Bertine and Dorothee spent several days after they moved into the rented house to weed the garden, leaving the door open as they polished the floor.

And one day, a group of three children living nearby gathered near the house. Two boys and one girl.

"Are you moving in here?"

"Yep. Nice to meet you."

"Are you going to open a store? What kind of store?"

"I plan to open one, but I haven't decided what kind of store yet."

"Ehhh! You're weird!"

"Ufufu. I guess you're right. Ah, do you guys want some candy?"

"Yes!" "Yaaay!"

Bertine brought out a can of candy she purchased when she had a sudden craving for something sweet in the midst of shopping.

"One candy for each of you, okay?"

After handing out the candy balls to the children, with an innocent face, they said, "Thank you, auntie!" "See you later, candy auntie!" before walking away.


"My Lady, all adult women are aunties in children's eyes."

Dorothee comforted Bertine, who was frozen as she blinked her eyes. Too shocked, she peeked at her hand mirror and saw a tired woman with no makeup on.

"No, I really look like an auntie now. Maybe I should at least wear makeup when I go out." Bertine entered the house, a little dejected. She then proposed, "I think we should eat out tonight. Dorothee, you have been working hard. You should also take a break."

"Dear, are you sure you want to eat with me?"

"There's nothing to consider. You're the only one I can rely on. Rather, will you go with me?"

"Yes, with pleasure."

Thus, the two of them visited a local restaurant.

It was the kind of place that Bertine wouldn't even consider back when she was still the Marquess' daughter. The restaurant was homely, but the tables, chairs, and floors were barely clean. And the smell of delicious food immediately greeted them the moment they stepped into the store.

"Welcome! Sit whenever you like, I'll take your order soon!"

The smiling woman's cheerful voice urged them to take a seat. After looking at the menu pasted on the wall, the two of them ordered stewed pork, rich vegetable soup, grilled shellfish skewers, bread, and ale.

It was when the food eventually arrived and they were about to eat... A listless man with a large statue entered suddenly entered the room and spoke, "Excuse me. I don't have any money, but can you feed me something? I'll be grateful for anything. I'm willing to clean the restaurant, wash the dishes, anything! Someone stole my belongings, leaving me penniless..."

In an instant, the bustling store fell into silence. The reply from the madam of the restaurant was immediate. "Don't be unreasonable. Why are you coming to a restaurant when you have no money? We have enough staff here. Sorry, but can you leave? If you insist, I'll have to call security!"

(Yeah, that's what happens. The restaurant will go out of business in no time if they give charity to all these people.)

Bertine fully supported the madam's decision, but at the same time, she remembered the terrible meals she had to endure those three and a half days. Being hungry was torturing both physically and mentally. As she sipped her ale, she thought, 'Perhaps, it's okay to pretend to be nice once in a while.'

"I'll pay for him. Come and sit here."

"My Lady!" Dorothee shook her head, trying to warn her in a hushed voice.

"Sorry, Dorothee. But after experiencing that hunger, I became sensitive to it."

This time, the waiter asked with a worried face, "Miss, are you sure?"

"Yes, it's fine."

The man who watched the interaction between the women with a look of anticipation didn't hesitate to sit once Bertine pointed to the chair next to her.

"Thank you. I was so, so hungry that I almost collapsed. I drank nothing but water for the whole two days."

"You can order whatever you want. How about some ale?"

"May I? Thank you! My name is Evans. I appreciate the meal."

From there on, the man ate without saying a word.

Grilled meat, grilled fish, soup, bread, stew, ale. Then another plate of the same menu with extra grilled meat. And more ale. Bertine and Dorothee also ate as they watched the man with a big appetite gobble down everything.

The grilled meat was pork, heavily seasoned with chopped onions. The rich fat was sweet, paired with the slightly charred onions that would complement the ale.

The fish was from freshwater; the soft white meat sprinkled with chopped herbs to remove the fishy taste. The skin was crispy and savory. The faint aroma of coal suggested that it was grilled over charcoal. It was the first time Bertine had ever thought the skin of a fish could taste this good.

"My Lady, I've never eaten this shellfish before."

"Me too. It's a bivalve, yet it doesn't smell like a sea. How peculiar! It must be a river shell. They're so tender I feel like I can eat as many as I want."

Evans only nodded and continued eating. From his appearance, he seemed to be around thirty years old. With curly red hair and a cheerful face, he looked like a mischievous child with a grown-up body, which made him quite adorable. But his height was clearly over a hundred and eighty. He had a good physique as well, his arms were as thick as Bertine's thighs.

"Ah, I'm alive again!" Evans cleaned the entire plates on the table and laughed, his gray eyes squinted like crescent moons. "Thank you for the meal. Ladies, are you from around here? I came from a country town in the south. I was robbed of my belongings right after I arrived in Ebott. I knew it, big cities are too scary!"

"That's quite a disaster. Why did you come to Ebott?"

"I came to be an architect. I've been visiting a couple of places, but none of them would take me seriously."

Bertine had met several architects at the Marquess' house, yet they all had quite a different aura from Evans.

"Ah, right! All my belongings were taken away, but I still have this rendering of the completed house I thought of."

With that said, the man took out papers from his chest pocket and showed them only pictures of bizarre buildings. One of the sheets was a painting of an oval single-story house with a grassy roof. The other paper had a painting of a building you could hardly call a house. It had an intricate spiral staircase around a large tree, with small rooms attached here and there. And the rest of the paintings all looked like fairy tale houses.

"I see. You won't be hired if you show them these."

"Haa, I knew it. I thought I would at least find an establishment that would accept me in the big city, but I should probably give up."

"That's not what I'm saying. There's no demand for this type of house exactly because you're in a big city. You'll find more chances in a place like Saint-Leuhan Kingdom since it has many rich imperial visitors. Uh, wait, I'm sorry. I don't think there's any demand even in Saint-Leuhan..."

Evans was dumbfounded at Bertine's blunt remarks. Seeing that, Bertine began to have vague thoughts that didn't take shape.

(For the time being, I shouldn't let go of this man.)

Her heart was telling her so.

Besides, her father never failed to remind her, "You'll never stand out if you're doing the same thing as anyone else."

"Evans, do you have a place to stay tonight? If not, you can stay in our place as our bodyguard."

"My Lady, don't you think we can just give this person the accommodation fee? You don't have to go that far..."

"No matter, I don't care what the neighbors think. I have nothing left to lose anyway. But we're two women living together, so we'll have to lock the room from the outside. That means you won't be able to leave at night. Are you fine with that?"


"Then it's decided."

They ate and drank a lot, and when they went outside after paying the bills to go home, the boy who received the candy at noon was standing outside the store while holding his sister's hand.

"My, my. What's the matter? It's already dark, you see? You should go home soon."

Bertine called out to the child, and his face lit up at once. "Candy auntie!"

"Can you call me 'Miss Bell', not 'Auntie'?"

"Miss Bell! We're waiting for Mom to finish her work. My sister told me she wants to see her as soon as possible, so I brought her here."

Two women around the same age as Bertine served the food to the guests. One of them should be the mother of these children. But still, it's dangerous for a child to be outside alone this late at night...

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