It was the afternoon of the next day when Estella called me.
The lunch hour was over and there was no time to spare before tea time.
I said I was going to take a look at the construction and left the sunny pavilion.
There were many stern, muscular men coming and going along the wide, neatly laid out streets.
A lumberjack and a hunter.
They were dispatched from the guilds guarding the 42nd district.
'Whoa, the Strategist of District Forty-two!
A stocky man with white hair walks towards the city gate.
Although he looks like he's strolling along, his body looks smooth and slender, and you can tell that his muscles are tightened to the limit.
That boy waving at you with a carefree smile is the young hope of the hunting guild. That's Alvaro.
'Who's a warlord?
'I've been beaten to a pulp by your strategies.
'I haven't had an adversary with you since the gluttony contest. ......'
'No, no, no. Actually, I've been challenging you personally.
Why are you doing this to yourself?
And when did I win again?I don't know. ......
I don't know. 'Cause I was totally upset at the ward field day. I spent my entire month's allowance on my mom's yellow team, and now they're all broke because of you.
'It's not my fault. ......'
You can bet all you want, but I can't stand it when you blame me for your losses.
I only contributed to my army's victory.
'Don't hold a grudge over something like that, okay?
'Hahaha, no, no, that's not true. I like your ideas a lot because they're funny.
Alvaro squared his shoulders in a friendly manner.
He's a very brazen guy with a childish look on his face.
Whether you think he's friendly or impudent depends on who you are.
'The military strategist is going to the gate now, isn't he?
'Yes, but not the warlord.
'Then, do you want your mother's darling?
'Please don't, please don't.'
'Ohhhh!The warlord bowed deeply!
Please don't raise any more strange flags.
I can hear Medora's footsteps in my dreams. ...... Scary, huh?
'Well, what does Magda call the warlord?
'Hmm?It's usually 'Yashiro'.
'I see. I think I'll do the same.
What's this feeling.
You don't seem to like it. ......?
'Eh, what?Do you like Magda?'
'Of course I do!He's younger than me, but he's got guts!That guts!And his ability to defeat me!She's the best of the best in every way!I believe Magda can surpass even Mom!...... Well, everyone laughs when I say that, but... They don't understand.
It looks like he's buying a lot of Magda.
'When he came to the headquarters, he found me and said, "Hey, loser. I thought I'd kill him.
Alvaro laughs unrestrainedly.
What, do you like it?Do you hate it?
I mean, what are you doing at Magda......?
I'm not sure if it's a good idea, but it's a good idea.
It's a really late lunch break.
I'm sure Magda can handle you at this hour. ......
'Are you going to eat a big meal?
'I don't have that much money. So I'm going to eat fast!
You're a schoolboy, aren't you?
You've got sparkling eyes.
But Magda isn't that fast of a eater.
Eating too fast doesn't seem to be good for you. ......
'Do you like sweets?
'No, I don't like sweets.
'I see. I thought the cakes at the Sunlit Pavilion would be good for a quick meal, but if you don't like sweets, you'll be at a disadvantage. ...... Oh, that's right. I'm sure you'll be happy with the results.
'Hard-boiled eggs, huh?
'Yeah. They're about this big, with a slippery surface. But well, one is not enough, so how about three cakes for Magda and six boiled eggs for you?Maybe they'll be about the same size.
It's like a different kind of martial arts!I'll take that match!
Alvaro clenched his fists and smiled.
'Then, the loser pays the price, give my regards to Magda.
'Yes!I'll come back later to tell you the result of the game!
'No, that's okay. I'll ask Magda later.'
'Alright, let's beat Magda!
Alvaro raises his fist in the air and heads for the Sunken Pavilion.
But as soon as you raise your hand to defeat Magda, the game is already decided.
Your enemy is me, the one who decided the game.
At best, you can stuff your throat with boiled eggs and bark, 'I can't eat that fast! You can stuff your throat with boiled eggs and howl, 'I can't eat that fast!
After seeing off Alvaro's back, I headed for the plaza in front of the city gate.
