Act 41: Quickly Set the Stage
Cordelia left the shop after talking with Fulvia.
Ronnie was leisurely staring up at the sky.
“Are you finished?”
“Yes, I’m sorry for making you wait.”
“It’s fine. It wasn’t bad to bask in the sun since the weather’s nice. Where will you be going today?”
“Nowhere, we’ll be heading straight home.”
Cordelia, who had returned home while the sun was still high, observed as a carriage moved from the front of the entrance. For a moment, she had thought it was a guest’s carriage, because of the time, but at a closer look, she saw that it was definitely a Pameradia House carriage.
“I wonder if Otou-sama is home.”
“Looks like it. What will you do, Ojou-sama? Will you go to the laboratory or the greenhouse?”
“… I’ll see Otou-sama before going back to my room. Oh yes, I also made some sweets for you. I’ll have it delivered to you later, so eat it with Lara.”
“Oh, thank you very much.”
Cordelia left Ronnie, who was heading towards the magician wing, and went to meet Elvis in his study or his room. But should I change first, since I just got home? Or should I wait a bit before meeting him?
Cordelia thought that and headed to her room to change first, but she met Hans, who was pushing a cart with tea, on her way there.
“Welcome home, Ojou-sama.”
“I’m back, Hans. Is that for Otou-sama?”
“Yes. He came home early today.”
The muffin, which Cordelia had entrusted Hans to give to Elvis, was also on the cart.
Hans also noticed her gaze and asked her gently.
“Would you also like to come, Ojou-sama? Master would be pleased if you gave him the muffin yourself.”
“I’ll be glad if he is. I’ll come with you.”
Has Otou-sama already been home for some time, since Hans is bringing him tea? She questioned, as she removed the card which was addressed to Elvis. I don’t need this if I give it to him directly. She headed to the study with Hans.
“Master, tea is ready.”
A voice from within the room urged Hans to enter when he knocked on the door.
Cordelia refused once before entering the room before Hans, when he’d urged her to, after he’d opened the door.
“Excuse me, Otou-sama. Welcome back.”
“… You went out too, didn’t you?”
She hadn’t expected him to say, 『Welcome home』, but he looked more sullen than usual. She also felt like he was saying 『Behave yourself』, but she didn’t dare ask.
I’m going to give him the muffin, but should I say that I made it or not? I hadn’t intended to tell him, but I’m lost again now that it’s back in my hands.
(… But, Obaa-sama taught me how to make this.)
Cordelia motivated herself a little in her mind.
“Otou-sama. I made sweets today. Would you eat it if you’re alright with sweets?”
Cordelia offered the box to Elvis. But he didn’t move. Only the sounds of Hans preparing tableware in the back echoed around the room.
(I guess Otou-sama doesn’t like sweets after all…)
The moment she began to think that, Elvis finally said, “I’ll have it,” and the box in her hands disappeared. Hans finished preparing the tea and left the room out of consideration for Cordelia.
Elvis took the muffin out of the box.
“I made this with the recipe the Sensei… Fulvia-sama taught me.”
“… So, you heard about it?”
“Yes. But Fulvia-sama said that if you tell me something different, then take that as the correct answer.”
Elvis didn’t ask any more questions when he heard Cordelia’s answer.
Instead, he carried the muffin to his mouth.
“… It tastes similar to what I ate a long time ago on a celebration day. It was a lot simpler, though, and I can’t remember the exact taste.”
“Do you not plan on meeting her?”
“Both sides won’t benefit from our meeting.”
It was a very Elvis-like answer; short and disinterested. However, there was a gap which made it sound like something Elvis wouldn’t say.
“Fulvia-sama knows a lot about medicinal herbs. I don’t think we wouldn’t benefit from her since we use plants as weapons.”
However, Cordelia, who had said that, couldn’t say what she had wanted to and was frustrated. She hadn’t actually wanted to talk about what benefits they could gain. She was hesitant to put it into words, but she wanted to frankly ask him if he had a reason for not wanting to meet Fulvia. However, her desire was shown on her face. Elvis sighed briefly.
“Even if I benefit from meeting her, she won’t.”
“Why do you think that?”
“She doesn’t have any good memories of this house, does she?”
