as counsellor.

『Also, you don’t hate her, do you, Wend?』 (Erich)

『Of course not.』 (Wendelin)

That part seems to be the truth for the entire male community.

『In that case it’s okay to enjoy yourself without any reservations.』 (Erich)

『Got it. Thank you very much.』 (Wendelin)

Thinking that it’s just as I would expect of Erich-nii-san, I cut off the communication, but by no means did I think that even he had such an experience.
When I was thinking『Those are the benefits of an ikemen after all, eh?』, Paul-nii-san, who listened to the communication from the side, dropped his shoulders for some reason.

“Paul-nii-san?” (Wendelin)

“I, such woman wasn’t allocated to me…” (Paul)

“That’s because you became a noble all of a sudden, Paul-nii-san.” (Wendelin)

“Before that. Helmut did say it, didn’t he? Such a woman was mediated for him by Willem-san, he said.”

Since that household has a professional duty which can be inherited, they must avoid the nightmare of no children being born. It seems that kind of woman was allocated to Helmut-nii-san.

“Wend, Erich and Helmut, I’m envious…” (Paul)

“Let’s switch then?” (Wendelin)

“What will you do after switching?” (Paul)

Paul-nii-san has an envious-looking expression, but as fellow man I can understand him very well.

“It’s not a situation where I can say that I’m jealous or such. However, this hut, you know? Although there’s a new building, we still can’t use it.” (Paul)

Though it’s still provisional, there’s no way that I can do such thing in the feudal lord’s mansion either.
Accordingly it seems I can borrow this hut, which was built at the edge of the territory in order to serve as rest area for those who patrol at night in the future, for a while.

“Though nothing but the minimum of items has been installed. At worst it will be alright as long as there’s a bed.”

This place has been apparently designated as location for the clandestine meetings.
Moreover, the ones knowing this information are only father, Paul-nii-san and a part of his retainers.
It will get exposed before long anyway, but currently a gag order has been imposed.

“It has already become dark. I think Amelie-sister-in-law-san will come if you wait for a bit longer. Well then, is it strange to tell you to do your best?” (Paul)

While saying that, Paul-nii-san leaves the hut.
I, who was left behind by myself, waited for her while being nervous.

◆◇◆◇◆

 

– Amelie PoV –

“(With Wend-kun, is it…)” (Amelie)

My name is Amelie von Benno Baumeister.
I’m a widow who lost her husband just two months ago.
Be that as it may, my husband didn’t die from disease or in an accident.
He destroyed himself by trying to kill his real younger brother who is a noble.
I will omit the detailed explanation, but thanks to that I’m the wife of an attempted assassination criminal and my children ended up becoming the children of an attempted assassination criminal.
Usually my children and me should expect to feel ashamed until we die, but luckily we are living without too much discomfort due to the assistance of my husband’s younger brother-san.
The younger brother, who was about to be assassinated by the husband, supports the wife and children of an attempted assassination perpetrator.
In society he was considered a person with a large heart and a firm character.
Moreover, it seems that my children will be granted a territory in the future.
I believe that to be an unbelievable good luck, but at the same time I feel some uneasiness as well.
What if he revokes that promise in the future?
I think that the younger brother of my husband, Wendelin-kun, isn’t that kind of person, but I’m also worried in some respects.
However, he really became remarkable.
The time when I met him for the first time was when I married my husband at the age of 18.
Even though he was still a small, cute child, he contributed to the dining table of his poor home by hunting and gathering with magic.
Father-in-law-sama and mother-in-law-sama stuck to not interfering in his activities due to the reason that his talent would produce strife in the territory. Once he became 12 years old, he left outside the territory.
His expression at that time looked cheerful.
From the viewpoint of my husband, he might have recognised him as enemy who will steal his inheritance, but from his own viewpoint, that territory was nothing but a burden.
I think that’s how it was.
And, within not even one year, he subjugated two dragons.
Building a steadfast position as magician, he even acquired a peerage on his own.
It seems that made my husband’s anxiety revive once again, but I believe that was correct in a certain meaning.
Leaving aside his intentions, it was very unlikely that the upper nobles of the capital wouldn’t use his strength.
As feared, he returned to his parent’s home. He received a request in the Demon Forest, and began the development of the Savage Lands.
The fief’s population was delighted due to that accomplishment. It reached the point that they wished for him to become the new feudal lord. My husband, who was no more than a mediocre heir, was gradually driven into a corner.
I considered him pitiful, but this is also the fate of a noble. There were still plenty of means for my husband to survive.
Because it was impossible to develop it anyway, he advised father-in-law-sama to distribute the Savage Lands.
In that situation there wouldn’t be any worry that the Knight Baumeister household would be shut down as they would have understood and approved of the idea to entrust the development of the Savage Lands, which was the ulterior motive of the kingdom, to him. It should also have been possible to get support for the Knight Baumeister territory.
However, my husband wasn’t able to choose that option.
He was the eldest son and the kingdom approved his rights over the Savage Lands.
That’s why he said that he would raise our peerage by developing everything, including the Savage Lands, with his own effort.
And in addition he said that it was only natural for Wendelin-kun, who is his younger brother, to cooperate with him. The relationship between both had already become hostile.
If possible I wanted to advise him as well, but a woman advising a man in this territory would just end up being told that she has gone too far and that she’s intrusive.
I couldn’t do anything but take a distance from my husband who got angry while cursing at Wendelin-kun every day.
Did it also come to this because of that?
I wasn’t able to consider him as enemy of my husband.
To begin with, it was my husband’s side which schemed an assassination first.

