Act 37: Apprentice Teacher, Ojou-sama
A few days after Cordelia’s first visit to Oulu Village.
Cordelia decided to revisit the poorhouse with two books. Of course, she would be visiting with the Witch and Ronnie. Unfortunately, Vernoux and Gille were busy, so they could only see them off and wouldn’t be going to Oulu Village with them.
The presents Cordelia chose for Toto was a story about a princess who lived about 100 years prior. The story was about the youngest daughter of the king from that time. She decided to study medicine, which was rare for a princess, and she built a lot of medical facilities. Toto would enjoy that book if she were interested in princesses.
The other book was chosen for Lana and the others and was a diary of a court lady who worked at the royal castle. Although it was a little old, the court lady, who accompanied the queen when she got married and started working at the royal palace, wrote about the kingdom’s customs and how they came about; she also wrote about the history and other surprising things. There weren’t many difficult words in the book, so it would be easy for children to read, even if they didn’t have prior knowledge.
“Toto really likes Dilly-chan. When I went to the village the other day, she asked me many times if you were there.”
“That… makes me really happy, but I’m sorry.”
“You don’t have to be sorry. But do talk to her more.”
The Witch had said, and Cordelia laughed and nodded.
“How often do you visit the village, Sensei?”
“It depends on the season, since I visit for the medicinal herbs that are cultivated in the village’s fields. Of course, I cultivate the difficult herbs at the back of my shop, and I do pay for the herbs they provide me with. Ah, but there are a lot of kids who catch colds in winter, so I visit quite a lot. So, I guess the number of times I visit doesn’t change much throughout the year.”
The Witch laughed.
“I think that the capital is also a convenient place, and it’s wonderful to meet a lot of people, but I like the country air. The sounds of the trees swaying, and the chirping of the birds are different from the royal capital, aren’t they?”
“Yes, I like it too.”
“Dilly-chan, do you leave the royal capital often?”
“I don’t go far, but I often visit the forest. I’ve been to Schiwiel Forest since I was little.”
“The forest? I never expected that you were a tomboy.”
The surprised Witch said worriedly, “Don’t do anything dangerous,” and Ronnie followed up, “Yeah.” In the meantime, the coach reached the village.
The sky was clear now, but the whole village was humid, probably due to the light rain in the morning. The water droplets on the trees and flowers were shining brightly in the light.
Cordelia, Ronnie and the Witch made their way on the same road as last time to the poorhouse.
As soon as they arrived, Toto came running up to Cordelia while screaming happily.
Toto’s energetic greeting was also directed at the Witch and Ronnie. Her attitude was completely different from the frightened one she had displayed when they had first met. After her greetings, Toto stared at the cloth bag that Cordelia was holding.
“Is the picture book in there?”
“Yes. Let’s read it together.”
“Ok! You know, Toto wanted to talk to Dilly-chan today, so she did her best around the house!”
“Thank you,” Cordelia said to the boastful Toto. She was happy that Toto was looking forward to her visit.
Cordelia was dragged by Toto to a slightly low table at the back of the room. There were no chairs, and they would be sitting directly on the spread-out cloth. She had never seen anything like that in this world, and it looked close to a low dining table.
How nostalgic, she thought as she was quickly urged by Toto to sit down. She opened the picture book. Toto’s eyes were sparkling, and Cordelia could even feel pressure from them. I have to be careful not to fumble while I’m reading, she laughed bitterly inside. But three girls approached them before she could start reading.
They were Lana and the others who spoke to her while she was making the flower crowns.
“Dilly-chan, thanks for the sachet the other day. I was surprised because it smelled like the flowers were blooming. Witch-sensei told me that you made it.”
“Hello, Lana-chan. I’m satisfied if you like it.”
“I do, and… is that a picture book from the royal capital?”
“Yes, I promised Toto-chan that I would bring it for her. Do you want to read with us, Lana-chan?”
She also brought a book for Lana-chan and the other two girls and was going to give it to them, but they were so focused on the picture book, so she decided to invite them to read the picture book. However, Lana quickly drew back at Cordelia’s invitation.
“I’ve already graduated from picture books! But… it is a very beautiful picture book.”
Lana seemed interested in the picture book even though she denied it with all her power.
(I wonder… if she’s at the age where she wants to act like an older sister.)
I could pass her the diary of the court lady now, but Lana-chan might regret not reading the picture book. Cordelia moved from where she was sitting and urged Lana and the others to sit down with her hands.
“Are you good at reading aloud? I’m not really used to it.”
Lana immediately slipped into the spot when Cordelia tempted her. Tina, and the other girl who was with her, sat opposite to Toto.
“I’ll read when Lana gets tired!”
Cordelia was relieved to see them act like that and watched as Lana read aloud. Lana’s reading was a bit theatrical, but she read so well that one wouldn’t think that it was the first book she’d read. Cordelia concluded that her choice had been correct when she saw the children lean into the picture book.
When the book reached the end, Toto cried.