His tone wasn’t anything special. Instead, it was too typical… and was a very natural way for him to express himself. His expression and complexion hadn’t changed at all.
“If she hadn’t worked here, then she wouldn’t have met the former head, and if I hadn’t been born, then she wouldn’t have faced hardships. I was really young, but I knew that she was suffering, even without knowing the reasons for why she was suffering.”
“I shouldn’t meet her if the cause of her suffering was me. I sought power and progressed because I also thought that it would be great if I could decrease the number of people who live like that. But I don’t know if she would benefit from that…”
The words that he had spun indifferently stopped there.
“Are you done here?”
Elvis was saying that he had nothing else to say.
However, Cordelia felt that if she left now, like Elvis wanted, then she wouldn’t have the chance to speak about this again. If I’m going to get to the bottom of this, then now is the time.
He had only stated objective reasons. I can only abandon any tact I have… to find out how he really feels.
“Otou-sama, you promised Obaa-sama that you would do whatever it takes to be great and that you will improve the lives of the people… Then, once that is fulfilled, you will go to pick her up. You might not be satisfied yet… but will the promise you made Obaa-sama go unfulfilled for the rest of your lives?”
It looked to Cordelia that his eyes had shaken a little when she said『Obaa-sama』. She continued without slowing down.
“Obaa-sama knew whose daughter I was from the start. She taught me how to make sweets, taught me about medicinal herbs and talked to me… She takes good care of me. And… she’s always been worried about you. Didn’t you let me get close to her because you care about her?”
“Otou-sama, you thought it was alright for me to ask her about the relationship between you two, didn’t you? Wasn’t that because you wanted to know about her somewhere in your mind?”
“I know that I’m too forward. But, isn’t it sad that you keep missing each other, even though you two want to meet?”
Elvis didn’t reply, but he hadn’t averted his gaze either.
Cordelia stared him straight in the eye.
Looking into those unresponsive eyes, she began feeling anxious that she’d said something odd. However, she couldn’t withdraw.
(The situation between Otou-sama and Obaa-sama is different from my case, where I’m rejected by Okaa-sama.)
There’s no reason for them not to meet, since they’re both thinking of each other and it’s the opposite of a relationship where one’s existence isn’t even recognised when we pass each other.
“But, there’s no reason to meet her.”
“You don’t need a reason. Just wanting to meet is enough. But if you insist on one… then I’ll provide you with a good reason. Otou-sama, would you like to meet Obaa-sama?”
No matter what he says, if he doesn’t give me a clear reason, then I’ll keep asking him.
She didn’t know if her intentions were conveyed to him, but Elvis spoke as if he was sighing.
“… I don’t mind if she doesn’t refuse.”
He sounded somewhat dissatisfied, but he had certainly accepted.
“Thank you very much, Otou-sama.”
Perhaps, his weakness of being soft on his daughter led to this reply. However, that doesn’t matter. The result is everything.
Cordelia thanked Elvis with a smile and left the room. The first barrier has probably been broken with this.
(But… everything will go back to the start if I don’t think of a good reason.)
It wasn’t hard to just invite Obaa-sama to the mansion. For example, I could ask her to the greenhouse to check on the aloe vera that I’d inherited. But that wasn’t enough of an excuse for Otou-sama to meet her.
(Having said that, judging from his attitude… I probably can’t convince him to meet her even if I create a situation where we need her knowledge about medicinal herbs. Which means I need a situation where I can get both Otou-sama and Obaa-sama involved.)
Then, I can only come up with one way.
Cordelia quickly returned to her room and wrote a short letter to Vernoux. 『I have something to talk to you about, so I would like to visit the Flantheim mansion tomorrow』.
“I’ll have this delivered by the end of the day… now, I have to finish the materials.”
Cordelia muttered to herself as she spent the night piling up mountains of materials and documents.
Cordelia visited the Flantheim mansion the next day in the afternoon.
“How do you do, Vernoux-sama?”
“It’s rare for you to come here to see me instead of mother. Is this urgent?”
“Yes. I’ve brought the proposal for the mobile library, so I would like you to take a look at them.”
Cordelia promptly forced the bundle of documents, which she’d completed, onto Vernoux.
“… It’s best if you completed this quickly, but still, you finished it pretty fast.”
“Yes, a lot of things have happened, so I did my best.”
