A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke - Chapter 36
Esther carelessly yet flusteredly blurted out the word ‘father’. She froze in her spot.
‘What do I do.’
While contemplating the chances of Darwin becoming angry and what she would do if that were to happen, he, surprised at the sudden call, dropped the napkin he had been holding.
“What did you just say?”
“Esther said father.”
Judy kindly answered in Esther’s stead.
“Well done. It sounds much better.”
Dennis clapped encouragingly as if he had been also waiting for this moment. On the other hand, Darwin’s face hardened like stone.
Esther apologized anxiously as she discerned the odd atmosphere.
“I’m sorry… I shouldn’t have called you that… I won’t do it again.”
“What? No. You did nothing wrong.”
Darwin quickly soothed Esther. It was not because he was angry that he froze, but quite otherwise. The moment she called him ‘father’, his heart filled with an unknown emotion. Esther fidgeted with her fingers, worrying about what would follow after this.
It still occurred to him once in a while. The empty eyes Darwin witnessed the first time he met Esther.
The eyes where there existed no motivation to live, that appeared to plead for her disappearance immediately.
Therefore, whenever he witnessed Esther slowly opening her heart, his heart warmed.
“From now on.”
“Keep calling me that. Father.”
Esther nodded her head shyly.
“Then… can I raise BamBam?”
“I’ll allow it, but you have to be extremely careful.”
In none more than an instant, Darwin’s decision had reversed.
‘It really worked!’
Esther stared at Judy, amazed by his brilliant ideas, while Judy drew a peace sign with his fingers.
“But can you say it one more time?”
“Yes, there you go.”
Darwin stared at Esther’s gleaming eyes and felt the urge to hug her that instant.
However, he was afraid of surprising her, so he held back and only stroked her hair.
‘Ah, I can’t look.’
On the other hand, Esther wanted to hide from Darwin’s sight as much as possible.
She hadn’t yet adapted to the fact that the person who presented such affectionate glances towards her was that same dreadful war hero.
“Well, everyone, eat slowly and get up.”
As the atmosphere shifted to a warm mood, Darwin coughed uncomfortably and left the dining room.
He kept his face expressionless, working to conceal his emotions as much as possible, but changed rapidly as soon as he entered the hallway where the children could not witness him.
Esther calling him father touched his heart so deeply, it was difficult to stay still.
He closed his eyes and savored the lingering emotional feeling.
Darwin held onto the wall and slammed his fist.
He never imagined Esther would call him father herself.
“Ben, did you hear that?”
“Yes, I heard.”
“She said father.”
“Yes, I am sure she said father.”
Ben silently answered Darwin’s questions while doubting his eyes.
His boss was very cold and famous for concealing his emotions.
This was the first time he’d beheld such a scene. He was worried about how people could act so differently from their normal selves.
“Your Grace… Are you all right?”
“Of course. Of course, I’m alright.”
It was no use pretending to be alright. Ben could make out a smile that was blocked so tightly by his fist that even blood could not penetrate through.
Ben was flustered at the sight. Nonetheless, he preferred the atmosphere within the Tersia residence ever since Esther arrived.
“I’m glad my lady’s here.”
“Yes. It felt like this when the kids were younger.”
Darwin sighed. His still reminiscent eyes suddenly became calm.
He never properly took care of the twins, since he thought they would grow well on their own.
However, watching the children grow day by day was an unexpectedly sweet pleasure.
It was thanks to Esther that he realized this. His desolate feelings towards his children changed.
“She seemed to have adjusted better than we thought, right?”
“Yes. She has changed a lot since she arrived here.”
Darwin grumbled, thinking he was obliged to do something for Esther in return for calling him father.
“I’d like to give her a gift.”
If thought back, he had requested Noah’s portrait but couldn’t even return her favor.
Darwin suddenly blinked, contemplating a fitting gift.
“Did you say you discovered a jewel mine recently?”
“Yes. However, it is a bit small, so I believe we should focus on profit-oriented development.”
Darwin nodded his head, mumbling words that presented acceptance of something.
“I’ll give it to Esther.”
“Do you mean the mine?”
Ben’s voice rose unconsciously.
It was common sense that a mine filled with jewels was not a gift to be presented to others.
“There’s no one who dislikes jewels, is there?”
“That’s usually the case… but wouldn’t Lady Esther feel burdened?”
