This was probably the hardest chapter I’ve ever had to TL. It’s kind of nice how this story always seems to kick me back down whenever I start getting a little confident at this. I hope everyone had a nice Mother’s Day though. Enjoy.
Attendant is Actually Really Busy
The Ferguson Ducal House’s oldest daughter Rachel’s personal attendant Sofia, she was actually quite busy with the absence of her Lord. Even without having to provide personal care for Rachel, there were still many things to do.
Of course it’s not just simple housework liking cleaning a room.
A closely guarded secret is that cleaning isn’t actually very high up on a maid’s list of duties, and there was a specialized department set for doing laundry, so there isn’t that much work for an attendant to do when their Master is away.
Well there’s not usually much work, but Sofia is still always busy. For the people working in the other departments inside the house, one of the great mysteries is what she could possibly be doing running around all over the place when Rachel isn’t here.
“Well, I guess it’s natural that those in charge would wonder. As you could guess, Helena over in laundry asked me just recently, ‘Why does she have so much work to do?'”
Hearing Lisa’s story, Sofia nodded as well.
“I suppose……..generally, you wouldn’t think that a noble family’s attendant would be checking over a trading firm’s account books.”
Sofia and Lisa were checking the income and expenditure over the last month for the Black Cat Firm. It’s not like they believed there was anything out-of-sort with them. It had just become a common practice to look the books over every month to check for errors.
Really. Being around Rachel means being brought in to her secrets. Sofia and all the others with Rachel all have business as members of the Dark Night Black Cats even if their Lord is away.
While the two maids were intensely staring at the mountains of documents that surrounded them, Mimosa and Meia came walking in.
“We have some good news and bad news. Which would you like to hear?”
Mimosa’s words made Sofia and Lisa share a look, before Lisa wearily urged her to continue.
“Why are you separating them anyway? Just give us a summary.”
“Lisa, so hostile…….the good news is we received a delivery from the Zenoya Kingdom–four cases of mud masks have arrived.”
With the exception of the unemotional Sofia, everyone was throwing their hands in the air.
The mud from Zenoya is very popular in this country, known for its tremendous effects on beautifying skin, and since it has to be delivered abroad, it usually costs a lot of gold coins just for a single bottle.
This is the case for both nobles and the bigger merchants………it’s not something you would buy unless you’re a house with a lot of money, yet Rachel pays the expenses just for her subordinate’s comfort. Because it gets brought in on the gaps of the regular deliveries, they’re able to buy it at almost the regular local price though.
Giving the women’s camp these high value cosmetics, while offering the men’s camp rare foreign liquor at cheap prices was just one of the skills Rachel used to capture a person’s heart. For people, pressure isn’t the only way to make them do what you want.
By the way, because they also have the general support of the border stations, they’re able to bring in all these goods without having to declare it to the country……..the general public would call something like this smuggling.
If it wasn’t something that all the young women wanted to use themselves, it could be sold at the Black Cat Firm at quite the high price. It’s a perk classified as foreign souvenirs. There’s nothing to be unhappy about.
Inside this giddy atmosphere, Mimosa added on a few words.
“As for the bad news, with the arrival of this delivery our overseas information network has significantly grown………..everyone please hang in there……..”
Everyone, including Sofia this time, hung their heads low.
The Black Cat Firm is a medium-sized store located in the back streets of the city. Despite the fact that it has numerous customers consisting of nobles and significantly wealthy citizens due to its fine quality overseas products, it’s a store that could easily be overlooked.
It is actually not that big of a store since one of its signature services is bringing foreign products right to the customer’s home, so there isn’t that much of a reason for anyone to visit the store directly. Nevertheless, those in the know all know it’s a high-end shop that specializes in high-end customers. That is the evaluation given by those who know the Black Cat Firm.
But, Sophia and the rest on the inside would tell you something completely different.
While their public reputation isn’t technically wrong, it doesn’t cover the full story either.
Rachel serves as the primary investor for the trading company, and the buying and selling of high-value products isn’t its main function.
While appearing as a legitimate business and earning work funds, the overseas branches actually gather information, shipping it back to Rachel alongside the goods. Then inside the capitol they lie and intrude on the powerful families, learning about their internal circumstances, and bringing back information that could prove useful to the Duke’s House and the Royal Family.
Naturally they prioritize those entities hostile towards the Ferguson Ducal House and Rachel personally. Everything from what Prince Elliott had for dinner to how Margaret arranges her cosmetics on her mirror stand, all Rachel needs do is ask, and they’d find out.
Of course she’d look stupid asking for something like that, so no such order has ever been given.
Sofia is responsible for managing the members of the Black Cat Firm and Rachel’s troops inside the Duke’s mansion with those people inside the Royal Palace and other high noble houses that Rachel has influenced. Of course she’s busy.
