Act 36: Visiting the Poorhouse
The next day after lunch, Cordelia called Lara to her room.
“I want to make some sachets. Could you help me?”
“I heard about it from Ronnie. I’m confident in sewing, so I might be better than you, Ojou-sama.”
Cordelia looked at Lara, who was teasing her, and thought, this part of her is just like Ronnie. Lara usually does the retorting, but the master and student are really alike. She began explaining the sample sachet bag in her hand to Lara.
The bag they were going to make was small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. The centre of the bag would be decorated with thin lacy material to easily allow the aroma to penetrate out. The bags were small, so they would all be made from scraps of cloth. Thanks to that, she could make bags in different colours.
“I don’t know. I think it’s pretty cute.”
“Isn’t it fine? I like it too.”
Cordelia smiled when Lara spoke without hesitation.
“Then, I’ll give you this. This is the first one I made.”
Cordelia was happy that she’d received a frank reply, and instead of being told she’d done well, and pushed the sachet onto Lara.
“I wonder if it’ll become rubbish.”
“Then, take it.”
Cordelia slowly took her hands off Lara after she’d heard that.
“Ronnie told me that you’re giving these as gifts when you go to the poorhouse.”
“Yes. I’m thinking of using chamomile and lavender. I’ll mix some flowers to increase the volume and drip some essential oil onto it to make the smell stronger. I don’t think it’ll be a pain to dispose of, even if they don’t want it.”
“I don’t think you have to worry about that… Now, let’s get started!”
Lara said, as she quickly arranged the sewing tools onto the table, and the two started working on the sachets.
Like Lara had said, she had a knack for sewing. She was accurate while cutting up the cloth and sewing them together. She was also very fast.
“Were you always good at sewing, Lara?”
“No, I just learnt it from Aisha-sensei.”
“Really? You look like you’re really used to this.”
“I do? But you’re also good at this, Ojou-sama.”
“Thanks. By the way, how is the progress with the writing tools I asked for?”
“The graphite crumbles if I cut the wooden part. But I’ve been talking with the Onee-sama’s from the magician’s wing, and it’s getting a lot better.”
“That’s good, thanks.”
“Tell me that after it’s done.”
“I will. I’m looking forward to the results.”
Cordelia could tell that the person in question wasn’t satisfied with the current results because she was pouting. Lara was very reliable.
After that, they silently focused on their work, and then Lara whispered when they had nearly completed all the sachets.
“But a poorhouse? Please tell me what kind of place it is when you get back.”
Lara might also be concerned about a place like the poorhouse because of her origins. However, Lara declared firmly.
“In exchange, I’ll finish the watering and maintenance in the greenhouse while you’re away!”
She really is very reliable.
Cordelia laughed, and Lara laughed back. Then, Lara quickly pulled Cordelia’s hand.
“Here, this is for you.”
And, the thing that was given to Cordelia was a sachet. The sachet looked almost identical to the ones that they had just sown, but Cordelia’s name and a bluebird were embroidered at the edge of the bag.
“Aisha-sensei taught me that bluebirds are a symbol of good luck. I wish Ojou-sama good luck on the road you walk.”
It was a pompous remark, but her true feelings were properly conveyed by her careful embroidery.
Five days later.
Cordelia revisited the Witch’s house with Ronnie. The day that Cordelia was making sachets with Lara, Ronnie went to the Witch to tell her that they wanted to go with her to Oulu Village. And then, the appointed time that she had given was today, but they were leaving the Royal Capital at a later time. It was still early in the morning at that time.
Cordelia had arrived that early because the Witch had invited her to bake muffins with her.
(I think she was just joking… But I’m looking forward to it.)
She was surprised that the Witch had been serious when she had invited Cordelia to make sweets with her last time, but she had no reason to refuse the invitation, since the Witch was going to teach her how to make the muffins that she had wanted to learn how to make.
Gille and Vernoux will also be accompanying them to Oulu Village, but they will be arriving at the last minute. Incidentally, Ronnie volunteered to tend to the shop and wouldn’t be making muffins.
“Well, let’s start.”
Cordelia agreed with the smiling Witch even though she was a little nervous.
“First, let’s make the custard cream. Have you ever cracked an egg before, Dilly-chan? You need to separate the yolk from the white. Can you do that?”
“Yes. I can.”
“Then, that’s good.”
