The working conditions of the waiting maids in the Inner Palace of the Carpa Kingdom actually counted as more than manageable.
Okay, the amount of maids working there was a bit insufficient for the size of the palace, but they only had to serve Zenjirou and Aura, so the workload for each maid was never too much. (Recently, the new resident Prince Carlos Zenkichi called for a lot of attention, but the wet nurse Cassandra was mainly taking care of him and the waiting maids were simply assisting her, so it didn’t actually increase their workload by much.)
On top of that, they hardly ever received any sudden tasks, since Queen Aura was practically never present during the day and Zenjirou preferred to be left alone, however weird that may be for nobility in this world.
Of course there was a lot to be done on a daily basis, such as preparing three meals, cleaning every room and the bath as well as tending to the garden, but they almost didn’t have to worry about being “pushed around by their master”, something they normally had to be prepared for when serving nobility or royalty, so they could take it relatively easy.
Still, that didn’t mean it was roses all the way.
Naturally there were down sides to having Zenjirou, a man from a different world, as their master, too.
One very good example would be that the “business hours” went up.
Born and raised in modern Japan, Zenjirou was used to have light by flipping a switch, so his nights lasted longer. Needless to say, Zenjirou was always considerate to his surroundings, so he made sure not to stay up too late unless it was absolutely necessary.
Nevertheless, his habit of staying up late (albeit only up to ten or eleven o’clock at night at best) showed no signs of changing, because he had brought a source of light in form of various LED floor lamps and a domestic hydropower generator with him.
As an unavoidable consequence, some of the waiting maids had to remain on stand-by for him.
Although he rarely did call for their services, the maids were not allowed to ignore their awake master and go to bed by themselves.
On the basis of a shift schedule, a few maids had to wait patiently in the antechamber “just in case” until Zenjirou went to sleep.
The result was that the young waiting maids developed the same bad habit of “staying up late” as Zenjirou.
It goes without saying that the effect of a bad habit did leave its mark on the “three troublemakers” Fay, Dolores and Rethe as well.
Late at night in the Carpa Kingdom. Or to say it in the terms of modern Japan: The timeframe, where eleven-years-old complained when you told them to go to sleep.
A faint light and bustle could be picked up from the private room of the “three troublemakers”.
Even in the Inner Palace, the private chambers of Zenjirou, meaning the living and bed room, were the only places with electricity.
Hence it was usually an oil pan on a tall stand that illuminated the rooms of the waiting maids from a corner.
The flickering flame of the burning oil was somewhat lacking, but their rooms weren’t all that big to begin with, so it shed light on the outlines of the entire room at least.
Inside such a dimly lit room, the three troublemakers were each enjoying their own way of “staying up late”.
“Good, just three more holes. If I get a Birdie now, I might get to break Zenjirou-sama’s record…!”
A petite girl with short curled black hair lay face down on a simple wooden bed and fiddled with the portable game console, looking all serious. Her name was Fay.
Although she was merrily kicking the bed as she lay there, her gaze directed at the game console was the seriousness incarnate.
Nevertheless, it wouldn‘t be accurate to describe this scene as „serious“, considering she was snacking „banana chips“ from a wooden plate next to her arm while she was engrossed in the game.
On a related note, Fay was currently playing on a non-collapsible game console with only one screen. It was a different device from the one she had played the drop down or cart race games on before. The girls hadn‘t chosen this game console on their own.
It had been Zenjirou, who shared the console with them.
“Damn, these girls are getting really good. At this rate my snacks will vanish in an instant.”
Apparently that had been his reasoning.
In that case, he could just stop giving out “rewards”, but the fact that he didn’t do that was prove that he, too, enjoyed the game competition with the maids.
Incidentally, all his snacks with a relative short shelf life such as the smarties or regular cookies had already been eaten up by the royal couple themselves or else the “three troublemakers”.
The reward Zenjirou had prepared right now were the canned chocolate or biscuits from his emergency pack and as soon as these were consumed, he no longer had any snacks from his world.
Unaware of these circumstances, Fay simply remained true to her desire and competition spirit as she tried to beat his score.
The light from the display of the game console enlightened her face from below and was reflected in her two prominent big black eyes.
She pressed her small lips together and waited for the right timing to press the button. As a result,
“Argh, no. Why? The wind? Are you kidding me?”
At the crucial point, Fay made a brilliant miss swing out of bonds and forgot that it was currently night, flapping her legs and raising a scream.
“Hey, Fay! Be quiet! Do you want to get into trouble again?”
Her roommate, a tall woman, raised a sharp voice. Her name was Dolores.
On both sides of this room were the private rooms of other waiting maids. Staying up late was frowned upon, so when one of the other maids, who had probably already went to sleep, complained, they would come out on the short end.
“Sorry. But if that had happened to you, you would’ve screamed out too! Man, a Birdie here and I might’ve broken Zenjirou-sama’s record!”
Although she apologized at once and lowered her voice, Fay still kicked her legs frustrated and grunted. So Dolores got up from her own bed and looked at the console in Fay’s hands.
