Act 39: A Moment’s Rest
Cordelia couldn’t hide that she was shaken when someone whom she hadn’t expected to appear showed up.
(I’m sure that Ronnie had asked Hans to arrange for our pick-up.)
It’s impossible for Hans to make his master, Otou-sama, go to Oulu Village. In other words, he was here by his own choice.
“Oh, are you Dilly-chan’s Otou-san? You two are alike.”
In contrast to Cordelia who had frozen from surprise, the chief laughed while feeling surprised. Of course, it didn’t look like he knew that Elvis was an Earl.
And that was also conveyed to Elvis.
“… Thank you for taking care of my daughter.”
Elvis smoothly informed the chief.
The expression that he had used was really something a ‘polite father who came to pick up his daughter’ would say. The chief laughed heartily and replied to Elvis.
“It’s fine. I thought that Dilly-chan was a polite girl, but Otou-san is also very dignified.”
The chief doesn’t realise that Otou-sama is a noble after all.
(… I’m shaking like a mess, even though Otou-sama is on board with this.)
Cordelia thought, as she desperately pretended to act normal. Still, it seemed like the violent sounds of her heart pounding could be heard.
“I’m surprised you knew that she would be here. Did you ask someone?”
“No, I was confident that I would know where she was if I asked the chief.”
“Well, that’s true. Ah, Otou-san, would you like a cup of tea?”
“We’ll be leaving soon, so you don’t have trouble yourself.”
Elvis asked Cordelia after he had turned down the chief’s offer.
“He went to the poorhouse to ask something. He’ll be right back.”
“I see. We’ll leave as soon as he’s back.”
The conversation stopped.
(Ronnie, hurry back…!)
She was the one who used Ronnie as a messenger, but the situation was uncomfortable. It wasn’t the worst situation, since Elvis had hidden the fact that he was an Earl, but that didn’t change the fact that she wanted to run away.
(But that’s not all… I didn’t mean to bother Otou-sama when he’s tired…!)
At least, we have to get back to the royal capital as quickly as possible.
She didn’t know if her wish had come true or not, but Ronnie came back with the Witch.
“Dilly, Witch-sensei said she’s going to stay here for the night, but she wanted to see you off… Woah!?”
Cordelia wanted to retort to Ronnie’s hysterical voice with, “You didn’t need to make a strange voice just because you saw Otou-sama,” but she also completely understood his surprise. She also thought that Ronnie was doing his best to hold his ground since he hadn’t said 『Master』.
“Ronnie-san, what’s wrong?”
The Witch appeared from behind Ronnie. She looked around the room, opened her eyes wide and moved her mouth slightly.
No sounds came out of the Witch’s mouth.
But, if I’m not mistaken, then Sensei is saying something I never expected she would say.
Elvis, on the other hand, didn’t seem to pay any attention to the Witch.
“We’re leaving. Ronnie, you’re driving the carriage.”
“Yes, at once!”
Ronnie quickly flew outside after he heard Elvis. Cordelia looked in his direction because she had been surprised by the sound, but she immediately calmed down and turned back to the Witch. But the Witch had already closed her mouth.
(I wonder what happened…)
Cordelia became restless because of the Witch, but she couldn’t take things easy.
“Then, excuse us.”
Cordelia couldn’t be delayed after Elvis had said that and left, so she quickly curtsied.
“I’ll be going home now. I’ll visit another time.”
Cordelia’s voice wasn’t loud as she spoke to the Witch. However, the Witch’s shoulders shook as if she had just heard a sudden sound.
“Nothing, I’m sorry. Thanks.”
“Mm… Sensei, do you, by any chance, know Otou-sama?”
Cordelia saw that the Witch was restless, prepared herself and asked her about it.
It looked as if the Witch had said her father’s name before.
But she couldn’t come up with any connection between the Witch and Elvis. Elvis’s attitude wasn’t one he used towards friends, and the Witch wasn’t someone who would call an Earl by his name. But, judging from the Witch’s reaction, it was hard to imagine that they didn’t know each other at all.
However, the Witch only shook her head at Cordelia’s question.
“Next time… ok?”
Cordelia couldn’t tell if she meant that she would tell her next time or if they will meet again. However, she didn’t have time to ask the Witch any more questions.
“… See you, Sensei. I’ll come over again.”
“Yes, I’ll be waiting.”
Cordelia left the chief’s house and soon found the carriage which was parked at the village entrance. Elvis had already boarded.
Ronnie, who had been waiting at the carriage door, saw Cordelia and beckoned her, so she jogged to the carriage and got in.
The carriage left soon after.
The aura inside the carriage was heavy.
