The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 4
A boy entered through the crack in the slightly open door. He had the same auburn hair as Herietta, and was a child who had not yet undergone puberty.
“Hugo! How many times have I told you to knock first when entering the room?”
“What is a knock between you and me? Were you doing something interesting without me knowing?”
Hugo, the Mackenzies’ youngest son and Herietta’s younger brother, lit up his playful eyes. He spoke in an old-fashioned tone that did not match his age.
“So what is it?”
Hugo found the letter in Herietta’s hand and asked. Herietta shrugged her shoulders.
“A letter from Aunt Lilian. Would you like to read it too?”
“No. If I read it, it must be something similar to the twelve letters she sent you the other day.”
“Well… You’re not wrong.”
Herietta meekly admitted. She folded the letter and put it in the drawer of her table.
“But what happened?”
“Oh right, sister. Didn’t you say you’d teach me how to ride a horse without a saddle?”
Herietta traced her memory.
“The weather is nice today, so I thought if sister had time, I would like to take a lesson.”
“Of course I have time. But I don’t think it will be right now. Not long ago, didn’t father impose a curfew on you for causing a commotion because of a small mistake?”
“Oh, I was going to try that new bow, and then I broke the window…….”
Hugo murmured as if she had a point. Then he was truly discouraged. Herietta patted him on the shoulder as he looked very gloomy.
“It’s okay. It’s just we’re not doing it today. I’ll teach you everything you want as soon as the ban is lifted. Ah! If possible, I’ll teach you how to catch a rabbit with the bow you were trying first.”
Hugo’s expression brightened. He smiled broadly, as if his gloomy expression before was just a lie.
“You promised me. You mustn’t forget it.”
“Hugo. Of course I will. Have I ever deceived you? Don’t worry.”
Herietta smiled as she watched Hugo ask her several times. He jumped and jumped like crazy.
As he began to leave the room with a lighter step, he stopped at the door. Then, he looked back with an expression that seemed as if he were contemplating something. He looked at Herietta and called out again,
“It’s great to be able to hang out with you again like this.”
“It’s like going back in time.”
After adding his last words, he bade Herietta goodbye and left the room.
Tap. Tap. She could hear his footsteps moving away. Herietta looked at the door he had left for a moment, then laid her back and leaned against the back of the chair. Then she tilted her head back and looked up at the white ceiling.
[‘Time will take care of everything. Herietta. No matter how sad and difficult it is right now, nothing lasts forever in this world.’]
Lilian’s words were sometimes right and sometimes wrong.
As she said, time certainly helped heal the wounds of her broken heart. She thought she would never get out of the abyss of despair, but as time went on, she found her way little by little.
As evidence of that, she can now smile again and find joy in her life. Confining herself in the room and living, cut off from the world, that past was long behind her.
But if she was asked if everything is completely the same as before, it wasn’t.
She certainly spoke fewer words than before going to Lavant, and her activity level had greatly reduced. She also learned to enjoy time spent idly staring out the window, as she did today, and that she enjoys time alone as she reads books. If her past self had seen it, she would have been astonished at the nonsense.
Did she become more mature because of the pain of a broken heart? As they said: failure is the mother of success; she did not expect that she would mature as an adult like this.
But what is certain is that Edwin’s existence left a small but clear mark on her. And the traces probably won’t be erased for a very very long time.
Herietta closed her eyes. A small sigh left her lips.
* * *
It was an ordinary day, just like any other day. The Mackenzies were getting together for an early lunch.
Because they lived a life far from wealth, the food on the table was rather simple. Still, no one complained. Clatter, clatter. There was a small conversation on the table along with the sound of moving tableware.
“Herietta, do you have any plans for this summer?”
Rose asked, using the butter knife to butter her bread. Then Herietta, who was sitting across from her, raised her head and looked at Rose.
“I don’t have any plans yet. I think I might just stay in Philioche and spend the summer.”
“It seems that your aunt is quite lonely. She seems very curious when you will visit Lavant again.”
“Yes. Lilian seems to have liked you very much.”
Rose implied. Hugo, who was sitting next to her, gave her a look. Each time, their aunt wrote in her letter that she would go to Philioche, but her prediction that Lilian would never come to a rural village like this came true.
“As you know, from the end of this month, the social circle in Lavant will be active, right? Why don’t you go to Lavant to attend a social gathering, to be the companion of your lonely aunt?”
“But it’s only been a year since I came back from Lavant.”
Herietta answered reluctantly.
“If possible, I want to spend this summer in Philioche.”
“I am not saying that you should stay for a long time. If you don’t like it, you can just stay there for a short time, even for a month or so. That will be enough.”
Rose did not give up and continued to persuade her. Herietta then set her bread down on her plate. Lavant. Although she missed Lilian, it was still a place she did not want to go to if possible. Noticing that she was hesitating, Rose opened her mouth again.
“Aren’t you seventeen now? Of course, it’s not urgent, but it’d be good to start planning for the future sooner or later.”
“Yes. Your marriage partner.”
Rose said it as if it were obvious.
