I force Ronald-san out of the mansion, and we come to the farmland, which is the biggest achievement of this settlement.
"Look, Ronald-san! This is the farmland of our settlement!"
"Yes, it's a farmland..."
Oh no, the conversation was over in an instant because I was just going with the momentum and didn't think about it.
But, well, it's a farmland! However, what else can I say, since it is a farmland?
"May I have a word with you, young master?"
Ronald-san stares at me with a serious expression on his face.
"About Diana, is something wrong with her?"
"Well, I can't help but notice that she's acting funny today, she's always been so merciless towards me, but she seems to be distracted and restless..."
Diana's father, as expected, must have noticed the slightest change in his daughter.
Yes, Diana seemed to be normal, but there was one thing that was not normal.
"Actually, Diana is getting punished for something right now."
"Punishment? Did Diana do something wrong?"
I explain to Ronald-san about the whole escaping incident.
At first, Ronald-san had a grim expression on his face, perhaps because he was worried about Diana, but as we proceeded with our conversation, his expression softened.
"I see, it is true that Diana has a strict attitude toward herself, so it is right that you decided the contents of the punishment rather than leaving it up to her."
"Hahaha, still, I didn't really want to punish her."
"Well, that girl inherited her earnestness from her mother, it's a tough talk, isn't it? So, what kind of punishment did you give her exactly?"
I knew he would ask me that...
"Uh, for Diana's sake, could you agree to keep this a secret?"
Ronald-san tilted his head, wondering what that meant.
But then, he saw Diana, whom we had left in the parlor, walking toward us from the mansion.
"Ah, sorry Diana, I just got a little carried away. I didn't mean to leave you."
"No, that's okay. And It's not that."
Diana looks at Ronald-san frequently, as if she is having a hard time saying something.
Looking at Diana's expression, I guessed what Diana was trying to say.
"Ah, so that's how it is, you have our permission, you can go."
"Thank you very much. Master Neil, Ronald-san, if you'll excuse me for a moment."
Diana lightly bowed her head and left the place with a little haste.
As I looked at Diana's back, who was obviously looking very strange, Ronald-san asked me a question.
"Is that her punishment, by any chance?"
"Yes, sort of."
"I guess I shouldn't ask you what kind of punishment you gave her?"
"I'd appreciate it if you did."
For Diana's sake, and for me.
"...I understand. From the sound of it, I don't think it's something I need to worry about, so I won't ask."
Thanks God, if I had been forced to talk, I would have had no choice but to talk, but in that case, I would have experienced as much or more embarrassment as if I had read that report.
"Now then, let's talk about business seriously."
Ronald-san turned to the farmland again and started to ask questions about what he was interested in.
"Compared to the size of the settlement, the farmland is quite large, isn't it? Is this in anticipation of the future expansion?"
"That's part of it, but there's still nothing here that can be traded, so I'm also trying to make some money."
"I see, so you're going to sell the surplus crops to the city?"
"Yes, that's the plan."
In order to maintain this settlement, we consume a variety of goods every day.
Among them, there are many goods that are difficult to obtain unless we purchase them from the city.
For example, salt for seasoning, axes for chopping down trees, hoes for plowing the soil, and even the clothes we wear.
The clothes can be damaged by repeated washing, they can be torn when working, but they can be worn for a long time if they are sewn, but needles and threads for such sewing are not available in this settlement.
And of course money is needed to buy such goods in the city.
"For the time being, we plan to exchange the crops for money and buy what we need."
"Will the crops be enough?"
"To be honest, I don't think so. But we have materials from Heindahl that we hunted before, so we can make do with those as well."
"Heindahl, huh? Did you hunt a monster?"
"Yes, just the two of us, Diana and I—Oh! Of course I didn't give Diana any unreasonable orders, and I put Diana's safety first, so please don't worry about that!"
"No, I think you should put your own safety first."
I understand what Ronald-san means.
He might be trying to say why an aristocrat puts his servant's safety before his own, but I'm not the kind of person who can be overbearing with the position of being an aristocrat.
To put it in terms of my feelings, I feel like a modern Japanese employer, and I am just trying to keep the responsibility of the employer if something happens to the employee.
"You are a strange man as usual, young master, you speak respectfully even to an ordinary servant like me, or perhaps even to a slave?"
"Ah, you know very well..."
"Huh? Are you serious?"
Ronald-san looked surprised.
I may be the highest in the settlement group, but I am definitely the youngest in terms of age, and I have to use honorifics when I am talking to a senior person.
In the first place, my communicative ability is not so high that I can talk to a person whom I don't know well without any hesitation.
