Remias and George ate the rice crackers with me.
Remy and the others would not come to the courtyard if the prince was not there, so it was a tea party with just us three.
“Hey, how do you make these?”
“You mash some rice and hit it etcetera.”
“Etcetera? What does that mean?”
“It is too complicated.”
I was still in a daze, and my brain was not functioning properly, so I could not explain it well.
It seemed like he wanted to try and make some himself, so I promised to write the recipe down and give it to him the next time we met.
The three of us stared languidly at the sky.
“So…why were you crying?”
“Because the rice crackers were stuck in my throat.”
“Enough with that excuse. Was it because of the prince?”
That was surprisingly perceptive for George. But I didn’t even know the reason myself, so I could not answer. I just pouted in annoyance.
“The prince had business to attend to. He has many duties.”
Remias offered helpfully.
Duties, with Angie?
Now that I think of it, there was that matter of Angie’s birthplace, so perhaps there were matters that only the prince could settle. Yes. That must be it.
I felt much lighter after convincing myself of this.
“That is true! I am so childish to cry just because of this! How embarrassing!”
It was as if I were a child who had lost their favorite toy! Really, I had considered myself to be an old woman, but I was still quite childish. Perhaps my mental age was being dragged down by my physical age. After that, my appetite returned, and I hungrily finished the rest of the rice crackers. Though, George and Remias still looked at me oddly.
Had I used sugar instead of salt??
But sugar crackers were good too, so there was no problem.
However, I could barely exchange a word with the prince the next day either.
He would not even look at me.
Not only that, he only attended the morning classes and left early.
I was worried that he may not have been in the best health, but the teachers said it was likely his public duties that called for him.
Remias also left early, saying he had some research to do.
He was probably trying to get information about the duke’s misdeeds.
As the prince was not here, Remy and Angie were also absent.
I didn’t feel like having a tea party anymore, so I asked George to accompany me to Signora.
Recently, I have been so preoccupied with digging bamboo shoots that I haven’t been able to visit it.
I had previously asked Sisie to carry out the plans for the new store and cafe space and heard that it was going well. Still, I had left it all to her. According to reports from Sisie, green teas and herbs tea and sweets were quite popular.
The carriage stopped and I looked out to see the second Signora store…it looked very quiet. There were a few customers near the cafe space, but it was far from a booming success. The few customers that were there were elderly, and not exactly the demographic of young women who we were targeting with our diet products.
“Huh? It’s almost empty today. That’s odd.”
George observed in a lazy voice, but I was a little frantic as I rushed to the back of the store.
Sisie should be here in the store at this time. She always returned to the mansion during tea time after school.
“Ah, my lady…you are early today.”
Sisie said with embarrassment.
“Sisie…the store does not seem to be doing well. Was it like this from the beginning?”
Sisie shook her head to the side.
“No, no. Not at all. Things were going very well at first. It was only recently that things have come to be like this.”
“Recently…do you have any idea what the reason is?”
Possible reasons I could think of included a drop in quality or that customers had grown tired.
“A new cafe recently opened nearby…I believe that the customers have gone over there.”
“A new cafe…”
According to Sisie, this new cafe had herb teas and Japanese style snacks as well. But when she went to investigate, their food was far inferior to Signora, it was practically a sham. There was no depth in the flavor, the stock of the soup that was served with the potato cakes and dumplings were no good.
“If it does not taste good…why is it so popular? Would the customers not return if they tasted the difference?”
“In regards to that…”
The new cafe was apparently called a butler cafe. A cafe where handsome men dressed as butlers and served customers.
Hmmm, that sounded familiar.
“Butlers are in most noble houses. Why would it be popular if they had real butlers at home?”
“Yes, butlers are not rare. But just like Sebastian of house Edelweiss and other houses…butlers are usually old men…!”
I was so shocked, it was as if I had been struck by lightning. I had not even considered it. A butler’s role was to manage the house, and their practical skills were what was valued. They listened to orders from their master and managed everything from personnel to finances. That was a butler.
They were responsible for unifying the mansion. And so there was almost never any young butlers. It was obvious, you needed the experience to be able to understand what needed to be done around the mansion, and give orders. And so it took many years to reach that position. Our own Sebastian was a man with nice gray hair.
“Strapping young men welcome these young ladies! Let me carry your bag! That is what they say! You can even take your pick among the men. They are so fresh and cute, I almost spilled my tea!”
Sisie. You went many times, didn’t you?
I glared at her, and Sisie put a hand over her mouth in realization.
“…Cough. Well, in short, the young ladies are going to that cafe to see these men.”
“That is so…”
Hmm. This butler cafe was a good idea in itself(as familiar as it was), and it was not strange for a competitor to appear if your cafe was popular.
There was nothing wrong with that.
Nothing at all.
But I do not like that they copied my menu. And it doesn’t even taste good! At least make it good if you are going to imitate. I would even go and try it if it was good. I could not stand it, so I decided on a little revenge.
“Hmph! Oomph! Hah! Ha…”
Sweat sprayed and glimmered brightly in the sun.
A masculine allure exuded from his sun-tanned skin and wet brown hair.
The women who gathered around to watch let a…deep sigh.
“George, would you please test the new abdominal machine next?”
“Oh! This looks amazing! How exciting!”
George was publicly testing the diet machines in front of the cafe.
Sales promotion using a pretty boy was a Signora patent!
There was no one more beautiful than the brilliant young man that George had become!
I took in a deep breath as I watched George work his muscles.
“Hear, hear, hear! Madame, young lady, sir! Today I would like to show you this abdominal machine! Huh? It is just an ordinary board, you say? No, no. The secret is in this angle…”
We sold many machines that day.