“I didn’t expect it to result in this…”

“It was unexpected for me as well.”

When I went to the newly-built hut as told by father-in-law-sama, he waited for me there.
It hasn’t been that long since I last saw him, but the fact, that he officially became an Earl, seems to be big.
It reached the point that he seems to have grown up in proportion to the increase in responsibilities.

“Umm… Amelie-sister-in-law-san is…” (Wendelin)

“Let’s stop that talk. I believe we will just go around in circles.” (Amelie)

Although it was legitimate self-defence, it’s the story of the man who killed my husband, but as it’s already a matter of the past, it’s pointless just to think about it.

“Besides, that person wasn’t faithful in this area.”

I think that he cherished me as wife at first as newly-wed, but once I gave birth to two children, I think he gradually stopped looking at me as woman.
Especially for around these last 2~3 years he was engrossed in a new lover.

“Lover? Such a story is…” (Wendelin)

It seems he heard it for the first time. He couldn’t hide his surprised expression.

“There’s no way that I can talk about it, right? Father-in-law-sama settled it secretly after the incident.” (Amelie)

It’s based on the idea of 『Nobles need several wives!』
Did he do this just because he liked the woman? Or did he really think that nobles are such people?
It was a fact that he secretly kept the daughter of a poor farmer, living inside the territory, as a mistress.
My husband intended to hide her existence, but of course father-in-law-sama exposed it.
Well, it shouldn’t be possible to hide it anyway since this sort of topic will immediately become a rumour.
I was told that he apparently promised her to make her his mistress once he officially became the feudal lord.

“It’s nothing bad, but…”

“Oh well…”

If that’s the case, I wanted him to keep such woman with just his own resourcefulness without hiding her from us.
By the way, that woman received a certain extent of solatium and hush money after that incident, and went to marry outside the territory.
Father-in-law-sama handled it confidentially.
Given that she fortunately didn’t become pregnant with his child, only that might have been the sole salvation, I think.

“Even though I have two children, I’m a bit worried because I’m not that experienced, but please take care of me for the short time we have.” (Amelie)

“Haha… Please treat me well.” (Wendelin)

After both of us exchanged a stiff greeting, we embraced each other and it resulted in that kind of relationship.
While having a slight feeling of guilt once I think about the fiancées of Wendelin-kun, I was actually able to feel relieved by thinking that I’m still a woman as well.
There’s also the matter of my children. I wondered whether it would be fine if I enjoyed this relationship until he marries.
By the way, I feel like a slight gap appeared in my and father-in-law-sama’s expectations.
He treats me strangely preciously.

“Amelie-sister-in-law-san, I’m sorry for various things.” (Paul)

“Paul-sama, Your consideration is unnecessary.” (Amelie)

It’s around one month after I entered that kind of relationship with Wendelin-kun.
When I was cleaning the hut the next morning after the clandestine meeting, the local feudal lord, Paul-sama, showed up by himself and called out to me.
Entering the hut, where the clandestine meetings are held, has been absolutely prohibited by Paul-sama’s order and it is usually locked.
As the management of cleaning and such is my task, the ones who possess a key are only Paul-sama, Wendelin-sama and me.
Being given a magic hand-held communication device in addition, it has taken the shape of me being contacted about the next meeting in advance by him.
I think that it’s an expensive magic tool for a time-limited arranged woman, but I’m told that there’s no problem as it’s planned to give this to my children in the future.

“I’m enjoying myself quite a bit.” (Amelie)

“Although he was mediocre, he earnestly listened to the things said by father. I had such kind of impression about Kurt-aniki, but well…”

Paul-sama also didn’t expect that my husband neglected me and took another young woman as lover.

“That’s why I’m glad that I can actually feel as woman after a long time.”

“I guess it’s fine if you say so, Amelie-sister-in-law-san? But, this hut is amazing…”

At first it didn’t have anything but a bed, but nowadays it became quite luxurious.