“I’ll have a look at it for now. Oh, I ate the muffin yesterday. It was delicious. I gave one to Gille, but I don’t think he’s eaten it yet.”
“Oh my, how come?”
“He said it was a waste for some reason.”
“What does he mean by it’s a waste? What’s a waste? He should eat it as soon as possible.”
Cordelia was exhausted from that unexpected reason.
It’s not that much of a big deal, so I want him to stop raising hurdles before he eats it. Then, it would be more comfortable if he said, “It’s unexpected delicious,” because he hadn’t expected anything from it.
Vernoux’s shoulders shook when he heard Cordelia’s reply.
“Yeah, you’re right. Will you make it again if he asked you to?”
“Yes, of course. As much as he likes. So please tell him to eat it before it goes bad.”
“Alright, I’ll tell him. Well, I don’t think he’ll ask you to make some, but he’ll be happy to hear that,” Vernoux said, as he dropped his eyes onto the documents.
His eyes chased the letters on the document. Cordelia watched him in silence. He continued to look through the documents and finally raised his face at the end.
“Are you planning on consulting with the rental library for the selection criteria for the books?”
“It may be appropriate, but won’t you consult with someone in the same trade, since you’re dealing with books?”
“It won’t be a problem if the customer base doesn’t overlap. They might resist less if we ask them to help with welfare work. And, for example, I heard that the owner of the Third Street rental library is so eager to education children that he opened up a cram school.”
Cordelia responded to Vernoux’s impressed voice with a smile.
“You also listed other places that might be helpful, like the Third Street rental library. And… you’ll get corporate status for the accounting stuff?”
“Yes. I thought it would be best to acquire corporate status as a non-profit organisation. If so, then it would be audited by an agency designated by the kingdom, so we can maintain transparency. And… what do you think about opening the job search information spot that Gille-sama talked about and selling specialities from each village at the base in the royal capital? The mobile library will get tax benefits because it’ll be a part of business, right?”
Usually, you would need to tax things when you set up a shop. It would be difficult for the mobile library to handle fresh produce given the frequency it would visit the villages. But that shouldn’t be a problem with non-perishable items or handicrafts. It won’t be a large amount, but I hope that it could be used as part of the operating expenses.
“That’s right. The villagers will feel like they’re contributing to the project if you deal with the village products. It’s not a bad idea,” Vernoux said, as he slowly stretched while still sitting down.
“I told His Highness about this the other day. He said it was an excellent idea, so it would be easier to gather supporters.”
I’m thankful that Vernoux-sama is also advancing with the plan smoothly. And I understand that it’s crucial to recruit supporters, but the reason is really bugging me. I know that the final word of His Highness is an incredible help… but I feel complicated.
“Well, let’s leave aside the supporters for now and let an adult see the draft. If you’re going to do this, then you should secure the headquarters as soon as possible.”
“Okay. Mm, about the person who we should consult…”
“Oh, I thought we should let Earl Pameradia see it.”
Cordelia never expected that Vernoux would recommend Elvis and her eyes widened in surprise. She had thought he would recommend Marquis Flantheim.
Vernoux shrugged when he saw that she was stunned.
“Are you that surprised?”
“Well, of course, you would be. Actually, I feel bad for placing all the burden on you, so I talked to father about the mobile library straight away. But he kept insisting that I ask Earl Pameradia about this first.”
Has Otou-sama ever done something like this? But, Vernoux’s answer was completely different from what she had imagined it would be.
“He said that he’d never seen the Earl thinking about children before, so he wants to see it at least once.”
“… I’m glad he’s having fun.”
Cordelia hadn’t said that he had bad taste, but her cheeks twitched a little. The Marquis seems to be the same as always.
(I’m sorry, Otou-sama.)
However, Vernoux’s recommendation was a godsend.
“Do you have any problems with this, Dilly?”
“No. I also want to hear Otou-sama’s opinion, so it’s fine.”
“I see, then that’s good. Well, let’s take a break for now…”
“Mm, Vernoux-sama. I have something I want to talk to you about before we have tea.”
“What is it?”
Cordelia deliberately pretended to be troubled when Vernoux tilted his head.
“I’m changing the topic, but it turns out that Sensei knew that I am Earl Pameradia’s daughter from the beginning.”
