Thank you, JayCee (4/4) for the Kofi!
[Chloe sat in the drawing room and waited for Theodore. She put the present she was going to give him on the table.
‘He ran out of blue paint the other day… I hope this is enough?’
Chloe was very excited about what Theodore would paint this time.
“Since you use a lot of blue paint, I guess you’ll draw the sea again this time.’
She suddenly recalled when she met him for the first time. She also recalled the painting she saw that day, which she realized was also the sea.
A year ago, Chloe was invited to the Salon.
However, she only scanned through the paintings obligatorily. She was looking at the paintings, but there was no room for them in her mind.
‘I’m going to have to call Catherine.’
According to her original plan, Chloe had to go to the East where Catherine was. Therefore, she was planning to contact her sister around the time she got entrusted to the guild.
However, she was terrified when seeing the sea in front of her.
The vast sea with no end in sight. Life as a stranger in a foreign country was beyond that. It was bound to be rough.
Fear and doubt prevented her from moving forward or backing down. It had already been four years since she came to the east and only stared at the horizon.
Even though the blue ocean was something that she wanted to cross, she couldn’t find the courage to do it. The more she drank, her thirst kept increasing, and just looking at the sea made her feel hollow.
At that moment, there was one painting that caught Chloe’s attention.
The painting of a landscape along the east coast divided into several different times of the day. Although the place was the same, the atmosphere in each time of day, which was dawn, noon, twilight, and evening was completely different.
Among them, the part Chloe looked at the longest was the burning sun peeking over the horizon. The ocean had yellow, orange, and pink hues.
It was beautiful.
‘Oh, it’s a painting by Amone.’
The artist’s name wasn’t blatantly written on the painting, but Chloe was able to recognize it with one look. She had heard that Amone enjoyed traveling from place to place, and he must have stopped by the East during his journey.
‘The sea is… so beautiful.’
She didn’t expect the sea to look so beautiful because her sight was tinged with fear.
She stared blankly at the picture. She felt like time was passing so slowly.
As she saw the color become warmer, she felt her eyes sting and she wrinkled her nose. Looking at the sky painted with the sunset colors reminded her of someone whom she had forgotten.
–Will you be my partner, young Lady Roem?
Chloe stood still in her spot at the colors that gave her a sense of nostalgia.
She wondered how long she had been standing there like that. Chloe looked around awkwardly. The Salon was empty before she knew it, likely because she had been staying there longer than she thought.
An old gentleman standing beside Chloe spoke to her.
“I guess you like this painting.”
“I was surprised to see such an unfinished painting. Even the brush strokes aren’t proper.”
She could have just took it lightly and smiled at him, but she got offended at the words that insulted her favorite artist.
“…The artist wanted to capture the moment. People who see this painting can share the moment that he saw.”
The old gentleman stroked his chin with his wrinkly hands at Chloe’s words, laced with passion and excitement. She was taken aback by his reaction. It wasn’t something she was supposed to be so worked up about, but she got too excited nonetheless. She felt her cheeks flush.
“But of course, we all have different views.”
Chloe hurriedly added before trying to walk away. However, the old gentleman stopped her once again.
“May you rest in the peaceful arms of the Empire. I’m Theodore Monnet. May I ask for your name, my Lady?”
“Oh… May you rest in the peaceful arms of the Empire as well. I’m Claudia Diaz.”
She returned the old gentleman’s greeting rigidly.
“Diaz Family. You must be from the southeast.”
The port city of Etra, where Chloe settled down, was located in the northeast.
The reason why she settled down there was because she thought the northeast, which was moderately far away, would be better than the southeast, where people knew much about the Diaz Family.
“You’re also a foreigner here. I was traveling, too, but I got fascinated by Etra’s beauty and decided to stay there.”
“Yes, me too.”
Chloe responded with a smile she used in social events. However, she suddenly felt burdened by the old gentleman’s easy going demeanor.
“It must be fate since we met each other out of town, so I want to give you a small gift.”
“No, you don’t need to…”
“Please take my painting, Madame Diaz.”
The gentleman said while pointing to the picture Chloe was looking at.
