I’m Not Even an Otome Game Mob Character - Chapter 5
“I have arrived.”
When I opened the front door, Ojou was there with a smug face.
Her Maid Katherine-san, dressed in an overcoat with a hood, was holding an umbrella behind her so she wouldn’t get wet.
“What are you doing Ojou?”
No one would think that a lady would make a surprise visit to a servant’s cottage on a rainy day. Was it not just the Duke but the whole Ernst household who had the habit of making surprise visits? The distance from the mansion at the center of the territory to this cottage which was nearer to the edge made for good exercise. I felt like Ojou’s stamina passed the level of a lady’s because of me.
“You said that you’d be free while it was raining. So I’ve come to teach you letters.”
Apparently it seemed that Ojou’s private tutors wouldn’t come in the rain.
It was a bit odd to talk while standing so I lead the two to the living room. We didn’t have any towels so I gave them two hand towels that had already been washed and dried. Katherine wiped Ojou’s hair and the drops on the hem of her dress before rubbing her own wet parts.
I urged them to sit on the sofa which was small compared to the one in Ojou’s house, but Katherine-san refrained and stood diagonally behind Ojou.
Since that was how her work was I gave up for now and called Ojou again.
“Good job coming here. To think that you would be able to walk all this way. Ojou is amazing.”
It might be strange to praise a lady’s stamina, but I knew that she did her best despite the rain so I unabashedly rubbed her head. When my parents praise me they pat my head, so I end up doing the same.
“…It was no big deal.”
She probably wanted to brag, but her cheeks lit up and her head hung. Her embarrassment was obvious.
“Wait a bit, I’ll make some tea.”
“If it’s tea I should-”
Katherine-san makes an offer in reply without delay.
“Katherine-san is also a guest today so it’s fine.”
I clearly refused and descended to the kitchen on the first floor. On the way, I approached my Dad who was doing maintenance on the tools in their place.
“Dad, I’ll make some tea. Want some?”
I suddenly shoved my face through the door and asked. My Dad gave a small nod as he checked if the cord would untie.
I arrived at the kitchen and boiled some water. Then I took out four mugs.
Should I use the newest leaves?
Our house fundamentally used herbal tea. Mom would make the free herbs we get from work into tea leaves. There’s nothing but handmade tea leaves, so there’s not much I could do but to be wary of the expiration date even if it’s Ojou I’m serving it to.
When I unlidded a jar, the scent of lemongrass wafted out. I stopped the fire from underneath the boiling pot and directly put in an appropriate amount of tea leaves. There are no cooking appliances aside from the bare minimum so I make it like this. I lidded the pot and allowed it to steam for a while, then I strained it through the tea strainer and put it into the mugs.
I put the mugs on a wooden tray and made my way to the second floor after giving one to my Dad. When I opened the door, Ojou was looking around restlessly, but she drew herself back. It’s not as if she was looking for a porn mag or something so she didn’t have to be that surprised. I would’ve been flustered in my previous life though.
“Kept you waiting. I’m not gonna get mad so you can look as much as you want.”
“I am not dewin such a thing…”
It seemed that she meant to say doing. Nevertheless, after getting my consent her interest won and Ojou continued to look around. She’s suitably curious for her age, so maybe she was getting excited for coming to an unfamiliar place.
If I recall correctly, we’ve been serving the Ernst Household since my Great-granddad’s generation, and the Duke of that time built this cottage for us. Maybe my Great-granddad was also tall since the ceiling was high enough for my Dad to not hit his head. Or maybe they made the ceiling high because noble mansions usually have high ceilings.
I didn’t know what was unusual besides the place being small, but it’s wonderful that Ojou seems to be having fun.
I placed a cup in front of her and passed the other cup to Katherine-san as she was standing.
“Thank you very much.”
After making sure that Katherine-san received it, I tried drinking the remaining mug. But I felt eyes on me and stopped.
When I looked up at Katherine-san who seemed to have something to say, she spoke hesitantly.
“Will you not sit down…?”
“If a guest is standing I will not sit.”
