A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke - Chapter 41
Esther flusteredly addressed Darwin as ‘father’. It was a change that she worked to keep up after making up her mind to change her unfortunate fate.
In addition, before he knew it, Darwin had already become accustomed to Esther calling him as such.
“You’ve arrived. The dress suits you very well.”
The corners of Darwin’s lips raised as he witnessed the sight of Esther in her new attire. It was a pleasure buying her new clothing, although everything seemed to look good on Esther no matter how much he searched.
Darwin accompanied Esther to the carriage.
“Where are we going?”
“You’ll find out when we get there.”
After he previously brought up the outing, Darwin kept a secret regarding where they would be heading. Esther’s curiosity grew even more as the carriage proceeded.
Fortunately, their destination was within the territories of Tersia, so the ride didn’t take long.
“Your Grace, this is the mountains.” (Ben)
“It seems worse than I imagined.” (Darwin)
Esther gazed at the peaks.
The sign placed before the entrance stated ‘No entry.’ She couldn’t figure out why he brought her here when there was no road yet.
“Esther, we’re going to climb this mountain from here on.”
Darwin gazed at Esther, his expression grave. Then, he turned his back indifferently.
“Will you be able to climb it?”
“It’s a rough mountain path, so it’ll be dangerous.”
Darwin was worried Esther would grow tired. The only reason he brought her here was to show her his surprise. However, it wasn’t intended to make her walk along such a rough mountain path.
“Your Grace, I will lift My Lady on my back.”
“Yes, I also offer to do so!”
The escort knights hurriedly ventured to stop Darwin when he offered to carry Esther himself. He was Darwin, the Grand Duke.
“Get back. I will carry her.”
However, all their efforts were pathetically obstructed by Darwin’s deadly glare.
Of course, Darwin also wouldn’t be carrying Esther on his back.
“I can walk.”
That was because Esther asserted that she would walk by herself. She chuckled and replied it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Darwin stood beside Esther and sighed.
“Alright, but if you’re having a hard time, you have to tell me.”
That was how the outing began. Esther worked to balance herself and stepped on the many rough stones to keep up with Darwin’s pace. However, his quick steps were simply too swift to follow. The difference was too vast in the first place.
Esther eventually called Darwin after the distance between the two widened considerably.
Darwin turned around in surprise. After he witnessed Esther, who was much far behind, he immediately stepped towards her.
“I’m sorry. I guess I was too fast.”
It wasn’t because he didn’t want to be considerate of Esther, but he had honestly never walked to match pace with anyone else before.
Darwin felt disheartened as he waited patiently for Esther to catch her breath.
As Esther didn’t wish to be apart from Darwin again, she held onto the hem of his clothing.
‘Her cuteness will be the death of me.’
The love-stricken father’s heart melted as he observed his daughter holding onto him tightly so they wouldn’t fall apart again. Darwin held Esther’s hand.
“If you don’t want to be carried on my back, let’s hold hands. Then the speed would be right for both of us.”
Esther clutched Darwin’s large hand. It was very warm and nice to walk like this, hand in hand.
They arrived in the middle of the mountain a short while later. As they walked along the path, a deep valley emerged.
Prying could be heard above.
Esther got on her toes, curious as to what the source of the sound was. Nevertheless, it was so far that she couldn’t see anything.
Darwin lifted Esther.
“Oh, my God!”
“How is it? Can you see?”
Esther opened her mouth blankly. However, she was only surprised for a moment.
She could see much further now that she was seated on Darwin’s shoulder. Her eyes sparkled as this was her first time seeing anything at such a height.
“Yes, I can see very well. People are digging for something…”
“Yes, this is a diamond mine.”
“Diamond? Wow… I’ve never seen it before.”
“You’ll soon get tired of it.”
Darwin spoke calmly to Esther, who was on the other hand wholly amazed at the mining site she had never before witnessed in her life.
“It’s all yours now.”
Esther, who had been listening silently, asked in a startled tone.
“It’s a gift from me.”
“The whole mine…?”
“Yeah. Everything you see is now yours.”
Esther’s mouth gradually widened.
Darwin’s tone remained indifferent as if it were nothing.
However, for Esther, a person who never received any such thing as a gift before, her eyes became rounded.
“Thank you, but it’s too much!”
“It’s not much.”
Darwin carefully dropped Esther on the floor. He reassured her not to feel pressured.
“You don’t necessarily have to use the diamonds. You can sell, share, manage it to your heart’s content.”
“Well, do aristocrats usually exchange gifts like this?”
