Act 10: Before Departure
In the afternoon after Cordelia had finished her dance lessons, which she wasn’t very good at, Cordelia was happily handling tea utensils. Although she wasn’t bad enough at dancing to step on her partner’s feet, she couldn’t say that it was her forte either.
She wasn’t familiar with triple time waltz, the minuet, and the mazurka when she was Japanese. She should be used to life in this world, but having her memories return early was probably a barrier and, no matter what, she couldn’t match herself with the triple time. She probably had to keep practising every day to get used to the rhythm. She appreciated that she had knowledge of her past life, but if she had a choice, then she didn’t want to remember it.
Therefore, she was refreshing herself by making tea. She knew that the tea would be more delicious if she got Emina to prepare it for her, but she also had fun making tea in her past life. Emina also tried to prepare her tea for her today as well, but she said, “I obtained a new herb, so I want to try preparing it myself.” Emina then prepared a pot for Cordelia to use in the laboratory. It might have been difficult for Cordelia to make her own tea in the main building since the other servants were there also, but it seemed that she could make her own pot here.
Cordelia was enjoying her time brewing tea since she hadn’t done it in a while, and Ronnie came down from the second floor while carrying a box with both hands.
“Oh, Ojou-sama. What are you doing this time?”
“I obtained a new herb. So I wanted to make herbal tea with it. Do you also want to try some, Ronnie?”
“Yes, the tea that Ojou-sama makes is definitely more delicious than the tea brewed by the maid over there…… Oh, gah, this, I don’t like this. It’s bitter.”
“I was going to tell you that you can add honey to it since it’s bitter, but you drank the tea before I could say anything.”
Cordelia smiled wryly at Ronnie, who was trying to return his tea with a frown on his face and offered him some honey. She felt like she had an older brother who was a handful…… No, a younger brother?
“…… Yup, honey is great. So, what kind of effects does this tea have?”
“This tea was originally drunk in southwestern kingdoms, and it’s a good measure against hay fever.”
Cordelia spoke to Ronnie while drinking her tea without putting any honey into it.
The elder herb was a herb she’d found from a research paper on folk remedies. It was a cute herb with small white flowers. The route for obtaining stock had already been established, and she was excited for it to arrive.
However, she had never heard about people in the Royal Capital suffering from hay fever before. She had never seen people of this world use masks before, but their eyes and nose did seem to get itchy…… She also didn’t see her servants develop the so-called ‘easy to tell’ symptoms of hay fever either. A survey conducted on the public concluded that about 30 per cent of the population had hay fever…… This world was probably different. Even if someone had hay fever, there was a high possibility that they didn’t notice it themselves, since only a low percentage of people had it. So if she were to sell it, then she would have to sell it for other uses…… For example, using it as a measure against the cold, but honey wasn’t cheap in this world. It might be hard for people to drink it if they were bad with bitter stuff, like Ronnie. If so, then she could add lemon juice and make syrup with it…… Cordelia thought that was good, but there might be people who weren’t good with sour things, as well.
(Personally, I like it either way.)
Well, it’s hard to get everyone to like it. Cordelia thought that and lightly clapped her hands.
“Well then, let’s finish tea time here. The calendula’s marigold leach oils should be extracted quite well now. Let’s mix it with beeswax.”
“If I remember correctly, you were going to make a cream to counter chapped skin. The servants, who work with water, are eagerly waiting for its completion.”
Ronnie really seemed to like the herbal tea with honey and served himself another cup while he said that.
She was a little surprised by Ronnie’s actions, because they were a bit awkward, and smiled wryly.
She had started it to verify her own work, but as expected, she was happy that people were anticipating her products.
She ignored Ronnie, who had started drinking his second cup of herbal tea, and went to retrieve the leach oils from the shelf.
However, she was stopped by a knock at the door. The one who appeared was Hans.
“Cordelia-sama, the Master is calling you.”
“Oh my, he is? I’ll go right away!”
He should be at the castle today, how rare, Cordelia thought, but she knew that she hadn’t done anything wrong, so her steps were light.
