Act 19: Exchange Between Ladies
Several days after Cordelia reconciled (?) with Hazel.
It had been a long time since she hadn’t received an envelope with the Hale family crest on it, so she went to visit Elvis’s study. Elvis wasn’t home often on holidays, but he had been home since morning.
He looked uncertain when he saw his daughter. However, the changes in his expression were so subtle that people, who didn’t know him well wouldn’t notice, however, there was no way Cordelia wouldn’t notice. Despite that, they were even, since Cordelia usually pretended to act calm.
(It’s a little hard to start the conversation……)
She wasn’t going to talk about anything important, but the mood around them felt like they were going to talk about something serious.
It was hard to start the conversation, but she felt terrible that Elvis had stopped working, even though he was busy. Cordelia gulped a little, looked straight at Elvis, and prepared herself.
“Otou-sama…… Hazel-sama, the daughter of Earl Hale, has invited me to sleepover at her mansion in five days. Do you mind if I accept this invitation?”
Cordelia spoke in a voice that sounded as if she was forcing her feelings back.
Elvis, who saw that, looked as if he was baffled. It might have sounded to him like she didn’t want to go, even though she was asking for permission.
Even Cordelia realised that her voice had come out like that. She contemplated that deceiving people was her weak point, and kept in mind that she should improve that in the future. Be that as it may, she had already done it. It was just a request, and she didn’t think that it needed to be concealed from her father. I just have to be honest when asking about something, she thought as she waited for a reply.
“………… I don’t mind.”
Elvis replied briefly, after a moment of silence.
“Earl Hale’s House doesn’t have any special traits, but there’s no harm in associating with them.”
It was a horrible thing to say, but Elvis was probably honest.
“But the Earl does have a daughter who thinks of weird things.”
Elvis didn’t say anything after that, so Cordelia bowed and left. Then she secretly began to think when she was out of the room.
(I’m also a lady who does strange things in this society…… Well, of course, Otou-sama acknowledges that.)
I got permission.
She had no choice but to go now that she’d received permission. She should have been happy that she’d received it…… But she felt a little depressed because she’d lost her reason to decline.
(Drawing and embroidery……. I can’t practice it to that extent. I’m not good at it, but I’ll manage somehow. But……)
What the heck are we doing with love stories? What should I talk about?
Cordelia didn’t understand why Hazel recognised her as a friend, but she was happy about it. However, she had never heard of an event where ladies in society talked all night about love with a friend. Of course, there was a possibility that she was just naïve, and didn’t know about it. However, she guessed that it was probably the first time Hazel was hosting a sleepover from the way she talked.
“For now, we’ll be staying up all night.”
She did say we would be talking all night, Cordelia nodded. I wonder if it’s like the pyjama parties from my previous life…… But of course, I’ve never experienced those before.
If it was like a pyjama party, then she could probably let Hazel talk until she ran out of things to talk about. But, she wanted to talk all night long with Cordelia……. Which meant that Cordelia would probably have to join in the conversation, and that would be inconvenient.
Since Cordelia had no experience with the word 『love』 in this life or in her previous life.
Of course, she would probably nod if asked whether she wanted to experience a beautiful love. However, she couldn’t see a clear vision of what a beautiful love was.
(In the first place, love was something that happened around me, and I would hear about it, or I’d see it in dramas or manga; that and I enjoyed love based games.)
Therefore, it wasn’t something she could talk about at present. However, she thought that and retorted, it’s still too early for the current me to give up. I’m still only 12 years old in this life. There are plenty of opportunities for me to experience it.
“…… At least I can ask her about what books she reads. Then I’ll know what kind of sleepover it is, and what I could talk about…… We could have talked about novels instead of love, in the first place.”
She changed her depressed state and hummed.
No plan, no simulation.
That felt like the most challenging problem she had ever faced. And, at the same time, she became embarrassed that she was worried about it alone. Her lips started trembling, and she felt like her face was heating up. She began to think that the contests that Hazel challenged her to were easier than this. She hid her face with her hands.
What should I ask her? What do I have to talk about?
Cordelia felt like she was taking an interview. She was restless. She didn’t understand what topics Hazel, who was 12 for the first time, would be happy to talk about, because it was her second time being 12. What can we talk about?
Although Cordelia didn’t recognise herself as an adult, even though it was her second life, she thought of age as something that added up as you lived. She had been living as 『Cordelia』for 12 years. Of course, she was still a child in this world. A suitable environment was needed for mental growth; that included conversations and social situations. Therefore, even though it could be said that she was an adult in her previous life, she was doubtful that she could call herself an adult here, even if she based it on the values of this world.
…… Of course, those were excuses she made to herself, and there was no doubt that she had accumulated more years than Hazel.
“Oh my, Lara. Welcome back.”
Lara, who was wearing clothes for going out, called out from behind her, as she thought in anguish. Lara had probably just returned from Aisha’s place. She looked more graceful than usual. Lara didn’t make many unnecessary movements, because of her upbringing, and she would be viewed as a lady if she remained silent. That was only if she stayed silent.
“What’s wrong? You’re frowning. Are you worried about something?”
“I’m not really worried about anything…… Say, Lara. Do you…… know what love is?”
Cordelia asked Lara as if she was asking something normal. The answer she was expecting was, “I don’t know”. If so, then she thought that she could conclude that Hazel was a ‘precocious girl’.
However, Lara didn’t answer Cordelia. ――― Instead, her face went red, and she flapped her mouth open and close.
“Er, O-Ojou-sama……?! I don’t really……!”
