Drawn Mochi Volume 4 Chapter 14.1: Around the Open Gate*5

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 As I waited nervously, Mr. Argent pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and held it out in front of me.



“First of all, please check the terms and conditions.” (Fida)



  I looked at the paper, thinking it was abrupt.


 I’m not completely sure what they are, but I’m sure they are the terms and conditions of my employment.


 I honestly don’t understand the conditions… After all, I don’t really understand the value of money. I don’t really understand the value of money, even if they say, “1,000 gold coins per year”.


 But it’s not all that I don’t understand.


 First of all, I heard that if I sign a contract with the Argent family, I will receive a splendid house in the Argent territory.


 I also heard that I would be able to get painting jobs in the Argent Territory and in the Royal Capital.


 And, most importantly, I will be allowed to call myself a painter of the Argent family.


 …What should I do? I’m not in need of money, I can get a house if I paint, and I don’t really want that much work, and it would be fine if I could call myself the Redgarde family’s painter…



“What do you think–about these conditions?” (Fida)


“Well…” (Tougo)



 I don’t like being asked, “What do you think?” I don’t know why. What am I having trouble with this? How do I say no? That I do not want to stop being the Redgarde family’s painter? Because I’m being offered things I don’t particularly need? Because I have no interest in the Argent family?




 Yup. That’s it. I’m troubled because I don’t know what the “interest” is.



“Um, why are you telling me this?” (Tougo)



 I’m puzzled because I don’t know why Mr. Argent is interested in me.



“…Why?” (Fida)



 Mr. Argent looked a little surprised. It was as if she had never expected to be asked such a question.



“Hmm. You ask a very interesting question.” (Fida)



 I wonder why it’s interesting. …Don’t other people care? Is it not common to be more concerned about “why” you are being hired than “under what conditions” you are being hired?


  I’m not sure if but if I think about it, I should already know why. Because I am a “painter”. In other words, the other person is approaching me because he saw my painting and liked it. That’s for sure, isn’t it?


 No, I am not sure. Still, I am curious. I am curious about what they liked about my paintings, which of my paintings they liked, and more. I really want to hear about it. Is it shallow of me to think so…?


 As I was nervously waiting for Mr. Argent to say something, Mr. Argent grinned and said,



“Oh, it’s simple. I like to get things that are likely to grow in the future before they do.” (Fida)



 As I was listening to Mr. Argent’s words, I was at a loss to understand what he was talking about, he said something to reassure me with a smile on his face.



“Don’t worry. I promise to treat you as a talented person, no matter how young you are. I will pay you as well as any other painter, and I will treat you as a member of the Argent family, as per these terms.” (Fida)



 But even though I could tell that he was trying to reassure me with both his tone and his voice, for some reason I didn’t feel at ease at all.



“In that case, you will become the artist of the Argent family. You will receive requests from the Royal Castle. Well, it depends on the time, but I may be able to persuade the Royal Castle. Someday, your paintings will be displayed in the Royal Castle.” (Fida)



 The conversation went on and on, but I still couldn’t understand it. I understand the meaning of the words, but my feelings are not catching up? Can’t catch up with my understanding? Hmmm… I feel like I’ve been lifted up and put on a high place that I can’t get down.



“And then people all over the world will see your painting and praise it as a masterpiece. Wouldn’t you like to capture that kind of future?” (Fida)


“Um, uh…” (Tougo)


“What, there’s no need to be obligated to Redgard. I’ll make up for it myself. You can decide to live in my territory from today onwards. I’ll prepare a mansion for you right away.” (Fida)



 …Yeah, that’s no good. If you leave it like this, things will escalate further.



“Um, what did you think of my painting?” (Tougo)



 Maybe it was because it was too sudden, but Mr. Argent is stunned. But this is very important to me.



“You saw my painting, right?” (Tougo)



 I want to know what this person was thinking when he approached me.


 I want to know what he thought of my painting rather than me who painted it.


 …I want to know how this person evaluated my painting.


 That’s what I thought when I asked.


 Mr. Argent thought for a moment… and then said,



“Yes. Of course. I saw your painting when someone introduced it to me, and I thought it was good. It is a little far from what is trendy, but trends are created. I can manage it to some extent.” (Fida)


“…What do you mean you can manage?” (Tougo)


“I guess that means I feel like you’re worth promoting.” (Fida)





 Somehow… Somehow, we are not getting on the same page…



“That’s the reason. Does that make sense?” (Fida)



 I guess that means the explanation is complete. Mr. Argent ended the conversation there.


 What should I do? I guess the part I wanted to hear the most was left out. The things he just talked about were about myself, not about my paintings, so if possible, I would have liked to hear about my paintings…



“It would have been a shame to leave you buried in the Redgarde family. I know you have a sense of duty, but for your own sake and for the sake of the Redgarde family who raised you so well, I hope you will come to our house and succeed. Let me do that for you.” (Fida)



 …Even if people laugh at me when I say that I’m in trouble.


 What should I do? I’ve been in trouble ever since the conversation started. There are so many things I don’t understand, and I’m sure we’re on different paths, but I know that the other person doesn’t care about that…


 …And perhaps I just can’t accept that the other person doesn’t care about what I care about.



“Um, I’m sorry. Please let me decline the offer.” (Tougo)



 So, I have no choice but to reply like this.



“……huh?” (Fida)



 Mr. Argent was stunned.


 I guess he didn’t expect to be rejected. That’s what he looks like.



“Um… that’s a bit too much for me.” (Tougo)



 So, I somehow have to come up with a good reason to decline.


 Because I don’t know what to say. I don’t think I can say no because I feel like there’s something wrong with him.



“Hmm… I don’t think you should worry about your lack of experience. If you keep saying that, you’ll never be able to accomplish anything, right?” (Fida)



 Hmm… I think that’s true, but I don’t have a good reason to do so. But I can’t make up a good reason why else. How can I turn down this person’s offer?


 My worries have returned to the first one. In the first place, when I received the letter, I was thinking, “How should I refuse?” and I thought that things would change if I actually met and listened to the story, but it didn’t change!


 No, I don’t think there was anything wrong with hearing him out. It’s just that I tried listening to it and it turned out to be no good, and what I heard didn’t disprove my previous worries, but…



“Forgive us, Lord Argent.” (Croix)



 While I was worrying, Ms. Croix who was next to me, with a troubled smile on her face talked to Mr. Argent.



“As you can see, Tougo Uezora is still young and inexperienced. So, it seems that he is not able to process his thoughts and feelings. After all, this is the first time we have had such a big offer. …No, neither have I. I mean, who would have thought that the Argent family would come out of the blue to talk to us?” (Croix)



 Ms. Croix says that and stares at Mr. Argent. Then Mr. Argent looks at Ms. Croix and makes a face like “Well, you don’t have to feel bad.” …Somehow, but I feel like Ms. Croix is using a bit of charm magic. Probably.



“Could you give us more time? He needs time to think. …Then, we’ll talk about whether he can bear the pressure…” (Croix)



 Ms. Croix stares at Mr. Argent again. This time it’s a little stronger.


 Then… Mr. Argent’s eyes seemed a little dim.



“Are you…Tougo’s secretary?” (Fida)




 And Mr. Argent leaned forward a little, looking interested in Ms. Croix.



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