The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 21
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Herietta was never a morning person. It was only because the diligent Rose hated lazy people that she woke up early every morning. But if she had her way, she would have overslept without waking up until the sun had risen.
“It’s never a fault to love sleep. Rather, it is a healthy habit!” She often made these nonsense claims, trying to get her younger brother to agree to it. Although she later heard Rose nagging her when she found out about it.
But today Herietta woke up early for some reason. It was a bluish hour when the moon had not yet completely disappeared from the sky.
After tossing and turning for a while on the bed and trying to fall asleep again, she finally realized that it was impossible and got up. The quilt she had been covering herself with fell on the floor. Even though it was summer, the early morning air that touched her skin was quite chilly.
I wish I could have a cup of hot tea.
Herietta looked inside the hut. But she couldn’t afford luxuries like tea in the shelter that was built for travelers. She expected that it would, but she still couldn’t help but be very disappointed. As she lamented being unable to drink tea, an idea popped into her mind as she wondered whether to just warm up the water and drink it.
Wait. I might have brought some tea leaves from Philioche.
Herietta walked over to the window and looked out. Through the hazy morning mist, she could see the carriage parked in front of the hut and the cart behind it. However, no matter how carefully she looked, she could not find the presence of the person guarding it.
The coachman must be sleeping in the wagon, but where did the two porters go?
Aren’t they supposed to be sleeping in front of it?
Even though it was a hut, it was a small space with only one room. There was no way that Herietta, who had held her coming-of-age ceremony, could share a room with healthy adult men.
What should I do? Herrieta pondered for a moment, but she soon made up her mind and changed her clothes. Aristocratic women, accustomed to being served by others, would have a hard time putting on and taking off clothes by themselves, but Herietta was different. She quickly changed her clothes and draped over her shoulders a cream shawl that was hung on the wall.
She snuck to the door, careful to make a sound with her footsteps, and pulled the doorknob as carefully as possible.
The cold wind blew in through the cracks of the open door with the sound of an old tree creaking. Herrietta first opened the door halfway and made sure there was no one in front of it. After confirming several times that she was the only one here, she sighed in relief and came out the door.
Chirp, chirp. An unknown mountain bird chirped and chirped while hiding somewhere in the tree. Herietta began to move her steps carefully. Rustle, rustle. The grass frozen in the morning dew was gently trampled under her feet.
The cart, which was made of birch wood, was barely half full. And still, as she had thought, it was lying on the side of the road without a single guard. Of course, there are no valuables, so it didn’t matter anyway.
Herietta looked at the objects piled up on the cart one by one. But since she didn’t pack the stuff herself, she had no way of knowing what was inside.
‘It’s not this one… Not this one either…’
Herietta frowned because she couldn’t find the item she was looking for. Where the hell is it? Her hands picking up things got faster and faster. She had completely forgotten that she had tried to move secretly without making as much noise as possible.
Soon, Herietta found a small box lying in the corner. As soon as she opened the lid of the box, her expression brightened.
Herrietta gave an unspoken cheer and pulled out a bottle of tea leaves from the box. The fragrant scent of the tea leaves tickled her nose. She was so happy that she lifted the bottle as if it was the Holy Grail.
Just then, someone standing behind her grabbed her shoulder with a large hand.
Herietta, who didn’t know who was standing behind her, was startled by the sudden touch. She was so startled that she didn’t even think to turn around and check who the opponent was.
A shrill scream escaped Herietta’s lips. But it was stopped in the blink of an eye by a hand covering her mouth. Her body seemed to be dragged behind by a strong force, and then her back was leaning against someone’s arms.
“Quiet. Calm down.”
A soft, low-pitched voice whispered into her ear. The voice was so gentle and carried no hostility at all.
“It’s me, Miss Herietta.”
Herietta held her breath and sighed. There was only one person in this world who called her that way. Even though she thought it was nonsense, she slowly tilted her head to look above her. Then she saw two blue eyes looking down at her.
Deeper than the sea and blue as the sky.
Herietta screamed at him a second time. Of course, it was swallowed back into her throat by the large hand that covered her mouth. Convinced that she recognized him, he graciously let her go.