Elvis had his arms folded and eyes closed, and his aura was solemn. It was hard for Cordelia to talk to him like that, but she couldn’t remain silent either. She tightly grasped her knees with her hands and desperately thought about how to break the ice.
(But, but I really hadn’t expected… that Otou-sama would come to pick me up.)
The words that he had used on the chief was also utterly different from the ones he would typically use. Even he might use honorifics for work, but he was friendly… instead, he sounded like a 『normal Otou-san』. It was strange to actually hear him use words like that.
But it worries me more that he had directly come to get me. I did tell him that I would be going to the village, and I did inform home that I would be home late. I think I should reflect on this, but did he come to the village because I had sent a message home saying I would be late? Questions swirled within her.
But it was Elvis who had broken the silence as Cordelia thought.
“… It looks like you’ve used up most of your magic. What did you do?”
Elvis’s voice was lower than usual. Cordelia nearly put up her guard on reflex, but Elvis wasn’t angry. She felt that he was closer to being emotionless. Cordelia thought his attitude was odd as she regained a little bit of composure.
“One of the village children got lost, so I went out to look for him.”
I am hiding something, but I hadn’t lied. Otou-sama is probably not convinced with this short explanation. I hadn’t explained what I had done, and I hadn’t informed him why my magic had ran out.
However, Cordelia only received a single reply.
It was silent again.
I’m thankful, but this isn’t like him at all.
Him coming to the village, the words he had spoken at the chief’s house, and his reaction right now… I feel uncomfortable, even though he spoils me. Sensei was also acting strange. I can’t help but feel jittery.
Should I ask Otou-sama now, after all?
If he tells me that he doesn’t know her, then I might have just imagined them acting strange… She thought as she stared at Elvis.
“Otou-sama, do you know the woman who you met in the village? She’s the sensei who I told you about before.”
“Why do you think I know her?”
“No particular reason. I’m sorry if I’m mistaken.”
She didn’t say that she thought this because the Witch had said Elvis’s name. She wasn’t sure if the Witch had really said Elvis’s name or not, and if they did know each other, then compared to the attitude he had shown the chief, he wouldn’t have ignored her.
Elvis opened his mouth when Cordelia began to think that she was wrong.
“… Ask your teacher if you want to know whether I know her or not.”
“Even if she was the same person I knew, it’s been decades. I don’t know her now.”
Elvis, who had spoken in a monotone, ended the conversation with that.
Cordelia answered briefly, “Yes.”
(… This is really strange. I can’t believe that Otou-sama hadn’t explained clearly.)
He probably wasn’t trying to hide their connection since he had said that I could ask her. However, I think it would be fine for him to tell me if this is the case. She had more questions and was dumbfounded when she realised something.
Look what I’ve done! I forgot to say the most critical thing to Otou-sama before I think about this.
“Otou-sama. Thank you for coming to pick me up.”
Elvis, who had been facing the front until now, turned to look at the darkness outside, and he didn’t answer her. However, it wasn’t like he hadn’t heard her. Should I say it once more just in case? A faint voice reached her ears when she thought that, “Hm.” Elvis was still looking outside, but she felt like he was embarrassed or shy and smiled.
The next day, Cordelia woke up in the afternoon.
She hadn’t planned on sleeping for that long, but her body was more tired than she’d thought. Pain similar to muscle pain ached her whole body when she got up. This must have been what Ronnie was talking about yesterday. He must have experienced this before. She wasn’t in a terrible situation where she couldn’t walk, but she winced. As a result, she was forced into a situation where she had to spend the whole day in her room.
The next day, she was able to wake up at her usual time.
She rested in the morning, but Vernoux came in the afternoon, so she entertained him in the greenhouse. Her body still ached, but it was much better than yesterday.
Vernoux tilted his head as he drank his tea.
“Dilly, you’re moving a bit strangely today. No, is strange the correct way to phrase it?”
“… Vernoux-sama, why don’t you stop saying strange or weird to women?”
“But I’m telling the truth, aren’t I?”
I certainly feel uncomfortable, but I can’t agree with his words. Can’t he phrase it differently? However, Vernoux didn’t stop hounding her.
“Honestly, what did you do? Did you do something dangerous?”
“What do you mean by dangerous?” Cordelia tilted her head, and Vernoux pointed at his face.
“Here. It’s mostly hidden by your hair, but you have scrapes on your face.”
Cordelia had scrapes on her face in a place which was hard to see, and she had already received treatment for them, so there weren’t any lingering wounds. Therefore, she was surprised by Vernoux’s observation power.
“Did you get into a fight?”
“No way. I won’t do something like that.”
“You’re right. But you don’t normally injure your face. Did you fall?”
“… Well, something like that.”
