“Thank you so much, your majesty.”
“It’s nothing. It’s no big deal.”
I sat inside the cold office of the orphanage. Before me was a cup of gin, and I conversed with the middle-aged individual opposite me. While it was called the office, I felt that the room was pitifully small and the timber building looked like it was a hazard itself. I could feel the stairs wobble under my feet on the way up. Ants crawled out from a small hole in the office. The fire by the side was barely holding up. The window had a hole in it and sheets of paper were used to cover it up, not that it could keep the cold air out. The desk had evidently not been used in a long time. I noticed that a book was placed in the corner to stabilise the desk.
The chair I was sitting on had me on edge. It creaked every time I slightly budged. Did he get the wrong chair?! Isn’t this a chair for children?!
The middle-aged man smiled helplessly, wiped the wound on his head and then placed the gauze down, looked at me and said: “I never imagined that you would be interested in the orphanage, your majesty.”
“I’m not exactly interested. I just felt it would make my bodyguard happy.”
I stood up and walked up to the glass-window. I looked through the dirty glass-window and down to the small playground. Nier played very cheerfully with the children. I’ve never seen Nier smile so brightly. The place was filled with kids, so it was a haven for Nier. The children here were different too. Their clothes were simple, but they were able to stay warm. Their gaze carried the purity and naivety exclusive to children. Compared to the children in the slums, they resembled children much more. That must be why Nier is so happy.
I looked at the children below, turned around and said to the dean of the orphanage: “While I believe that running this orphanage is hard, the children don’t suffer anything.”
The dean revealed a proud look for the first time. He looked at me and proudly said: “Of course. I would never let the children suffer. The children did nothing wrong. They shouldn’t have to suffer. I never spent a penny on myself, but I will never mistreat the children.”
I looked at his gaze. He possessed a pure gaze that you would rarely come across. He wasn’t tall or tough and he didn’t look heroic with his bald and glossy head. However, his gaze was more pure than any other like spring water. I rarely saw anyone with a look like that even in the modern day.
I looked at him and sincerely said: “You are a good dean.”
Not everyone can be said to fulfil their duty dutifully, and not everyone can be considered “good”. A doctor isn’t necessarily a good doctor. A soldier isn’t necessarily a good soldier. But the dean before me was a good dean. It looks like running the orphanage is extremely tiresome. However, the kids below that I saw didn’t look like they were suffering at all. All of them wore bright smiles.
A child’s smile does not lie.
“It’s just that the orphanage cannot continue operating.”
The dean’s smile slowly turned into a worrisome expression. He sat down on his chair lifelessly, looked at me and said: “Your majesty, could you help me? I… We… don’t have any way to repay you, but… but… please help us out of consideration for the children. Please save the children. You do not have to give me money. You only need to save the kids.”
I nodded and said: “How much do the children need? While I don’t have a lot of money, I will do my best.”
The dean looked at me with distress. He pointed to the ground and then said: “Land.”
I froze for a moment and then asked: “Land?”
“Yes. This block of land does not belong to me. I rented this block of land from the church. We managed to stay afloat thanks to the children making some artwork, but the church forcefully wanted to take back the land last month. They brought a loan sheet that said I owed them thirty-thousand gold coins, and said that they would confiscate the orphanage and land if I did not pay it back.”
I widened my eyes and mouth. One gold empire coin is enough for someone to live off for two weeks. So thirty-thousand gold coins is a large sum. While I could probably get it if I begged mom, it still pains me to give thirty-thousand gold coins to the orphanage.
Yes, I’m a hypocrite. I can’t give away everything I have as a donation. I could generously give you a part of what I have, but I need to think about it since it’s such a large sum.
The dean lowered his head like he was carrying a heavy burden on his shoulders and said: “Yes, thirty-thousand. And I must pay it in full this month. If I do not pay it in full this month, the children will be forced to leave. They will freeze to death in the winter. Your majesty, you are my only hope. Nobody else pays me heed. You were the only one who stopped. You are one of the rulers of this nation. I beg you. I beg you. Please listen to the cries of the children. I beg you. Please save the children!”
He knelt before me. I placed my hands on the front of his shoulders, but at the same time, I didn’t know what to say. I couldn’t help. I had no way of helping him. The one who can help him is the empress, not me. I don’t have my own money. The money I have was given to me by the empress. I don’t possess such a large sum.
“Get up first. I don’t have that much either…… The sum is honestly too big…… However, I will think of something. I will definitely think of something.”
I got a plan called jack shit. If I could make thirty-thousand gold coins appear, I wouldn’t need to continue being a wussy here. The only plan that comes to mind is using aegyo with her majesty. Maybe selling my looks might make mom happy enough to give me thirty-thousand gold coins.
Thirty-thousand gold coins is but a small sum for mom. But it’s too large for me.
“Y-You could use your influence. You could start a charity and everybody would be willing to donate to your cause, because you are his majesty, the prince! You are the prince!”
The dean was still unwilling to let go, tightly grabbing onto my hand. I pulled him up and said: “I’ll definitely help. I definitely will. But… but… I have to think of a way.”
“Thank you…… Thank you…… Thank you……”
After I convinced him, the dean finally let go. I wore my cape on, bid the dean goodbye and walked down to the playground below.
Nier smiled happily while hanging out with the children. The children swarmed around her and hugged her, chattering and laughing like they were clinging to their mother or elder sister. Nier saw me come out and stood up. She switched her smile out for her expressionless look and asked: “Your majesty, are you finished with business?”
“Mmm… Yeah, I guess.”
I nodded and looked at Nier. Nier turned around to look at the children as she didn’t want to part with the children. I waved my hand, smiled and said: “Of course, I want to stay here and play with the kids for a while. Nier, stay with us.”
I felt that Nier’s smile in that moment was warmer than the sun in winter.
Aegyo is the Korean word for putting on cute acts. If you need a visual example, search 귀요미