Author: rolypoly

After checking the northern wall, Maximilian gave up sleeping and ran at dawn to return to the mansion overnight.

 

He couldn’t understand why he was in such a hurry.

 

One of the knights following him said, ‘Well, the Madam will be waiting for you.’ He smiled softly, but he couldn’t agree.

 

She couldn’t have waited for Maximilian in the first place.

 

It was clear from the uncomfortable expression on her face whenever they occasionally met.

 

Nevertheless, he hurried back.

 

They might think he just wanted to do it, but he didn’t bother looking for a good excuse.

 

「I understand. Don’t you have to come back quickly instead? Instead of going to the capital, we decided to hold a big banquet for everyone.」

 

What Quentin said just happened to be a good shield.

 

Yeah, he promised a banquet.

 

He muttered that for no reason and tightly gripped the reins.

 

It was early in the morning when he arrived at the mansion. 

 

Because they hadn’t been notified of his arrival, only a few servants hurriedly rushed to the front door to greet him.

 

He wasn’t the type to care about his appearance, so he took off his overcoat moderately and went into the front door. 

 

As if she had been contacted urgently, his wife also ran out with a face of sleeplessness and welcomed him.

 

“Y, you’re back.” 

 

Of course, it wasn’t particularly welcoming.

 

“Yes.”

 

Even though it was a reunion after a year, there was no special story. They didn’t even have much to talk about.

 

Only by looking around the front door, she managed the castle properly in Maximilian’s absence. 

 

Maximilian thought for a moment about whether he should thank his wife, who wasn’t even close to his heart, but he quickly shut his mouth.

 

Because it’ll just make her more uncomfortable.

 

“Then,” he said in a low voice and turned his body.

 

“Ah, that!”
 

But for some reason today, his wife called him up first.

 

It was almost the first time this had happened in their married life, so he stopped, feeling slightly embarrassed.

 

“….?” 

 

“T, the child!”

The voice that barely spoke was so low that Maximilian had to bend down to listen to her.

 

“Please help me… I’m sorry.” 

 

* * *

 

“Can I answer this question, Duke?”

 

And when Clarisse asks questions with her amber eyes wide open. 

 

Maximilian looked at the child’s clothes and where she was, and he clearly understood what his wife meant when she said, ‘Help me.’

 

“D, Duke!”

The face of the maid who found him belatedly turned pale.

 

‘That maid…’

 

Maximilian quickly remembered that she was brought from Count Darrington, his wife’s family. 

 

Even more memorable was that she never left his wife’s side.

 

‘….’

 

At that moment, complex emotions flooded in.

 

He thought that his wife’s maid was… such a human.

 

“T, there was a misunderstanding, Duke.  I was just asking if there was a guest that the Duke had brought.…” 

 

The maid bowed down and gave an excuse.

 

“I see.” 

 

“It’s really just that.  But isn’t the Lady acting as if I just asked about something bad?”

 

“It’s not a Lady. A prisoner.”

 

At his answer, Bessie smiled broadly and raised her head. 

 

Although she called Clarisse ‘Lady’ because the Duke took good care of her, she had no desire to treat the fallen princess as her superior. 

 

And the Duke didn’t seem to feel sorry for the child either, so she was sure that he would trust her more, his wife’s maid.

 

“Yes, that’s right. It is the remnant of the evil Grezekaia. Anyway, I was struggling because she was a rebellious kid. I’ll create a good habit in her here—” 

 

Because the Duke’s gaze had changed drastically, Bessie couldn’t bring herself to speak and had to bend her head even more deeply.

 

She just received her gaze, and it felt like it would choke her.

 

“Are you making fun of the law?”

 

“Y, yes…?” 

 

“Clarisse Lennon Grezekaia must survive healthily until she is 18 years old.”

 

 He glanced around the poor room, then glared at Bessie again.

 

“But in a room without a fireplace, are you going to take the death penalty instead if a sinner catches a cold and something goes wrong?” 

 

“No! I didn’t mean to do this…” 

 

She showed an instantaneous thought.

 

“T, the Duchess ordered me to do this!”

 

“….”

 

The Duke didn’t answer.

 

Instead, he only looks at her with a deeper gaze as if he is weighing her down. 

 

“T, the Madam… ordered me….” 

 

Bessie’s voice began to creep in, probably realizing right away that he didn’t believe her.

 

Maximilian waved lightly at the knights who followed him.

 

“Take her to the dungeon.”

 

“…D, Duke!”

Bessie screamed in surprise. 

 

But he didn’t listen and recited the charges calmly. 

