“―Are you done with your errands?”
“Yes, I’m sorry for keeping you waiting.”
After finishing her business and leaving the trading company, Mabel thanked Amane, who had been waiting outside dutifully.
Noticing Amane looking around anxiously, Mabel asked him what was wrong. He pointed to the artificial flowers displayed on the eaves of houses.
“Are those preparations for the festival you mentioned before?”
“Oh, yes! The festival is tomorrow.”
As they walked back to the palace together, Mabel looked around with curiosity.
“People decorate their houses like this, and they put them on shop signs too. The flowers distributed on the day of the festival are made by everyone about a month in advance and stored in a warehouse at the harbor.”
“It takes that long?”
“We need a lot of them. Every child in Eakes knows how to make them.”
Mabel walked with Amane, her heart filled with excitement for the long-awaited festival. However, at the same time, she couldn’t help but think of Eugene and felt a pang in her chest.
‘I wish Eugene-san could come to the festival.’
Although she had been turned down at that time, she had actually planned to invite him once more.
Eugene had been hesitant, saying he didn’t want to trouble her, but Mabel thought it could be an opportunity for him to see how wonderful he was.
‘Now that I think about it, that was presumptuous of me.’
Remembering her thoughtless actions, Mabel felt down. And then, as if in response to her feelings, she sensed a somewhat restless atmosphere around her.
―Was it just her imagination, or were the people passing by and the shoppers glancing at her?
Mabel felt uneasy, but when she checked herself out, her attire and face, there didn’t seem to be anything particularly strange.
She wondered if it was because Amane, a flashy handsome man, was next to her, but it seemed that the gazes were directed at Mabel.
Some people even covered their mouths and whispered to each other.
‘I wonder what’s going on…’
Feeling anxious, Mabel raised her head as she heard a voice saying, “Ah!” from a distance. Then a little boy ran towards her and hugged her tightly.
“Lid! It’s been a while!”
Seeing the familiar boy, Mabel’s anxiety from earlier vanished in an instant. Amane tilted his head curiously as he watched the two of them giggling.
“Do you know each other?”
“Yes. Lid and the others sell the handkerchiefs we made the other day.”
The orphanage in Eakes is managed by the country, and Lid is one of the children living there. To raise funds, the orphanage holds bazaars regularly, and they will also be held at the upcoming Flower Festival.
“Mabel-sama, you haven’t come to visit us lately.”
“I’m sorry. I’ll come to see you again.”
Mabel gently stroked Lid’s head. Lid, who had been enjoying it, suddenly looked up at Mabel and smiled innocently.
“Hey, Mabel-sama, are you sorry for yourself?”
“Everyone is saying that Mable-sama is–.”
“Alright, alright, that’s enough.”
Mabel was about to ask what he meant, but Amane suddenly intervened. He took Mabel’s hand and forcefully walked ahead, separating her from Lid. Perplexed, Mabel called out to him.
“A-Amane-san?! What’s the sudden rush?”
“Oh, nothing. I thought I’d have you show me around the Eakes harbor.”
Apologizing to the boy, Amane continued walking with Mabel along the main street. People around them exchanged glances and whispered, but Amane didn’t seem to mind at all.
At first, Mabel was surprised by Amane’s sudden actions, but she lost the will to argue and smiled wryly at his confident attitude.
As they descended the long brick road, the scent of the sea breeze tickled Mabel’s nose.
There was the entrance to the sea, connecting Eakes with other continents―the harbor. The stone-paved streets led to the deep blue sea, and small and large sailing ships were neatly lined up at the pier.
When they reached the nearby warehouse district, Amane finally let go of Mabel’s hand.
“What’s the matter? Why the sudden rush?”
“I told you. I wanted to see the harbor.”
‘He did say that…’
“You wanted to see the harbor…Didn’t you come here sailing?”
“If that’s the case, you should have seen it at that time.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Confused by Amane’s response, Mabel raised an eyebrow. Perhaps noticing Mabel’s confusion, Amane loosened his lips which were tightly sealed.
“Just kidding. Even without a guide, I’ve seen everything there is to see.”
“Then why are we in a place like this…”
“―What happened with Eugene?”