“Oh, your score was that good? Wait, you’re still using that fat male character? No wonder your swings are forking off. That guy got no control. And I told you to use the blonde female character.”
“But he shoots the farthest… Uhh…”
The petite waiting maid with the short hair was seemingly giving herself a challenge already and together with the tall waiting maid with long hair, they continued to discuss the game.
“You’re too obsessed with the high score. When you’re playing on a course with hazards or fairways with out of bonds left and right, you have to play safe. Your score will be more solid when you only attack on safe fairways.”
“Still, my score always gets ruined by bad control, no matter how safe I play it. I can be as cautious in the first half as I possibly can and it still comes to naught when I miss a swing in the latter half. So I might as well go on the offence right from the very beginning.”
“That’s because you’re only favouring range and use a character that has bad control.”
Fay admitted her usual lack of patience, whereas Dolores gave a weary response.
Meanwhile not even Dolores noticed that she was changing in various ways by getting in touch with the culture of a different world at the hands of the game.
The counting system in golf was a bit peculiar to begin with. A par scored 0, a bogey 1 and a birdie -1. The player with the lowest total score in the end won the game.
Needless to say, the game console calculated the score automatically. But apparently the three troublemakers had learned to calculate the golf score by themselves, albeit vaguely, while they witnessed the up and downs in their scores during their gameplay.
At the same time that meant that they were beginning to understand the concepts of “zero” and “negative”.
Having said that, the girls had no idea how valuable the knowledge was that they were obtaining now.
“Aw, I knew I would fail. Damn, so frustrating. If not for that mistake earlier, it really might have worked out!”
Having finished the game, Fay plunged her head into her pillow while still holding onto the game console with both hands.
“Oh, you done?”
She muttered sloppily into her pillow, probably feeling down from her defeat.
“Well, then turn off the ‘power’ or it’ll go to waste, since Rethe isn’t back yet.”
“Oh, right. It’s her turn next.”
The declaration from Dolores made Fay turn only her head towards her and speak to her.
Just from the sugar-coated voice of her little roommate, Dolores knew what she was going to say and quickly snatched the game console from Fay’s hands.
“Nope. Abide the order.”
“Aw? Oh, come on. I’ll give it back as soon as Rethe comes back.”
Dolores slapped away the hands that reached out greedily from atop of Fay’s bed.
“I said no. I know you all too well. If I were to allow that now, you would say ‘Give me a moment. Only one more hole. One more and I’ll be done, so wait a sec.’ and ultimately play until the end.
And since Rethe is a good girl, she’ll forgive you with smile.”
While the two of them were conversing like that, a cornered, yet unhasting voice resounded from beyond the door of the room as if she had waited for the right timing.
“Fay-chan, Dolores-chan, open up~ My hands are occupied~”
“See, she’s back.”
“Fine. We’re coming, Rethe.”
Dolores and Fay quickly got up from their beds and trotted over to the door in order to let their other roommate inside.
* * *
“Puh, that was heavy. Thanks, Fay-chan, Dolores-chan.”
The waiting maid with drooping eyes and big breasts sat down on her own bed after Fay and Dolores took the plentiful luggage off her. Her name was Rethe.
“Don’t mention it. You worked hard on your extra shift already. Must have been tough.”
“Wow! Presents!? That’s our Vanessa-sama! Hey, Rethe, can I have some?”
Putting the silver alcohol jug and wooden plate from Rethe down on the table in the corner of the room, Fay raised the lid on the wooden plate of her own accord and exclaimed joyful.
“Watch it, Fay! You’re being impudent.”
“Haha, I do not mind. Let us eat it all together. Ah, Dolores-chan, the silver jug is filled with the self-made alcohol from Zenjirou-sama. We are to give our impressions on it after we drink it.”
Dolores reprimanded Fay, but Rethe just smiled softly as always.
The waiting maids usually worked in a team of three, but the reason why Rethe had been doing work by herself until late at night was that the Cooking Department Head Vanessa had asked her to help out.
The young waiting maids in the current cooking shift were all kind of bad at cooking. Moreover, an unfortunate occurrence overlapped with their shift: The menu for tomorrow was so elaborate that they had to start preparing for it tonight.
Due to that, Rethe had been called in as an emergency assistance, since she had the greatest skills amongst the young maids.
“Overtime compensation” didn’t exist in the Carpa Kingdom yet, so it was practically “unpaid work”, but the “helpers” in the Cooking Department had an advantage over the other departments, because they got to take back some presents like this.
“Wait, alcohol? From Zenjirou-sama?”
Truth be told, Dolores had the biggest weakness for alcohol amongst the three of them, so she leaned forward attentively when she heard Rethe.
“Yes, but it is made entirely new, so it is possible that it turned out bad. If it tastes weird when we drink it, he wants us to stop at once. And he wants to hear our impression on it afterwards~”
The silver jug was filled with “liqueur”, the recent project from Zenjirou.
