Chapter Fourteen: Jolts in the Wagon
I saw Nolan and Ricardo attaching a wagon to the horse the following day.
When Nolan saw me coming into the garden, he said, “I’m going out of Dahl Island to purchase liquor. You are also to come with us.”
Such an abrupt invitation…
I had come to the garden brimming with the resolution to mow down all the weeds today. The overgrown weeds stuck out too much like a sore thumb to me.
As if he had seen through my lack of interest, he further added, “Your breakfast is already packed. We have around 15 minutes before departure. Be prepared by then.”
“But I wanted to mow the lawn…”
“Why do you look more and more like an ordinary lady rather than the viscount’s daughter as every day passes?”
I have also never seen a prince riding such an ordinary wagon before.
There was only one seat available in the entire wagon. It was the seat reserved for the coachman. To sum it up, we will have to sit on the floor.
Ricardo, who looked at the situation, had said, “Madam, if it’s just about mowing the lawn, I will do it later. So just relax and accompany Nolan-sama~!”
To be frank, it was just hard to have any confidence in Ricardo with his delicate features and light-as-a-feather smile. But I suddenly looked over my shoulder and saw Marco, whom I didn’t even notice had already arrived, had been pulling out the weeds with terrific momentum again. However, I cringed seeing him pull out the roots and the turf itself.
Marco… That’s not it. What I wanted to do was trim down the lawn and make it even, not erase them completely…
As I was lost in thinking about how I should explain this to Marco, who had a smug look face, without hurting him, my eyes met his. He grinned at me and triumphantly proclaimed, “I will do it!”
Nolan added, following after him. “Women and a big luggage go hand in hand when going out. Liese, quickly get ready.”
It seemed like there was bias against a woman’s luggage here. However, it wouldn’t result in anything if I kept refusing stubbornly here either. I helplessly took off the work hat on my head. I wore it to shade myself from the sun during my planned lawn mowing.
Could it be… That Nolan suspected I would check on the barn again when he’s away? And that’s why he’s taking me along with him?
Although I had my distrust of him, like a docile wife who didn’t make a fuss, I quietly prepared to go out.
Ricardo took the coachman’s seat while Nolan and I boarded the loading platform of the wagon, before sitting down. It was just all wooden board, without any seats. That’s why, when the horse-drawn wagon began to move, I slowly swept backward little by little with each jolt from the center where I was sitting until I had no choice but to cling to the backmost wooden board.
Nolan muttered when he saw me do this, “You and your odd preferences for the edge.”
It’s not like I’m sitting here by my will! I couldn’t go against gravity’s natural force.
Nolan was sitting beside Ricardo, but he let go of his hand holding his side of the wooden board and came beside me. He looked at my appearance that’s desperately clinging to the wooden board and said in a humorous tone, “I’m surprised you haven’t fallen yet. There’s still a long way to go, so I don’t think you will be able to hold for longer in that posture.”
My butt had been bouncing around since earlier. I wanted to, but I couldn’t sit comfortably because of it. When I ignored Nolan’s persuasion and kept clinging to the board, he said with a highly calm face, “I don’t think you’re that light enough that the bumps will send you flying.”
“I’m not that heavy!”
Nolan didn’t say anything further when I glared at him as I rebutted. He just looked at me, who was continuously clinging to the rear board of the wagon, as if he were looking at an odd animal.
I could sense my muscles reaching their limit by the time we finally left the island, so in the end, I chose to sit down in a prone position. The wagon hardly helped mitigate the jolts from bumps, so I felt awfully sick. In other words, I was getting motion sickness.
Nolan said as he coolly sat on the wooden floorboard, “A rowing boat competition will soon be held at Dahl Island’s lake. There’s a custom to entertain commoners participating in the competition and entertain them with liquor every year.”
“Ugh. I see. So this trip is to buy liquor for that.”
“I had requested the island’s traders to arrange for this last year, but… It drained my wallet by a great margin. Given the situation of our household this year, it’s impossible to ask an agency…”
Oh yeah. The newly appointed count was poor.
“So… So that’s why you’re going by yourself to purchase them.”
It should be more economical for him to purchase them outside of island than from within it. In a prone position, I looked up at Nolan with dead fish-like eyes.
The former His Highness, now a poor count, was going out to purchase the liquor just so he could save money, even bringing his wife, who was suffering from motion sickness.
Nolan was a questionable husband, but his way of doing things was quite ridiculous too.
As I stared at Nolan without saying anything, he lightly tapped my shoulder. “Get up and maybe look at the scenery to get a change of pace. Being in that position will not get rid of your motion sickness.”
I shook my head and rejected Nolan’s proposal. I might fall from the wagon, so I’m not getting up… Actually, I feel that I can’t even if I wanted to.
Seeing me ignoring his advice, Nolan narrowed his eyes in suspicion, looking at me while pressing for an answer.
“Don’t stick to the wooden board that much. Just relax. There won’t be as much shaking soon.”
I said in an almost groaning voice while keeping my mouth in control, “…Can’t.”
“I might vomit. I can’t move from here.”
Was it just my hallucination that I saw killing intent dwelling in his aquamarine eyes?
