18-SS1. Reading Aloud
※This story takes place in Chapter 13 during the stay at the royal capital
"Master, read Pochi a picture book nodesu!"
Pochi walked up to me with her favorite picture book.
Reading picture books suggested by the youth troupe has become a routine before we go to bed every night.
"Is it the usual book again? Didn't you just get some new books?"
Arisa who's changed into her pajamas asked while putting on her nightcap.
"None of them surpassed the story in this picture book nodesu."
"The pictures are cute~?"
"Pochi admits to that too nodesu! The illustrations get 100 points out of 300 points full mark nodesu!"
...What is a full mark again.
I didn't childishly point that out, smiling warmly at that Pochi-like remark instead.
"Pochi-chan really loves that book, doesn't she."
"Yes nanodesu. Dendo-san nanodesuyo!"
Is she talking about 'Dendoiri' (TLN:Entering hall of fame)?
Lulu tied up her hair with a scrunchie as she listened to Pochi.
If she didn't, I could imagine the other kids stepping on her hair as they tossed around in the bed.
"Oh yeah, did you know that there's a read aloud competition in the capital?"
"Radar out competition nodesu?"
"Real deal off?"
"No no, it's a competition where you read books aloud."
"That's really really great nanodesu!"
Pochi and Tama stared in awe at Arisa's explanation.
"Arisa, requesting more detail and scale so I ask."
"It has piqued my interest as well. Are we allowed to listen if we go there?"
Nana and Liza seemed curious as well.
Surprisingly enough, these two love to listen to picture books reading.
"Gratitude to Mia. Requesting additional information."
"Public performance, day after tomorrow. Same day tickets, exist."
Mia told Nana about the Reading Aloud competition while trying to calm her down.
"Master will snatch the first place for sure nanodesu!"
"Tama thinks so too~"
"I'm not competing though?"
I feel sorry for these two who look at me with stars in their eyes but I've no plan to participate.
Arisa gallantly stood before the dejected two.
--It can't be.
"I knew this was gonna happen!"
Arisa struck a weird pose.
"I've gone and registered master as a participant!"
Arisa sent me a thumb up while looking all smug.
That's so very like her. But y'know--.
"You should ask the person in question first!"
I lightly whacked at Arisa's head for acting arbitrarily.
Arisa shouted out loud exaggeratedly 'Noooooo', but I ignored her and received a flier about the competition from Mia.
"Hmm think I can manage with this topic?"
The picture book Pochi requested me to read is included among the topic.
I've read that dozens of time by now, no need to practice for the competition.
"Fufufu, Arisa-chan never slips up!"
I sent a nihilistic smile to Arisa who was done with her acting.
Arisa took the repenting pose when I showed her my fist.
That really might have been hurt for real.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
And the day of the competition--.
『It makes you feel as if you were there!』
When I started to read the book aloud, some spectators raised their voices in surprise.
The people on the judge seats are listening intently.
Getting so much praises like this feels a bit itchy.
Pochi and Tama are looking over me with their fists clenched on the audience seat too.
『...Huh? It's kind of?』
Once I started reading the middle part onward, the spectators who had been piling praises started to look unsure.
--Wonder what's going on?
Nevertheless, I concentrated on reading and pushed to the end.
Pochi, Tama and the rest of the girls gave a standing ovation on the audience seat.
However, I got eliminated in the preliminary.
One of the judges informed me the reason.
"The initial part was quite impressive, but by the middle part you were speaking in monotone, and got flustered in the end, you should find the right balance. Practices and effort make perfect, I tell you."
"I will, thank you so much for the advice."
I thanked the judge who was on his way to the final and went to the audience seat where the girls are.
Still, right balance huh--.
I know the reason.
I've read that book dozens of times per Pochi's request but Pochi and Tama would always doze off midway through, so I barely ever get to read the later part.
"I see, practices really do make perfect."
Of course I would fumble on the mid and later part seeing as I rarely read them.
"Gotta pace it better so I get to the end before they fall asleep from now on!"