Noblesse Oblige and the Slums
Aristocrats with a Marquis rank and above are obliged to take turns in distributing food for the poor.
This old custom that the ancestors started voluntarily has become something customary and obligatory from who knows when.
“Tch, what a troublesome thing our ancestors did.”
Lance House’s eldest son, Robert, is looking at the food distribution in an open square in one corner of the slums irritatingly.
The one working is the Lance House’s servants.
Robert keeps on grumbling even though he is just seeing it over from inside the carriage.
There’s a bigger open space a little further ahead, but he needed to get off the carriage because the road is too narrow.
Robert, who doesn’t want to set foot in the dirty and smelly slum, made them distribute the food in this small square.
Just by hearing there will be free food, people came rushing from nowhere and formed a long line that continued until outside the square.
‘When can I go home…’ When Robert heaves a sigh, Bryan sitting across from him glares at him with a bored face.
“Why do I have to follow along, Robert-sama.
Even though my turn was just last week.”
Robert usually came with his younger sister, Lyla, but because she had a tea party she couldn’t miss today, Robert ended up coming alone.
As he can’t stand waiting alone in such a place, he called Bryan at the last minute.
Food distribution is said to be the duty of noble sons who will succeed the title, so Robert has no choice but to come here.
Even so, he has no intention of doing any work.
The idea of noblesse oblige doesn’t exist in Robert’s dictionary.
“Pardon me, Robert-sama.
We are running out of bread and soup.
I will go back to the mansion and bring some more.”
A servant reports to Robert from outside the carriage.
“What stupid things are you saying.
If we have no food left, then we’re done for today.
We’re going home.”
If the servant goes to bring extra food now, he will go home even later.
In the first place, the number of guards will decrease if someone gets the food, so he is worried about his safety.
Because here is the slum with poor public order.
“No, we cannot.
It’s the rule to provide food for everyone who has gathered.”
The servant insists, but Robert’s opinion remains the same.
“Humph, who will see whether we follow the rule or not?”
‘We’re going home immediately,’ Robert shouts at the servant.
“Robert-sama, what will you do if the slums’ people file a petition?”
Bryan worriedly asks even though he is scared of Robert’s tyrannical behavior.
“Bryan, are you also stupid? Who will believe what those kinds of people say?”
‘I am the next Duke of Lance, you know?’
With a reason that can only make sense to Robert, they start preparing for their return.
And naturally, people still waiting in the long line voice out their dissatisfaction.
“No way- That’s it?”
“I haven’t eaten yet-“
There’s a lot of children in this slum.
Knowing that they won’t get to eat, the children start crying and clinging to the servants.
Some children ask them to ‘Please somehow do something.’
“Tch, damn brats.”
Out of all the things he can do, Robert spits out another curse after seeing this scene uncomfortably.
Then, from the line that started to look like chaos, one man steps forth and heads straight toward Robert’s carriage.
“Hey! This is different from what you promise! Why are you stopping the food distribution when you haven’t provided enough for everyone?”
Robert doesn’t answer.
Because he feels that he is doing charity right now.
While they can feel thankful, they don’t have the right to utter any complaints.
Well, it can also be said that he simply couldn’t answer after getting scared from seeing the man’s appearance.
“Please… at least for children under 5 years old, would you please give them something to eat?”
The man forced himself to swallow his anger and bowed his head to Robert.
If they can’t get something to eat this time, they have to hold out until next week’s food distribution.
There can be children who lost their lives because of that.
“Robert-sama… They’re so pitiful, you see? Just for the small kids…”
Feeling sympathetic towards the man who has desperately pleaded, Bryan persuades Robert to give them something.
“Are you stupid? To get free food, these guys can easily bow down their heads, you know? There will be no end to it if we heed every single one of them.”
Robert has had a bad temper recently.
He is still holding a grudge for the humiliation he got at the academy.
He appealed to his father to write a complaint letter to the Stuart House, but the reply he got was (it was written very long but in short) ‘Eh? Isn’t it not my child’s fault?’
What can you expect from a parent with a child like that? Even though a Count couldn’t go against a Duke if his father were to do anything.
When he recalled the annoying Emma Stuart’s face, he felt irritated… eh?… the appearance of Emma Stuart stuffing her cheeks with slime jelly suddenly flashed through his mind, and ‘Thump’ his heart throbbed unnaturally.
Even though I would’ve let her get along with me if she had apologized there.
What a stupid woman.
In Robert’s mind, the image of Emma talking to Arthur, Emma talking to the Second Prince, Emma talking to the freckled merchant’s son floats in one after another.
It was a little late, but at that point, he felt irritated more than he ever felt before.
If it’s the usual Robert, he will probably get cold feet from the man’s appearance and continue the food distribution, but Robert at this moment has his irritation shoot up to the MAX level.
“We got no food left for you to eat.
You’re being an eyesore!”
*BAM* Robert opens the carriage door and yells.
The servants, the children who have gathered for the food distribution, and the man bowing his head are all surprised and turn their gazes towards Robert.
Even towards the raging noble son who had gone out of his way and showed his face, the man still felt indignant.
Within a year of the rotating duty cycle, last week’s and this week’s food distributions are called the “two weeks of hell” in the slums.
This is because those two weeks’ quantity and quality of food are much worse than what other nobles usually provide.
Other nobles would always give them goodie bags filled with biscuits and other food that can last for a long time.
Yet in every “two weeks of hell,” they have never been given anything of the sort.
Not even once.
In the slums, people have no guarantee they could have a decent meal other than the distributed food.
So if he loses his temper here, then the children can actually, really die.
“I-It won’t be for free! I will trade it with a special ink! A bright red ink that absolutely can’t be removed.”
At the man’s words, Robert’s face broke into his usual wicked smile.
I remember it’s about time for that freckled merchant’s son’s store to open.
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