『Let’s replace the bed. Also the cushions, bed sheet and pillows. Those are the most important items.』

Even though Wendelin-kun is young, he doesn’t make a move on his fiancées until they held the ceremony, even if there are several of them.
Having said that, he has a social standing where it’s wrong for him to go to that kind of stores.
As result of that, he comes to me quite often. Once it turned out like that, he has begun to add equipment and furniture inside the hut one after the other as he seems unhappy with its state.

『That’s an expensive-looking bed.』

『Please don’t mind since it’s a gift.』

『A gift, eh…?』

Such extravagant bed.
I never saw one like that.
It’s a high-class item at a level that the Baumeister household and my parent’s home can’t buy it in the first place.
As even the bedding such as the cushion and the sheet are all top quality products, I have to take the washing into consideration as well.

『The room is lonesome.』

Next, such things as carpets, wallpapers and curtains were added. Different from its outward appearance, the hut’s interior continued to become luxurious.

『Amelie-sister-in-law-san, this hut has more or less a bathroom.』

『Drawing water is troublesome though.』

『The bathtub is narrow and dirty…』

Having changed the bathtub, which has been provided, with a new, big item, matching tiles are laid out in addition.

『As expected, the interior design of the bathroom is, well… We can at least hang up wall papers though.』

Whereupon Wendelin-sama brought a craftsman to work on the interior of the bathroom, and while at it, the toilet from the capital with magic.

『How many days will it take?』

『With this size it will be done in two days.』

『Please work stealthily inside the hut after I pick you up in the morning and send you home to the capital in the evening. Your daily wages will be ten times that of the normal market price.』

『Okay. I will show you by completing it beautifully.』

Since he is able to free move with magic, he called a craftsman from the capital and had him remodel the bathroom and toilet.

『Umm, Wendelin-sama?』

『It will be alright if it’s this craftsman-san. He is that kind of craftsman-san after all.』

In exchange for nobles and rich people contracting him at high price for remodelling the houses of mistresses whose existence they rather don’t want their family to know about, he protects the secrets by keeping his lips sealed.
It seems he is that kind of craftsman.

“Therefore, this hut, isn’t the interior design wonderful? I feel like the interior is more luxurious than that of our newly built mansion.”

Paul-sama’s expression had a slight cramp due to the interior design of the hut which was remodelled after fully relying on the assets of Wendelin-sama.

“It’s a beautiful dresser, isn’t it…?”

“Umm…”

It reached the point that Wendelin-sama often gave me presents such as accessories and dresses.

『Let’s go shopping in the capital.』

『Wendelin-sama, your face is…』
『It will be fine.』

Even underwear, it would be better if I put on pretty ones.
I accepted him bringing me along to the capital with magic to shop in the high-class stores of the capital.
Originally it will be hopeless to go to the capital, which I yearned for since my childhood and which I visited for the first time in my life, if I don’t pay the expensive magic airship fare, but in case of Wendelin-sama we end up arriving in an instant with magic.

『Please put on this ring. It’s a magic tool for disguising.』

Using the magic tool for disguising which important nobles utilize to go out incognito, I was taken to various places.

『It seems to be wrong towards Elise-sama and the others, doesn’t it…?』

『It’s because I’m busy with public works.』

Wendelin-sama had clandestine meetings or took me out for a date five times in the week in the time from evening until around the time for going to bed.

『Today I told them that I will finish dinner at the construction site.』

Saying that, he took me to a fancy restaurant in the capital.

『Isn’t this underwear a bit too showy?』

『Certainly not.』

I accept him buying me various things to the degree of feeling sorry towards Elise-sama and the others.
If it was a few years back, this would have been an impossible living style, but this is just a time-limited, transient dream, too.
Thinking of it as situation until Wendelin-sama marries, I surrendered myself to this happiness.

“That guy. I wonder whether he has accumulated a large amount of stress.” (Paul)

“Maybe.” (Amelie)

At the times we are in the hut, we do such things: talking while drinking tea and eating light meals and sweets, he looks happily as I wear the clothes and underwear we bought and taking a baths together.
There were many events where he’s behaving like a spoilt child completely as if I were his elders sister or rather mother.

“In his childhood he was a very mature child, but at this point his balance crumbled? However, I wonder whether it won’t be exposed to his fiancées with five times a week. Ah, do all the retainers deceive them?”
“If it’s Roderich-sama, will he be able to successfully deceive them?”

“That guy is excellent after all. But it helps me that Wend is coming here a lot.”

Since he accelerates the public works within the territory to a frightening speed while also using it as alibi, it was a fact that it was a great help from Paul-sama’s viewpoint.