“An inspection of the Fief?”
“Yeah. I thought it would be fine if I took you along with me next month. I’ve already finished my work. I’m thinking of staying there for a bit longer. We’re leaving in 5 days. Be ready by then.”
There was no room for refusal from Elvis’s words.
However, Cordelia didn’t have any reason to refuse. Cordelia bowed once and said, “Understood,” and restrained her heart as it beat with joy, and returned to her room. Her pace became visibly quicker.
The first thing Cordelia did when she got back to her room was take out a map.
It was a map of the Pameradia Fief that she’d borrowed from Elvis’s room.
The largest city in the Pameradia Fief, Ertiga, was located where the east-west highway collided with the north-south one. Therefore, commerce prospered there, and it was so prosperous that it was also called ‘the third city’ within the kingdom. Marine products from the south, handicrafts from the north, woollen goods from the west and iron and steel from the east. They also had an abundance of edible fruits.
(But…… This doesn’t really tell me anything about the villages that have good quality trees.)
She’d heard from Ishma that the living standards within Parmeradia Fief were relatively high. However, she’d also heard about regional disparity; for example, there were problems in regions with a smaller population than the prosperous Ertiga.
Since it’s Elvis, he’ll probably tell me about those areas too ―――, she thought and raised her face as if she’d snapped.
“No, this isn’t the time for me to do this. I was in the middle of making calendula cream!”
She quickly put the map away and hurried back to her laboratory without losing her elegance.
When she’d returned, Ronnie had his legs submerged in a tub full of warm water and herbs and was enjoying the feeling of soaking his feet while reading. He’d said, “I’ll participate in the experiment!” as he pleased, but Cordelia thought he was just having fun relaxing. No, rather, there was nothing for him to be tense about. The book he was reading, titled 『Funny Stories from All Eras』, also had nothing to do with work. If he had nothing to be stressed about, then I wonder if he needs to relax or not…… Well, whatever. It’s fine as long as he’s having fun.
Cordelia lightly coughed to clear her throat and informed him, “Ronnie. This is an urgent job. Otou-sama has allowed me to accompany him on his inspection to the Fief. Therefore, I would like to make a gift for everyone at the mansion there.”
It was her first time visiting the mansion in the fief, so she wanted to bring some handmade gifts with her, and she wanted them to see the effects of her products. They still didn’t know about her plant collections and experiments, and she was anxious to see how they’d react to it.
(Actually, I also really want to test the effects of balm massages as well, but…… Even Emina is still in the middle of the current balm massage treatment. So I probably won’t make it in time.)
Despite feeling a little disappointed, Cordelia cheered up while thinking that her 18-year-old society debut was still postponed for several more years.
Besides, it wasn’t bad to attack first with daily goods.
“Ah, then this skin chapping reducing cream would be good, wouldn’t it? It’s a bit colder over there so they might be happy to receive it.”
“Yes, I also thought about doing that…… Also, I think I’ll be riding the same carriage as Otou-sama on the way there.”
“…… This research started because I wanted to cure Otou-sama’s tiredness. So, ――― Ronnie, go do some work that causes stiff shoulders right now!”
Ronnie’s eyes became dots, and he turned his head 90 degrees like a broken machine.
“Otou-sama’s stiff shoulders probably start from straining his eyes. Strained from doing paperwork I’m aiming to make a compress medicine that will relieve him off his stiff shoulders. But I don’t have any testers. Hans also seems to have stiff shoulders, but I don’t want Otou-sama to notice.”
“Could you get stiff shoulders, that are the result of strained eyes? ‘As you wish, Ojou-sama’, was it?”
Ronnie’s cheeks twitched as he informed Cordelia, “I can see a demon behind you, Ojou-sama.”
In the end, Ronnie’s stiff shoulders were something that ‘wouldn’t even take three days to get if he worked as a normal magician in the magician’s wing’, so Cordelia immediately sent Ronnie back to the analysis magicians’ workplace. She pretended that she didn’t see the pathetic look on Ronnie’s face.
After Ronnie left the laboratory, she recalled her own memories.
