“Claudine looked as if she had venom flowing through her veins after her father was sent to prison.”
“She changed completely. She was a very pure girl when she was younger.”
The two village representatives, Teddy and Marie, spoke with shaking voices.
I peeked at their plates.
It must be really uncomfortable for them as their main dish was getting cold because they had yet to touch the food.
“Claudine’s father…… He enjoyed gambling. He started small bets with his friends and eventually started inviting the villagers to the inn.”
“We heard about that. He would goad the villagers into betting their gifts from the imperial family or nobles and then cheat to take them all.”
“Yes, yes, your highness. That is correct.”
Marie let out a big sigh and lowered her head.
This was the gambling scam that Cardinal Boutier had seen ten years ago.
The criminal spit at the villagers and shouted about how they were just as dirty as him while he was dragged away. Benjamin said that he still clearly remembered how belligerent the man had been.
“Claudine focused only on renovating the inn for a while after her father was taken away.”
“The villagers lived quietly as well. However, a Pair de Riester came through a few months later. After his visit, Claudine started demanding that we pay her a portion of the gifts as a fee.” (TL: Pair de Riester, based on the Pair de France of the Middle ages, is a prestigious title and position held by the greatest, highest-ranking members of the Riester nobility.)
“Have the people of Lucas Village ever tried resisting her demand?”
Christelle asked Teddy. I was curious about this as well.
Even if the Le Siffre inn was the landmark of Lucas Village, Claudine would not have had a choice if the whole village collectively rejected her demand.
There seemed to be at least 1,000 villagers. The staff at the inn were villagers as well.
On the other hand, Claudine, who was in her twenties at the time, would have been alone.
“Umm, we were all wondering what kind of nonsense she was spewing at first.”
“Most of the villagers ignored Claudine and did not pay any fee from the gifts bestowed upon us by the esteemed Pair de Riester until he left.”
“Claudine… she gathered the villagers and lit the inn on fire.”
“She lit the Le Siffre inn on fire?”
Christelle and I raised our voices at the same time.
Imperial Prince Cédric’s garnet-like eyes fluctuated like lava.
“Yes, your highness. She talked about how we should all die together, and how the villagers should try to live as we had been without the inn…… She was pouring gasoline on the front door and shouting like her father…that was when we realized that things were wrong.”
Marie raised a fist and pounded her chest.
She then took a few big breaths as if the beating couldn’t relieve her frustration.
“We were the ones who stepped up to put out the fire.”
“About a tenth of the inn was on fire. We jumped into the flames without any protection and doused it with water. Claudine didn’t move at all. We were scared that high ranking guests would no longer come to the village…… We were the ones who saved the inn.”
“Claudine just watched. It felt as if she was supervising us.”
The two voices slowly became quieter.
They looked as if they were either crying in defeat or laughing in shame.
I let out a deep breath.
The villagers pretty much lost all power to Claudine that day.
I got chills thinking about the story I had just heard and the gentle and warm look on Claudine’s face I had seen until now.
I knew that external appearance didn’t always match the internal character, but it seemed rare to have the two so completely different like this.
“We pretty much caused at least half of the issue.”
Teddy blamed himself for it. I quickly shook my head.
When Claudine’s father first started scamming people, many of the villagers treated as if it wasn’t their issue. Some of them even pointed fingers at the victims, scolding them for going to gamble. That is why this situation after Claudine inherited the inn is……
“Please don’t say things like that.”
I stopped him.
It made no sense that the perpetrator felt no guilt while the victims felt so guilty.
The middle-aged man was slightly shaking as he looked up at me.
“People are bound to act defensively if they believe that something they have had for a long time is about to suddenly disappear. Furthermore, this reaction is obvious when you consider that it is something that would affect your life and your ability to feed yourselves. You all put out the fire for your survival, so it is not something to feel ashamed about. The person who should be ashamed is Claudine. She used your lives to threaten you.”
Marie had raised her head and was blankly looking at me.
I felt my cheeks getting hot with four pairs of eyes looking at me.
I still thought that I should finish what I had to say.
“The gambling scams are the same thing. The clear culprit is in prison, so I hope you don’t blame yourselves for it.”
I stopped after saying that.
I usually didn’t talk this much but I always talked way too much like a busted dumpling whenever I got started.
Teddy and Marie remained silent for a long time before they slowly nodded their heads and wiped their cheeks.
The dining area was full of sniffling and mumblings of ‘thank you very much’ for a while.
“……We will proceed as planned.”
The Imperial Prince was staring right at me before he started speaking. No emotions were visible on his handsome face.
The plan he was talking about was using his authority as the Imperial Prince to arrest Claudine and send her to prison in the Lord’s Castle.
It was the simplest and most effective method. It was also the same decision Empress Frédérique had made ten years ago.
Last night, the Imperial Prince could not hide his discomfort at the fact that something his mother had taken care of was happening again.
I slightly nodded my head at his comment.
Now that we had figured out most of the situation, we needed to take care of it and prepare to leave.
“You may leave.”
The Imperial Prince sent off the village representatives.
His order for them to get out might make him seem like Crapdric again, but I knew that he had given such an order because he was thinking about the two of them.
It was such an uncomfortable lunch for them; it would be lucky if they didn’t choke and they looked exhausted after sharing such a difficult situation and crying.
Furthermore, Claudine might notice something if she saw them like this.
The middle-aged duo got up from their chairs and bowed deeply.
“I have one question for you.”
Christelle suddenly commented at that moment.
“If you could go back to that day when the inn was on fire… Would you do the same thing?”
“No, of course not. Absolutely not, young lady Sarnez.”
Marie flailed both hands around and said no. Teddy lowered his head and added on.
