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Chapter 5 - Wind Blowing Downhill

June gave way to July. On the fourth day of that month, Edwin Arnold reminisced on the first round of interviews he had conducted. His supervisors from the political column had overseen the whole affair, though. The subject of said interviews was the matter of Mr. Hart's inheritance. The great intellectual had suddenly passed one month prior, and the longer the inheritance lay unclaimed, the more invested the world became in who would get their hands on it.

'...And the only living relative, his adopted son, died at sea shortly after Hart's own death,' recounted Edwin as he pedaled the bike. 'Just ahead is the Cromwell Street hill. Today's the day! I'll reach the top without stopping even once!' Edwin shouted.

'Hart's best friend and the chairman of the board are both claiming the inheritance... However, there...are rumors that...the son's death was...perpetrated by the two men!' Edwin's breathing had become ragged.

'Hmm... That's a pretty common plot.'

'Still...could...the...rumors...be...true?!'

'Heck if I know,' muttered Agnes at the passing landscape.

Agnes sat behind Edwin on the luggage rack. The bike's vibrations shook her and the insulated bag she held in her arms. As it happened, there were many coffee lovers at the Eaton News, Ed's boss, Brandon, included. Thus, Agnes delivered her uncle's coffee there once a week.

The catering service was little more than a hobby for Agnes. Edwin had insisted on doing the delivery himself, but his attempt at being thoughtful had ended up annoying her instead.

'Ha! Righteous reporter getting his start from a cooking column...' mused Agnes. 'Still, even with that dorky attitude of his, when I'm with him like this...I feel so at ease.'

She watched her hair flutter in the wind as it trailed behind her. Meanwhile, a once-again-drowsy Kagemaru let out another yawn as he sat atop Agnes' head.

'She really doesn't get it, does she?' Ed thought to himself. 'If my article can help just one person make a better meal that'll make them feel more at ease, that'll be enough for me...'

Edwin let out a roar, and pedaled up the hill with all his might. 'That's a kind of justice, too, isn't it?!' he screamed.


The bicycle flew over the crest of the hill, until gravity brought it down onto the other side. It propelled itself down the hill effortlessly. Agnes had let out an astonished yelp, but the sound of it was drowned out by the rush of the wind.

'This elation Ed's feeling must be his reward for working hard,' thought Agnes. She clutched her knit hat to her head to keep it from flying off. She laughed at herself for being surprised. Ed was always looking forward. He always went after his goals with that one-track mind of his... Sometimes to the extent that it annoyed her.

'About what you said back there...'

'Huh?! Sorry, I can't hear you!'

Agnes raised her voice to yell over the wind. 'That rumor about someone killing Mr. Hart's heir for the inheritance! Someone could have done it if they were sure they wouldn't be found out!'

Edwin nodded in understanding several times.

'Got it. I'll ask about that in today's interview!'

'Geez...and why would you do that?'


Ed was as dense and simple as they come, but that's also why it was so easy for Agnes to relax around him and be his friend. She made sure he wasn't looking before letting out a wide smile that she'd never shown anyone before. Edwin might stumble today and make a fool of himself, but she knew he'd keep pushing ahead, just as he always did.

She wished she could be there to see it happen...


'Agnes!'

'What?!'

'If something ever happens, call me. Okay?!'

'I'm a righteous reporter after all!' yelled Edwin. His laughter reverberated beneath the clear, blue sky.

第5回 下り坂に風は吹く

月が変わってその年の7月4日、エドウィン・アーノルドは記念すべき人生初の会見取材に臨もうとしていた。といっても、もちろん、政治班の取材の手伝いである。先月急死した大文化人、ウェーバーハルト氏の遺産を巡る問題がこじれており、世間の耳目を集めているのだった。

「……それでな、たった1人の養子は、そのすぐ後、水難事故で死んじまったんだよ」エドウィンは懸命に自転車を漕ぎながら言った。そろそろクロムウェル通りの上り坂だ。今日こそは一度も止まらずに登りきってやるぜ、とお決まりの文句で息巻いてみせるエドウィン。

「……で、今はウェーバーハルトの親友と、理事長ってのが相続を主張してて……でも養子が死んじまったのは、その2人の、陰謀、だって、噂も、あるんだ……っ!」

「ふーん、ありがちな話ね」

「で、どうなんだ。……やっぱ陰謀説は本当なのかっ!?」そんなの私が知るわけないでしょー。アニエスはゆっくりと進む風景を眺めながら呟いた。ペダルの振動が保温バッグを抱えて荷台にちょこんと乗るアニエスにも伝わってくる。イートン通信社にはエドの上司ブランドンをはじめ大のコーヒー好きが多くて、アニエスは週に一度、叔父さんの作る凝ったコーヒーを届けに行くことになっていた。

ほとんど趣味みたいな出前サービスだけど、こういう仕事は嫌いじゃない。……エドが送っていくと言って聞かないのがちょっと暑苦しいけど。

「そういえば、エド?あの料理コラム、まだ狙ってるの?」

「おう、……来月になるけど、やるらしいからさ、……いま新しい記事書いてんだ、やっぱ旬の、メニューでねえとなっ」正義の記者って、初めはお料理コラムから入るのね。まったくエドウィンとこうしていると、どこまでも平和だ。風に乗ってくるくると踊りだす髪を気にしていると、頭の上で眠たげな目をしたカゲマルがまたブニューと鳴いた。「ちっちっちっ……分かってねえなぁ」よく考えてみろって、料理コラムだって立派なもんだぜ。

「だって俺の記事が、みんなの食卓を、豊かにするんだぜ……?……それで誰かがホッとできるんなら……!」渾身の力でペダルを踏み込んで、エドは叫んだ。

「それもっ、立派な正義だろ……っ!!」


自転車がついに上り坂を越えた。重力に引かれて、今度は勝手に前へ前へと滑り出す。アニエスが思わず上げた「えっ」という声には気づかなかったらしく、エドは陽気な歓声とともにスピードを乗せた。坂道を駆ける風に乗って、どこまでもぐんぐんと。

……この爽快感は、きっと頑張ったエドへのご褒美だ。アニエスはずり落ちそうになるニット帽を押さえながらそう思った。そう、意外なんかじゃない。エドはいつだって目の前のことを真剣に考えている。そしていつも目標に向かって真っ直ぐだ。……こっちが悔しくなるくらいに。

「……さっきの話だけど」

「…………んあ? なんだって!?」「ウェーバーハルト氏の遺産の話よ。

誰かが第一相続人を殺したかもって噂」アニエスは風に負けじと声を上げた。絶対にばれない自信があったら、そんな事をするかもね!!

なるほどな、と何度も頷いてみせるエドウィン。「よしっ、今日の会見で質問してみるぜ!!」「……もう、だからなんでそうなるかなぁ……」


エドウィンは鈍いし単純だ。だけど、だから安心して付き合える。エドがこっちを見ていない事を確認して、アニエスは人に見せないと決めている、とびきりの笑顔をこぼした。今日エドウィンは、また1つ大きくなるのだろう。またヘマをするかもしれないけど、まっすぐと目標に向かって。

自分もついて行けたらいいのに……


「……アニエスッ!!」

「……なによっ」

「何かあったらさ、俺を呼べよっ?」なんてったって正義の記者だからなっ! 青天の空にエドウィンの陽気な笑い声がこだましていった。


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