Chapter 5

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With Noah.
Three hours later. When we arrived in the forest owned by the Garland family, we decided to have lunch by the waterfall. The forest was comfortable, the nice fragrance of trees and soil gave off a calming sensation. The surface of the lake was shining like a mirror in the sun.

“Mother, there are fish over there…”
“It’s dangerous to get any closer, Noah.”

Noah was pleased with his first outing after a while. I also felt healed seeing his smile. After the meal, Noah said that he wants to take a stroll with me alone, so the guards and maids told us to be careful and watched us from afar.

“Oh, this feels nice. It’s been a while since I visited a forest. This is our first time together here, isn’t it Noah?”
“Have you come here before with Father?”
“No, I’ve never been here with your Father. There’s a forest behind the house of my parents. I used to play there often as a child.”
“Heeh. What games did you play there?”
“Let’s see. I played hide-and-seek, tag, and we even built a secret base with a friend.”
“A secret base?”

Noah’s eyes shone. Boys seem to be interested in such things. I suddenly remembered the boy I often played with when I was young. His hair was yellow like daffodils, and his eyes were the color of caramel. I don’t see any features he has in common with Noah, yet Noah’s curios and sparkling eyes remind me of him.

My Father owns a lot of lands. The trees in the forests he owns are cut down to produce wood. You could say that more than half of the country’s wooden products were made out of Father’s territory’s wood. Not the mention the palace, the furniture in our house as well as houses of other nobles were made from wood from my parent’s fief.

A part of the nobles in the capital call Father “the Lumber Baron” with disdain out of jealousy, but Father never cared about it.

Back at home, we never thought of exposing the citizens to heavy taxes to enrich our own lives like the nobles in the capital do. We have always wanted to make the lives of our citizens better, rather than using them only to squeeze more taxes from them after. For that reason, there are no starving people back in my parent’s fief.
They worked for the citizens and offered numerous places for relaxation and entertainment. The forest behind the mansion was one of such places, and us, the siblings often played there. I have met Fii there. I was five then, he was three years older.

Fii was quite nimble and intelligent, so Immediately came to like him. We got along so well I ended up telling him to come tomorrow. Since then, I would meet him every day to play in the forest.
He was the genius of playing. He came up with numerous games to play. He made a ladder out of rope to climb the trees, he made a swing out of a piece of wood, his ideas never run out. My brothers also come to admire him when he built a treehouse, saying it was a “Secret Base.”

We often played in the playground he created late until the dark. I would also like Noah to experience something like that. The moment I thought so, Anton came to mind.
Anton is a serious person.
He is the kind of man who imposes the life of a noble on himself. I felt like he wouldn’t allow Noah to experience what I did if I told him about it.

While pondering about that, Noah pulled on my hand.

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