“Sorry. I think you must have been very surprised.”
Edwin politely apologized to Herietta. Herietta turned her body at the speed of light to face him.
Maybe she was just dreaming of him right now. Maybe she is seeing a fantasy. After blinking several times and rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand several times, she accepted the fact that she was facing Edwin.
Her mouth hung wide open.
“Nonsense. Edwin? Really…… Is it really you?”
“Yes. Miss Herietta.”
“Are you really Edwin?”
“Yes. It’s me… !”
Edwin, who answered calmly, was stopped mid-sentence as Herietta suddenly grabbed his face with both hands and pulled him towards her.
His upper body was sharply bent, and his face naturally drew closer to hers. She looked carefully at his face. Eyes, nose, mouth, skin, everything, as if she were analyzing each detail on his face.
“It’s really… Edwin. It’s really him.”
Herietta muttered as if she were talking to herself. His face was reflected in her brown eyes, still full of surprise. She let him go.
“How are you here? Shouldn’t you be in Philioche right now?”
“Edwin, what happened?”
Edwin did not immediately respond to Herietta’s urging. His eyes seemed to be thinking about something. After a while, he opened his mouth.
“I will go with you to Lavant.”
Herietta’s eyes widened at his answer.
“You, Lavant? You?”
“Are you going to Lavant with me?”
“Yes, Miss Herietta.”
Edwin replied like a parrot. Herrietta didn’t know what to say. She was horrified by his unexpected appearance, but she didn’t understand what he meant when he suddenly said that he would go with her to the big city.
Herietta stepped on a hard object as she looked dumbfounded. It was the bottle containing the tea leaves she had dropped out of surprise. Looking at it, something came to mind.
“No way… Are you one of those two porters I saw last night? Were you the man who was just about to approach me?”
“Yes. I don’t think you knew I came along, so I approached you to say good morning… But it seems that I unintentionally surprised you.”
“That’s right. Of course, I would be I never thought it would be you!”
Herietta said with a smile.
“No. But still… You’re a porter… Did my father ask you to come along?”
Her father didn’t know about Edwin’s past. If she were in Edwin’s position, he would want to avoid going out into the big cities. So there was no way he had come here voluntarily.
Edwin remained silent without answering Herietta’s question. Hesitation passed over his straight face, but she didn’t notice it. She was furious as she accepted his silence as an affirmation.
“Why on earth did my father do that to you? Even if you are a slave, he should have asked the other person’s opinion and respected it!”
“Sorry. Edwin. I apologize on behalf of my father. He’s not like that… I can’t understand this either. I will talk to my father when we meet, so you must return to Philioche first.”
“Miss Herietta. I was not forced to come here.”
Edwin calmly corrected her thoughts.
“I came here of my own will, voluntarily.”
“You’re here… at your own will?”
“That’s right. So please don’t just tell me to go back to Philioche.”
He bowed his head slightly and asked. It looked very sincere. Herietta’s thoughts became complicated.
Did he follow her of his own will? But why? Hasn’t he always tried to avoid people who might recognize him?
“But if you go to Lavant, people might recognize you. There’s no way you wouldn’t know that.”
Herietta looked at Edwin worriedly. He shook his head, understanding what she was worried about and wanted to say.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“It doesn’t matter?”
“Yes. Right now, there are more things to worry about than that.”
What are you more concerned about than being noticed by other nobles?
“What is it?”
Herietta couldn’t hold back her curiosity, so she asked. He glanced at her. He looked calm as usual. But it was strange. She felt like he was a little different from usual.
“Edwin? What is it?”
When there was no answer, Herietta asked again. Then, he silently reached out his hand and ran his fingers in her hair, then along her cheeks, and behind her ear. It was a hand full of calluses, but the hand that touched her hair was as careful as if he were handling a fragile piece of glass.
“… Miss Herietta.”
He who had kept his silence slowly called out her name. His gaze continued to rest on her.
“What is it, Edwin?”
Edwin didn’t answer her but merely called her name over and over again. Herietta tilted her head. Maybe it’s still too early for me to wake up. Edwin looked at Herietta’s confused face and smiled,
It was a powerless reply mixed with a sigh.