The Gap Between You and Me - Chapter 5
She could feel the sun’s rays shining on her even as her eyes were closed. The birds perched on the branches chirped and showed off their sweet voices. Hearing the sound of curtains fluttering lightly in the summer breeze, Herietta inhaled and exhaled slowly. The soft bed and soft sheets felt comfortable against her body.
Herietta wiggled and rolled around the bed. Laying on her side with her eyes closed, she thought quietly. She seems to have been dreaming something absurd. Such an absurd, absurd dream.
‘Right. Sir Edwin is here.’
Herietta thought. Edwin often appeared in her dreams, so it wasn’t unusual.
‘But she didn’t know that he would come out as a slave.’
Herietta grinned. She didn’t know how she could have such a bizarre dream. The way he looked, how vivid it was, she almost believed that it was a reality and not a dream.
‘It’s been a while since I last saw him. It seems that he is a little different from what I remembered…’
Herietta drew a picture of Edwin from what she had seen in her dream. Tall, broad shoulders. and a strong body. At first glance he looked similar to what she remembered, but he must have lost more weight than she last saw him. His face was also thin, so his impression was sharper than before. Besides, his blue eyes are like…
“Sister. Are you awake?”
The thoughts that were running on her mind were stopped by the voice coming from beside her. Squeak. She heard the creaking of the old wooden frame as if someone sat on the bed. Before long, a dark shadow fell over her face.
Herietta opened her eyes and looked. She then checked what was hovering over her face. The first thing she saw were two large brown eyes that were looking straight at her.
Hugo exclaimed. A deep sense of relief spread across his face. Herietta closed her eyes several times before she opened them. He had his back against the sun, so she couldn’t see his face very well. She rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand.
“Hugo? What are you doing here early in the morning?”
“What do you mean early in the morning? Sister, it will be time for the sun to go down in a little while.”
“It’s almost sunset?”
Herietta was bewildered and asked about what she had just heard from Hugo. He nodded. She got up and sat down, then looked out the window. Even though the dark evening light had descended, it was still bright outside.
Herietta was confused. Maybe she was so tired that she overslept until early evening? But to say that, her body was too refreshed and relieved. What’s more, Rose, who hates people being lazy, couldn’t have let her do it.
“You don’t know how surprised everyone was when you suddenly passed out. Even our dear mother almost collapsed from shock.”
Hugo spoke like an old man and handed Herietta the cup he had prepared beforehand. It was a mixture of honey and lemon juice. Without a word, she took the cup and tried to drink the water from it, but she got a sense that something was wrong. She pondered over his words for a moment before she lifted her head.
“Wait, Hugo. Did you say I passed out?”
“Yes. Didn’t you lose consciousness in the front yard earlier?”
“So I’m not waking up now, but I passed out and then woke up?”
“That is correct… ”
Hugo frowned. He could not understand Herietta’s reaction. Perhaps when she fainted, she banged her head hard on the floor. He looked at his sister with a worried look.
He wondered if he should let someone know in case they didn’t know, but Herietta, who had been rolling her eyes dizzy, opened her mouth.
“Then… Did father bring home a slave… ?”
“Ah! I’m going to die of a headache because of it. My father said he needed a room for him, so he told me to give him my study room. No matter how much I think about it, I can’t understand it. How can I give my room to a slave who isn’t someone… Oh! Sister! What are you doing now?”
Hugo, who had been grumbling in a loud voice, shouted in surprise. It was because Henrietta had let go of the cup she was holding. Fortunately, it did not fall on the duvet and break, but the contents inside spilled out. A thick lemon honey tea soaked the bedding and her clothes, but Herietta was completely unaware of it.
Herrietta covered her face with her hands.
“…It… It can’t be.”
She was deeply doubtful whether she was still dreaming. She felt like she was about to faint again, so she grabbed hold of a part of her consciousness tightly.
* * *
The door swung open like it was about to break. Baodor, who was sitting in front of the desk organizing his papers, was startled by the commotion. He raised his head and saw an uninvited guest entering the study. And after confirming who the unexpected person was, he stood up.
