The large hand that was pressing on her back slid down slowly to hold her waist. As Isaac hugged her with both his hands as if trying to protect Dahlia from the crowds, they left the front of the shop.
When she touched her chest, she could feel the disorderly pounding of her heart, inciting feelings of extreme bashfulness. To hide her red face, she lowered her head while in Isaac’s embrace.
‘It’s just a simple hug, but why–’
‘It isn’t anything, but why is my heart pounding?’
Was the Young Master always so big in the first place? She never knew that he was so strong…
Every time she saw the slender and pitiful form of the Young Master, it reminded her of a pure white canary. He was fragile and needed to be looked after, and without constant care, he would die.
But the hand grasping hers was much bigger and longer than Dahlia’s.
His straightened upper body was broad and firm rather than soft, and he simply could not be regarded as a boy in his adolescence.
The Young Master that was holding her in his arms was not something like a canary.
“Dahlia, look at the yellow sign over there. Isn’t that the bookstore that Dahlia talked about?”
Isaac, who had been gazing into the distance, turned towards Dahlia again.
The raised ends of his eyes slowly turned downwards, creating a well defined gentle curve.
Dahlia looked at him dazedly, before hurriedly detaching from him.
Somehow, it felt like her pounding heart had increased in intensity.
Flustered, Dahlia grabbed Isaac’s sleeve and turned in the direction he was pointing at.
“Yes, that’s the bookstore. Let’s go!”
Isaac tilted his head, feeling that there was something strange about Dahlia, who was leading with her head bowed. At the sight of red ears beside her soft curly brown hair, he gave a faint smile.
The duo visited the bookstore, the park, the cafe and the cookie store, the last place they visited being a lace shop.
That was when Dahlia requested to leave before the sunset, she stopped in front of the lace shop towards the end of the city and stared at the window as if she was bewitched.
The shop’s display window was lined with petticoats, gloves, handkerchiefs, ribbons, and other things that girls of her age would like.
Dahlia looked fascinated at the hand-knitted black teddy bear, before smiling and pointing towards the white lace ribbon that the teddy bear was wearing.
“Young Master, look at this. While the doll is made very crudely, the ribbon hanging on it is very gorgeous.”
“Although I didn’t think it would be fitting, when it’s decorated in such a manner, it fits perfectly. The ribbon is pretty…”
Just as she had mentioned, the black teddy bear and the white lace ribbon did not seem to match well at all, but the combination of the two was intriguing. Rather than this being due to the fact that the teddy bear was pretty, the ribbon itself was elegant, making it suitable no matter where it was placed.
Isaac, who was quietly looking downwards at Dahlia and the display window, turned his gaze around the street. He saw a stall selling ice cream and lemonade near the crowded shopping street.
“Dahlia. Are you thirsty?”
“I’m okay, as I drank tea earlier. Young Master, are you thirsty?”
“I’m not thirsty, but it looks delicious. Can you buy me a cup? I will wait for you here.”
Dahlia looked at the lemonade stand, before pondering for a moment whether it was alright to buy such food for the Young Master. Then, she realized that if it wasn’t now, when would he even get a chance to try it, so she readily agreed before heading towards the stall.
“What a cute Miss. Would you like a glass of lemonade?”
“Yes, I would like to have one glass please. How much is it?”
“It’s two billings.”
As she fumbled around her pocket to retrieve her money, her hand touched the plaque that she had hidden inside her pocket.
She thought about using the plaque to pay for the amount required, but Dahlia shook off that train of thought.
As this was a request from Isaac, it would be okay to just use it.
But, she was reluctant.
Although a meal at a good restaurant or buying an expensive gift would be appropriate, for some reason, she wanted to give the Young Master something regardless of its value, to give him the little things that she found precious and to feed him.
A common understanding can only be achieved to the best effect when both parties are of equal positions.
Dahlia didn’t want to treat him like she was indebted to him even when they were in private.
Of course, she had to be careful in the mansion, but at the very least, she didn’t want to have to be meek and subservient outside the mansion.
Even though her familial circumstances were not comfortably off, she was a member of the working class that earned her paychecks. She had also just received her pay yesterday.
She was an adult capable enough to be able to buy the Young Master a glass of lemonade.
“Here, two billings.”
She handed two small copper coins to the stall owner. With a warm smile, the stall owner swiftly started to prepare the lemonade.
“Miss, your scarf is very pretty.”
The stall owner pointed towards Dahlia’s scarf while handing over a glass bottle. As Dahlia blinked while wondering what she meant, her face turned red unwittingly when she looked at her reflection in the glass bottle.
The white scarf that Isaac bought seemed very pretty and luxurious, even to a greenhorn like her. Dahlia asked softly while fiddling with her scarf.
“It was a gift I had received. Does it look good on me?”
“Your face is so milky, what is there that wouldn’t suit you? Oh, now that I look closely, the tips of the fur are silver, so it must be made out of Snowfield Rabbits. Did you receive such an expensive gift?”
“Snowfield Rabbits? Is it expensive?”
“Of course. Apparently those rabbits only live at high altitudes, so it’s very difficult to catch them.”
