There was a travelling coach near the Witch’s house which they could take to go to the village. There usually aren’t many customers riding the remodelled coaches, but they have been raising their profits by making purchases on behalf of the villages they visited and delivering the items there.
The coach slowly approached Oulu village while they were chatting.
There was a small stream at the entrance of Oulu Village. The village was adjacent to the forest, but the magic wasn’t as thick as the forest. Therefore, monsters didn’t appear much there, and they could maintain the village.
(But the magic here is still much stronger than the magic at the Royal Capital.)
They must harvest delicious vegetables and fruits, Cordelia thought as she followed the Witch and got off the carriage.
“Now, let’s go.”
The first place the Witch headed to was a building at the back of the village. Cordelia surveyed the village as they walked there. A moderate distance was maintained between the houses. Depending on the location, some houses had a field next to them, and some houses raised about two cows. Also, she saw scenes that she rarely had the chance to see in the Royal Capital, such as children playing on tree stumps and in sand, or middle-aged men carrying straw.
They arrived at their destination while she was observing her surroundings. The building is made from white stone, and, to put it nicely, it looks like it has a lot of history behind it. Frankly, it feels like an old church.
At the entrance of the building, there was a wooden signboard that indicated that it was the poorhouse.
Next to the poorhouse was a field full of fresh, green vegetables. Flowers and herbs were planted on the edges of the field for enjoyment, and there were children in straw hats plucking out weeds. There were several watering cans on the side of the well.
“Ah, it’s Witch-sensei!”
The children noticed the Witch and raised a cheerful voice. The Witch greeted, “Hello,” and waved her hands, then she headed straight into the building. Cordelia, Vernoux, Gille and Ronnie followed her.
The children who were inside the building were smaller than the ones outside. However, they reacted in the same way as the children outside.
The children, who spoke with more pronounced lisps than the ones outside, rushed towards the Witch… But they stopped right away. Probably because there were strangers behind the Witch… Probably because Cordelia, Vernoux, Gille and Ronnie were there.
The children kept their distance as they peeked at the strangers, and the rear door slowly opened.
And the woman who appeared was about the same height as the Witch.
“Oh my, you really brought people with you today, Green.”
“Hello, director. I put today’s snacks into this basket. And, as I’ve written in my letter, these four children are the ones who visit my shop at the Royal Capital and one of their brothers. I ended up inviting them here.”
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen from the Royal Capital. We don’t have much, but please make yourselves at home.”
Cordelia and the others each returned the director’s welcome with a bow. Then, just when she was about to say her greetings, a child behind the director, who was hiding their face, suddenly shouted.
“Aah!! There’s a prince!”
The child’s voice resounded well throughout the room.
For a moment, silence reigned in the room as if time had stopped. Cordelia was surprised by that outrageous statement, and she moved unnaturally to follow the direction the child was pointing in.
The child’s finger was pointed at Vernoux.
As soon as Cordelia realised this, the children cheered, and they immediately surrounded Vernoux.
“Wow!! He’s really a prince!”
“Lookie, the picture book! You’re in here! The prince came out from the picture book!”
There was certainly a person who looked like Vernoux in the picture book that one of the children had quickly taken out from the bookshelf. The children were excited and shouted, “It’s the prince!”
(Vernoux-sama is the prince…?)
Now that someone mentions it, he certainly does have blonde hair and blue eyes… In other words, he does have the classic appearance of a prince.
That word doesn’t suit Vernoux-sama much. Is there a prince who would come to someone’s house to eat sweets every day? No, how could there be? The moment she thought that she wanted to burst out into laughter, but she tried her best not to. Gille, on the other hand, didn’t hold back and his shoulders were shaking as he laughed.
“We-well, you certainly look like a prince. Kuku… Are you going to be a prince today?”
“I『certainly』do not. Don’t laugh Gille! Ah… You know, I’m sorry, but I’m not the prince. And the prince of this kingdom has black hair. He doesn’t have blonde hair like in that picture book.”
After saying that to Gille, Vernoux told that to the children who were clinging to him.
But the children didn’t listen to him at all.
“Prince, let’s play tag! Let’s go to the garden!”
“I said, I’m not the prince…”
“That’s something a prince would say! Because you have to keep it a secret!”
“I’m not… Hey, don’t pull me!”
“Prince, let’s go to the garden. Quickly, hurry up!!”
“… Ok. I’ll go with you if you call me Vernoux instead of Prince.”
“Then, Vernoux. Let’s play tag! It’s so awesome to play tag with the prince!”
His request was also useless, and Vernoux was dragged outside by the children who thought he was a prince. Therefore, Vernoux was still screaming, “I’m not the prince,” as he was being dragged outside.
“Oh my, Vernoux-kun is very popular.”
Cordelia and Gille returned the same expression to the smiling Witch.
However, Cordelia wondered if the son of a Marquis would know how to play tag, but fortunately, he knew the rules.
“The prince is coming~!”
The cheerful screams allowed everyone to know the Vernoux was ‘it’, and it also conveyed that the children were so excited that they had forgotten about Vernoux’s request.
“I’m going to catch all those who call me Prince!”
Vernoux screamed back at the children and was just as lively as they were… Cordelia, who had been thinking, suddenly recalled that she hadn’t given a proper greeting to the director.
“I’m sorry for intruding on you. Please call me Dilly. It’s very nice to meet you.”
“It’s nice to meet you. I’m sorry, the children are full of energy.”
The director said as she patted the little girl who was clinging to her leg. She wasn’t the child who had informed everyone that Vernoux was the prince.
