After returning to the royal capital, they separated from the Witch as usual, and Cordelia asked Gille and Vernoux.
“Do you have a little time now?”
“What is it?”
“I’d like to talk to you two about something.”
“Time is time. If it’s short, then it should be fine.”
Vernoux answered, and Gille nodded.
“Then, I’ll just talk about one thing. A route to carry books to villages and lend them out… I would like to build a mobile library. Would you help me?”
Vernoux and Gille replied respectively, and Cordelia nodded.
“Yes. It would be smaller than a rental bookshop, which also operates as a store, but there are only a few ways the villages could obtain books. If possible, I would also like to arrange a teacher who could answer the children’s questions about the books.”
“Could you tell me a little bit more?”
Gille urged, and Cordelia continued.
“The children at Oulu Village know the bare essentials of reading and writing, but all the books at the poorhouse are old, and it’s hard for them to obtain new ones. But some children want to learn. So, I want to create an environment where they could rent new books for free… or even at the lowest price. It would be ideal if they could go around to each of the villages like with the coaches.”
“In short, it won’t be limited to that poorhouse?”
“That’s right. If possible, I want the library to go around several villages regularly to lend out books. This support will be provided to remote areas, as well, and is not limited to the poorhouse.”
Gille nodded at Cordelia’s reply.
“If the villages are around the royal capital, then the children should have been taught the bare essentials of reading and writing, even if they’re from mountain villages. But they don’t have many opportunities to practice it, so they would probably be happy about this.”
Vernoux still had his arms crossed as he said, “Oh, so it’s like that?”
“If we support the villages and not just the poorhouse, then it would be easier for them to use it, even if they’re refusing support. But how will you procure the books and carriages?”
“It’s difficult to say that we could manage the carriages and get new books at any time, no matter how much money we have. Therefore, I would like to think of it as a continuous project, and if possible, I would like to create an organisation to gather supporters and obtain funds and opinions from them every year. If we do that, then it would be different from doing it alone. We could collect people’s opinions and reduce bias.”
“So that’s why you wanted to talk to us?”
“Yes. However, I haven’t calculated the initial costs or how much budget this project would require per year. It’s just… will you help me if I have a proper plan in place?”
Cordelia asked, and Vernoux put his hand on his chin to think.
“You could probably gather enough funds if you ask people if they want to do welfare work. If it’s not an absurd amount, then the pride of nobles won’t allow them to say, 『How come that House’s child is participating but not mine?』. It would be easy to accomplish if we use the Flantheim and Pameradia name. I don’t mind helping if you have a solid plan in place.”
“Thank you very much.”
“Also… yes. Some merchants in the royal capital want to make big donations to gain fame. Of course, they probably expect to get the chance to associate with nobles… If you can use them well, then you’ll also have enough money to hire some founding staff.”
“You know a lot about this.”
“I interact with more people than you, Dilly.”
“Is this, perhaps, the result of being dragged by the Marquis to marriage interviews?”
“…You… you’re grateful, aren’t you?”
She felt like he hadn’t yelled because his face was twitching, but also because they were outside. But, Vernoux didn’t seem to care.
“Gille will help out too, right? We’ll get a great result just by you agreeing with me.”
Vernoux grinned, and Gille smiled wryly in return.
“It might be painful if I can only do that much. I’d be happy to help if there’s anything else.”
“Oh yes, I heard from Vernoux-sama that you are also thinking about how to help the poorhouse.”
When she said that, Gille looked at Vernoux vigorously, and Vernoux turned away at the same speed. He looked as if he would start whistling.
(Perhaps, Gille-sama wanted to keep that a secret.)
After a moment of silence, Gille finally sighed deeply. His sigh said that there was no use in complaining to Vernoux now.
“… If they need it, then I hope that it would be easier for them to find jobs in the royal capital. On the other hand, if they have job offers at the village, then I want to build an information network that would make it easier to reach the capital. I looked it up, but at the moment there doesn’t seem to be any information networks that spread widely between villages and the royal capital… I want to create a job search information spot.”
“But if we carry out the mobile library plan, then we’ll need a base to manage books in the royal capital. I just thought that it would be convenient if I could just use that. About the staff… I’ll think of something.”
What he said at the end was vague, but he was firm. Cordelia and Gille looked at each other and laughed.
But they were stopped by a single word from Vernoux.
