The two continued to ignore the count.
“You insolent children… don’t you know that you are in the presence of nobility?”
Their acts fueled the fire that burned inside of Count Borque. His face was red with suppressed rage, his hunched form exuded an animosity that was like acid – burning, slicing, potent.
Elody calmly put down her tea and shifted her gaze towards the count.
“Well, he was granted the title by the emperor.”
The count snarled more than spoke, “Ha! The emperor? Don’t make me laugh. That’s not true at all! I’m sure you can’t even get the acceptance of the vassals…. From next year onwards, send a portion of your tax to me. Then I will get in contact with the vassals on your behalf!”
It was a ridiculous claim, but he still did it because he needed money to ease his anger. Since the opponents were young children, he expected that they would not rebel if they were intimidated.
“And why would we do that?” Elody shrugged and glanced at Caville.
Caville stopped eating his snacks and said, “Yeah why?”
His jaw dropped and his eyes trembled with rage.
‘How dare they…’ he thought.
“Count Borque, you shouldn’t be whining like a child.”
“What?! You little…!” the count raged,
“If you still insist on this matter, I will gladly send a letter to the Imperial Palace and let the emperor discuss it instead,” Elody smiled.
Count Borque bit his lips. He had protested against the emperor before, so doing it again will further dishonor his reputation.
In the first place, his reason for going to the capital was to gain back the trust of the emperor and to please the nobles that had turned their backs on him.
“Weren’t you on the way to the capital? Why don’t you take the letter with you?”
“You… you sneaky little!” he snapped.
All that rage came out faster than lightning and just as destructive. He sprung from his seat and grabbed Elody by the collar.
“Don’t touch my wife!” Caville shouted.
“You filthy bastard!”
As he raised his hand towards Caville, Elody freed out of his grip and blocked his approaching hand.
“I am the Duchess of Cernois! I will formally evict you as the acting lord!”
“What? Me? How dare you?!”
“You left me with no choice,” Elody said as she called Norman. Soon after, Norman came in with an anxious expression.
“Norman, Count Borque is on a tight schedule, he has to leave for the capital right away. Go see him off,” she said coldly.
He couldn’t believe the words that came out of her mouth. He held still, not moving an inch from his place and glared at Elody, eyes locked right on hers.
“Well, Count Borque? Or would you rather be dragged out by the knights?” she said.
His fingers curled tightly, his knuckles turned white from clenching his fist too hard, even his teeth clenched in anger. He felt resentful about being kicked out but he still left the parlor as he needed to visit the emperor soon.
He promised to avenge himself one day, but he needed to relieve his anger first.
* * *
A few days later, Elody and Caville went to inspect the fief. Norman, Marie, and a knight accompanied them to ensure their safety.
She had wanted to go a long time ago, unfortunately, she was too busy to spare any time for the inspection.
Today, they were going to look around the farms that were located near the mansion.
The land was vast, and on the periphery, there was a small territory where the vassals resided.
Unfortunately, Elody had never seen their faces.
They were supposed to come and greet Caville after he was assigned as the successor to the dukedom. Yet they didn’t even send a letter, let alone visit him.
Just like Caville’s uncle, they will never approve of him because of his young age and his mother’s background….
They were unqualified to be the duke’s vassals as they might have already clung to nobles of other lands.
In the novel, the vassals only came to congratulate Caville after he returned from war.
There was a scene in which the princess gave the vassals a room to stay. But the vassals plotted against them instead. It turned out that the mastermind behind the incident was none other than the cunning villainess, Elody.
‘I have nothing to say….’
Although Elody had led a different life from the original storyline, she still felt a little sorry for Caville.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Elody said as she looked out of the carriage and admired the scenery.
The mansion was located in the center of the land.
If they go straight through the main gate of the mansion, they will see a large square with a fountain in the middle.
Fortunately, the roads in the dukedom had been built in the days of wealth and grandeur, when Caville’s grandfather reigned the duchy.
Far away from the main street along the well-organized road, one could see a barn, orchards, fields, and private homes.
“We’ve arrived, madame,” Marie said.
“Come, Caville.” She said as she got off the carriage.
Afterward, she decided to look around while riding on a horse with Caville. She drove the horse with deft skills and was proud of the results from her hard work.
‘I knew it was worth it!’
