T/N: The title is originally “Indirect Cultural Exchange Between Master and Maids,” but I can’t use ruby scripting in the title field. 🙂
Rain pours down heavily in the inner palace’s garden.
The inner palace’s maids did their work in the rain wearing rain gear.
Being in charge of the garden during the 『Rainy Season』 is a job that can be considered ridiculously bad luck.
Emilia, who is the supervisor of those taking care of the garden, is a strict superior but she’s not unreasonable by any means.
Hence, the work during the 『Rainy Season』 is carried out on days when it isn’t raining, except for the small fraction of tasks that must be promptly finished at all costs.
On rainy days with no urgent and necessary work, there is nothing more but a brief tour of the garden in the morning. You might call that the most relaxing job for an inner palace maid.
On the other hand, Emilia is absolutely ruthless when it’s time for work.
For example, if there’s work that must be finished by the end of the day, she will mercilessly drive the young maids into the garden.
And, unfortunately, today the rain is pouring down like a waterfall.
“As I confirmed some time ago, the water has become fairly muddy during this long spell of rain. Fortunately Zenjirou-sama and Her Majesty Aura won’t return to the inner palace until evening.
Therefore we will carry out a simple maintenance of the power generator before the day is over.” (Emilia)
Rethe, Dolores, and Fay – commonly known as the troublemaker trio – respond extremely unwillingly to Emilia’s stern words with obviously stiff expressions.
“Everyone, you’re working too slowly. And yet you call yourselves daughters of military families?” (Emilia)
Emilia reprimands them with a loud voice so as not to lose out to the heavy rainfall.
“Yes, I’m very sorry, Emilia-sama.” (Dolores)
“Dolores, rather than your mouth, move your hands and feet. Hurry up, we will start the cleaning. You know the procedure, right?” (Emilia)
Hearing Emilia’s instructions, the three troublemakers begin the work in their rain gear,
beneath rain clouds so thick that the vicinity is gloomy even during daytime.
The hooded rain gear made out of the hide of water dragons can protect their faces and bodies from being directly hit by the rain, but when it comes to working in such a heavy rain, they aren’t of much use.
In fact Emilia had already talked with Olsha, the one in charge of bathing, to have her prepare a complete change of clothes, including underwear, for everyone, as well as a hot bath for after the work.
No matter how warm the rainy season in the Carpa Kingdom might be, if she were to be negligent taking care of the maids after working during such a rain, their physical health would deteriorate.
From the very start this is a job that entails getting thoroughly wet.
In any case, once the work started, even the troublemaker trio started to move briskly.
“The electric power supply has been cut, right? Alright, then I will temporarily stop the influx of water into the hose.”
“Okay, Dolores. This time is just maintenance, so it’s fine to not go as far as cleaning the hose, right? Then we need to clean the water tank and the clogged-up drainage opening, once the water stops.”
“Yikes, Fay-chan. It’s dangerous if you suddenly put your hand into the water tank~. There’s definitely something in there.”
This is maintenance for the small hydraulic power generator.
After setting it up, during his first 『Rainy Season』, Zenjirou personally braved the rain, but nowadays it can be dealt with by just the maids.
To begin with, it’s not like Zenjirou possesses much knowledge and skill in regards to the maintenance of the power generator.
After a brief explanation of how the manufacturers in his hometown set up the small hydraulic generator at a streamlet and showing them a video the manufacturers recorded, the maids were able to do the maintenance at the same level as Zenjirou.
The generator Zenjirou brought can be roughly split into three different parts: 『Water Tank』, 『Power Generation』, and 『Control System』.
Since the 『Control System Parts』 have been set up in the inner palace’s living room, rain has no impact on them.
Given that problems with the 『Power Generation Parts』 cannot be handled with a simple maintenance, the troublemaker trio only works on the 『Water Tank Parts』 this time.
After stopping the power supply and the water influx through the hose, the three scrub the water tank.
They first have to draw out the muddy water inside the tank with buckets.
It’s a very primitive method, but because this tank didn’t have a drain, it’s a task they must do.
It’s also difficult to dump the water by tipping the full tank over with just the strength of Fay and the others.
As a result they have no other option but to draw out the water with buckets until they can tilt the tank to the side with their power.
“…When you watch the rain pouring into the water tank even while we’re emptying it out like this, it really feels like a wasted effort, doesn’t it?” (Dolores)
“I agree.” (Fay)
Fay agrees with Dolores’s remark, making the same exasperated expression.