“As someone who was once in the same position as you, if I could give you some advice, the more people you interact with, the more you will benefit. That way, you’ll have a better idea of who’s right for you and who’s not for you.”
Herietta was lost for words. It felt like her throat was clogged. She turned her gaze to the bread on the plate.
“But I have no intention of getting married yet.”
“I didn’t mean that you had to get married right away. But shouldn’t you at least try to find potential partners?”
Rose said convincingly to Herietta.
“Philioche is certainly a beautiful place, but it is not a place for a woman your age now. Because we, the Mackenzie, are the only noble families here. If you keep wasting your time here, you will surely become an old virgin in the blink of an eye.”
“It’s not such a bad idea.”
Herietta muttered as she cut the bread into small pieces with a butter knife.
“No man is crazy enough to want me to be his wife anyway.”
“Oh, Herietta. What’s wrong with you? It’s because you don’t like to dress up so much, but the original you resembles me, so it’s okay. Sister Lilian said that too.”
Rose said with a confident face. Hugo grinned and laughed, but soon caught Rose’s sharp gaze and his laughter stopped. Hmmmm. He wiped the area around his mouth with a napkin and cleared his throat.
“Anyway, let’s talk about this later. Even if you want to go anyway, you can’t go right now. Your father needs to come back soon so we can use the carriage as soon as possible…”
Rose glanced through the window and her words faded into a whisper.
Twenty days have already passed since Viscount Baodor Mackenzie had been away from home. It was not uncommon for him to be away from home for such a long period of time.
A long time ago, at the urgent call of the Marquis whom he had become close friends with, he had to leave without knowing anything. He reassured his wife not to worry because it wouldn’t be a big deal, but as time passed without any contact, Rose kept getting anxious.
“Do not worry. There is a saying that ignorance is good news.”
Herietta, noticing Rose’s feelings, quietly comforted her.
“How about playing the piano after dinner? It has been a long time since we did that last. As always, Hugo will play the violin, and I will sing next to him.”
The Mackenzies loved music. It may seem like a funny skill to the experts because it wasn’t formally learned, but they didn’t care. Their ears enjoyed their preferred instruments and songs, and they especially liked to make a single song while playing together.
“Yes. That’s a good idea.”
Rose nodded in agreement. At that moment, Hugo’s eyes widened and a look that seemed to be guessing something appeared on his face. Blinking, he turned his head toward the window.
“I think father is here!”
He jumped up from his seat and shouted.
Father? Only then Rose and Herietta listened. Along with the sound of the horseshoes, there was the sound of the wheel of a cart rolling along the rough road. Whoaa. They could hear the coachman’s voice calming the horse as he was stopping the carriage.
The faces of the three people sitting at the table brightened. They ran out of the mansion.
Baodor, who got off the carriage, looked up and looked at them as a warm smile spread across his eyes.
“Oh no, don’t run. You’ll fall!”
As the horse stopped, Baodor greeted them with his arms wide open. The four of them got tangled together. As always, his arms were wide and warm.
“Rose what would the children say if you are like this too? We should be setting a good example for them.”
“How could you not have contacted me before? I was worried about what might have happened to you!”
Rose pouted and complained. Baodor chuckled.
“Even if I did send a letter, I didn’t feel the need to, because I’d get back before the letter got here. But I’m sorry for making you worry.”
“It’s okay. Because you came back safely.”
The two exchanged affectionate glances. Baodor lightly kissed his wife on the head. Although they had been married for twenty years, the love that had grown between them never stopped.
“Come in. Are you tired from your journey?”
“Ah. Before that, there is someone I need to introduce you to.”
‘Who are you going to introduce?’
The three people’s curious eyes turned towards the carriage. But it was empty inside. Baodor released his hand holding them and went to the back of the carriage. Thump. Thump. A muffled sound was heard from the rear of the carriage.
What the hell is this? They were bewildered as Baodor brought a man in front of them.
“It’s a little sudden, but I’ll introduce him. This is…… uh…… 11542.”
Baodor said the number with a slightly embarrassed expression on his face. A man stood quietly behind him.
A man wearing shabby clothes with worn shoes was very tall and had a strong physique. He had thick chains wrapped around his hands and ankles.
“Remember this face. He is a slave who will be living here with us from now on.”
Herietta saw the face of a man her father called a slave. As if to prove the road of a long journey, there was dust all over the face of the man with yellow blonde hair. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t recognize the face.
The man who had his gaze on the floor glanced straight ahead. At the same time, his and Herietta’s eyes met. His eyes were deeper than the sea and bluer like the sky.
‘Oh. Oh my God.’
Herietta was so surprised that she was at a loss for words. It felt as if the blood was drying up all over her body from head to toe. Denying the unbelievable sight before her, she checked and checked again, but it was clear. It was the same face she had seen in her dreams every night, which made her longing overflow to the limit.
‘… Sir Edwin?’
As she called his name in her mind, a buzzing sound echoed in her ears. Her fingers were numb and she felt nauseous. The world unfolding in front of her was spinning and blurring.
Herietta fainted on the spot.