The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 44
As soon as Herietta heard about Hugo, she immediately packed up and went back to Philioche despite the social activities lining her schedule. Knowing why she was in such a hurry, Lilian also let her go without a word.
The journey from Lavant to Philioche usually takes about four or five days, but because they had gathered enough money to pay the coachman extra, she was able to arrive in Philioche in three days.
As the carriage slowed to a stop in front of the mansion, Herietta hurriedly opened the carriage door. Impatient, she jumped outside before the carriage could come to a complete stop. Edwin, who was riding in the carriage with her, tried to stop her, but it was not enough.
Herietta entered the mansion without looking back.
Rose, who was sitting and embroidering alone in the hall, was startled with her daughter’s arrival and stood up. She checked again to see if it was just her imagination, but it was her daughter Herietta.
“Herietta? Why are you here…?”
She placed her things on the table and walked towards Herietta who looked uneasy.
“You didn’t even tell us you were coming. When did you arrive?”
“Just a while ago. I’m sorry, mother. As soon as father contacted me, I headed straight home, so I didn’t have time to contact you.”
Herietta hugged Rose. This was the first time she had seen her in four months. Rose still looked the same as Herietta remembered, but she had dark circles under her eyes and her face looked a little thinner, perhaps because of the worries she had been through.
“Where is father?”
“After contacting you, he left the next day. He wants to know something.”
At Rose’s words, Herietta nodded. She could guess what Baodor was trying to figure out. Herietta looked around. The house was quiet.
At Herietta’s question, Rose put on a complicated expression. Herietta seemed to have touched a sore spot. She let out a small sigh.
“Probably in his room upstairs.”
* * *
Herietta knocked on her door. Rustle, rustle. She heard something moving quickly inside the room.
A voice called from inside the room. It sounded a little husky, but it was still the voice of a boy with a sweet voice. Herietta slowly turned the doorknob and opened the door.
The curtains were drawn, and even though it was still broad daylight, the room was quite dark. Unlike her, Hugo likes keeping things neat, so his room was always well organized and kept clean. Even though they came out of the same stomach, the lifestyles of the two were so different that people wondered how they came from the same household.
Herietta’s eyes scanned the room. It was just a little past lunchtime, but contrary to her expectations that Hugo was probably standing in front of a desk or window, he was nowhere to be found.
Herietta called her brother’s name. Then, the blanket covering something on the bed squirmed.
When she called again, the blanket was lifted and Hugo, who was hiding under it, appeared. He jumped up and sat down.
Hugo opened his eyes which were round like a rabbit’s and looked at Herietta with a surprised expression. He rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand, wondering if he had seen it wrong. But when he saw her still standing by the doorway, he realized that he was actually seeing his sister.
Hugo jumped out of bed and ran towards Herietta. Then, without breaking his momentum, he plunged straight into Herietta’s arms. The two hugged each other tightly.
“Sister! I missed you! I thought I was going to die missing you!”
“Hugo, me too! How have you been?”
He buried his face in Herietta’s arms and Herietta patted her brother’s back as he mumbled and shook his head sulkily.
“You promised to write me a letter every day, so why did you have so little news? All I have received is five letters.”
“What? Weird. I wrote and sent you a letter every day.”
Herietta exaggerated, but her brother saw through her excuse.
“Did the messenger lose it on the way?”
“… pfft, you’re lying.”
Hugo laughed. As if his mind had calmed down a little, he pulled away from Herietta and lifted his head to look at her. Like siblings who shared the same blood, they both had very similar eyes.
“You haven’t changed at all. I thought something would have changed if you went to Lavant.”
“You seem to have changed a bit though. Have you always been that tall?”
Herietta tilted her head and measured his height by placing her hand on top of Hugo’s head. Looking back, his body line seemed to also have gotten thicker than before, and his voice sounded a little different.
“I will probably catch up to you soon.”
“That’s funny. It will take a hundred more years for you to reach the same level as me.”
Herietta playfully ruffled Hugo’s hair.
“But have you been sleeping all this time? It’s already past noon, you know?”
“I’m just a little tired…”
Hugo looked awkwardly as he responded. Herietta looked at her brother and walked to the window. She then opened the curtains which he had closed and then opened the windows. Creak, creak, it was late summer, and the cicadas sang loudly as they hung from the trees.
“Did your business in Lavant go well?”
“Can’t you see? So many people courted me that I couldn’t choose in the end.”
In short, it was a fierce failure. Hearing her sister’s joke, Hugo grinned.
Herietta took a seat by the window. Then, as if Hugo was waiting for it, he pulled a chair next to her and sat down.
“How have you been?”
Herietta asked again. Hugo rolled his eyes and shrugged.
“Well, what do you think? Life in Philioche is the same.”
“I’ve only been away for four months, but it seems like a very long time, isn’t it?”
“I know. It’s so quiet here that it felt like time was going much slower.”
“Are you being sarcastic to me now?”
The two of them occasionally joked while catching up with each other. He joked around as if nothing had happened. A familiar landscape under the warm sunlight. The person he missed. Everything seemed perfect.
How long has it been? There was a small gap in their conversation, and it was the moment Herietta had been waiting for, an opportunity to speak about the reason she was here. She cleared her throat.
“I heard… the news.”
At Herietta’s words, Hugo’s expression became disturbed. He looked like he didn’t know how to react.
His eyes darted around with a bewildered look on his face for a moment, and immediately raised the corners of his lips unnaturally and smiled.
“You mean the news that I have been called to service by the country?”
“The opportunity has come. A way to raise the prestige of the Mackenzie family,” said Hugo.
“I will come home after defeating the Kustans in the north. I will flatten their nose so hard that they cannot cross the border of Brimdel again.”
Kustan is a country located to the north of Brimdel which was established by gathering nomads who wandered here and there. Despite the barren land which was mostly composed of stony fields, they had excellent living skills and succeeded in transforming it into a livable place. As a result, they were able to take root in one place for a long time.
The people of Brimdel ignored the people of Kustan. They didn’t like the fact that the nomads who wandered around founded a land, but what they didn’t like even more was their wild and selfish nature.
Because the land was very scarce in resources, it was a normal belief in Kustan that the strong survive and the weak die. Their beliefs were despised by the Brimdel people and they regarded them as uncivilized. But because of this, they didn’t realize that Kustan was getting stronger.
Not long after reports were made that Kustan’s movements were unusual, the army sent by their king crossed the northern border. But the king of Brimdel did not turn a blind eye this time. It was known that the Kustans had been coveting the fertile land of Brimdel for a long time, and this was not the first time they had attempted to cross the border.
Brimdel was confident that they would be able to defeat them easily this time as well.
“Did they tell you where you are going to be drafted?”
At Herietta’s question, Hugo silently nodded.
“… I’m going to Bangola village.”