Then, five days later, in the afternoon.
Cordelia got out of the carriage, with her luggage, in front of Earl Hale’s mansion. Her luggage hadn’t been packed for an 『overnight trip』like in her previous world, but she did compact it.
In the end, Cordelia couldn’t rest at all, because she had been thinking about how she would be staying over here for the next couple days. She didn’t understand it well, but she felt an itch somewhere.
However, in contrast to Cordelia’s feeling, Hazel greeted her with a big smile.
“How do you do, Hazel-sama? I’ll be in your care.”
Her smile made one think of flowers in full bloom. Cordelia couldn’t help but think, my impression of her would have changed if she looked like this from the first time I met her.
Hazel was in an excellent mood and looked as if she was going to hug Cordelia as she took her hand.
“I procured a new embroidery tool for today. Ah, I’ve also prepared your favourite things in the guest room.”
“I, I see. Thank you very much.”
“You don’t have to be that stiff! We’re best friends, aren’t we?”
Our status has elevated from friends to best friends in the time we haven’t met……!
Cordelia managed to smile somehow, even though she was surprised. She didn’t feel bad because Hazel liked her, but she couldn’t relax.
Hazel pulled her hand, and they went to the guest room first. Emina had carried her luggage in, and then went home.
Hazel said, “I’ll join you in a bit,” and went back to her own room. Cordelia thought that she could finally breathe a little before Hazel came back…… But there was a light knock at the door the moment she thought that.
“Cordelia-sama, it’s Hazel.”
I really only had a second to relax. Although she thought so, she could have predicted this would happen from how hyper Hazel was acting. “Come in,” she said, and the door was quickly opened.
“I’m back with the embroidery tools.”
In addition to Hazel’s personal toolbox, she also had a basket full of different coloured threads and beautiful white handkerchiefs. Those were probably Hazel’s favourite items and were several times more than what Cordelia had. That didn’t mean that Cordelia held a small amount of embroidery items, it just meant that Hazel liked to collect them that much.
“Do you like embroidering, Hazel-sama?”
“Yes. Otou-sama always says that men like women who can embroider.”
She boasted as she put the tools down onto the table near the window.
“You get along really well with your Otou-sama, don’t you?”
“Yes. Because I’m the daughter, he’s proud of!”
Hazel put her hand to her chest as she said that, and her eyes looked gentler. They’re really close. Cordelia felt a little closer to her. We might be surprisingly similar in some respects. She thought and felt a little bit of her tension fade.
At the same time, she was a little envious of Hazel.
Her father was proud to have her as a daughter.
Cordelia still didn’t have the confidence to make that claim. Or rather, she couldn’t image Elvis going around bragging about his daughter, and she was doubtful about whether he had someone to boast to.
(No, I’m satisfied with the fact that Otou-sama acknowledges what I do, even if he doesn’t brag to other people about it.)
Hazel continued talking, without worrying about how Cordelia was feeling.
“Otou-sama told me that he decided to marry Okaa-sama after she gave him a handkerchief. She had embroidered a bluebird, which carries good luck, onto it. It’s so dreamy.”
“Your Okaa-sama is also good at embroidering, isn’t she?”
“Yes. Okaa-sama’s embroiders give off a gentle feeling.”
Hazel said that while mesmerised. “My future darling is……” she said, as she stared off into the distance. “Kyaaa,” she shrieked happily.
“Then, will you be embroidering a bluebird?”
“Yes. I’ve been practising every day so I can give my future darling my best work. I’ll keep on practising!”
“That’s lovely…… Now then, what motif should I use?”
The lucky bluebird is charming, but the motif that Hazel had couldn’t be imitated easily. So, what should I choose? She had embroidered flowers before, at home, but that was only given to her because her tutor thought she liked flowers. She hadn’t picked it by herself.
(I do like flowers, but that doesn’t mean I want to embroider them.)
This was the first time she was choosing the design on her own, so she didn’t know what to choose. On top of that, Hazel had an assortment of coloured threads which made choosing even harder.
Hazel touched her cheeks and proposed, “Then how about a lion?”
“A lion, you say?”
“There’s a sample here, and lions are considered holy beasts for knights. I’m sure your Otou-sama and Onii-samas would be happy.”
Cordelia could certainly understand that.
But, a lion.