I laughed saying that I could drink even like this. Katherine-san knit her eyebrows, troubled. Ojou’s eyes were looking at me from over the back of the couch. She was obviously peevish about being the odd one out.
What will you do about that? When I asked that to Katherine-san, she shamefully sat on a spot next to Ojou which she had been patting. Seeing that, I also sat opposite to them on a one-man sofa. It’s ridiculous to be so formal in a commoner’s house despite the master not minding. It’s more or less within the Duke’s land, but nobody is looking so it’s probably okay.
Ojou started seemed satisfied and started sipping her tea. Katherine-san also brought the mug to her mouth and gave a small sigh as if relieved. If her tension was relieved even a little bit then that would be good.
“This is delicious.”
Katherine-san agreed with the words Ojou muttered had with a soft expression. I’m relieved to have their approval since their palates are refined.
“Thank goodness. Mom would be happy.”
As if taking my words to mind, Ojou frowned.
“…The tea leaves Isaac’s Mother has made are surely good, but the way one brews tea is important.”
She scolded me, asking why I didn’t meekly accept her compliment. I happily smiled at her.
“Although it still doesn’t reach Katherine’s feet.”
“Don’t compare me to a pro-”
I replied to Ojou’s cold, unconcerned look with a bitter smile. After being referred to, Katherine-san continued to drink with a little embarrassment.
After taking a breather, I asked how she’d teach me letters. Since it was raining, she couldn’t bring a book or it would get wet. Katherine-san hadn’t brought one as luggage either.
Ojou unfolded her arms and brought out an unsealed envelope from her sleeve that had white lace peeking out of it.
“Here it is.”
I became more curious about the construction of her dress whose sleeves spread out like that of a kimono. What, was there a pocket in there or something?
Since my gaze didn’t turn to the envelope at all but stayed at where she took it out from, Ojou lost her patience and thrust it in front of me.
“Hurry and open up it.”
I stopped the envelope she presented between my hands and took out the contents from the seal. There were two pieces of stationery folded within. When I unfolded them, there were letters written in handwriting.
The alphabet of Arventroat’s first language. If I recall, its second language is used for the neighboring countries, and there was also a classical language like Latin. The commoners who can speak the second language are the merchants who go to foreign countries and the inhabitants at the border. Usually you can get away with knowing only the first language. The classical language almost isn’t heard aside from hymns so it can be left alone for now.
The first sheet has capital letters while the second sheet has small letters.
“Ojou, your handwriting is pretty.”
My hands are small since I’m seven, but Ojou’s hands are smaller since she’s five. Even though it’s probably hard for her to hold a pen, there are no lines that got stuck. Maybe she also studies penmanship in her practices. I genuinely praised her.
“This is natural to have as a duke’s daughter.”
Obviously, she said with a stuck out chest and slightly reddened cheeks. She seems happy.
Looks like she’ll teach me how to read this alphabet today.
“Then while we’re at it teach me the writing too.”
Ojou was perplexed because she didn’t bring a pen or paper. I asked them to wait a little and went to get something we’d need from the first floor. I prepared a set, got permission from my Dad and returned to the second floor.
I came back with a shallow wooden box packed with something like a stick. Ojou didn’t seem to understand at all, and Katherine-san was also making a curious face.
It was a bit questionable to place it on the table, so I put it aside on the floor. When they checked what was inside, they seemed to grow even more confused. The wide, tray-like box only had dirt spread in it, two sticks and a T-shaped tool. There was dirt in it so I couldn’t place it with tea on the table.
“What will we do with that?”
I took a branch, put it to the dirt and moved it. The trace it made as it sank in formed a line.
Now using the T-shaped tool, if I can use the small rectangle shape at the tip to smooth down the area around the line I’ve just drawn, the dirt becomes flat. It’s essentially the same as scribbling on the dirt. I’m just used to a germination tray and dirt so I’m using them as a substitute.
Ojou was speechlessly surprised as if she had just seen something revolutionary. Katherine-san nodded in comprehension.
I didn’t do anything great though…
This shouldn’t be worth such a reaction. But is it so surprising for people who haven’t thought of it? What’s this called, Columbus’ egg? A revelation? I just demonstrated it since it would be faster to show, but it felt as if I had unveiled an artwork, and I felt like running away.
