With so much going on, there was no time to leisurely take two days to return home by carriage. I finally arrived back in Kaldia while feeling extremely exhausted since we had ridden horses for a day before switching them once in a town on our way. Of course, I didn’t have enough strength to control a horse for an entire day, since I was a child, so Kamil and Claudia had taken turns riding with me.
Earl Thelesia, who held the real power, headed straight to his office and had no time to rest his weary body, even after returning, since he had to make preparations for the large scale project of receiving the refugees we had agreed to accept. Claudia had headed for the training grounds, and I wondered where she could possibly get all that excess energy from…
“What happened while we were away?”
I asked Bellway, who had been in charge during our absence in place of the busy Earl.
Bellway immediately reported everything that had happened, and nothing stood out; there had been no particular changes in these four and a half months for Elise and Maya, who had moved in recently, or for the new nanny who was mostly in charge of taking care of Elise.
“And, about ‘Ojou-sama’…”
Bellway timidly said, but I had already expected this when I heard the message from Elise. Bellway and the other maids call Radka ‘Ojou-sama’.
“My deepest apologies. We happened to come across Elise-sama when I took her out of the mansion the other day.”
“I know. Claudia-dono came and brought me a message from Elise-jou. I heard that you told Elise-jou that she’s my relative. If Elise-jou asks anything about that child in the future, then I will tell her. Guide her in that direction.”
As I thought, he told me about Radka. Bellway understood how that child will be treated from now on, since he’s the Earl’s secretary. Therefore, he had clearly made a big blunder when he took Radka out without grasping the movements of the few people in the mansion, and Elise had found out about that child. It was rare for him to make this kind of mistake.
I instructed him on how to deal with this in the future and asked him if there was anything else he had to report. Bellway suddenly lowered his head deeply for some reason.
“I’m truly, deeply sorry about this. To have betrayed Eliza-sama’s trust… I’m ready for any punishment you have for me.”
There was passion in his voice… It must be hard to be the Earl’s secretary. I felt something like pity as I looked at him, bowing his head at me. Earl Thelesia didn’t like having more staff than necessary, so Bellway actually does more than just secretarial work without complaining. He had to deal with a troublesome job, and he was even lowering his head to a child who wasn’t even half his size, so his work must be quite stressful.
I thought as if escaping from reality. That was the difference in our commitment. It was quite surreal to stare at someone lowering their head from above.
“… Earl Thelesia is the one who trusts you, not me. There won’t be any punishment from me.”
I asked Bellway to take care of that child while we were gone because there was nobody else in the mansion who was qualified to take charge, and also because the Earl had insisted that I leave it to him. I had been the person who had asked Bellway to do this, but that’s only because I’m the one who was responsible for the child. If he wanted to tell someone that he had betrayed their expectations, then he shouldn’t have said it to me since I hadn’t trusted him from the start.
I confirmed that the report was over since Bellway was speechless. Bellway looked as if he wanted to say something, or as if he was sad, and it was striking since he usually had on an iron mask.
In the newly established office made for me, I summarised the aid provided by the House of Lords along with the acceptance of refugees onto a single piece of paper.
The refugees who are taking shelter at Jugfena are Cellion farmers who have a connection with the Sill tribe. We have expectations for the Sill tribe members, but we also have hopes for the farmers. Some refugees have brought out grain seeds to negotiate for a new place of residence. We want their labour and their grains.
They have foreign grains not grown in Arxian because they come from abroad. Rare things are worthwhile because they are rare. We have to limit how much we grow because we’re afraid of destroying the ecosystem, but out of all the seeds they have, pumpkins are probably the ones we could use straight away.
According to what I heard in my previous life, pumpkins are nutritious and are strong crops. In Arxia, white pumpkins called ‘cubis’ are only cultivated in the southwest, and it will be Arxia’s first time cultivating dark green pumpkins, brought by the refugees. The most important goal is to improve the people’s food by cultivating pumpkin since we only grow wheat in Kaldia, but I think we could sell a lot of them in the future. Incidentally, I thought they would negotiate with potatoes, but the soil in Kaldia has a high water and nutrition value, so it was impossible to grow them here.
They will live at the centre of the fief initially, at the eastern bank of Sera River, which separates the East and West. In the future, we want to use this as a starting point to develop the eastern part of the river, which is an untouched area. Since the citizens of the fief live in the western part of the river, they will have limited contact with the refugees, and it reduces the risk of conflicts. It won’t be difficult to quarrel with someone who speaks a different language… but I will have their children learn the Arxian language. I’ve talked to Earl Thelesia about this, but we will need to set up a language education system for age groups who can’t participate in irrigation work. The children of the refugees and their refugees must know the Arxian language.
