I had told my mother that I don’t remember any man I had met at my debut party. It was a lie. I remembered everyone I met but I usually just delete the information if I don’t need them. It’s easy to remember the faces, it’s the names I find hard to match with the faces.
I recalled the servants and maid at the dinner. The meal. The serving.
I opened my eyes. “Archer, why didn’t the princess have a food taster?”
“She has a food taster. The taster carried the food to the princess.”
Usually, food tasters don’t do such chores. They only taste the food once it has been served. The food should have been brought and served by the Glouster servants. Maybe the princess didn’t want that?
“Then where do they discern the food?”
“In the kitchen, of course,” said Archer. “When the meal is ready, the taster tastes it in the kitchen and carry it to the princess.”
There would have been a lot of people in the kitchen and countless dishes. If the taster tasted the food in the kitchen, she would have known who was carrying the food for the Grand Duke…
I didn’t really know if the princess was capable of doing something like this. But she did dislike the Grand Duke, it was apparent. Maybe I should ask him why she hates him so much when he wakes up…
I looked at Archer. As though he had just made sense of my words, he froze. The Grand Duke seemed to have people who were loyal to him. He was that way in the past too. Amiable and trustworthy. Even at the police station and alleyways, his colleagues and informants alike, always seemed to look up to him. It seemed like he hadn’t changed all that much.
I smiled without meaning to. The servant looked back at me with a frown but didn’t ask me why I was suddenly smiling.
“Are the servants treated well here?” I asked.
Archer frowned and nodded. “The Grand Duke is always very kind and fair to the people working here. He treats everyone respectfully and pays us good wages. He always makes sure that the servants, maids, and guards get days off if they want to. Nobody complains.”
“Wishburn is wealthy too and we also treat servants well,” I said. “You can ask anyone working there. If you have a family, you can even bring them with you. We provide accommodations for the workers as well as their families. If you are someone who does manual and physical work, we can even connect you to the workshop manager and set you up.”
“I don’t really have a family,” said Archer and looked puzzled. He was probably wondering why I was telling him all this. I was trying to scout him to work on the Wishburn estate.
Just then, a hoarse, sleepy voice interrupted. “Are you trying to steal my valet while I am asleep?”
Archer turned back to his master while I directed an annoyed glance at him. Why did he have to wake up exactly at this moment? I didn’t really think Archer would have left everything here and come with me but I could still have tried to convince him.
“I’ve told you before, skilled workers are hard to find. And this person looks very competent.”
“I agree. He is indeed very competent,” said the Grand Duke with a weary smile. “That is why I would never let him go. You could marry me, then he will serve you too. What do you think?”
“You have been throwing up all night,” I said in disbelief. “You look half-dead and that is the first thing you say when you finally come back to your senses?”
“I know you don’t think about marriage.”
“I don’t,” I said. “I told you before. I don’t care about proposals either. For god’s sake, I am only fifteen!”
He chuckled. I glared at him. This was no laughing matter. Unfortunately, I guess he was back and was going to live to annoy me further.
I think Archer agreed because he scowled as he wiped his master’s face with a damp towel. He checked the Grand Duke’s eyes, his tongue and his fingernails.
“I think you are lot better than before, My Lord.”
“That emetic was horrible. I feel like I threw up every organ in my body.”
“I will prepare some hot water with salt. Will you be alright?” Archer glanced at both of us.
I didn’t know who he was asking. Is he scared we will fight each other to death? I laughed and waved my hand dismissively. The Grand Duke smiled.
“We will both be okay, Archer,” said the Grand Duke. “I am not in a state to make any move and I don’t think Lady Wishburn intends to kill me just yet.”
Archer kept glancing at us and then bowed and left the room reluctantly. He was so quiet in his strides that if you didn’t see him with your own eyes, no one would be able to figure out if he was there at all.
He really has a talent for blending into the background. I would want a servant like that. If I can’t have him as a servant then perhaps, I can learn the skill myself.