“Isaac… are you actually smart?”
“What do you mean actually? I mean, this is just a commoner’s intuition.”
It all comes down to what you have.
Ojou is used to stone pavings, marble floors and groomed lawns. Dirt wasn’t a candidate for her to begin with. On the contrary, my neighborhood has dirt and gravel roads. You could look for a white, chalk-like rock with which you could write. Surely Ojou has never played Hopscotch before.
Even though she could come to my house to play…
If Ojou would play with me and the brats from the neighborhood she’d surely have fun. I can think of many games she’d probably enjoy, but I can’t ask her.
Since I can’t guarantee her safety as a child.
For a lady to go to an underlying part of the city with poor living standards, a guard is absolutely necessary. She’s cute, and her pale golden hair as well as her light blue eyes stands out. Even if she doesn’t reveal her status she could still get kidnapped.
How nice would it be if I could say something cool like, it’s okay because I’m here. I want to show off like that even though I have no basis for it. But my memories from the previous life barely stop me from doing so. I wouldn’t be able to dismiss the possibility of her disappearing even if we were in peaceful Japan.
It’s this difficult just to let Ojou have fun as a child should.
I’m a bit frustrated at my own powerlessness.
“Is something wrong?”
Ojou tilted her head at me since I became strangely silent. I smiled thoughtlessly and deceived myself.
“For now, I could try writing while looking at the copybook.”
I asked Ojou how to read while repeatedly writing and erasing, letter by letter.
After I started writing she immediately pointed out.
“The order of strokes is wrong!”
She said that I would remember more if I used my voice. So when I read the characters,
“The pronunciation is wrong! For that pronunciation, the tongue must be…”
She pointed something out again. Though you could also call it advice.
“Make that more round…”
“Huh!? So-Someone is taking the trouble to…!”
I said it as a joke, but Ojou blushed in anger.
Oh no. At this rate she’ll cry. Or real thunder will fall.
“Sorry! I’m dumb so I won’t get it just from you telling me. Ojou, write with me.”
I would write while looking at hers, so I gave her the other stick. Ojou puffed out her cheeks and glared at me for a little while as if to refuse, but after that she took the branch and crouched next to me.
“You really are an idiot.”
“Yes. Thank goodness that the smart Ojou is here.”
I foolishly laughed while being treated as a hopeless case. I really am dumb, aren’t I.
We quarreled with, it’s like this or, it’s like that. Rather than studying it was fun as if we were playing. Ojou herself seemed to enjoy the feeling of writing on dirt. Her eyes were sparkling.
Once I got a passing mark from Ojou and more or less became able to write, the only thing left was repeated practice until I got used to it. So I brewed more tea for the two and practiced on my own.
Ojou stared at me while drinking her tea. Her eyelids seemed to be dropping but she was doing her best to consciously lift them up. Looks like she was nodding off. What filled the room was only the intermittent noise of scraping on dirt and the drizzling of the rain outside. The depressing noise of rain that should have soiled the mood sounded comfortable.
“Ojou, you can sleep.”
I’ll wake you up when it’s time to go, I said while practicing my letters. Ojou gently shook her head in refusal.
“I, the teacher, cannot, sleep…”
She put on a display of her will, but didn’t show any sign of resistance when Katherine-san gently took away her mug. Her eyelids shut completely together with the clunk when Katherine-san placed the mug on the table.
Then, when Katherine-san changed her position on the sofa, Ojou leaned on her. After seeming a little troubled, Katherine-san guided Ojou’s head onto her lap so she could sleep well. Once, Ojou seemed to be stirring awake so Katherine-san worried, but she calmed down after hearing her healthy sleeping breath after a few beats.
Her small figure rolled into a ball looked like a cat.
I smiled and Katherine-san giggled at the same time. We met eyes and laughed under our breaths.
While being careful not to wake Ojou, I returned to my letter practice.
After a while, Katherine-san’s voice came in a whispering volume.
It was louder than the rain so it reached my ears without a problem. I replied with about the same loudness.
