Extra 02: To See Someone Happy
I sighed as the wooden prototype pencil in my hand broke.
“Unfortunately, this is also a failure.”
“I’ll leave it to you, Lara,” Ojou-sama asked me to make a pencil. Since I’ve nearly reached the final stages, I’ve made no progress with this.
I had no difficulty in saying that the lead was complete. The combination of graphite and clay, the temperature at which to heat the lead, and the solvent for fixing the lead to the wood… I was able to discover those with the help of the Onee-sama’s from the magician wing.
“I can’t believe that this handy pencil sharpener is going to turn into my enemy…”
Until recently, I sharpened the pencil with a knife and adjusted the pencil when the lead got buried in the wood, and I couldn’t write anymore. However, Ojou-sama lightly said, “Let’s make a pencil sharpener so it’ll be easier to sharpen,” and she taught me about a tool which can sharpen part of the wood by making a hole in a small piece of wood that was the size of my thumb, attach blades, and sharpen the pencil by turning it. It was able to shave wood thinly using little power like a planer.
When I heard about it, Ronnie just happened to be nearby. He had said, “Then, let’s make one,” and made me a sample… but, that super useful tool that shaves pencils easily has posed me with a challenge.
I have no problems when I shave the wood with a knife, but when I turn the pencil in the tool to sharpen it, the wood that had been stuck together get stuck in the blade sometimes, and the wood might crack if I forcefully turn it. That wasn’t all, but I ended up with a lot of defective products.
“I wonder if there’s not enough pressure when the wood is being glued together. I can’t see any gaps at a glance…”
I was going to use stronger pressure, but it’s probably still not enough. Or is there some other problem? I wanted to complete this as soon as possible because Ojou-sama went through great pains to think of this for the children, but it hasn’t been going well. There’s nothing wrong with using it for writing, so should I just give up on the pencil sharpener and get them to shave it with a knife? Or should I just close my eyes to the defective products that are mixed in, and they can just use what they can?
However, if possible, I want to make the best product I can think of from the beginning. If bad rumours circulate from the early stages, then it would be hard to recover.
By the way, there is a writing tool which uses graphite in this world. However, it’s mainly used for painting and are cut up into specific sizes. But, unlike the pencil that Ojou-sama thought of, it’s wrapped in cloth like a stone and used like that. It was challenging to write with under normal circumstances and was hard to hold since it got tiny the more you use it. Plus it’s costly. Apparently, the reason is that they took too much graphite when it was discovered.
There is that situation, so it’s normal to write with a pen and ink. On the other hand, pencils which are made with a mixture of graphite, are going to be excellent writing tools which are easy to hold and cheap.
Yes, only if I complete it.
“Alright, let’s put a little more force next time.”
If Ojou-sama is doing her best for the children, then I also want to contribute. So I have to do my best like Ojou-sama.
I made up my mind, and there was a knock at the laboratory door.
When I answered, the door opened quietly. It was Ojou-sama, the owner of this laboratory.
“You’re here early today, Lara.”
“Ojou-sama, you too. Didn’t you have class this morning?”
“I did. But I finished everything that I was supposed to study today.”
As expected of Ojou-sama. The servants secretly say that her diligence makes the tutor cry. I think Ojou-sama is working hard to secure her free time, but she probably absorbed information greedily in the first place. Thanks to that, I’m happy that I get to hear good stories, but I think Ojou-sama’s tutor has it tough.
“Why are you here early, Lara?”
“It’s been drizzling since morning, right? I was supposed to wash the large curtains in the saloon, but it won’t dry if I hang it like this, so I had free time.”
“Oh my, that’s too bad.”
“Yes. I wanted to finish it today if I could.”
I had done a special shift yesterday and finished a lot of tasks so that I could do the washing today. I was a little disappointed that my schedule was messed up. People did say that it might rain today, but there were stars in the sky last night, so I thought it would be fine.
“There’s nothing you can do about the weather. Try again another day.”
Ojou-sama looked at me with pity.
“Ojou-sama, you also hate rain, don’t you?”
“Mm, you can’t hear it when it’s drizzling, but I like the sound and smell of rain.”
“I don’t like it very much. Because my hair gets messy.”
My hair isn’t as beautiful as Ojou-sama’s, even so, I’m not disappointed. But my hair is untameable when it rains.
“It might have to do with your hair quality… but how about changing your shampoo? Why don’t you ask Ronnie about what you can buy with your wages?”
“I don’t think he would know much about shampoo…”
“Maybe he’ll ask Eris Firm for you. It might just be consoling, but why don’t you try it?”
I would certainly appreciate it if my hair changed, but I was a little surprised that I hadn’t thought about that before. It might be categorised as beauty knowledge, but I think it’s great that she could come up with something that I can try.
“You’ve grown your hair a little.”
“Do you want to cut it? Emina’s good with haircuts, so she’ll cut it for you if you ask her.”
I wanted to grow my fringe out, so I didn’t want to cut it. I don’t have to worry about not knowing when I have to wash my hair now, and I would like to grow it out if I can. If I tie my hair up like Emina does, then it shouldn’t get in the way of my work.