“Warm cloth can be used for shoulder stiffness caused by eyestrain, couldn’t it? I can drop essential oils into hot water and dip a towel in to use it…… It’s not difficult. It’s not like…… Otou-sama has muscle fatigue.”
Then, she took out her own research book from the bookshelf and turned the pages with a rustle.
“I could make a good herbal tea if I had hibiscuses or rosehips, but…… I haven’t obtained any of those yet, and this has precedence. However, rosemary is useful enough for improving blood circulation. If the blood circulation improves, then so should stiff shoulders. Let’s try it next time.”
The things that I could do with herbs are increasing little by little. But it’s not enough, after all. If I don’t increase the variety a little more, then I feel like I won’t be satisfied with my experiments.
Cordelia thought while establishing her next goal, “It’s better to make a peelable type of hot cloth, rather than just using a towel, isn’t it?” This world didn’t have the concept of stickers, so making it wasn’t easy, because she didn’t have the equipment to make it with; but she wanted to make something easy to use, someday. Towels didn’t take much time to use, but something easier to use would spread to more people.
“…… Besides if I can complete the sticker-type hot cloth, then I can also give it to Onii-sama as a present. Onii-sama probably also gets bruises, and Onii-sama might also need a muscle fatigue compress.”
Although she had such thoughts, the tasks right in front of her eyes were making gifts for people in the fief and Elvis’s present.
She left her brother’s gift to the side for now and wrote down the important things that she needed. She didn’t have that long to prepare. If I don’t use my time efficiently…… She thought, and Vernoux appeared.
Vernoux, who was being guided by Emina, who was smiling as if she was troubled, didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘appointment’, as usual. No, he probably knew the word itself, but he probably never thought it was something he should use. Especially when it came to Cordelia.
“Yo, Dilly. You look busy.”
“…… As you can see. What kind of business do you have today, Vernoux-sama?”
Cordelia spoke while telling Emina to prepare tea and snacks.
“Speaking of which, are you not changing your hair colour anymore?”
Why did he change his hair colour when he went to town with Gille? She thought and asked.
“Ah, that, huh. That’s exclusively for the times when I’m not alone. Well, it’s something like insurance.” He replied vaguely.
What is the insurance for? She wondered, but Vernoux put a flower onto the table, and she couldn’t ask any further.
It was a bright red rose.
“It’s from Gille. When I told him that you liked roses, he told me to bring it with me.”
“It’s a very…… beautiful rose, isn’t it?”
It was a medium-sized rose with a pleasant fragrance, and more than anything, it was fresh. The white petals that were mixed in the centre were also beautiful, and Cordelia had never seen that type of rose before.
“What is this rose called?”
“Ah…… This is a new variety that Gille’s House bred, and it didn’t have a name until recently. It’s called 『Cordelia』.”
Cordelia started choking, but she swallowed it right away.
The name that was given to the flower that hadn’t had a name until recently was my own, ――― don’t tell me it was derived from my name? She thought that, but shook it off to be untrue. Cordelia had been introduced as Dilly and hadn’t given her real name to Gille. In the first place, she’d heard that his mother was the one who was improving the roses, not him. Therefore, this was surely a coincidence.
“Then I’ll have to improve myself so that I don’t lose to this rose.”
“Gille said if you like it, then he could share some stock with you. So if you don’t mind, could you write him a letter? Gille really wanted to come, but he hasn’t been able to sneak out because he’s been so busy.”
Vernoux spoke while he reached for the snacks that had been carried over.
The way he ate was very elegant. It was so elegant that one wouldn’t think he sneaks out.
“I want to write a proper letter, so would it be alright for me to give you the letter later? I wouldn’t be able to write it properly by the time you leave, Vernoux-sama. If it’s necessary, I’ll have my servants deliver it.”
She said that and Vernoux frowned.
“If you send the letter to my place, it’ll be easier to deliver it to Gille…… But, well, can’t you write it quickly?”
“Gille is definitely restless.”
He said it so seriously that Cordelia spurted a bit.
