After dinner, the busy Renato returned to the imperial capital.

As the crown prince of the empire, his schedule must have been packed.

Normally, his engagement to Mariabelle should have been fine with a letter sent by a messenger.

But the fact that he took the trouble to make time to come see her seemed to show Renato's sincerity, and that made Mariabelle happy.

The terms of the deal between the empire and Berkeley's wheat, as well as the terms of the marriage between Renato and Mariabelle, were to be finalized before their scheduled fateful meeting.

James sent a letter of instructions to his wife and son, who were waiting for him in the territory, for his stay in the empire, which was likely to be longer than he expected.

Of course, he didn't write about Renato.

Or rather, he couldn't bring himself to write about him.

He only wrote that he was taking Mariabelle to visit Count Fidelo's family, but one could guess that something had happened due to the sudden change of plans.

The distance from the crown prince's jurisdiction to Fidelo's household is about a week by carriage.

Since there was still some time before the fateful reunion, which was in a month, they decided to head there slowly because it was a special occasion.

The handmaidens, who had prepared Mariabelle at the inn, would go with her to Fidelo's household.

In the meantime, she was taught the manners unique to the empire.

Although she had been taught many things as part of her education as a queen, there were still some things that she won't understand unless she lived in the area.

However, unlike her previous education as a queen, she was taught through practice, which made learning much more enjoyable than she had imagined.

Mariabelle, who was originally called the 'perfect lady' in the kingdom, absorbed knowledge in a blink of an eye, surprising her tutors.

The maids, who had been silent from start to finish when they prepared her at the inn, surprisingly were all bright and cheerful women.

At that time, they were exhausted from Renato's sudden arrangement, and they were in a hurry to get Mariabelle ready, so they didn't have time to chat with each other.

However, as one would expect from Renato's hand-picked maids, their considerate manner was perfect.

Since she had not yet informed the maids, whom she had brought from the kingdom, that it was the crown prince of the empire who was at the inn, they seemed to be getting along well with the new maids as well as keeping that fact under wraps.

For Mariabelle, who had never left the kingdom before, the huge empire seemed somehow terrifying.

Even though she didn't know the empire directly, the tea, sugar, and crafts that came from the empire showed its great power.

But when she visited the empire in person, she found it to be a peaceful country, with cheerful people living in every town surrounded by flowers.

Whenever she saw a red rose blooming, she would remember Renato's proposal of marriage, and her cheeks would turn red.

The rose that Renato had offered her at that time was a memento, and she kept it as a dried flower in a glass case that she bought in a town along the way.

The rose in the glass case has become darker than when she received it, but it has kept Mariabelle's heart warm for a long time without dropping any petals.

As for the red and white roses on the hat, she collected only the petals and made a sachet to match Renato's.

As expected, this could not be done in the moving carriage, but she embroidered the sachet on the cloth before they rested at the inn.

For the sachet to be given to Renato, she added a red rose motif to the golden lion stepping on a sword and holding up a spear, which is the emblem of the empire.

Mariabelle thought about how to design her own sachet, but in the end, she decided on a pattern of a red rose crossed with wheat, representing the Marquisate of Berkeley.

As she stitched, she felt as if the day of their reunion was drawing near, and only Mariabelle was unaware that she was naturally smiling.