The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 13
Edwin asked Herietta, who was lying on the ground and gasping for breath. He had a blunt, business-like tone.
“Uh, how did you know that I was here?”
“Your brother told me.”
“Hugo? Is he okay?”
“He seemed very surprised, but he didn’t seem to be hurt.”
Edwin recalled Hugo running into the mansion with a confused look in his face and asking for help. Because of how startled he was and how urgent the matter was, he didn’t seem to even notice that the person he was asking for help was Edwin, whom he had always disliked.
‘The forest…! The wolf…!’
Hugo was speaking gibberish, unable to properly explain what had happened. As a result, Edwin wasted much more time than he expected to find Herietta.
“He returned safely! What a relief! I was worried that he might have lost his way.”
Even though it was her who had fallen into the trap in the forest, Herietta breathed a sigh of relief at the news that Hugo was safe. Her face seemed to melt away the worries and anxiousness she had accumulated over the past decade.
“First of all, we better go back as soon as possible. It seems like it will be quite difficult to find the way back when it gets darker than it is now.”
At Edwin’s words, Herietta nodded. It was already too late for her with the moon in the sky.
Edwin approached Herietta’s horse, which was leisurely grazing grass. Judging by the physique and leg line, it wasn’t a very good breed. Even though it had been left alone for a long time, its training must have been good, given that it stayed there.
Herietta limped and picked up her bow and arrows that had fallen to the ground while he checked the gear on her horse.
After checking the gear, he grabbed the reins of the horse and approached her. But soon he saw her crippled leg.
Edwin looked at Herietta’s right leg, his sentence unfinished. Eventually, having grasped the situation, he frowned.
“Are you hurt?”
He uttered his question in a slightly sharp tone, as if he were arguing. HIs face also had a look of displeasure. Herieta hesitated at the unexpected reaction.
“Didn’t you say you weren’t hurt?”
“I never said anything like that. I just accidentally missed an opportunity to answer…”
Herietta quickly defended herself. Edwin strode towards her.
Standing in front of her, he lowered his posture as he knelt down on one knee. Then, without stopping, he reached out and began examining her right ankle.
“Excuse me for a moment.”
Herietta blushed at the sudden touch of his hand. Seeing her heart beating even in this situation, she thought that she was seriously ill.
But after a while, the pain brought by his hand touching her ankle without hesitation was unstoppable. Her face began to contort little by little.
“Ouch! Gently! Gently!”
“It’s very swollen.”
Edwin did not blink an eye even with Herietta’s fierce whining. After examining the injury with a blunt face, he released her ankle.
“The ligaments were stretched, but not broken. If you refrain from strenuous activities and get proper rest, you will probably be well within a week.”
“How do you know that, even if you’re not a doctor?”
Herietta, who had stifled her tears, asked with a cheeky tone. Edwin then raised his head and met her eyes. He looked at her for a moment, then sighed.
“… Even if you’re not a doctor, you have a lot of chances to come across a minor injury like this.”
Edwin muttered a little and stood up. Then, he supported Herietta, who was unable to move, so that she would not fall. After helping her get onto her horse, he grabbed the reins of the horse. Several times she offered to ride the horse with her, but he refused.
Except for the sounds of nature, the forest was relatively quiet. It was so quiet that the sound of footsteps of one person, the sound of a horse’s hoof, and the sound of breathing of two people could be heard. For some reason, neither of them opened their mouths hastily for quite some time.
Buzz buzz. An unknown grass beetle wept sadly in a pile of bushes.
“By any chance—“
Breaking the silence full of awkwardness, the two of them opened their mouths at the same time. Then they stopped. Even if it was intentional, it would be difficult to achieve such perfect timing. They looked into each other’s eyes.
“You say it first.”
“No. You speak first.”
“No, don’t do that …”
The two agreed to give the other the chance first. They struggled for a while, but in the end it was Herietta who lost. It was because Edwin kept his mouth shut like a clam. It made her realize that his stubbornness was far greater than she had expected.
Herietta wet her dry lips with her tongue and opened her mouth.
“Thank you for your help today. Just like the first time we met, I’m always indebted to you. If you hadn’t helped me a little while ago, I might have been seriously injured. Maybe I will be food for animals.”
“It’s embarrassing to say thank you over and over again.”
Herietta lowered her gaze. Then she inhaled and exhaled a little.
“You know. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. I can’t do much, but if there’s anything I can do, no matter what, just say it.”
“Do you always endanger yourself like this?”
Edwin, who had been silently listening to Herietta, asked at once. She blinked. Was he trying to criticize her for not being careful?
However, with a glance at his face, he looked calm. Herietta, who had tilted her head for a moment, smiled vaguely.
“As you can see, I prefer outdoor activities to indoor activities. Thanks to that, my parents were quite upset with me from a young age.”
[‘If you had been born as a man, you would have become a great master.’]
After leaving the house to find a legendary treasure, Rose rebuked the young woman who returned with all the dirt on her face. Since then, she hasn’t said anything, but Herietta felt the way she looked at her that day, Rose’s eyes looked very sad.
Every time she thought about it, the memory somehow made a corner of her chest feel stuffy. Herietta struggled to erase it from her mind.
“Sir Edwin must have been surprised. When you were in the capital, you would hardly have seen a young lady like me.”
“Surely… It seems uncommon.”
Edwin did not deny Herietta’s words. At his candid reaction, she smiled weakly.
“They would be elegant and noble. Every word, every action. They would be completely different from me in everything.”
The many noble women she had seen in Lavant were as beautiful as flowers and overflowing with elegance. So, it was not necessary to ask what the level of the girls Edwin, who had spent most of his time in the capital, the pinnacle of the social world, would have been with.
“Oh right. What were you trying to say a little while ago?”
Some time ago, Edwin had obviously wanted to tell her something. But he was hesitant to answer the question. hesitating. That wasn’t his attitude. So he was puzzled. Whenever he tried to spit it out, something seemed to bother him.
“If it’s hard for you to say, you don’t even have to say it.”
“What happened that day?”
At the words, Herietta’s eyes widened. Edwin’s gaze turned to her. His eyes were full of determination, as if he had decided on something. There was a question after he took a break.
“Are you mad at me?”
“Or do you feel uncomfortable seeing me?”
“…Come to think of it, this is a very stupid question. I will make up for it.”
He let out a deep sigh as he was bewildered with her not understanding what he was saying. His expression darkened as he was thinking of something.
Edwin, who was rolling his eyes, stopped moving forward. Then, the horse that followed him also stopped in place. He turned to face Herietta.