Chapter 9 – Margaret

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While I was working as a nanny at the clinic and weeding the house, the moon was changing and the days were getting longer.
The blueberries planted on the side of the backyard were bearing fruits earlier than any other trees in the village, probably because of the sunshine or the soil.

I picked up a basket of early tomatoes, zucchini, and other so-called summer vegetables that looked good, and thought about tonight’s menu… Caponata, ratatouille, or even pasta… I wondered what Lady Adelaide would like me to make.

Finally, today, a visitor was coming from the capital.
Rather, they should have arrived at the village by now.

In fact, this village called Meissery was the domain of Count Dustin, the family of Lady Adelaide.
If you thought about it, that was true.
A Count was, in essence, a nobleman.
In Japan, it was a feudal lord.
I didn’t know anyone who knew the lord, so I was careless.

So, after Lady Adelaide’s husband died, his son Walter took over the title, and he became the lord… I would call him Lord at least, no matter how bad a boy he was.
I was a worker, too.
Politeness and social etiquette were important, right? Fufu.

The Dustin family had other territories.
Since this one was smaller in size and population, they usually left it entirely to the village chief.
So, the lord was coming for the first time in a long time, and he was going to be at Lady Adelaide’s mansion after working with the village chief on this and that in the village.
I was told that the two of them would arrive around early evening.

Wasn’t the “invitation” the main thing?! I was going to ignore that because I had nothing else to say… No, it wouldn’t just be anything.
It would be mainly about money.
I was currently in the care of Lady Adelaide, but my living expenses were paid by the government.

What do I mean by that? The owner of the village was Count Dustin, but this mansion and the surrounding land belonged to Lady Adelaide personally.
Incidentally, Lady Adelaide lived off of her personal trust fund, not the Count’s budget.
I’d moved in there, but I’d heard that it was the government’s duty to support the lives of orisons and I was being taken care of by the government.

In other words, I was currently being fed by the taxes of this country and by Lady Adelaide.

I was grateful that the jobless me was sent here with a place to live, but as a person who had been working all my life, I felt kind of bad about it.
I didn’t care if it was when I was older, but I was still young.
I wanted to get well as soon as possible and became independent.

Looking up through my straw hat at the sun that had risen so high… The sky was getting bluer and bluer every day.
The same sky color I knew.
I knew the wind was the same.
But I didn’t know the place.
I didn’t know the air.

The sunshine reminded me that summer was near, but the breeze was refreshing and comfortable.
If I didn’t move, a thin long sleeve was just right.

I was looking up at the sky when Buddy, who was close by unknowingly, tugged on my skirt.
Maybe it was because he was in the forest earlier.
He’d been carrying fairies on his back and tail… There were a lot of them today.
Hee, fuu… There were seven.
Oh, what? You were tipping your head back.
Petting and petting.
Yeah, they were cute.

I hurriedly got out of the rows of the field, put down the basket of vegetables, and patted them with a fusha fusha sound.
Today’s kids were very playful, riding on my shoulders and hanging on the edge of my hat.
Oh, hey, hey, not in my clothes! Hya! That tickled! There, my neck! Hey, buddy! Help me! My hat fell off! I couldn’t bear it anymore!

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“Wow, I’ve never seen that before.
This is the ‘fairy eggs’, right? Oh, they’re gone.
Did you see, Walter?”

“…Aah.”

Who?

Who, which was, the only two men in this village whose faces I didn’t know were today’s guests! I mean, isn’t it early? They were coming in the evening, it was still early afternoon.
So, why did they turn up in the backyard!? And don’t just stand behind me! My clothes were all over the place right now!

“Oh, I’m sorry, Miss ‘Orison’, I didn’t mean to startle you.
Can you stand?”

Yes, I was surprised, you long-haired red-head.
Of course I wouldn’t hesitate to ask for help, I couldn’t fix my clothes unless I stood up.
Yes, thank you.
Don’t smile! Just turn around!

I asked them to turn around with my fingertips, brushed the dirt off my clothes and adjusted my bust, which had been messed up by the fairies.
My hair… It was no use, I quickly hand-combed my disheveled half-updo, took a breather for now, and I asked Buddy to tell them that I was done.

“I’m sorry.
I’m Hugh Townsend of the Academy of Magic, beautiful Miss ‘Orison’.
I’ll see you around.”

Wow, flashy.
The gentlemanly red-haired man bent his arms in front of his chest and made a deliberate, beautiful bow.
He wore the usual black robe over his shoulders, as if he was a magician.
Yeah, it was easy to understand.
I wondered if he had a wand.

He was a little surprised when I returned the bow that I had learned from Lady Adelaide, smiling nonchalantly, as if I hadn’t been harassed earlier.
I’d been complimented on my bowing, and even though I had a distinct style, I hadn’t bowed for eight years in a department store.

“You’re so unexpected… Hmmm, I think we’d hit it off.”

Why? There was no sarcasm in his voice as he laughed in amusement, and I didn’t feel any malice, though it was light.

“Ah, come on, Walter, say hello.”

“…Walter Dustin.”

Wow, I couldn’t really see his face because he was behind me, but this guy was huge! And yet, it was so powerful! Oh, this is Lady Adelaide’s son…? Ehhhhh!?

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It was funny.
In the old photo above the fireplace in the living room, he looked a little more like Lady Adelaide.
When I stepped closer, I couldn’t see any similarities other than the color of their eyes.