The base for it was the self-made distilled liquor. Since he had brought along an electronic distillery with an automated temperature control function, it was relatively easy to make distilled liquor, but merely distilled, the alcohol concentration was fairly high and not suited for drinking like that.
Hence he had improved the taste by adding fruit juice to it like a cocktail, or added it to other alcoholic drinks to boost their alcohol concentration. His newest achievement was this liqueur.
A lot of people in Japan pursued the making of liqueurs such as plum liqueur as a hobby.
Its manufacture wasn’t all that difficult. You took the high alcohol-containing distilled liquor, added the right amount of fruits and sugar to it and sealed it hermetically. Then you let it stand in a cold, dark place for at least one month and it was basically done.
Normally, the recipe for plum liqueur often included “shuuchou”, “plums” and “rock sugar”, but needless to say, these didn’t exist in this world, so he had substituted it with his “self-made distilled liquor”, “a lemon-like fruit” and “granulated sugar”.
On the evidence of bringing a distillery with him, Zenjirou had intended to make alcohol in this world from the very beginning, thus he had also saved a couple of homepages from the internet that introduced instructions on how to make liqueurs.
However, he had no way to determine the exact alcohol concentration in his self-made distilled liquor (since he didn’t bring an alcoholimeter), so he was still stuck in the trial-and-error stage.
Anyway, he had tried to be extra carefully when he sterilised the container with boiling water beforehand, washed and cut the fruits under running water and sealed it hermetically, all in order to avoid getting germs into it, but there was no way to tell if he had succeeded in doing so.
Drinking that trial-and-error alcohol actually signified that they were “testing it for food poisoning” rather than having a taste of it, but most of the waiting maids, starting with Dolores, were surprisingly eager to try it.
As a rule, Dolores usually just tagged along with the “troublemaker group”, but this time she took the initiative to get things started.
The private rooms of the waiting maids were by no means large, considering they shared it in sets of three.
“Okay, Fay, I’m going to move the table, so put the stuff on it away for a moment.”
“Can you manage, Dolores-chan? Or do you need help?”
Saying so, Rethe was about to stand up, but Dolores stopped her with a wave of her hand.
“No problem. It’s easier to do it myself, since it’s dark and narrow here.”
Just as she had said, she smoothly moved the small table to between their beds.
She had to fumble around a bit, since it was dim, but she seemed to remember the positions of all the furniture, so she got the job done in not time and without a hitch.
“Good, this should do. Fay, you can put the stuff back on it. I’m going to fetch some cups for the alcohol.”
“’Kay. Oh, I still have some banana chips left over from earlier, so I’ll put them down, too.”
“Yeah, sure… Wait, you were eating on the bed again!? I told you to stop doing that, because the crumbs get into the sheets!”
Scolded by Dolores, Fay showed no sign of guilt as she jumped onto her bed and gave it a wipe with her hands.
“Don’t wipe it! What are you throwing it onto the floor for!? That will attract the mouses!”
“Dolores-chan, you are begin too loud.”
A worried Rethe cautioned Dolores, who yelled inadvertently, with a slightly faster way of speaking than usual.
The angry outburst from Dolores had been rather loud, but fortunately no one from next door came over to complain.
With all the preparations done, the three waiting maids sat down on the beds in place of chairs and reached out for the food or alcohol on the table as they please.
“Hmm… It does not seem to smell weird at least.”
After pouring some of the liqueur from the silver jug into a wooden cup, Dolores held the cup under her nose and sniffed at it carefully.
Of course she was being cautious, since she was going to intake an unknown alcohol drink in the dark.
Thereafter she brought the cup to her mouth and put out her tongue, dipping only its tip into the liquid.
“How is it, Dolores-chan?”
“Does it have a weird taste?”
Dolores screwed up her face a bit, whereupon Rethe and Fay looked at her worried.
Shaking her head wordlessly, Dolores then
“No, it’s safe, I guess. Doesn’t taste weird at all. But instead it’s super sweet. At the same time it’s somewhat sour, so it’s not exactly undrinkable, but not really my cup of tea.”
offered a clear opinion.
“Right, you prefer your alcohol to be bitter~”
“Lemme see… Wow, this is good. I like it. Or rather, this is the best alcohol I’ve ever drunk!”
After hearing Dolores out, Fay drank from her own cup and immediately showed a delighted expression.
“Yeah, figures. You do love sweet stuff. But be careful. This alcohol is actually pretty strong.”
“No prob, no prob.”
“Why do I even bother… You already emptied the cup.”
Fay was the opposite of Dolores and loved sweet things, so she seemingly took quite a fancy to it. Emptying the first cup with one gulp, she reached out for the silver jar at once, pouring herself another cup.
On the other hand, Dolores and Rethe were sipping it at best and snacking on the food in the meantime.
“Are these pickled leaf vegetables? Not a bad choice for a snack to the alcohol.”
“Yes, and these are meat and vegetables on a stick. I got the leftovers, seasoned them with salt and spices, then roasted them. They turned out really good~”
“Hmm, by itself it certainly is good, but it doesn’t really work in combination with the sweet alcohol. In my opinion, the pickled stuff is a better match.”
