Limited Time, Kitchen Maid of the Fourth Knight Order ~I Got a Job Because I Don’t Want to Get Married~ – Chapter 29

𝐑𝐞𝐧𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐚𝐭𝐞

On the next day off after accompanying Roa-sama for some relaxation, Edgardo and Rolf didn’t show up. It was unusual for them to be absent consecutively, so I wondered if something had happened. However, the only person who did show up, Rene, told me,

“They’re both mature noblemen, aren’t they? They have various commitments.”

And that made sense to me. While Edgardo can only enjoy sweets here, it’s not surprising if Rolf doesn’t come.

“They’re both at an age where it wouldn’t be odd if they had lovers. I’ve heard that the higher the noble rank, the longer it takes to get engaged. Maybe Rolf-sama already has a fiancée.”

“Nobles can experience shifts in power relations over a few years. But, neither of those two have fiancées. I’ve never heard any such talk.”

“Rolf-sama appears to be in his early twenties.”

“Rolf is 22, and Edgardo is 17. It wouldn’t be odd if they were engaged, but they probably don’t even have lovers. Otherwise, they wouldn’t come here every time they have a day off.”

Over time, Rene, who had stopped putting on airs and started calling them by their first names, seemed more natural than when he was with the Order.

“True. You, Rene-sama, also don’t have a lover, do you?”

“Leave me out of it. More importantly, be careful. There seem to be some people trying to manipulate the royal younger brother to overthrow the king.”

“Is that so?!”

This is a serious matter.

Although I haven’t met the current king, he isn’t warlike and should be working on strengthening the nation. The notion that noblewomen shouldn’t work still holds strong, but it’s common for upper-class noblewomen to be maids or work in food-related jobs.

The one who created this environment is the current king, who is reportedly open to accepting talented individuals regardless of their social standing.

“The reason I could join the Order at the youngest age ever despite being a Viscount is thanks to King Coleesh. A generation ago, it wouldn’t have been strange for them to tell me to wait for a few years or until other young upper nobility joined. I am truly grateful to His Majesty for giving a powerless Viscount like me the title of the youngest ever to join the Order.”

“The Norchev family has also been loyal to the crown for generations. A long time ago, one of my ancestors was about to be dismissed, but the king at the time intervened. What kind of person is the royal younger brother?”

“He’s average and doesn’t seem to have a bad relationship with the king. He rarely appears in public, though. From what I can gather, it seems that he is surrounded by people opposed to the king. He probably doesn’t want to rebel, so he’s not coming out or actively gathering allies. He’s biding his time.”

“It’s strange for a royal to not be able to act immediately.”

“It’s precisely because he’s a royal. One doesn’t know how their words will be used. He might be silently resisting those opposed to the king by appearing inept. Imagine, Alice, if all the knights were your enemies? Your words and deeds would be watched closely, and any mistake would be directly linked to a rebellion.”

“That’s scary.”

“Right? Surrounded by untrustworthy aides who are saying things like 『the royal younger brother is unhappy with the king’s rule』 elsewhere. Then they’re gathering rebel forces in your name and, when the time comes, you’ll be presented as the ringleader.”

“Oh, wow! Isn’t His Majesty doing anything about it?”

“I think he is. However, the factions are entirely different. Prince Linus is surrounded by the Dyson faction, so it’s not easy to infiltrate or move people. The Dyson family still holds considerable power, even more so lately.”

Power is frightening. Nobility is frightening.

Lost in thought, Rene doesn’t notice as I place a trial batch of sauce in front of him. I’m not particularly good at tasting, so I’m struggling after doing too many trials. I feel like my head is going to explode from overthinking.

 ㅤ

“Rene-sama, please taste this.”

“. . .This sauce has a nice tanginess to it. Seems good for hot weather. This one is spicy and refreshing, just the way I like!”

“I have a bit of confidence in it. However, I think it can be easily replicated. The ingredients and steps are not complicated.”

“Hmm. . .then let’s go out. I’ll take you to a restaurant I recommend. For chefs, eating out is also part of learning.”

“A chef. . .”

It was the first time anyone had called me that.

When I was at home, I would cook because they were short-handed and they appreciated my cooking. It was more of a household chore than a job.

“You’re dedicating yourself to cooking, so you’re a chef. Just to be clear, being a beginner or inexperienced doesn’t matter! Everyone starts off inexperienced and unskilled!”

“. . .Thank you.”

Rene’s words resonated deep within me. I was genuinely happy.

“Shall we go? I’m looking forward to your recommended restaurant, Rene-sama!”

“Wait, you’re planning to go out in your uniform?”

“Yes. I’ve always gone out in my uniform when I was with Edgardo-sama and Rolf-sama.”

“. . .I get Edgardo, that young master probably doesn’t notice. But why Rolf. . .never mind. Go change quickly. You’ll stand out if you go out in a royal uniform.”

After a staring contest with Rene, I gave in.

I reluctantly returned to the dorm to change. I do have clothes, but the dresses designed for noble daughters are hard to put on alone. Having others bow to you is considered a status symbol, they say.

I’m from the financially strapped Norchev family, but we’ve served in the royal palace for generations. I can’t afford to look weird.

I took off my uniform and hung it on a hanger, and wore a day dress. It’s an ankle-length one-piece, modestly decorated with lace and embroidery. Conservative if you look at it one way, plain if you look at it another.

There’s a zipper at the back, so I pull it up as far as I can, then take out a backscratcher. It’s a specialized tool for pulling up zippers, like a rake on the end of a stick. Not all nobles can afford to hire maids or handmaidens.

I manage to hook the backscratcher onto the zipper and pull it up slowly. The zipper has tiny gemstones, a standard design, so pulling it up carelessly could mean losing them.

After pulling up the zipper, I re-tie my hair and head out. Rene had piled up the containers of the leftover sauces and gathered the spoons.

“Thank you. I’ll put away the sauces right away.”

“It’s the least I could do. You’re going out in that outfit?”

“Is there something wrong with it?”

The colors are a trendy combination of white and lime yellow for young women. The neckline is a modest square cut. My mom and I consulted and bought it, expecting it to last for several years.

“Aren’t you going to wear a necklace or put on makeup? Even your hair is simply tied low in the back, like always.”

“There are decorative pieces on my hair tie. As for makeup, I’ve applied it modestly, not too bold nor too plain. I didn’t bring a necklace, so it can’t be helped.”

“. . .You really just came here to work, didn’t you?”

“I am a kitchen maid, so it’s not surprising if people think I came here looking for romance. However, even noble daughters would prefer to choose their own life partners, rather than settle for an arranged marriage. That’s what my friends say.”

“. . .Yeah, that’s true. But you’re different, Alice? You’re studying hard to adjust flavors to suit commoners. You’re planning on opening a shop, right?”

“. . .I don’t know. I want to, but. . .”

It’s been decades since I was betrayed, counting from my past life. Yet still, unpleasant memories cling to the depths of my heart, refusing to leave. Memories that twisted my life and character, that made me despair on that day.

“Let’s just go. The restaurant will close.”

“Can I buy a bottle on the way?”

“A bottle?! Sure, but. . .Why not a necklace?”

“A bottle it is.”

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