“I had also received such gifts before when I was younger, but I was never gifted with something so expensive.”
“I’ve seen it made as small earmuffs, but I’ve never seen it made into an entire scarf. It seems like the young miss’s lover must be a very capable person.”
“Ah… yes, but it’s still a scarf, how expensive could it be?”
“Oh my gosh, that’s not right. It’s worth at least 30 silvers if it’s sold to a pawn shop. Snowfield Rabbit skin is more precious than Golden Fox skin.”
At the words ‘30 silvers’, Dahlia’s eyes widened.
At her face that was filled with surprise, the stall owner laughed for a while before shaking the glass bottle of lemonade again and tapped her on the shoulder.
She didn’t know how she had the presence of mind to greet the stall owner. Dahlia’s head angled downwards and looked at the scarf wrapped around her neck.
As she moved her feet, the shadow of 30 silvers did not leave her mind.
At the thought that a scarf worth three months of her salary was wrapped around her neck, she was overcome with nervousness that she couldn’t move her neck.
After a moment of deliberation, Dahlia took off the scarf and gloves, folded them neatly, and put them by her side.
“I must have kept you waiting for a while.”
Leaning against the wall and observing the street languidly, Isaac spotted Dahlia and gave a faint smile. His appearance was like a child waiting for his mother, making Dahlia smile softly.
The yellow light indicative of the setting sun filled the sky. From the gentle breeze, the strong scent of stew and bread lingered.
Now that it was time to return, the duo suppressed their reluctance at having to leave and started in the direction of the wagon.
“Young Master. This scarf and gloves. Please don’t buy me any more of such presents.”
She spoke seriously, giving advice while showing him the scarf and gloves.
Isaac stared curiously at the glass bottle of lemonade, and tilted his head as if he didn’t understand.
“Why can’t I buy them for you?”
“Such expensive items… They don’t suit someone like me.”
“I think it suits you very well.”
“That’s because the Young Master is nice to me. This is something that doesn’t fit with my means. Others will think that I stole it if a person like me went out wearing such an expensive item.”
Isaac, who was tapping the cork at the mouth of the glass bottle, turned his head to meet Dahlia’s line of sight. The image of her raising her eyebrows made her look pitiful.
“I didn’t know if it fitted within your means. I just bought it because I thought it would look pretty if Dahlia wore it… Can I not buy you something like this?”
“As long as it’s not too expensive. I am fine with anything.”
“Do I have to check the price every time I give a gift? Isn’t the expensive price an indicator of its good quality? I only want to give the best as a present to Dahlia.”
At his firm eyes and the determined ending to his words, Dahlia was at a loss for words.
Isaac’s words were an acceptable argument. Anyone will have the same desire to give only the most precious to a person that they like. Dahlia admits that she had also bought a coat for winter and gave Laurel good clothings only.
However, if there was a huge difference in their positions, it would only be viewed as a burden by the recipient.
How should she explain that a gift that’s too expensive was detrimental to herself? As she fiddled with her fingers in embarrassment, Isaac took her hand and placed a small box in her palm.
“I know what you’re trying to say. If you feel that it’s burdensome, I’ll be more careful next time. Then, accept this as the last present.”
“…What is this?”
“I bought it when you went to buy me lemonade.”
The thin and flat box was decorated with satin ribbons and dried flowers, subtly hinting from the packaging alone that it was an expensive gift.
Isaac added with a sullen face as Dahlia hesitated and turned her gaze away.
“This isn’t expensive. You will figure it out once you open it.”
She couldn’t reject him at the sight of his expression, which seemed as though he was about to cry soon. Dahlia shrugged her shoulders and untied the ribbon unwillingly.
‘It couldn’t be jewelry or a watch, could it?’
She opened the box, with the thought that she will return it immediately if it’s an expensive item. But the sight of an unexpected item popped up and shook her heart.
“Uh… this. Isn’t this the ribbon that the bear that we saw earlier was wearing?”
A white ribbon that looks as if it was made by weaving thin threads one at a time. It was the ribbon that the black teddy bear at the lace shop was wearing.
“That’s right. Because Dahlia looked at it closely. I bought it because I thought it would suit Dahlia better than the teddy bear. Do you not like it?”
“It’s not that I don’t like it…”
Although it’s not expensive, a vertically weaved ribbon seemed to be quite expensive at first glance.
But no matter how expensive it is, the ribbon is just a ribbon.
It seemed that Dahlia’s salary was enough to afford this.
Even if she wore it on her, others wouldn’t think that it was stolen.
Her heart, which had been stained with pressure, was washed away in an instant. Dahlia raised her head with a bright smile as she fiddled with the ribbon.
“Thank you. I will cherish it.”
Isaac, who had his head bowed with a gloomy face, gave her a soft smile in response.
The way his expression changed so quickly was interesting, so Dahlia laughed softly so as to not be heard.
Isaac, who entered the wagon first, reached out his hand and escorted Dahlia.
Deep within her thoughts, Dahlia was unaware that the Young Master was escorting her onto the wagon, and blankly took his hand to enter the wagon.
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