“Also, the territory, which Karl and Oscar will succeed, has already entered the foundation work phase, hasn’t it?”

The territory which is scheduled to be succeeded by my children, is adjacent to this territory here.
Currently it’s an uninhibited grassland, but Wendelin-sama has already started land readjustment and soil preparation with magic.
As a matter of fact, the retainers and people of my parent’s Meinbach household will get involved starting from next year. The matter of starting the development has been decided.
At the same time as my oldest son, Karl, becomes an adult, the development has to be finished to a certain extent, is what Wendelin-sama forethought.
My second son, Oskar, will establish a branch family as Junior Commander. Father-in-law-sama also promised to help as much as he can without sparing any efforts.

“Somehow I feel sorry as we seem to be using you, Amelie-sister-in-law-san. But, that guy. It looks he likes you very much, Amelie-sister-in-law-san.”

“However, I’m quite happy. Because I’m wanted as woman.”

“That guy, he will continue the relationship even after marrying.”

“That is absolutely not allowed.”

To the bitter end it’s a relationship until Wendelin-sama marries. There are only unpleasant things awaiting both sides if he drags out the relationship.

“I thought that my life as woman ended with that man’s death. However, for this half year I was able to return being a woman again. With these memories as source of encouragement, I will support the Knight Meinbach household from behind the scenes afterwards. If I do it skilfully, they might become at least an Associate Baron household.”

“I think it’s fine if you don’t brood over it that much though.”

“Besides, It’s not good to be despised by Wendelin-sama’s fiancées. A woman’s intuition is sharp after all. If it’s for a limited time, Elise-sama might kindly pretend to not know even if she doesn’t feel pleased with it.”

“To tell me such stuff is, you know… I often don’t know what my wife is thinking. Moreover, I will get a concubine after a while. For me that will be a bit exhausting.”

“That’s no good. Paul-sama, you are a member of the Baumeister faction which is at the peak of its popularity.”
“I’m just benefiting from my younger brother though.”

There’s still time left until Wendelin-sama’s marriage.
I have decided to try living as woman as much as I can for the time until the time limit.
Even though I think it’s sinful towards my deceased husband and my children.

◆◇◆◇◆

 

– Narrator –

“Hm~~~~m, Amelie-sister-in-law-san is Wend’s arranged woman, eeh?”

“She isn’t a bad choice for a noble, right, Helmut-nii-san?”

Just at that time Helmut and Erich were talking about Wendelin’s arranged woman in a bar of the capital.

“Kurt-aniki’s misconduct is atoned for by his wife, huh?”

“Although it hasn’t been made official overly much, it seems that such choice happened often in the past.”

“I understand that it’s aristocratic, but how about the emotional aspect? Though it’s fine if that chap, Wend, can do it properly, I think?”

“Ah, regarding that there’s no need to worry.”

“How come, Erich?”

“She’s an arranged woman, isn’t she? It was like that for you, Helmut-nii-san, and me as well, right? It’s a secret job, but there’s the fact that she will be rewarded for it.”

“It was like that at my time, too. It’s been a widow of a noble’s retainer who works as a forest guard like me and who is a friend of my father-in-law.”

Since her husband died from a battle wound at the time of capturing poachers and because her child is still very young and can’t do official work, she became Helmut’s arranged woman under the condition that he will supplement her living expenses during that time.
Helmut heard it in such style from his father-in-law.

“It’s been for you like that as well, right, Erich?”

“It was a similar relationship in my case, too.”

There was a person who ended up dying young to diseases among the retainers of Viscount Mongérard, and thus his young widow, whom he left behind, became Erich’s partner.
Given that her child was very young after all, she was promised that he would take care of her family’s finances until that child becomes an adult.

“It’s also a kind of aid system.”

If they can protect the secret, they will be paid an according amount of money as hush money.
Since they are widows, almost 100% of them keep the promise for the sake of the children left behind.

“Saying it like this, it decreases the man’s feelings of guilt.”

“For everyone it’s something like that, I guess. In the beginning they consider it as wrong towards the married wife.”

“I certainly thought that.”

Since both of them already had fiancées, they were reminded of that first.

“Then, hearing that person’s circumstances, they end up thinking that it’s even worse to refuse it.”

“Right, right.”

If they refuse at that point, it’s because it has to do with the lives of that woman and her children.

“However, all of them are men after all. If they think that they can do that kind of thing with a woman, they are instinctively very delighted. Wend is a man, too.”

Therefore he will accept it, but it also means that there’s no man who hates that kind of thing.

“You can say that again. It was the same for me, too.”

“For me as well.”

Helmut burst into laughter due to the truth mentioned by Erich. The two continued to happily chat for quite a time while drinking sake.

 


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