Act 31: A Present and an Invitation
A month had passed since the Founding Festival and the counterfeit flora silk incident.
It’s finally time for my house arrest to end. I can finally go horse riding ――― the day Cordelia thought that, a package was delivered to her.
She took the package to her laboratory and opened it, then laughed a little.
“It’s a prototype of the soap I asked the Eris Firm to make.”
She’d come up with soap carving when she had stayed at her friend’s, Hazel Hale, house before the Founding Festival, so she asked the Eris Firm for soap. Her order was 『a soft soap which could be carved with a lady’s hands』. If things went well, she wanted to turn it into a hobby for noble ladies, so the price didn’t matter. The Eris Firm came up with a new formula for soap in response to Cordelia’s wish and sent it to her.
“Is that from my house? I thought it would take them a bit longer to send it to you, since you’d requested it during the Founding Festival.”
Ronnie the magician, the third son of the Eris Firm, looked at Cordelia strangely as she picked up the soap.
“Yeah. I also thought that… But I’m grateful that they’d finished it this fast.”
“I knew they would finish it fast, because they want to be on friendly terms with the Earl’s house, but the Founding Festival is their busiest period. I’m honestly surprised.”
Cordelia lightly agreed with him, “Yeah.” But Ronnie looked dubious.
“Ojou-sama, don’t tell me you offered them some kind of deal?”
“I didn’t? I only told them that I would help them add fragrances to the soap if I like it.”
“I knew it. That’s a really enticing deal.”
Ronnie looked shocked, but Cordelia wanted to secure routes to distribute goods in the future. How efficiently can I distribute my weapon, 『aromas』? Ensuring the blueprints for setting up aromas as a representative industry of Pameradia fief is currently an important task.
“You shouldn’t use my family’s firm all the time… Hey, didn’t I tell you that before?”
“Before you gave me advice and told me that I should get a quote from various places. But don’t worry; do I seem naïve to you?”
Cordelia said, a little jokingly, and Ronnie grunted for a while.
“I can’t say that you’re not naïve. But, well, you won’t make a loss.”
Is he complimenting me or not? No, he’s probably just saying what he’s thinking. Ronnie’s too honest… His parents would get angry if they saw how he was acting just a second ago.
Cordelia thought as she picked up the soaps one by one. They feel nice, and I’m looking forward to seeing how well they carve.
“I don’t understand why someone would want to carve soap. It’s fine as long as you can use it.”
“That may certainly be true for you, Ronnie. But they’re going to be made into ornaments, so they can’t be measured by their personal uses alone, you know? Well, I still don’t know whether they’ll become a trend or not…”
“I like to eat things more than I like to look at things.”
I definitely couldn’t picture Ronnie carving something small, but he is skilful and accurate with his hands, so I think it’s a waste that his personality and aptitude don’t match. He might really like it if he tries it once, but it’s hard to get him to try.
“What do you like to do, Ronnie?”
“Me? I like to relax and do nothing.”
Ronnie’s reply was the same as always, and Cordelia smiled wryly.
“I’m sure most people like to do that.”
“Huh? Really? Aren’t you the type of person who thinks it’s a waste of time to relax and do nothing, Ojou-sama? And Master definitely wouldn’t sit around and do nothing.”
That’s not true…! She couldn’t say that.
I don’t hate being lazy, but I don’t remember ever being lazy since I was born into this world.
I do rest. But sitting around and doing nothing… For example, I’ve never just laid in bed for a whole day unless I was sick. But what’s harder to imagine is Otou-sama being lazy.
(… But I do spend time on my hobbies and rest.)
That’s right, so there shouldn’t be a problem.
“Why don’t you try being lazy for a day, Ojou-sama?”
“Mm… I’m going to tackle today’s plan so that I can sit around and do nothing someday.”
For a second, she’d thought if it’s just for one day-… but she quickly changed her mind, no, I have so much to do. The things I’m doing today are things I like to do. I know it’ll bug me to be in the middle of something if I laze around.
(Right now, I want to try and carve this soap, and I want to make progress on the insurance regime.)
And I have other important things I have to do too. Cordelia thought, as she looked at the bunch of paperwork that emerged from under the soap and laughed.
“Ronnie, good news. It looks like Eris Firm is reacting positively to my plan of building a herb garden near Ertiga.”