“Is that so. Too bad. Okay, I will try to come up with a seasoned snack that suits the sweet alcohol.”
Rethe was quite over-ambitious when it came to cooking, so she wasn’t offended by Dolores’ rejection and immediately mused about the next dish while she ate one of the sticks she had made by herself.
“Oh, gimme one, too. …Wow, this is good! Really good, Rethe. Dolores is just all bark no bite. She can’t even make anything good herself.”
“Same goes for you, Fay.”
“But unlike you, I won’t nitpick over stuff that other people made. I’ll eat it happily.”
“That’s just because you’re an omnivore. And that’s nothing to be proud of. Well, you might be contended with it, though.”
As always, their conversation sounded like a quarrel, but the pitch of their voices was a positive one that could only be described as harmonious.
“Geez, Fay-chan, Dolores-chan, stop fighting and enjoy the food.”
Although Rethe was reprimanding them, it didn’t sound real either, as she was aware of the circumstances.
“Relax. I’m eating, see. Hmm, everything gone already? I can’t see well in the dark. Oh right, Dolores, I’m going to borrow this for a bit.”
Scrabbling about in the deep, wooden plate with the pickled vegetables, Fay suddenly remembered something, got onto Dolores’ bed and picked up the game console that lay next to the pillow with her left hand.
“Good, now I can see.”
She inspected the inside of the plate after she had turned on the portable game console, whereas Dolores pulled a weary face.
“I do hope you didn’t touch that with the same hand you used to pick the food up. That belongs to Zenjirou-sama, we have only borrowed it.”
“Duh. I always eat with my right hand and only used my left hand right now.”
Although she did appear to be presumptuous, Fay was still a full-fledged waiting maid of the Inner Palace. She made sure never to cross the line, albeit treading on it sometimes.
Even when she had played the game while snacking the banana chips on top of the bed before Rethe had come back, she had put a damped cloth on the side, using it to wipe her oily and salty fingertips every time before touching the game console again.
“Mm, it’s really empty. What a shame.”
“Well, we have been eating it with the three of us.”
“Haha, it is better not to eat too much before going to bed, Fay-chan.”
“Oh, speaking of, we should really go to bed soon. What time is it, Fay?”
Asked by Dolores, Fay skilfully operated the game console with just her left hand.
“Wait, ehm, three minutes past nine.”
She read the displayed Arabic numbers quite naturally, announcing the current time.
At some point, the three troublemakers had adapted to the twenty-two hour clock. It might merely be a matter of time until they started to say “just five more minutes” in the morning.
“Oh God, we really ought to go to bed then. Let’s tidy up and sleep. We have the gardening shift starting tomorrow.”
With these words, Dolores slowly got up from the bed when Rethe suddenly exclaimed squealing.
“Aw, I forgot! I hate gardening work!”
Their shifts were divided into four major domains on a rotating basis: Quarters, kitchen, bath and garden. Needless to say, each waiting maid had her strengths and weaknesses.
Rethe was the best cook amongst the young waiting maids, but in exchange she was all thumbs for gardening. Or rather, she was generally unfit for work, because she was the “clumsy” type. Her cooking skills should be seen as an exception.
“No worries. I’ll cover for you, Rethe.”
While Rethe whined on top of her bed face down, so that her huge breasts were squished, Fay comforted her softly in the course of tidying up the room.
Despite her petite form, Fay was actually overflowing with stamina and energy, so she had no problem with garden work.
“Well, I’ll step in, too, when I’m free.”
Except for a small shortcoming in cooking, Dolores managed all the other work pretty well, so gardening wasn’t a “weakness” as it was for Rethe, but she did “hate” it.
It was just like her to prepare an escape route by saying “when I’m free”, because she wanted to do as little as possible for this job.
“Yes, thanks! In exchange, I am going to do my best when we have the cooking shift again~”
Instead of scrutinizing the motive of her roommate, Rethe honestly expressed her gratitude.
* * *
The gardening shift.
This job was more or less evaluated into two extreme categories by the waiting maids. Namely into either the “best” or the “worst” of all their jobs. On an related note, the waiting maids deeming it to be the “worst” were overall a majority, whereas those deeming it to be the “best” were a minority.
The reason that made it the “worst” was actually quite simple: Compared the other jobs, the gardening shift was an incredible tough job.
Cooking in front of the stove during the cooking shift was admittedly hot, but nowhere near the heat you exposed yourself to when pulling up weeds in the garden during the hottest season.
And although the bath was big enough to give you a headache when scrubbing it, it didn’t even compare to the size of the lawn that you had to tend to in the garden.
Thus, the gardening shift was a strenuously task, even compared to the other appointments.
Why then did some of the waiting maids consider it the “best” job, albeit being a minority?
The reason for that was extremely simple as well: It had less working hours.
As a cooking staff, they had to stand in the kitchen in accordance with the three meals.
During the bath shift, they had to do the laundry in the morning when the weather was good, and in the evening, they had to put more wood on the fire to keep the water in the bath at the right temperature.
