This happened a while ago, back when I met my teacher Fran-sensei once again.
“You know, there was a time when I, inspired by 『The Adventures of Nike』, used to write a novel while traveling as well.”
Sensei suddenly started talking about that, as if she remembered something.
“…Haa. I see.”
“You don’t look interested at all.”
“Not at all. I’m bursting with excitement.”
“Considering that, your reaction was fairly dull.”
“I was just wondering how I should respond, that’s all.”
I actually thought What on earth is this person suddenly talking about, but that’s a secret.
“Judging from how you said that you used to write it, I assume you stopped writing it halfway through?”
“No, that’s not it. Rather than saying I stopped writing it halfway through, it would be more accurate to say that the circumstances forced me to stop writing it halfway through.”
“Hmm? What do you mean?”
“It was something I wrote as a hobby and never showed to anyone else. I decided to re-read it after filling up roughly one hundred pages of manuscript paper, but it was so pathetic that I felt embarrassed and lost interest in continuing it.”
Reading over it again sent a shudder down her spine. That’s what Sensei told me while dropping her shoulders.
“So that was the circumstance that forced you to stop writing?”
“Yes. It made me think 『Yuck, is my sentence composition really this bad…?』 I decided to never write something like that ever again, and sealed it away at the bottom of my bag.”
“Ah, you couldn’t bring yourself to throw it away?”
“I still did my best while writing that manuscript, so I didn’t feel like throwing it away.”
“…Despite what you said, maybe you actually liked it?”
“Well, I guess you could say that. Even that pitiful past of mine was also a part of me, so I didn’t feel like throwing it away. At that time, at least.”
After that, Sensei’s shoulder’s dropped even further and she gave a deep sigh.
“Of course, I never intended to show it to anyone else. It was something I just wanted to keep as a personal memento, after all—however, my luck took a turn for the worse.”
“It happened when I visited a certain country. A merchant who saw the bag I was holding said this—”
“Hey, you! Could that be the Legendary Traveler’s bag? I’m sure it is! There’s no mistake! Without a doubt, that’s the bag that was used by the Legendary Traveler. Hey, sell that to me! Please!”
—Apparently, he said something like that.
Fran-sensei was perplexed, wondering what on earth he was talking about. It was a cheap bag that she had purchased at a low price from a pawnshop somewhere. She didn’t have the faintest idea what he meant by a Legendary Traveler, and of course, she hadn’t imagined that the bag might be something so important when she had bought it.
“Well, I guess the value of something changes depending on the person. That merchant offered me an incredible amount for the bag. I was very surprised. I even wondered if it was some new kind of scam.”
I slowly started to see where this story was going.
“At that time, I was very short on money… so I sold it to him without a second thought. I pulled out my belongings, purchased another cheap bag on the spot, stuffed my belongings inside, and handed the old bag over to the merchant. Of course, I only did that after receiving the large amount of money in advance.”
“A manuscript that you have written by yourself is like a narcotic. Every once in a while, you get an urge to read it once again. A few days after I handed over my old bag to that merchant, I searched through my new bag for the bound pages of my novel which were full of pitifully composed sentences. And that’s when I realized the terrifying truth.”
Don’t tell me.
“The novel wasn’t in the bag?”
“………Surprising, isn’t it? I had handed over the old bag with the manuscript paper still inside.”
“I immediately back to the place where I had met the merchant, but it had already been a week since I had sold him the bag. The merchant had already gone to a different country by then. Even then, I continued to search for that merchant, but never mind him, I could find no trace of the bag either.”
So that’s what happened.
Fran-sensei covered her face with her hands.
“…Every once in a while, I think about it. What if that manuscript found its way into the hands of some person, and they read it? What if they make fun of me because of that…”
Her ears are bright red. Is this person alright?
“Every time I think about the days when I used to travel and remember the time when I lost the manuscript, I can’t help but feel incredibly embarrassed. I feel shudders run down my spine. Aah, aah, what should I do…”
I didn’t have anything to say about the matter, so I elected to remain silent.