I could definitely hear his silent inner voice shouting, “What a troublesome girl!“
I closed my eyes to escape reality, even if only a bit. However, I was surprised when both my shoulders were grabbed by someone right after.
I opened my eyes quickly and saw Nolan helping me get up.
“That’s why I said don’t sit in a weird posture…”
Borrowing the help of Nolan, I reluctantly got up.
He might not be a prince anymore, but I couldn’t vomit over him, so I tried to distance myself, albeit in a stumbling manner. However, Nolan grabbed my hand and pulled me towards him.
He put his hand on my back and caressed it slowly. “Liese. As I said, don’t look down and look at the scenery.”
I sluggishly moved my gaze upward. I could see the scenery of the island to my heart’s content from the wagon that had no ceiling nor partitions. Gentle sloppy hills and glittering lakes of various sizes. I was unconsciously mesmerized by the view. The beautiful nature of Dahl Island, without any exaggeration, was spread in 360 degree view. The beauty was just so indescribable.
It looks like a part of a heavenly painting, no matter where my eyes ran off to.
For this… I could indeed say it might be much better sitting up than lying down.
Seeing the vibrant greenery of Dahl Island felt lovely as the pleasant breeze brushed against my cheeks. I recalled when Nolan came to visit the Teddy Viscounty Mansion. He did say the scenery of his county was one of a kind. There wasn’t a lie in his statement. As I looked at the scenery with a bitter smile, I noticed Nolan observing me.
Oops. He saw me smiling silently by myself like a lunatic.
Once we were out of the island, we headed to the nearest town. I was glad our destination wasn’t anywhere far away, as it really wasn’t pleasant riding the wagon. We went to the liquor shop located on the central street downtown. Nolan chose several kinds of liquor and ordered in large quantities one after another. Apparently, the store had all the liquor Nolan was looking for except one, which wasn’t available. When Nolan asked the shopkeeper, he informed us with a troubled face, “A riot took place in Itia, I heard.”
Itia was a large town in the midway of the Dahl County and the Royal Capital.
“There’s some liquor I couldn’t buy because several soldiers blocked the roads. I’m sorry, you came at the wrong time.”
I, who was listening to them from the sideline, suddenly interjected, “When you said a riot, did something happen for that to occur?”
The shopkeeper stopped taking out the liquor bottles from the shelf and answered, “It should be because of the new tax policy imposed on large towns, including the Royal Capital. The riot happened in opposition to that.”
Recently, due to the prolonged war, the nation’s financial burden had increased by a significant margin, thus resulting in a tax increase. Dissatisfaction was gradually building inside the citizens in many places regarding the tax increase, they didn’t care what citizens were feeling.
The shopkeeper then shrugged his shoulders.
“Everything just for a silly battle. It was a battle between other countries, to begin with.”
From what I heard, the neighboring Sevesta Kingdom waged war against the Ryoluka Kingdom right next to it. Our country, Tigaro, had supported Sevesta for many years and even attacked the Ryoluka irregularly. The support to the Sevesta Kingdom for so many years had gradually eaten away at the public finances of our Tigaro Country.
Nolan said as he looked at the shopkeeper, “Ryoluka is strong. To begin with, it was foolish of them to join in the fray of other countries’ wars. Despite that, commoners who were already struggling to make a living, now have it harder.”
I was shocked to see Nolan, the prince of this country, actually criticizing his government for the war.
The first prince was well known for assuming the anti-war stance, and I also heard that his relationship with the king was quite sour. But I never heard that even the fourth prince thought the same.
But of course, it wasn’t like the shopkeeper knew Nolan’s identity. The shopkeeper exaggeratedly nodded in alignment with Nolan’s comment.
“The current reigning king is stupid. I am already sick of him.”
I didn’t want Nolan to hear any more criticism about the king, so I hurriedly changed the topic. “Has the riot settled down?”
“I heard that the military came out and suppressed it… I guess I have to replenish my stocks through another route.”
After loading the massive amount of liquor on the wagon, we proceeded at a slower speed, unlike how we departed.
There were a lot of liquor bottles to carry, so those that couldn’t be stacked were made to be dispatched later.
On the way, Nolan talked about the boat competition.
Apparently, the reigning count of Dahl Island was also invited as a guest every year to watch over the competition. The previous count attended it along with his countess. In other words, I also have to go together with Nolan to participate in this year’s competition.
The team that would win the boat competition will be given a trophy, which was reused yearly. The winning team leader will proudly display the award at his home and then hand it to the following year’s winners.
“Actually, you have an important role in this competition.”
“…Eh!? By any means, you’re not saying that I also have to row a boat… I don’t have to do that, right?”
Nolan’s eyes widened for a moment as if he was surprised. “No way. That’s a lot of hard work… Though, I will not stop you if you want to do so.”
I imagined myself rowing the boat and couldn’t help but laugh.
“I would like to decline right here and now. It would be troublesome to win the competition and bring the trophy home with me!”
“That’s right. After all, you’re the one who will hand the trophy to the winning team.”
“The countess shoulders the most important role every year: giving the trophy to the winning team. I’d like you to do that as well.”
What an honorable role. Was he really fine giving this role to someone like me?
Not to say I have to do this in the presence of the public as countess… Just imagining it made me feel embarrassed.