It's a good idea to have a good idea of what you're doing.
'You are a ......'.
When I explained to her what had happened, Estella held her forehead and sighed.
'Delia is at the Sunshine Pavilion today, right?
'Ah. The water temperature hasn't risen yet, so she'll be fishing sparingly.
'Then Delia might be there.
'Oh, six cakes' worth of profit. Good.
There's no way Delia and Magda could lose.
Well, even if one of them loses, Jeannette will pay for it at the Sunshine Pavilion.
No, they won't, though.
There is no food more unsuitable for fast eating than boiled eggs.
If it's two boiled eggs and 500ml of carbonated drink, I'll choose the carbonated drink.
'Well, let's change places.
'Before Alvaro comes to complain, huh?
He'll definitely come for the monk, you know.
'Your popularity knows no bounds. I envy you.
Don't look at me with that not-at-all-envious grin.
I wondered if there was any way I could get him to stop smirking, when he suddenly came over.
'Ah!The Lord of Smiles!
Omar, a carpenter from the 35th district, ran up to Estella, calling her with a happy voice.
'Are you inspecting?Thank you for your hard work!
'Ah, yes. It looks like the construction is going well.
'Because it's the 42nd district!When I think that I'm surrounded by the air of the city where the Lord of Smiles lives, ...... I can't sleep at night!
''Go to sleep!I'm afraid of an accident!
'...... kind, smiling lord.'
'Also, stop being a smiling lord!
He's grown quite attached to you, Estella.
I'm glad to see that the construction of the port is progressing.
''Well then, my break is over, so if you'll excuse me!The port, I'll make sure it's a good one, so please keep your eyes peeled!
'Oh, yes. Please do.'
'Aaah!The Lord of Smiles' smile is here!
He bent his upper body in a gutsy pose and howled high into the sky.
Here, a pervert was born.
'Alright!I'm going to work hard this afternoon too!
Omar walked out of the gate with a shout.
'Your popularity knows no bounds. I'm so jealous~'
'Shut up, .......'
The boomerang you threw at me sticks back at you.
It's time for Estella to understand exactly where she stands.
You're an illiterate master who is liked by illiterates.
'Well, it would certainly be better to move the place.
There were quite a few people in the square, including carpenters, hunters, and even some of the lords who had come to check on the progress of the construction during their lunch break.
Estella looks around at them and says.
This is probably not the best place to have a private conversation.
Well, it was a good reason to leave the sunny pavilion, though, 'to see the city gate'.
'Let's find someplace where we can be alone.
'Then there's a public bathhouse near here...'
'I'll stab you.'
However, it is better to refrain from going into the NTA (a place to gather in case something happens) alone with Estella in such a crowded place ...... when the lords of other districts are paying attention.
You can't be sure that they won't take advantage of you.
'Then I'll go with you.
A familiar voice called out from behind us as we talked in secret.
'You can't talk in secret in a place like this, can you?
It's true, if they sneak up behind you, they can eavesdrop all they want.
'As a head waiter, you can't argue with them, but as a lord of another district, I won't start any rumors.
He pointed in the direction of the NTA.
When Imelda asked me to go to the party for the completion of the Woodcutter's Guild, Demilly, the surprise guest, was waiting for me at the NTA.
He knew the secrecy of that room well.
He knew that a man and a woman - and a man in the position of lord - could not dare to enter that secret room.
Even if Natalia was with them, Estella could have her wait in another room if she so chose.
I'm not good at denying meetings.
'Then you'll come with me.'
'I suppose so. Oji-sama, I'm sorry to bother you, but ......'
'Nah. I said so myself. Besides--'
Demilly puts his arm around my shoulders, brings his face close to mine, and clears his throat low in my ear.
'There's been a bit of a rumor going around lately, you know?Let's be careful, okay, Oba?
'...... It's not just my fault, is it?
You should blame Estella for her carelessness too.
...... d*mn it.
With a worried old man in tow, we moved to the NTA.
'Oh, it's brighter than I thought.
