A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke - Chapter 16
‘Is she an idiot?’
Judy couldn’t believe she was still waiting for him in the garden.
Inexplicable emotions rose from him the moment he witnessed her small figure crouching on the bench.
Judy clenched his fists. He didn’t realize his emotions of anger getting the better of him while he approached Esther. His feet struck harshly against the ground.
“Oh, come on, why are you doing this?”
Judy didn’t like seeing her in such a depressed condition, as if she had been left alone in the world. He wanted Esther to be able to raise her head confidently.
As Judy approached Esther, he noticed Happy seated next to her.
“Uh, Happy? Why are you here?”
Esther lifted her head in response to Happy’s sudden barking.
Esther had thought Judy wouldn’t come.
However, although he was late, seeing that he arrived filled Esther with delight.
“Are you laughing?”
Judy remained stunned as he witnessed Esther smiling brightly at his presence, rather than being angry for his late arrival.
He approached Esther, a suffocating feeling overwhelming his chest.
“Are you stupid? Why wait for me when I didn’t even appear?”
Judy, unable to contain his anger, shot back angrily.
“I was just here because I liked the scenery. I wasn’t waiting.”
Esther smiled awkwardly and closed her mouth. Then she stepped on the ground to arise from the bench.
However, since she had squatted down for so long, her legs slackened in the meantime.
Hence, when she attempted to promptly rise, her legs curled, causing her to lose balance and scarcely land flat on the dirt.
It wasn’t long after she regained her composure, but Judy couldn’t remove the guilt of the whole situation being his fault, exasperatedly disheveling his hair.
“… Get on my back for now.”
Judy crouched down in front of Esther and pointed to his back, while Esther’s big eyes seemed ready to protrude from their place.
“It’s my fault, so I’ll give you a piggyback ride.”
“Th, that’s a little…”
“Your feet are asleep.”
Judy turned his head and gazed at Esther.
While Esther attempted to refuse, words couldn’t seem to leave her mouth, as Judy’s strong glare appeared to be forcing her to accept.
“Hurry. It’s going to be harder if we stay like this!”
At first, Esther shook her hands in disapproval, but she couldn’t overcome Judy’s stubbornness in the end and advanced in a hurry.
‘I have to get on his back.’
Far from being carried by someone, Esther couldn’t even recall being properly embraced. She was scared, she had never been through the feeling of person-to-person contact.
Judy discerned Esther’s hesitation and stepped backward. Then he pulled both her arms around his neck and stood up.
“Are, are you okay? Wait!”
Esther struggled not to fall amidst the jumble.
She was also the first person Judy had carried on his back, so he nearly dropped her while trying to straighten his posture.
“Phew, I did it. It’s harder than I thought.”
Judy barely succeeded in raising Esther and stood. He was unfamiliar with having someone on his back, so his posture wasn’t much sturdy.
‘Wow, his back is wide.’
Esther was bewildered by Judy’s much more spacious back than she had assumed.
The problem was with the awkward atmosphere.
Esther felt fairly fervent; she never indulged in such deep contact with others before now.
She was struggling with the discomfiture, unable to breathe.
“I can walk.”
“You’re so light I can’t even feel you on my back.”
Judy mentioned Esther was noisy.
“Are you really doing this?”
As she got used to being on his back, Esther’s fast heartbeat began to gradually subside.
Her ears, which held the color of a scarlet beet, slowly returned to their original color.
Judy’s back was very warm.
The warmth transmitted by coming in touch with others. The feeling that both hearts are in touch. Even the constant sound of the others’ heartbeat.
‘What do I do…’
It was the greatest luxury Esther had ever felt in her life. She quietly swallowed the words meant to beg Judy to drop her off.
She wanted to enjoy this luxury a little more, a little longer.
She hoped it would be a long journey before they returned to the residence.
The warmth people casually felt gradually melted into Esther’s heart.
‘How can the both of you be so lovely?’
Dorothy quietly followed the two children behind, both hands clasped together as her face filled with a thrilling expression at the sight.
Judy, who held no particular interest in others, was now carrying Esther on his back, while she awkwardly smiled.
It was such a lovely scene.
In consequence of the sun which had already set, their way as they headed home was dark.
Instead, the shimmering stars ornamenting the black sky were deemed visible.
Esther parted her mouth blankly at the sight of the stunning landscape. Just looking at the starlight stuck her eyes and stung her heart.
It was different from the darkness she observed while in prison.
It was a sky with light.
The feeling of being robbed of this life caused Esther to awake.
Amidst Esther’s deep contemplation, Judy was, on the other hand, submerged with nervousness.
It was the first time in his life that he had carried someone on his back.
Running out of breath while racing to the garden to see Esther, and even carrying her himself.
‘When I broke promises I made with my friends, it didn’t matter to me.’
But now, he was extremely troubled, in case he might have hurt Esther’s feelings.
In the end, Judy managed to muster a formal apology upon Esther after his brief hesitation.
“I’m sorry I was late.”
A gentle smile spread over Esther’s timid appearance.
“You still came.”
“I won’t be late again. I won’t forget my promises.”
Esther listened to Judy’s remorseful voice.
It was a blessing for Judy when he heard the sound of laughter emerging from behind his back.
“It was nice. It was fun waiting.”
“Look at this. You said you didn’t wait earlier, didn’t you?”
“Ack, never mind that! I spoke the wrong words.”
Esther stuttered, rushing to cover her mouth with both palms.
“Don’t have fun waiting from now on. I’m not going to let anyone keep you waiting.”