Their hands don’t stop working since they’re under Emilia’s strict supervision. Their voices are drowned out by this strong downpour, and as long as they are a little bit away from Emilia, she can’t see their expressions either.
This unmotivated way of working is the very reason why they are called troublemaker trio, but the work today might even have the other, serious maids of the inner palace approving of Dolores’s remark.
It’s a tiny salvation that they can carelessly toss the water in the buckets anywhere since the whole place is submerged in water to begin with.
“Ugh, almost all of it is muddy water~. Ah, Dolores-chan, mud has been splashed on your face, you know?”
Rethe exclaims after seeing her friend’s face, as she empties the bucket by flipping it over in front of her big chest, which still stands out despite her wearing rain gear over her maid clothes.
The water tank of the power generation device that should usually be filled with clear water, is now full of muddy water that allows one to see less than five centimeters into the water.
The streamlet, a water source which flows in from outside the palace, is swelling due to the rain. The sand and soil of the riverbanks has probably been swept along and mixed with the streamlet’s water.
The tall inner palace maid that had this pointed out to her, shakes her head a little and doesn’t even try to wipe her face with her sleeve.
“I will deal with it later.” (Dolores)
Since they’ll be grappling with the muddy water for a long time to come, there’s no point in wiping it each time.
It’s a rational argumentation, but for the inner palace maids, who always want to keep a neat personal appearance, it’s a slightly distasteful solution.
Having said that, this logical way of working will bear fruit before long.
No matter how much rain might fall from above, as long as the three continue to draw out water with buckets, the water in the tank will gradually decrease.
“Now that you have come this far, it might be alright to dispose of the rest by tilting the tank to the side. Be careful so that it doesn’t fall over too quickly.” (Emilia)
Emilia, who was watching over the entire progress, instructs.
Of course she takes the initiative and helps by pressing her hands against the tank’s edge.
“Slowly, slowly, be cautious…”
The four maids cooperate and somehow manage to topple the tank over without causing any big issues.
Once the tank is lying sideways, all the muddy water within naturally flows out onto the lawn.
However, densely packed slush and layers of gravel have accumulated at the tank’s bottom. 90% of this won’t come out from just tilting the tank over.
This slush and gravel is tricky.
If such foreign elements flow into the power generation parts with the water, there will be cracks inside due to the gravel crashing against the inner walls, and the rotation of the water wheels will be obstructed by the slush clogging up the area around the axis.
In order to prevent such problems, the power generation parts are protected by temporarily storing the water drawn from rivers in the water tank so that the mud and gravel can settle at the tank’s bottom. However, when the quality of the river’s water drastically deteriorates like now, this process is no longer effective.
For this reason it’s necessary to check the water tank like this, and remove the mud and gravel inside.
“Alright, I will scrape out the rest.” (Fay)
Holding a small shovel in her small hands, Fay scrapes out the mud and gravel remaining in the tank.
“Be careful, Fay. There’s definitely something down there.” (Dolores)
After giving such a warning, rather than helping, Dolores tries to stay far away from the mud.
Finally she quickly and skillfully leaves the place under the pretext of going to fetch some clean water for the washing.
In contrast, Fay reaches a hand into the mud with gleaming eyes.
“I know. Oh, she was right, there’s really something in here!” (Fay)
Small creatures are energetically jumping around inside the removed mud.
The waterways running from the rivers into the inner palace and the royal palace have several heavy wire nettings along the way, preventing large, dangerous aquatic animals from entering, but naturally, creatures that are smaller than the nets get through.
Such creatures often enter the waterways, especially during a time like this when the water is muddy due to the rising rivers.
“Emilia-sama! Is it fine for me to dispose of these!?” (Fay)
Emilia, fully aware of the ulterior motives behind Fay’s sparkling black eyes, easily agrees without a single change in expression.
“Very well. The securing of food during a castle siege is necessary knowledge for women from a military family. However, allowing it to affect your actual work is not acceptable.” (Emilia)
With a spirited reply, Fay quickly grabs a free bucket next to her and boldly catches the energetically jumping creatures in the mud with her hands, and tosses them into the bucket.
In this heavy rain, even creatures that can’t survive out of the water won’t dry out immediately. There will likely be enough rain accumulated at the bottom of the bucket to sustain them before they do dry out.
“Yeah, today might be quite the big haul!” (Fay)
Having efficiently transferred the creatures from the mud to the bucket, Fay smiles in satisfaction.