'Don't say that while looking at someone's scalp, Oba-kun.
The room was brighter than I expected.
Thanks to Demilly.
....... It's my punishment for making a strange accusation.
It's a simple one-story house that was built in a hurry, but there's no way to overhear private conversations.
As long as you don't shout too loudly, your conversation won't be leaked outside.
'This kind of interesting building is also like the 42nd district, isn't it?
Demilly smiled and tapped on the wall inside the room.
She looks like she wants it, but her response is, 'No, you can't build this.
A secret base like this is only fun if there are people who gather there.
Demilly would use his own mansion for secret meetings with well-wishers.
'Useless' and 'titless tube tops' are similar--'
'I've heard that crap before.'
So it's a known fact.
'But you're being very careful, aren't you?
He said in a light tone and turned his gaze to Estella.
'Is it really that serious?
'...... Yeah. Well, yeah.'
When I look at her seriously, Estella smiles weakly as if she is troubled.
'Actually, I got a letter from Estella yesterday. I'm going to talk to Oba-kun about it. Well, I thought it might be difficult for Estella to talk about it alone, so I went out of my way to help her.
I'm not sure what to say, but I'm sure you'll understand.
It sounds like a pretty heavy story.
The reason why there are no people living around the sunlit pavilion on the west side of the 42nd district.
There's a reason hidden in there that Estella is worried about.
It was an event that even reached the ears of the distant lord of District 40 and was recognized as "an issue".
What was going on?
'Is it something to do with the swamps and slums?
If so, it would explain why Estella interrupted me when Loretta was there.
Loretta would be upset if her people moved away because they couldn't live near a slum. At least she would be depressed.
'No, it's not ...... related, but I don't think it's what you think it is.'
Estella looks away, as if she's having a hard time saying it, but then she takes a deep breath and looks at me as if she's made up her mind.
Then, in a clear, quiet voice, she says.
'A few years ago, there was a terrible disease that spread all around this area.
A disease ......, an epidemic.
'First, a member of the river fishing guild came down with it and suffered from severe asthma symptoms. Next, those of the agricultural guild who grew fruit in the woods across the river, and those who made forestry their living, fell ill with the same symptoms one after another.
The disease spread quickly.
The disease spread to the family members who were taking care of them, then to the neighbors, and then to the whole area to the west.
'...... Many people died. At that time, we couldn't even buy medicine and there were only a limited number of people who could receive ...... treatment. ............
Estella bites her lip.
It seemed to me that she was trying to hold back the tears.
'So the Lord of the time - my father - started to investigate the cause. Since the first patient was a man who worked in the river or the woods beyond, he thought the cause must be in that vicinity. ...... did not find the cause in the end.
However, I was able to formulate a general theory.
In other words--
'The pathogen must have come from the swamp,' the team concluded at the time.
'We called it 'the great disease of the swamps'. --We called it the 'Great Sickness of the Swamp', and some of the unthinking said it was due to the wrath of the spirit gods. But that is a falsehood with no roots. There is no need to listen to them.
Demilly stroked Estella's hair.
So this is what Estella was having trouble saying.
In other words, people from other districts who were not affected by the epidemic were saying that the reason the epidemic spread in District 42 was because of what District 42 did to the spirit gods.
It's because they were hated by the spirit gods that they suffered such a fate.
...... I see.
I'm sure that's one of the reasons why people despise the 42nd district so much.
The people who were abandoned by the spirit gods - the people who were touched by the spirit gods' anger. That's what the people of District Forty-two are.
'That year, there were a lot of days with high temperatures even though it wasn't the hottest season, and the general view is that the temperature probably caused pathogens to appear in the swampy areas. If you don't think about it calmly, tomorrow will be your own fault. We do not know when extreme weather events will occur. In order to take countermeasures, a careful investigation was conducted. So it's probably the right thing to do. You don't have to give a second thought to that nonsense.
If you're going to the trouble of saying so, then I'm guessing there's a lot of that kind of backbiting going on over a wide area.
