Cordelia continued to read her book after that, and time quickly passed by.
“Shall we have tea soon?”
She lifted her face when she heard the Witch speak and heard cheerful singing coming from outside.
“Oh, that? That choir tells people around here that it’s time for snacks.”
“It’s not. That choir is honouring the saint.”
“… You know, I was just acting stupid, ok?”
Cordelia stopped breathing in surprise when she heard Gille correcting Vernoux seriously.
That word probably doesn’t refer to the person that Cordelia feared. But she ended up being reminded of the game’s heroine, Shelley.
(I thought of something awful.)
Even though it was her first time listening to the choir, she couldn’t enjoy it because she remembered something terrible.
“What’s wrong? Are you tired?”
“No, I’m not… Mm, have you two heard about the 『Dreamer girl』?”
Cordelia boldly asked what was on her mind. She’d talked to Hazel about it before, but she had never spoken to these two about it. They’ve probably heard about her because they go to town a lot, but I’m curious about their opinion of her.
Vernoux and Gille widened their eyes when Cordelia asked them that.
Vernoux said suspiciously, and Cordelia nodded. His reaction was as if he’d never heard of her before, but before long, something clicked.
“Oh. Come to think of it. Apparently, there’s a child who’s said to be the second coming of the saint. I don’t believe in fortune telling, but people can believe what they want if it doesn’t bring me any harm. It sounds like all she could do are weather fortunes.”
“How about you Gille?”
“Well… I’ve never met her before, so I don’t know. Well, I have heard about her, though?”
It looks like they’re not that interested. Cordelia was especially relieved when it seemed like Vernoux wasn’t really that interested in Shelley. Judging from his character, he probably wouldn’t unconditionally become obsessed with the saint, but it was still great to hear it.
(Vernoux-sama was also one of the game’s capture targets, but he also played the role of mediating between the Prince and the Heroine.)
We’ve known each other for so long, so I don’t think he will suddenly change, but I wanted to get rid of the anxiety that was building up within me. I’m sorry for doubting you, but I wanted to hear it clearly no matter what.
“But this is unusual. I’m surprised that you’re curious about this kind of rumour, Dilly.”
“I heard about her from Hazel-sama the other day.”
Vernoux choked when he heard Cordelia’s reply. He probably didn’t expect to hear her name.
“Are you okay?”
Gille, who had asked that while smiling wryly, seemed to know Hazel as well. Hazel’s name seemed to have worked, and Vernoux didn’t ask her any more questions.
“By the way, where’s Ronnie…?”
“Ah, I’m here.”
Ronnie answered from the counter at the end of the shop while Cordelia looked around for him. He was sitting on a chair with no back and leaning against the wall.
“… What’re you doing?”
“I was talking to a lady guest before because everyone was studying. Apparently, I look like her grandson.”
“Oh, is that so?”
“It was nice to hear about the sweets that the Onee-samas at work might like.”
Before she knew it, Ronnie was tending to the shop. But he seemed to be having a good time, so it was worthwhile. That’s great. I want to hear about the sweets the lady talked about, so I can buy some for Ronnie later as thanks for today.
Cordelia thought that, and the Witch came back with a wooden tray.
“I made some cocoa custard muffins today. Please eat it with this herbal tea.”
The Witch said, as she quickly served everyone a muffin and herbal tea. The cocoa and custard were layered on top of each other, and the muffin was sweet and slightly bitter.
“It’s my first time making this muffin. I heard from the market that kids like this kind of muffins better than the ones with fruits. How is it?”
“It’s delicious, really. I feel like I can eat a few of them.”
“Fufu, that’s good.”
The muffin was different from the sweets at home, but she felt the taste of home. It tastes nostalgic, it was that kind of taste.
(I could make some for Otou-sama if she teaches me how to make it…)
But she wasn’t bold enough to ask someone to teach her something like this at their first meeting. She was already here to learn. She probably had to wait for more time to pass before asking the Witch to teach her the recipe.