“Well, we can take that slowly. Either way, how about we put this in order?”
“I should inform His Highness about this, but it won’t be a problem.”
“It’s not, huh. It would be strange for me to do something near the royal capital without saying anything when I’m by the prince’s side.”
“Well, that’s true… wouldn’t it be a bit excessive to tell the prince?”
“It’s not like I’m forcing him to help us. I’m just going to tell him about your idea. Just do what you want.”
Things can indeed be done with one command, even if he does lend us a hand… or instead, I feel like things would be complete with just one command. If I think of him as someone I could use, then I should use him.
But… I don’t want to at all. I’m doing my best to stop my cheeks from twitching.
(… No. I’m not going to tell him not to, just because I don’t like the prince.)
That’s right. Let’s explain it clearly.
He’s not asking for direct help. Vernoux-sama is just going to mention this to the prince. Perhaps, Vernoux-sama is just trying to create the fact that the prince endorses this.
“If you want, you could also be there, Dilly.”
“No, I’ll leave that to you, Vernoux-sama. It’s impossible for me to appear in front of the prince when I don’t go out in public much… The higher-ups and young ladies will get really noisy.”
“Alright. It’s unfortunate, but I’ll do it.”
Cordelia said nothing more to Vernoux, who raised his hands and shrugged. He had probably predicted this. His bitter smile is proof.
She pretended that she didn’t hear him say carefreely, “Well, we can take it slowly,” with the bitter smile still on his face.
After that, Cordelia visited the village and met with Vernoux many times to get the preliminary arrangements done.
She found out that Vernoux was unexpectedly strict.
Cordelia thought that he would work out the details after listening to her rough presentation, but Vernoux pressed her with questions. 『How are you deciding the standard of the books?』and『Will you do an external audit of the receipts?』She hadn’t prepared some of the answers the first time and felt like she had lost a bit.
Of course, she was fully aware that this wasn’t a competition. I can’t say that up until now Onee-san has… I don’t plan on holding Vernoux-sama back. Even this time, I was thinking about the future, and I haven’t forgotten. But the only response I got from him was, “That’s too late.”
“How can I lose to him?”
The words she had uttered when she was in her room alone were probably the rudest words she had ever said. But, since no one was there, she told herself that she would be pardoned.
But thanks to that, I was able to improve my plans for the books and how to manage them. I got a little bit too energetic, and some of my writing turned out a bit too forceful, but that’s still charming.
Cordelia suddenly looked at the ceiling and closed her eyes. She saw the smiles of Toto and Lana in her mind.
“… I’ll hold out for a little longer.”
Cordelia corrected her posture as she spoke to herself.
Gille-sama is probably also coming up with various plans. When I think like that, then I can think of it as a competition.
However, even if she thought that way, time was limited. Every day for Cordelia was hectic. She had to prepare for her own classes, check the greenhouse, check on trades, listen to Ronnie’s progress on the oblaat, and visit the Witch to hear her lectures and borrow books from her.
When she thought that she was a little sleepy, Emina giggled.
“Ojou-sama, you also stayed up late yesterday, didn’t you?”
“… Did you see the light?”
“No, you have bags under your eyes.”
Cordelia instinctively grabbed the mirror that was close to her when Emina pointed that out. She certainly had a faint shadow under her eyes.
“Why don’t you take a nap? It’s hard to come up with an idea if you’re too enthusiastic.”
Cordelia was a bit hesitant over Emina’s proposal, but she decided to accept it. She wasn’t sleepy enough to accidentally fall asleep, but it was serious enough for her to get eye bags. They stood out too much because her skin was white. She could conceal it with make-up, but she wanted to leave that as a last resort. Make-up was a weapon, not something to adjust your physical condition.
(… I shouldn’t be thinking this.)
When her thoughts strayed, Emina once again said, “Ojou-sama, please rest.”
“Okay. I’ll do that after I progress a little more.”
However, Emina must not have trusted my ‘a little more’.
Before long, Emina came back with hot chamomile milk-tea. Cordelia’s drowsiness increased after she drank her sweet and warm drink.
(I have to give up and take a break.)
It didn’t take long for her to fall asleep after she had laid down. However, she came up with a good idea in her dream but forgot about it when she woke up and dropped her shoulders a little in disappointment.
Cordelia made up her mind. I need to come up with a plan that is acceptable to me so I can have a good rest.