Esther asked, genuinely curious.
“No, these mines are the means of living for the aristocrats… not something to be exchanged as gifts.”
Hearing Ben’s answer added to her psychological burden. As Esther hesitated, Darwin questioned what was so worrisome for her.
“You’re not any aristocrat, you’re my daughter. Accept it with confidence.”
The words brought Esther to her senses.
She seemed to have been trapped in a mindset she created and was unconsciously restraining herself.
Like Darwin had said, he was a Grand Duke. It would not have been strange to give the whole land as a gift, not just the mine.
‘That’s right. I have to be confident.’
The gift was just something to be grateful for.
“Yes, thank you.”
Darwin nodded satisfactorily at her answer.
“Your Grace, we are ready.”
Ben stood beside the two awhile before politely interrupting the conversation.
Esther’s eyes made out a bright pink cloth spread out in the distance.
It did not suit the mine at all, nevertheless, it was one Darwin had ordered to bring for a short teatime with Esther.
Darwin headed towards the area first. Then he beckoned Esther, who was tilting her head in confusion all this time.
“Let’s take a break.”
Esther, flustered for a moment, ran to where Darwin was.
The cloth was so big that even if Ben sat down with the two, there would still be space left.
“Here’s coffee. I’ve prepared hot cocoa for My Lady.”
As soon as Ben sat down, he poured out the drinks. It was amazing that Darwin had brought these things.
Esther blew on her hot cocoa and took a sip. The sweet, dark chocolate scent tickled her nose.
At first, she was too abashed to notice, but sitting on the mat felt like they were on a picnic.
Darwin was rumored to be cold-hearted to others, but in front of Esther, he was rather affectionate.
Esther wriggled her feet, feeling as though she came to this outing with her real father.
“There are snacks too.”
As Darwin gestured, all kinds of desserts and sandwiches were placed on the mat. Everything was to Esther’s liking.
Darwin placed the food before Esther.
It was his pleasure to watch her eat delightfully.
After Esther finished eating a plate, Darwin immediately grabbed something else.
As a result, her stomach quickly became full. Esther shook her head, not able to take any more.
“Why? Does it taste bad?”
“No! My stomach is full…”
“Then let’s take a break.”
Darwin placed down the snack, his expression regretful.
Esther thought she was fortunate and chewed the tart in her mouth.
There were crumbs on Esther’s lips. Darwin reached out his hand casually and wiped her mouth himself.
Esther did not avoid Darwin’s hands. She seemed awkward yet familiar with his actions.
‘You don’t shrink away anymore.’
Previously, Esther had flinched whenever Darwin reached out to her, but that soon diminished. Her expressions had changed as much as that.
Now, her gloomy face that was filled with sorrow had disappeared and she seemed her age.
Darwin was delighted and could not take his eyes off Esther. She seemed more lovely day after day.
Esther hurriedly raised her head from the cocoa.
“Is your stay comfortable?”
“Everyone’s so nice.”
Esther hastily nodded her head. Darwin’s smile deepened at her cute appearance.
‘Why aren’t you eating?’
Esther recommended a donut as she noticed Darwin had taken care of her but not himself.
“Father, have one of these.”
Although Darwin never touched sweets, he couldn’t help but accept since it was Esther who offered him.
“It’s delicious since you gave it to me.”
Darwin spoke something so embarrassing without one change of expression.
Ben pinched the back of his hand, in doubt of his ears.
‘They wouldn’t believe me if I told them.’
None of the vassals would believe Darwin was capable of saying such things.
Esther, although embarrassed, worked to engrave this memory deep in her heart. She felt like she had become closer to Darwin.
While the two were talking, Ben headed to the mine and brought back some of the diamonds that the workers had dug.
“My lady, I’ve brought a few for you to celebrate with.”
Ben’s basket was filled with dirt-covered diamonds. They were all brilliant in size.
When Esther received the basket, she held her chin and gaped at the beauties.
‘Wow, it’s so shiny.’
Although not fully revealed, this was indeed a pile of diamonds.
Esther had never owned such a fortune. Before entering the temple, she always struggled with poverty.
She couldn’t even make donations due to her lack of money. Esther always had to watch from afar the food she wished to eat, and couldn’t wear new clothing.
Although she adjusted to the wealthy life of the Grand Duke, her spending habits did not change.
At this moment, however, the fact that she was the daughter of the Grand Duke felt more real than ever.
‘I’ve become super rich.’
She felt bitter, yet somehow, a smile slowly hung around her mouth.