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Chapter 127 Dawson’s Journey (Part 1)
We finally arrived at Duke Armenia’s land.
Seeing the streets as busy as they were in the capital, I couldn’t help but be stunned.
No…I should say that I’ve been shocked since I stepped foot in this territory.
The long line in front of customs was already surprising enough. Seeing the tidy streets after entering was likewise surprising.
Especially the latter.
In other territories, even if a leader were planning to clean up some streets, only the main ones would actually be tidied up.
Perhaps it was because of how many police stations there were, each with a constant supply of guards from the duke’s family, that the city was also quite safe and peaceful.
I admired it thoroughly. No wonder their family kept producing government officials.
When we arrived in our hotel, the first thing I wanted to do was get up and start strolling through the streets.
Suddenly, I noticed several people walking into a huge building.
“What store is that?”
I asked a man who was walking by.
“Store…? Are you a traveler?”
“That’s the grade school division of the territory’s school. It provides free lessons in writing, calligraphy, and mathematics to all the children of the territory.”
“Wow…that’s quite impressive.”
Although it was impressive, was it really necessary?
I wondered this to myself.
Reading, writing, mathematics, were subjects for nobles and merchants.
But if even the commonfolk pursued that kind of knowledge, then what kind of meaning would it have?
“Exactly! It’s something that was put into effect since Lady Iris became substitute leader…she said that knowledge is power, and will become a way to support us to make a living independently. At the beginning I wasn’t even sure what she was talking about, but when you actually start learning, the words really hold a lot of deep meaning. We’ll be able to do more work, and be able to use those skills in life as well.”
This man, seemingly excited by my apparent admiration, began to talk enthusiastically
“Yes. Since she came into power, more hospitals have popped up and the tax policies have been revised. For people like us, life has become much easier.”
For a duke’s daughter to be doing the job of a leader…unimaginable.
“Are you also a student of the academy?”
“Yes. At the moment I’m about to enter the higher level division to study.”
The man’s response was very polite. I also asked around for other opinions.
Even with all the people I asked, no one seemed opposed to the idea of a woman being on top. As a matter of fact, their attitudes seemed more along the lines of “isn’t that how it should be?”
Most of them reacted positively, and many talked about it with as much enthusiasm as the man just now.
Lady Iris seemed to be quite beloved by the people of this land.
Because of all the positivity, the dark emotions in my own heart started to boil.
Although they spoke of her as a saint, she still bullied Yuri like that.
If she were a person like this, why would she do that?
“…Sir, I understand what she’s done for the people. But why is it that everyone loves her so much?”
Hearing all the people praise her, I couldn’t help but ask the man who ran the cafeteria for his opinion.
“What a strange question. She acts out of consideration for us. Why would we hate her?”
“But I heard in the capital that she bullied the next queen in line and was rejected from the Academy. Would a person like that really push policies for the people? Isn’t this something she would make her subordinates do?”
Hearing me ask this, the man laughed.
“There must be some kind of mistake in there. Just like the whole business with the church, there must be someone trying to frame her. Thankfully she ended up becoming our leader, so it was a lucky break for us.”
“How can you trust her so deeply?”
“No matter what you say, I’ve been watching her every action. She works herself to the bone providing for her territory, makes time during work to visit orphanages and survey the streets. No one else thinks of us and acts on our behalf like she does.”
“I should ask you, kiddo. Have you heard things about Lady Iris?…If I were you, I’d mind the way you speak. All the people here have nothing but respect for her. In fact, there are some other customers glaring at you right now for what you’ve said.”
It was true that as he spoke to the owner of the shop, he had felt several eyes on him.
They weren’t friendly by any means, but were sharp, hostile.
“Hm. Take care.”
With that, the man returned to his own work.
…She was beloved by the people of this land.
In other words, since returning from the Academy, she repented and changed herself.
After I paid for the bill, I left the cafeteria.
The sun had already began to sink below the horizon, but the streets were still bustling. That meant that the streets here were safe.
She who carries this town, these people in her heart…could she really have bullied Yuri?
Gazing out onto the town, I couldn’t help but suddenly doubt myself.
But quickly enough, I vanquished that thought.
…Because that meant that I was doubting Yuri.
Yuri wouldn’t lie. Couldn’t lie.
It must have been that she changed herself.
If this is what happened, then everything that happened at the Academy wasn’t so bad after all.
After returning to the hostel, I sipped beer as I looked out of the window at the territory.
…Why did I really come here?
It was to understand her.
…So what did I plan to do after understanding her?
Now that I thought about it, I didn’t even know what I was thinking.
Did I want to bring this whole business to an end?
Why would I want to do that…thinking about it, I was just going along with the flow of events.
I had been scolded by my parents. I wanted to eliminate my animosity toward her, who was so admired by the queen dowager.
It was just an attempt to preserve my own reputation.
I had already apologized, already brought things to an end in an attempt to win a way out of everything that burdened me down.
I said this just now. If you apologize like that, you’ll only be thinking of bringing things to an end for yourself. You’re saying sorry, I didn’t want to do any of it, I just followed the crowd. But you were the one who made your own decisions. Think about it from a deeper, wider angle. What should you do, what can you do.
What my senior had said came back to me.
It was true.
The person I wanted to apologize to…
Everything about her, there was nothing that…
None of those thoughts were really my own.
Whether it was apologizing…
…Or bringing things to an end.
…Suddenly, I released a breath and looked toward the window.
Looking at my glass, I realized that there was no more beer left.