To make matters worse, she now has to look through the incoming information from the inside out, and make decisions on the documents in Rachel’s absence……..no matter how many bodies she has it won’t be enough.
While drinking the tea that Meia had brewed for her, Sofia released a long sigh.
“Perhaps I, this couldn’t be divine punishment for receiving the wage of three people could it…….”
“At the very least our work, it’s not supposed to be the work of a maid right………..”
Even with all of the maids working together, their exhaustion was obvious on their faces.
Sofia was in charge.
Meia was responsible for domestic politics.
Lisa was responsible for domestic economics.
Mimosa was responsible for foreign affairs.
Heidi was responsible for work in the Royal Palace.
These five along with on-site face of the Black Cat Company President Campbell, Boss Waters from the underworld, along with an anonymous knight, courtier, and official from the Royal Palace made up the ten executive members of the Dark Night Black Cats.
These ten people lead together in order to drive the organization forward through its duties. If you were to include the end of the command line, those who perform their jobs without knowing what it’s for, then the Dark Night Black Cats member count numbers in the hundreds.
“What about that young maid halfway down, would she be alright?”
“My Lady said we could put her to work, but there is no shortage of classified information we couldn’t divulge if she were to ask.”
“The lower ranks don’t really know about us in the first place. Some of Waters’s subordinates actually misunderstand and take us for a criminal organization.”
“Waters thought we were there for that as well in the beginning, but after My Lady took him in to another room for five minutes, he came back sweet as a kitten……..”
“My Lady can’t hide her own criminal scent when she’s working you over……….”
“You, I won’t hesitate to throw you to the Lady.”
After all the tabulation work had been finished, Sofia wrote out a note for the butler Jonathan and left the room with Lisa. After a recent rainfall the streets were still damp and musty, but with the sun already out, it was the perfect setting for a walk.
“Such a wonderful location, a regular maid would rarely be able to go out and enjoy a day such as this.”
“Indeed………but since the Lady has me going out to complete her tasks around the clock, it doesn’t feel special at all……..in any case.”
“I suppose. Back alleys at midnight were already on the level of a promenade by the time I became a young woman……….”
The two girls headed over to the Black Cat Firm in order to pass along their regular report.
Immediately forcing themselves into the president’s office, they found a kindly looking old man busily sorting through documents at his desk and an evil looking man with his feet up and back to the door blowing a puff of smoke into the air from his cigar.
As Sofia entered the room, she casually took a seat on the edge of a sofa, crossing one leg over the other, and kicked the middle-aged man up out of his chair making it topple right along with him.
“I told you not to smoke in here when I’m coming Waters.”
“You’re too suddenly violent Sister!”
No matter how you look at it an evil-looking forty year old man calling a young girl still in her teens ‘Sister’ is wrong. But neither the kindly looking head of the Black Cat Firm who was still working away at his desk nor Lisa who had calmly taken her own seat showed to be even a little perturbed by the incident. Today was when the regular report was to be delivered and when the executive meeting for the Dark Night Black Cats would take place.
Glancing through the report the two older men had made, Sofia filed it away inside the envelope already carrying the one she had finished. She then passed the envelope over to Lisa.
“Well then, today Lisa will be infiltrating along with Campbell.”
“Understood. The horse-drawn carriage has already been prepared.”
The horse-drawn carriage that brings in the supplies and reports to Rachel are always mixed in with the other deliveries that are brought to the Royal Palace on a daily basis.
Of course that’s only half camouflage. Naturally the Black Cat Firm had its own carriage it sent out regularly. So in fact all of the supplies sent are addressed to the kitchen, and when there’s nothing to be delivered it gets diverted to Rachel. That was the case today and as such Rachel’s subordinates would lie in wait in the back.
People under their influence had been considerably mixed in inside the Royal Palace and around Prince Elliott by now, especially gatekeepers and knights assigned to guard duty. The Black Cat Firm’s carriage has only ever been the subject of very basic inspections whenever it was carrying inside an assortment of goodies.
“If Lisa is bothering to go herself is there something big going on?”
In response to Campbell’s question, Sofia pulled out a new document.
“For this meeting…………hm?”
Campbell and Waters sat across from each other looking the paper over………but when their zig-zagging gazes finally reached the bottom of the page, they both let out a sigh.
“I’ll go like I always have…………dungeon, I’ll do it.”
Having already taken such a reaction into consideration, Sofia indifferently put out a list and began to talk.
“Campbell, please prepare and deliver to me all of these materials.”
“I understand that……..but what about the people in question? We can handle the installation.”
“We’ll have you come under the banner of the Duke house and the Lady’s name. That person would probably come then.”
