Chapter 43: Prince’s Trust
Even after Alice’s song was over, the customers didn’t want to leave the restaurant.
Most of them seemed to be curious to see how things would go.
This was because the governor was on his knees, trembling and shaking, right outside the store.
The entrance to this store is always open, and it’s obvious from inside the store.
And the governor was on his knees, scared to death.
Such a rare scene, which you can only witness once a year, or maybe once in a lifetime, stimulated the onlookers’ guts.
I remained seated, sipping my tea slowly.
Because the entrance was left open, I could hear the exchange between the kneeling governor outside and the man who seemed to be his subordinate at his side.
“N-No …… Ohh, I’m screwed. Lawrence, please do something.”
“I can’t, Will-sama. It would be disgraceful for you to run away after all this time.”
“But, but. H-His Highness the Thirteenth Prince.”
“Even so, if you leave, the worst thing that can happen to you will be the opposite. I’ll follow up with you, so get going.”
The voice I heard was the terrified, but clearly audible, the voice of the Governor- probably a man named Will.
And the voice of his subordinate, a low, subdued man named Lawrence.
These are the two.
The true value of a person is tested in a difficult situation.
As I waited, vaguely thinking about this, Will and Lawrence walked into the store.
Will was on his knees in front of me, banging his head on the floor, and Lawrence was three steps behind him, on both knees, looking at me with his face up.
“Pa-pa-pa-Pascal Will, meet His Imperial Highness the Thirteenth, and extend my best wishes.”
“Pascal Will. You are the representative of this area.”
“I didn’t remember appointing you, so who did?”
“H-His Majesty appointed me directly, sir.”
Governor Pascal Will was so frightened that it was pitiful to watch.
He was cowering on the floor like a small animal and hadn’t looked up once since he entered.
In the light of imperial law, Pascal was not guilty of much.
It was common practice to invite someone like Alice to sing in a private place.
It’s just that he forced her to do it.
A crime is a crime, but at the most serious estimate, it’s only a month’s pay cut or so.
So there is no need to be so frightened.
“…… Pascal. Do you know what your mistake is?”
“Y-Yes! Something that’s n-no-not allowed to do.”
It’s not that far off.
I sighed, and Pascal was still trembling as he cowered.
I sighed again at his reaction. Suddenly, I saw Lawrence behind him.
Unlike the frightened Pascal, Lawrence was calm and collected the whole time.
“You are Lawrence, huh?”
When I asked, Lawrence bowed his head for the first time.
And then immediately raised his head, looked me straight in the eye, and answered.
“My name is Lawrence Barten. And I am Master Will’s secretary.”
“Barten, are you from the West?”
“My father was.”
He was not self-conscious or rude.
I liked Lawrence’s calm acceptance of the question.
By the way, I remembered that he had given advice to Pascal a while ago.
I am called again! His voice rose as if to say such.
“Go and prepare a document to impeach yourself.”
“Yes! ……………… Ehh?”
Pascal reflexively replied, then puzzled over the meaning.
While fearful and down, he raised his head for the first time and looked at me.
“Impeach …… yourself? Is it?”
“Yes, what is wrong and how is it appropriate to punish you? You have until this time tomorrow to produce it and deliver it to me. Then we’ll talk.”
“What’s the matter, or do you want me to judge you now?”
“No, that’s …….”
“Thank you for your grace.”
Lawrence bowed his head as if to interrupt Pascal, who still did not understand the meaning of the word, and, taking the form of having received the order, he walked away with Pascal.
After the Governor was gone, the onlookers also left the store in a buzz.
“Thank you very much.”
After all the customers had left and the owner had closed the entrance gate, Alice-who had been standing at a distance-arrived.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes. Thanks to His Highness. Thank you for all your help.”
There was a moment of silence.
As if defeated by the silence, I asked Alice.
“Why don’t you ask me why I did that?”
“All I know is that I’m going to keep singing.”
Alice answered without hesitation.
“That’s the best way to repay Your Highness, and I don’t think I should say anything else.”
