Cry, Even Better if you Beg - Side Story 11
Side Story 11
With lightning quick reflexes, Matthias spotted the child sprinting away and immediately gave chase. Though it may have seemed like a simple, routine pursuit, Matthias couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something deeper at play.
Was she running from a traumatic memory?
The thought of the child almost getting shot on their first encounter sent a chill down his spine. But as he closed in on her, he realized that her desperate escape was becoming increasingly erratic and inexplicable. Despite her fear and confusion, Matthias couldn’t help but feel a thrill of excitement as he closed in on the mysterious girl.
The small girl’s terror was evident as Matthias approached her. She continued to look at him as she was cornered, and Matthias couldn’t help but notice how much her eyes resembled Arvis’s summer forest at that very time. They appeared to stand out even more despite her petite and thin build.
She was still a youngster, but he saw that she seemed to have matured since their first summer encounter.
Did they call her Leyla?
Intentionally driving slowly in her direction, Matthias followed her, but their gap gradually closed. The terror in her eyes increased as she turned around.
Leyla looked back as Matthias suddenly spotted the flower she was holding; she tripped over a stone, fell to the ground, and let out a brief scream that shattered the peace of the forest road.
As Matthias pulled up on his horse in front of the fallen child, the petals of a broken rose fluttered in the wind. He gazed at the scene for a moment before the child jumped to her feet and stepped back, her small face red and wet with tears.
“Oh, H-hello, Duke,” she said, as if giving up on any further resistance. Standing before him with her head bowed, she reminded Matthias of a deer she often encountered in the woods with her immature, slender arms and legs. As he stared at her stooped shoulders, Matthias’s gaze shifted to the rose on the ground. But before he could reach it, the child had already run off and hidden behind a tree, her figure shaking.
Though familiar, there was something different about her now and Matthias couldn’t shake the feeling that this encounter was not as simple as it seemed.
What kind of kid was she?
Matthias was getting bored with this situation, it was nothing more than a minor annoyance. But he couldn’t help but find it amusing to spend his time on such a pointless pursuit. He lowered his squinty eyes and examined the bouquet of roses, the scattered petals fluttering in the wind.
“Hey kid, pick it up,” he said, pointing to the bouquet at the end of his hunting gun. “It’s yours.”
The child’s green eyes, staring blankly at him, filled with tears. Matthias stared at her for a long time. The afternoon was becoming more and more tedious.
That was when he decided to end this game. He got off his horse and picked up the abandoned bouquet of roses and approached the child who was hiding behind the tree. He handed the flowers to her politely, but with a hint of haughtiness, that perfectly matched the Duke of Herhardt’s appearance. The child, who took the flowers without realizing it, looked confused, but Matthias paid no heed. He left the flustered child behind and turned away.
As Matthias returned to the mansion, he shot several more birds, making for a decent afternoon hunt. But his encounter with Bill Remmer in the rose garden was about to take an unexpected turn.
“Well, Duke,” the gardener greeted him as usual, but this time he had something to say. Matthias turned to face him.
“It’s nothing more than… Can I take that rose?” Bill Remer pointed to a flowerbed of precious roses that the two Duchesses particularly cherished, yet his tone was uncharacteristically timid.
“Yes, as much as you like,” Matthias replied casually. “As Mr. Remer wishes.” He turned away, leaving a moderately indifferent and generous answer. But as he took a few steps, he noticed the gardener approaching the flowerbed he had just given permission to take from.
“Ah, Mr. Remer,” Matthias called out, causing the man to stop in an awkward position with a start. “No,” Matthias, who had been lost in thought for a moment, shook his head, erasing his previous question. He couldn’t help but wonder how long the orphan in charge of the garden, Leyla, would remain in this Arvis.
Matthias was suddenly filled with curiosity about the child he had encountered in the garden, but he didn’t want to get involved. There was no reason for him to know the identity of a child who was just one of the numerous users of Arvis, which had now become boring to him. He left the garden and quickly forgot about the kid.
The following year, Duke Herhardt returned to Arvis as usual, but he never again went on a hunt to chase away the orphan living in the forest. And the next year, Matthias was commissioned as an officer through the Royal Military Academy, following in the family tradition.
While serving on the overseas front, he never returned to his fief, and the child, who meant nothing to him, disappeared from his life as if she had vanished into thin air. There was no place for such meaningless memories in the life of the perfect Duke of Herhardt.
It really was.
Until the summer after returning from the front as he stood on the Platanus Road where the lush greenery stretched out before him.
A beautiful wave of green.
Her eyes were as striking as ever, reminding him of the summer forest of Arvis.
Leyla carefully dug a hole and placed the rose in it. It was the same rose she had found last summer, paired with a beautiful water bird that she had decorated with colored thread.
She laid the bouquet of roses next to the bloody, cold bird before covering it up with soil. She hesitated for a moment, but ultimately decided to bury it.
