Act 57: A Fun Exchange with the Ladies
A few days after Cordelia’s coming of age banquet on a sunny afternoon.
A cheerful voice echoed through the Hale mansion.
“Cordelia-sama, congratulations on becoming an adult.”
“I heard from my parents that it was a very glamourous party. I’m disappointed that I couldn’t attend.”
“Thank you very much, Hazel-sama and Dahlia-sama.”
The sisters, Hazel and Dahlia, congratulated Cordelia and she smiled.
Today, she came to the Hale mansion because they had both invited her here. There were a lot of sweets on the table that were made from citrus fruits.
Cordelia held out small wooden boxes to the two while looking forward to eating the sweets.
“This is a gift. I thought about bringing what I had given out at the evening party, but this is better.”
“Oh my, thank you very much! May I look inside?”
The small boxes were made of the Pameradia fief’s special wood and the inside was a jewellery box made of velvet.
Cordelia placed round pendants with delicate edge engravings in those boxes.
When the Hale sisters looked inside, they raised their voices in surprise.
“It’s a very cute pendant!”
“Thank you very much, Cordelia-sama!”
“The pendant is hollow inside. You turn the top and the lid will come off, so you can put a cloth soaked in essential oils inside. That way, you’ll be able to enjoy the scent all day.”
“Thank you very much, Cordelia-sama. I’ll take good care of it.”
“The engraving is beautiful too. It’s fun just to look at it and it won’t make me bored.”
Cordelia was relieved since Hazel was holding the pendant preciously and Dahlia was eyeing the box. It was nice to see that they liked the pendant that she had put a lot of thought in.
“Come to think of it, Cordelia-sama danced with Isma-sama at the evening party, right? I heard that you two danced like you were in a painting and it was eye-candy for a lot of ladies.”
“I feel like they think Onii-sama is the eye-candy and not me.”
“That’s not true! The scene was more radiating because it was you two!!”
Cordelia smiled wryly at Dahlia’s reassuring words. She had certainly worked on her beauty since she was little, but it was a little embarrassing to be praised like that to her face.
Dahlia saw her expression and sighed.
“I’d like to work as Isma-sama’s subordinate someday. I still remember Cordelia-sama and Isma-sama showing me your family’s treasured items at the Pameradia House as if it was yesterday. I also want to be a knight who people can talk to someday.”
Cordelia heard from Hazel that when she invited Dahlia to her house two years ago, it had a very positive impact on her studies. However, Hazel also didn’t smile at Dahlia. Rather, her eyes were slightly raised.
“It’s good for you to admire knights, but you still say you don’t have time and then jump off the railing of the stairs. You still have a long way to go until you obtain the mannerisms of a lady.”
“Oh my, Onee-sama. If I don’t relax somewhat at home, then it would feel smothering. It’s alright if I act properly outside, and it’s also exercise.”
“Honestly… If you let your guard down, then you’ll act like yourself outside too.”
However, she wasn’t as strongly opposed to this like she used to be, and for better or for worse, Dahlia ignored Hazel’s small comment.
“Dahlia-sama, it’s nearly time for the employment exams, isn’t it?”
“Yes. It’s complicated since I’m nervous and want to be accepted as soon as possible.”
“I hope that you can take it with a calm mind.”
“Yes, thank you very much!”
Dahlia grabbed both her hands and replied energetically. Cordelia looked forward to hearing the results since Dahlia was really hyped up.
“Oh yes, your Onee-sama also attended the evening party, didn’t she Cordelia-sama? I heard that she’s a really beautiful person.”
“Yes. Onee-sama got married when I was young, so I was nervous to talk to her after so long, but we had tea together and were able to speak frankly in no time at all.”
The Hale sisters looked happy when they heard this. Is it because they get along well?
“Actually, she told me something that greatly surprised me.”
“What did she say?”
Dahlia tilted her head when she heard what Cordelia had said, but Hazel put her hand to her mouth and said in a cheerful voice.
“No way, did she talk about your engagement?”
“Y-yes… Huh?! Really, Cordelia-sama?!”
Dahlia wasn’t familiar with this topic and her face turned red, but she also looked curious. Cordelia lightly shook her head.
“Unfortunately, it’s the opposite. Onee-sama told me that Otou-sama has been refusing all marriage proposals that have been sent to me without me knowing. I’ve never even heard about this before.”
Both the Hale sisters looked as if they had been caught off guard, but then they strangely burst out into laughter.