“Caville, look carefully. This is your territory.”
Caville didn’t seem to understand her words.
“You still don’t grasp what I mean?”
It’s still too early for him to learn about the complex system of the fief, but Elody has decided to explain things step-by-step for Caville.
This land was owned by the first duke. He had driven out the invaders from Bayan and thus, he was labeled as a hero who had a great contribution to the war.
Elody explained it in the easiest possible way in hope that Caville would understand.
“This land is your territory, and all the people who live here are your people.”
At first, he seemed confused, but after a while, Caville began to nod his head at Elody’s words.
“You have to make sure that they do not live in poverty. As the lord of this land, you have a responsibility to protect them.”
It’s been a long time since he rode a horse, so Caville seemed a little scared, but he was less nervous than he thought he’d be. He relished the sound of the horse’s hooves pounding against the ground, the spring breeze that swept his hair gently, and most importantly, Elody’s warmth.
“Huh? But what is this?” she said as she surveyed the farm before her.
“What’s the matter, ma’am?” Norman asked.
There was a short pause, “Well… could you tell me their farming techniques, Norman?”
“We divide the land into three sections, with a different crop in each of two fields, wheat and barley, but the third field is left fallow.”
“The third field fallow?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
Farming methods, of course, vary from region to region. With different techniques, the speed to harvest the crops would also differ.
It took a long time for the advanced farming methods to be transmitted to other areas.
Elody thought their knowledge regarding farming methods was lacking.
To confirm herself, she asked, “So they left a third of the field empty because they don’t want to decrease its fertility?”
“Yes… is there something wrong, madam?”
Planting wheat for consecutive years was often very traumatic to otherwise fertile land. They consumed a lot of nutrition in the soil and increased pests. That’s why they couldn’t plant more crops the following year.
‘Why don’t they plant turnips and clovers? These crops directly add nutrients to the soil and help mitigate the reproductions of pests.’
The four-course crop rotation began to use turnip and clover as part of the land fertilizer. Crop rotation is the practice of growing a series of dissimilar types of crops in the same area in sequential seasons to help restore plant nutrients.
Until modern fertilizers were developed, Norfolk four-course rotation was the most advanced farming method.
But until the knowledge was widely spread, the three-field crop rotation routine will continue to be used.
‘If we want to increase production, we need to change farming methods…’
There was no need to let the soil lie fallow as clover would add nitrates back to the soil. That way it would greatly increase the crops and yielded livestock.
There would usually be a large livestock slaughter in winter because there is no food for the people to eat.
However, keeping plants such as turnips that were resilient in the cold weather would be beneficial for the crops and would help feed the cattle and sheep as well.
In short, the addition of clover and turnips allowed more animals to be kept through the winter, which in turn produced more milk, cheese, meat, and manure.
Elody was glad that her modern life knowledge could be of great help here.
The reason why farming methods did not develop was simple. The nobles were indifferent to the lives of the peasants, and as a result, the progress in farming became stagnant.
“Caville, you’ll be a good lord that cares for his subjects, far from the selfish nobles that we’ve seen.”
‘I’ll make sure that happens.’ Elody swore to herself solemnly.
Before getting back into the carriage, Elody looked at the vast expanse of land.
She felt a little bit bitter at the thought of leaving this place one day, and the fact that she would have to send Caville off to the war.
‘Should I just not let you go…?’
But it was clear that without Caville’s contribution to the war, it would lead to the empire’s defeat.
Elody sighed and climbed into the carriage.
It was a beautiful day, but somehow she felt a bit empty.
After returning to the mansion, Elody arranged for the new farming methods to be implemented and handed the details over to Norman.
The production will increase significantly if it was immediately applied this year.
“And Norman, please bring me the letter that was issued by the Emperor.”
“Yes, your grace.”
Elody decided to check the letters patent just in case. She didn’t want to send Caville to war if possible.
Unfortunately, the deed was clearly written in the letter.
To be granted the title of a duke, Caville had to lead his own knights to war if the emperor asked them to participate.
‘I wish the issued letter wasn’t so direct so I can utilize some loophole within the clause.’
Elody shook her head, clicking her tongue in disappointment.
‘But what’s done is done, I’ll just have to help Caville by making more medicine!’
Elody made up her mind and headed to the lab.
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