“Toto wants to become a doctor!!”
“Idiot, you can’t become a doctor if you’re not smart.”
“Then, Toto will become smart!”
Cordelia was going to take back the picture book from Lana as she listened to the children’s interaction… but the book was pulled back before she could get her hands on it.
“Mm, can I read this one more time?”
“Yes, of course. But I actually have another book for you.”
“I actually brought a book for Lana-chan too. You seemed interested in the royal capital and the palace so…”
“Oh, let me borrow it! I’ll read it by the time Dilly-chan has to go home!”
The girls were attracted by Lana’s voice, and they shifted their eyes from Toto to Lana.
“That’s not fair, Lana. I’ll read it too!”
The girls surrounded the book in the blink of an eye, put their heads together and began reading out loud together. Meanwhile, Cordelia was also badgered by Toto to read the first picture book she’d seen. She was worried about whether she did a good job, but Toto was satisfied and said, “One more time,” and requested the Cordelia read a second time. Also, Toto asked that she read it once more after she’d finished the second time, and when she had finished reading the book three times, Lana pulled on her arm.
“Say, Dilly-chan. Are you good at studying?”
“This book is fascinating. If you normally read books like this, then I want you to teach me. The woman in this book is from a foreign kingdom, isn’t she? But even I didn’t know about the things that she was surprised about.”
“By any chance… are you asking me to be a teacher?”
“Yep. ‘Cause I don’t have the chance to learn about these things. If possible, I’d rather learn about more recent things… but I’m also interested in the olden days.”
“Oh, I want to hear about them too! It seems really fun to have Dilly-chan teach a class like the other teachers!”
The girls also surrounded Cordelia and conveyed their wish to her. The three girls got excited and talked about what they wanted to learn. But, for better or for worse, Cordelia didn’t know if she could teach them without permission.
She worried about how to tell them that, and a gentle voice interrupted them, “Don’t ask for too much.” It was the director.
“Dilly-chan lives in the royal capital. It’s not easy for her to come here, and she’s not an adult, even though she is a little older than you.”
The director said, and Lana and the girls looked depressed. Cordelia panicked.
“I don’t mind if the director says it’s alright. Of course, I can’t visit every day, but I can visit whenever it’s convenient.”
Yes, I wasn’t going to turn them down. Cordelia quickly said, and the director was surprised.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes. I was going to review it myself, and I won’t let Lana and the girls suffer any losses.”
Knowledge becomes power. Knowledge can broaden the way you think about things, and they want to learn. I want to help them if I can.
(I might have found what I can do.)
“I see,” the director cast her eyes down, and then looked Cordelia in the eyes.
“There’s a blackboard in the room at the back. We use that room to teach the kids letters and arithmetic. You can use that room as you please.”
“Thank you very much. But there is something I’m worried about…”
“What is it?”
“I’ve never taught anyone before. I’m embarrassed for talking big, but I don’t think I would be very good at it.”
The director widened her eyes at Cordelia and then laughed.
“We’ll need to be taught, if you’re good at it from the start. But don’t worry. After all, you’re so passionate about it that you would travel all the way here to teach them,” the director joked.
“Then I’ll have to tell you our schedule here,” she said as she told Cordelia a rough schedule of the poorhouse.
The children usually clean, do the washing, and fieldwork in the morning. Then, they have lunch. There were a lot of small children there, so they also took naps, especially on hot days. On the other hand, children at the age where they have more stamina studied letters and arithmetic, and they also had time to play.
The older children did job training, for the job they wished to have, once every two days… They worked part-time. The jobs covered a lot of ground, such as helping at a villager’s field, taking care of animals, or sewing. They also went to the royal capital, on the days that they weren’t working, to sell vegetables at the market.
“Besides going to sell vegetables, they also go to the royal capital to run errands at Green’s shop. They get to stretch their wings out a bit more, because some villagers go with them, unlike with the kids who sell vegetables.”
“Then, Mick-kun must have been running an errand when I met him.”
“Yes. The three girls who badgered you also had the chance to go to the royal capital… but they’re scared when they’re not together, so they haven’t been yet. It’s difficult to ask the villagers to lead three of them,” the Director laughed nervously.
They want to go to the royal capital, but they were probably worried about going to a place they didn’t know. It’s not like I can’t understand how they feel. If so, then I want to teach them a little more about the royal capital to ease their fears…
“I will contact you at a later date. Is that alright?
Cordelia, at least, knew her own schedule.
However, it was still better to get Elvis’s approval. She hardly needed his consent for one lesson, and she couldn’t think of a reason for him to refuse.
(But if I do a good job teaching, then Lana and the girls might want me to teach more.)
One class might not be enough for some subjects if I’m going to teach in a classroom-style. I might need to continue. I’ve finally found something I can do. So, I also want to teach with proper structure. I’ve studied before, but I’ve never taught. I will need to prepare carefully if I’m going to be teaching under those circumstances.
“Of course. Thanks.”
The Director said, and Cordelia patted her chest.