“Oh my, I heard that you get along with your Otou-sama, but he cherishes you that much.”
“It’s not funny, Hazel-sama.”
“But, it’s so pleasant.”
“Argh, you’re acting like that too, Dahlia-sama? Even Oba-sama is on the same page as Otou-sama, so it’s really tough.”
Of course, she won’t hate Elvis for something like this, and she had expected Hazel and Dahlia to laugh, but she also wanted to complain a little.
“Onee-sama said that it would be difficult for me to get married unless I find my destined man myself and persuade Otou-sama to let me marry him.”
“Then, you’ll have to go out to more places after this. I’m rooting for you.”
Cordelia smiled and nodded at Dahlia’s words.
“Yes, that’s the plan.”
Marquis Flantheim said a long time ago that one wouldn’t be able to find a good partner if they don’t have many encounters. He took Vernoux to various houses when he was younger, and Cordelia could feel the importance of that sentence now.
However, Hazel tilted her head.
“But, don’t you have 『Letter-kun』, Cordelia-sama? Are you two not in contact anymore? Was his name Gille-sama?”
“Letter-kun? Cordelia-sama, what is this about?”
Cordelia had talked about this in the past, but it was only when she had first met Hazel. Cordelia winced a little since Hazel remembered his name even though they probably didn’t have any mutual acquaintances.
“Gille-sama is a good friend, but I haven’t seen him at all since I’ve returned to the royal capital. He seems very busy.”
She had met him at the evening party, but she hadn’t seen his face. However, if she had to explain that in detail then the fact that she didn’t know Gille’s real name would pop up, so she was hesitant to talk about it.
(I don’t really care about who Gille-sama is though.)
But if I think of Gille-sama as a person of the opposite sex like Hazel-sama said, then it would become strange. I have never thought of him as a target even though we’ve been exchanging letters for many years, but if I think about it, if we continue to write letters to each other, then that’s possible ―――.
(Wait, that has nothing to do with it…!!)
I’ve never thought that about Vernoux-sama even though I know his lineage and he’s a childhood friend like Gille-sama is. I’m sure Gille-sama doesn’t think that way ―――.
She thought, and suddenly looked to the front at Hazel who was trembling.
“That… won’t do! I can’t believe Gille-sama won’t meet you even though you haven’t been back in the royal capital for so long…! If he likes you then he definitely won’t act that way!”
Hazel stood up and walked up to Cordelia, then she grabbed Cordelia’s hands.
“Cordelia-sama! Let’s go to a lot of places so you can meet a lot of wonderful gentlemen!”
“Don’t worry, Cordelia-sama! I can say that you will have a happy marriage! If it’s the kind of man who will make you sad, then I’ll beat him up!”
“H-hm… Please calm down, Hazel-sama!”
I haven’t thought that far into the future ――― Cordelia panicked and lightly coughed.
“Umm, Hazel-sama. If I can get married, then I’ll like to give back the happiness I’ve been given to my partner, or maybe even more.”
After saying that, she noticed that what she had said had nothing to do with what they were talking about.
(I panicked too much! I was supposed to say, 『I wouldn’t get married to someone like that』!)
However, it seemed like Cordelia’s thoughts had nothing to do with Hazel at all.
“That’s wonderful, Cordelia-sama! So, you think of building a happy home together, after all!”
“Onee-sama. You’ve been going wild by yourself since a while ago, so Cordelia-sama is troubled.”
“Geez, you’re too indifferent Dahlia! You never listen to conversations like this!”
Hazel returned to her seat after Dahlia had spoken. Cordelia thanked Dahlia for her timing.
“Oh yes, Dahlia. Is it nearly time for your lesson?”
“Oh, yes. I’m sorry about this even though I invited you here, Cordelia-sama. I have to study soon so please excuse me. Have fun with Onee-sama.”
“Don’t worry about it. Good luck with your lesson. Thank you for spending time with me.”
“Please take your time. Then, please excuse me.”
As she watched Dahlia leave, Hazel smiled apologetically at Cordelia.
“Dahlia said she wanted to spend more time with you, but the exam is around the corner, so her tutor has been giving her a lot of lessons.”
“I’m delighted that she invited me here even though she’s so busy.”
“I appreciate that you said that as her sister. All these sweets were chosen by Dahlia. Please have a lot. Would you like another cup of tea?”
