Chapter 1. An Accidental Encounter
“Nelia, the park is really big. There are a lot of flowers, too…….”
“Yes, the park is maintained really well because it’s managed directly by the palace.”
In fact, it was Nelia’s first time in this park.
However, it was quite embarrassing to say that it was her first time going here despite living nearby, so Nelia pretended to be knowledgeable enough and spat out random remarks.
Luckily, Charlotte didn’t seem very interested in her answer because her eyes were twinkling in admiration.
“Shall we take our time to look around slowly?”
Nelia walked first, and Charlotte hurried along.
Nelia looked around the park with Charlotte. There were many plants in the park, creating the atmosphere as if it was a botanical garden.
Moreover, the laughter of people who went on the picnic there added a bright feeling to the park.
Nelia had to try to pretend not to be surprised while looking around the park.
She was supposed to act as if she had already been there for Charlotte.
‘I should come with His Grace next time.’
Perhaps because she was used to the duke staying indoors, she didn’t think he had been in the park before.
Nelia was making plans in her mind when she heard Charlotte’s excited squeal from her side.
“Nelia, it’s a huge lake!”
Nelia’s gaze turned to Charlotte’s finger.
There was a wide stretch of blue lake that sparkled under the sunlight where her eyes landed. She felt as if looking at the magnificent scenery.
This time, Nelia couldn’t hide her excited expression. She couldn’t believe she had never been here while living in the capital.
She thought about thanking Charlotte instead for giving her a chance to come here.
Ton spoke in a concerned voice between the two excited women.
“I know you are excited, but the lake is definitely shallow, so you should never dip your feet in…….”
But as soon as Ton spoke, the sound of a crying child was heard, breaking the entire lake.
On the side of the lake where the sound originated, there was a crying child. Nelia rushed to the child with a bad hunch in her chest.
Then she lowered her body and asked the child.
“What’s the matter……?”
“Ukh…….! Sister, please save my sibling!”
The crying boy pointed to the lake.
There was another child drowning and floundering in the water in the place pointed by the boy’s finger.
‘What to do…….!’
In the urgent situation, Nelia wanted to jump into the water right away, but she couldn’t swim well. They would probably find another corpse there if she went to rescue.
It seemed that Charlotte couldn’t swim well either. She looked helpless while watching the drowning child as well, but didn’t take any action.
While Nelia was looking around to find a tool to save the drowning child, Ton approached and took off his coat.
“Please hold this.”
Ton jumped into the lake at once.
Ton approached the child at a rapid pace as he swam through the current like a swift fish. He has great swimming skills.
Nelia and Charlotte watched in awe.
‘Ton is really an all-rounder……..’
It was said that he came from the knight family, but she didn’t expect him to swim well.
“I think your sibling will be okay, don’t be too worried…….”
Nelia dropped her gaze to reassure the crying child, who hurriedly put his hand behind his back. The child, whose eyes met her, seemed awkward for a moment.
Nelia was appalled at his appearance, but she didn’t pay it any mind. He must have been out of it because of his sibling who fell into the water.
Ton brought the drowning child safely in a short time.
The drowning child coughed.
However, she could tell that he was alright when he quickly straightened his limp body.
The child, who was blinking helplessly, finally returned to his senses and held his older brother’s small hand.
“You’re the reason I can’t live long, seriously.”
The older child gave his sibling a light scolding, and bowed his head toward Ton and Nelia.
“Thank you…….! How am I supposed to repay you for this……”
“I don’t need you to do any favor, just be careful and hold your brother’s hand firmly.”
Despite Nelia’s stern voice, the siblings smiled brightly.
‘Yes……! Thank you.”
“Alright, you can go now.”
Nelia beckoned and the siblings bowed their heads again before walking by the street.
‘Phew……. That’s a relief.’
With a relieved sigh, Nelia looked at the direction where the siblings walked on, wondering if they had met their parents by now.
However, at some point during the time they walked in that direction with those short legs, they had disappeared completely from the road.
Nelia turned her gaze from the siblings, who had disappeared like a mirage, and looked at Ton.
“Thank you. Ton, but……. Your clothes are all wet, what do we do?”
“It’s fine. I’m glad the children are safe.”
He talked while squeezing the water from his soaked clothes. The sight made Nelia feel even worse.
“The weather will become cold when the sun sets. Let’s go to the nearby boutique and buy a pair of clothes so you can get changed right away.”
“I’m not. If you keep refusing, you will walk around while getting wet.”
Ton had no choice but to eventually accept Nelia’s threat which didn’t sound like a threat at all.
“Charlotte, is it fine if we stop by the nearby boutique?”
Charlotte also nodded right away because she was worried about Ton.
Fortunately, there was a boutique right beside the park.
The clothes in every boutique are custom-made, but when she told them about the situation, they said they would be willing to sell the clothes made by the owner.
“Then, I will get changed and go out.”
“Yes, take your time to change.”
Nelia and Charlotte waited patiently in the carriage while Ton was changing his clothes.
Charlotte was still nervous while clenching her fists.
“I was really surprised earlier……. Because I thought the child would go wrong.”
“I know. Where are your parents?”
Nelia replied in a worried voice.
Looking at her, she didn’t seem like an orphan.
