Act 43: A Calm and Bustling Spring
One day in the spring of Cordelia’s 14th year.
Cordelia was entertaining her childhood friend, Vernoux in the warm flowery garden.
“Your house has a lot of flowers like always.”
“They’re beautiful, aren’t they?”
“Well, it seems like a scene that women would like.”
The topic of flowers was brought up, but Vernoux still didn’t seem interested in flowers and was stabbing his cake with a fork. As usual, he preferred sweets over flowers.
Today’s sweet was a rare springy cheesecake made with checkerboard layers of strawberries and pistachios.
“Then, I’ll report it before I forget. I was contacted yesterday, and they told me that they can obtain all the books I requested for the mobile library next month.”
“That’s good. You can get that light illustration picture book that seemed difficult to obtain, right?”
“Yeah. I asked for some books personally when I placed the order, and they promised that they could get them, so I don’t need to worry.”
“Some, you say… How many books did you order, Dilly?”
“Oh, it’s still within the range of my allowance.”
“Just how much is this 『allowance』?”
Vernoux shrugged. Cordelia’s allowance was from the profit she made with trades, and she’d purchased books on cultivation methods and medicine plants, which were necessary for her research.
Three months have already passed since they had started the book loaning plan for the villages around the royal capital, commonly known as the 『Mobile Library』, together with the noble children.
Cordelia’s father, Elvis, set up their head office and consulted with them about speciality products, and they consulted with Vernoux’s father, Marquis Flantheim, about which types of books to loan. Both of them made additional proposals, but they didn’t reject the children’s recommendations, and the project advanced roughly how Cordelia and Vernoux had planned.
The reason why the project wasn’t rejected was that the planners of the mobile library plan, had a review meeting in advance. They had the villages listen to what books would be selected and got opinions from librarians who would be employed as the book managers and shopkeepers of rental bookstores.
Incidentally, Vernoux is the chairman of the review meetings.
Vernoux wanted to leave it to Cordelia, but she insisted that it would be easier for him to make the call. The review meeting wasn’t made up of all the donors; it only consisted of enthusiastic people, including those who got along with Vernoux, like Myles and Clifton, and Hazel, who Vernoux wasn’t good at dealing with. Hazel had been very serious and had made firm remarks during the meeting, but she had been assertive, and it had made Vernoux run away immediately after the meeting had ended.
“They found bad roads that need paving on the route, and there was an accident, but it’s generally going well. It was worthwhile to plan.”
“By the way Dilly, I’m curious about something… what’s that in the middle of the table?”
Vernoux had changed his tone and glanced sharply at a transparent bottle on the middle of the table. The bottle contained small cubes wrapped in thin paper and was also put there for decoration.
“Would you like some?”
“What? They’re sweets? Are they good?”
“I like them.”
Cordelia stood up, picked up the bottle, walked up to Vernoux and opened it in front of him.
“It’s wrapped in really thin paper. It’s stuck pretty tight and hard to peel off.”
Cordelia laughed slowly at Vernoux, who was calmly looking at the sweet in his hand.
“No, you don’t need to peel it off. It melts in your mouth.”
“That paper melts. You can eat it as it is.”
Cordelia said as she took a sweet and threw it straight into her mouth. Vernoux stared at her in shock.
She knew why he was looking at her like that. To put it simply, “I can’t believe you’re eating paper. What’re you thinking!?” It wouldn’t be strange if he said, “You’re not a goat,” either. Vernoux didn’t know that this paper was edible oblaat.
Vernoux didn’t look convinced, but he still put one in his mouth as he frowned. Then, after a while he tilted his head in confusion. The oblaat had melted.
“See? The paper melted, didn’t it?”
“… It doesn’t harm your body?”
“Of course not. I can’t tell you the details, but Otou-sama has already tasted it.”
“… You thought of making something strange again.”
He looked shocked as he threw the second one into his mouth.
“It’s sweeter than I thought, but the melting sensation of this paper is quite interesting. You don’t have to worry about the sweets sticking together if it’s wrapped in paper, and it’s easy to eat too. It seems very convenient.”
Probably because it was an original idea, Vernoux seemed more interested in the oblaat than the sweets themselves.
“But… it’s a pretty interesting concept, did you open your eyes to sweets after baking? I don’t think it’s important for lady training, but I guess you made this for sweets too.”
“I can definitely unveil this sweet thanks to the oblaat, but I hope that it can eventually be used in the medical field.”
“This is oblaat…? It looks completely different from the ones I know.”