And although the cleaning itself was done relatively quickly, the cleaning crew had to be on stand-by for the rest of the day in case their master suddenly called for their services.
Compared to that, the working hours of the waiting maids on gardening duty were extremely short. That was nothing out of the ordinary.
The sun of the Carpa Kingdom was not something you could overcome with just attitude or guts. Then again, they couldn’t really wait for the sun to set to start with the garden work.
As a result, the working hours of the gardening shift were limited to a relative short timeframe: Principally from dawn till midday and from evening till dusk.
So they started early, but got a long break before they called it a day early, too. Considering only the actual working hours, it definitely was an immensely favourable task.
Despite that however, the majority of the maids claimed it to be the “worst” job, so it was all too easy to imagine just how tough the assigned duty during that short period was.
In regards to the “three troublemakers“, Dolores and Rethe belonged to the majority faction, whereas Fay belonged to the minority one.
“The grass has really grown around here. Today we will be focussing on cutting it.”
The loud and firm voice of Emilia, the Gardening Department Head, resounded over the courtyard that was bathed in the only just rising morning sun.
“Yes, very well.”
Fay, Dolores and Rethe replied with an unusual loud voice.
That could be attributed to Emilia’s policy as the department head.
She was not a noble from the Carpa Kingdom, but an ordinary middle-aged woman.
Her hair was long and black, her skin brown and her stomach had put on a weight appropriate for her age.
It would be wrong to call her “fat”, though. If anything, she was strongly-built.
To put it bluntly, she was a corpulent woman of middle age.
Nevertheless she still moved about agilely, not showing her age.
Equipped with a thick glove on her right hand and a small one-handed sickle in the other hand, Emilia squatted down on the spot and started to cut the grass first of all in order to set a pattern for the young waiting maids.
Fay and the others quickly took their sickles and squatted down as well.
The morning sun was already developing its destructive force, casting long shadows from the girls, who had started to cut the grass in silence, onto the lawn.
About one hour later.
“Ugh… I cannot carry on.”
The temperature in the courtyard suddenly skyrocketed when the morning sun revealed itself. Unsurprisingly enough it was Rethe, who threw in the towel first.
Still crouched down, she dropped the sickle, straightened herself and repetitively hit her back with her fist.
In reaction to bending her back rearward, the sweat from her forehead dripped onto her chin and then ran into her cleavage.
Since they were working outside, they were wearing thick veils on their heads as a protection against the sunlight, but its effect only amounted to “better than nothing”.
“So you’re not good with the sickle, Rethe. Even though the kitchen knife is like an extension of your arm.”
“Fay-chan, this is not a problem of how I use the sickle…”
Hanging her head crestfallen, Rethe replied like that to her petite co-worker, who was helping her quite energetically with the sickle in her assigned area.
Her stamina ran out before the technique even became a problem.
Rethe had a stiff body to begin with, so she had trouble working crouched for a long time. Moreover, she fell over extremely often whenever she cut the grass, because her huge breasts upset her balance, which was already impaired from her poor motor skills. On top of that, she was a little, just a tiny bit heavier than the other young maids, so her knees started to hurt when she squatted down.
In line with this, she was insomuch incompatible with garden work that you might as well call it her nemesis.
“How pathetic. And you still call yourself the daughter of a knight?”
Not pausing her work, Emilia gave Rethe a harsh tongue-lashing without turning around to her.
“Y- You are right. My apologies, Emilia-sama!”
Rethe trembled with fear and quickly picked up the sickle she had dropped before. But still out of breath, Emilia called out to her again before she could resume her work.
“Hold it, Rethe. Tell me, were you slacking off? Or were you taking a break, because you were exhausted?”
Sweating like a pig, Rethe ripped her dry tongue down from her palatal in order to answer the question.
“N- No! I was not slacking off. I am really worn out.”
“Then do not be shy and take a proper rest in the shade.
Ditching work is beyond all question and failure is not an option, but neither is overstraining yourself. It will cause a lot more trouble when you pass out from overworking yourself.”
For better or worse, Superior Emilia took the view that “one has to give everything they got”.
So she was merciless towards slackers and expected people with insufficient skills to improve themselves. In the same way, she expected them to make the best of their imperfect skills. And anyone, who tried to work beyond their capabilities, was admonished by her.
That read well by itself, but it was hell for those, who had troubles with a task.
When they made a mistake, they were scolded harshly. And when they tried to make up for that mistake by overstraining themselves, they were scolded even worse. So anyone with a sensitive nature would curl up and be unable to move anymore.
Having said that, Rethe wasn’t a girl with such a delicate spirit.
“Yes, excuse me then.”
Being told to rest in a harsh tone of voice, Rethe showed a blooming smile and retreated into the shade of a tree, almost crawling off the grassland.
* * *
“The sun is up so high it is becoming perilous. Let us stop for now.”
The declaration to end the morning shift was met with unanimous approval.
Each utterance varied slightly, though.
“Yes~ …We are finally done~”
“Puh, that was a heavy going.”