She never would have imagined that the Duke would pick up a bouquet of flowers, let alone be as polite as he was. He was just like the Duke Herhardt that everyone knew, dignified and reserved. The thought of him doing something so out of character was strange and surreal. It was the first time she felt like she truly met the Duke of Herhardt, the man who was praised by the people of Arvis.
Leyla held her breath in fear that he might bully her in some other way, but nothing more happened. He handed her the roses, turned and left.
It wasn’t until he was gone that she realized she was relieved. She felt embarrassed at the thought that the roses might have been a gift from Claudine, someone who had thrown them away. But as she walked back to her cabin with the bouquet she couldn’t bring herself to throw away, the journey felt much longer than usual. It was something she shouldn’t have kept.
Leyla made such a strong commitment as she set out with gloves and shovels to bury the birds the Duke had murdered. She then returned to the space and picked up the flower she had placed at the desk’s end.
The dead bird buried the rose in that recollection. Leyla then returned to the cabin while running. I hope the Duke hate hunting. She repeated the fruitless prayers over and over again on her way back.
“You’ve travelled through the woodland again today, huh!” Just as Leyla was about to enter the front door, a booming voice startled her, causing her to turn her head. Uncle Bill was squatting on the porch and was watching Leyla. “You’re still a child, you know, an infant.” His voice was low, but the tone was actually extremely cordial.
Leyla quickly moved toward him after setting down her gloves and shovel. Leyla, who frequently attempted to occupy the chair next to Uncle Bill, was deterred by a bouquet of flowers that had been placed there.
“Uncle?” Leyla asked, as she noticed the bouquet in Uncle Bill’s hands.
He hesitated for a moment before answering, “Well… it’s like that. It’s for you, keep it.”
Leyla’s eyes widened in surprise, “Me? Really? Is it a present for me?”
“Gift? I’ve only picked what’s grown all over the world,” Uncle Bill said casually, but Leyla was already thrilled and couldn’t contain her excitement.
She hugged the bouquet, which was almost as big as her body, and paced around the porch, admiring the flowers in the sunlight and then in the shade. She couldn’t stop smiling.
Uncle Bill couldn’t help but burst out laughing, forgetting the embarrassment he had felt earlier. He thought it was just a small gesture, but seeing the child’s happiness made it all worth it.
“But, uncle, this is a precious rose that the Duchess likes. Is it okay for me to take it?” Leyla asked, holding the rose tightly and her face filled with concern. Uncle Bill, taken aback, blurted out “Geez. A child like you worries about everything!”
“Still…” Leyla said.
“Don’t worry, I won’t get in trouble for picking a few roses.”
“Really?” Leyla asked, her eyes shining with hope.
“Do you think I would lie to you?” Uncle Bill replied with a chuckle.
Leyla shook her head and hugged the bouquet even tighter. “Thank you, uncle. It’s so pretty.” She smiled broadly, holding back her tears. She thought she could finally forget the memory of the rose buried with the bird. Having a real present for Leyla Lewellin, something this big and beautiful.
Leyla lowered her head over the bouquet of roses and breathed in the sweet scent for a long time. In the meantime, the tears in her eyes and nostrils gradually calmed down. She didn’t know what it meant to be a woman yet, but there was no vague fear now. She felt like everything was going to be fine, in a rosy and sweet way, like Uncle Bill’s blessing.
The two stayed on the porch that day longer than usual.
Uncle Bill continued to give Leyla affectionate head pats, which Leyla didn’t give any thought to. She burst out laughing, relishing the hard treatment that put her at ease.
She didn’t understand the roses her uncle had given her didn’t have thorns until that evening. She discovered the stem was smooth and devoid of any little thorns as she unwrapped the newspaper and rope that had been used to wrap the bouquet before placing it in a vase. The roses were identical throughout.
The summer’s lengthening ended.
After the Duke left Arvis, the forest was once again peaceful. Leyla also developed swiftly in the wilderness, as if she had finally let go of something. She transformed from a girl into a lady at this very moment, as Chef Mona had said, the magic of the years.
Such calm days continued up until the summer, when the Duke came back.
Leyla glanced at the bookcase covered in flowers, and she suddenly had vivid memories of those times.
The rose that Uncle Bill had given her withered and was lost over time, but the memory was as fresh as ever.
Lovely days infused with genuine love. Leyla was aware that the rose Matthias had given her would eventually wilt and vanish, but the memory would live on in her heart and mind always. The lovely rose of the night that had been delicately tucked into her ears, not the broken bouquet that had to be buried with the bird.
Leyla gently grinned as she descended from the window frame and shut her somewhat warm eyes. Then she heard a knock on the door. A maid who worked for Norma and Elysee was standing beyond the open door.
The maid gave the message in a calm voice and with good politeness.
“My lady, the Duchesses are looking for you. Come along with me.”