 

“It’s not enough to break the law and the king’s order, and she is the one who makes a false accusation against her master.” 

 

“….!” 

 

As the two knights seized her arms from either side, another servant, returning from the garden, approached the Duke and held out a dirty pouch. 

 

It was something that Bessie threw through the window a while ago.

 

“It fell under the window.”

 

The Duke, who took this, crumpled his brows and stared at her. 

 

“….Besides, did you intend to kill my guest?”

 

“Y, yes?”

 

What does it mean by a guest? 

 

The Duke held out a pouch of stones to her, but she didn’t know what he meant and just blinked her eyes.

 

“It’s a guests.” 

 

“T, that’s pebbles.”

 

“No, it’s Mallang.” 

 

“Yes?” 

 

“Four of them make one Mallang.” 

 

The Duke added an explanation as if to point out an important point.

 

Of course, Bessie didn’t understand at all.

 

“Take her.”

At the Duke’s command, the knights dragged the struggling maid into the dungeon.

 

* * *

 

Due to the punishment of the Duchess’ handmaid, the atmosphere in the Duke’s mansion became rather bloody. 

 

The servants thought the Duke might also hold the other servants guilty for not stopping Bessie’s misdeeds.

 

If nothing else, he is a person who really values keeping the law and the king’s order.

 

But he didn’t punish anyone but Bessie. 

 

He only improves Clarisse’s treatment first.

 

He attached a trusted maid, Rosalie, to Clarisse.

 

She was a veteran who started working as a maid at the age of 18 and turned 52 this year.

 

The Duke wanted to hire her as the head maid of the Duke’s residence, but she kept working as the general maid by her will. 

 

“This child is a sinner, so there is no need to serve her as a Lady.”

 

The sensible maid answered her master’s words with a smile.

 

“Yes, but a child needs an adult’s helping hand.” 

 

“Yeah. And the clothes….” 

 

He looked up and down at the old dress Clarisse was wearing.

 

Her clothes were thin, and her arms were loose, so she was at high risk of falling or catching a cold.

 

‘To think she’s wearing clothes like this.’

 

Maximilian was relieved to think that he had returned in a hurry.

 

It was certain that such a small child would get sick if she had endured the cold of Sheridan for two days in such clothes.

 

Clarisse quickly responded as if she knew his concern.

 

“I’m fine!”

 

Clarisse didn’t want to worry the person who saved her life about her clothes because it’ll be annoying.

 

“As expected, I should get some clothes with fluffy fur.”

 

“T, that… Is it Sheridan’s prison uniform?”

 

“Hmm, well.” 

 

The Duke frowned for a moment and was lost in thought.

 

Actually, the fur coat wasn’t a prison uniform.

 

However, if he gave a real prison uniform to a child who suffered from a cold like this, it was certain that she would freeze to death before she was eighteen.

 

“That’s how it is.”

 

He decided just to do so and nodded.

 

What mattered wasn’t what she was wearing. It was the treatment of Clarisse.

 

“You will be held here as a prisoner of war until you are eighteen.”

 

He cautioned the child not to forget it, just in case.

 

“I will keep quiet. I won’t even have a birthday party.”

 

When Clarisse answered what had been agreed upon, the Duke nodded in satisfaction. The smart kid didn’t like it.

 

“Yeah, because it doesn’t have to happen in the middle.”

 

Afterward, Maximilian provided Clarisse with a prison where she could grow up safely until 18.

 

Fortunately, the room was a children’s room that was quite close to the Duke and Duchess’s room, and it was said to be a room that would be used by the Young Master and Lady born in the castle. 

 

“Oh, it’s so luxurious for me. It’s too much, Duke.”

 

“Think of the essence.”

 

The Duke calmly explained why he had chosen this room.

 

“This is two stories high, so I can prevent you from escaping through the window.”

 

“I am not running away.”

 

“But now that you’re a prisoner, I must be prepared for all possibilities. Also, the hallway on the second floor is always guarded by soldiers.”

 

The Duke put more firewood into the fireplace, which had been piled up in one corner of the room, with a satisfied look when he thought about it again.

 

The fire blazed up and let out warmth.

 

“In other words, this room is the most perfect prison for prisoners in Sheridan Castle.”

 

“Perfect…prison.”

 

As Clarisse muttered after him, Rosalie, who had brought a thick cotton blanket, held it out to the Duke.

 

He touched the blanket himself and nodded.

 

“It would be better to change it to something lighter. It’ll be troublesome if a heavy blanket weighs you down before you’re eighteen.” 

 

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