“Whoa, it’s really full~”
Even Rethe, who watched from the side, raises her voice slightly in obvious admiration of her friend’s skill.
Small fish, river shrimp, river snakes, frogs, and what appears to be a newly-hatched crocodile.
There are many things with grotesque appearances, but if they are properly cleaned and cooked correctly, all of them will be quite delicious.
Emilia sighs when she sees the baby crocodile in the bucket.
“…It seems it’s necessary to call the gardeners and maybe a few soldiers just in case on the next sunny day and have them check the ponds and water fountains. As expected, this is not suitable work for women, even those of military families.” (Emilia)
This surely isn’t the only baby crocodile that has been swept into the palace grounds. If they were to settle down in the ponds and secretly grow up there, it would be a serious issue.
Emilia sighed again after saying so.
The three troublemakers, having finished servicing the hydraulic power generator in the rain, headed straight to the bath.
They were already resigned to the fact, but everything from their maid uniforms to their underwear is sopping wet.
The three of them struggled out of their wet underwear and entered the bathroom quickly.
“Fufu! Only on days like today is bathing in hot water so wonderful!”
“Hey, Fay. Don’t get into the tub immediately! We are completely covered with mud right now!”
“Yes, yes.” (Fay)
The three scoop hot water out of the bathtub with a pail, and pour it over their faces, bodies, and heads.
Fay, who recklessly poured hot water over her head, squeals in joy, and vigorously shakes her head like a dog.
Fay normally hates hot water and prefers a cold bath, but today hot water is the only choice for her.
The warm water feels absolutely superb on her body that’s been chilled to the core thanks to the rain of the 『Rainy Season』.
It’s quite a chore to clean the mud out of their hair and off their bodies, but there’s liquefied soap with perfumed oil and the shampoo created by Zenjirou in the inner palace.
The three maids submerged themselves up to their shoulders in relaxation after getting clean, completely recovering their vitality by the time they left the bathroom.
Currently the three troublemakers have been assigned to garden work, and thus they don’t have any work, except for helping out here and there, once they finish in the garden.
“Ah~, I’ve come back to life.” (Fay)
“Hey, you’re too slovenly, Fay. But, it’s certainly delicious.”
“Ahaha, it’s because my throat’s parched~.” (Fay)
Fay, Dolores, and Rethe, who had come out of the bathroom, took the maids’ silver pitcher of fruit water out of the refrigerator in the living room, and relaxed as they drank it in the waiting room.
They are sitting somewhat inelegantly on the chairs, but this is a break room of the inner place which is only frequented by maids.
If they couldn’t relax in such a place, the maids, who live and work in the inner palace for many years at a time, wouldn’t last mentally and physically.
Hence, even when the door opens with a small clank, the three only turn their eyes towards the door while still sprawled on their chairs.
The ones who entered were three maids that are even younger than Fay and the other two.
“If I remember correctly, you are Mireilla, Luisa and Nilda, aren’t you?”
“Oh~! You studying by observation today~?” (Fay)
When they’re called out, the new maids were surprised for an instant, but then immediately approach with smiles.
“Yes. We have been ordered by Supervisory Maid Amanda to learn the work by watching our seniors for a while.”
Answering first as the representative for the three was Mireilla.
Mireilla is a girl who impresses with her long, glossy, black hair, and her gentle, sweet-looking, drooping eyes.
In the inner palace it’s common sense to not introduce oneself with one’s family name, but even without doing something like that, it’s obvious at a glance that she’s the daughter of a family with a high status from her bearing.
“Please take care of us and bless us with your strict guidance. We will endeavor to be of as little hindrance as possible.”
Next Luisa bowed politely like a doll while speaking with a stiff voice.
She has somewhat quirky black hair, black eyes, and a deeply dark brown skin. An fairly ordinary appearance that one might go as far as calling it plain on the southern continent.
However, given that she seems to glide rather than merely walk, she stands out a bit amongst the maids, despite her ordinary outward appearance. Her excellent bearing is a trait that she shares with Mireilla, but the atmosphere is completely different.
Her good posture is obviously not because of good breeding. Instead, her posture being good is a result of her high level of body control.
In other words, her movements are closer to that of a knight or soldier than to those of a maid.
“Nice to meet you!”
The last girl with the brief, spirited greeting is Nilda.
She’s almost as small as Fay, and her black hair is tied into a small ponytail. Probably because of her sociable character, sincere friendliness towards those around her is apparent in her big, black eyes.
