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Cedric walked lightly to the classroom. Today was the start of the Great Feast, and there would be prayers at the shrine in the evening. The Duke and Duchess would be out of town, so it would be a free day. He walked with a brisk stride, as if he were going to fly.

Cedric had been in a generally good mood lately. For one thing, he’s grown a little taller, and Cecilia has become more talkative. But perhaps the most unbelievable change was the fact that he and Diego were closer than ever.

When he heard the compliment at the dinner, he didn’t think we would ever speak to each other again, but then the unthinkable happened. His tutor had performed the miracle of dragging him to an outdoor lesson. Diego looked annoyed, but he stayed until nap time. It was the first time Cedric had ever talked to his brother in a way that made him feel comfortable.

In retrospect, it seemed like nothing but good things had happened since Estella had arrived at the ducal residence. Sure, the night when he devoured a thick history book was a horrible memory, but he felt a little guilty blaming her for it. After all, it was his mouth that caused it. It was a good thing, he thought, because it gave him a chance to get closer to his brother, and maybe, just maybe, he’d actually get to know Diego if they didn’t put each other down.

Most people would probably find it strange that Cedric admired Diego. Cedric’s mother is wary of Diego, and Diego doesn’t welcome the presence of his half-siblings. There was a time when Cedric felt like a nuisance to his half-brother.

The story of how they started to like each other is simple. Once, Diego had saved Cedric’s life. It was probably just a coincidence, an unintentional act of kindness, but he remembered feeling grateful nonetheless. Of course, it wasn’t a perfect rescue.

Speaking of that predicament in the first place…….


Cedric pushed open the door and stopped in surprise. As usual, it was his mother, not Estella, who was waiting for him in the study. The Duchess turned her head from flicking through the books inside. She said with a gentle smile,

“I have come to speak to you. I’ve told your tutor that your lessons will start a little late.”

“And Cecilia?”

“I’ve spoken to the maids. I’m sure she’s still in her room.”

The Duchess shrugged, uninterested. Cedric didn’t bother to probe further about Cecilia. His mother didn’t like to talk about her errant brother.

She stroked the pages of a book on the shelf.

“You did very well at the last dinner. I was a little worried that you might be lacking, but you proved me wrong. His Grace was very pleased.”

“You’re flattering me.”

“Of course not. I think it’s safe to say that it’s now a foregone conclusion that you will be the heir. There are a few minor hiccups, but they will be resolved.”

Anna wrinkled her nose in discomfort as she said that. The minor problem wasn’t so minor after all. The assassin they’d sent to Diego the other day hadn’t brought them any news. The reason was obvious. He wouldn’t have been able to in that condition.

‘A man whose life’s work is killing people can’t even cut down a child.’

But Diego was human, too, and he wouldn’t slip through the cracks every time. As a famous figure, he couldn’t recklessly destroy things, but there would always be opportunities.

The Duchess frowned in displeasure as she recalled Diego’s immaculate face. It was then that she remembered what to say to Cedric.

“Come to think of it, I forgot to bring to your attention that the last time you praised Diego in the dining room……. Yes, it could have been a very nice gesture, but it was in the wrong place. In the future, try not to do that in front of your father, do you understand?”

The memory of being scolded by Duke Berta still didn’t make her feel particularly happy. Above all, the fact that her son said he respected Diego was a blow to her pride. The Duchess drove a wedge.

“What business do we have to praise him unless we mean to ridicule him?”

“Mother, I…….”

Cedric stopped short of calling his mother. The Duchess looked back at him as if to ask what was wrong. There was no greater burden on Cedric than that, but some words must be said.

Cedric spoke with difficulty.

“I’m not interested in titles.”

“You’re saying that again?”

The Duchess burst out laughing, unable to see the seriousness in Cedric’s expression. She didn’t seem to care much about Cedric’s intentions. She tended to dismiss his refusal to be the heir as mere foolishness. But Cedric had meant it in his own way. He had no intention of taking what belonged to his brother, and he didn’t want to make a fuss about it. Cedric wasn’t interested in being the head of a household in the first place.

“I don’t think I can do as well as my brother. You know, he’s much more talented than me.”

Cedric nervously picked at his fingertips. Cedric looked up at the Duchess, as if seeking her approval.

“Older brother is the eldest son, so I can’t be greedy.”

Cedric looked at his mother’s face when he finished speaking. Seeing a face that had lost all semblance of fake gentleness, Cedric remembered his new tutor.

