The cleaning of the royal villa has gone smoothly and some rooms were now ready for use.
She sent the knights to bring in the bed and took a break. The knights seemed to have assumed that Rishe would be resting somewhere in the meantime, but then she moved on to clean the next room as a matter of course.
She was holding the rag in hand, but found out that the water in the bucket fetched earlier was almost used up. Rishe grabbed the bucket and went out to the well where she had just been told where. No knight guard may be in sight, but then, she is in the royal palace grounds in the first place. There’s no need for a guard to stroll around.
(Surely, having a guard is merely nominal. Arnold Hein is just trying to keep tabs on me, right?…..)
She pondered as she walked through the blossoming courtyard with the bucket in her hand. Colorful butterflies fluttered around the flower beds, flapping their wings lower.
(Besides, he seems reluctant to let me meet the current Emperor. Though if I were just a nominal bride and a real hostage, it might still be necessary to have an audience with the Emperor.)
She’s also quite curious what kind of person the Emperor is that led to Arnold’s patricide.
Of course, she wants to stop it if possible.
Becoming the Emperor by killing his father was the beginning of Arnold’s tyranny.
(I have never known what fate awaited Arnold Hein after I died in my other lives, whether he reigned as the winner of a war of aggression, or he was subdued by some country… either way).
Rishe looked forward abruptly.
(If it comes to that, I can’t just sit around…! Whether I’m held as a hostage or being forced to take care of the castle while he’s away as his wife, even if I’m just regarded as a decoration, it’s going to be tough! That’s why!! Absolutely! No to war!)
It would be nice if he would at least divorce her then let her go. But if she’s thrown out in the midst of the war, she feels like she can’t escape the fate of being inadvertently killed and again reborn at the age of twenty.
(…. Huh?! Wait a minute, in the first place…)
In retrospect, all of the reasons why Rishe lost her life in the past six times could be traced back to the wars that Arnold had instigated.
(I died in the fires of war, I died in the treatment of a plague that had spread in a village, I died taking care of the wounded, I died during the invasion of the Garkhain army…)
Every circumstance surrounding her death was entirely similar. Rishe squatted without thinking and massaged her head.
(… Maybe, it’s better if I ask for divorce as early as now….)
However, she quickly reconsidered it.
(…No! It’s too late for regrets on what I’ve chosen. I’ve ended up dead even living as far away as possible from Arnold Hein. If that’s the case, what about living close to him this time around and see how the trend goes?)
There’s still no certainty as to why Rishe had been reborn over and over again, but maybe this would be the last time.
Suppose it’s the last one indeed, she must live it to the fullest, enjoy every hour and live longer.
She might have some reservations, but regrets shouldn’t be one of them.
(Forget it, I’m in the midst of cleaning now.When the bed arrives, I’ll soak in a bath and clean off the grime and exhaustion from the trip and cleaning. And then, I’m going to lay down as much as I want…!)
With a firm resolve, she stood up and made her way to the well in good cheer.
Thereupon, she heard a roaring laughter of ridicule.
“Hey, look at you, novice, you’re trying too hard.”
“But even if you bend over backwards, we’re the only ones’ who’ll be the Crown Princess’ handmaidens!”
From the sounds of it, there are several girls arguing around the well just around the corner.
“Hey, are you listening? I’m telling you, it’s useless even if you break your neck!”
The faint shriek reached Rishe’s ears, followed by the sound of someone falling. Rishe rushed over to the well.
There she saw a girl lying on the ground surrounded by four other girls.
“Are you alright?”
She ran to the girl on the ground and helped her up. She’s a lovely girl with pale golden hair and big eyes. Although she’s dishevelled and was covered in mud, she was dressed in her chambermaid’s livery.
Meanwhile, the girls, who were now scowling at Rishe, are wearing the same sass. It’s a combination of a loose dress that allows free movement, coupled with a white apron.
“Who are you?? Are you new here too?”
One of the girls glowered at Rishe.
Although Rishe wasn’t garbed in a maid’s uniform, her dress at the moment was too plain. Her coral hair is also tied up at random, and most of all, her entire body is grubby from the big cleaning.
(If I’ll introduce myself here, it’ll likely cause a bigger fuss.)
At a loss for the right words to answer her, she seemed to have irritated the handmaid’s temper all the more.
“Why are you being silent? Just because there will be a need for an attendant for the Crown Princess, they are raking up new recruits. I don’t think you’ve ever done any ragging or water work before. Look at your hands, they’re so smooth.”
“Hahaha, what a pity! It’s because we’ve already been working in the Royal Palace for three years that we’re the ones who are going to be the maidservants at the Royal Villa and would soon be working alongside Arnold-sama.”
“Let me, do you want to stand? I don’t think you have any injuries…”
“Hey, listen up!”
One of the maidens shouted at Rishe, who was supporting the bullied girl. The redhead is probably the leader of this group.
“You’re being cocky, aren’t you? If you really want to be a handmaiden, you’d better learn how to respect your seniors. In any case, girls as bad at their jobs as you guys wouldn’t be able to serve as an attendant in this castle, don’t you agree?”
More than that, there’s something that’s bothering Rishe now.
The red-haired maid is holding a thick curtain in her hand. It’s so thinly stained that it doesn’t look like it was washed.
The red-haired maid somehow faltered as her eyes stared at her hand.
“Uhm, better not wash the curtains today.”
Of course the maids were affronted at Rishe’s warning.
“Are you trying to tell me that if I wash it after noon, it won’t dry out? Sure enough, you’re such an amateur! The days are long in spring, and today’s weather is hot. That’s enough to –”
“Well, it’ll probably rain in a little while.”
The girls exchanged glances at her certainty.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Look, there are now clouds gathering in the sky, and the butterflies and bees are flying low. I think it would be more troublesome if you wash a big game.”
Upon hearing the hints, another maid muttered in a faint voice.
“… Diana said that if I take the initiative in washing such a big game, I can be evaluated and take a spot among the Crown Princess’ handmaidens.”
“Wow, are you saying that it’s now my fault?”
The redhead girl called Diana was indignant and her face flushed red.
“Don’t expect such an amateur girl to be right, the weather has always been fine today! Come on, let’s better do the laundry quickly!”
Diana swivelled around in a huff and the other maids left with her.
Rishe sighed and looked back at the golden-haired girl who had gotten up.
“Are you okay? Do you feel pain anywhere?”
“….Yes, I’m fine. Thank you, I’m….”
The girl’s gaze wandered as if searching for words to say and then bowed her head.
“My name is Elise. Thank you for helping me…”
The girl, who raised her face up, was almost expressionless.
But from the polite bow and the way she chose her words so hard, Rishe could tell that she meant it.
Rishe shook her head and smiled.
“It’s nothing, More importantly, you’re now dirty.”
Elise looked down at herself. Although she remained stoic, the dejection on her shoulders were unmistakable.
“It doesn’t matter, this has been given to me.”
“As long as you take it off and wash it right away, you’ll be fine. Even though it’s going to rain, the fabric of your dress dries easily. If you use a lot of soap and wash with a brush to scrape away the mud, rather than rubbing it with your hands, it will come off.”
“The reason mud stains are so hard to remove is because the dirt gets deep into the thread. A brush is the best way to get rid of it.”
During her life as an attendant, Rishe did a lot of research because the sons of the house were too mischievous and always played around the garden. Even those muddy socks they’ve been hiding for days for fear of being scolded can be brushed off with a lot of patience.
“Who are you…?”
Elise blinked, then stared at Rishe.
“Is it true that the handmaidens of the Crown Princess have already been decided?”
Rishe gently averted her gaze, unsure whether to answer Elise truthfully.