Chapter Seventeen: The Duchess Stops The Prince
POV: Prince Francis
After the Princess made her formal appearance at the welcoming party, the number of tea party invites increased at once. It seemed that the people had been waiting till now as she wasn’t used to the court yet so, I wanted her to have some time getting familiar with the sudden change of pace. However, at the welcome party, she played the role of a princess better than I expected. The Ambassador of the southern country was very pleased with the knowledgeable and kind-hearted princess. The King of the Southern Kingdom also sent me a letter that read, “we await the newly wed’s trip to our nation, and would personally like to greet the rumored princess during her visit to our nation.”
Now, there were many people out there who wanted to be on good terms with her and be friends with The Princess. According to a report from the maid of the detached place, the number of tea party invites increased day in day out. Although she accepted the invitations from the most important invitees, it was impossible to respond to all of them. The Princess wasn’t good at socializing; even at the banquet hall, she was anxious and fidgeting out of nervousness at first.
Whenever I thought of The Princess, the first thing that came to mind was an image of her playing with the alpaca while humming a song or her appearance of kneading the dough for bread with her knight.
As that was her natural appearance, I was aware of making a formal appearance in public. A figure I recognized came from the other side, walking towards me, and called.
“We meet again, Prince Francis.”
“Indeed, Lady Lagras. It is always a pleasure to meet you, my lady.”
The woman who smiled gracefully was lady Lagras, and I knew her personally. House of Lagras was of the Duke rank, a direct relative of the royal family, and I was aware she took care of me several times as a child. Because of that, I respected her very much.
The Duchess looked at me and inched closer.
“Your Highness, I invited Princess Adelina to a tea party hosted by me yesterday.”
“Oh, May I ask what she was like at the party?”
The fact she came to meet me personally troubled me; I hope nothing went wrong. Contrary to what I thought, the Duchess let out a little chuckle while covering her mouth with a wooden fan.
“Fufu. When I heard she was your wife of choice, who tends to dream of some princess of fate, I wondered what kind of princess she would be. I wasn’t disappointed; you got an interesting lady, Your Highness, if I may say.”
“An interesting lady, you say?”
“Yes, I have not met a lady who knows how to cook and grow crops like her. She is familiar with this knowledge as if she personally experienced it herself.” The Duchess’s eyes narrowed at the last part. It was like she was asking why I chose such a woman. Duchess Lagras is the shadow ruler of this country’s social circle, a lady with tremendous influence. Leaving a bad impression on her wasn’t very good for one’s social life, even if you were The Crown Prince. It was no exaggeration to say that the fate of Aureliana will be decided based on my response here. I looked straight at the Duchess as I took a deep breath. Aureliana was a strange girl; however, she hasn’t done anything to embarrass herself, me, or the nation. I had to do my best to affirm her.
“Well, she has created fields and ranches near the detached palace and is actively visiting them. She would eventually become a queen; therefore, she is a symbol of the country and the mother of this nation. I’m proud of her; she has a brand perspective and tries to learn about the hardships of the common folk.” The words I spoke out of my mouth were the truth and spoken from my heart. If I, The Crown Prince, respected the queen, the Duchess wouldn’t treat Aureliana harshly. At least, not openly. However, if anyone tried to make trouble for Aureliana, I would destroy them.
The Duchess stared at me without blinking and suddenly relaxed her expression.
“You’ve grown a lot, Your Highness.”
“I am honored to have you say that, my Lady.”
“However, I was afraid that you would choose a woman who tends to dream or a woman with an empty mind. But, it appears I was wrong.”
“I am pleased to have surpassed your expectations!”
“True, you’ve indeed surpassed it. It is very rare to find such a wonderful lady as your life partner. Trust me on this: never let her go.”
After she said that, she bowed gracefully, leaving me astonished. From her words, the Duchess acknowledged Aureliana as my Princess. The words that she denounced at the beginning were probably to figure out my true thoughts about Aureliana. Aureliana seemed to fit her glasses. When I thought more about it, a sudden joy sprung from the depths of my heart, giving me an unknown relief. All of a sudden, I wanted to go to Aureliana.
“It’s over. I am done this time. All I want to do is bury myself somewhere!”
“Please calm down, Your Highness!”
“Since I was so nervous, I talked about extra things? The timing of harvesting tomatoes a-and the recommended tomato dishes a-and these trivial things weren’t interesting to the Duchess? Oh, why did I do that? I wonder what I said that… n-no it can’t be undone now! I want to sink into the bottom of the sea and become a shellfish right now!”
When I visited the detached Palace, Aureliana was highly distraught. In fact, she was desperately calmed down by her exclusive knight, Danforth, and the maids. She looked up at me with a pale face.
“Oh, Prince. I—“
“—just met with the Duchess of Lagras.”
“Oh my God”
I approached The Princess and whispered,
“Lady Lagras seems to like you very much. You know how to grow and cook tomatoes.”
The Princess gave a gasp of surprise.
“You don’t have to force yourself to tell a lie, Aureliana. Your best self is who you are; your natural disposition is the most attractive.”
When I said that, her cheeks turned red like a tomato. It was as simple as that, and I felt uplifted.
“You are saying the same thing as Lord Danforth.”
I glared at Danforth involuntarily as she said those words. Although I was her husband, it seemed like I was a second decoration compared to Danforth.