“Excuse me for a moment.”
Louisa couldn’t pull herself together and stood up from her seat.
An illegitimate child? No way.
Louisa hurried out of the greenhouse, out of the reach of the guests, and called for someone.
“Did you call, Elder Madam?”
Louisa’s loyal handmaid, who was waiting outside the greenhouse, approached quickly.
Louisa slapped Maria across the cheek. Maria was slapped a total of two times on her cheeks, yet she did not make a single sound. She lowered her head, covering both cheeks.
Louisa caught her breath.
“What are they saying, Erich has an illegitimate child? Did you not know?”
“I’ve heard the rumors, Elder Madam. But the Duke couldn’t have…”
Louisa gave Maria another slap on the cheek. Maria’s cheek was scratched by one of Louisa’s rings.
“Stop talking and go find out what’s going on.”
“Yes, Elder Madam.”
Maria hurried away with her back bent. Louisa, upset, turned around.
* * *
Erich knew about the rumors, but he couldn’t afford to care.
It crossed his mind that he shouldn’t have yelled like that. But how could he be in his right mind? He might possibly have a child.
Claire always drove him crazy. He prided himself on the rationality he had, always being cool and calm no matter the situation. However, this demeanor of his disappeared without a trace. The etiquette and dignity he had learned throughout all his life were blown away in an instant.
And what drove him even more crazy was that he only regretted it once after throwing away his reason and acting so passionately.
‘What transpired five years ago was really a mistake.’
It was not fair.
Knowing that Claire was not someone who would speak nonsense, he immediately sent an aide to the Delford estate. But he had no intention of just waiting for news to come back.
“What do kids like these days?”
Pavel answered his question with a flushed face.
“My son was very fond of the brass soldier figure when he was five years old, Duke.”
He was about to order Pavel to buy something suitable, but he changed his mind.
If he were to ask his subordinate to buy the gift, then it’s no different from receiving that gift from said subordinate, rather than from himself as a family member.
“Where is the best toy store in Rothenburg?”
“It’s called the Swan Queen’s Nest, and despite the name, there are a lot of toys for boys. It was decorated like a kingdom in a fairytale.”
“Then I’ll go there.”
“I will guide you,” said Pavel, delighted as if it was his own business.
* * *
Above the door of the toy store was a large sculpture of a swan. It was as if the swan had spread its wings and was about to embrace them. Erich was a person who lacked sensitivity, but he seemed to know how excitedly the children would enter this swan kingdom.
The flower bed was well decorated from the outside of the store, and it was the same inside. No items were displayed right away by the store’s entrance, but inside, a maze made of trees and decorations that could reach the chest of an adult was seen.
He could hear children chattering. Pavel slightly noticed, but Erich wouldn’t possibly be insensitive enough to demand that the children be kicked out of a place like this.
The children who jumped in from behind ran after each other and got caught in Erich’s long legs.
Erich held the child up so he wouldn’t fall, raised his head, and saw the eyes of a blond-haired boy crouching among the trees, presumably hiding.
Due to an unexpected coincidence, Erich froze for a moment. Elliot was also taken aback.
Elliot closed his mouth with both hands and shook his head.
At this time, Erich was conflicted because he did not know how to react to the child. Pavel overstepped on proper etiquette against his boss and went ahead to grab the duke’s arm, putting an index finger to his own lips.
He seemed to signal to pretend not to see the child. Erich followed him, said nothing, and also placed his index finger on his lips while looking at Elliot.
Seeing the signal, Elliot nodded his head vigorously with a serious face.
And when Erich nodded, he smiled broadly. When he turned his head. Claire stood there with a very fed up expression.
Erich looked at her with a sullen face. He was aware that he was doing something out of place. But it was also true that the child’s earnest demeanor was very lovely.
Claire let out a low sigh. And even though Elliot could be seen clearly, she spoke unconsciously.
“Have you not seen our Elliot?”
“…I didn’t see him.”
“Where did he really go? I can’t see him.”
Erich’s gaze met Elliot’s again. Elliot twisted his body around with a smile that seemed like he couldn’t stand his excitement.
Claire shouted as she slipped her body to the other side.
“Elliot? Where are you?”
As soon as she disappeared inside the shop, Elliott ran out of the flower bed. And he hurriedly hid his laughter with the palm of his hand.
“Are you playing hide and seek?”
“Yes. Uncle is Aunt’s friend, right?”
Elliot asked, perhaps he remembered meeting Erich the other day.
A friend. Erich felt as if he had heard a strange thing.
He had no friends. Most of the people that could be on par with him were relatives or people with whom he would be involved. It could only be the prince, or men from other ducal families.
He had never even thought of putting Claire in the category of friends. It’s not because she’s his junior, but she’s always…
But he couldn’t think of any other words to say to the child now. So Erich answered meekly.
“You shouldn’t lie to your friends.”
Elliot secretly looked at Erich. He seemed sorry that he had let Erich lie.
Erich didn’t know what to do with the child, so he stood for a moment stunned. Can he say that it’s not a big lie? How gently should he speak to the child?
It was something he had never done, so his head went haywire yet turned up blank. He was more confused than when he heard the news of an explosion in the estate’s mine.
Finally, as he bowed only his head and not his body, he asked in a tone that sounded rather blunt.
Want to read more? Up to  advanced chapters are available on Patreon:
For update pings, novel discussions and/or to send mistake reports, join our discord server~!
Comments for chapter "Chapter 16"
Advanced chapters on this site can be unlocked with bells, but don’t worry! You are not obligated to unlock them—you may do so only if you want to read ahead. The chapters will eventually become free according to the update schedule of each novel.