The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 16
Time passed. Day and night passed as if they were kissing each other, the seasons changed and autumn came, then winter, and finally spring. Green buds began to sprout on the branches that had been bare over the past few months. Flocks of migratory birds that had left for winter seemed to be returning home.
Herietta opened her window wide and stuck her upper body out of the window. The spring wind, which had not yet completely shaken off the scent of winter, blew and caressed her face and hair. Not long after waking up from her sleep, she, in her thin pajamas, trembled involuntarily.
She can’t even remember the name of the novel, but in the story, the female lead romantically enjoys the winter breeze as she looks out of the window. But why is she always failing when she tries to do it?
As Herietta tried to close the window while muttering to herself she suddenly caught something in her peripheral vision. Turning her head, she saw her father, Baodor, standing in the middle of the yard. As if he were trying to explain something, Baodor’s arms were moving around in large movements.
Another man was standing next to Baodor. Unlike Baodor, who was busily moving and gesturing as he spoke, the man hardly moved.
Herietta was pouting just a while ago, but upon seeing the man, a bright smile bloomed on Herietta’s face.
Herietta shouted as she raised her hand and waved at him. If she could, she would jump out of her window and run over to him, but alas, she was too high up to do so.
Hearing her voice, the two men looked up at the window on the second floor. One man was looked surprised and unsure about what to expect if she were to fall over the window sill, while the other man frowned.
“Herietta! What are you doing there! It’s dangerous!”
Baodor shouted. But she didn’t care. All of Herietta’s attention was on Edwin. His figure, standing tall under the sun, was so perfect that it was unbelievable that she was seeing it so early in the morning.
“Wait! I’ll get ready and go down soon!”
Herietta slipped back into her room without listening to her father’s warning and stillness settled down in the noisy yard. Baodor looked at the now empty window with a bewildered expression on his face.
* * *
Herietta hesitated as she looked at Edwin. He didn’t say anything, but she could tell from a glance that he wasn’t in a good mood. Creases formed between his brows, his eyes were on anything else but her, and his beautiful lips were tightly shut like a door that had not been opened for a hundred years.
It was obvious that he didn’t want to deal with her right now.
“Is something… wrong?”
Herietta asked cautiously. But Edwin pretended not to hear Herietta at all and focused on what he was doing. She could be angry at him for ignoring her so openly, but he was such in a bad mood that she couldn’t even be angry.
‘Did I make another mistake?’
Herietta thought carefully. She did nothing except get up in the morning like usual, change her clothes, and come down to meet Edwin. In other words, if she wanted to make a mistake, she didn’t have the time to make one.
After organizing her thoughts, Herietta went to Edwin’s side and grabbed the hem of his robe. Rough, bulky clothes which were once white had faded to a dim gray.
She gently shook the hem of his robe.
“Edwin, tell me. Are you really not going to talk to me?”
“Edwin, I want you to look at me.”
She wasn’t crying, but she continued to badger him in a pleading tone. After a while, Edwin, who had been ignoring her all the time and doing his job, stopped what he was doing. As if arguing with his inner self, complex emotions flashed across his face.
Then he sighed and closed his eyes. Upon seeing his reaction, Herietta was convinced that her magic had worked.
He opened his eyes again, and he turned his body to face her. His expression was blank and unsmiling, but his gaze didn’t look as cold as it did a while ago.
“Does Miss Herietta have ten lives?”
“Do you have ten lives? You’re always doing something so risky.”
He seemed to be asking and not asking a question at the same time. Edwin’s reproachful gaze was directed at Herietta.
Herietta rolled her eyes. How can he say that she did something dangerous? She thought she was just being her everyday self; she couldn’t understand what he was talking about at all.
Reading her expression, Edwin frowned.
“Didn’t I tell you that sticking your body out of the window is dangerous? Why the hell are you ignoring me every time? When you fall from there, will you listen to me then?”
Edwin quietly spouted off Herietta’s mistakes one by one. His tone was so calm that if anyone else heard him, they wouldn’t even notice that he was nagging her.
But Herietta was different. She quickly noticed that his tone of voice was half a tone higher than usual and that he spoke slightly faster than usual.
Herietta waved her hand as if to dismiss what he was saying.
“Edwin, you’re worrying about nothing. What am I? A little girl? Did I fall outside just because I looked out the window?”
“That’s what it looks like to me. You don’t seem to know yourself very well.”
Edwin mumbled as he shook his head. He sounded like he had already given up trying to reason with Herietta.
“What do you mean? Who knows me better than myself?”
“Shall we list all of the things you have been through so far?”
He interrupted her and asked provocatively. Herietta, who was about to challenge him to do so, stopped.
She went into the forest to find good materials to make a strong bow and got lost. She got on a horse to show her riding skills without a saddle and reins and then fell in the process. She cut her finger while wielding a cleaver saying she could cut faster than a chef.