Fay and Dolores prepare chairs for the newcomers. Rethe supplies three more wooden cups and pours fruit water into them.
“We finished work for today, so we have nothing to show you, but since it’s a rare occasion, it should be fine to take it easy for a bit.” (Dolores)
As Dolores draws back a chair,
“Umm…is it really alright?” (Mireilla)
“Even though it might just be observation, it’s still part of the job.” (Luisa)
“Yes, thank you very much.” (Nilda)
Mireilla is bewildered, Luisa persists expressionlessly, and Nilda sits down on the offered chair with a smile.
It goes without saying that Mireilla’s reaction is the most common one. Luisa’s is somewhat unusual. And Nilda’s response…it’s Dolores’ first time seeing such a reaction.
Anyway, if the girls are in the middle of observation, you could say that they were doing their jobs even if they were taking a break with others.
“It’s fine. Taking a break like this is also part of your job. I guarantee that you won’t be scolded by the Head Maids just for drinking tea here.
Keeping us company for a bit is just right for getting accustomed to life in this place.”
“Okay, I shall accept your kind offer then.” (Mireilla)
“Yes! Pardon me.” (Luisa)
After hearing Dolores’s explanation, Mireilla and Luisa sat down on the chairs, too.
Once the new maids are together with their seniors, nothing is more interesting to them than information about the work in the inner palace.
“You were made to work outside in this rain!?” (Mireilla)
For some reason Fay puffs out her chest with pride and replies to the surprised Mireilla,
“Yes. It was quite a hassle. Well, I think it’s something you have to prepare yourself for in the future, too.” (Fay)
“Yes! If it’s my duty, I won’t complain.” (Luisa)
With Luisa’s statement, Nilda’s originally large eyes widen even further, and Mireilla’s face shows her clear uneasiness.
It’s easy to see that Mireilla is a noble lady of a high-class family. Leaving aside working in the rain, it’s even possible that she has no experience of going out in the 『Rainy Season』, except inside a roofed dragon carriage.
“There are also benefits. It’s okay to keep the small animals caught in the water tank. Usually it’s limited to small fish and prawn, but this time I also caught frogs, river snakes, and even a baby crocodile.” (Fay)
Mireilla is on the verge of fainting after hearing Fay happily recount her spoils.
“Snakes…crocodiles…w-we have to g-get rid of those?” (Mireilla)
“Mireilla, you’ve never done it?” (Nilda)
“Putting aside snakes and crocodiles, it might be necessary for you to be able to prepare fish and prawn for cooking. One of the jobs of the inner palace maids is to prepare food in the kitchen.” (Luisa)
Mireilla can’t hide her bewilderment at Nilda’s puzzled tilt of her head, and Luisa’s indifference.
“Nilda, Luisa, are you two alright with this? That is…to touch or kill such creatures with your hands.” (Mireilla)
Let alone the river snakes and crocodiles, as a daughter from a good family Mireilla almost never encountered fish or prawn, except as dishes. There’s no doubt that she would jump up and scream if she saw those.
“I grew up in a village. I often caught such things in nearby streams when I was little.” (Nilda)
“You too, Nilda? I’m a commoner as well. Things like that have been all around me since I was a child.” (Luisa)
Hearing the new maids guilelessly divulge their origins, it makes even the three troublemakers look at each other.
The one opening her mouth as representative for all three was Dolores, who has the most common sense among them.
“Hey, Nilda, Luisa, according to etiquette in the inner palace, you don’t ask others about their parentage. Therefore it would be better for you to refrain from talking about your own birth. At least for now, that is.” (Dolores)
The noble society seems large but is actually rather small. In most cases new maids have one or two acquaintances in the inner palace before entering it.
Even if they have no personal acquaintances, it’s not all that difficult to guess the rough background from the names and ages, going by the circumstances.
As a result, everyone knows everyone’s history within about a month of entering the inner palace.
After this, it’s no longer an issue to talk about each other’s backgrounds to a certain degree, but it’s supposed to happen naturally, and not because one intentionally disclosed the information willingly.
But then again, there’s not much information to know about the commoner maids like Ines, Margret or Luisa besides the fact that they are commoners.
“Oh, pardon me! I will pay attention to it.” (Nilda)
“Understood. Thank you very much for your kind advice.” (Luisa)
Nilda and Luisa both expressed their gratitude for Dolores’ warning.
Several days later.