She felt it was a bit more difficult…… But, she couldn’t escape from the bright aura that Hazel was giving off, that said 『Here’s a good idea! 』
“Lions are also said to be guardian deities. I’ll do my best.”
“What colour are you going to make it? A golden lion, or a silver lion…… No, a black lion is wonderful.”
“Well…… I don’t know, how about this red or light pink……”
“No, gold is nice after all! A glistening golden lion…… How lovely!”
“…… Yes, then, can I borrow the gold?”
Hazel was off in her own world and, even though she was friendlier, she was as pushy as always.
Gold didn’t suit Elvis’s or her brothers’ images, but Hazel had made the suggestion out of courtesy so Cordelia couldn’t bring herself to refuse it. If she thought of it as practice, then she could accept Hazel’s proposal of using gold. If she wanted to give it to them as a gift later, then she could just change it into a colour that suited them.
Cordelia set the handkerchief into the embroidery frame and passed the thread through the needle. She could only think that the design was complicated, as she looked at the sample, but she had already gotten this far, so she had to give it a go.
“Speaking of which, have you already heard about it, Cordelia-sama? Recently, there’s an interesting rumour going around near the castle.”
“An interesting rumour?”
Hazel said it as if she’d just remembered this after Cordelia had embroidered for a while.
Cordelia lifted her eyes off the white cloth and looked at Hazel.
An interesting rumour. It doesn’t ring any bells.
“Yes. A child who has a mysterious power lives near the castle. I’ve heard that her dream fortunes always come true.”
“She predicts things from weather to lost items. She’s a girl who tells different fortunes through dreams. The commoners are all saying that it’s the second coming of the saint.”
“Oh my…… She sounds amazing.”
Cordelia sounded a little withdrawn compared to Hazel, who was excited.
I have a bad feeling about this. No, the only thing I get from this is a bad feeling.
A chill ran down her spine.
It can’t be. However, at the same time, her instincts were telling her that she was spot on.
“Perhaps…… Is the girl’s name Sherry?”
“Oh my, does Cordelia-sama know the rumours after all?”
(So, it is her!)
Cordelia screamed within her mind. Her feelings were spot on, even though she had wanted to be wrong.
Sherry was the heroine in the game.
In the game, she had a unique ability, just like a heroine would. Her power allowed her to see things that she wished strongly for, in her dreams. It wasn’t something as cute as fortune-telling, but it might be better to call it a future vision. No one else with her power appeared in the game. And she might have been compared to a saint because her abilities were rare in this world.
(I thought it would be nice if I didn’t meet her, but she’s here after all.)
『Sherry the Dreamer』was no doubt about the heroine『Sherry』. She was someone who Cordelia should avoid, like the Prince.
(Of course, the death of 『Cordelia』was because she’d reaped what she’d sowed. Still, she wouldn’t have been that disarranged if she had not met the Prince and Sherry…… If I think like that, then the omen is just too much for me.)
Of course, it was possible that harm wouldn’t come to Cordelia if Sherry didn’t fall in love with the Prince, or if the Prince didn’t fall in love with Sherry. In the first place, it was too extreme for her to think that the game was the same as her life. But, even though she understood that, she couldn’t be optimistic about something that put her life on the line. There was the possibility that she could cause a misunderstanding. If she didn’t have a reason to get along with them, then she wanted to build a relationship of mutual non-interference, as far from them as possible.
(If this is the same as the game, then there’s still some time before Sherry meets the Prince. Because of the dream rumour, her noble father, who had been separated from her since birth…… Earl Clyderaine found his daughter, who was living in town, and welcomed her into the House.)
Cordelia didn’t plan to get in her way if Sherry wanted to walk the path of Cinderella’s story. Cordelia would celebrate wholeheartedly if she met her fated one and had a happy ending, because if she could find happiness, then Cordelia’s path to destruction would surely perish.
Yes, I’ll say it as many times as I have to. I won’t get in her way. So, I want her to stay away from me.
She became depressed just by thinking about it. Of course, she didn’t want to sigh out loud in front of Hazel.
However, Hazel probably thought well of Sherry, because she had brought this topic up. I have a headache, Cordelia thought, but, strangely enough, Hazel’s tone returned to normal.
“But I don’t want that kind of fortune-telling.”
“Huh? Aren’t you interested in it?”
Cordelia tilted her head in wonder because she had not anticipated that Hazel would say such a negative thing.