“Oh… They finished the soaps early because they wanted to give you this reply.”
Ronnie shrugged his shoulders because he finally knew why they’d sent the soap so fast.
“Eris Firm is quite big in the area south of the Royal Capital, but they aren’t in the Pameradia fief. They want to gain a foothold by getting along with the Earl’s family. It would be easy for them to gain the trust of the people if they trade with the Earl’s family. It’s a give and take situation.”
“Um, I have to report the progress to Otou-sama. Oh yes, also, since they’re already working on soap, I think I’ll ask them to work on detergent too. Then everyone in charge of laundry will be happy, right?”
“The servants in charge of laundry would definitely be happy if the clothes get heavily stained. I think it’s a great idea.”
We heard a knock at the door while we were talking.
“Ojou-sama, it’s Lara.”
As soon as she’d heard Cordelia’s reply, Lara, the small apprentice girl, swung the door open without making any noise.
“What’s wrong? Why are you in such a rush?”
“Ojou-sama, the Flantheim House’s young master is here. And Ronnie, run away.”
I see. Lara came to warn Ronnie since he didn’t have good manners. Lara does give Ronnie sharp retorts sometimes, but it’s lovely to see that she’s worried about him.
“Then, see you.”
“I’ll be taking my leave.”
Lara pulled on Ronnie’s robes and pestered him, “And I want you to teach me something!” Friendship is so beautiful, Cordelia thought as she wrapped the soaps up and put them in the cupboard in preparation for Vernoux’s invasion.
Shortly after that, Emina, the maid, showed Vernoux to the room.
“How are you, Vernoux-sama?”
“Not bad. But I might feel a lot better if you prepared some sweets. I want to eat something sweet and sour today.”
He said as he glanced at Emina, who smiled gently and said, “Then, I’ll prepare some,” then she left the room.
“You really like the sweets at my house. Are you looking forward to the tea?”
“I certainly do, but I have two errands today.”
“The first errand is about the schedule adjustment. Gille said he would be visiting the 『Green Witch』in 5 days, how does your schedule look?”
“He’s visiting his sensei’s place, right?”
The Green Witch was the original owner of the aloe vera that Cordelia was raising in the greenhouse. She had heard from Gille, before the Founding Festival, that the Green Witch knew a lot about plants and that Gille and Vernoux visited her often. She was glad that she wasn’t on house arrest anymore, and the invitation had come at such a perfect time.
“Well, he probably wrote about it in this letter, so just let me know your reply.”
“Thank you… And this package?”
The letter that Vernoux held was accompanied by a slightly larger package.
Cordelia tilted her head in curiosity, and Vernoux replied, “This is my 2nd errand.”
“It’s a present from Gille. It’s your birthday soon, right?”
“He said he didn’t know the actual date, though. He couldn’t narrow down the exact date with just the name 『Enna』after all.”
Cordelia’s official name was 『Cordelia Enna Pameradia』. 『Enna』 is the name of the guardian deity related to her birthdate. Guardian deities were like the star signs of her old world, and each one cut off at certain dates; so, you could guess someone’s birth date within a certain period but not the specific date. Nowadays, these middle names were added to noble child who had suffered from a major illness at a young age, but she never imagined that someone would send her a birthday present because of her middle name.
(And, the fact that he knows my middle name is 『Enna』… means that Gille-sama knows my real name and that I’m the daughter of Earl Pameradia.)
She wasn’t hiding her own lineage. Vernoux had introduced her as 『Dilly』, so she just left it like that. He knew that she had an environment in which she would cultivate aloe vera, so it wouldn’t be strange for him to find out that she was the daughter of Earl Pameradia, since they were the only house that had a private greenhouse. If not, then he had probably heard about it from Vernoux, since they were close, so she wasn’t worried.
Yes, so I don’t care if he knows but…
“What’s wrong? You’re making a strange face.”
“Nothing. I just remembered that I’ve never sent Gille-sama a birthday present before…”
It was nice to have a friend who would celebrate your birthday. But even though she’d never asked his birthday before, she felt bad for not even thinking about it. However, Vernoux quickly said, “Oh, you don’t have to worry about that. Gille also didn’t send you a present until this year. You can think about it next year.”
“Which means that his birthday has already passed this year, right? So then, may I ask you when his birthday is?”
“Oh… I’ll tell you after I ask him.”