“You can grow it out. But, if you grow your hair out, it can get damaged if you don’t trim it.”
“Huh? Cut it to grow it?”
“Yes. It becomes messy if you just grow your hair out, so let’s style it properly so that it can grow out beautifully.”
“Then… I’ll cut it a little.”
It’s a little troublesome that I have to take a detour if I want to grow my hair out, since it won’t grow beautifully if I don’t cut it. But I also don’t want it to get damaged as it grows. I can’t maintain my hair like Ojou-sama does, but I don’t plan on growing it that long… it’s important to follow Ojou-sama’s advice if I want to grow my hair as beautifully as I can.
“I’ll give you a hair ornament if you grow your hair beautifully. How about a barrette?”
“Eh, that’s bad!”
“It’s fine, isn’t it? We have to celebrate it growing beautifully. I’m looking forward to seeing it grow.”
As she spoke, Ojou-sama looked happy, but I don’t think my hair will live up to her expectations, and I don’t think I need a present to celebrate me growing my hair… it’s kind of embarrassing. But, if it’s something I want to do, and it’s something that will make Ojou-sama happy then… Hey, don’t get swept up!
“Ojou-sama, celebrations are something you do at important times.”
“That’s right. That’s why we’re celebrating. I think having an image change is like getting a fresh start, and is an important milestone. Don’t you think?”
“It’s not a big deal, though…”
“In any case, you’ll need something to tie your hair together. It won’t get in your way, so just take it.”
I was skilfully manipulated by Ojou-sama, but I didn’t really stand a chance in the first place. If there’s something I can do to oppose her, then it would be to find something to congratulate her for. Ojou-sama does a lot of things, so I’m sure I can find something to congratulate her for. It’s fine.
“You were working on the pencils, weren’t you?”
Partly because of my poor progress, my voice cracked at her surprise attack.
“Seeing how you reacted, I don’t think I’ll be able to hear that it’s complete.”
“I’m sorry I wanted to finish it quickly…”
“You don’t have to rush. You can do it until you’re satisfied. I’m the one who asked you to make this, after all.”
Ojou-sama said, but I know that it’s better if I complete it quickly. Of course, I can’t give her a defective product, and I don’t want to do it half-heartedly since Ojou-sama left this task to me.
But, I know that she didn’t think that I could finish this alone.
Even if I receive hints from Ojou-sama, it’s difficult for me to clear her requirement level since I haven’t done anything up until now. Therefore, I started by consulting with the Onee-samas in the magician’s wing about the lead under Ronnie’s recommendation. The Onee-samas are all good people, and they willingly gave me advice, and they explained things carefully when I didn’t understand. I managed to get to this point thanks to them…
That was when I noticed.
Ojou-sama’s real goal wasn’t 『for me to finish the pencil』but 『for me to get along with the Onee-samas』.
I can’t help but feel that Ojou-sama is really considerate towards me. I firmly believe that I want to be useful by completing the pencil well, improve my guard techniques and of course, rememorize the jobs that servants have to do. I feel at ease by Ojou-sama’s side.
But I’m a little anxious… I wonder if I should ask her about it now.
“Say, Ojou-sama. Do you really think that the pencils will be useful?”
Of course, I think they would be. However, I was worried that this might have been my bias view as someone who is making it.
“Oh my, why are you asking that?”
“See, because… stuff written in pen looks nicer. Well, it’s easier to carry pencils around, and it doesn’t take much time to write with them…. But, for example, I wouldn’t mind if I took notes down and it smudged or got erased.”
I’m worried about whether people would use something that is being introduced to the world for the first time, but it’s not a problem if we’re only making it to distribute at the school for now. Still, I’m worried that it wouldn’t be released if it’s not comfortable and easy to use… It might be okay if I made the pencils well, but I couldn’t wipe away my fears.
However, in contrast to me, who was worrying, Ojou-sama smiled.
“It’s alright. Everyone loves things that are easy to carry.”
“Is that so?”
I swallowed my words since Ojou-sama was full of confidence.
“Thank you for worrying.”
“No. I was just meddling.”
“That’s not true. I might have overlooked something, so please tell me whenever you have doubts. Look, I thought you were going to help me.”
Ojou-sama took my prototype and traced it with her fingertips.
“But, oh, yes. In any case, to raise awareness of pencils, it would be nice to spread the word that pencils are especially useful.”
“Pencils are especially useful?”
Is there such a thing? My doubts seem to have been transmitted to Ojou-sama. She thought a little and put the pencil down on the table. Instead, she took out some paper and a pen.
“What are you writing?”
“I think I’ll make a magic formation.”
Is she planning on writing something that has to do with magic? However, it was different from what I’d imagined, and she only drew a frame. It was a frame made up of 4×4 squares for a total area of 16. If I’m forced to say it, then the only feature was that the lines were beautifully drawn even though it was done free-hand.
Ojou-sama, who created this frame, looked as if she was flicking the squares with her right thumb and index finger as she filled numbers into the squares.