Like Vernoux said, the oblaat of this world are like rice crackers… Because it’s the so-called hard oblaat, it’s shaped differently from the paper-like soft oblaat. That was why Cordelia decided to try and develop it.
“It’s still in the middle of development. I want to make it a little thinner.”
Then, people who have a hard time taking medicine, including Hans, will be happy. Cordelia was enthusiastic, and Vernoux looked worried.
“Say, Dilly. I have a suggestion. Why don’t you submit this in the competition show?”
“Yeah. Gille mentioned it before. It’s an academic festival hosted by the royal family.”
The competition show is an exhibition in which participants bring and present the products they have developed. There are no restrictions on the products being submitted, but since it’s sponsored by the royal family, the preliminaries are quite strict. However, if the product catches the eyes of the judges, then that developer is given a research grant, and most importantly, they can advertise that their product has been recognised by the royal family at the time of sale.
However, since the product is subsidies based on the premise that it will lead to public interest, the price and distribution will be interfered to a certain extent.
“Dilly, you aren’t willing to publicise how essential oils are refined, right? So, I don’t think it’s possible to submit that, but if you’re going to spread this in the medical field, then it’s a good opportunity, right?”
“… You’re right. I want a lot of people to use it.”
When Vernoux heard Cordelia’s answer, he continued.
“You need to submit materials about the manufacturing process if you’re going to enter the competition show, but they won’t be released without permission, and royalties will be paid even if they’re used. What do you think?”
“Somehow, today’s Vernoux is kind of like a merchant.”
“Don’t evade the question.”
“I’m not. But I can’t make the decision alone, I have to discuss this with Otou-sama.”
Cordelia shrugged because she couldn’t exhibit it on her own accord and Vernoux gave a long sigh.
(Why is he sighing here?)
Is he not convinced? I don’t think he would answer honestly if I ask him about it. Cordelia closed the lid and returned to her own seat. Cordelia had brought up oblaat, but she had left the development to Ronnie. He had fun making them, but she should probably ask him about it too.
“Dilly, have you forgotten the other good thing that happens when you participate in the competition show?”
“What is it?”
“This also depends on the result, but you will be given a permit to enter the Big Bookcase.”
The Big Bookcase is a vast library owned by the royal family and is said to have the most extensive book collection in the kingdom. The Pameradia’s library is impressive, but the size was clearly different from that of the royal family.
“Isn’t it fine to give it a go? I’m sure it’ll go well with this.”
If so, then she should find out more about the competition and get permission from Elvis if there aren’t any problems. She was also very interested in the treasure house of knowledge.
However, there was a problem with the Big Bookcase that worried her.
That was the location.
She would have to go to the castle where the Prince who she was trying to avoid with all her might resides.
(But even if I get the permit, I would be going to a place where ordinary people can visit, so I probably won’t encounter any royals… right?)
Of course, they check people’s backgrounds when the permit is issued, but there’s no need for them to let outsiders near the royal family. It’s reasonable to think that we would pass one another in typical situations.
However, when Cordelia thought up until there, she met eyes with Vernoux, who looked strangely like he was having fun and frowned.
“Vernoux-sama, that expression… What are you up to?”
“It doesn’t look like you’re telling the truth.”
Vernoux-sama acted as if nothing was up, but if he always had a wicked expression like this, then he wouldn’t have been mistaken for a prince at Oulu Village.
Cordelia, who remembered that, almost said it out loud, and quickly coughed.
“What was that just now?”
“Nothing. Don’t worry about it.”
“Well, fine. If you get the permit, then you’ll come to the castle a lot, right?”
“… In any case, nothing will happen if I don’t get permission from Otou-sama.”
For example, I couldn’t agree straight away because I am still hesitant to enter the castle. However, as I thought earlier, I don’t have to worry about it that much. I’m sure it’ll be fine.
“That’s true. Well, I’m looking forward to it. By the way, can you give me the sweet and bottle from before?”
“Oh my, do you want to take it home with you? Okay.”
“Then, I won’t hold back. It’ll be easy to eat this even if I take it home with me.”
I don’t remember Vernoux-sama ever holding back, but I’m sure the Flantheim House still doesn’t have any sweets. It’s okay if he’s happy.
“Sweets things are important for taking away fatigue from studying.”
“Yeah. Oh yes, are you going to bake again anytime soon, Dilly? Gille is looking forward to it.”
“I’ll make something in the future. Didn’t I give you two muffins last month?”
This is definitely just Vernoux-sama demanding sweets. And he still has that wicked look on his face which makes me want to ask what he’s thinking.