No, it is possible that it is a common practice among the aristocrats.
However, if you talk about it openly, people might say, "You have the same disease? So, we just don't say it out in the open.
It may be a virus that can be transmitted by mosquitoes, like malaria, which is a disease ...... spread by abnormal weather.
It will be difficult to find out the cause even if we investigate.
If you don't know that mosquitoes carry the virus, you wouldn't believe that you got it from a mosquito bite.
'In the end, there was only one way to stop the spread of the epidemic.
'Quarantine and containment, huh?
'...... Yeah. People with the disease were gathered in one place, and neighboring houses were closed to the public. I think the camp was just around here, right?'
The west side of the outer wall.
A place people rarely go.
They quarantined many people there and waited for the disease to end.
It must have been painful for you not to be able to save the ...... people.
'Oh, ...... that's why, Bertina.'
'Yes, that's true. I think she was distraught when the children collapsed one by one during the floods.
When the church's well was contaminated and the kids all collapsed, Bertina was uncharacteristically distraught and exhausted.
If an epidemic broke out in the same place in the past and many people died, it's no wonder she was so distraught.
'Even after the disease was over, no one came to the west side for a while. Vegetables could not be sold. River fish didn't sell either.
I guess that's why the prices kept dropping.
I guess the prices of vegetables and fish were too low when I came here.
I took advantage of the situation and bought them at even lower prices. ...... Yeah, I'll give them back.
I'll give it back to you. I'll give it a big promotion at the Sundaari-tei. It's tasty and nutritious, I thought, and suddenly I thought.
'Could it be that Jeannette's grandfather is suffering from that epidemic?
'No. Jeannette's grandfather died a while before that.'
'...... I see.'
Somehow, I'm relieved.
He died in the end, but the fury of the natural world that we can't resist leaves a lingering mark on our hearts.
'After that, the number of people who wanted to live in the west decreased drastically. Only the river fishing guild, the farming guild, the church, and the sunny pavilion remained.
So, because of the danger of collapse and the deterioration of public safety, the abandoned buildings were all demolished at once.
So, it became the lonely west side we see today.
'What did Jeannette do at that time?
'She was at the Sunken Pavilion.
Estella giggles at my surprise.
'Yeah, you'd be surprised,' she said.
'I used to go to the camp every day to deliver food to the quarantined people.
'What a fearless .......'
'I probably should have stopped too, Jeannette, but I was so unstable right after I lost my grandfather. ...... I felt like I'd disappear if I didn't have something to live for. ......'
The reason for living keeps people alive.
Did you prioritize giving Jeannette the will to live, even though you knew it was dangerous?
'Besides, the disease did not infect the child.
'What ......?Is that right?
'Yeah. All of them were adults in their prime of life. Only people in their twenties to fifties were affected. The people who died were all of that generation.
I see. ......
That's why the kids in the church and Bertina are safe.
............ No, Bertina is older than fifty years old... I'm not talking about that. I'll leave it at that.
'So, the reason I avoided this topic last time was--'
The words that followed caught me off guard in a way, but also gave me a strange sense of satisfaction.
'It's because Delia's parents died of the disease.
That's the reason why the young Delia is the head of the guild, and why she is so particular about her duties, I thought.
For a while now, I have been feeling uncomfortable about ....... Actually, I have been feeling uncomfortable for a long time.
For a while, I was convinced that it was because the city was poor.
But I knew there was a reason for it.
'So maybe Miry's parents were there too?
'Yes, they are.
Delia and Milly live alone.
Neither of their parents are here.
I thought it was an accident or an illness, but I didn't think it was an epidemic.
'And so is Paula's mother.
Paula's house is on the main street.
It's not on the west side of the street, so why ......
'Paula's mother is a devout Alvistan who used to come to church for services.
It's not surprising that Paula would think that it was 'because' she went to church.
But when I look at Paula now, I don't see any of those feelings.
'It seems that Paula was a mother's child. Whenever she has time, she goes to church to help out, just like her mother used to do.
I heard Jeannette say something like that.