Chloe couldn’t say anything for a moment and remained still.
Since Amone kept a low profile, many rumors followed him. She assumed it came from the mouth of people who love to talk, so she just brushed it off.
She suddenly remembered that Amone had started to paint at a late age.
“I want to give it to someone who recognizes its value.”
It was Amone. The painter she had admired so much stood right in front of her.
Reaching the end of her memories, Theodore entered the drawing room.
The kind-looking old man had gray hair. He smelled faintly of tobacco and alcohol made from distilled apples.
At first, he looked like a plain old man, but now he was a plain old man who loved cigarettes and alcohol.
However, his wisdom was as deep as the wrinkles on his face, and the words he uttered were laced with the experience he had acquired throughout the years he had lived.
He seemed to resemble Chloe due to his completely different resolutions. However, they could be friends due to that.
“I hope I didn’t interrupt your work.”
“Not at all. You don’t have to worry about that. You didn’t bring the little one along today?”
Taking a seat from across Chloe, Theodore felt bad for her. The child was so cute. He just turned four recently. Theodore regarded Abel as his own grandson.
“I’m on my way back after attending tea time. I have to return right away after giving you this.”
Chloe spoke a little faster at the thought of Abel, whom she had left at home.
“What is this?”
“It’s paint. I recalled that you ran out of blue because it had spilled last time.”
Chloe said while pushing the bundle of paper forward. Theodore clicked his tongue slightly.
“I’ve already bought some, so why don’t you use it, Baroness?”
Theodore often recommended Chloe to paint after learning she had painted before.
“It’s… It’s fine. Please accept it sincerely.”
However, Chloe paused for a moment and shook her head.
‘Tsk. Always with that expression.’
Theodore knew what Chloe’s expression meant.
Lingering feelings. And he knew very well how miserable and unfair those were.
“You remind me of my youth, Madame. When I got my hands on a brush again, I regretted all the years I had spent away from it.”
“I can only hope that those regrets are not yours later on, Madame.”
Theodore said sincerely. His words were the measure of his life.
Sir Theodore Monnet.
As a young man, he walked the path of chivalry with expectations from others. He wanted to paint, but the people around him didn’t want him to.
At some point, he began to deceive himself. Painting was not his path. What kind of painting could he make when he didn’t have much talent? If he couldn’t draw a masterpiece, might as well not start it at all.
He would occasionally paint on the floor of the drill hall, though his heart trembled whenever he witnessed the resplendent light.
He never painted on canvas. The stubbornness in him was peculiar.
However, after his children grew up and he lost his wife, all he had left was regret from his youth. He picked up a brush meaninglessly and couldn’t stop painting from that moment on.
‘I wish I’d started painting sooner. I wish I’d been more reckless in my younger days.’
After he started painting, it was all he thought about.
“This may be presumptuous, but… Claudia, you can paint anything.”
Theodore said while staring straight at Chloe.
“It doesn’t have to be perfect.”
Chloe felt like her feelings were being laid bare with his calm gaze.
As Theodore said, she was driven to be perfect in everything. That’s why she was scared at the thought of not doing something properly.
She wondered how many times she had given up like that.
“You know how funny life is. The more you try not to fail, the more you end up living a life of failure.”
What Theodore realized over time was that failure wasn’t a sin. Rather, it was something to be praised. It was proof that he challenged himself to move forward.
“So what if you can’t paint well, so what if they don’t recognize it, and so what if your painting isn’t meaningful?
“Hm, I see. Still, please accept this.”
Chloe got up from her seat and cleared her throat. It was an unconscious act when she wanted to get out of an uncomfortable situation.
“I think that’s it for today.”
Theodore shook his head quietly and followed Chloe’s motion. Such a stubborn and innocent woman.
“Let’s move forward together.”
Theodore opened the door of the drawing room as he said so. He escorted Chloe to her carriage.
“Oh, by the way.”
However, when Chloe was about to get into the carriage, he recalled something he’d forgotten.
“Shall we have a meal together sometime next week? My nephew said he’d come over this weekend.”]
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