—It was his first experience as a tutor, but was meeting like this the norm?
Lyle was loitering about alone in the midst of pedestrian traffic in the centre of the governmental district, killing time through speculation.
After two days of searching, Maria had finally found someone who was hiring a tutor.
—I have to make a good first impression, at least for Maria, who had gone out of her way to do this for me.
Lyle focused his mind, and looked upwards at the other end of the street. There, a towering antiquated white tower came into his sight, which seemed as though looking down upon the modern, central government district—the royal castle of Ilsestein.
As of that moment, Maria, who was his intermediary, was inside the royal castle attending a social function. It seemed that a certain noble family was announcing their successor. Though she would brush it off and say that she was just a ‘nouveau riche lass’, that copper-haired girl was still the daughter of a respectable viscount.
“—Are you Sir Lyle Waldstein?”
He suddenly jumped up with a start, as the strict-sounding voice that had spoken almost seemed to be accosting a suspicious character rather than calling out to him.
In a fluster, Lyle turned about—and stared at the owner of that voice, dumbstruck.
What first entered his vision was a red-hemmed, navy blue military uniform. From the ornamented epaulet worn, it could be told that it was a quasi-noble’s—it denoted the status of a knight. The sword worn at the waist was supposedly inherited.
There was nothing surprising about the uniform itself, per se. But it had been outside of Lyle’s expectations that the one wearing the military uniform was a girl not so different from him, age-wise.
She had orange-coloured hair which gave off an impression of burnt brass, and dignified, dark grey-coloured eyes. Her tense, well-featured eyebrows were striking, and once the initial surprise had passed, the military uniform looked very well-suited to the girl.
“…Are you Sir Lyle Waldstein?”
The tall girl asked the silent Lyle, while somewhat looking down at him.
“Ah, yes. I’m Lyle… and you are?”
“I am Cecilia Grazer. House Weissburg has sent me to welcome you.”
Giving the name that Maria had told him in advance and her own, the girl gestured towards the horse carriage that had stopped in the street.
“If you’ll please. I will be leading the way.”
The girl who had introduced herself as Cecilia headed for the horse carriage without waiting for Lyle’s reply. Lyle followed in a hurry, and once the two of them boarded, the horse carriage began to move in a smooth manner.
The leather-covered seats in the compartment were comfortable, but the grimacing face of the girl sitting opposite of him made Lyle feel a discomfort he could naught but keep silent about.
“I am a civilian in military employment. ‘Fräulein’ would not be an appropriate term of address.”
Lyle bowed his head, feeling ashamed from those sharp words. Only solemnity could be felt from her, and he could only feel overawed at that aura.
“You may simply call me ‘Grazer’.”
She added, and then firmly closed her lips.
He was not sure about how much distance they had covered, but at the very least it had been over an hour. Lyle made a strained smile which had previously escaped him, and attempted to ease the atmosphere.
“…Umm, Miss Grazer?”
“First, I’d like to thank you for hiring me.”
“I’m not the one who is hiring you, nor are you employed yet.”
“…I was also surprised at the fact that a girl of my age wearing a military uniform had come to get me.”
“If you think it’s unusual, then just say it clearly.”
Every reply from Cecilia pierced through him cleanly like a sword.
“…Umm, what sort of person is the student I’m going to be teaching—”
“Please refrain from unnecessary prying.”
Cecilia stated in no unclear terms her refusal of the topic. She fixed the now silent Lyle with a piercing gaze—a stare which seemed as though she was running him through with a sharp sabre.
“—Let me be upfront about this. I was against your hiring as a tutor. That hasn’t changed. No matter how great a friend you have, no matter which famous figure’s disciple you are, you are merely a student—merely a greenhorn.”
“I do not understand what my master intended by hiring an inexperienced person like yourself, but I will not acknowledge you. In the actual case of your employment as Milady’s tutor, never forget that I have no intention of changing my views on this matter.”
Her manner of speaking was excessively impolite, for a first meeting. The mood had been ruined; it was likely that not a single word would be spoken even after they get out of the horse carriage.
“……I see,” nodded Lyle, with a quiet countenance. “Somehow, my employer-to-be who’s thinking of hiring me as the tutor might be quite the nice person.”
“…You’ve not even met each other yet, why do you say so?”
“I understand that much from seeing your speech and conduct, Miss Grazer.”
Lyle smiled sweetly at the girl with a doubtful look on her face.
“Someone who was simply working for the sake of working probably wouldn’t have such an attitude. It would be enough to just follow instructions and bring me along. For you to have been roused up like that, it wouldn’t have been possible had you not cared, right?”
Cecilia’s eyes widened at the unexpected retort.
Lyle did not think she was a foul person. Her tongue was vicious and her expression fierce, but curiously enough he did not feel any malice from her. It seemed she had said those words expressly to anger Lyle. In angering him, the talk of hiring a tutor might be rendered null.
And so, Cecilia Grazer was a girl who thought of and was concerned about the well-being of her mistress. If she had actually carried it out, the one being rebuked in the end would have been her, after all.
“…Whatever you may say, I will not change my mind.”
With that, Cecilia turned her face away.
Lyle merely smiled gently, and leaned back onto the soft cushion.