The troublemaker trio was in the kitchen at night.
Given that their turn at this post hasn’t come yet, this is not for work.
In the first place, dinner time has long passed. They are in the kitchen right now for more personal reasons.
Because they have obtained permission from Vanessa, the one in charge of the kitchen, bright red fire still roars in the oven.
Fay tracked down three 『water buckets』 by the light of that fire, removed the heavy lids from them, and smiled in satisfaction.
“Great, they are fine. Almost all of them are still alive. Rethe, I will cut and trim them, so please handle the cooking, okay?” (Fay)
“Got it, Fay-chan. I will do my best~” (Rethe)
“You two sure can deal with those weird things without a care.” (Dolores)
Dolores knits her brows at the contents of the 『water buckets』. They contain the water creatures Fay caught during the maintenance of the hydraulic power generator a few days ago.
Dolores grimacing at the sight of the river snakes, frogs and baby crocodile in addition to the fish and prawn is a fairly typical reaction.
The well installed in this kitchen pierces through the bedrock deep underground. Because it draws water from a completely different source, it doesn’t become muddy even during the 『Rainy Season』.
The small fish and prawn, who had been cleaned of mud with a regular water change over the last few days, were ready to be eaten now that the smell had been removed, according to Fay.
“Dolores, even you prepare fish and dragon meat when it’s your turn to cook, don’t you?” (Fay)
Fay nimbly caught a frog with her left hand while tilting her head to the side in confusion, then slammed down the short pick-like utensil in her hand without any hesitation at all.
Although she can’t quite look at the frog, twitching still even though it’s head has been crushed into the chopping board, Dolores grimaces, unable to completely avert her eyes either.
“Unfortunately I grew up in the city. I never treated dragon meat as anything but a hunk of meat, and I got used to fish and prawn, but frogs and crocodiles are still impossible.” (Dolores)
“If it’s growing up in the city, the same applies to me as well, you know?”
Fay objects while ripping off the frog skin after cutting open its abdomen with a small kitchen knife. In response, Dolores sighs, resignedly.
“That’s why you’re weird. Why does the princess of the capital’s former feudal lord’s family with its ancient and honorable pedigree…” (Dolores)
However, Dolores’ sighs and complaints are drowned out by Rethe’s rare scream,
“Fay-chan, over there~! What should I do? The crocodile has…!” (Rethe)
Even without looking in the direction of Rethe’s finger, it’s immediately apparent what happened from just her words.
Having escaped somehow, the small crocodile was waddling across the kitchen’s stone floor.
“Hey, Fay, that’s not funny at all, you know!?”
Dolores’ and Fay’s expressions changed in this emergency.
Even if it might only be as big as a palm, a crocodile is still a crocodile. On the off-chance it makes its way to the royal family’s living space, it won’t be a small incident.
The three chase the crocodile with pale faces.
Fortunately that baby crocodile doesn’t seem to belong to the species that can move swiftly on land. Its movements aren’t that fast, but the problem is that it’s night right now.
There’s no way that an oven can illuminate the entire kitchen as the only light source. If it were to reach the safety of the shadows, it would be difficult to find.
And then, the situation advanced in the worst imaginable direction.
“Hey, it went over there!”
“Eh? The hallway is over there!”
Naturally, there are absolutely no light sources in the hallway.
The possibility of them being able to find it there is very low.
“W-W-What do we do? Ah, right!”
Thinking quickly despite being flustered, Rethe pulls out one piece of firewood from the oven, and heads out into the hallway using it as a makeshift torch.
In the hallway outside the kitchen there are no places where one can really hide. It’s a straight hallway with no forks, but searching for a baby crocodile in the dead of night relying only on a torch is definitely not easy.
However, what Rethe’s torch illuminated unexpectedly wasn’t the small crocodile but the silhouette of a woman.
Rethe screams upon seeing the emotionless face of a girl lit up by the torch.
The expressionless girl carried the crocodile with one hand. It’s somewhat frightening in the darkness, but once Rethe calms down, she realizes that it’s just one of the new maids.
“H-Huh? Luisa-chan?” (Rethe)
“Did you catch it? Thanks, Luisa.” (Fay)
“Great, you saved us from trouble, Luisa. But, why are you here?” (Dolores)
Even as she’s surrounded by the older, bustling maids, Luise isn’t perturbed at all.
“I came to the kitchen to get a cup of water before sleeping. Since I found this crocodile, I captured it immediately.” (Luisa)
She holds up the crocodile in her right hand as she says this, without a hint of pride.
