14: Harvest Festival
A stack of timber was burning bright red before me in the middle of the dimly lit plaza.
A large crowd of people were cheerfully dancing around the fire. Well rather than dance, they were just swaying their bodies to the music.
In addition, there were food stalls all around and the aroma of the cooked meat drifted about, it mixed with aroma of confectionaries. People with flushed cheeks were sitting at tables drinking alcohol.
The sky changed from indigo to jet black and the stars were sparkling in the sky.
This was the Thousand House fief, Haupht. The secondary residence of the Thousand House was here.
The ‘Harvest Festival’ was being celebrated in the plaza on the outskirts of town.
After completing the autumn harvest documents and tasks, I was taken here as a reward for helping out.
My father and brother drank a new brew of wine with the town mayor and were having a good time talking.
I sat at the table next to my father’s and was having a light snack.
Furore-sama and my older sisters probably won’t come to a place with so many commoners. It was impossible for them to eat and drink with commoners outdoors. I wonder if my father had wanted to bring a female from the family here just for the sake of appearances.
I remained seated on the chair while smiling after greeting the town mayor and influential people. It was noble mannerism. We had to look elegant and dignified without making it look like we were looking down on commoners. It was a good chance for me to show off the things that Ms. Dolcie had taught me.
It wasn’t fun even if you were with an ojou-sama if you both couldn’t talk about anything. There was something fun in front of them.
The mayor’s wife and the wives of the influential people talked to me but I didn’t have any say and I faded from their view when they talked about standard topics.
… I continued to smile and looked around.
After a while, my father and brother came to tell me that they would be moving around to go and thank the others for their work.
“Yes, I understand. I will be waiting here.” I replied and my father told me I could walk around…
“I know that you’ve been going to the city every now and then. Entrance into this plaza is restricted so there shouldn’t be any dangerous people here. You can look around by yourself. Come back here in an hour.” He said in a small voice and passed me some change before leaving.
I stared at the teacup in front of me and drank the cold tea.
My father knew what I did. I thought that he didn’t know about it and preferred it that way.
I realised that my father bringing me here was a real reward from ‘being able to walk around the Harvest Festival freely’.
I was wearing the milk tea dress and I put a green velvet ribbon from another dress around this one because it was rather plain. I had an organdy stole wrapped around me with a bright green butterfly embroidery around my chest area. I also attached the flower brooch I received from Sister Catherine.
The maids at the second residence prepared my hair in a half-up do, applied light makeup and the image of an elegant noble was complete.
I removed the brooch, redid my hair and quietly entered the plaza from the main guest seats. Would I look like a slightly dressed up girl in this dim plaza?
I was so excited because I was seeing the things that interested me up close.
This was the first time I’ve been outside the mansion at night, not to mention being out on the streets.
The stalls were different from those seen at the Royal Capital. I tried to be dignified… But my curiosity won and I looked at everything enthusiastically.
There was hairclips made out of flame glazed glass, decorated lace chockers, small flower brooches and so on. They were cheap accessories for nobles but there was no such thing as an expensive or cheap accessory if it was cute. I couldn’t keep my eyes off these items.
There was chicken fried in oil, spare-rib steak, dumplings coated with sugar, fruit glazed with candy, etc. There was also food I’ve seen before in the Royal Capital and those I haven’t.
People were noisy.
I knew from my knowledge that bars were noisy and it felt similar to that.
“It’ll be troublesome if you get meat grease on your dress. You probably want to eat it but I don’t recommend eating it while standing.” I heard a voice in my ear and turned around.
There stood a young man with dark brown hair and eyes. He looked 25. His clothing was rough and plain for a noble. I recalled the noble almanac in my head and some candidates came to mind but I wasn’t sure who he was.
“Good evening, Ayesha-maria-sama. I am Elias Monterey. I’m the accountant for the Thousand House in Haupht. I was asked by your father to escort you. By the way, I’m not a noble. But it would be boorish to speak politely here, so I won’t.” He said indifferently.
He was skilled at talking and left me no room for argument. He probably got information about me from my father. What happen to my father’s ‘you can walk around freely’?
“I won’t act badly. I just wanted to buy candy and go back.”
“Hmm, then I’ll recommend some to you. This candy apple can only be bought at the Harvest Festival. There’s honey in the middle of the apple. It’s a bit sweet for me but I’d recommend it. If you buy it now, you can also buy a crepe. You’ve never eaten it before have you? You eat it with your hands. Cream and fruits are stuffed into a cooked flour mixture, so it’s popular with females.”
Elias spoke a lot next to me. He smiled in return when I glanced at him… This is the first time I’ve experience something like this. I inadvertently diverted my eyes.
We didn’t touch each other and I maintained my distance from him. But why were we overly-familiar with each other? I wasn’t used to people and my body froze.
“You don’t have to be that cautious. I’ve seen the documents you’ve made. The writing is beautiful and easy to read. I was looking forward to seeing what kind of person wrote them. I’m sure you’ve seen many documents and letters written by me.”
What kind of information did my father and brother give to this man?
… Maybe they want me to marry into his House and work for the Thousand House forever? Then I definitely shouldn’t get close to him.
After that, I kept my distance from Elias as best as I could, bought honey filled apple and boned meat and returned to my table. If I was by myself I would have bought a hair clip as well, but Elias was next to me so I didn’t feel like buying something that I would put on. He seemed like the type of person to say, “It’s a present.”
I arrived at my table, took a knife and ate the boned meat that I had just bought. I don’t know what a noble daughter would do but I was angry.
Elias was staring at me with interest. He was actually asked to escort me from the plaza but he was curious about me so he stayed by my side. I didn’t say a word about it.