Nelia hoped the brothers had arrived home safely by now.
“I think I’d better return now.”
It’s been a while since she saved the drowning child and came to the nearby boutique, but there was still time until the sun set.
“Yes…….. I just remembered that I have to run an errand for the priest. It’s because of me……. I’m sorry, Nelia.”
“No. I can’t help it.”
It was unfortunate that she had to return even before they could look around the park properly, but there was nothing she could do.
As soon as she got here, their schedule got twisted by saving the child who fell into the lake.
“When Ton comes out, I will walk you to the monastery.”
“It’s okay. I can go on my own……..”
Charlotte refused, but she couldn’t send Charlotte alone because it would be dark soon.
“Don’t refuse, Charlotte.”
Charlotte smiled helplessly at the friendly remark coming from Nelia.
“I owe Nelia every single time…….”
“What did I do to you?”
“In addition to being ushered into the carriage on the first day I came to the capital, I learned that the priest who shared the room with me was a thief because of Nelia……. If it weren’t because of Nelia, I would have been foolishly deceived by her…….”
Charlotte looked up at Nelia.
“Thank you, Nelia.”
Nelia was embarrassed by Charlotte’s sincere way of thanking her.
Nelia looked at Charlotte’s slender neck while returning her words.
“More than that, Charlotte. You’re going to head back, so it would be fine for you to wear the necklace again, don’t you think so?”
“Oh, that’s right…….”
Remembering the existence of the pendant which Charlotte had forgotten, the girl put her hand in her pocket.
Charlotte’s expression soon hardened visibly.
Nelia had an ominous feeling. And she would soon know her gut feeling was right.
Charlotte murmured as she shoved her hand in her pocket.
“The pendant necklace?”
Charlotte nodded as if she was out of it.
Oh. Nelia bit her lip unknowingly.
The pendant necklace was very precious to Charlotte.
“Think carefully, Charlotte, did you spill something…….!”
“It was definitely there when I checked it in the midst of our outing…….”
Charlotte eventually got up from her seat on the carriage chair and looked around inattentively.
“I think I should go back to the park and look for it.”
Charlotte opened the carriage door as if she was possessed by something.
“It’ll be hard to find it on your own. Let’s find it together when Ton get back!”
“No…… I have to find it right now…….. If someone picks it……..”
Nelia was bewildered.
She assumed Ton would come out soon if they waited one more minute, but Charlotte couldn’t seem to afford wasting time.
Charlotte was already getting out of the carriage.
‘This won’t do. I need to tell Ton about what happens.’
After watching Charlotte running out, Nelia also left the carriage and entered the carriage.
She said she was going to the park anyway, so Ton could follow her after changing his clothes.
The owner of the boutique said Ton was still changing.
A large shadow was spotted behind the curtain. Nelia spoke to Ton over the curtain.
“Ton, Charlotte said she might have lost her necklace and went to the park alone to pick it up.”
The curtains rattled and were shifted aside. It just so happened that Ton had changed his clothes.
“Yes, so I think we should go to the park as soon as possible.”
With that, Nelia and Ton drove back to the park by carriage.
But after searching around for a while, they didn’t see Charlotte. Nelia expected to find her soon, but it wasn’t easy because the park was wide or Charlotte moved around fast.
“The sun is setting. Young Lady Nelia, please go into the carriage and wait there. I think I’d better run around to look for Charlotte.”
Ton apparently thought it was inefficient to take her around and find Charlotte.
“Then let’s go find Charlotte separately. That would be more efficient.”
Ton shook his head sternly.
“The park is never safe when it gets dark. There is a hideout for the crime guild in the mountain behind the park, so unpleasant things often occur. Therefore, please lock the door in the carriage and wait, Young Lady. I will find Young Lady Charlotte and return with her.”
Nelia was reluctant to wait in the carriage alone, but she didn’t seem to be helping Ton much now.
“Then I’ll be waiting in the carriage……. Be careful, Ton.”
“Yes, I understood.”
Ton disappeared at the end of his answer. He was really quick to disappear and scoured around this large park to find Charlotte.
Nelia trudged back to the place where the carriage was parked.
‘Where the h*ll is Charlotte?’
Also, she wondered where the pendant necklace ended up in, apparently Charlotte put it in her pocket.
There was a scene that suddenly came to Nelia’s mind.
“Are those siblings…….”
It was the little siblings whom they helped at the lake.
She didn’t want to be suspicious of the pair of young siblings, but when she thought about it, she thought the older brother’s behavior was a little suspicious.
She wasn’t sure about it, but the pendant necklace that was intact couldn’t possibly disappear on its own, and it might be that it was young siblings who were deceiving them and sneaking it away…….?
But she couldn’t find them right now, so Nelia leaned her head against the window-frame and waited for Ton to bring Charlotte back.
Time passed by and the sky became dark before she realized it.
‘I hope they will come back soon.’
It’s been an hour since she remained like that, gulp.
She finally heard a knock on the door of the carriage and it meant someone had returned.
And the person who showed up was…….
It was Charlotte, but she didn’t look good somehow.
From Charlotte’s expression and her voice that sounded like someone who had been crying, Nelia sensed that something had happened.
“What happened, Charlotte?”
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