"That's just like you, but... I don't know if I should say this, but they'll take advantage of you like that, won't they?"
"I know, that's why I've been saying I'm not suited to be an aristocrat."
"Well, I guess that means Master expects a lot from you even if you don't have that kind of thing."
I wonder how much he overestimates me.
I seriously think that my character is a fatal flaw in a nobleman, but is the Count Atmiras going to be okay?
"Anyway, is the farmland finished at its current size? Or do you still plan to expand it?"
"Well, we're going to leave it at this level for now and decide whether or not to expand it depending on the situation."
The topic is quickly brought back to work, and I explain, a little puzzled.
"So what kind of work are the slaves doing now?"
"Right now they are building their lodging houses. The women are using the servants' quarters in the mansion, but the men are currently sleeping in tents, so I've asked them to build a lodging house for the men."
"For the slaves."
Ronald-san muttered and looked at the lodging house under construction as if he was thinking about something.
"By the way, who gave you the specific building instructions?"
"I give the general instructions to Diana, and she gives them to the slaves. But since Diana and I are both amateurs when it comes to architecture, we leave most of the specific design work to people who have built buildings before."
In short, we tell them what we want the building to be used for, and leave all the design and layout to them.
Sorry to be so blunt, but I don't think it's right for a novice to interfere in this kind of thing, and if the person is a professional architect, it would be a terrible thing to ask someone who just has experience to do this and that.
"...well, I don't think there will be a big problem."
Is it my imagination that there was a pause in the conversation that seemed to have some meaning?
"So, is this about the progress of the settlement?"
"Well, except for the fact that we've cleared some farmland and are in the process of building a lodging house, there's nothing of note to report."
"What are your plans after you finish building the lodging house?"
"I plan to clear some more forest and build a fence. It's only a simple fence, but I found out that Rannart wanders around at night."
"Hmm, is there any problem with stockpiling food?"
"Oh, actually, that's not so safe either. I'm planning to go to the city with Diana to buy some things."
Two weeks have passed since we started settling the area, and even though we have been trying to save as much as possible, the food supply is getting insufficient with 30 people in the area.
For this reason, I was going to go to the city with Diana to buy what we lacked while exchanging Heindahl's materials for cash.
"I think it would solve a lot of problems if you could go hunting regularly."
"No, we can't afford to hire such people on a continuous basis. In the first place, I wonder if there are people who would be willing to work for us under the conditions we offer."
Not only the financial problem, but also the location of this settlement makes it difficult to commute from outside of the settlement, and we have no choice but to live here.
When I told him about my problems, Ronald-san tilted his head curiously and said to me.
"Then why don't you buy a slave?"
Well, that's what this world's common sense would say.
Certainly, buying slaves who have hunting experience is the most realistic solution.
Slaves are bought outright, and there is no need to pay them regularly as long as they are guaranteed food, clothing, and shelter.
In addition, as slaves, they basically cannot disobey the orders of their masters, and they do not complain about the working environment.
It is a common sense in this world to buy slaves when in need of human resources, and it is quite natural that Ronald-san proposes this as a solution, but I still could not accept the idea of "buying" people instead of "hiring" them.
Ronald-san suddenly smiled bitterly at me, whether he knew my conflict or not.
"You're still the same as ever, young master... well, it's because of you that I can entrust Diana to you with peace of mind... and young master, I know I'm asking a lot of you, even though I'm only a servant, but please take good care of my daughter in the future."
"No, no, I am the one who is being helped, I am the one who should be asking for your help."
Ronald-san bowed his head, to which I hurriedly replied.
"I am really glad that Diana is here. I'm also thankful that you trusted me and entrusted your precious daughter to me."
"Haha, I'm glad to hear that. But it was Master who decided to give Diana to you, young master, so I didn't do anything."
Well, that may be true, but it is a lot easier for me to feel comfortable if I have the parents' permission or not.
"Well, anyway, please take care of Diana. Also, as Diana's father, I have one more thing to say."
"Yes, what is it?"
I was listening to him, wondering what he was going to say, when Ronald-san came up to me and gently asked me.
"Even if it's a punishment, please don't train my daughter too much, okay?"
"If Diana's body becomes too weak to marry, I'll ask you to take responsibility for it."
Is it possible that he knows what I did to Diana?
But I don't think he knew what I was doing because he didn't see it directly, but he probably guessed from my attitude and Diana's attitude what kind of punishment I was going to give her.
"So that's it then, I'll be counting on you for 'all kinds of things'."
With this reminder, Ronald-san's visit came to an end.
And I, who had been given the best wishes about Diana in various ways, was left wondering what to do.
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