The man known as Dor François
※From Misha Yule’s perspective.
“Why must I, of all people…”
The heiress of House François, Claire-sama, muttered such with a sour expression, evidently dreading her current situation.
In stark contrast to that expression, the way her trademark drills swayed as she walked and how she carried herself was undeniably dignified.
And there, walking by her side was my closest friend.
“A job is a job.”
“I understand that, but why do I have to go out of my way to do something that just about anyone―”
“Even though you may be Claire-sama, you’ve only just enlisted in the Order.
Isn’t it obvious that they’d only let us take care of the odds and ends?”
Rei spoke teasingly.
I couldn’t believe that she was able to speak so openly to someone of Claire-sama’s stature, it terrified me just thinking about it.
We were at the capital’s marketplace running an errand for the Order of the Academy.
Lively voices could be heard echoing throughout the crowded area.
“We wouldn’t want to get separated in such a large crowd.
Would you like to hold hands?”
“Oh, so you’re fine with it? Alright then, here.”
“That was a N O!”
When I watched those two, it almost felt as though the societal boundaries between nobles and commoners didn’t exist… And I couldn’t help but feel a little jealous.
“They really get along well, don’t they…”
“Yes, they truly do.”
When I said that to Lene, she wore a bright smile and nodded.
While I intended to help carry the bags, it was likely that she would be carrying most of them.
She simply had the better physique for it.
Rei didn’t have much physical strength, and Claire-sama… no, in Claire-sama’s case it was moreso a matter of her social status, than her physique.
“So? What will we be buying?”
“Uhm, so it was ten pieces of parchment, twenty pieces of papyrus, two bottles of ink, a paint set, a bunch of leather straps, as well as tea leaves and sweets to go along with them.
Yeah, I think that was about it.”
“So primarily office supplies then.”
“Yup, that is the bulk of the Order’s work after all!”
Just as Rei said, though we were called the Order of the Academy, we were effectively just an autonomous student body.
It was only natural that the majority of our tasks would be school related paperwork.
It was precisely because we took care of these simple tasks that the majority of the students could experience a vibrant academy life.
I personally didn’t mind this.
Unfortunately, Claire-sama made it clear that she felt differently.
“The only part that I can enjoy is buying sweets…”
I offered a verbal nod.
Perhaps aware of the meaning of the word, “sweets”, Relaire hopped with joy atop Rei’s head.
“Let’s pick up the latest sweets from Blume.”
“We can’t, Claire-sama.”
I had no choice but to shake my head.
“Blume’s sweets are far too expensive.
If you’d still like to make the purchase, then please go ahead and do so with your own money.”
“Lene, how much do we have with us today?”
“We weren’t expecting to do any personal shopping, so only around 100,000 gold.”
“We really won’t be able to purchase much, will we…”
To a commoner like myself, that amount was enough to make my eyes pop out, but to Claire-sama, it was insignificant.
Moments like this in particular really made me aware of the gap.
Not that I felt particularly jealous at this exact moment.
“Let’s focus on our task at hand, okay? We’ll go shopping for sweets again another day.”
“Fine, I’ll just have to settle for that.”
After Claire-sama shrugged her shoulders in reluctance, it seemed something at the side of the road caught her attention, causing her brows to furrow.
When I looked in the direction that Claire-sama faced, I saw two children clothed in dirty rags begging on the streets.
One of them even had bandages wrapped around one of their legs.
“Ever since war with the Empire broke out, the amount of beggars has increased…”
“The cost of living has gone up too…”
Most of those who were out on the streets begging were women or children.
That was simply because they had an easier time attracting others’ sympathy.
It was difficult to tell whether or not the child’s leg truly was injured, or if the bandage was yet another tactic.
In the end, beggars needed to do whatever they could to have a better chance at survival.
“It’s true that the cost of living has increased, but haven’t wages also increased in response?”
“The wage increases can’t keep up.
Once wages are increased, it’s difficult to later decrease them, so the employers tend to keep any increases conservative.”
Lene gave a thorough response to Claire-sama’s question.
“Then isn’t all this the fault of their employers?”
“They’re commoners too, so it’s not as though they’re living comfortably either.”