Vernoux averted her gaze. Did he really forget, or had he never asked before? In any case, I feel like I know why he said, ‘that’.
“… Vernoux-sama, you don’t remember his birthday, do you?”
“No, I can’t say it.”
Well, you wouldn’t be able to say it if you don’t remember it. Cordelia was speechless, but in a sense, like Vernoux, she didn’t care.
“Anyway, Dilly. Can you open the present?”
“I really want to open it… But you’re here.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I feel like you’re going to tease me no matter how I react.”
So, I want to open it slowly when I’m alone. But, Vernoux made a grand gesture in response.
“I thought I would report back to Gille since he was worried if you would like it or not.”
Is that really all? But I don’t remember him lying to me before. But he did dodge topics and hide his real intentions.
(But there’s no point in him hiding his real intentions… I guess I could open it if Gille-sama is worried.)
Cordelia also wanted to see what was inside. She believed Vernoux and slowly opened the package.
There were two boxes inside of the package, one of which was a red jewellery case. Cordelia gasped.
No way, jewels? A necklace?
That’s too expensive. What the heck is in here…? She timidly peeked inside and saw a glass pen inside.
“Wow, it’s beautiful.”
Even she knew that she was blown away by this present because she couldn’t help but utter those words. She had never seen stationery like this before. Is the ink inside, or do I actually dip it in ink before I write?
“Apparently, you can write a lot after you dip it in ink once.”
“Wow, is it really alright for me to use this?!”
“It’s really nice.”
I feel motivated just by holding it. I’m looking forward to using this.
“I’m glad that you like it, but can you open that too?”
“Sorry, it’s just really nice.”
I hadn’t forgotten about the other present, I just couldn’t help but be fascinated by the pen. Cordelia put the glass pen back into the jewellery box and opened the other box.
This box was white, and there was cushioning inside. She carefully took the cushioning materials out and saw an ink jar. The ink jar was simple, but well-made and was designed with a kikyo.
“Wow! This is also lovely. I can’t wait to put ink inside.”
“I thought you’d say that!”
She was bothered by Vernoux’s strange pride, but he probably knew what was inside, so she didn’t question him any further.
“I might as well use this pen to write my reply.”
“Yeah, that’ll make him happy too. But read the letter before you reply.”
Cordelia quickly picked up the letter as prompted by Vernoux and read it.
『Happy birthday. I actually wanted to tell you these words directly, but that’s a bit difficult, so I entrusted this to Vernoux. I would be happy if you like your presents, but I’m nervous.
I’ll be visiting the Sensei I told you about in 5 days. If possible, would you also like to come? Sensei is also looking forward to meeting you. I’m sure it’ll be great.』
She read up until there and looked at Vernoux.
“Vernoux-sama, about this letter…”
“Did you take the letter away from him again while he was writing?”
The last few sentences seemed rushed compared to his gentle writing at the beginning. The way it was rushed looked like how students in my previous life would panic near the end of a test, and quickly scribble their answers onto their worksheets. That was what it looked like. I’m sure he made Gille-sama rush the letter. She thought, and Vernoux replied as if there was nothing wrong.
“Well, he wrote it over and over again, so I told him that was enough. He wrote what he wanted to say, right?”
“I feel bad for him, please stop.”
“It’s fine, isn’t it? I’m the one who’s delivering the letters after all.”
No, it’s not.
Couldn’t he at least tell Gille-sama how much time he had left to write the letter? But he probably wouldn’t get it if Vernoux-sama told him that. Cordelia wasn’t worried about how the letter looked, but she was worried about Gille. But she might worry even more if he were to write 『Don’t worry』.
“… I wonder if I shouldn’t broach this.”
“Whatever’s fine, but can you write if you’re free in 5 days?”
“Yes, I’m sure it’s fine. I’ll write the reply… while we’re eating sweets.”
A well-timed knock sounded at the door, and Emina appeared with lemon tarts on a cart.
Then, Vernoux, who had been waiting for the sweets, immediately, yet gracefully, gobbled up the tart that was served to him. Then, he went for a second serving without hesitation.
Cordelia ate more slowly than Vernoux as she asked Emina to prepare her some paper and ink. She wasn’t sure which ink to put into the ink jar but decided to choose the blue-black ink which she used frequently.
“Are you going to write it now? Then I’ll have another slice while I wait.”
