Chapter 58 |
“How? Are you going to make it up to me?"
There was a hint of elation in the young boy’s voice, but there was also one twinge of doubt. He seemed very surprised as Noah, who had been fighting with him, offered to help him meet his father.
Of course I was surprised too. Noah too had experienced the loss of his parents as a child, so I wonder if he empathized with Daniel.
Noah nodded his head with his lips curled up. He rubbed the tip of his chin as if he had come up with a good idea.
“I will let you do whatever you want, be it reconciliation or negotiation. I hope the Duke of Hessen will take you away as soon as possible. You’re too much trouble.”
I knew it.
There was no way that indifferent man would help someone so casually. Daniel bit his little lip and stared. It was childishly cute as he bit his lower lip gingerly, but I know I shouldn’t do that, as it was clearly an action out of grief at being turned away.
“….. father is busy. There is no way he would take me."
Noah gently lifted his eyebrows.
“Little Hessen. The important people don't make time to see you, you make time to see them. My late mother told me that."
“Is brother's mother in heaven too?”
“No, she is in the cemetery according to the funeral arrangements…."
“My mother is in heaven too! Maybe the three of them are looking down on us together."
I hurt interrupted Noah's childishly destructive remark. Daniel's bright red, ruby-like eyes opened wide and headed toward Noah, then immediately shook like a wave.
“When you were young?”
“Yes, my parents went to the sky when I was young.”
“Oh. I'm sorry I spoiled it for you by saying I'm the only one having a hard time."
"You're still a child, I'll tolerate that much."
Noah, who had been pinched by me, pretended to be unconcerned and replied with a wave of his hand. Daniel, who was rubbing his eyes with his sleeve, looked at us as if he felt sorry for us instead.
"Brother and Diana have missed your parents and grieved longer than I have."
He can see it that way from a child's point of view. Usually we think that the passage of time clouds our vision, and we live our lives pretending that the years have pushed us to forget.
“Grown-ups don't cry. I didn't cry when I was your age either."
Noah put his coffee cup down quietly, took out a handkerchief and rubbed Daniel's face messily.
He looked uncomfortable for a moment as he looked at the handkerchief, as Daniel blew his nose into it. Then he picked it up with two fingers and placed it appropriately on the table. Daniel asked, touching his red eyes with his fingers.
“How can I not cry? My father doesn't like it because I cry often. But whenever I think about my mother, I keep crying.”
“Just cry, it's normal. You should have seen it right after birth, all babies do is cry.”
This man… …can't he please speak at the child's level? But despite the directness of Noah's expression, Daniel deeply understood.
“I see. Then I'll meet with him and ask him."
”Yes. I will contact the Duke of Hesse in advance, and if he says he will not meet with you, make sure you respond strongly that you will live with your stepfather.”
“Does that make me a stepmother?"
Noah laughed at my playful question with a strange suspicion.
"Yes. Wouldn't you rather be that way, since it would radically block the possibility of you and the young master getting married? And he’s smart, so whatever. We won't have to worry about our old age."
He seemed to be looking too far into the future, and I just smiled.
“I only have one mother and one father. I found out the day after I met Diana."
Daniel gave an outrageous look as he stared at Noah. Noah was silent for a moment, then turned his head away and looked at me, speaking in a hushed tone.
“Diana, it seems that our plan to gain Duke Hessen’s property has been discovered.”
(*Noah is making a joke because he said he would be Daniel’s stepdad and Diana’s is Deniel’s stepmother so it means they can take over the property, which is a joke. And Daniel said he only has one mother and one father, who were his biological parents).
Daniel is looking at us with his mouth closed and his eyes wide open.
"He’s always been such a good joker….. Don't mind him, Young Master.”
I did my best to make an excuse for Noah.
The weather continued to be rainy, as was typical in Medea. Although we were approaching the season when the chill had retreated and the fragrance of spring was thinly seeping into the air.
This was one of the Hessen ducal residences, an outlying area bordering the Great Forest of Estoria, a constituent of Medea. After the death of his wife, Duke Jean Hessen shut himself away from the capital and retreated into seclusion in his mansion in the suburbs.
He had hair as black as ebony, as was typical of the descendants of the great Medea nobility.
