“Is this how Rotiara treats its masters?” The princess admonished Lady Petisson and the physician, her gaze emotionless and stern.
Not just in Argan, but in any place, it was to be expected that the concerns of subordinates should not take precedence over the orders of superiors.
Finally, Lady Petisson took a step back.
“…I apologize. My impetuous attendant acted hastily. Very well then, we shall postpone the examination until evening and proceed with the bath…”
“It would be wise to have only one maid remain.” Elise emitted a brief laugh, the second time she had uttered those words. Her manner of speaking grew more affectionate, yet distant.
“I don’t particularly relish being doted on by a multitude of attendants. Long entourages often become cumbersome and wearisome,” she sighed.
“If the number of attendants in Rotiara is indicative of the master’s status, then I am willing to comply,” Elise stated firmly.
“The Duke may have had a small retinue, but it could be different for the Duchess. So, why don’t you answer?” she directed her gaze towards a maid standing in a corner diagonally opposite Lady Petisson.
The young maid, with a timid countenance, appeared startled and glanced around as if searching for assistance.
“Your Highness, well…” the maid began, her voice hesitant, while Lady Petisson attempted to intervene. Elise raised her hand to silence her. “I asked the girl. Answer,” she insisted.
“Oh, um…” the young maid stuttered, cautiously inching forward. A slight crack appeared in Lady Petisson’s previously composed expression.
“Typically… His Grace dislikes any unnecessary fuss, so I’ve heard that the number of attendants is deliberately kept to a minimum…”
“Well, that’s fortunate. I have no intention of tarnishing Rotiara’s reputation by burdening it with an excessive entourage.”
“Of course not. That was never the intention,” Lady Petisson finally found her voice again, interjecting once more. Elise smiled serenely, her composure unbroken.
“Is there any valid reason to have more personnel here than necessary? It inconveniences me as well, and it does not violate proper etiquette.”
“I believe that is sufficient. I hope you comprehend that repeating the same words can become tiresome,” Elise remarked firmly. At this juncture, Lady Petisson had no further basis to stubbornly persist. She bowed politely, concealing her displeasure with care.
“Very well, then. I shall dismiss everyone for now. I apologize for any distress caused,” Lady Petisson declared. The princess nodded, unclasping the brooch on her robe. She maintained her composure until the very end. With a parting wish, she effectively ushered the group of maids out of the bedroom.
The bedroom door shut coldly.
“They were incredibly impudent!” Ivetsa exclaimed, her face flushed with anger. “They were utterly unprepared for the mistress’s arrival. No one in Rotiara dares to challenge the Duchess’s authority! You must inform His Grace immediately!”
“Yes, when the opportunity presents itself, I will talk to him. Would you please take care of the robe?” Elise responded, her voice tinged with exhaustion.
“Tonight, right away! Hand me the robe. I can’t believe this. They won’t even allow the Duchess a moment to catch her breath!” Ivetsa exclaimed, her words overflowing with passion. Amidst her fervent outburst, one unexpected phrase caught Elise’s attention.
Tonight. Elise’s gaze flickered briefly toward the canopied bed. Ivetsa reiterated, carefully choosing her words.
“You must speak to His Grace tonight, without fail, understood?”
“Well, if he comes,” Elise replied, her voice tinged with uncertainty.
“Of course, he should come. Surely His Grace wouldn’t let you sleep alone here. It’s the first night in Rotiara, after all.”
Attaching significance to the first night seemed somewhat unnecessary. They had spent nights in the same vicinity throughout their journey. However, in reality, it was Elise alone who had slept. Rezette, on the other hand, did not appear to have even closed his eyes.
On occasion, when Elise felt the chill, Rezette would join her on the bed, but she had never witnessed him in slumber. After spending two weeks together and immediately proceeding to the military base upon arrival, he must undoubtedly be weary.
“Even for a soldier, he must desire a few days of rest,” she would rationalize. However, in truth, Elise had not yet fully composed herself. Despite attempting to convince herself that she was not in a position to indulge in leisure, when the moment finally arrived, she found herself hesitating.
It was all due to what had occurred during their journey to Rotiara. Whenever she beheld the bed before her, vivid and intense images would flood her mind. For instance, a particular incident that transpired a few days prior in the early morning hours.
The sensation of weight bearing down from between her legs onto her lower abdomen remained vivid. The firm grip that restrained her, disallowing any retreat, and the searing warmth emanating from their contact.
At that moment, there was no doubt that the man’s intentions were driven by lust.
Recalling those memories churned her stomach, heightening her awareness of the urgency to protect her own well-being. It was only natural that if she desired to conceive a child, her body would need to be intimately involved. It wasn’t knowledge she was oblivious to, but…
“No, it would have been better if I never knew,” she mused, contemplating the path of feigning ignorance. However, was that truly feasible in the first place? Elise pressed her abdomen repeatedly, attempting to alleviate the heavy burden that seemed to pierce her.
Perhaps all men were of the same disposition. She had never caught sight of another man’s intimate anatomy, leaving her with no means to discern otherwise.
As Ivetsa assisted her in dressing, a sudden deep sigh escaped her lips.
“But Your Grace, wouldn’t it be beneficial to have a few additional maidservants?” she posed the question.
“Huh?” Elise responded, caught off guard by the unexpected suggestion.
“As the child grows, you will require more maidservants. Of course, I will do my utmost to provide assistance, but considering my current arm condition…”
“Oh, I see. It would be burdensome for you with an injured body,” Elise acknowledged, empathetic to Ivetsa’s ongoing support with her broken arm.
Carefully, Ivetsa suggested, “Perhaps it would be wise to hire a few more maidservants, at least until my arm has fully recovered.”