After a hot bath to remove the dust from her trip, Mariabelle was carefully polished by her maids.

When it was almost tea time, she went to the rose garden, where Countess Therese Fidelo was waiting for her.

Although it was not noon, the imperial sun was still strong.

To prevent her skin from being burnt by the sun, a lady attendant held a parasol for Mariabelle.

The parasol was luxuriously covered with blue silk from Fidelo's factory, which shined blue in the reflection of the light and was very beautiful.

It's so beautiful that it seems to make me feel cool.

The rose garden of the Fidelo family was magnificent.

The most beautiful thing in Mariabelle's memory was that little rose garden where she was proposed to by Renato, but this might be the second most beautiful.

Unlike the rose garden in the direct jurisdiction of the crown prince, where only monochromatic roses, red for red and white for white, were in bloom, the roses of Count Fidelo's family had many shades of roses that changed from white to pink.

Since this variety of roses is rarely seen in the kingdom, Mariabelle walked around looking at the roses with a sense of curiosity.

In the center of the rose garden, there was a white-roofed arbor.

Therese was waiting for Mariabelle there.

"Aunt Therese, thank you for inviting me. I apologize for keeping you waiting."

"It's all right. It is natural for a woman to take time to get ready. Please, sit down."

As soon as Mariabelle sat down, the maids prepared a cup of tea.

The tea was lightly tinted and had red rose petals floating in it.

"Please, enjoy the tea."

Therese drank the rose tea first.

Seeing her throat move, Mariabelle also lifted her cup.

When she gently brought it to her lips, the slight aroma of rose tickled her nose.

Rose tea inevitably leaves an astringent taste peculiar to herbs on the tongue, but the tea that Mariabelle was drinking was slightly sweet without any astringency.

"It is very delicious," she said. "Does this tea contain sugar or honey?"

"No, it is a tea made from a new kind of rose that has been developed recently. Don't you think the sweetness is just right?"

"I think so."

Mariabelle was happy to see that there was one more thing she liked in the Galleria Empire.

Mariabelle's mouth formed the shape of a smile, as she has become quite capable of expressing herself these days.

"Next, please have this one."

With that, what was served was a jelly with floating rose petals.

There was a transparent jelly in a glass bowl with some pink rose petals floating in it.

"Isn't it pretty? It's delicious to eat, too."

At Therese's suggestion, Mariabelle scooped it up with a spoon and tried it, and the taste of peach spread in her mouth.

The petals were peach liqueur jelly.

It seemed to be made from liqueur with fruit fibers, and the alcohol content wasn't very high.

"I have never tasted such a delicious pastry before."

When Mariabelle honestly expressed her thoughts, Therese traced the edge of the glass bowl with her finger.

"You have a lot of baked sweets in your kingdom, don't you?"

"Yes. We have madeleines in the shape of roses."

"I'd like to try one of those."

"You should come to the kingdom when you have a chance."

"Yes, I would love to visit there someday."

Mariabelle thought about the kingdom.

The royal palace, surrounded by white walls, was called the White Castle.

The gorgeous yet delicate and beautiful castle has probably passed the season of fresh green.

The trees seen from the long corridor of the palace, where she went for her queen's education, are probably stretching their new branches to the sky.

Come to think of it, when we were still newly engaged, Edward once tried to climb a tree in the courtyard, and the chamberlain was angry with him.

He shrugged and smiled mischievously when he realized that Mariabelle, who was walking down the hallway, had seen him.

There were some good days too.

Not all days were hard and painful.

The feelings we cherished weren't love, but we still cared for each other.

Those memories will never disappear, even though they were separated like this.

While reminiscing fondly, Mariabelle felt that the memories of those days were gradually becoming memories.

Then, she heard a little cry.


Looking around to see where it was coming from, Mariabelle saw a small cat with pale orange fur and auburn stripes, with its paws resting on the hem of her dress.


"Melty, no, come here."


Therese hurriedly instructed the maids to catch the cat, but the kitten, perhaps thinking it is being played with, sneaked past the maids' hands and played around.

"I'm sorry, Mariabelle, but she's just a little girl, and she's a bit of a rascal."

"I see you have a cat."

"Yes, I keep a cat that helps chase away rats. They are the natural enemy of books."

The kitten wasn't easy to catch, and Therese joined in the chase.


Just as she was about to be caught, the kitten jumped into Mariabelle's lap.