“Of course I’m interested. I like fortune-telling. Wouldn’t you be interested in something like love fortunes as well?”
“Because her fortunes are always spot-on. I don’t want a fortune like that.”
“Even if the results are good or bad?”
“That’s right. For example, I’m confident that I would try my best without worrying, even if I get a bad fortune. But, if it’s a good result, then I’d get too overconfident and mess up.”
Cordelia was taken aback by how Hazel had said that without hesitation. Cordelia blinked and then relaxed.
“Hazel-sama, you are very strong, aren’t you? It’s wonderful.”
“Oh my, I got complimented.”
Hazel put her hand to her mouth and laughed, which also caused Cordelia to laugh.
“Say, have you talked to your Otou-sama about the future?”
“Occasionally. I’m currently learning a lot of things for the future so that I wouldn’t be troubled no matter what path I decide to take.”
It might have been easier for her to talk once things got started since Hazel questioned Cordelia. It was easier for Cordelia to talk about Elvis than Sherry, so she could answer quickly, and Hazel smiled when she heard that answer.
“So then, do you also talk about your engagement with your Otou-sama?”
Cordelia couldn’t help but raise her voice, because she had been hit with words she hadn’t expected to hear. Of course, it was apparent that an engagement would also be included in talks about the future, but that had been too sudden. The flow had accelerated a lot towards the love stories that Hazel had said they would talk about.
Cordelia lightly cleared her throat after having yelled.
“I’m sorry, we haven’t really talked about my engagement……”
It had happened when I was three years old…… Or rather, I had been coerced into pursuing someone, but nothing else had been brought up for nearly ten years. It was probably within the statute of limitations; therefore I’m okay with not having to talk about my engagement. Cordelia pondered and fell silent…… Instead, I’m feeling uneasy about whether it will happen or not, but it really troubles me that I haven’t heard about it from Otou-sama.
“I’ve heard from Otou-sama that you would marry Vernoux-sama or His Highness the Crown Prince.”
“…… Vernoux-sama is the son of that Marquis Flantheim. He wouldn’t marry anyone except for the person he loves. His Highness is also a revered person.”
The first half of her speech was filled with heartfelt words, but the second half was filled with her hopes.
Also, she was a little surprised that Hazel had included Vernoux’s name so calmly after she’d just shown that much hostility towards Cordelia. However, it didn’t seem like she was looking for anything. She might just switch over really fast…… But isn’t this too fast?
Hazel heard Cordelia’s answer and smiled.
“I have a lot of things I want to do.”
“To fall in love, compete with my rivals and to be happy with my first love. Of course, there’s a possibility that I won’t have any rivals at all, but it would only be natural to have rivals if the person I love is such a wonderful person. But, I’ll just have to better myself even if rivals appear. I won’t lose!”
Hazel put her hands to her cheeks and sighed.
Well, I don’t know if Vernoux-sama is a wonderful person or not, but a lot of ladies are attracted to him. The person, himself, always complains that they always ask him about the Crown Prince, but he is the heir of a Marquis House. Also, he had great features and would become a beauty in a few years.
“Do you also have someone you love, Cordelia-sama?”
“Not specifically…… But well…… Let’s see……”
Her reply seemed as if it was going to fade, but it was enough for Hazel to hear.
“For example, Gille-sama, whom you talked about the other day.”
“Gille-sama is a friend.”
“…… That was a quick response. But don’t you think that feeling could be turned into love? Isn’t it lovely to imagine love between…… childhood friends??”
Cordelia couldn’t imagine it, even if she was asked whether it was nice or not. And she worried about whether she was extremely rude to Gille, for imagining something like that. She would be riddled with guilt whenever she wrote letters to Gille if she dared to even imagine it. She wouldn’t know how to act the next time she saw him. She couldn’t do that to a friend.
Cordelia tried to convince herself, no, it won’t happen.
In contrast to Cordelia, Hazel was smiling. She put the half-finished bluebird onto the table and put her hands together as if she was praying.
“My parents only met three times before their marriage. But, they’re on good terms and have a wonderful relationship.”
“There are few noble ladies, and most of them have their fiancés decided for them at birth. I’m not opposed to that, but I long for love. I’m extremely happy that I was allowed to have my first love.”
Hazel, who cast her eyes down a little, looked unusually like a lady right now.
