19: At the Royal Library
I never thought that I would come to the Royal Library again in a carriage like that.
I was more excited when I’ve arrived at the Royal Library than when I was peeking at the New Year’s decorations that still remained on the city streets, through the carriage window.
I got off the carriage at the stop and walked alone down the stone pavement.
I wasn’t just borrowing the book in question, I had also received permission to browse the library. I was so excited when I thought about what books I would find that I quicken my pace.
I, who was wearing a milk tea dress, probably didn’t stick out like a sore thumb like the last time.
I had tried to do my hair up simply in a single ponytail. I didn’t have any decorations in my hair, so I might have looked like a maid or tutor if I didn’t give my name.
The interior of the rustic stone building was even quieter than the last time I visited. A lot of people were probably welcoming the new year in bustling places. It was great for me, who wasn’t used to nobles.
First, I went to the area exclusive to nobles, that I went to before.
I then handed my father’s introduction letter to the librarian and headed to the bookshelves that contained the law books.
There was no way I would forget where the book in question was. The thick book that looked like it had been used for a long time was waiting for me in the same place.
I took the book and turned the pages… There it was. It was that book.
I carried the book carefully to the reception area and asked the librarian if I could borrow the book. I was then finished with the most important task.
I put the book I borrowed into my purse and roamed the library. I didn’t know what books were where, and a lot of paintings were hung on the walls; probably because it was the Royal Library. There were big ones and even small ones. They attracted my interest. I had already gotten bored of seeing the paintings at the estate. That opportunity was precious.
“I’m clearly not taking as much time to appreciate art as much as I should. This painting stimulates my urge to create embroidery designs.”
All I knew was the name of that trendy painter, but I never had the chance to see their painting. Of course, they didn’t make any other paintings.
I approached different paintings and looked at them from close and afar. I appreciated the paintings for a while.
“Lady Ayesha-Maria. It’s been a long time. Do you have any favourite paintings?” An unfamiliar voice called out to me from behind, and my body shook on reflex.
I turned back slowly and there stood Earl Noir with his black hair and sky-blue eyes. He might have been thinking that I was acting suspiciously again.
“How do you do, Earl Noir? I didn’t know that the library had this many paintings on display, so I was just appreciating them.”
“There aren’t that many people who focus that much on paintings, so the Imperial Prince, who chose this picture, would probably be happy to hear that.”
I plastered a smile on my face and honoured him. Last time was the first time we had ever met. I was extremely shaken that time, so I was cold towards him; but now that I knew he was father’s acquaintance, I had to be decent and courteous towards him.
According to the description in the noble almanac, Earl Noir is 24 years old. I was sure he inherited his house the previous year. He had no wife or children. He worked as the library’s manager. Looking closely, he had a calm and well-featured face. He was an attractive man.
… I rarely had the chance to speak with noble men, except for my father and older brother, so I was extremely nervous. No more! Can’t he just go somewhere else already?
My feelings of wanting him to quickly leave didn’t reach him because he said, “I’ll show you where the books are placed”… What was fun about keeping a young girl like me company? If it’s out of duty then I wish he would leave already, I muttered that inside my mind.
Eventually, he showed me to where the geography books were.
“Are you going on a trip or something?”
“I don’t have any information on the places that catch my eye in newspapers and documents, so I thought I would like to learn about them…”
Even though I said it myself, I was being ambiguous. I actually wanted to read those books to examining places I could move to after I became a commoner. My ideal place was a prosperous urban area, somewhere not so touristy, and with a fair number of shops.
“You’re very passionate about studying. Well then, I should return to work. Please take your time browsing…… Your clothes today really suit you.”
I was complimented by an attractive guy… I blushed, but I felt like he forced himself to compliment me. Besides, I was 15 years old, so a 24 year old was like an uncle to me. I couldn’t be happy even if he complimented me. He looks like a nice person but it was probably just noble flattery.
Then I read books until the carriage picked me up; I filled my brain with information about the Royal Capital’s suburbs.
Earl Noir was interested that I, unlike normal noble ladies, was interested in paintings and geographic books.
Earl Noir was popular because he was attractive and had a calm disposition, and had inherited his house. Therefore, he was fed up with woman who were only interested in fashion, beauty and gossip.
The only information about me on the streets was that one line in the noble almanac. I also didn’t show my face in noble society, and rumours of me being an eccentric spread around. However, people had good impressions of me when they actually talked to me (a later story by Earl Noir). Rumours of me being an intelligent woman also spread around the public office. Being interested in paintings and geography might have supported that rumour.
“Let’s tell the Imperial Prince about this.”
Earl Noir was responsible for delivering books to the Royal Palace. At those times, he would tell a single Imperial Prince about information going about the city.
That kind of information wasn’t recorded in the noble almanac. I was unaware that information about me was passed onto His Highness, Ludens.