Chapter 11 First ever picnic
As promised at Bernard-sama’s birthday party, it was decided that we would go on a picnic on the same day as the Commander’s off day.
As I filled the basket with sandwiches and fruit water, I was a bit at a loss.
I’ve been on picnics as a couple with grown men because I needed to get to know them for work, but I’ve never taken kids with me. I don’t know what children do at picnics. I never went on a picnic when I was a child.
“I guess it’ll somehow work out.”
After voicing that out, I pumped myself up and Nonna and I waited for the Commander to pick us up.
The Commander came by himself driving a small carriage. He picked us up and said, “We’re going to the woods, about an hour away.” Inside the carriage, Nonna was unusually restless.
“Nonna, you seem excited.”
“What shall we play?”
“Nonna sure loves climbing trees.”
I was in the process of teaching Nonna many things. As long as I didn’t have power and status, I felt that her cuteness would become a danger unless we’re lucky.
Reading, writing, arithmetic, languages, cooking, martial arts, anything was fine as long as Nonna was willing to learn. I don’t want Nonna to choose to obey a man for money, and I don’t want her to exchange her child for money. I want her to have the means to become financially independent, and I also want her to acquire the skills to stand up to those who try to force her to do what they say.
It’s better to be able to climb trees than not to be able to. It gives her one more escape route in case of emergency.
Eventually, we arrived at the forest, and the Commander stopped the carriage in a slightly open area.
“You two must be tired. Let’s rest for a while.”
“Okay, let’s do so.”
We sat down, but Nonna was in high spirits as if it was her first time in a place like this. She walked around picking up loose stones and throwing them at a distant tree trunk.
The places she struck changed each time but, one after another, all the stones hit the tree trunk. The Commander, who was watching, seemed surprised that 6-year-old Nonna could land all her throws.
“Nonna is amazing. It’s praiseworthy enough to just reach that tree trunk, but you’re hitting it with every throw.”
“Vicky is better.”
“Is that so? Victoria, please show me.”
(Should I throw it poorly? Would he be able to tell?)
“Commander, please demonstrate to us first.”
The Commander threw. Amazingly, they all hit the same spot on the tree trunk. I see. In that case, it should be fine if I do the same.
I threw too. Intentionally missing one but hitting all the others.
“Both Nonna and Victoria are amazing.”
“I used to be a tomboy.”
I was happy to see Nonna having fun. Her blue-gray eyes were sparkling.
While I was thinking (I’m glad I agreed to the picnic) and looking at Nonna’s happy expression, she took off her shoes and started climbing a tree in her socks.
“Oi oi, now you’re going to climb a tree? You’ll fall.”
“Vicky is better!”
The Commander’s gaze hurt when he looked at me with a surprised look.
“Because I was a tomboy who grew up in the countryside.”
I repeated the same line.
I hadn’t asked Nonna to keep it a secret. I believe that fewer rules and restrictions are better if you want people to keep their promises. But now, I carved a reminder in my mind that ‘A child in high spirits will say anything unless you remind them’.
“I won’t climb. I’m wearing a skirt after all.”
“I didn’t say anything.”
The Commander laughed. When he laughs, wrinkles gather around the corners of his eyes, and his stern-looking face turns gentle. And his voice is really soothing after all. Nonna climbed quite high before sitting on a branch. Looking down at us, she dangled her legs and was in a good mood.
Saying that, the Commander headed towards the tree. He likely intends to catch her when she falls. I knew Nonna’s skill so I wasn’t too worried, but we headed under the tree together.
“Did you really teach this too? I think it’s dangerous.”
“If I keep her away from all dangerous things, she will grow up to be a woman who can only be protected.”
The Commander glanced at me. Maybe he didn’t agree with that.
“That was a little too cheeky of me.”
“No, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard a woman say that, so I was just surprised.”
Before long, Nonna came down safely. I was sure the Commander would reprimand her that it was dangerous but he didn’t say anything. After that, the three of us spent our time playing tag and picking flowers before it was time for lunch.
“The food the other day was delicious, but this sandwich is also delicious.”
“Thank you very much.”
Today, I prepared three types of sandwiches: chicken, vegetables, and boiled egg sandwich; jam and butter sandwich; and boiled pork with plenty of mustard and chopped onion sandwich.
As expected, the Commander seemed to like things with meat and eggs in them. Jam and butter was Nonna’s favorite.
“Were you a cook? Or were you a scholar?”
“I have worked as a chef before. Learning languages is just my hobby.”
“Wow. That’s amazing.”
“Don’t nobles learn several languages from a young age too?”
“Well, yes. But you’re a commoner, aren’t you?”
“Yes. I came from a poor family. I had to take every job I could find.”
I felt guilty for the Commander’s gaze which was dyed with sympathy for a moment. (I had that kind of job after all), I added in my heart.
Nonna put her arm around my neck and hugged me as I sat on the rug. I talked as I caressed her delicate arm with my fingertips.
“It’s fun, right?”
When I first started living with her, Nonna was reluctant to touch me, but lately, she’s become quite spoiled.
My sister and I were separated when I was eight years old, so I have a vague impression that she was “cute”, but I don’t have many memories of us as sisters.
“It looks like she’s completely attached to you.”
“Yes. She is so adorably cute. I didn’t know children could be this cute.”
Nonna, who was listening to our conversation, pressed her cheek against my tied-up hair. That was a gesture that she often did when she’s happy and wants to be spoiled.
“Aren’t you glad we brought you to a picnic?”
“Mm-hmm! Vicky, do you like it too?”
“Yeah, I’m enjoying myself. It’s fun.”
Then, Nonna took her arm off from around my neck, ran, and with a bang! Spin! She jumped forward high in the air, bent her upper body, drew her knees to her chest, made a full rotation, and landed cleanly on her feet.
Oh my goodness.
A forward somersault, she hadn’t been able to do it until now. Why could she do it now? I guess children’s abilities are about 50% greater than usual when they’re having fun.
The Commander, who had his eyes wide in surprise, turned to face me.
“Did you teach her that too?”
I smiled bitterly and didn’t answer. The Commander shook his head lightly and turned his face back to Nonna.
The picnic ended with many happy memories. The three of us headed for the carriage, and the Commander paused with one leg at the driver’s seat.
“I thought it would be better if the three of us were on our own, but it was a mistake.”
“If you are tired, I can be the driver.”
“That’s not what I meant. If there was a coachman, I could chat with the two of you for the two hours round trip. More importantly, you say can drive … no, it’s pointless to ask anymore.”
“There is the term, jack of all trades, master of none.”
“That doesn’t apply to you.”
The Commander caressed my hair, which was tied into a ponytail, with his dominant hand, and then sat down on the driver’s seat.
That was where I would smile happily if it was work, but what kind of expression should I show now? I wasn’t sure. It was an act that would make some people shudder, but it was certainly not unpleasant.
Nonna seemed tired and fell asleep on my lap. I also looked out the window while feeling comfortably fatigued.
I had experienced various missions at work and became a person of many layers. I didn’t dislike the organization or the job. It helped my family and I believe I spent nineteen very rich and meaningful years.
But until now, I never had a love interest and I didn’t even experience a real picnic. I was just unaware of it and there are many other things that I lack compared to people who have taken up ordinary jobs.
But from now on, I can fill in the missing experiences as much as I want. There was no need to rush. Besides, there is no rule that a perfect life is precious and an irregular life is inferior. It’s fun to fill in the gaps.
Before long, I noticed that the corners of my mouth were slightly raised.