“By the way, Dilly-chan, how’s the book? Is there anything you don’t understand?”
“Hmm… I was shocked. That… I’ve never thought of mixing frogs with herbs before.”
She was surprised that the Witch had suddenly talked to her while she was focusing on the muffin, so she couldn’t help but honestly admit what shocked her the most… She regretted it as soon as she’d said it. Why did I talk about the amphibian I wasn’t good with while enjoying my muffin? But it was true that she had been shocked.
Cordelia put the muffin down and stared straight at the Witch who laughed.
“It doesn’t have much to do with aromas, but this kind of thing is also interesting, right? But, I honestly thought you were going to skim through it… You’re really diligent, aren’t you?”
“E-err… I know that frogs are used for medicine because they have water magic… but can you not substitute them with fish?”
She felt embarrassed at being praised and tried to hide it by talking. The Witch continued to smile.
“It doesn’t make much sense to combine leil grass with fish, but I think it’s fine to use the grass on its own. However, frogs often eat the seeds of leil grass when they’re tadpoles, so their magic power is compatible with leil grass. Do you not like frogs?”
It was difficult for her to say ‘yes’, but she couldn’t deny it either, so she smiled wryly in response.
“How about the other entries?”
“Well, I was drawn to the waterside plants… especially those that grow in the water.”
“I have other books on water plants too. I’ll lend it to you later.”
“Now, it’s time for Gille-kun and Vernoux-kun’s questions.”
When the Witch said that, the door opened vigorously and the bell on the door rang.
The person who had appeared with those words was a little boy. He looked younger than 10-years-old and seemed very energetic.
The Witch stood up when she saw the child, “Oh, you’re here Mick,” and immediately moved towards the boy.
“Weren’t you supposed to run your errands tomorrow?”
“Yes, but I promised to play with friends tomorrow, so I came today!”
“I see. Then, wait a minute. I have the medicine, so I’ll just get a paper bag for them.”
This boy was a customer.
The Witch walked away from the boy and went to the back of the shop.
The boy looked around the shop and then finally observed Cordelia, Gille and Vernoux.
“What’re you guys doing?”
The boy was smaller than Cordelia, Gille and Vernoux, and he didn’t seem shy of strangers. On the contrary, Cordelia was surprised that he had spoken to them.
But the boy took advantage of this little opening.
The boy suddenly appeared near Cordelia when she thought he was going to run, and he had a muffin in his hand. She looked down at her empty plate, and when she looked back at the boy, he had already gobbled it down.
Cordelia resisted the urge to yell that.
No, I can’t yell. It’s childish.
Well, I’m certainly a 13-year-old child, but I’m not childish enough to yell at a boy who’s obviously younger than me. But her face twitched because she wanted to savour her muffin, but it was snatched.
But, bear with it, put up with it. I must put up with it. Ladies shouldn’t have short tempers. It’s not a waste. ――― She persuaded herself, and the boy continued to provoke her.
“It’s your fault for spacing out.”
“You should have put it into your stomach if you didn’t want it to be taken.”
He isn’t sorry at all. I shouldn’t get angry because of small things, but I can’t stay quiet if he’s trying to pick a fight with me. There is something called civility in the world. I won’t yell at him, but I do want to say something.
When Cordelia tried to speak, “You-,” the Witch came back with a paper bag.
“Sorry for the wait.”
The Witch continued to smile like she had when she went to the back and immediately walked until she was in front of Mick. Cordelia missed her chance to talk and followed the Witch with her eyes.
The Witch stopped in front of Mick and was about to hand over the paper bag to him, ――― but then she tilted her head.
“Oh my, Mick. Who did you get the muffin from?”
“I, I didn’t eat any.”
His voice obviously sounded shrill and nervous and indicated that he’d done something wrong. What? You did do something wrong, ――― when Cordelia thought that, the Witch continued to question the boy.