“Yay, it’s over! Good, now I can play all I want until evening!”
Rethe and Dolores slumped down as if their puppet strings had been cut. In spite of that, the overly energetic Fay jumped around happily all by herself.
“Oh, reminds me, Zenjirou-sama said we can use the ‘soccer ball’ in our free time. Wanna play, Dolores, Rethe?
Their colleague with short black hair turned around with a smile that seemed to say that she had a flash of wit just now, yet Dolores had sought refuge in the shade of the tree by lying down and answered with a husky voice without getting up from the grass.
“Nah, play by yourself…”
As for Rethe, she apparently didn’t even have the power to reply anymore.
She shook her head weakish without saying anything, barely communicating her refusal.
“Okay. Then I’ve got it all to myself, yahoo!”
Fay rushed inside the building to get the soccer ball.
“She can’t be human… She must be half dragon or something…”
“Haha… You may be right…”
Dolores practically coughed up her words and Rethe agreed to it with a wry smile after she had recovered enough to speak again.
The hotter the weather was the more active large reptiles, such as the poikilotherm dragons, got. Of course there was a limit to it, since they were organic creatures, but at the very least the temperatures of the hottest season on the South Continent were nowhere near that limit.
No wonder that these indigenous creatures prevailed on the South Continent. They adapted way better to their environment than humans, who were nothing but an adventives species.
Underneath the brutal sun of that very South Continent, Fay was lifting the soccer ball in her miniskirt maid dress after she had fetched it on her own. That scene was so bizarre that one definitely questioned whether she was a genuine human or a cross-breeding with a dragon.
“1, 2, 3, 4! Bam!”
“Hey… Fay-chan, I can see your undies.”
“It’s not one bit erotic, though.”
Instead of juggling it, Fay rather made a jumping kick at the end while Rethe and Dolores leaned seated against the trunk of the tree and watched over her dumbstruck.
“Oh my, how pitiful. I am not telling you to be like Fay, but do you not think you should enjoy your youth some more?”
The owner of this gentle voice with a sour undertone was Emilia, who suddenly stood next to Rethe and Dolores.
Her harsh way of speaking during work had made a complete about-turn into one that oozed kindness and benevolence.
No one else from the department heads separated business and private as distinct as Emilia.
In a strict sense, neither the break time, nor the nighttime peace were completely private, because the waiting maids of the Inner Palace had an omniferous live-in employment, so a more accurate description would be that she “was as kind as possible when she wasn’t issuing instructions”.
“You will not recover when all you do is lie there. Here, some drinks.”
Saying so, Emilia held out the large silver water carafe from the refrigerator in the living room and some wooden cups.
The water carafe contained water mixed with black sugar and extremely sour fruit juice.
It was the perfect drink for a time like this, because it simultaneously replenished your requirements of both water and calorie while the sourness made it easier to swallow.
Simply put, it was a primitive sports drink.
“Yay! All hail to Emilia-sama! She knows her stuff!”
The very first one to grab a cup and hold it up like asking for a refill was Fay, who had been playing with the ball on the other side just a moment ago.
“When did you…”
Dolores glared at her petite co-worker with half-closed eyes.
“Sure, sure, there is enough for all of you, so no cutting in line. One after another.”
Still smiling gently, Emilia flicked Fay’s forehead with her index finger to make her stand back, then she sat down in the shade, holding down her skirt in the course of it.
“Here. Be careful not to choke on it.”
With these words, she poured the young waiting maids the drink into their wooden cups from the silver water carafe.
“That hit the spot…”
All three of them downed the cup in one gulp.
The cold water with a temperature of under ten degree Celsius could only be experienced inside the Inner Palace and during the hottest season of the Carpa Kingdom it really soothed a parched throat.
“Yum! One more!”
When Fay vigorously showcased her cup, Emilia refilled it with a soft smile.
“Emilia-sama, may I ask for a refill as well?”
“Why, yes, of course. Just be careful not to upset your stomach.”
Emilia happily acted as a waitress for the young waiting maids, who sat on the grass and held up their cups in quick succession.
The water carafe was empty in no time. The effect was that even the completely burned out Rethe had recovered enough to smile brightly like always again.
Having said this, the three were sweating like crazy all over their bodies, because they had taken in a large amount of water all at once after their bodies were directly heated up by the sunlight, so they practically looked as if water had been poured over their heads.
The hair of the young waiting maids was glinting blazingly and their clothes had become so drenched that its colour was changing. Noticing that,
“Once you have calmed down, go take a meal inside. But before that, wash off your sweat in the bath and change your clothes. Ines would give you hell if she saw you walking around inside the building like that.”
Emilia made sure to caution them with a smile.
Taking a bath and changing clothes during work hours.
At a glance, that sounded a bit too luxurious, even for the maids of the Inner Palace, but instead of a privilege, it was actually more like a duty for them.
Zenjirou was forgiving towards a lot of things, but when it came to hygiene, he became a different person, so much that you might call him obstinate by the standards of the Carpa Kingdom.