She said that she met Paula at the church and that they cleaned the church together.
Oh, so that's why Paula comes by the Sunken Pavilion from time to time.
Sometimes I wondered 'why at this time? But that was on her way back from church, wasn't it?
'Zelmar, who used to make furniture from wood cut from the forest, is also a former resident of the West.
Umaro used to say in his sleep that Zelmar was a respectable craftsman, but if he was working with wood, it makes sense that Umaro would be interested in him.
Ah, so that's why Zelmar had a hard time showing up at the Sunken Pavilion. Because he ran away.
He left behind the sunlit pavilion and Ginette, who had just lost her grandfather.
...... I don't think you need to worry about that.
I don't think that Ginette cares about such things. What's more, Zelmal was at the age when he was infected with the epidemic.
On the other hand, Grandma Mum is amazing. I'm amazed she didn't run away.
Maybe she thought she couldn't leave Jeannette alone?
That's why Jeannette is so attached to Grandma Mum. ......
Grandma Mum needs to be treated well.
She needs to indulge herself, rejuvenate herself, and stay with Jeannette as long as possible.
'And now, Oba-kun.
Demilly says in a quiet voice.
With a delicate care, like speaking without extinguishing a candle, softly.
'It was that epidemic that caused Estella's father, Ortwine Creamona, to fall ill.
In a tone of voice that took the utmost care not to hurt Estella next to him.
'...... My father was taking part in a survey of the swamps. They're trying to find the disease that's afflicting the people and establish a plan to deal with it. He took the lead.
Then he was struck by an epidemic: ......
'So, from the administration?'
'Yes. ....... I spent much of my savings on medical treatment and medication, and managed to survive. But, ...... in the end, I could not return to the stage.'
Estella's voice wavered in tears.
Maybe the reason he stayed on as acting lord was because he wanted his father to return as lord.
Of course, there was also the fact that he lacked self-confidence, but it was probably because he wanted it more than anyone else. That's what I feel.
'My father didn't want me to spend money on therapy. If he had that kind of money, he would have used it to subsidize the families of the victims. ...... But, you know, the people said, 'The lord should be treated.
It seems that the Cremona family was a lord who was loved by his people for generations.
'If only I had met Yashiro earlier, I might have made a full recovery in no time with my magical powers.
'You idiot. I'm not a wizard.
There are definitely more things I can't do.
I can do almost nothing.
The only thing I can do is pull the wool over other people's eyes.
With the epidemic raging and the loss of so many workers, the 42nd district is even more impoverished.
The deteriorating image of river fish and vegetables grown on farms in the west will also add to the problem.
I wonder how they managed to hold on to them by the scruff of the neck.
I don't care what anyone else says, I can proudly give you these words.
'You've done well. You're amazing.'
Estella's face twisted lopsidedly and beautiful drops splattered on it.
She climbs over the table and jumps on me from the seat across from me, and I stand up to catch her.
You can't let yourself fall backwards when someone jumps on you while you're sitting down.
I ...... can't do anything about it. ............!There are so many things I have to abandon ............ me ...... me!
'Idiot. You're the reason I've made it this far.'
The first time I saw the 42nd district, it was miserable.
But in a little over a year, this city has changed a lot.
It will continue to change.
'Because of you, District Forty-two is still alive. Laugh more and stretch your chest out, Lord of Smiles.
'Oh, ...... Gu............ Lords of Smiles, you ...... say! ............Oh!
She punched me in the chest while crying, then looked up at me and smiled.
It was a big mistake, but I thought it was a nice smile, vulnerable and pure.
'Well, I guess it's not too much to ask you to show off your chest.
I'm sure you've heard of it. I'm sure you're not the only one who has a problem with this. ...... My collarbone ......
'You guys are way too close ...... to each other.'
I'm sure you'll be able to understand why I'm so excited about this.
'It's good that you trust each other, but not too much. I'll pretend I didn't see it this time.
He stroked Estella's hair with his hand and said, 'A lady should behave like a lady,' as if he were a blood relative.