“Thank you very much for that time.”
I understood what she meant by that time.
“No, if you’d gotten unlucky it might have worsened your position all the more. I’m sorry for not thinking.”
“No… I was scared so I could not even explain myself. So for someone I had never seen or known like you to admonish Lydia-sama, I’m very happy…”
Though I was surprised by your words, Katherine-san said as she covered her laughing mouth with her hand.
“I ate my Dad’s fist you know.”
I gave a bitter smile saying that it hurt a lot. Katherine-san seemed to have remembered. She laughed even harder, and her shoulders shook.
It’s good that she’s able to laugh about that incident.
Katherine-san apologized to me after laughing for some time and started to whisper.
“…Unlike my sisters, my appearance is not pleasant, so my Father is troubled even with finding a husband for me… unlike my Big Brother, I cannot inherit the house… if I had lost my work at that time, it would have been troublesome for my house.”
Katherine-san deprecated herself.
Ojou has told me before, but it seemed that Katherine-san’s Lehar House is a baron’s house. In other words, they don’t have territory. So it’s normal for them to let the children who won’t inherit the title leave the house. The daughters would become brides or work for higher ranking nobles. For personal connections a political marriage is ideal, but it seemed that just because Katherine-san had freckles her Father gave up on her, and so she chose to work.
I think that’s a cruel Dad, but it’s not rare for children to be used as tools in the world of nobility. That can also be seen from how Katherine-san did not doubt her treatment.
This is purely hypothetical, but I wonder what would have happened to her if she was fired at that time. Being fired from a Duke’s house would have affected her resume, preventing her from finding another job. It’s not as if she could join the common folk either, so she would have had to get picked up by a monastery. I’m not sure what the kind Duke would have done, but taking into account Katherine-san’s personality, she might have left on her own.
I’ve heard that Katherine-san is five years older than Ojou. To think that she had to worry herself with choosing between marriage, work or becoming a sister at that age, nobles have it rough.
“…So, to be able to serve Lydia-sama now, I’m happy.”
With the girl on her lap reflected in them, she narrowed her jade green eyes gently. Bordered by her black hair, it was as if a flower had bloomed.
She softly stroked her pale golden hair as if it were fragile. The two looked completely different, but they seemed like sisters.
The result of Ojou doing her best to change was right before my eyes.
That incident on its own might have been a bad incident, but for these two it became a necessary push.
I didn’t do anything, but I’m glad that I could see the result of these two doing their best to get closer to each other.
“It’s like a daisy.”
“This is the first time I’ve seen Katherine-san laugh. When you do, it’s like a daisy has bloomed.”
It’s a common flower with many breeds, but whenever it blooms it does so with a kind color that brings peace to one’s heart.
“To say that nobody would take you as a bride, neither you nor your Dad have a good eye.”
She’d probably be popular for her healing feeling. In the previous world, many women were becoming carnivorous, and us men were scared at how hungry they seemed. In that period, it was no exaggeration to say that the Yamato Nadeshiko archetype was being destroyed. The mental strength of men had become so weak that I felt that it couldn’t be helped that many were running to 2D.
(TN: Carnivorous as in takes the initiative, aggressive in relationships. Yamato Nadeshikos are known for being quiet, reserved, gentle and patient.)
She’d be quite in-demand in Japan. Surely there are also many men here who want to get a healing feeling.
Not true, Katherine-san said with a gradually vanishing voice. I told her in such a way that she’d understand that I truly felt that way, but Katherine-san hung her head and whispered a denial weaker than even the sound of rain. I didn’t catch what she said, but it seemed that she thought I was being polite.
I wonder if this sort of thing is called being reserved. I hadn’t ever seen a woman react like this in my previous life, so I finally understood the importance of words. Though I was only messing around in my previous life so of course no one showed me such a thing.
It seemed that Katherine-san didn’t feel like talking any more than that, so I returned to my letter practice. When I looked from time to time, Katherine-san was stroking her hair as if it felt pleasant, and Ojou was sleeping as if she was feeling good. A quiet time passed.
“She’s sleeping well.”