And that didn’t just apply to himself. He would find it unpleasant when the waiting maids that lived in the same palace were reeking of sweat. In spite of that however, he hated the small of perfume even more, so it was a troublesome issue.
Of course Zenjirou would never allow himself to show that disgust, much less mention it, but the waiting maids were professionals in that regard.
Now that they had spent a lot of time with him, they noticed that he was actually “stomaching” it.
Consequently, the maids had assumed the habit to always take a bath and change into new clothes whenever they had worked up a sweat.
* * *
The pompous and ridiculous long midday break for a maid came to an end after they bathed, changed clothes, ate and took a nap. Once the rays of sunshine weakened a bit, the evening shift started.
“This shall do for the trimming. Now we just have to collect the green waste and dispose of it. After that we will water the lawn. Understood?”
Just like flipping a switch, Emilia was showing a strict expression once again. The three young maids replied with the same word, said with individual intonations.
Energetic for Fay, calm and indifferent for Dolores and somewhat drawn-out for Rethe. The individuality in their answers could also be applied to their working habits.
Fay rushed over to the rakes that were as tall as herself at full speed and started to sweep up the grass they had cut in the morning. In contrast to that, Dolores cunningly went to fetch the handcart and bags for transporting the green waste, because that was the easiest task.
Rethe on the other hand had missed out on the starting signal and was looking around nervously.
“What are you doing, Rethe? If you have time to look around, go fetch a rake, too, and sweep up the grass. And you still call yourself the daughter of a knight?”
“Yes, I am sorry!”
Scolded at once, Rethe ran off with a late start.
On a related note, the majority of the noble families in the Carpa Kingdom had a knight as the head of the family, but not every noble family was necessarily like that. Rethe’s family was actually one of these few exceptions, but it would be pointless to address it now.
Emilia would only retort with “You better work these hands if you have time to make excuses. And you still call yourself the daughter of a knight?”, even if Rethe were to clarify it now.
“Ah, Rethe, start from the other side.”
“Okay, I will.”
Fay and Rethe swept the ground with their rakes and gathered the green waste. It was a surprisingly tough job, but since Emilia was keeping a close watch while she was also wielding a rake close by, it would amount to suicide if they slacked off.
When they were sweeping up the green waste, they had to be careful not to dig over the ground unnecessarily, so they were sweating all over their bodies in no time after a few strokes.
Then Dolores arrived with the handcart loaded with large hemp bags.
“Here you go. I’ll start with this pile.”
She grasped the pile of grass with both hands, which were covered by thick gloves, and stuffed it into a bag.
Once she had filled three bags with grass, she put these bags back onto the handcart.
“ Okay, I’ll go throw this away.”
“Be quick and do not dawdle along.”
Giving a short reply, Dolores pushed the cart laden with three large bags and headed towards one corner of the courtyard.
This handcart, too, originally belong to Zenjirou. He had bought it to transport the domestic hydropower generator for when he crossed over to this world.
It was convenient to move around large or heavy things, but Zenjirou was hardly ever doing any physical work in this world. Therefore he was generally loaning it to the waiting maids in order to make the best of it.
In fact, the handcart was a real blessing for the maids in the Inner Palace, because they even had to deal with physical jobs by themselves.
Supervisory Maid Amanda had been convinced by its utility insomuch that she had discussed it with the passing merchants whether something similar could be mass-produced.
And because the construction of the handcart was hardly anything complicated, it would surely be possible to reproduce it, even with the craftsmen of this world.
In the meantime, Dolores had made a couple of round trips with the handcart, carrying all the bags stuffed with grass to the waste disposal site. The sun was already sinking in the west, bathing the vicinity in a red sunset.
“Well done. All that is left is to water the lawn and we better hurry, because we will not see where we have watered it already once the sun has set.”
Fay showed no sign of her energy running out any time soon. Dolores flaunted her exhaustion, even though she had done the easiest task. And Rethe had already depleted the stamina she had recovered during the break. Thus each of them replied with a different tension.
The finishing touch of the garden work was the “watering”. It was a painful job that took its toll on the exhausted body.
After all, this world didn’t know of aqueducts or water hoses, much less watering cans.
Therefore they had to scatter the water around with a ladle after they scooped it with a bucket.
A little ray of hope was that they were allowed to scoop the water directly from the fountain basin in the middle of the courtyard. Thanks to that, they didn’t have to walk all the way to the far off well.
“Hey, Fay! You spattered me with water!”
Although Dolores was complaining about Fay’s wild swing, she wasn’t actually all that bothered about it.
Despite the evening time, it was still pretty hot, so it would dry soon anyway, even if she got wet. If anything, it actually felt good to be showered with the cold water.
Of course there was a trick to scattering the water with a ladle, but above all, it required muscle power.
Already past her limit, Rethe was more like “spilling” the water instead of “sprinkling” it.
“Rethe, if you are tired, then take your time. And be extra thorough with each swing instead. So disgraceful. And you still call yourself the daughter of a knight?”