“There was a drought at the time as well, so we were very desperate. But now…… We are at a point where we can all work together to make sure that nobody starves even without the gifts.”
“……I see. I understand.”
Christelle seemed to think hard about something before she answered. The two representatives soon left the dining area.
I confirmed that the door was closed before speaking.
“Young lady Sarnez, are you……”
“I believe that the villagers need a second chance.”
Christelle looked at me with her clear blue-gray eyes.
Her eyes were so clear that I was temporarily at a loss for words.
“They did it to survive as you said, your highness. But they’ve had to deal with things like what happened yesterday for ten years because their actions back then tied them down. Their immediate struggles might be resolved if the innkeeper is taken captive, but……”
It was rare to see her trail off like this. I could see her grip tightening on her cup.
“Taking Claudine down isn’t going to release the grip in their hearts.”
Christelle was shining like a single star in the night sky as she said that.
I blanked out a bit while looking at her.
I knew that she was the main character of < Quit my job and ended up as a noble young lady in another world > and that Eunse loved her character so much because I had heard about it too many times to count.
I thought that she looked and acted like a main character from the moment I first met her. But……
“I wish to give the villagers of Lucas village a new life as I have earned. I would prefer it to be one where they stand up on their own.”
I finally truly experienced that she was the main character.
Her unyielding goodness and inability to tolerate injustice made me feel that way.
“Your Royal Highness, what do you think about this plan?”
Christelle turned her gaze to look at the Imperial Prince. The man’s thick eyebrows moved slightly.
The next morning…
The Le Siffre inn of Lucas Village had been extremely busy since the early morning.
The Imperial Prince and his envoy were leaving today.
The employees knew that they would not get paid this month, yet they still hurried to move the expensive luggage and clean the building.
Claudine Green, the innkeeper, always told them that the gifts they received from the esteemed guests were their salary for the month.
This was the case even for Claudine’s nephew, Morris.
She was extremely cold even to her own family members, so they all knew that nothing would change even if they complained.
As a result, the employees worked hard today as well.
Living as captives of the inn was painful and sad but it was bearable when thinking about how their neighbors and family members were persisting through with them.
“There’s too much dust on the carpet. How can his Royal Highness step on such a thing? Go get a new one!”
“Yes, Miss Claudine.”
Claudine Green pushed her brows to stop herself from frowning.
Every little detail needed to be perfect in order to satisfy such esteemed guests, but these stupid and useless villagers were lacking in all aspects.
However, they usually acted like human beings and not animals after she and her father had taught and supervised them for over ten years.
They should be paying her a monthly fee for teaching them, so the fact that they were complaining about her taking 40 percent of the gifts made her sigh.
They were shaking in fear that they would starve to death without Le Siffre but didn’t want to donate to the inn at all.
It was stupid and pathetic.
“H, his Royal Highness is on his way.”
One of the inn employees urgently walked down the stairs and announced.
Claudine quickly made sure her hair and her clothes looked fine before motioning toward the employees with her eyes and hands to make them stand in two rows.
They all made sure to look themselves over to confirm that they looked presentable. There didn’t seem to be any issues.
They heard heavy footsteps and light footsteps moving at the same time.
– Step, step, step.
– Click, click, click.
An unbelievably beautiful pair of a man and a woman appeared atop of the new carpet.
Claudine Green put on a warm and benign smile on her face the instant she saw the two of them.
Her voice turned gentle as well.
“Your Royal Highness and young lady Sarnez. I hope that the rest of your journey is smooth. Thank you very much for staying in our Le Siffre inn.”
She then bowed deeply.
Neither responded back to her but it wasn’t shocking that the Imperial family or a Pair de Riester did not wish to converse unnecessarily with a commoner.
She locked her eyes on their backs as they ignored her and headed out the door.
Thankfully, the situation she was worried about had not happened.
She had been anxious when the Imperial Prince said he was going to have a luncheon with the village representatives yesterday.
Teddy and Marie were people who were, for a lack of better word, respected by the stupid villagers.
She was worried that those idiots would say useless things to the Imperial Prince while she was looking after the ill young Countess, but her warning seemed to have worked better than she had expected.
After the luncheon, the Imperial Prince and the young lady spent the evening walking around the backyard of the inn alone. They walked out of the inn linking arms this morning as well.
It seemed as if they were too focused on their love lives to pay attention to anything else.
It was a good thing for Claudine.
“It’s a good time.”
“What is good?”
Claudine turned her head in shock.
An extremely radiant set of purple eyes were looking down at her.
She scolded herself for her mumbling and urgently lowered her gaze.
“P, Prince Jesse.”
“Thank you for everything the last few days.”
“I am honored, your highness. It was an honor to be able serve the prince of the Holy Kingdom-”
“No, I was speaking to Morris.”
The prince gently cut her off.
Claudine became anxious and barely held herself back from biting her tongue.
Morris, who was across from her, was frantically bowing to the prince.
This pain in the ass had been responsible for the prince’s room the last two days and she had heard that he was called up to be scolded multiple times.
All of the harsh training she had given him up until now was useless.
The prince walked out the door with his two attendants while she was thinking that she needed to scold Morris severely.
The most important part of their stay was about to end without any issues.
“Three cheers for his Royal Highness! Three cheers for his Royal Highness!”
“Thank you very much for your Imperial benevolence!”
All employees of the Le Siffre inn and the villagers of Lucas village were shouting loudly in the plaza.
There were many who were on the ground bowing as well.
The imperial carriage envoy that consisted of ten carriages was slowly turning the corner with their guests on board.
Claudine watched the last carriage disappear with satisfaction.
It was at that moment.
There was a loud explosion as the Le Siffre inn started burning.