Chapter 14: Tea Party for Two
in the afternoon.
The sun shines brightly in the blue sky, and there are no clouds to be seen.
It’s a little hot outside if you do not stay in the shade.
In the gardens of the castle there was a white terrace.
I’m by myself at a table with tea and pastries.
And then he comes.
“I apologize for being late.”
“No, I just got here myself.”
“You’re an awful liar. I saw you from inside the castle. I’ve been keeping you waiting for a long time.”
With these words, His Highness took a seat opposite me.
We look at each other, take a deep breath, and then His Highness takes the floor.
“Shall we then begin?”
“Yes—Today’s tea ceremony.”
Every three days, His Highness and I have a private tea party.
The place is this terrace.
We only talk for about an hour, but it’s a pleasant and relaxing conversation.
“Are you busy with work?”
“Yes, indeed. Today I have a lot of work to do.”
“Is it… Are you okay with this? Having a tea party?
“I can handle it. It always does.”
He is drinking tea the entire time he is speaking.
When you are pressed for time and have little time to spare, you become impatient.
His Highness seemed to be in a hurry even while drinking his tea.
He seems to be very busy these days, and he doesn’t come to my room as often as he used to.
Instead, Prince Leoness and Princess Lenari visit me every day to keep me company.
“There’s no need for a tea party if you’re too busy.”
“That’s not the case. It’s like the customs of this country.”
Spending time together as husband and wife and family has always been a tradition in the Kingdom of Istonia.
It is a way of thinking passed down from generation to generation that wishes for the prosperity of future generations.
Perhaps this is why the Kingdom of Istonia’s population is growing year after year.
“We, the royal family, must lead by example and demonstrate that this is a way of thinking that we want to preserve in the future.”
“That’s why we have tea parties on a regular basis.”
Make time for each other, no matter how busy you are or how little time you have.
That was the purpose of these tea parties.
I think it’s a lovely tradition and admire it.
But it didn’t appear to be much of a blessing to His Highness, who has been extremely busy.
“To be honest, between you and me, I don’t think this custom is necessary.”
“It’s a little tight for busy people, isn’t it?”
“That’s one reason, but it’s not the main one. Customs… Isn’t it more about peer pressure? We don’t have to take it on faith, do we? If you want to spend time together as a couple, you should think about it. There are all kinds of people in this world.”
What His Highness is attempting to say is clear to me.
to be shown around, to decide that you should do it, and to make time for your marriage.
In other words, we must coerce each other into doing something we do not want to do.
What exactly is a couple? What exactly is a family…?
Is it a relationship that can only last if each person forces the other to act a certain way?
Then that’s the extent of our relationship.
“Other people have their own ways of doing things and spending their time. I don’t believe we should be forced to conform.”
“That is true. I, too, do not want to be forced to fit in.”
Maybe it’s because I’ve been busy myself.
I understand how his highness feels.
When you have your hands full with what’s in front of you and you’re told to do this and that from the sidelines.
When you get an urgent call, you wonder why now?
I’m sure it’s for the same reason.
It’s a shame to be frustrated and not enjoy the opportunity.
“However, if the general public heard what we’re saying right now, there would undoubtedly be a storm of condemnation.”
“Is that so? I think some people would agree.”
“I’m sure there aren’t many. The mindset I just described is the norm in this country, at least. Overcoming common sense requires a lot of evidence and a lot of time. It’s all we can do right now to talk about it in our little world.”
“It’s not a bad tradition, is it?”
“Yes—It’s a lovely way of thinking, in my opinion.”
Spending quality time as a couple and as a family.
I am aware that this is something beautiful to strive for.
That is why changing anything is so difficult.
“Yes—On a completely different note, may I invite my mother and father to tea?”
That’s a very abrupt change of subject, and the content bothers me.
“It’s getting late, but have you had a chance to speak properly? My father and the others have been too busy to do anything about it, but I believe it is past time for us to talk.”
“W-Well, you’re right…”
The father of His Highness, the greatest man in the land, and his wife.
We met on our wedding day and exchanged a few kind words.
On the contrary, we have never had the opportunity to talk to each other.
It is said that they are not seen in the royal palace because they are on a business trip outside of the royal capital.
His Highness says they’ll be back in three days.
His Highness suggests a face-to-face meeting, even though it is far too late.
“You don’t mind, do you?”
“Y-Yes! I will give it my all.”
“You don’t have to give your all; just speak normally.”
“W-Well, if you say so…”
The other party is the king in this country, and you can’t help but be nervous.
His Highness is planning in a lighthearted manner.
But will I be able to communicate effectively?
I’m getting nervous now.