Estella was a textbook kind of tutor, and as such, she had become a very unusual person in the manor. When everyone in the world treats someone differently from the norm, it makes them feel even more special. Unlike the previous tutors, who had been urged by their mother to train the heir, Estella treated Cedric like a child.

Estella would have laughed out loud and wiggled her nose when he said this. She would have said it’s not the time to think like that yet.

But it wasn’t her tutor standing in front of Cedric now, it was his mother.

“You are too young to know what you are doing. Do you really think that if you relinquish your title, you’ll be able to live happily ever after with your brother? Have you thought that if the Duke dies, there will be no one in this mansion to protect you?”

The response he received in return was not one of affection, but of sneering. The duchess cut in coldly.

“Come to your senses, Cedric. That little half-blood that you identify with is what he hates the most.”

Her mother’s scolding voice sounded like the lines of a villain you imitate when reading a storybook. The only difference is that his mother said it only to scare her child.

The Duchess finished sarcastically.

“When I’m gone and your father is gone, too, that bloodless, tearless bastard will slit your throat with a single blow.”


“I’m right! So you’d better stop talking about it!”

A shout finally erupted from the Duchess. Cedric flinched back. The anger of a grown woman so many years older than him sparked a natural fear in him. Cedric shook his head, hiding the fact that he felt halfway to tears.

“No, he wouldn’t do that.”

“Hey, Cedric. Do you feel like real siblings when you don’t say a word to each other even when you’re together? He is not your brother!”

“Not at all. I talked with him just fine… It wasn’t uncomfortable.”


The Duchess repeated, as if she had misheard. Cedric clutched the hem of her skirt in hope and desperation. As if he were pleading.

“We went out together not long ago……. He didn’t seem to dislike me so much. I think we can get along, yes?”

The duchess’s face hardened into a grim line. She raised her head, which had been bowed toward Cedric, and straightened her back. Then, in an emotionless voice, she asked.

“What did you just say?”

* * *


Estella had a free morning for the first time in a long time. The Duchess had left a message that she could skip her morning lessons. As soon as the maid told her the news, Estella fell back into bed. It was a rare and sweet sleep-in.

When she woke up again, enjoying her freedom, it was nearly midday. Estella dusted herself off and stood up, heading for the dining room. Even with the ship wrecked and adrift on the high seas, sleep came when she was sleepy and hunger came when she was hungry.

She hadn’t seen Diego’s face in days. Before, she had been sure he was too busy to see her, but lately she hadn’t been so sure. Whenever Estella went to visit, Diego’s room was empty. She wondered if he was sleeping outside. She don’t think the atmosphere was too bad in the outdoor classes, but she wondered if there was something wrong that she hadn’t noticed.

‘Is he deliberately keeping his distance?’

It was a reasonable assumption. Even in her own mind, her approach was probably a bit intimidating. This was especially true when she asked them if she could organise such events in the future.

What if I was wrong about my plan to foster friendship between the siblings? Should I try to make a deal with him like the heroine in the novel?

“You’re home late?”

The friendly greeting came as soon as she opened the kitchen door. Estella blushed. It was the same friendly Mrs Gail1it actually said 게리 Gary here, I assume its a typo for Gail who had given her apricots last time, but this time he was carrying a basket of onions. Estella stepped inside and said

“The mistress said she wanted to speak to Master Cedric, so my lessons has been delayed.”

“So you’re up just now? Can I get you something to eat?”

“Do you have any leftovers?”

“I can’t starve the young lady in the middle of the day, so I’ll have to come up with something.”

Mrs Gail spoke as if Estella were Cedric’s age. Perhaps all younger people are children in the eyes of adults.

Soon a bowl of hot stew was placed in front of her. She scooped up a spoonful and put it in her mouth, feeling the heat rising inside. They say a good meal gives you energy to work, and in that respect, working at the duchy of Berta was a dream job.

While Estella half-emptied the stew bowl, Mrs Gail chopped the onions. There were a lot of mouths to feed, so there was a whole pot of vegetables to cut. Her seasoned hands were evident in the way she chopped off the roots and peeled them.

She wondered how long Gail had been working for the Duke, and if she remembered the days Cedric had spoken of when Diego had been kind to him.

Estella glanced at her, then asked softly.

“I was wondering, how long have you been in this mansion?”

“Me? Hmm…… let’s see. More than 15 years, maybe less…….”

Longer than expected. So Lady Gail had been here since before Anna, the current Duchess, entered the manor. Estella cut to the chase in a low voice.

“Then I suppose you know the former madame?”

“What about the madame?”

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    it actually said 게리 Gary here, I assume its a typo for Gail
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