They won’t hold the title of refugees forever. They will be citizens of Kaldia once we accept them. Should I change their title to ‘new citizens’? I’ll talk to Earl Thelesia about this tomorrow.
I carefully thought about the refugees but was interrupted when the door opened.
“Are you still awake?”
The woman who entered the room said in amazement. It was Mrs Hortensio, a newly hired maid who had replaced my nanny and has her own room. Her voice echoed in the dimly candlelit room.
“You’ll harm your body if you stay up later than this.”
“I know, Mrs Hortensio. I’m going to sleep now.”
“That’s good. You seem to forget that you’re still only a six-year-old child.”
I was a bit startled by her remark, and my heart raced. She was right on the mark.
“Even if you’ve matured early, your body hasn’t caught up. Your body will be fragile if you don’t sleep well, eat well and exercise well.”
I didn’t even have time to reply that I understood since Mrs Hortensio said what she wanted to say before leaving the room. She wasn’t naggy as my previous nanny, but it was difficult to grasp her personality.
I woke up when it was still dim outside.
The air was cool and not cold, but I rubbed my cheeks and shoulders to drive away my drowsiness. I didn’t like lying around in bed when I’m wide awake, so I crawled out of bed.
I looked at the water clock in the corner of the room and saw that I had woken much earlier than I usually do. I didn’t want to catch a cold, so I quickly wore my dalmatica. I decided to take a walk in the mansion instead of lazing around in my room. It would be fine as long as I return before Mrs Hortensio comes to wake me up; I’ve thought the same thing on a particular morning long ago.
Rashiok, who was sleeping on the opposite side of the water clock, raised his head. Growl-, a whining sound came from his throat, indicating that he wanted to be spoiled, so I took him with me on the condition that he would be quiet.
The hallways were just as dim as my room since the curtains haven’t been opened yet. Rashiok had night vision and acted as a guide dog, helping me avoid obstacles, so bringing him along was quite useful.
For a feudal lord’s residence, Golden Hill Mansion was really small, so there weren’t many rooms, and they weren’t that big either. The barracks next door was actually larger, and it made one wonder which building was actually the feudal lord’s residence. It might be better to think about building a new castle at the centre of the fief to manage the citizens in the eastern part of the fief when things settle down. We will have to build new military facilities anyways if we do go to war with Rindarl. The House of Lords will surely order us to strengthen our military might if we succeed in training cavalry troops.
I kept my right hand on Rashiok’s belly as he trotted along, and continued to think without knowing where we were headed, then Rashiok suddenly snorted. He rubbed his nose against my cheek, as if he was troubled by something, and nudged my back. Rashiok had become an adult, and his mouth was big enough to easily chop off my head in a single bite. I secretly looked in the direction where he had stopped while realising how big he had gotten. I saw someone’s shadow and immediately hid in his shadow. Rashiok was bigger than me, so it was easy for him to hide me.
“… Hmm, oh? Is that you, Rashiok?”
The person who was walking down the corridor seemed to have noticed that Rashiok was sitting in the dark. From his voice, I guess it’s Bellway. After he heard Rashiok answer with a small snort, he entered the nearby room. I thought about where we were for a moment and realised that we were close to Earl Thelesia’s room.
But, isn’t it still too early for Earl Thelesia to wake up? I decided to remain here for a bit since I still had my doubts. I know that eavesdropping is a pretty bad hobby.
Before long, I heard two voices whispering to each other from inside the room. They talked about the plans for today, and about the pigeons that arrived last night. They got up earlier than usual due to the preparations that needed to be done so we could accept all the refugees. Earl Thelesia hasn’t informed me about these matters, so I still woke up at my usual time. Earl Thelesia overworked himself in his old age even under normal conditions, and now he had more work under his plate. I prayed that he wouldn’t collapse from overworking.
I continued to eavesdrop on them for a while. I knew why Earl Thelesia had woken up early and was about to return to my room.
“And, about what happened with Eliza-sama yesterday…”
Bellway mentioned my name, so I raised my hand to signal Rashiok to stop. I remembered my conversation with Bellway from yesterday and was curious to hear about how he would report to the Earl.
Bellway deliberately spoke in a quieter tone and explained what had happened yesterday to Earl Thelesia. It was hard to hear what he was saying since his voice was quiet.