“Vernoux-sama, you’re exaggerating. There’s no way Gille-sama would be restlessly waiting for my letter, is there?”
Cordelia giggled at Vernoux who said a joke with an unusually serious face.
“I won’t say that you have to give me the letter today, but I want to hear your reply in regards to the flower.”
“The flower? It’s gorgeous.”
“That’s not what I meant. About the stocks, do you want some or not?”
She worried a little from being told so.
This rose was gorgeous. It had a lovely fragrance, and she wanted to use it in her experiments. But since it was a new kind of rose, there was a high chance that it was going to be used for commercial purposes by Gille’s House. She wasn’t sure if ――― it was alright for her to use it.
And, this wasn’t something that she could consult with Vernoux about either.
“……. I would like to write about that in the letter as well. Please tell him that it’s a gorgeous rose and I could gaze at it forever.”
“Alright. Dilly is stubborn, so even if you decide on something you won’t tell me.”
“Vernoux-sama, I’ve been thinking this for a while, but if you say something like that to a lady then you’ll miss your chance at a fateful encounter!”
Of course, it had nothing to do with her.
Despite his father’s emphasis on a fateful encounter, he seemed to be blocking the path to his own fate. Make no mistake, he was headed towards a dead end.
It was a remark Cordelia had made out of concern for him that perhaps it would be better for him to correct it while he was still young, but the person in question, Vernoux said, “You don’t get it, do you?” as he sneered at her.
“I’m not planning to take this attitude if I think it’s my fateful encounter. So it’ll be fine.”
She thought that he was a really calculating child, but she wasn’t in a position where she could judge him, so she smiled and glossed it over.
“Vernoux-sama, I’ll watch over you when you find someone you like.”
She could listen to him as a friend and give him advice, but she swore in her heart that she would definitely stay away from it.
(…… That’s right, if I find something unusual at the fief, then I’ll buy gifts for the two of them. I wonder if a special product would be better than something unusual.)
Cordelia was suddenly struck with an idea.
However, she didn’t know what would make boys at that age…… No, boys in general, pleased. She realised that she didn’t know anything about men’s tastes at all.
(L-let’s depend on Otou-sama at times like these)
Yes, Cordelia had a wonderful man close to her…… Her extremely reliable father.
The next morning.
Cordelia opened her mouth to ask Elvis a question while having breakfast in a warm, sunny room.
“Otou-sama, there’s something I would like you to tell me.”
“What is it?”
“What kind of goods would make gentlemen happy?”
Elvis frowned a little at Cordelia’s question.
However, it wasn’t an expression that said, “Don’t ask such foolish questions.” His expression simply said, “I didn’t hear you.”
At the same time, the waiter tightened his jaw and choked, is he okay?
She thought and repeated her question.
“I want to give a gift to some gentlemen, but I’m not sure what kind of gifts would make gentlemen happy. That’s why I want Otou-sama to tell me.”
“…… A gift?”
“Yes, that’s correct. I’m finally going to the fief, so I want to give them gifts that represent my feelings of gratitude towards them. I want to give them a wonderful product from our fief.”
She didn’t mean to use such difficult words, and the reaction she got from it was incomprehensible.
What’s the matter? Elvis was silent.
She was confused since her father’s reaction time was unusually slow.
“…… I can’t tell you anything if you don’t give me information about the person.”
“Ah…… That’s right! I’m sorry.”
I see. Elvis was waiting for my follow-up. I was careless.
She understood the situation, but then she realised that there was a problem.
She couldn’t tell him…… information about them.
Vernoux and Gille were the people who she wanted to give presents to. If she told Elvis their name as a set then, while Vernoux would pose no problems, Gille was someone whom she met when she snuck out of the mansion. She couldn’t say it. If she did then, Ronnie would get in trouble.
(I could just tell him about Vernoux-sama, but I’ll be troubled if he misunderstands.)
Cordelia’s wish was to 『gift a present to her friend』. But, if she only named one person, then it would probably sound like, “I want to give Vernoux-sama a gift.” Something like that sounded just like a girl consulting about love matters.