“Oh my, Vernoux-sama, are you sure you want to eat another slice?”
If I don’t get him to slow down, then he might take my letter while I’m writing it like he does to Gille-sama, she warned herself. Vernoux laughed.
“Don’t worry, I’ll enjoy the tea.”
Looks like I can’t buy some time, after all, Cordelia thought and resolved to finish her reply as quickly as possible.
Cordelia slowly dipped the pen into the brand-new ink which had been delivered to her. She watched as the ink was sucked into the pen and then slowly began to write.
『Thank you for the wonderful present. I wanted to use the pen I’d received from you straight away to write a reply. I am surprised that it is very comfortable to write with, even though it looks beautiful enough to be an ornament. I will be careful with it so that I don’t break it. The kikyo flowers on the ink jar are also beautiful. It makes me want to see the real thing.
Thank you for arranging things with the Green Witch. I look forward to meeting her in five days.』
Cordelia slowly read the letter that she’d tried to finish as quickly as possible without scribbling. I can’t find any mistakes. This is probably fine.
“You’ve already finished? That was fast.”
“Yes. I thought that you would snatch it off me while I was in the middle of writing.”
“Well, it’s good to finish fast.”
He probably would have snatched it off me since he didn’t say he wouldn’t. She sighed and picked up the teacup.
“Oh yeah, did you already tell the Earl that you’ll be visiting the Green Witch?”
“Yes, he gave me permission. He knows that I’ll be going with you and your friend who knows a lot about plants, so he wants to meet you both. He agreed to let me go when I told him that I would bring Ronnie with me.”
Their destination was in the Royal Capital, so it didn’t seem like Elvis was against it when she’d asked him before the Founding Festival. But, the incident with the flora silks and Ghost happened after the Founding Festival, so when she’d asked him again, he looked bitter. She thought he was going to refuse, but he agreed in the end because Ronnie would be accompanying her. Afterwards, Ronnie said, “He told me to look after you in a lot of ways,” so she concluded that it would be fine.
“… Well, he certainly wouldn’t have to worry about strange bugs if that magician is with us.”
“Did you say something?”
“Nope, just talking to myself. Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what would happen.”
“Huh? Yes, I’m looking forward to it too.”
What does he mean, what would happen? Vernoux-sama is unlikely to show interest in my experiments, so that means that he’ll get something good out of me meeting the Green Witch. Cordelia tilted her head.
“Dilly, before I forget, seal that letter if you’re finished with it.”
“Okay, right away.”
She thought it was strange but had stopped thinking about it because Vernoux was rushing her. The way he speaks is terrible, but it’s Vernoux-sama. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, the most he would do is make fun of me. He probably wouldn’t do anything that leads to a fatal blunder.
“Oh yeah. I might have said this before, but I’m introducing you to the Green Witch as 『my friend Dilly』. So, don’t wear really flashy clothes. If you have clothes for incognito, then those will do, but if you don’t, then you can just wear what you have on now. Do you mind if we meet you in town?”
“Okay, I don’t mind.”
I can do something about my clothes, and I don’t have any problems with meeting her as『Dilly』instead of『Earl Pameradia’s daughter』.
(I’m excited to meet them in town. It feels like something friends would do.)
It was normal to meet friends outside in Japan. But I’ve never met friends outside before in this world, even if we have arranged a time to meet. It feels nostalgic.
“I’m glad you’re looking forward to it. Then, let’s move onto the other reason why I’m here.”
“Oh my, did you need something from me, Vernoux-sama?”
What the heck does he want? Cordelia tilted her head in curiosity, and Vernoux took out some cards.
“I’m actually free today. You’ll help me kill time, right?”
He’s making a request, but why is he saying it like it’s already been decided?
“I don’t mind… I haven’t played in a while, so I might lose.”
If you had time, then I wish you’d let me take my time writing that letter. You could have told me, she thought as she lightly shrugged.
“What? You got complaints before we even start?”
He raised the corner of his lips in amusement, so she knew what he was trying to say, but her face twitched at being told so by Vernoux.
“I haven’t played in a while… But that doesn’t mean my chances of winning are bad. You remember our games, do you not?”
“Then, I’ll just make you lose more.”
Afterwards, they continued their card match until the sun went down, but their winning percentage didn’t budge and remained at 50/50.
Thank you patrons for extra releases of drop in August ♡