Chapter 1 - The Bookstore
She opened her mouth to speak, “I’m very sorry about this, Your Majesty. Due to my inability, I was unable to bring you the results you expected. I’m not sure what else to say. I will do as you tell me to.”
“You’ll do as I say? So are you saying that if I were to ask for my teacher to be changed, you’d oblige?” The Prince asked.
“If that were to happen, Rosias, I expect it would bring quite the damage to your reputation. In this world, there are no perfect secrets, don’t you agree? The fact that you are teaching me may be a secret today, but there is a possibility it can become a public matter in the future.”
Ellie slightly bit down on her trembling lips, then let go. She lowered her eyes before answering, “I will have to deal with it, as it stems from my incompetence.”
Just like Cayman had said, there were no perfect secrets. Her failure in teaching him would definitely reach the ears of other nobility. For now, Ellie could find work pretty easily, but that would probably change in the event this did become public.
One failure was enough to throw her back tenfold. “Rosias’ Sex-Ed” was known for its success rate, but if an outlier popped up, people would coldly turn their back on her in disappointment.
If that were to happen… Well, I guess I would have to figure out another way to make money. She started to think about a way to earn money, but he started talking again.
“There’s nothing more stupid than ditching the teacher with the best reputation and looking for someone else. What I said just now about replacing you was nothing, so there’s no need for you to worry.”
“Instead, what do you think about changing your teaching method?” Cayman interrupted Ellie even before she could finish thanking him.
She stared at him blankly before asking, “My teaching method?”
“That’s right, Rosias. The way you teach… For example…” Cayman’s dark eyes stared right back into Ellie’s blue eyes.
He tapped his finger on the silver mask before pulling it off. With that, his pitch-black hair fell over his fair forehead. Caught off guard, Ellie’s eyes widened.
Ignoring her, Cayman ran a hand through his tousled hair, walked towards Ellie who was seated at a table, and leaned over her. His coal black hair tickled the back of her slender neck.
“Since your student is rather pathetic, why don’t we have the teacher teach him with her own body?”
A student who is uselessly earnest but is incapable of studying is the scariest type of student.
And so this was the story of how a bookstore keeper ended up teaching her earnest, but incapable student.
“Ellie, don’t be like that. Think it over again. Do you expect another great opportunity like this to come your way again? It’s a whopping 600,000 durens. 600,000 durens! If we were to round up all of the books within this shop and sell them, do you think we’d make that amount? We probably wouldn’t even get 60,000 durens. In fact, getting 6,000 durens would be impossible, let alone 60,000. But some idiot wants to buy them all for 600,000 durens!
“You are aware that I’m not pushing for this in order to fill up my own pockets, right? It’s not like I’ve only known you for a year or two, Ellie. I’m only telling you this because I consider you like my daughter. You should also get rid of this dreary bookstore and start a new life, don’t you think?”
“Mr. Harrison, I already told you. I’m not going to sell this place,” Ellie responded curtly, dusting off a bookshelf with a duster made of wool.
She was so indifferent, that despite having incessantly attempted to persuade Ellie, Harrison’s shoulders momentarily drooped.
He rubbed the tip of his red nose before opening his mouth again, unable to give up. “Just why exactly are you refusing to sell? Is there a large treasure chest you’ve hidden within the shop? Let’s be real. All you’ve got here are some old books that are horribly outdated.”
“There is no such thing as an outdated book, Mister. Maybe the person who’s reading and judging the books is ‘outdated.’ I don’t know.” Ellie said flatly, hanging the duster on the wall before turning to face Harrison.
He could hear a hint of emotion in her voice which was much different than the indifferent tone she had been using earlier.
Harrison, who was able to figure out the reason for her sudden change in attitude, raised his hands in surrender, his nose twitching. “Of course, I already know why. It must’ve slipped my mind for a second.”
Ellie hated hearing anything derogatory about books. He muttered to himself, his rotund belly swaying from side to side. Now that I think back, it’s obvious what Ellie and Madam Cordell have isn’t just a normal relationship. Out of all the shops in this alley, why did Ellie have to pass out in front of this very bookstore…?
He remembered the first day when Ellie had first ventured into this alley, actually, no, entered the bookstore a couple years ago. It was the day he had been getting drinks with Machio, the herbalist who was making a feeble attempt at being the alley doctor.
He remembered wondering if the winter festival was going on outside, as bright fireworks filled the night sky with color. The large firework display was like a scene from a fairytale that had nothing to do with people like Harrison who lived in the alley.
“Machio! Hey, you quack doctor! Enough with the drinks and save this person!”
At that moment, while the two of them had been talking loudly about some obscene things, completely drunk and red-faced, Cordell dragged in the stiff corpse of a rather small young girl.
I really thought I was going to pass out on the spot. He thought as he recalled the situation at the time.
The bookstore owner was normally quite eccentric, and he couldn’t help but wonder if she planned on doing something extremely terrifying when she dragged in a corpse. Ellie, the corpse that Cordell had dragged in, surprised everyone with a slight movement, but it calmed everyone down.
That small child from back then has now grown to be this respectable young woman. Harrison sniffled as his eyes prickled with tears.
Ellie looked at Harrison’s red nose and squinted at him before she spoke, “You haven’t caught a cold, right, Mister? Should I grab you a warm cup of tea?”
“Huh? Oh, no. I was just moved at the thought that you’re all grown up now.” He sniffled a couple of times before laughing awkwardly. He wouldn’t be Harrison if it weren’t for his soft personality that men with strong builds didn’t commonly harbor.
Ellie attempted an awkward smile after hearing Harrison’s words, but immediately put on a stoic expression before she spoke again, “Forget it. No matter what you say, I’m not selling the bookstore.”
“I wasn’t saying that to get you to sell!” Harrison protested, feeling accused.
But Ellie simply stared back, her lips pursed in skepticism.
He shook his head in disbelief, running his fingers through his thinning hair before speaking again, “Before Madam Cordell died, did she tell you to promise her? ‘Promise me you won’t sell the bookstore,’ something like that?”
“Are you cracking jokes with the intention of making me laugh?” Ellie gave Harrison a look to show how absurd she found his suggestion.
Harrison, with a defeated look, tread carefully.
“I mean, rather than it being a joke…” He murmured before trailing off. He looked awkward for a moment before becoming emotional as he asked again. “Then what the heck is your reason for not selling this bookstore?”
“What reason do I have to sell it?”
“600,000 durens!” Harrison shouted back in response to Ellie’s question. His fists were clenched, and his face twisted with determination.
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