I hummed a little song I made up on the spot as I speared the center of the flower-shaped pepper with my fork.
The crunchy, slightly spicy taste of the pepper paired with the always-right combination of sausage was divine.
I gave a thumbs-up to our kitchen chef, who had crafted a beautiful flower out of sausage and pepper.
I never had much of a filter, and if Yan could see it, I would eat it.
The chef couldn’t help but chuckle at my antics.
“Is there anything else you need?”
I happily chewed on a meatball as Yan accidentally dropped one from his fork.
Matilda, the thin woman who had been waiting behind Yan, frowned at the fallen meatball.
“Your Highness, you should practice proper table manners.”
Urien and Roxana turned to look at me.
I had meatball sauce smeared around my mouth.
Urien chuckled and encouraged me to eat more by adding another meatball to my plate.
It was a signal that proper etiquette didn’t matter in this casual family meal.
Matilda coughed and quietly stepped back.
She was hiding the satisfaction she felt from looking down on me.
“I want more pepper instead.”
“Yeah, give me more pepper.”
I grabbed another pepper from Urien and, instead of giving Yan his dropped meatball back, I placed it on his plate alongside my last meatball.
“My subjects should eat well.
Eat up, and after lunch, I’ll introduce you to the Demon King’s Castle.”
“I’m sorry, Your Grace.
The Prince has a mandatory language lesson this morning.”
“A language lesson?”
He has one in the morning and two more in the afternoon.”
“What is this crazy schedule?”
“Well, Yan did come to study abroad.
But the funny thing is that even the private tutor came all the way from the Celis Kingdom.”
“What’s the point of studying abroad anyway?”
“Well, I’ll attend classes too, why not?”
Upon hearing this, Yurian and Roxana turned to me with surprised expressions.
Roxana, who wondered if I inherited Yurian’s intelligence, had tried early education once.
But even that was just teaching spelling and numbers, and I gave up after a day of getting hit on the head.
After that, I was almost free to play.
Even the so-called classes were only art or music classes once or twice a week.
But even those weren’t really education, as I just doodled with different paints or played the piano randomly.
Of course, I didn’t like those classes either.
“But, Your Highness.”
“Yes, Your Grace.”
“Please, just call me by my name.”
“This is the first time Tilly has said she will attend classes on her own.”
“Even a field trip would be okay.”
Matilda, who was stubbornly unyielding, didn’t give in easily.
I watched the quiet standoff between Matilda and Roxana.
Yurian, who had been quiet until now, suddenly spoke up and handed a piece of bread to me and Yan, bringing up an unrelated topic.
“Roxie, let’s think a little more about Tilly’s education.
Even if she doesn’t attend classes with us, she might still benefit from spending time with the Prince.
We still have to investigate the attack incident, so we’ll be busy for a while.
It may even escalate into a problem between countries, so let’s think about it after we’ve sorted everything out.
They’re still young, and they’ll be spending a few years together.”
It was a phrase that contained various meanings.
To me, it sounded like some kind of threat to Matilda.
Unless you want to turn this into an issue between nations and have it escalate from the empire’s side, just follow Roksa’s will obediently while you’re in our house.
Urien, who was smiling brightly, looked like a true statesman for the first time in a while.
“Hmm, I understand.
It seems that there should be a fellow student studying with the prince if we listen to you.”
After Urien’s words, Matilda was lost in thought for a moment, but eventually gave up, perhaps thinking that she had to show herself well to the landlord.
“That’s right, when in Rome, do as the Romans do!”
She didn’t particularly like the idea of attending classes, but she couldn’t just leave Yan alone.
“And we’ll just skip the afternoon classes.”
She might receive a scolding, but what does it matter? Yan’s time here is limited, so she can’t keep him with them for most of the day.
She would check the atmosphere of the class, then take him out to play.
As I smiled at Yan, he smiled back at me.
He was still wary of adults like Urien or Roksa, but his guard against me seemed to have loosened considerably.
His smile was so pretty and lovely.
“Oh-goo-oh-goo, my baby is so pretty.
At the age of five, or seven in Korean age, I thought that learning to write would be at most learning letters, and if I was lucky, learning words or sentences, so I couldn’t hide my astonishment.
