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At the same time, Claire was also enjoying a leisurely tea time.
The tea in front of her was made from precious medicines and dried flower petals that the Crown Prince had sent her when she had a cold.
Claire took a sip of the tea, looking at the yellow tulips in the vase by the window. The light brownish-yellow tea was sweet despite the fact that it contained no sugar, and had a faint floral aroma.
With a satisfied look on her face, she put down her cup and picked up a cookie on the plate. The cookies were warm and buttery, filled with nuts and grains.
The cookies were not made by the head chef or the servants of Baron Dana’s family. They were bought by Claire’s nanny from a famous bakery in town.
Claire took a bite of the cookie and liked it, eating it right away. As soon as she ate it, she took another one. Looking at the appearance, the nanny asked in a displeased voice.
“Young lady, did you have to send an invitation to that woman as well?”
The word “that woman” the nanny referred to was in reference to Roxana. Claire’s nanny came from a civilian background and had been taking care of her like her real child since Claire was a baby, and she seemed unhappy that Claire had invited Roxana to a banquet that was supposed to be fun. Without looking at her, Claire replied in an indifferent voice.
“What do you mean?”
“Isn’t the woman usually mean to the Young Lady? What if she gets out of control again in the banquet hall and spoils the party?”
“Don’t worry. I invited her because I hoped she would.”
Claire gave a small chuckle at the nanny’s question.
This banquet was different from the previous ones where she’d only invited those who were close to her or liked her, but she’d sent invitations to a variety of people.
Since a large number of people responded that they would attend, this banquet would be big.
At such an occasion, it was a good thing for her if the Princess would make a scene again and ruin the banquet. At the second Prince’s victory banquet, which Claire didn’t attend, many people were already upset just because the Princess appeared to be on good terms with the Crown Prince.
Some people claimed that the Princess had changed a lot.
However, Claire did not believe their words.
People never change easily.
Claire was going to prove that fact at this banquet. It was a bit upsetting that such a fun party would be ruined. However, if there was something to be gained by it, it was definitely not a loss. Of course, if it was as usual, the Princess would do the same.
“But what if the Princess doesn’t come?”
The nanny asked, still looking uncomprehending.
“She will come, I am sure. What happened to the things I asked you to do?”
The nanny replied.
She took out a small box from somewhere and handed it to Claire.
Claire’s lips lifted in satisfaction as she looked inside the box.
Inside the small, rugged wooden box was a handkerchief. The handkerchief seemed to have nothing special on the surface, but it was the same handkerchief that the Crown Prince usually carried.
The handkerchief smelled of his favorite perfume, and the edges were delicately embroidered as only an imperial designer could do. Surely, the normal people would not be able to tell who it belonged to by looking at it.
Even if there was no one in the empire who did not know the name of the Crown Prince, it was certainly rare to know what kind of handkerchief he carried around with him.
Unless someone was very close to the Crown Prince and had a great interest in him. For example, his fiancée, Princess Lillian.
Claire patted the box carefully, as if it was very precious, then closed the box and gave it back to the nanny.
“Send it anonymously to Princess Lillian.”
After receiving the box from Claire, the nanny put it back in the drawer. Seeing it, Claire rose from her seat.
All the preparations were already done. The last remaining key was whether or not the Crown Prince would attend. Baron Cheston said that the Crown Prince could attend.
However, many days had already passed since Baron Cheston’s visit but she hadn’t heard any words from him since then. Claire was nervous just to sit and wait.
Just as Claire was looking out the window and worrying, someone knocked on the door.
“Young lady, you have a visitor.”
Claire made a strange face and frowned. It was a visitor who came unexpectedly without an appointment. She didn’t feel very pleased.
“Who is it?”
When Claire’s voice seemed to be annoyed, the maid replied in a muffled voice.
“She’s a woman, but she didn’t say her name, and she said that the Young Lady helped her before…”
Then the maid held out the handkerchief in her hand.
“She said she came to return this to the Young Lady.”
Claire smiled when she saw her own handkerchief in the servant’s hand.
“It’s Viscountess Willis. She’s come at last.”
Yesterday the sky suddenly changed and it rained from dawn, but today the weather was fine. The sky was clear and cloudless, and there was a cool breeze, not too hot and not too cold. The smell of dampness on the ground, and the grass and flowers in the garden looked fresh with moisture.
It was just the right weather to hold an outdoor tea party or a banquet.
Today was the day Claire’s banquet would be held.
The invitation clearly stated that the banquet would be at noon, but I got up early in the morning to prepare.