The slightly habitual brunette looked soft, but the pale black eyes were tough.
You didn’t have to stare so hard.
Was I that suspicious? They didn’t seem to be the same color as Lady Adelaide’s gentle eyes.

This intimidation and stoutness.
If I hadn’t heard that he was an assistant prime minister, I would have definitely mistaken him for a military man.
What did I mean? I could tell from the aristocrat’s clothes that he’d got good muscles.
Not macho, but… lumpy.

I was somewhat annoyed when he looked at me as if inspecting, so I asked him to give me his hand with a careful sales smile.
The hand that was held out to me quizzically was so big and thick… Was this sword callus? Why not pen and paper’s? He was a soldier, wasn’t he? At least it was not the hands of a civilian.
What did an assistant prime minister do? Fighting?

I wrote a few words on his palm, and instead of replying, he got more wrinkles on his brow, so I gave him a better smile.
Fufun, did you have any idea how many years I’d been dealing with ‘troubling customers’? My sales smile, which I trained to be anywhere, anytime, to anyone, was still intact.

Grabbing the veggies and hat that I left downstairs, come on, Buddy.
Let’s go home.

“Eh, what’s that〜? What’s the matter with the young lady?”

“… Shut up.”

“He’s just being pushy again.
Hey, young lady, what did you write?”

Just a quick check.
‘Do you like cookies?’ Something like that.

“Welcome home, Margaret.
Did you have a good outing?”

As usual, I knocked three times from the kitchen door, and Lady Adelaide, who was kneading bread dough with her back to me, spoke to me without looking up.

I approached her to show her the vegetables I had picked and kissed her lightly on the cheek, and she looked up and rolled her eyes before she finally noticed her visitor.
Even so.

“…Well…”

“Please forgive our rudeness in coming to you so suddenly from such a place.
I’m Hugh Townsend, a magician from the Academy of Magic.
We’ll be here for a while.”

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“I’m Adelaide Dustin.
Welcome… And Walter too.”

“It’s been a while.”

What was that? His monotone, one-note greeting was worse than the one he gave me when he introduced himself.
Hugh stood beside me, saying ‘Good grief’.
He was playful, but he had normal senses, this one…But he was close.
It was hard to move when he was standing shoulder-to-shoulder away from me.

When I looked up at Hugh’s face to ask him to move away a little, I saw his green eyes looking down at me with an amused smile… Oh my god, the color of his eyes was really like emerald.
Wow, I’d never seen such a beautiful thing before.
As I recalled, they were pretty rare, I thought I heard they were less common than Blue Eyes.
I didn’t know if that was the case here.

“Miss, it’s really embarrassing to be stared at so closely.”

Oh, excuse me.
I ignored personal space because I wanted to get a better look.
What was it with people who stared at others but weren’t used to being stared at them?

“Ah, your eyesight is not so good, is it? How is it, are you satisfied?”

No, it was beautiful.
I just wanted to look at it some more… So, why was he embarrassed? He talked like he was used to it, yet he blushed so easily, his words and actions were so mismatched.
Was he actually a pure man?

“By the way, I heard you were coming here in the evening, is there a problem…?”

“Ah, no, not really.
We thought we’d at least say hello first.
We’ll go to the village chief after we put down our luggage.
Right, Walter?”

“… You decided that on your own.
I didn’t know.”

Ah, I got his longest response of the day.

At first, I asked them to bring me the luggage left in the front yard and showed them to the guest room on the second floor.

“Oh, so this is what it looks like inside.
It’s old, but you keep it clean.
It’s been well taken care of, and it looks like a nice place to live.”

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Well, you were from this village, weren’t you, Hugh?

“Yeah, that’s why they sent me.
My family moved to the capital when I was fourteen, so it’s been, what, fifteen years? Maybe more.
I visited them when I came over, but there are still quite a few familiar faces here.”

Well, it was a rural area, and the hometown still had a lot of his classmates.

“When was the last time Walter was here? Was it around the end of the year vacations?”

“…No.
I only stopped by for half a day once or twice as a child, eight years ago.”

My, what a waste.
The forest in the back looked like a good place for children to play.
You knew I’d never been here before, Lady Adelaide, and you leave me all alone with this big son of yours.

I was told that they could unpack by themselves, so I just showed them around and went back to the kitchen to stand beside Lady Adelaide and started rolling out the bread with her.

“Did they come directly to the backyard?”

‘Yes, I thought this had sprung up.
I was so surprised.’ I nodded my head and answered.

“I thought it would be a little later… But it was better than waiting and hoping for the best.”

That might be true.
The nervousness I had been feeling for the past few days was gone from Lady Adelaide, who seemed to have relaxed because the reunion, which would have been the most stressful, was so easy.
Now, I hoped we could have a pleasant talk together… I’d like to think that person’s attitude was because of my presence, a stranger.

“Isn’t that child unsociable? Weren’t you scared?”

I shook my head and denied Lady Adelaide’s question.
Although his expression was strong and the wrinkles between his eyebrows were the default, I didn’t find it scary because I didn’t feel any malice or harm.
I mean, I thought I was being intimidated, but was that normal mode? Lady Adelaide smiled at me as I wondered.

“… I felt he soften a little.
Isn’t that why you’re here, Margaret?”

Seriously! With that? … W-well, I guess it was okay, because Dr.
Daniel and Mark would be here in the evening and we would all have dinner together.

When we had finished rolling up the bread and covered it with cloth, they left, saying that they would go to the village then.

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