“Wow! You could catch it skillfully even without any light?”
“It’s because I’m trained.” (Luisa)
“Or rather, the fact that you have enough mental fortitude to catch such a disgusting thing with your bare hands at once is amazing.” (Dolores)
“It’s because I’m trained.” (Luisa)
The maids return to the kitchen, chatting noisily.
After coming back, Fay checked the contents of the buckets at once.
“Good, these ones are fine.” (Fay)
The ones with the highest possibility of escaping among the remaining animals are the river snakes, but they are all calmly swimming around in the bucket.
“Yeah, I thought that my heart might stop.”
“Really, you should be grateful to Luisa.”
“Yeah, thanks, Luisa-chan~” (Rethe)
“No, it’s my job after all.” (Luisa)
The three troublemakers resume their work as if it’s the most natural thing in the world after returning to the kitchen.
“Alright, I will prepare the baby crocodile before it runs away again. Thanks, Luisa.” (Fay)
Watching Fay trying to grab the baby crocodile while reflecting on her previous mistake, Luisa proposes with a monotonous voice,
“If you want, I can handle it?” (Luisa)
“Oh, Luisa, could you? I think I’ll leave it to you if so. As thanks, you can eat with us. Rethe’s cooking skills are on par with Vanessa-sama in the inner palace.” (Fay)
“Thank you very much for treating me to a meal. I will borrow tools and that spot over here.” (Luisa)
Standing side by side with knives in hand, Fay and Luisa handle the preparations of the remaining frogs, crocodile and snakes.
Luisa’s knife skills showed her familiarity with the process, devoid of any uncertainty.
Meanwhile Rethe adjusts the fire in the oven, pours oil into a deep pot, and gets the seasoning ready.
Deep-fried food that requires a large quantity of oil is a high-class dish that’s rarely prepared by ordinary families, but that naturally doesn’t apply to the inner palace.
The idea of being stingy with oil for royal dishes doesn’t exist to begin with. Only the best oil in the best condition is used for them.
As a result, Vanessa permitted the young maids to use the oil that had already been used several times for deep-frying, and the oil that had lost some of its flavor over time for their 『Cooking Studies』 during their free time.
“Well, I will work on those then.” (Dolores)
Dolores handles the preparations for the small fish and prawn.
Dolores, who avoids touching frogs, snakes or crocodiles as much as possible, has no problem with processing fish and prawn. If asked how they are any different, she can only say that it’s a difference in habit.
She removes the intestines and heads of the somewhat larger specimens among the small fish, and peels the shells off the shrimp. Since it’s impossible to process small fish and prawn any further than this, that’s all she has to do.
Since they will be deep fried anyway, even bones and shells should be edible so long as they are fried properly.
Once the preparations are finished, the rest will fall into Rethe’s hands.
“I’m done, Rethe.”
“I’m finished here as well~”
Rethe answers Dolores, Fay and Luisa while standing in front of the oven,
“Thanks~. I will do the rest, so bring the ingredients to me~” (Rethe)
“Okay, we’re leaving the rest to you.”
“Please make them delicious, okay?”
“Since I feel bad about leaving everything to Rethe, how about we make some tea?”
Entrusting the rest of the cooking to Rethe, Dolores and Fay draw water from the well in a corner of the kitchen, and then make a suggestion to Luisa while washing their hands.
“The only thing Dolores is good at is brewing tea. Ah, Luisa, you might as well call your roommates. What do you say?” (Fay)
“Yeah, for an idea from Fay, it’s pretty good.” (Dolores)
“Roommates…Mireilla and Nilda, you mean? Why?” (Luisa)
Seeing Luisa tilting her head in confusion, Fay puts on the air of a senior and explains.
“It’s for the sake of getting along with the children in your room. Those in the same room live and work together, thus I think it would be best to use a chance like this to become good friends.” (Fay)
“I see. Certainly, it’s important to improve cooperation with my colleagues to accomplish my professional duties. Thank you very much for your kind advice.” (Luisa)
The new maid bowed, and immediately left the kitchen to put that suggestion into practice.
Approximately 30 minutes after that.
Five maids sat around a table in the kitchen.
It’s Fay, Dolores, Rethe, Luisa, and Nilda.
Steam rises from the wooden cups of tea in front of each of them. The wooden plate with freshly fried food in the middle of the table also has steam rising from it.
“Huh? What about Mireilla?”