It’s also embarrassing to say that I fell, but it’s much better than stating the real reason. And he’ll probably only laugh if I say I fell. Cordelia resolved herself, but Vernoux had a difficult to read the expression on his face and was far from laughing.
“I don’t know what you did, but you shouldn’t do anything rash. Women will regret it if they injure their face.”
Cordelia was surprised by his words and blinked several times. From what he had said, she knew that he hadn’t believed her. That in itself wasn’t surprising, but he wasn’t acting like himself.
“Vernoux-sama, are you perhaps sick today?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He had half glared at her, but she had meant what she said. It was rare for him to act like a gentleman before teasing her. However, she wasn’t planning on spoiling the mood of her friend, so she didn’t answer his question.
“But I’m okay. This kind of wound wouldn’t leave scars, so there’s no need to regret having a scar on my face.”
I can’t deny that it wasn’t dangerous, but I don’t want to think that it would have been better if I hadn’t done it, since Mick could have been seriously hurt.
“… Well, I didn’t think that the stubborn Dilly would just easily agree with me. But keep it in moderation.”
“Thank you for your advice.”
“I’ll give you another piece of advice. You better phrase your words better if you want to tell a lie without being found out.”
“The strange pause was a dead giveaway, but the usual Dilly would act like nothing had happened and say, 『Nothing happened』, right? If you had said that then I may have only thought, 『Ah, she fell because she was thinking about weird things again』.”
“Vernoux-sama, that’s extremely rude.”
“But it’s not bad to know about it, right?”
“It’s certainly valuable information that makes me want to cry. Thank you very much.”
Vernoux laughed in satisfaction when Cordelia said that.
Honestly, what a good personality my friend has. Cordelia shrugged.
The morning after, Cordelia’s condition mostly returned to normal.
She hadn’t recovered completely, but her movements weren’t hindered. Vernoux probably wouldn’t have called her strange if he had visited a day later.
Cordelia informed Ronnie that she wanted to go visit the Witch in the afternoon. Ronnie was surprised at her recovery, but he went out to deliver her letter to the Witch without any objections.
Cordelia, who had entrusted him with the letter, went to the kitchen to meet the head chef next. She wanted to bring a gift with her since she was visiting the Witch.
“Ojou-sama, is there anything I can help you with?”
The head chef, who was in the kitchen, rushed towards Cordelia before she could even call out to him. The head chef, who had helped her obtained herbs and create dressings with those herbs since she was little, probably thought that she had visited for those reasons. However, she had come here for something else today.
“I want to make muffins. Is it possible for me to get ingredients for them? And, can you lend me the kitchen for a little while?”
“Muffins? You will? If so, then we can make something that would satisfy you…”
The head chef’s reaction was natural.
He wouldn’t have thought I would have said that since ladies usually don’t cook. Sometimes I would cook in the laboratory… for example, the honey lemons, but normal ladies definitely wouldn’t cook. I’m able to cook because it’s in the laboratory. Only Otou-sama knows about this apart from Ronnie, Lara and Emina. Cordelia smiled.
“Of course, I know I would be able to eat delicious sweets if I ask you chefs to make it. But, I have a recipe from someone who has been taking care of me. She also taught me how to make it. So, I want to make it for her myself as a thank you.”
“It’s okay. If you’re worried, then you can put it in the oven. That way you wouldn’t have to worry about me getting burnt, right?”
“… Okay. Then, I’ll help you.”
Cordelia was relieved that she had received permission from the head chef even though he was frowning. The head chef might have been wondering who she learnt it from, but her requests have always been crazy, so he might have concluded that it was too late now. In any case, she was thankful that the head chef was playing it by ear.
“Ojou-sama, may I have the recipe?”
“Yes, of course.”
Cordelia handed the head chef the recipe for cocoa custard muffins. The head chef instructed his chefs and the ingredients were prepared in the short while that it took Cordelia to wash her hands. They had even weighed everything for her.
(… I’m really thankful, but I feel like the most crucial step to baking has already been done.)
The powder used for baking, which was similar to baking powder in her previous world, had already been sieved and mixed. In other words, all Cordelia had to do was the simple process of mixing it.
(They’re anxious about my skills.)
The head chef probably didn’t want her to embarrass herself, but if she didn’t get rid of his concern, then this would happen every time she requested to cook.
(The only way to get rid of his worries is by showing him that he doesn’t have anything to worry about… right?)
That’s right, this is his way of being thoughtful. I should be able to measure the ingredients myself if I show him that I’m more capable than he thought I was.
Cordelia motivated herself. She confirmed the ingredients once again and picked up an egg, then she heard a gulp behind her.