After remaining silent for a while, Sensei removed her hands from her face and continued talking like nothing had happened.
“Anyways, I just remembered that something like that had happened. It’s certainly embarrassing, but at this point it’s just a memory from the past. It makes for a good tale about my travels.”
“…Haa. I see.”
“You don’t look interested at all.”
“Not at all. I’m bursting with excitement.”
By the way.
“So, why did you bring this up now?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
Sensei then said to me,
“As long as you continue your travels, I’m sure you’ll experience many things.”
After a brief pause, Sensei looked straight at me.
“If we happen to meet again in the future, please talk to me about your happy memories—the tales of your travels.”
Sensei said that with a kind smile.
Just around that time, I remembered that conversation I had with Sensei.
It was when I happened to visit a bookstore in a certain country.
“『The Adventures of Fran 』…?“
The name I was familiar with was carved into the title of that book. Incidentally, the author was also Fran. So many familiar things here.
I immediately started reading the book on the spot. Reading it without buying might have been a breach of good manners, but that’s just how much I was interested in its contents.
The contents of the book were exceedingly simple. The whole novel was just about a Witch, Fran, walking around, sightseeing in different countries. The personality of the main character somehow feels identical to that of my teacher.
“Witch-san! If you want to read the book, then buy it.”
I was discovered by the store clerk after reading the book for a while. The store clerk approached me while using a cloth duster to dust the books, and,
“….Hmm. Hmm? Oh, you’re reading the 『The Adventures of Fran』? Witch-san, you have good taste.”
“Is this book famous?”
“Well, of course. There’s no one in this country who doesn’t know about this book, it’s a wonderful bestselling novel.”
“Is it really that interesting?”
Reading this book is sending shivers down my spine, though.
However, it appears that many people in this country have an opinion that is the complete opposite of mine. The shop clerk nodded several times in response to my question, and,
“Of course! It’s really interesting! Witch-san, I haven’t seen you around here before. Are you perhaps a traveler? You should take some time to go sightseeing. The whole country is overflowing with 『The Adventures of Fran』 merchandise.”
“By the way, will you be buying that?”
“Please give me three copies. One for storage, one for advertising, and the last for my own enjoyment.”
I walked around and did some sightseeing while carrying the three books that I had just purchased, and it was just as the shop clerk from the bookstore had said.
The city was full of merchandise related to the Witch Fran.
There was a bronze statue that looked pretty similar to my teacher, and there was a plaque that had 『A bronze statue of the Legendary Traveler Fran』 written on it.
As for the inns, there were quite a few that had signs that read 『The Legendary Traveler Fran once stayed at this inn』. How fickle were you when it came to picking an inn, Fran-sensei?
However, why was she being called a legendary traveler?
When I asked that question to the people I met while walking on the road, an interesting fact came to light.
“Eh? You’re asking why the Witch Fran is so popular?”
“Around ten years ago, the King of this country purchased a bag from a merchant that apparently belonged to the Legendary Traveler.”
“When he looked inside the bag, he found the manuscript for a novel inside. Incredibly, that was apparently a novel written by the Legendary Traveler herself!”
“The king was deeply moved after reading it. That’s why he decided to publish and sell that book within the country as a novel written by the Legendary Traveler.”
“We read it as well and found it to be so interesting—really, there’s not a single person in this country who doesn’t know about the Witch Fran.”
That’s what I heard.
“Umm, so the Witch Fran is the Legendary Traveler?”
I asked that question to all the people I talked with, but they all gave me the same response.
The Legendary Traveler that the merchant mentioned is probably different from the Legendary Traveler that the people in this country talk about.
Even though 『The Adventures of Fran』 doesn’t really have that much value….
Well, I don’t really need to go out of my way to dispute the fact.
As my teacher said, the value of something changes depending on the person.
“…In any case, I managed to buy something good.”
I rented a single person room at an inn that the Witch Fran apparently loved, and opened the book.
The next time I meet Fran-sensei, I feel like I will be able to tell her a very interesting tale of my travels. I had a small smile on my face as I thought about that.