Luisa indifferently answers the confused Fay.
“Yes, Mireilla informed me that she’ll take a rain check today since she’s sleepy.” (Luisa)
“Ah, I see. It’s already late after all.” (Fay)
Fay agreed very easily, but the truth is different.
At first Mireilla had been quite interested, but once she heard what the midnight snack would be, she suddenly refused.
Snakes and crocodiles seem to be a bit too much for a noble lady from a good family.
However, Luisa and Nilda, who aren’t privy to Mireilla’s innermost thoughts, eat the fried fish and prawn with sips of hot tea.
With just salt as the base seasoning, each of them add either their own spices or some of the special dipping sauce to their own plates.
“It’s really delicious!” (Luisa)
Luisa, taking a bite of the crocodile meat after dipping it in the sauce, widened her eyes a bit in a rare look of surprise, and exclaimed.
“Thanks, I’m happy to hear that.” (Rethe)
Next to the humbly smiling Rethe, Fay proudly puffs up her chest, even more so than Rethe herself.
“Rethe’s cooking is amazing, isn’t it? The sauce is also handmade by Rethe.” (Fay)
“Is that so?” (Luisa)
“Amazing, Rethe-san.” (Nilda)
This time Luisa can only stare in wonder, while Nilda frankly praises Rethe.
Sauces, which are created by boiling waste vegetables, waste meat and a variety of spices together for many hours, are seen as the most crucial element of the taste.
In fact, Vanessa’s job is almost exclusively to make sauces in the inner palace. The majority of the young maids aren’t allowed to help except for simple tasks. Rethe is the sole exception to that.
Being permitted to make sauces in her free time, and occasionally having them sampled by Vanessa, Rethe might already be called Vanessa’s apprentice in a certain sense.
Despite the raw materials, the young maids keep a friendly chat going over the delicious deep-fried food.
“How about you two? Have you gotten used to life in the inner palace?” (Dolores)
Both new maids nod their heads in response to Dolores’s casual question.
“Yes! Everyone is very kind and it’s fun.” (Nilda)
“Yes. Currently, there are no obstacles impeding my duty.” (Luisa)
Their answers are completely different, but the fact that they have adapted to the current environment without any problems is true for both Nilda and Luisa.
On the other hand, there are many cases where well-born girls like Mireilla have trouble at first.
The experience of sharing a room is unknown to the ladies of high-ranking nobles.
Seeing as they have passed the screening to become inner palace maids, the girls in the same room won’t be oddballs, but for people who aren’t used to it, living in the same space as others causes a great amount of stress.
“Soon you’re going to start working here properly, is there anything worrying you?”
“You can depend on me,” Fay leans forward. It’s her typical “fruitless effort to look good in front of her juniors as a senior.”
She might actually be the least reliable one in this case.
However, Nilda honestly smiles happily, and…
“Umm, I think I will be fine with cleaning and cooking, but I’m a little unsure about etiquette.” (Nilda)
…frankly spoke her mind.
Not expecting those words, Fay dons a troubled expression.
“Etiquette, huh? Okay, since Zenjirou-sama is very open-minded in that aspect, I don’t think you have to mind it so much. Well, I guess it will be best if you paid some attention to it in front of Her Majesty Aura, though.” (Fay)
Nilda’s anxieties are probably a feeling Fay cannot grasp.
Fay is something like the leader of the three troublemakers, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t know the necessary etiquette as noble.
After learning the rules properly, she treads the fine line of between getting scolded and not, in the pursuit of her own desires.
In contrast Nilda has the intention to stick to the rules of courtesy, but with her incomplete knowledge of the proper etiquette as well as her background as a『Village Girl』, she’s quite capable of doing something truly thoughtless.
The one with evil intentions is Fay, but as for the one more likely to make a huge mistake, it would be Nilda.
The one who ends up giving advice instead of Fay, who’s at a loss for words despite her previous arrogance, is Dolores, who has a decisive lead in virtue among the three troublemakers.
“In case you end up making a blunder, it’s important to say that you didn’t do it on purpose and to apologize with sincerity.
Because Zenjirou-sama won’t do anything unreasonable as long as you don’t forget those two points, so I think it’s fine not to worry, don’t you think?” (Dolores)
The sharp-minded Dolores, who knows how to go with the flow, grasps the power relationships within the inner palace quite accurately.
There are few people who have noticed, since Zenjirou himself has a very gentle character and has never made use of his authority as a royal up until now, but Zenjirou’s authority is exceedingly close to absolute inside the inner palace.