After another round of question and answer, Claire-sama wore a troubled expression.
It was a little harsh to put it this way, but Claire-sama knew far too little about the commoners.
No, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that she had been steeped too deeply in her education as a noble.
In order to prepare the future leaders of the kingdom, the education system exaggerated the commoner’s foolishness to their extremes, and Claire-sama had accepted that as her truth.
It appeared that she herself was fine with that, but if she didn’t somehow change, one day, those very beliefs that formed her foundation would surely be swept out from underneath her.
―Just like what had happened to my own household, House Yule.
Suddenly a voice that I didn’t recognize called out to Claire-sama.
“Ah, head maid, quite the coincidence.”
It seemed that the voice belonged to House François’ head maid.
As both Rei and Lene proceeded to naturally exchange their greetings, it appeared that I was the only one who hadn’t met her.
I bowed my head regardless.
“The master and I were out at the markets.
When he saw you, Claire-sama, he asked me to call you over.”
“My father did?”
I could feel my spine stretching to correct my posture.
Claire-sama’s father, Dor François-sama, was known as a noble among nobles, one of the Bauer Kingdom’s most capable individuals.
My father idolized Dor-sama, and I, who grew up listening about his many achievements, had come to admire him as well.
Such an individual was somewhere in our immediate vicinity…?
“We’re in the middle of an errand.”
“Yes, I thought that may be the case, but the master insisted.”
“Then I suppose it can’t be helped… Everyone, we’ll be taking a short detour.”
She was being called by one of the most influential nobles in the entire kingdom.
There was no way that she could simply refuse him.
We followed the head maid to the main street and found a carriage parked at the side of the road.
It was visibly more luxurious than any of the others in the vicinity… So this was the House François’ personal carriage.
“Hello Claire, ah, you’re with your friends from school.
Greetings to the rest of you as well, I ask that you excuse me for speaking from the carriage.”
A handsome man in a frock coat opened the carriage door.
With blonde hair and a face that resembled Claire-sama’s own, there was no mistaking it, Dor-sama was right in front of me.
I was so nervous that I couldn’t hold back the sweat now covering my palms.
Rei didn’t seem nervous at all, but Relaire, who sat on her head, did appear a little stiff.
“Good day, father.
Is something the matter? I am currently out to purchase supplies for the Order of the Academy.”
“Mm? It’s nothing urgent.
I simply saw you among the crowds and sent for you, is there any reason that I shouldn’t have?”
“Father… despite what you may think, I’m busy.”
“Be that as it may, I don’t believe any of your tasks should take a higher priority than myself.”
Dor-sama tilted his head as though he had just spoken the obvious.
For nobles, it was more or less natural for them to interpret the world around them in a self-centered way, but was the Dor-sama I heard so much about from my father really that sort? Something about this felt off to me.
“If you’re headed toward the shops, come, I’ll give you a ride.
The commoners too, I’ll give you special permission this once.”
“Our destination isn’t anywhere close to the nobles district though?”
“It’s fine every now and again.
Though I’d rather not, taking a proper look at the commoner’s lifestyle is yet another duty for us nobles.”
To think that I’d receive the chance to share the same carriage as Dor-sama! Even as my nerves seized up causing my body to stiffen, I felt grateful that I was lucky enough to receive a close-up view of the noble I so admired.
The carriage, pulled by three horses, was large enough that the five of us could ride in it without any discomfort.
Perhaps to be expected of the House François carriage, the ride itself was also surprisingly smooth.
For a while, no one talked.
My own situation aside, it appeared Lene too was quite nervous.
To avoid the awkwardness that began to settle, I looked out of the window to find a group of commoners raising their voices within the crowds.
“The nobles are just exploiting us commoners!”
“They won’t do anything to support us in our poverty!”
“In that case, what choice do we commoners have left but to stand for ourselves!”
I had no doubts that these people represented the commoner’s movement.
When I looked, I found Claire-sama with a scowl while Dor-sama simply paid them no heed.
“How have things been at the academy Claire?”
The one to break the silence was Dor-sama.
Perhaps happy to have the opportunity to catch up with his daughter who he hadn’t seen much since she began her lifestyle at the dorms, he appeared to be in a very good mood.