“Lara, try filling it so that the answers when adding vertically, horizontally and diagonally are the same.”
“Eh, can you do something like that?”
“Yes. But if you write it in with a pen, then you’ll be troubled when you make a mistake, right?”
But, this is the first time I’ve seen something like this, so I didn’t know how to solve it. I’m not good with mathematics to begin with… Will they really add to the same amount? I questioned impatiently… then I noticed it.
“Is this math practice?”
“Yes. Number puzzles are quite fun, and it’s perfect for children.”
“Yes, I know that… but isn’t it a bit too difficult?”
It’s boring if it’s easy to solve, but they’ll give up half-way if it’s too difficult. But Ojou-sama had expected my words.
“Then, I’ll give you a hint. The total is 17. So why don’t you fill in the numbers aiming for that number?”
I wondered why it added up to that number, but I left that question for afterwards. Now that I know it adds up to 17, I can find places to fill in the numbers. I filled in the numbers and noticed I’d made a mistake.
And, I reflectively blackened out my mistake… which filled in the box, and it was difficult to correct.
“It certainly is nice to erase this.”
I can redraw the frame, but it’s a hassle, and I have less paper space if I make more mistakes.
“You can also do 3×3 squares, and there are many ways to reduce the difficulty. Or you can make the grid 5×5, or make it more difficult with a 9×9 grid. But it would be hard for me to write an example for that right away.”
“I think this much is fine for me.”
5×5 seems difficult. Having said that, I feel like I can solve the 3×3 frame. See, I feel like I can get it even if I guess.
Next to me, Ojou-sama looked as if she was still thinking, “Hmm.”
“I also know other simple number puzzles.”
“What are they like?”
“First of all, make a frame of nine blocks. Three horizontal and three vertical, making it a 3×3. Put some numbers in the boxes to act as hints. The column and row as well as the same block can’t contain the same numbers.”
“That sounds like a difficult rule. Ojou-sama, could you draw me an example?”
“Hmm. It takes a while to make an example, so I’ll explain it with drawings first.”
Ojou-sama filled in numbers while explaining situations that would violate the rule. Unlike the previous magic formation, this didn’t need calculations. If I had to say, then I feel like this required observation without missing hints. I might like this more than the magic formation.
“And… oh yes, it’s like a riddle, but how about crossword puzzles?”
“Do you like crosswords?”
As she continued to proposal number puzzles, I was surprised at the different puzzles there were, and Ojou-sama nodded.
“But I’ll have to make a lot of quizzes, so I’ll make it for you next time. Will you solve it for me then?”
“Of course, leave it to me!”
I couldn’t imagine what the puzzles would look like. But, pencils seem like they would be useful for both. I’m sure crossword puzzles are also done with pencil.
Later, Ojou-sama made the crossword puzzle she had promised me. The answer portion was made in a grid-like the number puzzle, but some squares were blackened out, and there were small numbers on the white boxes. Outside the grid, there were quizzes for the vertical and horizontal boxes, and each problem number was linked with a number in the boxes. The starting point is to write the answer. As I filled in the answers, the vertical and horizontal characters intersect, and that also became a hint.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakuro
“It might be fun to fill in it.”
None of the questions was difficult either. But rather than being able to solve the problems, I feel like I want to fill it quickly when I see the boxes filled in little by little… I wonder if it’s perfect to say that I was getting more and more addicted to it.
“Say, Ojou-sama. You can use this as a review quiz for the children, right?”
The crossword Ojou-sama made was filled with general knowledge, but it seems fun to fill this in while reviewing. Ojou-sama hummed at me, “Mm.”
“Let’s see. I think it will be difficult just to make it on review questions, but I think it would be possible if other questions were mixed in too. But, it might be difficult for them to come up with an answer if other questions are mixed in too…”
“Then, can I try to make one when I finish the pencil? Ojou-sama, I’ll get you to solve it. If it’s hard to understand, then I don’t mind if you refuse… but can I?”
If Ojou-sama doesn’t have enough time, then I can make it, can’t I? Of course, I have to study hard, but it’s something that children learn. I think they’re things I should know.
“It’s fine? It’ll probably be more difficult than you think.”
“But I want to try.”
I want to progress positively because the pencils are going to be useful. And… I also wanted to make the questions.
“Then, please do so.”
“Leave it to me!”
I was motivated to make pencils. I want to quickly make questions. Ah, but I have to make a good eraser to correct with…
“You don’t have to rush. You’ll overdo it if you’re too enthusiastic.”
“Yes, of course!”
But it seems fun. I get hyped up when I think about making something that people might enjoy. I have to do my best so that it doesn’t interfere with my work at the mansion. I’m hyped up.
This is the sequel, but in the future, when Aisha-sama visits the laboratory, she will discover Ojou-sama’s number puzzle.
She did it to kill time, and it also becomes popular with the knights. Shortly afterwards, the puzzle showed up at the corner of a newspaper that was printed in the royal capital.
“This may increase the number of people waiting for pencils.”
Ojou-sama said as she worried about how to use the reward she’d receive from the newspaper. She looked thrilled.