Head Maid Amanda is a strict superior, and Queen Aura is definitely not as easy-going as Zenjirou as a master.
However, if Zenjirou says, “I’d like you to not give them an overly harsh punishment”, neither Amanda nor Aura will unyieldingly persist on their claim.
In conclusion, it’s a general rule that one can live peacefully in the inner palace as long as they stay out of Zenjirou’s bad books.
Hearing such an explanation from Dolores, Nilda timidly says with a troubled look,
“Umm…Dolores-san, rather than being told how to smooth over a mistake, I’d like to be told what I should do to not make a mistake in the first place.” (Nilda)
Dolores blinked in surprise, as if Nilda’s words were an unexpected attack.
“…I never considered that way of thinking.” (Dolores)
The pure look of Nilda, who diligently thinks about how to not fail in the first place, is somewhat dazzling for Dolores who is a master of not getting scolded even if she cuts corners or, if a scolding seems unavoidable, how to minimize the damage.
“Ah, okay. In that case you have no choice but to learn while getting scolded, I think.
The visitors from outside in this inner palace are people like Octavia-sama. As I told you before, since Zenjirou-sama is tolerant towards failure that’s not ill-natured, you can learn by repeatedly making mistakes.” (Dolores)
“Really? I guess that makes sense. Okay, I got it. I will do my best!” (Nilda)
Nilda tightly clenched her two small fists and nodded, full of spirit after hearing Dolores’ words.
Even after that the maids’ chat continues.
“That’s true. What we did the other day was simple maintenance. The comprehensive maintenance will be done by all the maids after the 『Rainy Season』 ends. It’s absurdly difficult, so it’s best if you two, Nilda, Luisa, prepare yourself from now on.”
Nilda trembles in reaction to Fay’s words. Luisa nods her head while remaining expressionless.
“I-I will do my best!” (Nilda)
“It’s only natural for the job to be difficult. I’m resolved for that.” (Luisa)
“I value your enthusiasm, but it’s far crueler than you two can probably imagine. Although I suppose it will be fine as long as you’ve prepared yourself.” (Dolores)
Dolores seems somewhat amused.
Even though Dolores can’t escape the general mobilization of all maids for the proper maintenance when the 『Rainy Season』 ends either, she probably looks forward to it so she can watch the new maids wailing like babies.
Her character might be slightly evil.
“But since the number of people has grown with Nilda-chan and the others joining us, it’s promising, isn’t it~?” (Rethe)
On the other hand, Rethe says something like that in her usual, carefree manner.
But, even though it’s a little optimistic, what she says isn’t wrong.
“Well, certainly, if the number of people increases, the individual workload will lessen.” (Dolores)
“But, I wonder what will happen if Nilda’s group officially joins the work?” (Fay)
Fay, who remembered the active maid duty rotation with the current number of people, raises such a question.
“Hmm, won’t the number of people per station increase?” (Nilda)
“They might create a mobile unit as reserve work forces.” (Luisa)
Nilda and Luisa discuss it, but everything is just conjecture.
In reality Zenjirou’s plan is neither of those.
Zenjirou has suggested to Aura that they allow the maids to take regular days off in the event that the number of maids grows.
Although it might be called a day off, inner palace maids aren’t allowed to leave the inner palace, of course. Even so, being free to have the whole day for themselves in their own room is meant to allow their minds and bodies to relax.
However, because canceling their holiday and assigning them to a workplace based on the head maid’s judgment is possible in emergencies, Luisa’s idea of a 『Reserve Work Force』 isn’t necessarily wrong either.
In any case, the new concept of 『Fixed Day Off』 is something that will spread through the entire inner palace later on.
“Oops, it’s getting late. Everyone, let’s start with the clean up.”
Everyone present stops chatting after Dolores’s remark and stand up.
“Oki, got it~. I will extinguish the fire in the oven~” (Rethe)
“Alright, I will put away the buckets then.” (Fay)
“I will wipe the table, so can you wash the tableware, Nilda, Luisa?” (Dolores)
Nonchalantly going with the flow, Dolores announces that she will wipe the table, which is the easiest task, and passes the dish-washing onto her two juniors.
“Yes, I understand!” (Nilda)
“Roger, I shall start from now.” (Luisa)
The new maids, who are completely unaware of Dolores’s machinations, obediently gather the tableware and carry it to the cooking area.
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