“Yes, I am truly sorry…”
Her arm, as it held the full ladle, was shaking so much that you even noticed it from a distant.
Dolores was almost reaching her limit as well, albeit not as bad as Rethe.
“Doesn’t Zenjirou-sama have some tools that make the watering easier…?”
She grumbled almost whispering, but Emilia didn’t let it slip during her work mode.
“Dolores, it truly is disgracing, when the daughter of a knight of all people depends on the belongings of her master to lighten her burden. Be ashamed of yourself.”
“! Yes, I very much apologize, Emilia-sama.”
Dolores cowered before her and apologized profusely on reflex, but unknown to her due to the nightfall, Emilia was, contrary to her scolding tone, actually looking preoccupied.
It goes without saying that the young waiting maids needed to improve their stamina and skills, but as a matter of fact, Emilia knew that the tasks in her department were putting quite the strain on the young waiting maids.
If that burden could be lightened at least a bit with some kind of tools, then it was worth considering.
(Maybe I should consult with Zenjirou-sama discreetfully once.)
Holding such a thought in her mind, Emilia swung her own ladle and continued to water the newly cut grass.
“Good job. Now we are done for today.”
The courtyard of the Inner Palace had been completely overtaken by darkness, when Emilia declared the end of work.
In reality, it would be more accurate to say that it had gotten too dark to continue working instead of calling it the end of the work day. The sun had already set so much that they could barely perceive each other’s silhouettes, recognizing any specific facial expressions was impossible.
“Yes, thank you for your guidance.”
Because of that Emilia only noticed that there was one silhouette missing when only Dolores and Rethe answered her.
There were one tall and one busty silhouette, but the tiny one was gone.
“Where is Fay?”
Emilia looked around restlessly and then an agitated voice resounded from behind her.
“I’m here, Emilia-sama. What’s the matter?”
When she turned around, there stood a really small silhouette. One could only see the outlines, but it was clear that the silhouette aka. Fay was holding heavy buckets in both her hands.
Apparently she had been gone to fetch more water at the fountain just when Emilia had called it a day.
What bad timing.
With her work mode turned off after her announcement, Emilia now smiled somewhat apologetic while she
“Forgive me, Fay. We are already done for today.”
offered her little subordinate an excuse in a gentle tone.
Fay’s eyes were already quite big to begin with, but she widened them all the way to boot when she heard that, complaining loudly.
“EHH!? Then I got this water for nothing!”
“Sorry, but could you empty the bucket? If you do not want to return to the fountain, you can just scatter it around here.”
Not even Fay, a bundle of energy, was able to tolerate that wasted effort. She exclaimed extremely displeased and put the buckets down with a bang.
“Well then, I will go on ahead. Please put away the tools orderly. Okay?”
With these words, Emilia disappeared into the darkness first.
Fay responded absent-minded, but she had no intention to bring the bucket all the way back to the fountain. So she was left with no choice, but to get over it by scattering it randomly around here.
In the moment she grasped the ladle with this in mind,
“Sucks to be you. Well, good luck with the last buckets.”
Dolores called out to her with an obviously amused voice.
That voice was vivid insomuch that you could envision the smirk on her face as she mocked her, even in this darkness.
Fay plunged the ladle into the bucket and with a change of plan, she then struck out at the tall, supposedly laughing, silhouette with all her might.
It was too dark to see anything, but judging by that scream, she seemed to have succeeded with her plan to shower Dolores with water.
“Ah, sorry. Did I hit you? I can’t see well in the dark.”
This time Dolores was rendered speechless by Fay’s affected apology.
She made a dead set at her from beyond the darkness, but Fay dodged her splendidly with a side step while holding the ladle in one hand and the bucket in the other.
However, Dolores hadn’t been aiming at Fay. She secured the other bucket Fay had set down, scooped some water with a ladle as well and threw it at her tiny roommate as payback.
“Kyaa!? Sheesh, Dolores-chan, that is cold.”
Apparently the water did not just hit Fay, but also Rethe, who had slumped to the ground behind her.
“Ah, sorry, Rethe.”
Dolores stopped for a moment to apologize, but Fay wouldn’t be Fay if she let this opportunity slide.
The water smashed into Dolores’ face so hard that it was painful before it was cold.
“Now you’ve done it! You little shit!”
“Oops! Haha, I’m over here!”
Forgetting about their earlier fatigue, the two of them energetically engaged in a water fight.
Even though the sun had set already, it was still oppressively hot.
This being the case, it was anything but unpleasant to splash each other with water, even if they were still wearing maid clothes.
“Sheesh. We have to tidy up quickly or Emilia-sama will be angry.”
That assessment was further backed by the fact that Rethe, too, wasn’t moving away while she reprimanded them worried, even though she was getting hit numerous times for a while now.
“Right. Then I’ll bet everything on this last shot!”
“Interesting. Bring it on.”
Fay tossed away the ladle and heaved the still half-full bucket with both hands, whereupon Dolores did the same and readied herself to attack.
The tall and tiny maid duo splashed the remaining water into each other’s faces at the same time.