She thought it sounded charming, but not when it came to her. It wasn’t funny at all. She wanted to avoid such misunderstandings with Vernoux, and her intentions were completely different. Also, she couldn’t image what Gille liked from Vernoux, and she didn’t want to fix his image onto Vernoux.
(I might as well lie and say that the presents are for the servants…… But that would be pushing it, probably. In the first place, the presents might end up being something for people of a different generation…… But I can’t think of any other way to do this.)
It was a bit impossible since she only had a few acquaintances and she had to keep Gille a secret from her father.
(If that’s the case…… Then let’s ask about something that seems like it’ll suit Gille-sama.)
Getting an accurate idea might be hard, but I would be satisfied if I could get some hints on what to get. If I get a lot of ideas, then I feel like I’ll know what to get Vernoux-sama as well.
She thought and told Elvis about Gille’s personality.
“Mhmm…… He’s a very straightforward person.”
She realised why Elvis wasn’t replying after she uttered those words.
He couldn’t understand anything with those words. The information was too abstract.
(The best information to have is probably age, but I can’t say their age……)
Therefore, the only thing she could do was say what she thought his personality was.
“He’s a very modest person.”
“And also kind.”
“Also…… He’s extremely considerate.”
“…… Flantheim’s son?”
Cordelia immediately replied with a firm tone. How did those words come about?
Elvis nodded deeply as if he understood her reply…… “If you understand then why did you ask?” She wanted to ask him.
(No, I know why he did it. It’s because Vernoux-sama visits often, but he’s only a friend. It was hard to say that I couldn’t not associate with him, I guess?)
However, Cordelia didn’t think that the word 『honest』suited him. Gille being modest and considerate was completely opposite of how Vernoux acted. The Marquis’ heir wasn’t very modest and that, in itself, might be a problem.
“Ah, but of course I’m thinking of getting a gift for Vernoux-sama as well. I want to get along well with him.”
The words she’d said earlier were about Gille, so she inadvertently denied it before, but she did want to buy Vernoux a gift. If Elvis found out that she’d given Vernoux a gift after refusing it, then he might think that she was hiding her embarrassment.
Cordelia thought over what she said once again while the silence continued.
(But I feel like I’m already hiding my embarrassment.)
She spoke about Gille while protecting his identity, then she denied that she would buy Vernoux a gift, but said that she would.
Whether she intended to do so or not, that was probably how a soft 『Tsundere』acted.
(I didn’t plan to do that, how annoying.)
It was so hard to get the conversation going while hiding Gille’s name.
Her impression of him was apparently optimistic.
(…… But I’ve never given a gift someone of the opposite sex before, and it’s enough for me to reflect on this for next time.)
In the first place, the allegations of her acting like a 『Tsudere』were just in her imagination.
But, just to be sure, she said words that would probably halt the damage.
“I think that Vernoux-sama will become a great gentleman in the future; but, that’s only what I think. No matter how much Vernoux-sama grows in the future, he’ll never rival Otou-sama.”
It’s not like I’m looking at Vernoux-sama with dreamy eyes, Cordelia tried to connect her words with such a thought in mind and smiled in deception.
The words I said aren’t lies. My father’s fantastic. He’s astringent and wonderful. A really charming person. She affirmed in her mind one after the other and then suddenly realised something. No. If I keep going on like this, then we’ll stray from the topic of products. I can’t let that happen.
“So, mm…… What kind of items do you think are good, Otou-sama?”
“…… Perishables are good. We have sweets and smoked meat at the fief that aren’t sold here.”
Elvis gave an acceptable answer after remaining silent for a bit.
(…… Indeed, things like food disappear after you eat them. It’ll be superficial even if they don’t like it.)
Vernoux was one thing, but Gille seemed like the type of person who would be concern over things like that.
If she gave him something expensive, then he might fuss over it. If she thought like that, then choosing perishables might not be a bad choice. She was a woman in her previous life, and she had a feeling…… that whenever she didn’t know what to do, she just gave people snacks as gifts.