“Herietta? What happened?”
“What happened, Dad?”
Herietta cut Baodor off, and hurriedly asked her question first. She strode closer to him. Her cheeks were very flushed, as if she had been suffering from a high fever and her eyes were blazing. Meanwhile, the top of her skirt was spotted and wet from the drink she had spilled earlier. Baodor was only bewildered by his daughter’s abnormal behavior.
“What do you mean?”
“Sir Edwin! Why is he, who should be in the capital, here, in Philioche!?”
Herietta struck the desk as if she were frustrated.
“Besides, why did he wear such a shabby outfit…… !”
“Sir Edwin? Sir Edwin? Who is that?”
“Sir Edwin! Sir Edwin! Don’t you know Sir Edwin?”
Herrietta shouted the same name over and over like a parrot. Even so, Baodor still had a clueless expression on his face.
She ripped her hair out of frustration.
“It’s the one you brought with you!”
“I brought… ? Ah! Are you talking about 11542?”
Unknowingly, Herietta, who followed the number that Baodor had called, frowned.
“What the hell is that?”
“It’s the slave’s unique number.”
“Yes. It is said that every slave has a unique number given to them. And they say they can use it to find out information about their origins, background, or who currently owns them. Perhaps in the world of slaves, it is a concept similar to identification.”
Baodor shrugged his shoulders and said. Although a noble, he was only a poor Viscount. He could not have had a slave, a symbol of wealth, as he could not afford many servants or maids. So, all these situations were very unfamiliar to him.
Herietta’s face turned white while listening to Baodor.
“What do you mean slave!? Father! Don’t even say such terrible things! Do you know who he is? That’s Sir Edwin! He is the only heir to the Duchy of Redford!”
“The Duchy of Redford?”
Baodor’s eyes widened at the unexpected name. No matter how much he lived his life in Philioche, that didn’t mean he didn’t know the famous Redford family. He looked at his daughter, panting as if out of breath. Then, he started laughing out loud.
“Oh dear, oh dear. Are you still dreaming? Heir to the Duchy of Redford. There is no way that 11542, who is only a slave, is such a great being.”
Baodor lightly patted Herietta’s shoulder, who was looking at him with a confused face.
“Listen to me, Herietta. That slave was a gift from someone I’ve known for a long time. In the past, I happened to grant him a request, and he gave it to me in return as a thank you. If you don’t believe me, you might want to see this.”
He pulled something out of the second drawer of the desk and handed it to Herietta. It was a fairly thick parchment, rolled up.
Herietta hesitated a little, then took the parchment. She untied the parchment straps and unfolded it with a careful hand. Her eyes moved left and right following the words written on the parchment. Little by little, her hands were shaking.
Herietta couldn’t finish her sentence. What she was holding was a complete slave document. The royal coat of arms was clearly engraved on the lower right edge of the parchment. It was a mark to prove that this was a legally produced document.
There were no names like Edwin or Redford to be found on the parchment. Instead, at the top, as Baodor said, ‘Product No. 11542’ was written on it. If one was to read it roughly, they wouldn’t even know it meant a person. She felt suffocated.
“Now will you believe me?”
Baodor asked, rolling the parchment from Herietta’s hand. But Herietta did not respond. She was still floundering in the sea of great shock.
“Would you like to go and get some rest? Your pale complexion looks like you haven’t recovered yet. You’ll feel a little better when you take a nap.”
Baodor clapped his hands and called one of the maids, who was waiting outside. With a gesture of his eyes, he ordered her to support Herietta. Then the maid approached Herietta. Herietta, who was dazed and lost in her thoughts, did not dare to shake away the hand guiding her away.
Stop. Herietta, who was about to go out helplessly, supported by the maid, stopped in front of the door. She turned her upper body halfway to look at Baodor.
“Father. Who was the one who gave you that as a gift?”
“Marquis Macnot, he is the owner of a large estate near the capital. He is a very influential person within the kingdom, but Herietta, you probably don’t know him.”
Marquis Macnot. As Baodor said, it was a name Henrietta had never even heard of.