Estella also apologizes as if she were his daughter, 'Yes ...... I'm sorry, Mister.
It's so ladylike.
'Estella is a spoiled brat, she'll get attached to someone easily. Can you watch out for her?'
'No, I'm not trying to spoil you, I'm just...'
He turned away, his neck bright red.
'You should hook up with the head waiter's girlfriend. Natalia, right? You should go easy on her.'
'...... No, I'm not going to spoil Natalia. ............'
You don't want to show weakness, not to her. As much as possible.
You never know where he's going to say something. Natalia will expose you when the damage is most likely to be done.
'Then you should go with the manager of the sunlit pavilion. Her receptiveness is wonderful, even from my point of view.
'I can indulge myself in Ginette-chan. Hehehe ......, it feels good to squeeze her.
'Yes, yes, yes. I'm a little disappointed that I won't be able to experience that, but I can rest assured that Estella has a wonderful friend.
'd*mn, why is it that when Demilly says it, I don't feel like a prick?
'It's a shame you can't experience that, duh,' she should have said.
'It feels good when I squeeze you~,' or something like that.
'After all, the manager of the sunny pavilion is such a big man that even Oba-kun can catch and wrap him. There aren't many people who can do that.
When did I ever get pampered and wrapped up by Jeannette? ...... You talk like you've seen me.
'Estella. Demilly's talking about Jeannette's tits.'
'I'm not!Where did you get that from, Oba-kun?
I'm not sure what you're talking about.
You've added a lot of ornaments that I haven't mentioned.
'Well, that's true. Estella and I are both spoiled by Jeannette.
I'll admit that point.
After admitting that--'
'Estella. Let's go bury ourselves together now, together now.'
'Do you want me to go and beat you up?'
I'm not getting any sympathy.
What a guy.
Anyway, now I understand why Jeannette looked so lonely during the heavy snowfall.
This is not a topic to be broached carelessly.
I'm glad to know.
I don't want to hurt anyone by talking about it without knowing.
'I should have told Yashiro sooner. I'm sorry.'
'No, you've had a hard time saying some things too, haven't you?
About your father, about the people you couldn't protect.
He's not very good at dismissing those things as 'in the past' and moving on.
He drags things on and on and on and on.
I guess he couldn't find the right moment to talk about it.
I'm sure Jeannette is still dragging her feet.
Even if you try to think that it can't be helped, the scenery that has changed will always be there.
'Well, you know...'
You can't pretend that the tragedy didn't happen.
You can't just forget about it either.
So, at least...
'The west side is going to get more and more crowded from now on, so make sure you write it down as a record. In the distant future, you will be able to learn that such things happened.
I'll make the future as fun as the painful past.
'Thank you, Demilly, for being here.
I'll also thank the good-natured lord.
'Hmm... It's a valuable experience to see you expressing your gratitude so honestly.
'I'm grateful for the light in the room.
'You should be honest and say thank you!Hey!
As proof of this, I'm tempted to mobilize the lumberjack guild and make plans to make the west side of the city more lively.
When the port is completed, I'll invite the port workers to live on the west side, so that the area around the sunny pavilion will be more lively.
I'll build a snow playground, an orchard that sells pear picking by managing the fruits that grow naturally in the forest, and other fun things to attract people, create jobs, and attract permanent residents.
Well, I don't know how many years it will take.
'Well, what's this?
The next day.
I called Grandma Mum and the other old men.
I asked them to send a letter to Orkio and Sirach who lived in the 35th district.
I asked them to write to Orkio and Sirach, who lived in the 35th district. And.
Even though he was a nobleman, Orkio was now an old man and had nothing special to do.
He and Sirach rode in a carriage to the Sunken Pavilion.
There, I presented the old men with an envelope.
It's a very good one I got from a certain source.
'Please open it.
Ginette looked at Mum and the others happily.
I talked to Ginette, and she agreed to give it to the old men as a gift.
Well, I was told that I should invite the manager and others, so I thought that Ginette would have the right to do so.
