80: Cleaning Spree
I’m here. Sabaleel. I rode the carriage to Sabaleel every day, so I got along well with the uncle coachman, enough so that we started exchanging greetings.
I was a bit cleaner today.
Yesterday, I met Marietta-san and Harmie-san by chance when I came back to the government residence.
“What’s with your appearance? Why are you so dusty?! You’re too dirty,” they made a considerable fuss just like I thought they would and so I decided to clean my body with the large amount of hot water that I’d prepared. I couldn’t say that I wouldn’t be able to work if I’m too clean. I only avoided using fragrant soap and cleaned myself to a level that would be okay with girls of marriageable age. People in that area didn’t have the lingering scent of soap on them.
If I let my maiden pride talk, then even I wanted to be clean yesterday. I was so aware that I was dirty by Way’s side that it was painful.
So, I am cleaner than I was yesterday. After I left the government residence, I only put my hand to the ground and smeared it on my body.
I couldn’t let my guard down in Sabaleel, no matter how much Way protected me. Making sure that I didn’t have any money and goods was a way to protect myself. I don’t think I look like a wealthy lady.
I was the first to arrive at the meeting place, so I wandered around a little.
A lot of people have already started their day because a lot of servants lived in this district. A lot of people have already gone to the other districts to work.
(Nobles start their mornings late. Is it common for commoners to work at this time?)
The only people left in this area were ones who didn’t work or those who helped the people in the area.
“Hey, Onee-chan. Way-san.”
We’re all here. Huh, I was the only one who he called onee-san.
Now then, what are we doing?
The place that Way took us to was the burnt abandoned house. We picked up scraps of food and liquor bottles from the room that remained. He said, “The public order would get worse if we leave it dirty.” We went around places like this and cleaned them up while helping the people who we saw along the way.
(In short, this means he has time and money, huh.)
I can admire having dirty clothes and hands. But, if you are a person pursuing your livelihood, then you wouldn’t involve yourself in a place that has nothing to do with you. You won’t have the time.
After that, we unclogged the gutter and picked weeds in a vacant lot, well, I worked hard for the town. Kicker lamented, “I didn’t sign up for this.” Yup, I understand that feeling. Next time, I’ll even tell Roberto-sama that they have to put in more work to clean up the Royal Capital.
We went to Samansuki from Sabaleel while cleaning and had a late lunch.
We headed to a shop that was intended for dirty workers and had white noodles made from flour and really salty soup. I was surprised that Way knew a shop like this.
“Way, even though you don’t look like one, you’re a commoner, aren’t you? No, even amongst commoners, you’re really devoted to this town. I really admire you. You also know a lot about this town.”
“If you’re going to say that then Aisha, you don’t look like a commoner at all, and you look as if you’re some Ojou-sama.”
“Ah, that. I think so too.”
I was being doubted when I was the one who was supposed to be finding out more about him. “Is that so? Ahahaha…” I could only brush it off with a laugh.
“Do you know that everyone calls you a kind hottie?”
“Yes. I also hear a lot about the fortune maiden lately. Is she perhaps… You?”
Why has it come to this? Dammit, this is bad. My, face, is it twitching?
“Maiden? Maiden and Onee-chan are different, right?”
I have to get to know him more, I’m getting my priorities mixed up. “I’m maiden enough, aren’t I? Ahahaha…” I once again brushed it off with a laugh.
The noodle soup was a treat from Way. Thanks for the meal.
We cleaned in Samansuki district again in the afternoon. We picked up trash, cleaned the roadside of someone’s vomit and plucked out the weeds. Sweat was flowing out.
Way knew a lot about these things, but it was strange how no one can find out where he was from and what his name was. Because there were a lot of people, who said, “Thank you very much for doing this,” to him. Fortunately, only a few people made fun of us. I wonder if it’s because I’m with Way, who is a man.
A tired body wants something sweet. I, who was used to eating sweets in the Royal Capital’s Public Order Consolation Room, wanted sweets. I found a dry fruits store when I was loitering around. It suits being in a place like this. Dried fruits are something I learnt about in books. Apparently, they’re really sweet… I bought pineapple, a yellow fruit found in the southern kingdoms.
The three of us ate small pieces of it as a snack.
“What is this? It’s really sweet. This is the first time I’ve eaten it. Yummy.”
Kicker was skipping in excitement today as well. I wonder if, with this, our work for today has been rewarded.
Mm, it’s so sweet that it’s going through my teeth. It was worth exerting myself. I feel like my tiredness has flown away.
I met Way’s eyes, and the two of us smiled. I’m sure he’s not a bad person.
We did this for three days in a row and went around the Royal Capital. Basically, we were cleaning. Sometimes, we helped people by showing them the way and carrying their luggage. Lately, I haven’t been to the Royal Palace. I only went to the government residence and the dining hall.
We worked really hard while sweating.
Next, to me, Way worked really hard as if it was something normal and Kicker did his best (for the sake of sweets).
“Puu, I can’t believe you guys are still doing this. This is my first time going around everywhere too.”
(So he does have other work.)
“Any time now, oh yes. Why don’t we go over there?”
Way cheerfully walked ahead of us. I followed after him, and Kicker was gripping the hem of my apron.
“Hey, Onee-chan, are we going over there? Mum said I can’t go near the river…” He said in a tiny voice so that only I could hear him.
I spread the map I saw in the library in my mind. That place was blackened out, wasn’t it?
“You can go home if you don’t want to come. But, it looks like Way knows that place well. So it’ll… probably be fine if Way’s with us.”
Kicker was worried for a bit and replied, “If Onee-chan is going, then I am too.”
The houses on both sides of the streets gradually got shabbier. The infrastructure seemed to be barely functioning. I became anxious at carrying on ahead.
Way stopped at the side of the river, which wasn’t clean. The river has a small crumbling stone bridge on it. He looked back at us.
“From here on, is the slum called Most Dark. Are you prepared to come with me? Don’t worry, I’ll protect you two.”
Somehow, I can see a shadow over his gentle smile. But, it didn’t look like a wicked smile. It seemed a bit lonely or as if he didn’t expect anything from our replies. It was a deprecating smile.
He was definitely someone tied to the slums. There were no lies in the serious way he had said, “Protect.”
I grasped Kicker’s hand.
“Way, you’re inviting us, aren’t you? I’m excited because I’ve never been here before,” I replied to Way with my best smile.
I was pretending to be tough even at times like this. If I was a mere noble lady, then I would skilfully refuse. As for me, I don’t have that charm.
Ah, I remembered Dick-san’s instructions of ‘run away when they flinch’. That’s right. I can just run away if things get dangerous.
We crossed the stone bridge and went into Most Dark.