Tensei Saki de Suterareta no de, Mofumofu Tachi to Oryouri Shimasu ~Okazari Ouhi wa my Pace ni Saikyou Desu~
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4. A Gloomy Supper
“Milady, you must be tired. Thank you for your hard work. It seems that you were delayed today. Did something happen at the academy?”
As soon as I exited through the front entrance of the academy, a carriage awaited me. Standing in front of it was a beautiful, black-haired attendant who greeted me.
He was Lucian, my valet. He was tall and slender with handsome, well-arranged features and a humble yet elegant appearance.
To sum him up, at first glance, he gave off a “capable butler” vibe.
He’s not currently a butler, but such a competent 22-year-old young man eventually may someday become the Duke’s butler.
“…encountered a great deal of trouble. I’ll tell you the details in the carriage.”
I took Lucian’s extended hand and entered the boxy carriage.
If it had been my previous self, I would have excitedly said things like, “A real-life lady! What a sight! Such a perk!” at the sight of an exchange between a young lady and her servant.
I leaned back on the soft seat as Lucian sat across from me. The coachman then whipped with his rod and the carriage started moving. I took a little time to organize my thoughts then began to talk about what had happened today.
“His Highness, Fritz, has declared that our engagement is no more.”
Lucian’s blue eyes widened in surprise then squinted dangerously.
“What do you mean? To joke about breaking off your engagement like that is…”
“Unfortunately, it’s not a lie. I was informed of this in public right in front of the academy’s entrance. Furthermore, I got exiled from the country.”
Lucian’s eyes sharpened steadily as I explained.
“…That idiotic prince. How dare he embarrass milady like that. He deserves death.”
Lucian was mercilessly cursing the Crown Prince.
For instance, “That simpleton is…#$@%&%*!”
When he started cursing like that, he had quite the foul mouth.
…Although I also called Fritz a simpleton prince in my mind so I wasn’t really one to talk.
…Well, let’s leave them as inner monologues.
Lucian always behaved like a perfect butler and conducted himself just like the upper class by nature, but he was, in reality, a low-born commoner. Though he had been serving me for a long time, his tone under stress still sometimes reverted to a commoner’s.
“That idiot prince. I knew he would do it one day, but…Are you going to accept his unreasonable demands including banishment, milady?”
“I’m going to leave the country gracefully. We must not divide the nation by deepening the conflict between my house and the royal family.”
“Aristocrats should devote themselves to the people and the country.” These were some of the few words I had received from my father.
The level of civilization in this world roughly corresponded to what we had called the Middle Ages in my past modern life. There were strict differences in social status, especially in our country, and there was a vast difference in class between commoners and aristocrats.
Many aristocrats acted tyrannically with reckless disregard for commoners. Unlike them, my father proudly strived to fulfil his aristocratic obligations. I admired him a lot for that. In truth, I didn’t remember him being affectionate with me as his daughter at all. Now, with regained memories of loving parents in my previous life, I had a few thoughts, but I decided to set them aside for now.
“…It hasn’t yet been decided where I will be exiled to. There’s a good chance that they will send me to the Empire or some other horrible country. If that does happen, Lucian you’ll leave me and remain in the Kingdom—”
“Milady, if you allow me, I will follow you to the ends of the earth,” Lucian declared to me. “It was Lady Leticia who took me from the orphanage after I lost my parents.”
Seven years ago, when I was ten years old, my father had ordered me to select a number of people to become my attendants. I was worried about choosing when we happened upon a 15-year-old Lucian while on a charity visit to an orphanage.
Despite concern over his lack of a proper education, Lucian had learned how to read and write by imitating others, and helped run the orphanage. Impressed by his excellence, I strongly recommended to my father that Lucian become my attendant.
My father was hesitant at first so he gave Lucian a probationary period of one year to show his worth. As a result, Lucian learned etiquette, perfected it, and acquired additional skills as a servant. In just a year he was recognized by my father.
…I think what I did was kind of bold, but the end result was all right.
Normally, ladies from a ducal family would stay far away from people of lower birth. It had been just a little while since I had regained memories of my past life, but my experiences and values from that life might have influenced my current self, more or less.
“Thank you, Lucian. You don’t have to feel indebted to me. I took you in because I wanted an outstanding attendant. It was for my own self-interest.”
“I too am well aware of milady’s reasons. How they do not only stem from self-interest, but also from thoughtfulness towards me. I’m also well aware of milady’s pride and kindness as the daughter of the Duke, and milady’s concern and love for this country. I know it all too well.”
Lucian put his hand on his chest, saluting me.
Receiving such genuine respect made me happy and a little bit embarrassed, but warm inside nonetheless.
…When I thought about it, today had been a terrible day.
My engagement was annulled, I got pushed in the fountain, my ex-fiancé cursed at me, and a muscleman threatened me.
The series of events had exposed me to hostility and hatred, and that made me feel insecure. Amid all that, Lucian’s show of devoted loyalty gave me a sense of relief.
“I must be very lucky to have someone as loyal as you.”
“I’m undeserving of such words, milady.”
Lucian smiled with not only courteous respect, but also deep affection.
—The soothing moment ended with the slowing of the carriage’s wheels. We neared the Duke’s residence in the eastern part of the capital.
“Don’t be so discouraged, milady. I’m on your side no matter what happens.”
I thanked Lucian for handling my depressed mood.
He didn’t let it show, but I’m sure he had noticed, since we had known each other for years.