I thought Ginette would have agreed to the transfer without hesitation.
No way, 'That's a great idea!That's Mr. Yashiro!' I didn't think she would be overjoyed.
It seems that Jeannette had always wanted to repay Old Mum and the others for their kindness.
Aside from Grandma Mum, I don't think it would be a waste of time to repay Zelmar and the old man.
'Well, accommodation tickets?It's ...... 'Cradle of the Moon'.
It's a set of accommodation vouchers for the high-class inn (laughs) 'Moon Cradle' that Donnis gave me when I went to the 35th district to make rice cakes, and free food and drink vouchers for a kaiseki bar where you can enjoy sweet sake and tofu.
'Wow, it's a high-class inn in the 24th district, isn't it?
'Well, does Orkio know about it?
'Well, yes. We're neighbors. I've never stayed there, though.
Orkio was originally a nobleman from the 35th district.
He seemed to know about the high-class lodgings in the neighboring 24th district.
'It's amazing, the Cradle of the Moon. It's a four-story building, after all.
'Well, four floors?It looks very big.
'It's very big. I've only ever walked past it myself.
Sirach puts a small hand to his mouth and smiles.
I'm afraid you look like an old lady when you do that.
When I first met her, she was an obese woman who couldn't even stand up by herself, and she would always say 'another one'.
Orkio, a human nobleman, and Sirach, a swallowtail butterfly.
Their marriage had been passed down as a tragedy for a long time due to the aristocrat's vain pretensions and pride, but during the preparation stage of Wendy's wedding, we all worked together to transform the tragedy into a romantic love story, and the couple is now living happily together in the 35th district.
Orkio, who ran away from the nobleman's house, drifted to the 42nd district, met Ginette's grandfather who was the manager of the Sunshine Pavilion, and drowned his loneliness of being single in the 42nd district.
That's when I got to know the Jijii5, right?
The "Jijii5" are the four old men, Zelmar, Orkio, Bobba, and Frouft, and Old Mum, who are all regular customers at the Sunshine Pavilion.
When I called them Jijii Baba 5, Jeannette complained, 'Old Mum is not an old lady,' so I changed the name to Jijii 5.
I guess Zelma and the others are just old men. Is that right, Ginette?
'Hey, hey, hey, sunny side up.'
The one staring at me with more wrinkles etched into his wrinkled face is Zelmar, the old man with a crush on Grandma Mum.
Did this guy originally live in this neighborhood? ......
'What kind of a windup is that? I can't believe you sent me this.'
'Nah, it's just a souvenir from the dead.
'Hmm, is that it?
'That's all. If you get a souvenir of the underworld, you should leave for the underworld.
'Who's going to leave?I'll live longer than you!
That's being too greedy, old man.
'Hee-hee-hee!I've been told, Zelmar...'
'Onya is so cheerful when she comes here. You're like a grandfather coming to see his son.'
'Oh, come on, Frodo. You mean 'grandchild', don't you?
'I'm not married, and I don't have a son or a grandson!
I lifted the cup roughly and gulped down the hot coffee.
Wow, as expected of an old man. I gulped down the hot coffee. His heat-sensing organs must be dying out.
'Well, there are six tickets, but there is no need for all of us to go together. You can go when you want. Especially since Orkio and Sirach live in different districts, it will be hard to coordinate.
Even though they live in different districts, it is easy to coordinate the timing.
However, aside from Orkio, Sirach doesn't know the four of us very well.
If the six of us travel together, we will inevitably feel alienated.
Orkio and Sirach should go alone.
'But, are you sure you want to take it?Don't you think Jeannette and the others want to go too?
'No, no. I'm more than happy to be able to return the favor in this way. It's a gift, so I can't say too much about it.
'That's not true. I'm very happy. I'll be grateful to use it then. That's fine, Zelmar.'
'...... Why are you telling me this?
'You're too navel-gazing to thank me honestly, aren't you?
'Hee-hee-hee!That's right, Zelmar.'
'Onya is the most crooked person in this town!
