Drawn Mochi Volume 4 Chapter 16.1: Around the Open Gate*7

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 Then the next day.


 We all headed to Mr. Argent’s house.


 Mr. Argent seemed surprised that Fay came with us, but he saw no reason to refuse and let us in.


 I sit on the sofa in the reception room.


 Fay and Ms. Croix are next to me. Laocles is a little further away. …It’s okay. Everyone is here, and I can say what I want to say.



“Have you come to a conclusion?” (Fida)



 Mr. Argent looks at me while saying that. I feel like I’m being overwhelmed by his gaze, but I have to say it properly.



“I think you and I have different paths. What I want and what you want are probably different…” (Tougo)



 I have to tell you that you and I are different creatures.



“I have to tell you that you and I are different creatures, so let me confirm that. Let me emphasize that we think differently from each other.” (Tougo)



 Mr. Argent looked surprised and curious. He also looked interested. Or maybe it was all an act and he just thought it was annoying.



“Hmm. Confirm, huh? I guess it’s necessary to relieve your anxiety. What do you want to confirm?” (Fida)


“First, I want to know what you want from me.” (Tougo)



 When I said this, Mr. Argent tilted his head a little and answered,



“If you ask me what I want, well, I want you to paint as a painter. And hopefully, I hope that you will become a well-known painter, that you will be able to hang your paintings in the royal castle… and that you will be successful as a painter.” (Fida)



 Mr. Argent said with a smile.


 He has the best intentions. Probably.


 …That’s why we are so different from each other.



“I don’t want to sell my paintings, nor do I want to sell my name.” (Tougo)



 When I said that, Mr. Argent clearly showed a dismayed expression.



“…you don’t want to sell?” (Fida)



 He didn’t say, “I want you to sell your paintings.” He only talked about status and name recognition… but apparently, as expected, Mr. Argent thinks that “selling the painting” is a “natural” thing to do.


 Perhaps, the more the painting sells, the better it is, and other things don’t matter at all.



“I’m fine as long as I can eat once a day, live in the forest, and paint all the time. …It doesn’t matter if my paintings don’t sell. I just want to keep painting.” (Tougo)



 When I said this, Mr. Argent looked as if he was having trouble understanding me. He pretended to be listening to me seriously, but behind his back, he was desperately thinking about the meaning of my words. That’s how I felt.



“…Also, if you don’t mind me being more selfish, I want to draw pictures for people who like my pictures. Because I like drawing pictures, and they like the pictures I draw. So, I am happy when people buy my paintings, but I don’t paint for the purpose of selling them… Money is just a way to appreciate my paintings.” (Tougo)



 I wonder if he gets the message. I am very worried.


 I wonder if Mr. Argent is thinking, but does that mean that he is thinking? Is he trying to understand my words?


 Or is he just trying to figure out what to do with me first?



“Also, I don’t particularly want status either.” (Tougo)


“…Why is that?” (Fida)



 Why, you ask? But I don’t need a status, because it can be troublesome. It may be because I don’t feel comfortable, or it may be because I have found a way to live happily without a status.


 …But in the end, I guess it’s because “status” is “a lump of evaluation.”



“I think that to gain status means to be appreciated.” (Tougo)


“…That’s right.” (Fida)


“My teacher taught me that evaluation is permission to stay here. That’s what I think, too.” (Tougo)



 As I said this, Mr. Argent began to try to understand my words again. So I waited for a moment and then continued.



“I am happy and grateful to have a place in Redgarde. I have a place in Redgarde, and then I have a place in Fay’s heart, and I feel very, very comfortable there.” (Tougo)


“…I see. Then wouldn’t it be better to have more ‘places’?” (Fida)


“But no matter how many places I get, whether I want to stay there or not seems to be another thing. …I don’t really like high places, and if I get status, all the recognition I’ll get will probably be from such ‘high places’. It’s just not for me.” (Tougo)



 I like small places better than high places. I feel at home when I’m in such a space. I’m like a Pipe Fox. …I’m very much like a Pipe Fox.



“Maybe it’s better to have different places to stay. But I don’t particularly need them… ‘It’s okay to have them’ means ‘it’s okay not to have them’, and in other words, I’m not attracted to the idea of status.” (Tougo)



 I can see something like impatience in Mr. Argent’s expression. To disguise that, Mr. Argent apparently decided to tell the maid who was in the corner of the room to prepare tea. While the maids prepare tea, I say what I want to say most.



“Then, there was something I couldn’t agree with.” (Tougo)


“…What is it?” (Fida)


“I just can’t figure out why you appreciated me so much.” (Tougo)



“…you asked me yesterday why.” (Fida)


“Yes.” (Tougo)


“So you weren’t satisfied with my response then, is that it?” (Fida)



 I nodded to Mr. Argent’s words.


 Yes, that’s right. I was not satisfied with that.



“I’m a painter. I’m a person who paints pictures, so naturally I thought my evaluation was based on my paintings.” (Tougo)



 When I said that, Mr. Argent nodded with a look that said, “Of course.”



“But your evaluation wasn’t about my painting…” (Tougo)


“…Wasn’t it an evaluation of the painting?” (Fida)



 Perhaps this was the biggest discrepancy of all.


 Mr. Argent looked puzzled. It seems like he must have given his evaluation of the painting.


 …But that’s not what I wanted to hear.



“When I asked you, ‘what did you think of my painting?’ you told me what other people thought of my painting, but you didn’t say anything about the painting itself. I didn’t know what you thought was good about my painting or what you liked about it.” (Tougo)



 At that point, Mr. Argent finally noticed the difference between us.



“It was a little sad. When Mr. Argent saw my painting, you thought, ‘I can manage.’ But that wasn’t the ‘evaluation of the painting’ that I wanted to hear. …that was ‘about selling a painting,’ not an ‘evaluation of the painting itself.’” (Tougo)



 When I said that, Mr. Argent’s eyes clearly showed signs of upset.


  I think probably conveyed my feelings much better than I did yesterday, when I said, “that’s a bit too much for me.”



“I want people to think about the painting, whether it’s ‘I feel at home when I look at it,’ ‘I like the colors,’ or even ‘I don’t understand it,’ if you want. I want people to look at the painting, not at what is beyond the painting. That’s what I want.” (Tougo)



“Um, please tell me again. What did Mr. Argent think when he saw my painting?” (Tougo)



 Mr. Argent was silent for a while. The way he gracefully tilted his cup of tea seemed to be a sign of tranquility, but behind the facade, he seemed to be thinking desperately about something.



 …I was anxiously waiting for Mr. Argent’s words.



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