“Aaaaaaaaaaah, I’m late for work!! I’m going to go change!”
And Lara trotted away, disappearing from Cordelia’s view.
Cordelia, who had been left behind, was dumbfounded. Apparently, Lara knew about love…… No, it looked like she knew what it felt like to be in love.
And she felt like she had been incredibly ditched.
I didn’t expect her to act like that. And, and what’s more……
“I wonder if I should prepare before I go……”
Cordelia felt like she was in the minority when she saw how Lara acted.
Luckily, she didn’t have anything that she had to finish today. So, she could read a romance story and talk to Hazel about the popular romance stories of this world. She decided that and headed towards the library.
Cordelia immediately started searching for a romance novel when she entered the library…… Then, she noticed a fundamental problem.
“…… My goodness! There’s no way our library would have popular romance novels.”
The library in the Pameradia House consisted of practical books, history books, ancient literature, etc. They didn’t shelve popular romance novels. If her sister hadn’t married, then they would probably have popular romance novels in the library.
In fact, popular romance novels from seven years ago…… In other words, romance novels from before her sister got married, occupied a small corner in the library. Cordelia had also read them many times for enjoyment. But, there were no stories from after her sister got married. If no one was reading it, then no one would buy it. In short, they didn’t increase. The stories her sister read were probably different from those that Hazel read.
Cordelia dropped her shoulders in disappointment. She was already at the library, so she decided to borrow some books that interested her, and looked around. The first thing that caught her eye was a war chronicle, written in the olden days. She remembered Isma had raved about that book before. Therefore, she was interested in it…… But no. It was too old, and she might damage the book if she took it out of the library. How unfortunate.
“Argh, I don’t have the time to be doing this!”
She was certain that she would be absorbed in reading if she were to return with something that greatly interested her. Then, she would remain clueless as the date for the sleepover drew closer. That wasn’t good at all. She should probably stop looking for a book to borrow.
However, even if she understood that a lot of things in the library fascinated her.
“Oh……? Is this a star chart?”
Immediately after giving up on the war chronicles, Cordelia pulled out the star chart, which was stuffed into one of the shelves, while thinking, what is this doing here? She hadn’t been that interested in stars before, but that didn’t mean she didn’t have an interest at all. It was made out of stained glass, and was a little heavy, but very beautiful. She decided to take it back to her room with a book after hesitating a bit. The book she had brought back with her was about stars.
She suddenly remembered about Gille’s invitation, at that time.
Sneaking out at night…… It’s impossible after all. If I want to sneak out at night, then I’ll have to sneak out when I’m not staying at home.
“On the other hand, sneaking out of Hazel-sama’s mansion at night…… is impossible after all.”
She had visited Hazel’s mansion several times and observed that the surveillance at the Hale House was sloppy than at the Pameradia House. Of course, they were fortified in the critical sections, but they probably only did just as much as was required. Therefore, she could sneak out from the Hale mansion at night, if she wanted to…… But she would cause trouble for the Hale House if something happened.
Cordelia had already told Gille that it would be difficult for her to sneak out so it wouldn’t become a problem even if she couldn’t go.
“If Gille-sama was a girl then it would……”
Cordelia stopped forcefully.
If Gille-sama was a girl?
If he was, then I wouldn’t have met him at all, right? He went incognito in town with Vernoux-sama because he’s a boy. That was how I became friends with him. Also, I could dance with him because he’s a boy……
“…… Le-let’s stop. Yeah, let’s stop thinking about it.”
There wasn’t a need for her to be making excuses for anyone, but she did it anyway. She cleared her throat and stopped thinking.
Then, she opened her bedroom door. Now that I’ve thought about it more wasn’t my dance situation just like a scene from a romance novel? She recalled that and became embarrassed. Gille-sama seems used to it, so does he invite girls to dance often? If so, then wouldn’t he be a natural playboy in the future……? Stop it, if I keep thinking like this, then I don’t know what kind of face I can show Gille-sama the next time we meet. He’s a small gentleman, it’s so rude of me to let my imagination run wild.
Alright, I’ll really change the topic this time. And I’ll read this book about stars after I’ve prepared for the sleepover.
“Now then, what outfits do I need?”
Is it easy to pack my luggage? It might become bulky since I can’t just pack one pair of pyjamas. I don’t want to pack that much, but I’ll have to compromise and increase my clothes to a certain extent. Cordelia felt a little anxious as she turned towards the chest. She also had a souvenir that she wanted to give Hazel, on top of her own stuff.
It was an aroma candle.
“I don’t know if Hazel-sama would like this scent…… But let’s give her this one.”
The chest that Cordelia was looking through contained lavender and orange scented candles. Cookies and scones, accompanied with orange tarts and jam, were often served at Hazel’s mansion, so she probably liked that fragrance. That was the main reason why Cordelia had chosen it, and the second reason was the effect. That fragrant relieved tension and anxiety. If Hazel could relax with that fragrance, then most of her tension would probably be relieved. Then, they might not have to stay up all night. Cordelia put the candle into a paper box and decorated it with a thin ribbon while having such expectations in mind.
(It’s not good to stay up all night, before talking about love, in the first place. It’s beauty’s enemy.)
So, I want to make her feel sleepy. Yes, so we can quietly finish this sudden event with a good night’s sleep.
“――― Somehow, it’s like I’m afraid of it.”
It’s not like she’s going to stab me, so why can’t I stay calm? Why am I panicking a little?
Cordelia gently stroked the ribbon on the box and gave a short sigh.