“It’s not as though anything out of the ordinary has happened.
Though the commoner’s movement or whatever has been slightly troublesome.”
Claire-sama gave a curt response.
Perhaps at our age, all girls felt that their own fathers were a nuisance.
Even if that father may be someone as upstanding as Dor-sama.
“The commoner’s movement… A motion started by foolish commoners who have gravely misunderstood His Majesty’s intentions in implementing policies favoring a meritocracy.
I opposed the policies precisely because I knew that this would happen, but…”
Dor-sama massaged his temple as though to say, “Good Grief”.
It was said that Dor-sama stood at the forefront of the movement opposing the aforementioned policies, so it stood to reason that he did not look positively on the commoner’s movement which, in many ways, was born as a direct result.
“What are your thoughts on it, Rei Taylor?”
That same Dor-sama suddenly directed his attention to Rei, causing Claire-sama to open her eyes wide in surprise.
“Father, what suddenly brought that on? Not to mention the fact that you’ve remembered a mere commoner’s name, to think that you’d go on to directly address her!”
It appeared that even Claire-sama, who should have known Dor-sama the best out of all of us, was surprised by his actions.
“What, it’s nothing but a whim.
I heard that she stands at the very top of all of the students who transferred into the academy this year, so I was simply curious what such an individual thought of the situation, that’s all.”
Dor-sama emphasized that his question didn’t have any deeper significance to it.
“Hm, well… Claire-sama once asked me the same thing, but I really don’t feel particularly strongly about it.
So long as I can spend my days with Claire-sama, everything else is frankly insignificant.”
“I see, that is a splendid response as her servant.
However, the fact remains that you are a commoner.
Have you never felt drawn to the lifestyle that nobles live?”
I don’t particularly feel any attachment towards the noble lifestyle, so long as I have enough to get by day to day, that is more than enough for me.”
“Is that how you really feel?”
Dor-sama’s blue eyes stared directly at Rei.
If I were in her position, I would certainly flinch and avert my gaze, but Rei showed no signs of that and returned his gaze with confidence.
Much unlike the majority of the commoners in this day and age, you seem to know your place.
Our society could do to have more individuals such as yourself.”
“It’s an honor.”
In response to Dor-sama’s satisfied smile, Rei gave a light bow.
Something really felt out of place.
There was definitely something strange about Dor-sama.
As he was now, he was the same as all of the other nobles that I had already lost faith in.
The Dor François-sama that I heard about from my father stood for justice, was disciplined in his ways, and showed deep affection toward the kingdom’s people.
He was meant to be the ideal noble, and yet, I didn’t see a trace of that Dor-sama as he was now.
Perhaps just as House Yule had met its ruin, had the flow of time had changed Dor-sama as well?
“I’m in a good mood, I’ll buy you all sweets.
Head maid, direct the carriage toward Blume.”
“By your command.”
The carriage changed directions.
“Just wait, father, don’t just decide that on your own.
As I’ve said, we’re in the middle of something!”
“Come now, surely you don’t mind a short detour? If someone should complain, just mention my name.”
“That’s not the problem here!”
“In that case, what is the problem?”
Dor-sama ultimately chose to maintain his self-centered attitude, and refused to budge.
It became increasingly clear that something was out of place.
I wanted to ask him… Are you really Dor-sama?
“Have you ever tried the sweets from Blume? As a commoner, I doubt that you would have ever tasted chocolate.”
“I have not.”
The moment the thought crossed my mind though, Dor-sama suddenly graced me with his attention, and I unwittingly gave that response.
I could be overthinking it, but I felt as though he intentionally chose that timing to prevent me from saying anything unnecessary.
“Just as I thought.
It really is quite the innovative sweet, Blume must have good staff dedicated to their culinary research―”
After that, Dor-sama spoke merrily the rest of the way to Blume, bought us chocolate, and accompanied us for the rest of our purchases.
I continued to observe Dor-sama for the remainder of our time together.
(Dor-sama… What in the world could have happened to you?)
All the while unable to voice the doubts I held deep within.
Translator Comment: Misha has a very sharp intuition, but Dor’s is sharper.
He’s been playing the act for a while, and he knows what he needs to do…!
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