Then she said, “And if possible……” and stared straight at Cordelia.
“I also want to be like the heroine in a novel. I want to give my all in love and have a happily ever after. The grace period isn’t that long, and I don’t want to abandon the possibility that Vernoux-sama will fall in love with me. So, I’ll continue to do my best.”
Cordelia smiled wryly as Hazel declared that. It’s nice that she’s putting in the effort, but it’s also true that her seriousness is what is putting Vernoux-sama off. It’s difficult to find balance in this world, she couldn’t help but think. At the same time, when Cordelia saw Hazel like that, she couldn’t help but think that Vernoux should be able to get rid of the bad impression he has of her. Hazel usually…… gave off a rude and shameless impression, but today she was quiet and gave off a strong impression.
“This is actually the first time I’ve talked to someone like this.”
“I thought you would have the same circumstances as me, do you not? We are both daughters of Earl Houses, and I thought we would understand each other. We’re also best friends.”
Hazel winked and took the cloth into her hands once again before embroidering.
“I wish that you have a wonderful experience.”
“Then, I’ll also wish that you’ll be satisfied.”
“Thank you very much. But, I won’t ask for your help. This is my battle.”
Cordelia was relieved to hear those words, but she also felt bad at the same time. She also wanted to be considerate of Vernoux’s feelings, because she was his friend as well. However, Hazel acted based on her beliefs, and Cordelia did want to help her if she asked for it. So she was extremely grateful that she didn’t have to worry about choosing between them…… But, it was a little complicated after all. It was extremely excruciating that she wasn’t able to do anything for Hazel, who was acting this honest, even though they were both from Earl Houses.
“What is it?”
“If anything happens, then the least I can do is listen to you.”
Cordelia said that and Hazel smiled in satisfaction. Then she said, “Eventually.”
Cordelia didn’t ask Hazel anything else after that. There was something she had to finish before she asked another question, ――― which was to progress in the embroidery at hand.
She already knew that the design would be complicated from the beginning, but it was a lot harder than she thought it would be when she’d started embroidering; it was enough for her to want to change the design, had Hazel not been watching. But, she wouldn’t give up, even if no one was watching her. Cordelia convinced herself that her dignity as a lady would be damaged if she escaped from the formidable enemy known as embroidery.
“…… I also have to try hard, so that Otou-sama can be proud of me.”
No matter how hard she tried at her research, her skills as a lady were still average. She might be treated as an eccentric lady if that part of her was damaged, even if her research did bear fruit.
I can’t raise a white flag in a place like this, she motivated herself, which caused Hazel to tilt her head in curiosity.
“Oh my, there are many wonderful rumours about you, Cordelia-sama. I’m sure your Otou-sama is proud.”
“That would be nice if it were true…… I don’t think Otou-sama would be proud of me if I don’t have more pride in myself. I still don’t think I’m there yet.”
“Cordelia-sama, you don’t seem like such a weak person that you can’t proud of yourself. Because you’re my eternal rival.”
“…… I really don’t know what kind of person I am to you, Hazel-sama.”
However, Cordelia understood that Hazel acknowledged her that much. She smiled wryly, in a shy way.
And, she felt that having someone acknowledging you was a pleasant feeling.
Afterwards, the two continued embroidering while drinking tea. Dinner was brought in when it became dark outside, they ate it.
Compared to the Pameradia House, the Hale House had a lot of dishes which brought out flavours by combining minced meat and fish. It was different from the food cooked at the Pameradia House, which placed importance on drawing out the tastes of the ingredients themselves, but it was similar to stewed hamburger from her previous world. According to what she’d heard, this was traditional food of the people who lived in the Hale fief.
Other food included flowers and leaves crafted and placed on vegetables and fruits. They were well plated. It was a shame to have to eat them.
(I also like classic plating, but this is also gorgeous and nice.)
Cordelia thought that and suddenly felt that things like that would be popular amongst young women.
At the same time, she thought that if she made the aroma candles, which she had brought as a present today, pleasing to the eyes, then she could add value to it.
It was scented, but she hadn’t made any while thinking about the appearance. It just looked like a candle.
She probably couldn’t take the time to decorate each candle, one by one, like the vegetables and fruits on the table, if she wanted to distribute a lot in the future. But it would be possible if the design was simple, and it would be fun to mix fancy ones for appropriately priced sets. Appealing both the sight and smell would lead to more interest.