(I feel like he’s saying… she forgot how to break an egg.)
I feel bad for the anxious head chef, but there’s nothing to worry about. Cordelia lightly tapped the egg on the edge of the bowl and broke the shell. She didn’t drop the egg into the bowl; instead, she separated the whites and the yolk with the shell. Then, a voice of admiration sounded from behind her.
“Ojou-sama, you can break the egg without any shells falling in.”
“… Yes, I can.”
I’ve already established that ladies in this world don’t know how to crack eggs when Sensei admired me last time. However, this might have been considered as a reckless challenge if he thought I couldn’t crack an egg, even though I had asked him if I could make sweets. I thought he would admire me for being able to separate the whites from the yolk without failing more than breaking the egg… No, that isn’t even difficult in the first place.
However, she was relieved that he got some peace of mind from this. At the same time, she also thought, that’s such an exaggeration for one egg…! But her muffins would be delayed and turn into a mess if she got distracted by her thoughts. She rearranged her thoughts and quickly progressed.
But then, she noticed that the other chefs were also focused on her and became restless. She wasn’t worried about making any big mistakes, since she had already made them once with the Witch, but she felt uncomfortable that they were cheering occasionally, even though she hadn’t done anything special.
While thinking, she had finished the custard cream and muffin dough.
Cordelia lightly combined them together and put them into the mould. She then gave the finished product to the chef to put into the oven. She’d thought it would have been fine even if she did that herself, but she found it hard to say that to the head chef, who had been waiting for her as she put the muffin mixture into the mould. And the head chef’s eyes seemed to be saying 『I definitely won’t let you use the oven』. She thought that she had freed him of his worry to some extent, but it would take time to get rid of it completely.
The muffins were baked nicely after she waited for a bit.
She had made 11 muffins. She gave one to the head chef and brought the rest back to her room.
“I’ll take one to try and bring two to Sensei… There’s seven left. Give one to Ronnie, Lara and Emina, now there’s four. I wonder if Hans will eat it.”
If he will, then that’s three left.
“I want to give one to Otou-sama, but I wonder if he’ll like it?”
He probably won’t find fault in me cooking, even though it’s not something a lady would do. He seemed impressed when he tried the honey lemon I made him.
(I don’t think he hates sweets if he’s okay with honey…)
I’ve never seen him eat sweets of his own accord. However, he spoils me even if he doesn’t like sweets. It might be hard to get him to say it’s delicious, but he’ll probably eat it in silence. But I don’t want to force him to eat it if he doesn’t like it.
As a result of her pondering, she put the muffin into a small box and wrapped it. Then she put a message card at the top. She wrote on the card, 『If you don’t mind, please have this as a snack. If you don’t want it, then I’ll eat it later』. She didn’t write that she had made it.
“Alright, I’ll leave this to Hans. Now… there’s two left.”
Where should the remaining two go? I know that the female magicians like sweets, but two isn’t enough. Then the most appropriate people to give these two are… She thought and remembered her friends.
(I’ll have exactly none left if I give one to Vernoux-sama and Gille-sama.)
But I wonder if those two can eat something a lady made, even though I used the same recipe as Sensei? Can they eat something made by me when people think that ladies can’t even break eggs?
She hadn’t told them when she had made muffins at the Witch’s last time. She wasn’t keeping it a secret, but it never came up in conversation.
She was at a loss as she took a bite of the muffin. This might sound like I’m singing my own praises, but it tastes the same as the muffins Sensei makes. It has a gentle flavour. I was able to make them according to how I was taught.
“They won’t think it tastes bad even if they eat it. If they don’t eat it… then that’s that.”
Cordelia finished her muffin then carefully wrapped the two remaining muffins. She also took her favourite tea out from the cupboard. I’m sure this will go well with the muffin. But she suddenly realised.
“I can send this to Vernoux-sama, but can I send something that can’t wait to Gille-sama?”
If I sent him a letter, then it would be fine no matter how many days pass before he receives it. But sweets are different. Muffins don’t have to be eaten straight away, but I don’t know how often Vernoux-sama and Gille-sama meet. If it goes bad by the time they next meet… then Gille-sama would get sick, and I would also be damaged.
After wrapping the muffins, Cordelia picked up stationery and a pen and wrote a letter to Vernoux while hesitating. She simply wrote that she had made some sweets and he should try it if he wants to. She didn’t mention Gille.
(It would be fine Gille-sama is with him, and they eat it together. But Vernoux-sama should be able to eat two muffins even if they don’t plan to meet.)
Cordelia put the letter together with the muffins and asked a messenger to send it to the Flantheim House.
Then, Cordelia went with Ronnie to the Witch’s house after she had lunch.