Judy’s voice grew louder with emotion.
It was funny that the same person who kept her waiting the whole afternoon seemed to forget for the very moment it was him who committed the act.
‘You are the first person to take my side.’
Esther applied more force to her hands.
The feeling of someone being on her side signified her reassurance.
Esther leaned comfortably against Judy’s back as they proceeded home.
Perhaps the sound of his heart beating resembled a lullaby.
From some point on, Esther’s eyelids sank heavily. Her unbearable sleep emerged.
Esther soon drifted off.
“What, you’re sleeping?”
Judy grinned as he heard light breathing sounds issuing from behind his neck.
He walked with the utmost care so that Esther wouldn’t wake up.
He felt like a real brother.
‘In the future, promises made with Esther will be the top priority.’
Dorothy and the escorts seemed finally able to embrace their deaths as they observed Judy. One of the guards said, ‘The young master is so mature,’ and shed their tears in a handkerchief.
Happy, who hadn’t left Esther since before, also strolled beside him. He kept quiet and silently followed to keep Esther from waking.
And by the time they almost reached the residence,
Judy deeply reflected on himself in the past when it came to his daily routine.
‘Ah, I should have trained harder.’
Esther’s weight, which seemed to be as light as a feather’s at first, was becoming heavier like cotton being soaked in water.
Judy knew of Esther’s gaunt physique.
It was ridiculous he only possessed this much physical strength.
“Master, shall I carry the lady on my back?”
“No thanks. She’s my sister.”
Judy gritted his teeth, vowing not to skip basic physical training from this point onwards.
** ━━━━━━━⋅•⋅⊰∙∘☽༓☾∘∙⊱⋅•⋅ ━━━━━━━ **
In the end, Judy didn’t leave Esther until they arrived at her room.
Thanks to her, his arms ached to the extent they seemed inclined to break, but Judy couldn’t feel proud even after placing her on the bed.
“Ha, really. It’s so hard.”
Judy complained as he wiped the sweat streaming down his neck with a towel.
“But there’s nothing wrong with her sleeping like that, right?”
“Wasn’t my lady tired?”
Judy stared at Esther, a grave expression written on his face.
She had been sleeping so deeply that he could hardly hear her breathing.
It was strange no reflexes came from her; it was only normal for her to shuffle while he placed her down on the bed.
Judy placed two of his fingers over Esther’s neck.
He pressed down.
“We had better call a doctor in the morning.”
“Yes, I will make sure to do so.”
At this time, Dennis made his way into the room.
He arrived in search of Judy since he hadn’t seen him all day. His curiosity increased the more so when he witnessed Judy carrying Esther on his back.
Dennis frowned as he observed Esther lying faintly.
“What’s going on?”
“You don’t need to know.”
Judy waved his hands and dragged the chair beside Esther’s bed.
“If you don’t tell me, I’ll inform father of this.”
Judy glared at Dennis.
Dennis smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
“…I was supposed to meet her in Havel Garden today, but I forgot. This idiot waited for over three hours.”
“So it was because of you?”
Judy shut his ears at Dennis’s punctual speech.
“No, it’s not because of me… It’s not!”
Judy was already feeling guilty, but after Dennis pointed the sin straightforwardly, he was distressed.
Judy aimed his arrow at Dennis in return for his accusing remarks.
“Hey, you didn’t even look for the kid when she wasn’t home? Why don’t you care about your little sister?”
“I am not free in my schedule as you. I am busy with plenty of other matters.”
But it didn’t work on Dennis.
He had been stuck in the library all day.
It was a fact that Judy knew well of. Dennis’s daily schedule consisted of no free time, so right now he was only sputtering nonsense.
As Dennis proceeded to make fun of Judy even more, he was taken aback by the sudden groaning and hurried to Esther.
She hadn’t woken up, but the sound of pain leaked through her closed mouth.
Her face was pale.
“What do I do? Should I wake her up?”
“I’ve been shaking her, but she wouldn’t open her eyes.”
Judy pulled the blanket up to Esther’s neck, thinking she was uncomfortable with the cold weather, yet her complexion only got worse.
Esther’s body cooled and her hands began to tremble.
Judy and Dennis advanced at the same time.
Each held one of Esther’s hands.
As they held her quivering hands, Esther strangely regained stability.
Only then could Judy and Dennis exhale a breath of relief.
“Is she having a bad dream?”
“Yes, she looks distressed.”
Dennis stared at Esther, promptly calling for Judy.
“Now that we have a sibling, what do you think?”
It was a question he hadn’t contemplated much. Judy blinked.
“It’s hard. I don’t know yet.”
Judy replied so. He still didn’t let go of Esther’s hand.
Dennis chuckled at the sight.
“What, you’re a little brother so you don’t fit to be the older one.”
“When are you saying I was born? You’re talking nonsense.”
Judy couldn’t fool Dennis no matter how much he pretended to be mindful.
‘It’s a surprise.’
Judy, who was usually alert and distrustful to people, was opening his heart too easily towards Esther.
Dennis smirked, intrigued as to how Esther managed to cause this change in Judy.
“You like her, don’t you?”
“It’s not like that!”
“It’s not. Ah, the sound of her breathing has now relieved.”
Dennis swiftly changed his words as Judy retorted furiously.
Judy gazed at Esther in awe.
There was a faint but affectionate emotion existing in his eyes.
Dorothy stepped in, producing a light cough.
“I have something you must know of.”
Judy tilted his head and followed her outside, wondering what was causing her serious expression.
“In fact, Master Sebastian visited Havel Garden earlier.”