With the help of the servants, I soaked in hot water infused with fragrant oil, received a massage, and applied a mask.
After the bath, I sat down at the makeup table and looked in the mirror, my skin was white and clear with a hint of radiance. I had been eating and sleeping well so the shadows under my eyes had faded to the point where It was almost invisible, and my cheeks and lips were beautifully vibrant.
When my makeup was finished, Tien went to get a dress, and Joan fixed my hair with a careful hand.
As I watched as Joan curled my hair with an iron wand, I picked out accessories I would wear today.
After a while, when my hair was done, which I thought was a bit boring, Tien brought me the dress that I had picked out beforehand.
The cream-colored dress had ruffles and lace.
I liked that it was appropriately glamorous and not too much. I also chose the shoes that matched the dress and the same hat.
I wore a small pair of sapphire earrings and tied silk of the same color as the dress around my neck. After my preparations were done, I looked at my appearance once more in the mirror, and got into the carriage that was waiting for me on the first floor.
Soon the carriage departed and the surrounding scenery passed before my eyes.
I watched through the window as the carriage approached an unusual road. How long has it been?
There was a clattering sound and the carriage shook violently.
The chair I was sitting on was very fluffy and there were cushions around it, so I was not hurt.
But even so, I couldn’t help but be shocked.
My bottoms that had touched the chair were tingling, and my arm that had hit the wall when the carriage shook was throbbing.
“Miss, are you all right?”
The astonished knight asked me.
I nodded to indicate that I was fine and opened the carriage door. When I got out and checked, I found that one of the wheels had come off and the whole carriage was tilted.
“I’m sorry, My Lady. I checked the carriage before we went…but I don’t know how this happened.”
When the horseman said sorry with panic, the knight came over and said angrily.
“How can you not even do your job properly! How would you take responsibility if the Young Lady gets hurt?”
I shook my head at the knight and opened my mouth.
“Stop it. If no one gets hurt, it’s okay.”
“How long will it take to fix it?”
I cut the knight’s words off in mid-sentence and turned toward the horseman. He hesitated for a moment, taking in the knight’s expression, but then opened his mouth.
“I can’t fix it right away because I don’t have the parts right now. I’ll have to go to the village and come back, it’ll still be roughly an hour or so ……….”
The horseman looked troubled and slurred his words once more. His sorry demeanor made the knight’s face redden as he suppressed his anger.
“How long will it take you to get to the village?”
“An hour will probably be enough.”
That’s two hours total.
It was not a short time, but when I thought about it, it was not that long.
“Okay then. Be quick.”
I said to the horseman, and then approached the carriage again. I took out the seat cushions in the carriage, went to a nearby shady spot, spread it out and sat down.
“Then, I’ll be back, My Lady.”
The horseman greeted me, then mounted his horse and rode away. After he left, I was left with Annie and the two knights. Unlike Annie, who was standing beside me with an unconcerned face, the other two knights looked perplexed.
“What are you doing? Are you just going to stand there and keep doing that?”
I asked, and the knights walked up to me with a grim expression on their faces.
“It’s going to take a while, so just relax.”
When I said it again, they went and stood under the shade, as if they understood what I was saying.
It would be a while before the horseman returned anyway, and it would take a lot more time than that to fix the carriage.
After settling comfortably under the shade, I leaned against a tree and opened a book that I had brought in advance.
I sat there and read for a while. As I and Annie were getting tired, I could see a carriage running towards us from afar.
It was a black carriage led by six horses, with the imperial seal engraved in gold on its surface. Because of this, even from a distance, I could tell at a glance that this was the carriage the Crown Prince rode in. The carriage, which was running at a high speed, gradually slowed down and soon came to a stop.
The knights who were escorting around the carriage in which the crown prince was riding looked at my carriage and me alternately and made a surprised expression. I put on an unconcerned face, closed my book and stood up.
“Sir Joseph, how long has it been?”
“My Lady, it’s been a long time.”
I greeted the knight, who stood at the front of the line, first, and he finally, with a gasp, hurriedly greeted me with all the courtesy he could muster.
The rest of the family did the same. I watched intently as the attendant opened the carriage door and reported something to the Crown Prince.
“Why is the princess in such a place…”
“As you can see, there’s a small problem with my carriage. Is the Crown Prince inside?”
After the last check, I slowly walked towards the carriage.
The knights just stared at me.
From the look on their faces, they seemed to be unsure if they should stop me or not.
“It doesn’t seem like we had arrived yet, but… why the sudden stop?”
As I approached closer, I heard a familiar voice through the slightly open carriage door.