Probably because she’d suddenly changed the topic, Vernoux blinked a few times at Cordelia’s sudden confession. However, he hadn’t panicked.
“Well, it’s not like she can’t guess that from your appearance. Red eyes are rare.”
“Yes. However, I want to get her in this proposal, since she already knows about that. Of course, I will also ask the villagers of Oulu Village about this in the distant future.”
Cordelia was aiming for that.
I’m going to put Otou-sama and Obaa-sama together and make a stage for them to meet… that was the purpose of the plan. Of course, I want Otou-sama to be the advisor because I expect that I would receive accurate guidance from him for this business. I can ask Obaa-sama about the children’s feelings since Otou-sama isn’t good with them. So, this plan kills two birds with one stone.
“Well, you’ll be able to reflect more if you hear the demands earlier on. Are you getting her to meet the Earl?”
“Yes, I definitely want them to meet.”
“… That was very aggressive.”
Cordelia smiled widely as Vernoux was filled with shock and admiration.
“In any case, I would like to show Sensei the greenhouse. I did get the aloe vera from her, so I want to show her that it’s growing.”
“Oh, so it’s like that? That would be a good reason to invite her to the mansion.”
Cordelia was relieved to see that Vernoux understood that. It seems like I was able to prepare an unsuspicious stance. Vernoux-sama is sharp, so I’m relieved to see that he isn’t suspicious at all. Now all I have to do is prepare the props and support the two on the day… The corners of her mouth raised when she thought that.
“… You’re really hyped up.”
The sight of Vernoux twitching was also trivial to Cordelia today.
Afterwards, Cordelia told Elvis and Fulvia that she wanted to consult them on a plan that was related to rural education and began adjusting the schedule.
Fulvia was reluctant to agree to Cordelia’s invitation, because she was worried about it being a detriment to Elvis. But Cordelia persisted, and she finally agreed on the condition that she would only be a representative in place of the villages’ educationalists.
“But it would be about 50 years since they’ve last met, right? Otou-sama doesn’t talk much, and Obaa-sama will be nervous…”
While she was happy that they had finally decided to reunite, she thought about what kind of reunion it would be. She folded her arms and groaned.
“If I had something that would make it easier for them to open up…”
They won’t make any progress if they’re overly serious.
The best way to get them to relax is…
“Oh yes, Otou-sama said that honey lemon was nostalgic. By any chance, did Obaa-sama make them for him?”
It occurred to her that she should make lemon sweets. I’m sure they grow a lot of lemons in the south, and it’s a lot cheaper compared to the royal capital.
(Then, what kind of sweets should I make? If it’s lemon muffins… then it wouldn’t be very interesting.)
Lemon tart comes to mind, but I don’t know if I can make it. She determined that it would be faster to ask than to think about it and left to see the head chef in the kitchen.
The lunchtime rush had already settled down in the kitchen, and several chefs were preparing snacks for tea-time. The head chef saw Cordelia and approached her with a smile.
“Ojou-sama, what can I do for you today?”
“We have a guest coming to visit, so I want to talk to you about the snacks we’ll serve at that time. Otou-sama will be with her.”
“The Master will be?”
The head chef widened his eyes at the unusual situation.
He wouldn’t be surprised if I sat with Otou-sama as he works, but this has never happened before.
“Do you know what the guest likes?”
“Let’s see, I think lemon sweets… but are there any sweets with a gentle taste?”
“Then how about lemon butter cake? It’s made with flour, almond powder, butter, lemon and garnished with almonds. It’s an elegant and sweet cake.”
I see. That is certainly a delicious combination.
But there is a problem. Almond powder is a little more expensive than flour. It probably won’t taste nostalgic.
“Can you make it without the almond powder?”
“Yes, of course. I could make it with a combination of honey and lemon if that’s what you want. It’s also possible to garnish it with lemon marmalade.”
“That sounds delicious. Could you make it for me to try tomorrow? And I also want to make it.”
“Understood, Ojou-sama. I will teach you how to make it.
I’ve roughly prepared the props.
“… I wonder if this important and big task will go well.”
She muttered and immediately shook her head.
It’s not ‘will it go well’. It will go well!
She thought that and smiled wryly, since she probably wouldn’t be able to compose herself for a few days.