Peeling the potato skins and cutting it in half.
I repeated the steps over and over again when I raised my face and was met with Paul's eyes.
Why am I being stared at? Is there something on my face?
I tilted my head.
“You're used to this. That's surprising.”
Paul placed his hands on his chin and muttered in admiration.
Eh… Is that so?
I said it myself that I'll do this. I would never make a promise I can't keep.
Maybe my expression spelled it out for Paul that he quickly waved his hand in denial.
“I wasn't doubting you! It's just that I thought you wouldn't be used to it.”
“Is it because I'm a child?”
“Nothing like that. There's plenty of girls about your age training to be a bride or to help their mothers. So I thought you'd make quite the ideal wife.”
My whole body jumped as if electricity ran through it.
Even though that was a normal response, I laughed at myself for misunderstanding it for just a second. Paul hasn't noticed at all.
“Why- Why do you think so?”
I imitated my hair and dress with the girls around the market. I'm also careful not to talk too politely.
…Though, since the person inside is already quite uncouth, I wouldn't worry about it that much.
“You're… how should I say it? You have a gentle expression. Even your attitude is kind.”
That was the first time someone ever said that to me.
'I know you're happy but don't be glad!' I scolded myself.
“And also, your hands are flawless. That's why I assumed you're a rich girl from somewhere that's never done rough work in her life.”
Hands! …It's the hands!
Certainly, I don't do labour tasks at all. When I'm in the mood I'll use the kitchen, but that's only once or twice a month at most.
Just watering greenhouses won't get your hands rough either.
And besides, even if they do get a bit rough, the maids would probably polish it until it became smooth again.
“But no matter how high-class they are, they surely won't be able to peel potatoes.”
Paul smiled with a big grin while my face became stiff. Cold sweat dripping down my face as I forced out a dry laugh.
“It's surprising, to think that cute lil' Miss like you could have a strength to be reckoned with. Look at how thin the skin is! It's perfect.”
Kurt picked up the skin I recently peeled and his eyes shone with a strange glint.
I'm happy that I'm praised, but I'm afraid to say anything in return.
Following that, Klaus looked at me as if acknowledging something and nodded with a smile.
Why are you acting as if you're a grandparent proud of their granddaughter being praised!? It's nothing like that! Can you please read the mood for once in your life!?
While I glared at the escort who I couldn't get through his thick head, I wished someone would change the topic already. Right at that moment, the kitchen doors flung open and Mr. Yang came back, carrying produce in his hands.
“You guys, don't get sidetracked with lil' Miss while on duty!”
Mr. Yang scolded them and the two promptly returned to their work. Although Paul is responsible for the kitchen, the real hierarchy seems to be a bit different.
Well, anyway, the topic diverted and I was saved.
I touched my chest in relief after I got called out by a woman's voice, my eyes wide.
“Were you here all this time? No wonder I couldn't find you!”
Following Mr. Yang, it was Miss Bianca who came into the kitchen. They seemed to have met in the middle of returning from the warehouse. He had heard that Miss Bianca was looking for me.
“I was worried since you suddenly disappeared.”
"Oh no, there's no need for you to apologise. I simply wanted to see you so I looked for you on my own accord anyway. And it took quite some time for me to get changed, you see.”
Miss Bianca smiled and said so. Certainly, her clothes are different from when she was boarding the ship.
Until a while ago, it was a neat dark blue dress. But now she's wearing hemp shirt with brown gilet along with black pants and boots combo.
Her wavy rich black hair was tied up behind her head.
No matter how you look at it, that's a man's clothing.
A beautiful woman crossdressing as a man. At first glance it may seem off, but…
“Does it suit me?”
“Yes, very much.”
Rather, it suited her so well it's scary.
I've never seen Miss Bianca dressed as a man even in the game. She looks cool and dignified. This might flip a weird switch inside me…
While I let my imagination ran wild down the stairs of degeneration, Miss Bianca’s lustrous lips smiled in an arch.
“Thank you. I'm happy you're the one who said it.”
An awfully cool smile was directed at me and striked my mental health.
But soon I could no longer appreciate her smile, because Klaus came in between me and Miss Bianca.
“…What's the meaning of this?”
Miss Bianca’s voice changed to a low hard tone.
“Whatever do you mean?”
Klaus’s opposing voice is also rough.
The air inside the room fell down by a few degrees. I rubbed my arms to keep warm.
“I ask that you step aside from me and Mary. You're in the way.”
“Nobody asked you to come and yet you're still here. That's quite selfish of you. Who's really in the way here?"
“That's my line."
"This is a kitchen, it's not a place for someone who can't even help.”
Look who's talking. I wanted to retort, but my mouth didn't open.
It was me who told Klaus to stay put after all.
However, that's also not something one should say after only watching other people work.
“I just have to help, right?”
With a Hmph!, Miss Bianca declared loudly.
“Mary is peeling the potatoes.”
Miss Bianca pushes Klaus away and approached me.
Looking at my hand, she picked up a potato and glared towards Paul.
“Hey, sailor guy, do you mind if I help out?”
“Ah… Sure. I'd be glad to have such a beautiful lady help us out.”
Paul who was watching the exchange between Klaus and Miss Bianca desperately nodded.
His smile was puffy, but Miss Bianca paid him no heed, took a chair from nearby and quietly sat down next to me.
“I'm not very good at cooking, but I will do my best. Good luck, Mary!”
Even Miss Bianca who is full of confidence said such humility.
I also had a time when I thought so.
We sat beside a tub to peel the potatoes, and only three seconds in an echo came out from the tub. My eyes were open wide.
Looking inside, one can see a potato cut in half rolling at the bottom.
I guess her hand probably slipped and it fell. As I thought so, a quarter of a potato was dropped in this time.
I stopped my hands and picked up the quarter-potato. My mind went blank.
That's weird. Wasn't I asked to peel the potatoes?
Maybe I misheard and I was supposed to be cutting them.
'That's gotta be it.'
As my thoughts wandered off to a faraway land, an eighth of a potato dropped into the tub brought me back to reality.
In contrast to me who was frantically panicking, Miss Bianca only tilted her head a little. The look is pretty cute. However, it's what in her hands… my eyes were fixed on a tiny piece of potato.
It's chopping potato rather than peeling it.
As I was struggling for words, the potato were cut further in half.
“I've peeled it!”
Miss Bianca spoke with a huge grin while holding up the potato that is now the size of a die.
After looking at her with an understanding gaze, I gave her a warm smile.
"Miss Bianca. Can you please leave the rest to me?"
“Eh? But why?”
“I love peeling potatoes, I love doing it so much I could die. I love peeling so much that it's not an exaggeration to call it more than a hobby. I yearn to peel so much that I couldn't bear being robbed of my opportunity to peel them by others!”
So please. Just stay put.
Have you been swallowed by my momentum so much that it made you force out a dry laugh? It wasn't certain whether she actually gave it any thought when she stood up but Miss Bianca nodded as if knowing that she's being pushed away.