“Would it not be cumbersome to do that? In my opinion, since you already have these prairie schooners at your expense, it would be better to take them back with you.”
At Mom’s words, Rouman’s expression briefly flashed with a hint of frustration, but it was soon erased from his countenance.
He was a noble household’s head butler, so he was definitely good at hiding his expression. Still, however minute the changes in his facial expressions or muscle movements were, he wouldn’t be able to deceive my eyes.
He seemed to be pondering to himself for a moment, then he pulled out another envelope from his inner chest pocket.
“Then, please do not refuse this.”
He held out another letter to me, not my mother. It was obvious who the sender was, but I didn’t turn it down. I wanted to know just what the hell was going on in that man’s mind.
“Please do give me a moment then. I shall sort this out quickly.”
“Yes, please go ahead.”
With Mom’s green light, Rouman instructed the servants to stop bringing in the gifts that were still streaming into the mansion. Everyone’s expressions conveyed either confusion or lament, but I pretended not to notice even though I could understand how inconvenient it was for them.
“Rin, go back to your room for now. I’ll see to it that this place is cleared up.”
“We have no choice but to eat separately today. Tell Mary to send your food separately to your room.”
“…That’s too bad.”
“I feel the same way.”
Giving me a light kiss on the cheek, Mom soon walked towards Rouman.
Letter in hand, I climbed up the stairs. My heart was still pounding.
Perhaps tension from displeasure, or…
As soon as I entered my room, I leaned against the door, breathing roughly. I consciously made myself breathe in and out deeply several times, then I went to the sofa to sit down.
The letter, wax-sealed with House Leopardt’s coat of arms, was ripped open.
When I opened the envelope, I felt his scent faintly. Strangely, I was nervous. As sharp as a sword, I straightforwardly rejected his proposal, but just the letter he sent me stirred subtle sentimental feelings.
“It’s the first time he sent me a letter…”
In the past, he never even sent text messages by phone to me, but he now sent me a letter. Perturbed anticipation filled me. It was a feeling that I couldn’t understand myself.
“Dear Lady Closch…”
The letter’s contents, against my expectations, were not long. Despite having sent this along with a grand proposal, the main message of this letter was an inquiry as to how I had been in my daily life rather than about the proposal itself.
Are you eating well?
Do you still drink cold water often?
How has the bow I bought you feel in your hands?
Has anyone else visited you?
It was full of mundane questions about my day to day. Then, it was in the second half of the letter that he wrote what he wanted to say.
〈 Please don’t refuse. 〉
It was already too late for this request, and I didn’t have the slightest intention to do as he’s saying even if I had read this beforehand.
“Just why are you doing this now?”
You never looked at me when I wanted you to, but why now…
“Do you really not know that the Seohyun you knew has already died and is now gone?”
That’s right. The Seohyun you knew had long since been dead. But why are you looking for me so much to the point that it’s…
“…As if you love me.”
I discarded the letter haphazardly on my desk and got up. By the window now, I watched as the covered wagons left one by one. Feeling stifled, I took off my gloves.
Then, the patterns hidden beneath were revealed.
The rose pattern was now a little larger than before, and strangely enough, it looked as if the flowers had opened slightly—like they were blooming.
Maybe it’s because I had a taste of guiding an Esper.
Guides were treated preciously, especially in the Empire. Yes, that’s perhaps the reason he sent me a proposal. Maybe he just wanted me to be his own exclusive Guide and sacrificial lamb, like how I was in the past.
“But Ciel, I’m already wise enough not to live again like how I did in the past. I am no longer the same woman who yearned for nothing but your love.”
Having tasted the precious love and affection of my family, I was no longer desperate for just one person. The more I knew about it, the more I became greedy for it, but I didn’t really care.
Watching the last of the wagons leave, I turned again to the letter that he sent. Dad would definitely be a bit taken aback, but I knew that he’s not to blame for reacting that way.
A fleeting thought passed through my mind—a wish for Dad to hurry and come back home. Then, right as the last wagon left, I saw Dad going through the gates on horseback. Small wagons followed behind him.
In an instant, the entrance of the mansion became crowded with other wagons that looked out of place. I hurriedly put my gloves back on and went out of my room again.
“Mom, Dad’s back?”
“Yes, it seems like it. What impeccable timing though.”
Dad then urged his horse to gallop faster, leaving behind the slow processions of wagons, which were being driven carefully so as not to bump into anything on the narrow road.
The first thing I noticed was how emaciated and exhausted he looked, and I immediately felt sorry.
It was for the sake of the family, but with how hard he must have worked, I felt guilty about perhaps having asked him to do too much.
The moment he saw me, Dad jumped off his horse.
“Rin! My daughter! Dad’s back!”
Dad shouted with his arms wide open, and I ran straight towards him. My strangely anxious thoughts instantly disappeared as I was reunited with this person who was strongly on my side.
As I was in his embrace that I hadn’t been able to be in recently, the corners of Dad’s lips were raised to the fullest with bliss as he shouted at Mom.
“Honey, I’m home!”
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