(But, sweets and smoked meat? Food is certainly a source of energy so it might be good, but……)
Cordelia only had a vague and luxurious image of, 『It’s practical and it wasn’t sold in the Royal Capital, so young men like it』.
She was also anxious about leaving an impression of 『function over aesthetics』if she gave Gille sweets since he’d given her flowers. Vernoux on the other hand, always came over to her mansion to eat snacks, so she had a feeling that he’d eat unusual snacks as well. As for the smoked meat……. was it something that young ladies gave to their friends? Elvis’s suggestions didn’t match with Cordelia’s expectations in that regard.
In the first place, it wasn’t like Cordelia wanted an answer that she could agree with. She’d asked because she really didn’t know what gifts to get. Therefore, even if the answer wasn’t something she’d expected to get, she thought that Elvis’s answer of, 『this is for a general noble man』, might be closer to his tastes.
She wanted to gift them something they would be happy about, that was why she’d asked.
(Well, I might not know what’s there, after all, if I don’t go to the actual place.)
According to Elvis’s advice, it was up to Cordelia to pick which sweets she wanted to gift. If she saw the real products, then she might be able to find something better than what she thought was there. Then, Cordelia felt that she could see a pivot point of various sweets. Of course, she didn’t doubt the advice Elvis gave her, because there might be items there that would make her exclaim, “This is it!”
(But, it was the right choice to ask Otou-sama after all.)
Because of him, she now also considered giving food as gifts, when she hadn’t before.
“You should ask other people as well. The answer might be similar to mine…… But no matter what, it’s always faster to ask the person.”
Cordelia nodded at Elvis’s answer.
“You’re right. Then, I’ll ask Isma-oniisama too.”
Like Elvis said, it was better to ask other people as well. If it were Isma, then he’d know the fief well, and he was also closer in age to Vernoux and Gille than Elvis was. So, she might be able to get hints from another perspective as well.
Elvis was amazed at Cordelia’s thought process.
“You’re going to ask Isma?”
Is it bad to ask Isma-oniisama?
“…… Are you planning to give Isma a gift as well?”
“Huh? Y-yes. I am.”
Cordelia immediately replied to Elvis’s sudden words, but the inside of her head was full of question marks.
(…… Otou-sama, I wonder what’s wrong?)
But, Cordelia also didn’t go back to that question. She didn’t know what was going on, but it seemed that he’d covered up the story well.
“Isma goes to the fief many times. There’s no need for you to fuss over his gift now.”
“If you’re worried about it, then you can bring him back some alcohol.”
I see so Isma-oniisama likes alcohol. I appreciate that he gave me a specific item, but it wasn’t something that I could give to a child. It wouldn’t suit Gille-sama or Vernoux-sama.
Cordelia thought, and Elvis’s looked at her with a solemn look on his face. Tension ran down her back when she noticed that gaze.
“Cordelia, let me teach you something.”
“There are times when you shouldn’t use such sluggish words.”
“If the other party is a man, then you should state his name. Covering it up could lead to big misunderstandings.”
Cordelia froze at Elvis’s words.
(He really does think that I’m consulting him about love.)
It was unavoidable since even she’d thought in the middle of the conversation. It wasn’t strange for Elvis to think so.
Cordelia gave Elvis a smile to remind him.
“I can only be attracted to those who really care about me, just like Otou-sama.”
So, you don’t have to worry, okay? She informed him with that in mind. Unfortunately, she couldn’t guess what Elvis was thinking with his teacup in hand, but the misunderstanding was probably solved…… Or so she would like to think. She would also like to think that she…… reminded him that, “Because Otou-sama cares about me, you won’t marry me off without me knowing, would you? Even if it’s to His Highness.”
However, Cordelia also thought that it would be challenging to ask Isma about this matter if Elvis came to a misunderstanding because of it. She might create a new kind of misunderstanding, and she wanted to avoid that.
(…… Well, if I really can’t find the right item for them, then I can ask them at the fief.)
She didn’t have to panic just then. She also got a hint, so all that was left was to find a nice item.
Cordelia once again moved the hand that had stopped moving and ate her breakfast.