When she thought of one incident, other things came to mind like fish being caught in a net. In this case, Herietta, who decided that it was best for her to just admit her mistake, secretly avoided Edwin’s gaze.
“I’m sorry, Edwin. As you said, I guess I was wrong.”
“So I will be careful not to do that in the future.”
“Do you think I haven’t heard that before?”
“This time I really mean it! I’ll be really careful!”
When Edwin responded cynically, Herietta responded strongly. When she clenched her fists and made a determined expression on her face, she looked like a warrior determined to save her country.
Edwin thought for a moment. Even if he left it that way, it was clear that she was going to do it again the next day.
“You’re not upset anymore, right? Right?”
Herietta asked again. There was an eagerness in her eyes as she looked at him. If he didn’t respond to her, then she would look depressed again.
Since when have I been like this? Edwin realized that he was becoming more and more drawn into Herietta’s pace. Like water flowing from top to bottom, or like the change of seasons, it was a very natural change. But what was even more surprising was how she didn’t take any action against him even after realizing it.
Even though he knew it, he continued to fall for her. And this time too. Despite knowing that he would be deceived in the future, he continued to go with the flow of things.
“Yes, I’m not upset anymore.”
His hard expression softened even more.
* * *
Clink, clink. The sound of tableware was deafening. The McKenzie family was getting together for a meal.
Baodor gave lengthy explanations of how he would soon renovate the mansion’s front yard. Rose listened to him and chimed in from time to time, but his two children were distracted and their thoughts were elsewhere.
Herietta and Hugo, who were arguing over who would get the last piece of bacon, eventually agreed to make a decision using rock-paper-scissors.
The Mackenzies, who value dining etiquette, would be astonished to find out that the two were about to play rock, paper, scissors under the table without them knowing.
“Herietta, I hardly see you around these days. Where have you been going and what have you been up to recently?”
As if he had finished talking about the yard, Baodor changed the subject. When she suddenly found herself the center of the conversation, Herietta was surprised and sat upright.
“I’m not doing anything special. I have been spending time at home for a while.”
“Really? That’s weird. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you any time except for dinner.”
“What do you do when you are home? We must know where you are even if you’re at home.”
Hugo mumbled as he quickly brought the bacon to his plate. Herietta glared at him, but that didn’t mean she can’t take back the food on his plate.
“What do you mean? Where does she spend time at home?”
“Sister usually spends her time in the workshop, in the warehouse, or the stable. You wouldn’t normally go to places like that, would you?”
Hugo said, slicing the bacon with a knife. Upon hearing his words, the McKenzie couple’s expressions looked strangely disturbed. Workshops, warehouses, and stables. Since she is the daughter of a nobleman, she had no reason to go there.
But of course, they weren’t ignorant as to have no idea what that meant.
“Herietta. Are you still hanging out with 11542?”
Rose asked. A dark shadow fell over her youthful face, which looked much younger than her actual age.
“His name is Edwin, not 11542.”
Herietta corrected Rose with a sullen expression. She hated seeing others call Edwin by his item number.
“He is a very nice person.”
Herietta added as if to emphasize that fact.
“Yes. As you said, he’s a good man. He doesn’t talk much and is shy, so it’s hard to know what kind of person he is. From what I’ve heard, it doesn’t seem like he’s caused any problems or anything since coming here.”
Rose meekly affirmed her words.
But Herietta was waiting for what her mother was going to say next. She knew her mother well, so she could guarantee that this was not the end of the conversation.
“Herietta. Why don’t you spend a little less time with 11… no, Edwin?”
And there it was. Herietta thought as she looked at Rose, who was revealing her secret intentions.
“He must be busy with a lot of work, so wouldn’t it be a hindrance to him if you were around like that?”
“It’s okay. Edwin has a great ability to learn and gets things done quickly, and if he thinks I get in the way, he doesn’t hesitate to express it to me.”
At Herietta’s unobtrusive answer, Rose’s face spread with embarrassment.
She didn’t know if she should worry about her daughter knowing Edwin as well as she does, or if she should be angry with Edwin, who was a mere slave, for reproaching Herrietta, his master’s daughter, whenever she was a nuisance to him.
“Rose. Don’t worry too much. I think he is a very good person. Although he is a slave, he speaks and behaves differently, and he seems to have a rather good head. Besides, he looks good and has a very strong physique. If you think about it, it is a pity that he was born as a slave.”
Baodor, unaware of Edwin’s past, sincerely felt sorry for him. But hearing those words, Rose’s heart became more complicated. Just because Edwin is a good person, why doesn’t Baodor get that she cares more about her daughter’s conduct?
“Honey. Herietta will soon turn 18. She’s going to be the same age as I was when I got engaged to you.”
Rose put on a frustrated expression.