The little girl looked ticklish and loosened up, then she stared at Cordelia.
“Onee-chan are you a princess?”
The words that fell from the little girl’s mouth had a bit of a lisp, but it sounded cute.
And the thing that she said was just as cute as her voice, but it was something that Cordelia hadn’t expected. Cordelia, who was about to freeze, slowly knelt and looked at the little girl.
“I’m Dilly. Witch-sensei is teaching me about herbs. What’s your name?”
“I see. That’s a cute name.”
Toto smiled at Cordelia words. Then, she released herself from the director’s legs, moved to where Cordelia was and grasped both hands firmly.
“Mm, Dilly-chan. I want to become a princess. How do I become one?”
“Hmm… I’m not a princess either, so I don’t know how to become one.”
Toto heard Cordelia’s answer and looked disappointed. She must admire princesses a lot. However, Cordelia hadn’t lied. I wonder what’s wrong, Cordelia worried, but she heard something unexpected.
“All girls are princesses.”
That was, without a doubt, Gille’s voice.
After he uttered those words, he picked Toto up in a natural way.
“So, don’t look so sad.”
Toto looked surprised, but then she immediately smiled widely. Cordelia, on the other hand, was stunned. However, Gille maintained his natural appearance.
“Oh yes… princesses look good with a flower crown. I’m sure some white clovers are blooming outside.”
“Yup. You put it on your head.”
Toto shrieked in joy at Gille’s words.
“Director, may I take this child outside?”
“Yes, of course. Gille-kun, please look after her.”
Gille bowed and carried Toto outside. Cordelia watched them walk off and finally realised that she had been left behind when she couldn’t see them anymore.
No, it’s okay. It’s fine, but Gille-sama showed an unexpected side to him just a moment ago. I thought he was a gentleman, but lines like that come naturally to him, then he might be a lady-killer… She couldn’t help but think that.
“Hey,” a rude voice called to her then.
When Cordelia turned towards the voice, she saw Mick, who had stolen her muffin the other day.
“Oh, it’s been a while.”
Mick raised his eyebrow even more at Cordelia’s reply.
“Why are you here?”
“Because I asked Sensei.”
Mick was projecting his discomfort out and was even unwilling to apologise the other day. But still, he did apologise… Or rather, Cordelia wasn’t angry and felt a bit sorry for him since he was scolded and had to apologise. Nonetheless, that doesn’t change Mick’s feelings.
“Did you come here to make fun of me?”
“I didn’t. I never even thought about making fun of you.”
“Then, what did you come here for? This isn’t a place for you to come.”
“Why can’t I come here?”
Mick faltered because the director and the Witch were near them. However, Cordelia could also guess that he had gone too far to pull back.
(I wonder what’s wrong.)
She was worried for a moment, but then she suddenly thought of it. Oh yeah, I never introduced myself to him.
“Mick-kun, I’m Dilly. I’m sorry I couldn’t introduce myself last time.”
“I’m not interested in your name! Anyway, why aren’t you angry!?”
“Why aren’t I angry…? We’ve already settled it, haven’t we?”
Cordelia said, and Mick turned bright red. Then he snorted roughly and went to the back of the room. Apparently, he failed to choose his words or a topic.
“Oh my. Mick’s full of energy today too.”
The director spoke in a carefree manner, and Cordelia smiled ambiguously.
Honestly, I had expected that he wouldn’t welcome me. It would be difficult for him to welcome me if our meeting was unpleasant for him.
(But still, it feels bad if he steps into my space.)
But it’s a different story when it comes to worrying about it. I want to talk to him a little more.
(I don’t think Mick-kun is hung up about the muffin.)
If there’s a reason for this, then I want to know it. I’ll have to get involved with him a little more if I want to find the cause. If it’s because we’re incompatible, then that’s it, but if I had done something to offend him, then I have to correct that… Right now, I believe that I haven’t offended him. If I have, then it would only have been about the timing of my introduction…
“Don’t be offended. He’s just a little cautious.”
“I don’t mind, but Mick-kun…”
“He’s fine. I’m sure he actually wants to talk with you. However, he’s keeping his distance because he’s a bit sensitive to separation. He’s afraid of suddenly not being able to see someone again, so he keeps people away.”
“But he already thinks of this place as his home,” the director continued.
Cordelia was at a loss for words. That probably has to do with when he separated from his parents. But I don’t know which words are appropriate to say.
However, the director didn’t need Cordelia’s answer.
“But I hope that Mick can talk to a lot of people. Dilly, please talk to him if you don’t mind.”
“If you’re fine with me, then I’ll try to talk to him as much as I could.”
But if I say something that would make him angry like just now, then it would only widen the gap between us. Now then, how should I talk to him? Being impatient is taboo, but how can I get him to listen to me? She wondered, and the door opened vigorously. Cordelia and the director looked at the door in surprise, and they saw Toto clenching a handful of white clovers.
“Dilly-chan. Make me a flower crown.”
“Sorry, Dilly. It was harder than I thought.”
Gille appeared after Toto. He was holding a flower crown, but it only looked like a flower crown and seemed like it would fall apart at any time. It would probably break apart as soon as someone wore it onto their head.
(Has Gille-sama ever made a flower crown before…?)
Nonetheless, it’s very skilful of him to be able to make a flower crown in such a short amount of time… But the flower crown the Gille-sama had given me wasn’t constructed like a flower crown.
Cordelia smiled as she looked at Toto’s eyes sparkle.
“Then, I’ll make you a beautiful flower crown.”
Cordelia declared before curtsying to the director and Witch, then she went outside with Gille and Toto.