Something else popped into her mind when she thought of that.
(But, shape and smell, huh. It might be a little difficult with candles, but I might be able to do something else with soap. For example, opening up a soap carving class, with really fragrant soaps.)
We can carve soap to make a variety of shapes, like 3D flowers, leaves and confectionery motifs, while enjoying the aromas. The only thing needed is a knife. The finished product would be suited for display inside, and it might be accepted as a new pastime.
If I spread such learning, then I might be able to expand my own information network. Soft soap can be carved by ladies’ hands. And two things wouldn’t be made exactly the same, just like embroidery.
I don’t know whether it would work or not, but I think I’ll have soft soap developed when I get home and ask the blacksmith to make a prototype carving knife. Unlike with plants, which are my speciality, soap carving was only a part of my hobby in my past life. I would need to hone my skills to be accepted as a noble with experienced eyes. This might take a long time.
(For now, I’ll try to carve it first and see what reactions I get from Nirupama-obasama and Aisha-sama.)
Also, if I get a good response, then I can see if it catches the attention of Marchioness Sara. I don’t have anything to lose, even if things don’t go as planned.
She thought as she looked at the vegetables. Thus Hazel thought that the vegetables were the reason behind her smile. Hazel looked at Cordelia and said contently.
“I’m a little surprised that Cordelia likes the meal at my house, that much.”
Cordelia’s chest hurt a little since such innocent words were spoken to her, while she was thinking about other things, but she was able to come up with different ideas because she was looking at the food. And, the food was delicious.
Cordelia smiled back at Hazel.
“I thought that it was important to experience many things after all. The dishes are very well thought up, and it feels very fresh.”
However, Hazel pouted at those words.
“The dishes at my house are indeed fancy and very delicious. But, I think that it’s fine for them to keep the dishes in the original forms a bit more. I like Bagna càuda, but it would definitely not be served at my house. I can only eat it when I go to visit Okaa-sama’s family.”
“Then, please come to eat at my house next time. I’ll tell the chef.”
“Really? I can’t wait!”
And Cordelia, who had stuffed her stomach with the last dish available; a raspberry and pistachio mousse, was finally able to open up to Hazel…… Or so she thought, but when she thought about it thoroughly, the sleepover was only just beginning.
Yes, it’s finally time for the girls talk that I’ve been dreading. We talked a lot at lunchtime but judging from what Hazel-sama said, that was only a warmup. The real conversation starts at night. Cordelia thought.
However, as soon as she’d finished eating, Hazel said something that Cordelia had not anticipated, “I’m a little tired today.”
Cordelia didn’t stop her. If Hazel-sama is tired, then she should rest, Cordelia thought and smiled, “Then we can talk another time.” Hazel looked apologetic as she replied, “I’ll take you up on that.”
Cordelia, who had avoided her biggest concern, was able to welcome the night in relief. However, she had failed and missed her timing to give the aroma candle to Hazel, because she was feeling too relieved. But, she could just give it to her before she left. I have tomorrow, she thought and slowly sat on the bed since she was now alone.
There had been a lot of shocking things, but the chance to experience different things was valuable.
However, it seemed like tonight was going to be a long night since she no longer had anything to do. The only thing she had to do before going to bed was wipe her body with warm water. Hazel had told her that she could do that at any time if she called a servant with the bell in her room.
Now then, what should I do? It’s not bad to get plenty of sleep either.
She pondered and heard the clunk of something small hitting the window.
Was that my imagination? She thought and heard the same sound again after a while.
What the heck is that?
Cordelia slowly approached the window, leading to the balcony. She put her hand on it and peeked outside. Then, she saw two pebbles. They were small, but felt really out of place, since there wasn’t any rubbish in sight. She opened the window and stepped outside to pick one up. The pebble felt really nice to the touch. She rolled it in her fingers and tilted her head in confusion.
It was beautiful enough for her to want to take it home, but it really didn’t belong there.
She was so distracted by it that she hadn’t noticed at all.
“Good evening, Dilly.”
It was a voice she knew well, and he had utterly hidden his presence as he lent against the wall.
She dropped the pebble in her hand and stiffly moved her head in the direction of the voice. And the voice that she had let out sounded extremely awkward.
“…… Why are you here Gille-sama?”