It is possible for Sofia to use Rachel’s name at her own convenience purely because of the trust that Rachel puts in to her.
“So, as for me……you want me to call out to these people?”
Waters was also looking over his own list himself. Sofia had passed him a list of people to be scouted. All of them were the among the very top………and none of them would come for chump change.
“I think we still have some time, but convince them somehow.”
“That’s easy to say Sister. But all these guys are big deals in my industry, so wouldn’t it be better to talk to my own colleagues instead?”
“I’ve been thinking about that as well. For now try to make an appointment, and if that doesn’t work, contact me.”
Waters started to feel a little nervous, remembering that Sofia had had a hand in his recruitment as well.
Anyway, faced with a proposal from some otherworldly noble servants, Waters continued with a doubtful look on his face.
“Why Sister, does her old man have a thousand gold piled away somewhere?”
“No. But if you’re successful, My Lady will gladly lower her head to you.”
Campbell and Waters were shocked at what they heard, but soon they hardened themselves like a couple of sly old soldiers.
That’s how it would be.
Even without any promise of marriage, a Duke house is second only to the King/Royal Family in terms of prestige, so a daughter in that position lowering her head to a commoner would leave that commoner with quite the level of fame among their peers. Given the difference in status and the honor of a noble, it’s something that shouldn’t happen even if you were to turn over heaven and hell.
Do it. If that’s to be done, certainly anybody who would ask would have their spirits lifted. At any rate……..
“I am quite serious. My Lady isn’t one to pointlessly hold high her pride.”
“That may be………but even so, have you already received her permission?”
Sofia gave an instant reply to Waters’s question in a tone that sounded almost invigorated.
“Lisa will be going to get it after this.”
“Huh? I am?”
Having not even told the contact person yet, Waters and Campbell both had their jaws drop at just how amazingly unplanned this was.
“……….you………what are you going to do if you make a promises that your boss hates……….”
When Waters was finally able to squeeze out a question, Sofia responded plainly.
“Ohh of course, what I promise will be realized. If My Lady grumbles about it, then feel free to step on her head as she performs a dogeza for you.”
Everyone besides Sofia hardened at her words.
“……this feeling of distance with My Lady, it’s not something I could imitate……..”
“………what, rather than childhood friends you sound more like foster siblings”
“…….normally you’d hold back a bit more though”
The three people carved it into their hearts once again.
Inside the Dark Night Black Cats, Rachel wasn’t the only dangerous one.
Seeing off the carriage after leaving the Black Cat Firm, Sofia stretched out her arms towards the sky and began walking.
“My my………I worked a lot today”
There was just a little more work to be done today. But if you were talking about tomorrow, then the commotion would start up again first thing in the morning.
Sofia stopped at a crossroads, turning to move towards the mansion……..but then softly put her foot down.
“………going back to the mansion like this, but I’m reluctant to have my work just pile up.”
Part of Sofia wanted to leave those still pending documents to her numerous shrewd subordinates.
Sofia ended up turning right, going in the opposite direction of the crossroads. Beyond that was a shop she recently discovered that had wonderfully fluffy chiffon cake and some highly fragrant tea.
“I worked more than enough today, so a small tea break should be worthwhile.”
In the end Sofia herself is a talented, shrewd subordinate. Which is why she fully intended on expensing the cost of this tea back to her company.
“Oh, damn it!”
A maid who was wiping down a vase when she suddenly let out a cry, and a colleague who was standing on her tiptoes to dust a picture frame on a nearby wall ended up losing her balance.
“What’s wrong Theodora?”
“Lisa went out earlier, but I forgot to give her that letter!”
“Letter? To the Lady?”
Rachel is generally very friendly to her servants, but still, it’s a little unusual for a single maid to write her a personal letter while she’s locked in a dungeon.
“What’s it about? Are you asking for some time off?”
“Groan, it’s much more important than that!”
The maid wearing glasses, Theodora, clenched her fist to emphasize her point.
“I had prepared a fan letter, written around the concept of Sykes reversing the situation on his Lord that I had hoped would happen in her next work! Ah, even though I had poured all my heart into that letter…….”
“I have failed!” the maid let out another cry, jostling her dirty rag around while her maid coworker almost dropped her feather duster, her shoulders dropping.
“You, how are you so excited about a novel that the Lady only wrote while killing some time? Moreover, the content…….your hobbies are rotten……..”
“What did you say!? All women are rotten!”¹
“Are you lumping me together with you!?”
The two maids continued their quarrel until the head maid passed by.
1. Something fun I learned when I was translating HTG, a fujoshi–a woman who enjoys yaoi–translated into English means a ‘rotten woman’. So when she says that all women are rotten, she’s referring to fujoshis.