'You're a jerk!............ Oh, that's right. Thanks, I'll use it. Grandson of Sunshine.
'Yes. Tell me about your souvenirs when you get back.'
'...... Look forward to it.'
Jeannette has no ill feelings towards Zelmar.
She doesn't think that he abandoned her and ran away, not even a little.
Well, Jeannette is a girl just like her mother, raised by a Sister who has never hated anyone.
'Oh, by the way, Zelmar. That ticket, it's all private.'
'Bhoy!Whoa, whoa, whoa!I know what I'm talking about, you idiot!
'Don't get your hopes up.
'I told you, I don't!
By all means, I must ask Bobba and Frodo to accompany me.
The old man might get excited on the road and do something like that.
'Bobba, Frodo. ...... I'm looking forward to hearing about Zelmar's funny mistakes.
'I'll leave it to you.
'I'll bring back some interesting stories...'
'Shut up, you guys!
Three noisy old men.
Old lady Mum smiled and never participated in any conversation that might work against her.
This old lady is also quite sagacious, relatively speaking.
'Don't you want to join us, Orkio-san?
'Hmm?Ah, ......, it's fun to be with them.'
'But, Shirapin. For me, time alone with you is also important. I wouldn't trade it for anything else.
'Can't you two get mixed up?
Bobba's high-pitched laugh rang out.
It's lively when they're all together.
Ginette is also smiling happily all the time.
'For Orkio-san and the others, it's a short distance away.
'No, no. I'm happy. The Cradle of the Moon was an object of admiration for our generation. It may seem a little old-fashioned to the young people of today, though.
Is that how it is?
Well, maybe so. It was old-fashioned.
'I'm looking forward to tofu and sweet sake.
'But please be careful not to eat too much, Sirach.
'Yes, I will. You won't have to take care of Jeannette again, will you?
When I was on a diet, Jeannette stayed over and cooked meals for Siraha.
Ginette and Siraha share a smile, remembering that time.
Old Mum talks to Sirach.
'I'd like to have a long talk with you sometime. If it's not too much trouble.
'You're not bothering me. I'd love to talk to you, too. I'd love to hear about the time you were away, Orkio-san.'
'Yes, I'd be happy to.
'Oh, come on. Don't say anything too strange, okay?
'Oh, Orkio?Are you aware that you can say such strange things?
'No. ...... Hmm. I'm no match for you, Mumu.
Orkio holds his forehead and smiles softly.
I can feel the nobleman's dignity in every gesture.
I want to hire him as a manners instructor when he's not busy.
Ginette leaned in close and murmured softly in his ear.
'I'm glad. I'm glad you're all happy.
You're the one who wanted to make everyone happy.
'Why don't you give them some shrimp crackers to try?I'm sure the old men would love them.'
'I guess so. Then I'll go prepare them right away.
With that, Ginette ran to the kitchen.
By the time she comes out, she'll be holding a tray with crispy shrimp crackers and a cup of hot tea.
After confirming that Jeannette had entered the kitchen, I whispered to Grandma Mum.
'Actually, ...... I heard about a serious illness.
As I said this, Grandma Mum's and Zelmar's expressions tensed slightly.
'Thank you. Thank you for being there for her.
'............ There was nothing I could do. I was too scared for my own safety. I was an uninfected child, and all I could do was stay by Jeannette's side. ......
'Still, I think it was reassuring for Jeannette to know that Grandma Mum was there for her.
'I hope so, .......'
Of course it is.
You know how much he loves Grandma Mum.
She's number three after Bertina and Grandpa, I bet.
'...... I, on the other hand...'
Zelmar's eyes were downcast, as if he felt guilty for running away.
'It's okay, Zelmar.
You don't have to look like that.
You're going to die soon, and I'm sure you'll soon be forgotten.
'I'm not going to die, you little shit!
'Then keep coming to him while you're alive.
He seems to like watching you frown a lot too.
'....... I don't need you to tell me that.
I couldn't help but laugh when I saw that frown on his face.
This old man is not going to die for a while.