“That’s strange. You have crumbs around your mouth.”
Mick quickly wiped his mouth when the Witch pointed this out, and she smiled wryly.
“Well then, you won’t get any sweets next time because you lied.”
“Then, I’ll ask you once more, okay? Who did you get the muffin from?”
The Witch spoke gently, but it was clear that she was scolding him. Mick seemed like a thoughtless person, but he also knew that she was scolding him.
Mick had reluctantly squeezed those words out. Still, Cordelia thought that he was amazing for actually saying those words properly, but the Witch pointed out a problem with his apology.
“Mick, you’re not supposed to say that to me, right? That’s something you should say to the person who you stole the muffin from.”
Cordelia had forgotten about it since the Witch and Mick were talking, but the person who Mick had stolen the muffin from was certainly her.
Mick turned towards Cordelia and quickly said while averting his eyes.
“Be mindful next time, okay?”
Cordelia couldn’t say anything other than that. Of course, she thought it was a pity that the muffin had been stolen. But she didn’t want anything else since he reflected on his actions.
The Witch saw how Cordelia acted, passed the paper bag to Mick and then rubbed his head.
“Be careful on your way home.”
Mick hid his face with the paper bag and dashed away. The door closed with the same momentum after Mick had swung it open and flew out. The bell made a loud noise but quickly went silent.
“Sorry for dampening the mood. He’s also a good boy.”
The Witch slowly turned around and returned to where Cordelia, Gille and Vernoux was. She looked apologetic.
“It’s okay, I don’t mind.”
“Really? Then that’s good…”
It was difficult for Cordelia to continue the conversation. Mick was a little too naughty for her to say, ‘he’s very energetic’. The Witch probably understood that she was careful with her words. It seemed like her subtle thoughts were being conveyed to the Witch.
“He’s not good at being honest. He really just wanted to talk to you.”
The Witch said as she gave Cordelia an untouched muffin, “Here, have this.”
“He can communicate well with flowers and herbs and is really good at taking care of them.”
“Yes. He lives in Oulu Village. You need a carriage to get there.”
Even Cordelia knew about Oulu Village. She had never stopped there before, but she had passed it a few times whenever she went out riding.
Oulu village was a little far from the main highway, so not a lot of people went there. Even so, there were coaches going between the Royal Capital and Oulu Village at fixed intervals, and Cordelia only ever felt like she was passing a peaceful place.
“Oulu Village… Is he perhaps from the poorhouse?”
Gille, like Cordelia, was also thinking about Oulu Village.
In contrast to Cordelia, who was tilting her head in confusion, Gille looked straight at the Witch.
“Oh, do you know about Oulu Village’s poorhouse Gille-kun?”
“I do. They sometimes sell good produce and processed products in the Royal Capital market. The vegetables are delicious, and so are the pickles.”
“You must be a customer since you know so much about it. I also go to help them sometimes. I practised making this muffin because I wanted to treat them.”
The Witch stood up while saying so and took a bottle out from the cupboard.
“These are the pickles you were talking about Gille-kun?”
“You can take this home with you if you’d like. I’ll give you this if you eat it.”
“Mm, err… is that alright?”
He probably didn’t want to coax her. Gille looked at the Witch as he spoke in a hesitant tone, but the Witch kept on smiling.
“Buy some more after you’ve eaten them all, okay?”
Gille nodded and smiled.
“I’ll show you around if you’re interested in Oulu Village. How about we make some muffins and take it with us when we go?”
The Witch said as she looked at everyone and not just Gille, but she was also joking about it. However, Cordelia heard those words and replied without hesitation.
“Please and thank you.”
The Witch widened her eyes in surprise.
“It’s a bit far from the Royal Capital, is that alright?”
“I’ll ask Otou-sama.”
“Really…? Then, we’ll go if he’s alright with it.”
But the Witch looked baffled as she said that.
However, Cordelia didn’t back away.