Then, the maid, who Hazel had called over, poured them more tea before backing away again and Hazel had a slightly serious expression on her face.
“Cordelia-sama, this is an abrupt question… But you’ll be opening a fragrance store in the noble district, right?”
“Yes. I plan to open it within the first 10 days of next month.”
“That’s what I want to talk to you about… If possible, there’s someone who I want you to meet so that you can decide if they can work at that shop or not. If possible, they want to work at the back.”
“Do you mean as an employee?”
“Of course, you can refuse if they think they’re inadequate. But I was just wondering if you would give them a chance.”
Cordelia tilted her head at Hazel, who asked this even though she said it was alright to refuse.
“What is the person like?”
“It’s Kaylie-sama, Viscount Fiennes’s daughter. After Cordelia-sama left the royal capital, she started helping with the mobile library for a year now. She’s smart and she does paperwork quickly and accurately.”
Cordelia was surprised to hear the name of a noble lady since she thought that one of the servants in the Hale House had wanted to change occupations.
“Speaking of Viscount Fiennes… Didn’t they receive a lot of damage in their fief from the flood last year?”
“Yes. A few years ago, they offered the citizens, who had lost a lot of crops to disease, tax exemptions and special benefits, so their financial situation is quite grave and things have finally settled down but…”
“Did they encounter another disaster?”
“Yes. Kaylie-sama also wants to work and help her family a bit.”
“If that’s the case then isn’t it better for her to be a tutor? Some of the work at my store will require physical labour, and if she wants to do another job, then it’s difficult to pay her a different salary.”
Tutoring was a common job that ladies did, and the salary wasn’t bad.
She heard that it was competitive, but Cordelia didn’t think it would be difficult for a lady whom Hazel recognised as smart.
However, Hazel shook her head seriously.
“Actually, I thought that as well and asked her to tutor my younger sister. But she gets nervous about talking to other people and couldn’t do well at all.”
“How bad is it?”
“It’s so bad that it’s difficult to explain it in words.”
“But you still recommended her, so she must be a lovely person.”
So that’s why she wants to work at the back?
For the employees, the female magicians and servants at the Pameradia House will be taking turns to attend to the store until it settles down to some extent. She had told the testers about the commodities that will be available, and they seemed careful not to leak out information about the store before it opened. But once things settled down, she would have to hire employees, so she was currently looking for some.
“Alright. I’ll meet her at least.”
I probably don’t have to worry much since Hazel recommended her. I won’t lose anything by meeting her once even if I hire her or not.
“Thank you very much. However, there is something I want to tell you first. The Fiennes House has accepted a large loan from the Clydereine House so that they can work on the damaged rivers. Kaylie-sama, herself, doesn’t seem to seem to like Shelley-sama that much, and they don’t interact with each other, and it’s questionable whether Shelley-sama is aware of Kaylie-sama’s existence.”
“She is someone you recommended. I’m not worried about that.”
“Thank you very much. I’m so glad you said that.”
This time, Hazel was relieved to hear what Cordelia had said.
It was certainly a little worrying that her house was receiving help from Shelley’s, but if she doesn’t like Shelley, then it might work out in Cordelia’s favour. It was reassuring even if just for show that someone who was in a position to believe in Shelley’s words wanted to work for Cordelia.
(Although, I’m worried if this would trouble Kaylie-sama…)
But Cordelia isn’t the person to judge that. If it wasn’t alright, then Kaylie herself would refuse.
“Then, how about we meet the day after tomorrow? I’m free at any time.”
“Alright. I will talk to Kaylie-sama and contact you.”
What kind of lady will come? How bad is she with people?
She had various thoughts, but she probably wouldn’t have been fortunate to meet such a shy lady if she hadn’t been introduced to them.
When she thought like that, she started looking forward to it a little more.
Two days later.
Cordelia welcomed Hazel and Kaylie Fiennes to the Pameradia mansion.
She had chosen the greenhouse for the interview since she thought that Kaylie would be able to relax more while being surrounded by greenery, but she was a bit troubled since she didn’t know what to do in front of Kaylie.
Kaylie, who came with Hazel, was beyond nervous and the greenery had no effect.
(Even if I consider that this is our first meeting, she’s more nervous than I expected her to be…)
Moreover, it was hard to see her expression because of her long, black bangs which hid her eyes if she looked down just a little. However, nothing will begin if Cordelia doesn’t speak.