“I like that about you.”
“Since you say so, does it have any deeper meaning?”
“It’s not that deep.”
I explained this to Alice.
“He was appointed by His Majesty in spite of all odds, and it wasn’t much of a crime. Impeach yourself – it’s a letter of remorse. If he finds out what he did wrong, that’s fine, if not, we’ll deal with it then. If there are only excuses and flattery, he’ll be replaced.”
“I’m impressed that you thought that far ahead …….”
“Now, will you sing one more song for me?”
As I listened to Alice’s song, I was expecting the man’s response, wondering what would come of it.
The next day, in the outer garden of the mansion.
When I entered the estate, I had it remodeled so that it could be divided into two distinct areas, the inner garden, and the outer garden, following the tradition of the royal family.
The inner garden was purely residential, and only I, my wife Audrey, the maids, and eunuchs were allowed in there.
It was built like the emperor’s palace, and in order to protect the purity of the royal blood, no ordinary man was allowed to enter.
The outer garden, on the other hand, has a study and a reception room, where political affairs and entertaining guests are conducted. So of course, regular men can enter.
In the study of the outer garden, I was facing Don Oates.
Don had been my subordinate since that incident three years ago.
I was sitting deep in my chair, and Don was standing in front of me, looking over two documents.
“It was as you expected, Your Highness.”
” I guess so.”
What Don was reading was Pascal’s “Reflections Statement”.
There were two of them.
One was that he did not know that the other party was favored by the 13th Prince and he was rude. The punishment is whatever I want it to be. That was the content of the letter.
The other was a letter of regret for forcing himself on a commoner, i.e., Alice, and a request for punishment and demotion.
It was the latter that was officially sent to me, and the former that I had them obtain in secret.
“I’ve seen the official documents from there many times. The one about disrespecting His Highness is in Pascal’s handwriting, and the one about forcing the common people is in Lawrence’s handwriting.”
“That’s very good, Your Highness. As you predicted, this Lawrence guy is a sharp guy, isn’t he?”
It was as I expected.
After seeing how Pascal and Lawrence had responded yesterday, I had expected that Pascal would either beg for his life or come up with something that would be off the mark.
Sure enough, he did.
I didn’t identify myself at that time.
If I hadn’t told him my name, he wouldn’t be guilty of being rude to me.
Perhaps Pascal had tried to give it out first, and Lawrence had stopped him, which had led to the text offering a punishment and demotion.
That’s what I expected from their reactions yesterday.
“So how do you want to handle it?”
“Only the salary cut punishment, that’s about it.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, he is someone who is willing to listen to the advice of his subordinates, it is not a bad thing.”
“That’s very generous of you, sir.”
“And would you go to Lawrence for me?”
“Yes, sir. And what should be the business.”
“Go give him this.”
I took a two-handed box from my desk and handed it to Don.
“It’s a box I made from a piece of Fuwawa and my Ring. Once locked up, only I will be able to open it.”
Why would you want to do that? Don tilted his head.
“There’s no doubt Lawrence can use it better. So I’ll leave it to him so he can inform me if something goes wrong.”
“Ah, I see, for informing on things.”
“That’s what it is.”
Don said, looking at the box enviously.
“No, I just thought it would be an honor to receive it.”
“An honor, huh?”
I laughed scornfully.
“Is it different?”
“Well, have a look at this.”
I pulled out another box from my desk.
It was the same box as the one I had given Don, but it was wrecked.
“Did …… someone try to steal the contents?”
“No, this is because the guy I gave it to was showing it off.”
Don repeated the same words in a flat tone.
“If you don’t use it for its intended purpose and go around bragging that I gave it to you and that I trust you, it will destroy itself on the spot.”
“—-Oh, I see! That’s a great mechanism, no, that’s a great idea.”
“I don’t want to employ people like that.”
Don agreed with me and left the study to deliver the box.
I put the box away.
The person who had betrayed my trust, I could no longer remember his name or face.
I wondered if Lawrence was a man I could trust.
I had high hopes.
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