Darwin stroked his chin and slightly frowned. He seemed lost in thought.
However, the problem did not last long.
“Esther should learn how to spend money now.”
Since coming here, Esther never shopped on her own.
He thought that if the mine was hers, she would naturally learn how to spend money.
Darwin was very pleased with his brilliant idea and immediately entered his office to transfer ownership of the mine.
In the meantime, the children who had finished their meals were clearing their seats.
“I’m going first.”
Judy was the first to leave after praising Esther for doing well. Dennis also left subsequently.
Esther, who was then left alone, moved her small hands to arrange the dishes.
As she persisted in doing this every time, the servants silently watched her, acknowledging it would be useless to attempt to stop her.
“I… My lady.”
Esther, who was about to leave as she completed her task, soon halted at Hans who entered the dining room.
“Hans? How is your leg?”
She met him for the first time since the snake incident. Esther glanced at him awkwardly. It was because the expressions that had shown fear towards her came to mind once more.
“I’m very healthy. It’s all thanks to you. Thank you very much.”
“That’s a relief.”
Hans approached the still Esther and brought out a hidden cake from behind his back.
“Thank you for saving my life. It’s rather small, but I wish for you to take it in return.”
Esther dazedly stared at the seductive dessert.
‘Wow, it’s a cake.’
It was the first cake she received from someone in her life. It was such a pretty cake.
“…Are you giving it to me?”
“Yes, I applied plenty of the whipped cream you like.”
It was a complete cake that seemed utterly delicious. There were many cherries placed atop several layers of whipped cream.
‘I was so jealous.’
She didn’t have anyone to celebrate her birthday with back then. Esther always watched other female candidates receiving cakes silently.
At some point, she even erased her feeling of envy, but after receiving a cake like this, it made her scared. She realized her buried feelings again.
Esther was on the verge of bursting into tears.
Hans, suddenly anxious, wondered if he had done something wrong.
“You don’t like it? I don’t know if I made a mistake… I’m sorry, I’ll remove the cake this instant.”
“No! It’s because the cake is so pretty.”
Esther shook her head hurriedly, in case Hans removed the cake. She held the cake board tightly with both hands.
“We prepared dessert, too.”
Other servants who were watching silently in the background approached with plates full of desserts.
“We apologize for back then. We’ve never seen anything like that before, so we were taken aback.”
“That’s right. I was so surprised that I couldn’t thank you, I’m so sorry.”
“Thank you for helping Hans.”
“It was cool of my lady to control the snake like that!”
All the friendly approaches were very unfamiliar experiences for Esther.
The feeling of being accepted as she was.
Esther’s heart ached. Her eyes reddened.
‘Don’t cry. Don’t show your weakness.’
Esther repeated countless times not to give in to her tears and held her lips tight.
“Would you like to try some?”
Hans sliced the cake with a knife.
Esther took a big bite of Hans’s cake. Cream stuck on her lips and her cheeks were bursting.
The soft layers that melted in her mouth as soon as she bit into them were the best part. When the sour cherry burst inside, it was so rich that tears poked her eyes.
“This is delicious!”
Esther’s eyes widened as she cried with food still inside her mouth. When she couldn’t pronounce well because of the cake stuffed in her mouth, pleasant laughter spread throughout the room.
However, the number of desserts was too much for Esther, who had just finished her meal. When the kitchen staff noticed this, they handed the desserts to Dorothy.
“Lady, whenever you want something sweet, come down to the dining room.”
Esther smiled at them and stood up. She felt happy to be able to bring the desserts with her.
She climbed the stairs excitedly and soon noticed Dennis standing in front of her room.
Esther stared at Dennis as he stood in front of her room while tilting her head.
As she watched him silently, Dennis trotted forward.
“I came here because I was curious about the snake. Could you show me?”
Esther was glad to bring Dennis into her room.
The snake slithered out of the basket and crawled around the floor, observing the two closely.
“This is BamBam.”
“That is indeed a Giant Big Snake. It seems to be a bit smaller in size compared to its species, but the poison is still as immense.”
“Is it a really dangerous species?”
“Yes. It also received the highest rating in the classification according to deadly poisons.”
Esther was aghast while BamBam playfully slithered to her side. It was even more admirable that she was calm only in her presence.
BamBam stood next to Esther and glared at Dennis. Her tongue flapped so that she could be ready to bite at any time.