“Nice to meet you, Kaylie-sama. I am Cordelia Enna Pameradia. I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“M-my name… is Kaylie Fiennes. Pleased to make your acquaintance, too.”
Cordelia continued to worry about how to continue the conversation without letting it show on her face since Kaylie had spoken in a barely audible voice. Our conversation can continue if she stops being so nervous, but what is a light topic to talk about…?
“… Is it no good… after all?”
Cordelia reflexively looked at Hazel when she heard those surprising words.
“Excuse me, Cordelia-sama. She didn’t mean anything bad by it. She’s always admired you, so I was worried that she would be more nervous than usual, but it’s just as I feared.”
“Kaylie-sama saw you four years ago. Now, Kaylie-sama, please tell her yourself.”
When Cordelia moved her gaze to Kaylie, Kaylie timidly opened her mouth.
“My parents took me to the Flantheim’s evening party four years ago, and that was where I saw you. You… were so beautiful and confident…”
As Cordelia listened to the voice that was gradually getting smaller, she recalled what had happened back then.
The evening party, that Otou-sama and Oba-sama took me to, was an outrageous event where I met Sylvester-sama. Still, I remember all the female acquaintances that I had made, but Kaylie-sama wasn’t one of them. But I think it would be more difficult to forget someone that had this kind of aura…
“I couldn’t talk to Cordelia-sama. Hmm… I watched you from afar… Because there were… a lot of ladies… around you…”
I certainly remembered accepting the invitation of the ladies because I wanted to get away from Sylvester-sama. Cordelia recalled the situation, and Kaylie’s gaze gradually lowered.
“Umm… even if you were surrounded by all those people… you were gorgeous… You smelled really nice… and it smelled like a lot of flowers were… umm… blooming… you were just like a flower fairy… and I’ve… admired you ever since then… You’re still the same even though you’ve grown up… umm… really…”
Cordelia, who had turned red all the way up to her ears from the words Kaylie was saying, felt as if she was going to move to her. It was like she had just received a confession since Kaylie had plucked up all her courage to earnestly say those words. She was trying to gain attention so that people would be interested in the fragrance, but she never imagined that it would leave this deep of an impression on someone.
“See? They’re quite passionate words, right? Cordelia-sama.”
“Y-yes. Hmm, I’m happy that you have such a good impression of me.”
“But admiring and work are different things. Please ask her a lot of questions.”
Cordelia regained her composure at Hazel’s words and stared at Kaylie. Kaylie was also staring at Cordelia through the gaps of her long bangs. Kaylie also seemed to have regained a bit of her composure after she told Cordelia, herself, why she was nervous.
“You may have already heard this from Hazel-sama, but you may need to do physical work such as carrying luggage if you work at the back.”
“Y-yes. I often clean, so I’m used to moving luggage…”
Despite saying that, Kaylie looked down again.
Cordelia wondered for a second if something had happened, but then she realised that it was unusual for a lady to clean in this world.
She also cleaned things around her, but she didn’t clean when it required heavy lifting. If she had, then she would be trespassing on the servant’s work, and even if she didn’t feel that way, it may seem like she was finding fault in their work.
I wonder if Kaylie-sama cleans because the Fiennes House doesn’t have extra money. Even for commoners when they become wealthy, they ask servants to clean the surface of things in front of public gaze.
“Then, if Kaylie-sama would work for me then my store will be kept clean.”
Kaylie immediately shook her hair, but Cordelia was thankful that Kaylie knew what she could do even though she didn’t know what she was good at.
Hazel, who was watching the interaction between the two, laughed.
“Kaylie-sama, you’re supposed to say 『yes』, even if you’re just showing off. You’re too honest.”
“But that’s your charm.”
Apparently, Hazel cared about Kaylie because of that nature of hers.
“Well then, Kaylie-sama, would you like to try a 『trial period』first?
“Yes. I also have to check with you to see if the wages and work suits you, and I still don’t know what you’re good at.”
I know she’s not a bad person, but I can’t imagine how she would adapt herself to the jobs I ask her to do because of her nervousness. Since I don’t need employees right now, I don’t have to rush and make the decision straight away.
Kaylie widened her eyes at Cordelia’s words and bowed.
“Thank you so much, Cordelia-sama…!! I… I look forward to working with you!”
“Me too. Kaylie-sama.”
Although Cordelia couldn’t see Kaylie’s expression, she heard her happy voice and thought that it would be nice if she could find a job for Kaylie.