“Darius? …Aren’t you Darius?!”
After the knight left, Robert was at a loss for what to do and stayed at the same spot for hours.
However, no one came to help him.
When the sky began turning dark, Robert started walking reluctantly toward a shabby nearby village.
There, an old woman with a bent waist talked to him.
“Huh? Darius? Who the hell? Oi, Old Hag.
Who do you think I am? Don’t talk to me so casually…”
“I see, I see.
You must be hungry, right? Let’s hurry up and go home, Darius.”
Old Hag… Oi—”
The old woman pulled his hand and took him to the most tattered house in the shabby village.
Although he could shake off her hand easily, he went along without resisting because he was afraid of hurting her fragile, wrinkled hand.
Besides, he was also hungry.
I guess I don’t mind having a meal… was what Robert thought.
“Come, Darius, eat lots.”
The old woman brought him food with a bright smile.
“You think I can eat this?!”
All the old woman prepared was soup with no solid ingredients and a slice of yam.
“I see, I see.
So you’re happy.
You can eat all of it.
No need to be polite, okay, Darius?”
“Hyahaha,” the old woman laughed with a strange laughing sound and disappeared into the back of the house.
“Oi! Old Hag! No meat? Or fish? Never mind that, what about bread? At least give me some bread, hey!”
Whether it was because she had poor hearing or was senile, the old woman didn’t reply.
“Something like this… Isn’t the food our mansion’s dogs eat better than this?!”
His stomach rumbled.
As he stared at the simple dish on the table, he thought, ‘I’ve never been this hungry since the time I gave Emma Stuart a slime jelly.
Now that I think about it, even when I was in prison, I could still eat a proper meal three times a day.’
“…Yuck, this tastes awful!”
The soup was basically just boiled water, and the yam smelled weird.
Robert once again shouted in his mind that this wasn’t food for humans.
“Darius, Darius, your room is still the same as before.
Take a good rest today.”
“Hyahaha,” the old woman kept laughing even though there wasn’t anything funny.
“Huh? What about the bath? Do you mean to let the guest sleep without taking a bath?”
Robert widened his eyes, feeling incredulous at the unbelievable possibility.
Although he looked like he did, he actually loved cleanliness.
“Even if you don’t have my favorite soap here, I will put up with it, so go prepare the bathtub,” spoke Robert in a loud voice so the old woman could hear him.
“Bathtub? Did you forget? There’s no bathtub in this house.
Because the lord of the Lance Duchy deemed bathtubs to be a luxury item, we will be charged with bathtub tax if we have one at home, remember? Not a single house in this village has a bathtub.”
Robert was shocked by the old woman’s words.
Even though usually, in prison, he could only wipe his body…
“Then how do I cleanse myself?!”
The season was about to change, and it was getting hotter.
‘Won’t it be hell if I can’t let the sweat out?’ thought Robert anxiously.
“There’s a pond an hour’s walk away.
You can wipe your body there.”
“Huh? Pond? …An hour?!”
“Oh goodness, have you grown muddleheaded and forgotten everything? I will take you there tomorrow, so rest for today.”
“Uhyahyahya.” The old woman wrinkled her already wrinkly face and pointed at Darius’ room.
“…You’re lying, right? There’s no way the honorable me can sleep in such a worn-out bedroom…”
“I see, I see.
Did you miss your bedroom? Then sleep well.”
There was only an uncovered wooden bed in the room.
“Oi, Old Hag! What about the pillow, the mattress, the quilt? There’s nothing here, y’know?”
“You forgot about that too? Lord Lance said that beddings, such as mattresses, quilts, and pillows, were luxury items, so if there’s any bedding in our house, we would have to pay bedding tax, okay? The sum is lesser than that of the bathtub tax, so someone like our village chief probably uses a pillow, I guess?”
“…What the hell is wrong with that damn lord!”
That damn lord was Robert’s father.
“Now, now, did you forget? If people found out that you were badmouthing Lord Lance, you’ll get whipped as punishment, you know?”
He learned about the territory management policy from his tutor every day to the point he was already fed up.
Compared to the other territories, Lance Duchy adopted various tax systems.
This was an unprecedented practice in which troops regularly patrolled to monitor the fief citizens so they wouldn’t evade the taxes they should pay.
Since the House of Lance was one of the Four Great Duke Houses, it was permitted by the Royal Family to have an army.
“…What’s wrong with this lord? Isn’t this place hell?!”
This hell was the territory Robert would be succeeding in the future.
Author’s words: A chapter about the Kingdom.
Because there are crawling insects when you sleep on the floor, there is no bedding tax for beds out of the kindness(?) of the lord.
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