I haven’t cracked an egg in this world, but I have in my previous life. That experience doesn’t change the fact that I know how to do it ――― Cordelia made excuses in her mind. By the way, I separated the egg yolk and whites in my previous life to use it on tsukune, but it doesn’t matter now since it doesn’t have anything to do with sweets. But I think my nervousness would be eased somewhat if my experience was from making sweets.
Enough of that. The Witch stared at Cordelia in admiration, and Cordelia felt, once again, that she knew that Cordelia was a noble. The only people who haven’t cracked eggs at this age are nobles or children who don’t help out at home.
(She also told me that she knew that Vernoux-sama is a noble, so it would only be natural for her to assume that I, his friend, am a noble too…)
Cordelia hadn’t seen her, 『I don’t like noble’s attitude』 so she didn’t know, but it was a little strange.
(Maybe an arrogant noble said some foolish things to Sensei.)
If that did happen, then I think it’s unforgivable. Although this hasn’t been established, nobles aren’t people who should lord over others. I strongly resented nobles who acted like that.
However, it would have a bad influence on the muffin if I continue to be angry at something like this, so I decided not to think about it any further.
“To make custard cream, you have to mix flour, sugar and egg yolks in a bowl. Yes, like that… Then I’ll pour the milk in. This milk is warm, but you can’t use boiled milk.”
Cordelia mixed the contents of the bowl while listening to the Witch’s explanation. Then, she passed the bowl to the Witch when everything was mostly mixed together. The Witch received the bowl and poured the contents into a pot before putting it over a fire.
“From here on out, it’s a matter of taste. You just need to adjust how hard it gets… This time, it’s enough just to make it sloppy. It gets a little harder after it’s cooled down.”
“It smells delicious.”
“Doesn’t it just? I always want to eat it with my fingers. It tastes delicious if you spread it on bread too.”
In the meantime, the custard cream was done.
Next was the muffin dough. First, crack eggs into a bowl and mix it. Then, add sugar, butter and milk. Finally, sift the flour into the bowl, and then the preparations are done. Then, mix the custard cream into the dough until it is shaped like a muffin, and then pour it into the moulds. After that, put it into the oven to bake, and then the muffins are done.
(It was easier to make than I thought.)
I feel like I can make this now that I know the mixture. Cordelia got a little confident like this, and the Witch handed her a piece of paper.
“You can take this if you want. It’s today’s recipe.”
“Huh… Are you sure?”
“Yes. It’s not a secret, and you looked like you had a lot of fun making them.”
“Mm, I’m thrilled! The muffin I ate before was really delicious. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I’m glad this made you happy. Well then, let’s wait for it to bake.”
The Witch said, as she urged Cordelia to sit down. This is the perfect time! She thought as she gave the Witch two paper bags.
“Mm, I made these. I thought they would make nice gifts if you don’t mind me taking them with me to the poorhouse.”
“This is… a really fragrant sachet. Did you make this, Dilly-chan?”
“Yes. I had help with the other half, but the blue bag contains lavender, and the red one contains chamomile potpourri. If I can’t bring them with me, then I was going to sell them at the market.”
The Witch listened to Cordelia as she picked up one of the bags.
“I tried my best.”
“I’m sure the girls will be thrilled. Thanks.”
When Cordelia was relieved that she’d taken the bags, the Witch took cups out from the cupboard.
“Let’s have tea while we wait.”
“Mm, if you don’t mind, shall I make the tea?”
“It’s okay. I may look like this, but I’m quite good at making tea.”
And as she began preparing, a smell that simulated their appetites started drifting in the air.
Also, the muffins were done after a while, and Cordelia and the Witch tried the muffins in the name of sampling them. The cool muffins were delicious, but freshly baked muffins are also tasty. The Witch also gave Ronnie a muffin while she was at it, and he gave similar feedback.
When they finished eating muffins, they stuffed the rest into a basket to bring as gifts, and Vernoux and Gille came just as they were doing that. They were both out of breath.
“… Are you alright? You two?”
“Yeah. We just had a little bit of trouble.”
Are they alright or not? Which on earth is it?
However, Cordelia had a bad feeling, so she didn’t ask any further. She felt like she would be sticking her nose into others’ affairs if she asked. Let sleeping dogs lie. It was sometimes important to be the bona fide third person. And like Cordelia, Ronnie looked away.
“Then, shall we go?”
The Witch spoke in a carefree manner as she locked up the shop, then she locked the entrance and hung a sign saying that she would be absent.