I finished my practice thinking that we had to wake her up soon, but seeing her smile in her sleep, I somehow couldn’t bring myself to wake her up.
“She stayed up later than usual last night…”
I tilted my head towards Katherine-san as she gave a wry smile, saying that it couldn’t be helped. Why did she stay up late? Even though sleep is life for children. I myself sleep like my battery runs out after I eat and have a bath.
Katherine-san felt my confusion and told me with her eyes. Her gaze stopped at the statoinery in my hand.
“She couldn’t give up until she was satisfied.”
The alphabet was written beautifully. It would be a miracle for the small Ojou to right this all without making even a single mistake. I don’t need to see it to imagine Ojou desperately doing her best to write it prettily.
She did her best.
“I’ll treasure it.”
I smiled happily. Let’s make it a precious treasure.
But after learning it’s my fault, it’s become even harder to wake her up. What should I do? As I was hesitating about waking her up, a voice called from behind me.
When I asked my Dad what was wrong, he looked outside the window. The sun is already going down so is it alright not to go back, is probably what he meant. Yeah, I know that too.
When he did, Ojou sat up sleepily before we woke her up.
“Good morning, Ojou.”
“Good morning… Zac…?”
As she rubbed her eyelids half-asleep, Ojou asked me about the sound she wasn’t used to hearing.
I wonder who it came from. I think my quiet Father probably said it first. When I noticed I was Zac for my parents and our neighborhood.
Ojou repeated it as if she was checking.
“Ojou can also call me that.”
I came near Ojou, squatted, met her eyes from below and nodded. And she smiled broadly like a flower that had just bloomed.
Is what I thought, but she awakened and stiffened her expression. Then she shook her head vigorously.
“No, that’s not it…!!”
It seemed that I had made some sort of mistake, but I didn’t know what it was. Was there anything strange about our exchange just now?
Though I was a bit surprised by her smile just now.
I don’t really get it, but after being flustered for a while Ojou noticed Katherine-san and my Dad, and her composure returned.
She greeted my Dad and approached to thank him for allowing her in, but the difference in their bodies was like a bear and the Little Red Riding Hood. It can’t be helped that Ojou’s shoulders jumped just a little after seeing my Dad in front of her. Looking up from the perspective of a child, he wasn’t unintimidating. Aside from me, all the kids at our neighborhood would see my Dad and start crying, as if it were some rite of passage. My Dad’s not a namahage, though.
(TN: Namahage are ogre-like demon figures used to frighten badly behaved children, depicted by men wearing big ogre masks and traditional straw capes at New Year.)
For now, I’ll commend Ojou. Maybe it’s because she’s a Duke’s Daughter, but she was only a little surprised. My Dad didn’t want to scare her, so he knelt and brought his eyes closer to hers.
“Ojou-sama, I am truly sorry for the trouble my son brings.”
Eh, do I bring her trouble?
That’s unthinkable, I told Dad with my eyes, but he ignored me. I feel like my Dad favours the Ernst Family more than his son. I know they’re our employers, but still. Dad is probably paying respect. I don’t have a feel for it yet.
Ah, but I made Ojou push herself today so maybe I did bother her. Dad’s statement wasn’t so mistaken.
“This much is insignificant.”
Ojou-sama looked composed.
You were so tired that you slept until just now. I won’t say that. If I did at this timing, I would probably eat the wrath of both my Dad and Ojou.
I tried seeing them off until the mansion, but Ojou refused me saying that it’s okay because Katherine-san was with her. I at least saw them off the front door.
“Then excuse us.”
Katherine-san bowed in sync to Ojou’s words.
“Yeah. Watch your feet-”
I waved my hand back and forth.
Before Ojou turned heel, I called to her.
“Ojou, thanks for this.”
I raised the envelope with stationery in it and thanked her. Then she turned heel immediately.
“I shall not forgive you if you treat it crudely. Zac.”
I smiled wryly at only receiving her voice. Even though I’ll obviously take care of it. She has no trust.
I saw them off until the shadow of their umbrella disappeared into the rain.
She hid herself under the umbrella immediately so it might be my imagination, but I felt as if Ojou’s ears were a bit red.