Chapter 73: The Crown Prince’s Confusion
Ina shows up from the carriage of Periknen Duke who stopped in front of the gate of the building where I live in the castle.
The yellow-based dress given to Periknen Duke was decorated with the sparkling magic stone, a specialty of his land.
As I thought she would jump out of the carriage like she used to do, descending from the small steps attached to the carriage, but she didn’t.
Getting off the carriage escorted by the legitimate son Jurremi, she said in a calm voice.
“Greetings from Ina Roine Periknen to His Highness Elias, the noble dawn of the kingdom.”
And Ina took a lady’s salute in front of me.
Jurremi also took a gentleman’s salute.
“… Hm, well done. Duke Jurremi must have had a hard time.”
Ina’s greeting was not wrong. Indeed, she was also behaving innocently, but it’s not surprising that she has a certain degree of manners and can perform proper salutes.
But for some reason, I felt disturbed by that.
Ina has been away for six months, and Father, His Majesty the King, has been less critical of her.
Is that because I have fulfilled my duties as the Crown Prince, or because I have ceased to be expected as the Crown Prince?
I heard the report that Ina’s reputation has risen among the ladies-in-waiting immediately after returning to the castle.
The reason for being away from the royal castle for a while was also to cut off the bad feelings held, so this is as expected.
…but. I think it’s sooner than I thought.
I called Ina’s female tutor who she had accompanied her to the Duchy of Periknen and asked about this.
“That’s because Miss Ina has a soul in her actions and words.”
“Soul… that’s an abstract expression.”
“The Crown Prince’s consort, in the end, should be prepared to become the queen. Just take one example of etiquette, if you just bow your head without any meaning or thinking, just because you were told to, there is no difference between just having a refined behavior.”
“I see. Did something change in the Duke of Periknen’s family?”
When I said that, the female tutor frowned as if she was troubled.
“I don’t think so. I believe it’s about the time period of less than a month from returning to the capital city ascension to the castle. Perhaps she attended tea parties or something and was influenced positively.”
Hmm, I see. Upon hearing that, I made her step back.
And then, during the personal tea party with her on that day, before I could compliment her, she suddenly started a conversation.
“I heard you summoned Vilhelmina-san to the castle.”
My hand holding the cup trembled and left a small stain on the tablecloth.
That’s ridiculous! How does Ina know about that?
I carefully returned the cup to the saucer and asked her.
“…Who did you hear it from?”
“Those who stand on the top can see farther and can also be seen from afar. That’s what I was taught.”
That’s true. Indeed, it’s just a minor matter to ask where she heard it from. But her way of speaking was not characteristic of Ina.
Or perhaps it is because I have made her suspicious. She continues.
“Elias-sama. I have come to understand that Ina cannot be queen.
“Wrong! Calling for Vilhelmina wasn’t to return that woman as my fiancée, it was to make Ina a queen!”
“I understand. Vilhelmina-san doesn’t desire that either. I heard that she stood before Your Highness with the determination to die.”
“Ridiculous!… Is Vilhelmina really such a woman? However, I will apologize for causing you unease. My wife is Ina, there’s no one else.”
She concealed a smile behind her fan.
“I am happy.”
In my mind, the image of her embracing me with a smiling face saying, “I’m so happy!” floated and disappeared.
I understand that this is her growth. As was said before, this private tea party is being judged by the ladies-in-waiting on the sidelines, and I believe that this is correct.
I feel something bitter sliding down the back of my throat.
“Ina cannot be, whom Your Highness loved, if I am to stand as queen, or if I cannot be queen, as long as I try to be.”
Her lovely chocolate brown eyes looked for a moment like the peridot I hated.
“I love you, Your Highness Elias. If only you were a rose fairy instead of a prince…no, that was disrespectful.”
He smiled sadly. Her smile was penetratingly beautiful.
But, I… I did not want to make you smile like that…I didn’t.