“It might be hard to tell your father, the Duke, about the annulled engagement.…I’m sure the Duke won’t be so unreasonable as to blame you.”
“…Yes, I’m sure. “
I smiled ambiguously at Lucian then looked away.
I was indeed dreading informing my father of the cancellation of my engagement and my exile, but the most pressing matter for me now was not that.
It might have seemed trivial to others, but to my reincarnated self, there was one thing that I feared the most.
The sun was starting to set by the time I got out of the carriage.
—It was almost dinner time.
I went to my room to change, and after a while a maid knocked on my door to inform me that dinner was ready.
As always, I put on an elegant, expressionless façade that lived up to my position as a lady from a duke’s family. But in reality, I was feeling rather grim as the maid led me to the dining room.
…The background music that was playing inside my head was Donna Donna.1
The Duke’s residence was vast. Donna’s lyrics were halfway through the second verse when we reached the dining room. The maid drew out a seat for me from a dining table that could easily accommodate ten people.
Shortly after I sat down, the back door opened.
A strong odor that stimulated the nasal cavity was emitted.
Even though the smell was still far away, I could tell by the spices used in this cooking.…
…no matter how you looked at it, it was no good, thank you very much.
As a way to escape reality, I acted out some comic routines in my head. In the meantime, the dishes were served.
This country’s serving style was to line up everything, from the main dish to the soup, on the table at once. The intensity of the smell left me feeling helpless so I grasped my fork timidly.
Let’s start with the appetizer.
It was a green salad made of vegetables harvested from the outskirts of the royal capital. The problem was with the gleaming sauce on top of the vegetables.
It was gooey and looked a lot like brown sauce from my previous life, but only appearance-wise. You could tell the difference as soon as you took a bite. It had a strong, indescribable flavour; it was both too spicy and too sour at the same time. The sauce was so strong that I couldn’t taste the supposedly fresh vegetables.
Honestly, it wasn’t delicious at all, but I gulped it down with a composed face. I controlled my facial expression in an instant. I had cultivated this skill to the max as both a corporate slave and as a lady from a duke’s family.
Unfortunately, the same sauce was also on the main dish, which was meat. Of course, vegetables and meat were not the same so the sauce had been mixed differently. But it had the same effect and I also couldn’t taste the meat. I was no longer eating seasoned meat, but meat-looking chunks of spice.
If I were to compare this meat to that in Japan, it would be equivalent to high-class A5 meat. However, this dish didn’t make use of its excellent qualities and it was extremely disappointing.
…Well, it’s not so bad that you can’t eat it.
All the dishes on the table, from meat to vegetables and perhaps even the spices too, were undoubtedly the first class of ingredients available in the country.
Nevertheless, it was not delicious.
The spices that had been sprinkled and kneaded into the dishes ruined them. It was such a waste.
Do you like spices on their own?
My favorite food was stir-fried vegetables with black peppers, which I used to make in my past life. But I thought that the food right in front of me was too much. The saying, “too much is as bad as too little,” never rang truer to me than it did now.
There was a reason why they used so many spices in these dishes. It was because of the sea route with the southern continent, newly discovered 40 years ago. It had people smacking their lips at the new variety of spices coming from the south.
The condition of food in this world was not the same as in my previous one. There wasn’t even selective breeding of vegetables. As such, they brought large amounts of spices to increase flavour and for food preservation.
People were so obsessed with these spices that even high-ranking aristocrats began to collect them. It became a sort of competition to show off one’s wealth and status by making food with plenty of spices. It was so overheated.
As a result, the original taste of the ingredients was ignored in dishes like those on the table. Of course, you wouldn’t find a commoner or just any aristocrat using these many spices.
It’s because I was from a ducal house.
Most of the dishes that were served at the daily table were almost entirely over-seasoned. Now that I remembered how I used to cook and eat as hobbies in my past life, I found this a rather difficult situation.
By the way, the sense of taste of people in this world was no different from that in my past life. The food from downtown, which I ate when I had had the chance in the past, had been simple yet delicious. Moreover, the wines currently served at aristocratic dinners were mainly those with a refreshing taste. In addition to wine, water seasoned with lemon usually accompanied meals.
…I could only think of it as a way to ease the over-flavoured food.
However, the aristocrats appreciated such spicy dishes because of their honour.2 I guessed that it was because culinary arts here were not as developed in the first place, and the techniques to bring out the taste of the ingredients were not as widespread.
Spices are delicious.
It’s true that if you use a lot of spices, the food will surely taste better. Based on that, I think that’s why they gradually increased their use. Instead, this caused the taste buds to become numb which in turn caused the cuisine to reach this state.
This trend of slathering spices on food was not unique to our country; it was the same to varying degrees throughout the western continent. Most aristocratic dining tables used spices excessively, with few exceptions.
A rare exception to this was the neighboring Kingdom of Liorbern. Perhaps because it was a country with vast farmland and a great attachment to domestic agriculture, it seemed that their aristocrats didn’t use as many spices.
Liorbern was in upheaval about two years ago and the crown prince was replaced, but the new Crown Prince seemed to be very good. Thanks to that, their internal security had improved and their reputation was mostly good these days.
With their moderate use of spices, great Crown Prince, and superb internal affairs, it made someone like me, who had been getting violated by over-spiciness and abused by that dim-witted Prince, envious.
…If I am going to get deported anyway, I’d like to go to Liorbern or another country with good food, I earnestly wished as I expressionlessly ingested this over-spiced food.
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