“What is this?”
“Since this is your first time, you only need to write it down once.
Prince, just write it down five times as usual.”
I read the paragraph at the top of the several passages the writing teacher had given me, holding a fountain pen in my hand.
“It is not right to try to answer all problems by saying that everything in the world is God’s will.
Although God sometimes gives prophecies or miracles, He is generally indifferent.
Therefore, scholars who are called to learn and study need to have a contemplative attitude toward any problem in the world.”
Will Yan be able to read and understand this text?
I glanced at Yan out of the corner of my eye.
He didn’t seem to be able to understand or even read the text properly.
It was so obvious that he was just copying the characters without any context, as if the teacher had extracted a part of a research book and asked a five-year-old to write it down.
“It’s just mindless copying.”
Pure anger that I had forgotten about started to rise.
It reminded me of the time in middle and high school when I had to write pages of mindless copying just to memorize it, and when I got to college, I had to write over thirty handwritten reports because of a crazy professor.
It was the epitome of inefficiency, but it still helped me study a little.
“But you can’t judge efficiency or inefficiency here.”
It’s just tormenting a young child.
I put down my pen and raised my hand.
“Can I ask a question?”
“Yes, of course.
Even though it’s your first class, you seem to be more eager to learn than the prince.”
‘Are you saying that in front of the victim? Can’t you see my kid looking sulky?’
If Yan asked a question, did this person receive it properly?
I forced a smile and snatched the paper Yan was looking at.
The crooked and childish handwriting seemed to show an effort to write it properly.
“Do you need to go to the bathroom?”
“You need to go to the bathroom.”
“No, I really don’t have to go.”
“Don’t hesitate, just go and come back quickly.”
Yan looked back and forth between me and the teacher, not understanding the situation.
The teacher nodded, saying it was okay for Yan to go.
As Yan left, I ripped up the paper he had written in front of the teacher.
“Excuse me, Your Excellency?”
“What is the problem with this?”
“What do you mean?”
“Is it God’s will? Or is it the teacher’s problem?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Or is it someone’s problem to bring something like this to a young child who can’t even read properly and make them suffer, lower their self-esteem, and make them incompetent?”
The writing teacher froze at my words.
But he soon began to turn the conversation without deeply considering what a four-year-old child had said.
“Your Excellency, I understand that the class is somewhat difficult and unpleasant.
If you don’t want to do it today because it’s a field trip, you don’t have to.”
“Do you think I’m doing this because I don’t want to teach right now? I told you there’s a problem, but you don’t understand what it is?”
“…Then what do you think the problem is, Your Excellency?”
“I’m just following orders.
I’m not a good person, but there’s nothing I can do.
Your Excellency doesn’t need to worry about other people’s opinions since you’re in a position where you don’t have to.
As a young child with good parents, you can say things like this, right? I’m just a household tutor.”
‘Look at this guy’s mouth.’
He was only doing it under the pressure of the queen, and I was cosplaying as a victim trying to push him down with my social superiority.
To suppress my anger, I looked down at my intact paper.
‘God’s will.’ Who am I to blame for putting Yan in this situation, as the author? I didn’t have the right to be angry, only the responsibility to resolve this situation.
Despite my personal dilemma about changing the original work, as a human being, I had to be angry about this situation and bear moral responsibility.
‘If you’re a human, that is.’
Although I introduced myself at the beginning of the class, I couldn’t remember the name of the English teacher in front of me.
Nam Joo grew up being bullied.
Those around her, including the extras who played a part in her abuse, were accomplices to the “setting” that had been created.
These anonymous villains did not even appear in the original work.
I was clearly the one who had created the situation that the individual couldn’t control.
And they were finding pleasure in abusing a child in an uncontrollable situation, gaining a sense of psychological fulfillment.
“I’m not good enough for you, am I?”
That was a lie.
He definitely liked it.
With eyes like Matilda, he spoke Dori’s name.
“What’s your name?”
This time, I asked for his name to remember it clearly.
It wasn’t worth being polite because of the extra villain without a name.
The teacher frowned at my informal speech, maybe because it bothered him as a human.
“If you’re human, you shouldn’t act like that.”
Although I tried to address just one anonymous extra villain, I ended up overturning everything.
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