He was a handsome man who was courted by many women in his unmarried days. Requests for remarriage were still pouring in, but he refused all of them because he could not forget his late wife.
The Duke's face was hard and cold, like a man who lived without any hope in the world.
His eyes darkened under the loss and looked exhausted, but the women considered this was the charm of a wounded man.
The butler approached the duke, who was sitting on the sofa in his study, which was dimly lit, and handed him a letter.
A look of agitation came over the Duke’s expressionless face as he cut the sealing wax with a paper knife and opened the letter. His red eyes repeatedly scanned the short sentence, written in a beautiful script, from side to side.
<If you have a child, take responsibility for him. -Noah Rothsilde.>
The Duke of Hessen tilted his head at the brief letter, which Noah had written as if he were a parent after a one-night accident.
‘'What does this mean, that I am to take responsibility for the child?”
He asked the butler who had given him the letter, and the butler put his hand over his mouth and coughed.
‘'I think it means that you should come and see the young master.”
“What has that got to do with the Duke of Rothsilde?”
“He is no longer a Duke of Progen. He is now a Count by Medea title.”
“Did he lose his title? Did he have another accident? Did he gamble with his title?
The Duke of Hessen did not even know that Noah had fled to Medea, because ever since he lost his wife he did not have time to keep an eye on the outside world.
“A groundbreaking madman indeed.”
The Duke was not particularly surprised.
“I hear that the young master is very much in accordance with Count Rothsilde’s lover, and that they are staying together at the Tempshire Palace at the moment. So he has sent you a letter."
“Daniel followed her? What kind of woman is she?”
The older butler lowered the hand he had brought to his mouth, gathered it meekly, and hesitated.
“She looks a lot like the late Duchess.”
The Duke of Hessen’s eyes grew wide. Elizabeth was the only daughter of the Grand Duke of Yorkshire, so the woman (Diana) could not be her sister.
Elizabeth was somewhat similar in personality and facial features to her relative, the Queen of Medea, but she didn’t have any other relatives who looked like her.
“The young master would love to see you the next time you visit the Tempshire Palace…"
The Duke of Hessen’s brow dug deep as the butler effortlessly cut in. He couldn't even care for his young son’s life after the death of his wife, drinking all day every day, plus his heart ached every time he saw his son, who looked so much like his wife that he could never bring himself to see him.
“I promised I would take good care of him. I just don't have the confidence to see my son."
“He is only six years old. He is still old enough to need his parents' care.”
After the butler courteously reminded him, the Duke of Hessen raised his head and leaned back on the sofa to look at the ceiling.
His head rang again as he remembered his wife smiling brightly as she held Daniel in her arms, and his blade-like headache hit him like a pitch-black nightmare.
‘I don't know how to live without you’. The Duke of Hessen, who had recited in his mind like a monologue, covered his eyes in agony.
It was the day of the Duke of Hessen’s visit to Tempshire Palace.
Outside the window, a blessed rain fell like nectar with hints of spring, wetting the trees and the ground in the garden. Daniel came to visit us in our room, dressed in a fashionable suit and looking like a gentleman with his hair swept up.
He seemed nervous because he was about to meet the Duke of Hessen. I overslept again and greeted him with swollen eyes.
“I haven't seen my father in a long time. So I practiced not crying the whole time."
I didn’t know what Noah wrote to the Duke, but he responded that he would see Daniel on his way to visit the Tempshire Palace.
When I got dressed and went out to the parlor, I saw the two men, Noah and Daniel, sitting close together on the parlor couch. The two men were talking with serious expressions on their faces, as if they had something important to say to each other.
“I can play the violin.”
“I can play the violin, too. I can also play the piano. It is essential for an educated man.”
“Please teach me the piano, too.”
“I don't want to.”
"Why are you so disagreeable, brother?"
They seemed to have unexpectedly good chemistry even though they were arguing.
“Diana, you wear a pink dress. It's beautiful."
Daniel, who had found me standing in a daze, eavesdropping on their conversation, approached me with a bright face and hugged me.
I was embarrassed for no reason and patted the cute young master twice on the back. In the future, whoever woman, who would take care of this delicate and beautiful little boy was very blessed.