(… Well, there’s no use worrying about it, this is Vernoux-sama after all.)
Cordelia moved on and saw Vernoux off. Then, she dreamed of entering the Big Bookcase and got hyped up, “Alright!”
Everything will be after she gets permission.
Three days after Vernoux’s proposal, Cordelia asked Ronnie who was enjoying tea in the greenhouse like always.
“Say, Ronnie. What would you think if I told you that I wanted to present oblaat at the competition show?”
When she had asked Elvis about participating in the competition, he had only given her one condition. “I don’t mind if you want to release it to the public,” so it would be no problem if she got permission from Ronnie. She thought she should have asked Ronnie first, but she could see him saying, “Why don’t you ask Master first?”
Ronnie has almost been working on the oblaat alone after she had proposed the idea. At first, he would question her, “What is it supposed to be?” and “How do you make it?” But a few days later, he said, “It’s probably going well,” and worked silently alone. Even if she tried to help him, he would brush her off, “It’s going well right now, so leave it for later.” If you ask Cordelia, then she did arrange for water plants that could be used as a substitute from books Fulvia had… But that was about it.
Ronnie wasn’t trying to keep his research a secret. He gave her progress reports, “Please look at this,” showed her the product many times, and answered any questions that she had. Cordelia had also made it with the process that Ronnie had shown her.
“The competition show? You’re going to submit it?”
“Of course, if you’re alright with it.”
Ronnie put down the cup, and asked Cordelia strangely.
“Have you asked Master? I’m fine with it if you are. I think you just need to submit documents and the product, so it won’t be much trouble.”
Ronnie, who didn’t seem to care either way, said, “I think if you copy this, then you’ll be able to make the document straight away,” and took his own record off the bookshelf.
“Oh, but there is something. Can you make it so you made this yourself, Ojou-sama? In the worst case, replace my name with mentor’s.”
“… I don’t think that’s a good idea since it’s false.”
Cordelia tilted her head wondering what he was saying all of a sudden.
“… I thought so. Then, how about putting you as the lead and me as support?”
“Why don’t you want your name to come out? The oblaat could be made because you did your best.”
She certainly wanted the permit to enter the Big Bookcase, but Ronnie was the main researcher. So, that was what she was going to write, but Ronnie gave a long sigh.
“I don’t want people to say annoying things. I know you’re not going to do that, but if you put me as the main researcher, then I might stand out weirdly as if I’m using you.”
“Oh, some might think like that…”
“There are people who will think that. I don’t really like standing out. And if you’re going to spread this product after it’s completed, then your name would be more convenient. People trust the Pameradia name more than mine, and you’ll see less resistance even if it’s a new product.”
Cordelia couldn’t help but accept what Ronnie had said.
(It’s possible that from an outsider’s perspective, Ronnie looks as if he is researching freely by manipulating a noble child.)
I understand Ronnie’s concerns, but I can’t agree with him.
“I understand your point, but it feels like I’ve stolen your credit.”
“That’s not a problem. I don’t think it’s being stolen.”
“That’s just like you… you’re frank.”
“I don’t want to stand out because I want to relax while doing what I love. The planner’s name is written first so, formally, there’s no problems, right?”
Cordelia shrugged at Ronnie who thought about how not to stand out with a serious look.
“Is it really alright?”
“Yes. Don’t forget that I couldn’t have made this if you hadn’t suggested it.”
She was thankful that she got permission, but she thought it was a waste. Isn’t it alright for him to be a little greedier?
“Oh, instead, I’ll accept paid holiday and extra income. That’s necessary for relaxing.”
“I know, so I’ll think about it. You can take a day off whenever you want.”
Cordelia smiled wryly when she looked at the happy Ronnie.
(After the competition, I’ll get him to take enough days off so that he can even travel.)
Thus, Cordelia’s exhibition for the competition show was decided.
However, that didn’t mean that her work increased because her exhibition had been decided. The oblaat that Ronnie had said was the limit for now was thinner than the one she had given to Vernoux as sweets, and he said that he would arrange the documents for her. Cordelia had offered to do the documents, but Ronnie turned her down because it was an opportunity to teach Lara how to write.
Lara, the apprentice servant, had successfully graduated from apprentice, and was working splendidly as a full-fledged servant. Her popularity with the senior servants is also great.
(… But I wanted to do it.)
Cordelia didn’t mind if it was after Lara, so she decided to ask him to teach her how to write the documents.
Start of Volume 5, the second to last volume /o/.