“No, she is beautiful no matter what she wears."
The beautiful man corrected Daniel’s words while tousling his silver-white hair. I smiled. Is this how you feel looking at a black kitten and a big white cat?
Daniel squeezed my hand nervously. The chubby cheeks raised as he asked again.
“Does my father like me?”
“Of course he does. Duke Hessen must have been heartbroken.”
Daniel seemed a little relieved at my answer. As I lowered my head he gave me a kiss on the cheek. Noah looked at me with a disgruntled look on his face and a lifted eyebrow.
“I'll be off then.”
The pretty boy laughed.
Shortly after Daniel went to see the Duke of Hessen, I thought it was quite warm and suggested a walk to Noah.
As we walked out of the room together and along the white birch path that lined the perimeter of the pond in the outer garden, I saw Daniel walking alongside a tall, well-built man.
Noah tugged on my hand lightly.
“He must be the Duke of Hessen. I don't want to say hello, so we’ll pretend we didn't see him and go the other way.”
That man was the Duke of Hessen. He too had eyes like Daniel. The black hair and eyes were the same, but the appearance was not so similar. Unlike Daniel’s pretty appearance, he was a beautiful man with a tough impression.
Despite Noah's wish not to be seen, Daniel waved his hand toward us first.
The Duke of Hessen’s red eyes grazed me for a moment and froze as it was. His fingers were white as he clenched his fist.
It was probably because I resembled the dead duchess. I smiled awkwardly and bowed to him. The Duke looked at me and bowed, then looked alternately at Noah and me.
“Father, father, this is Diana.”
Daniel introduced me in a buoyant voice.
The Duke of Hessen appeared to smile thinly at his son, but somehow I felt a wall between them. He looked apologetic as he stared at me.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Parsene. I heard that you took good care of Daniel. I’m sorry for the rudeness.”
“No, Duke. I rather enjoy it because the young master is very kind and gentle."
“You know him well. He’s too much trouble, so take him home with you quickly.”
Noah, who was standing with his arms folded, interrupted, and the Duke of Hessen replied with a blank expression.
“You are still the same.”
“Did the two of you know each other?"
Noah nodded at my question, and Duke Hessen smiled.
“We have known each other since we were very young. Our fathers were close to each other."
“But we were not close.”
“Weren’t we close? You even broke my arm with a wooden sword. It still hurts when it rains.”
Duke Hessen glared at Noah. I didn’t think they were close either. Daniel, standing alongside the Duke, lowered his gaze and looked only at his shoes. Noah brought up the subject directly.
"Why didn't you want to meet your son? Did you get sick of it now?"
He got straight to the point without an introduction. The Duke of Hessen sighed shallowly, touching his forehead.
“No, it's because my wife is dead and I can't even compose myself.”
“Little Hessen. Your father doesn't hate you. We solved it, didn't we?"
Noah looked at Daniel and looked refreshed as if he had solved his problem coolly. I suggested it to the rich man who looked very awkward.
“Why don't you and the young master go to the plaza today and have dinner and spend some time together?”
“I will try to do that. Is that okay, Daniel?"
“Yes, that's great."
Daniel's expression finally relaxed. His mouth rose prettily and his shoulders, which had been hanging limp, soared. The Duke of Hessen glanced at my hand and Noah’s, and congratulated us.
“I have heard that you have promised to marry. I congratulate you in advance."
“Yes, thank you. I will send you an invitation before the wedding.”
“I will come if I can.”
The Duke looked friendly and took Daniel's hand first.
“Now if you'll excuse me.”
The Duke bowed lightly, and I also bowed to him. Noah still kept his arms crossed and his chin up.
“Now take him home with you, won’t you?”
"Next time. I'm behind with work right now.”
The Duke of Hessen replied indifferently. Daniel, who was still holding his father’s hand tightly, looked at me and smiled calmly.
The eyes of the seemingly awkward Duke grazed me a bit and turned back. The look in his eyes as we passed each other was filled with an unspoken feeling of melancholy. Noah stared at the back of the Duke and Daniel. There was something very grim about his face.
“I think I made a mistake."
He mumbled to incomprehensible words himself.