A Saint who was Adopted by the Grand Duke - Chapter 96
Updated: Mar 10
The next morning.
Esther’s eyes twitched open at the unbearable itching of her face.
What she witnessed upon regaining consciousness was the soft and rich coat of Cheese.
“Cheese? Why are you here! How did you climb up the bed?”
The cat in which she treated back in the garden was bestowed the name Cheese, looking at the yellow and white pattern of her fluffy fur.
Judy resolved to raise the kitten himself and brought her to his chambers, but she would always seek Esther’s room whenever the chance appeared.
Even now, Cheese had come to the bed, buried her body deep into the nape of Esther’s neck, and lightly snuffled her spout.
“Brother will be sad if he finds out.”
These days, Judy was trying his best to win the heart of Cheese by offering her snacks every change he got.
Cheese’s house was also in his room. He would be disappointed to find that she came to Esther’s room during his sleep.
Esther stood up wide awake. It would be better if she took Cheese back before he woke up.
Cheese’s face scrunched as she lazily stretched her front paws while beside Esther.
While mesmerized by the cute wiggle, last night’s events suddenly came to mind.
“But how did I get here?”
She recalled reading the documents, but everything following that was wiped from her memory.
“Did Father take me back…?”
She was upset over how he had to carry her all the way to her room when she was the one who offered to help him.
After breakfast, she would head to his study and help finish the papers. She put on her slippers and walked to the window.
Bright sunlight illuminated the room as she pulled away the curtains.
She grimaced at the blinding view when Noah popped up in her mind.
‘He said it didn’t end well.’
Noah received the most support, but the results were withheld due to the firm opposition of the Temple.
She was worried that Noah would struggle now that things hadn’t gone his way.
“I want to tell him to stay strong.”
Looking back, Noah always cheered for her in any way he could, while she did nothing in return.
However, she couldn’t just head all the way to the Imperial Palace for this reason.
While she struggled to figure out a way to contact him, a good idea surfaced in her mind.
She heard this during a festival, that a middle-ranked Priest could use pigeons as a means to communicate.
Esther was a low-level candidate at the time, so it seemed impossible in her eyes, but now she was more than confident.
Esther took a deep breath and pushed the window open wide. Then, she whistled forcefully.
As the beautiful but powerful sound flowed like a melody, miraculously, pigeons soon flocked to her place.
Esther made eye contact with the liveliest-looking pigeon and brought them inside the room.
Despite having stopped the call, the pigeon did not leave but acted cute while hovering around Esther.
“Wait, I’ll give you a letter.”
Excited at the thought of sending a letter to Noah, Esther quickly grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled down words.
However, it was not easy to finalize the writing since this was her first time attempting something like this.
She wrote and crumpled, wrote and crumpled, and repeatedly did the same with several other sheets of paper.
After struggling for what seemed like forever, she smiled satisfactorily before a completed letter.
She immediately rolled up the paper and moved towards the pigeon before hesitating.
“He won’t think it’s weird, right?”
A flood of embarrassment washed over her. She was anxious that Noah might misunderstand her intentions.
However, she meticulously connected the pigeon’s leg to the paper, rationalizing that this wasn’t for anything other than her concern as a friend.
Esther focused her attention on the pigeon and thought of Noah. This was the phase in which the pigeon was to recognize its set destination.
Despite the pigeon having not been trained, they would be able to fly to this person thanks to the communication.
The pigeon vigorously speared out the window, bursting its voice as if it had understood Esther.
‘I hope it gets delivered well.’
Esther’s cheeks turned red. She wiggled shyly, wondering what expression would show on Noah’s face when he received the letter.
At that moment, the promise she had made with her father and brothers came to mind. Her heart pounded guiltily.
“Is it no good?”
She felt uncomfortable because even though they weren’t meeting, she was still communicating with him through a letter. It felt like she was breaking their promise.
She pouted in frustration, vowing to speak honestly during mealtime.
She left the room to take Cheese to Judy.
Judy’s room was downstairs, so Esther naturally headed towards the staircase when something caught her eye from deep down the hallway.
She instinctively sensed something different from usual, and she was right. The lock at the endroom was unlatched.
Esther strode towards the front of the mysterious room and tilted her head to the side. Upon closer inspection, there was no lock on the door.
She turned the doorknob slightly just in case, but it opened without fail.
As soon as the door opened, she became curious. It was always locked, so she had the urge to go inside.
However, she hesitated to enter. It was suspicious how this room was suddenly open.
She contemplated whether to ask her father for permission and decided to only open it very, very slightly and take one tiny peek.
She wouldn’t enter the room, so it was fine.
She was really just going to look inside with her eyes, but the moment she opened the door, Cheese jumped from her arms and leapt inside.
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“Uh? Cheese, no!”
Esther shrieked internally and tried to catch her in a hurry, but Cheese had already found her place inside the room.
The kitten wandered inside as if it were her own room and nagged Esther to come inside.
‘…What do I do now.’
She beckoned for Cheese to come out, but her efforts were all for naught.
Eventually, Esther was forced to step inside the room and drag Cheese out.
Even though Esther knew no one was there, she was carefully moving on her tippy-toes.
Her heart shrunk; she felt like she existed in a place she shouldn’t have entered.
However, after she entered, it appeared to be a much cuter room than she thought. There were many objects, but she noticed that the portraits were especially endless.
Esther, unconsciously admired the portraits that filled the walls.
They all appeared to be the same person, but it was surprising how there were so many portraits.
As she looked at each portrait, Esther gradually realized who the person in the paintings was.
And she could understand why her father stopped anyone from entering this room.
Even Esther, who had never seen the owner of the portrait, seemed to feel a longing for her.
“Hello. I’m sorry I came in without your permission.”
Esther approached and greeted the largest portrait among the other paintings.
She recalled the day Sebastian’s mother said she looked like this person.
“Do we look alike?”
Obviously, their hair and eye colors were almost one and the same. However, the owner of the portrait was very beautiful compared to Esther.
She shook her head, regretful that she even thought of comparing herself to this person.
‘There must be one or two people out there who I am similar with.’
As she turned away from the portrait, a small frame on the shelf caught her eye.
There was one more woman in the frame who perfectly resembled the owner of the portrait. The two were smiling broadly.
The woman seemed so happy that Esther’s lips unconsciously lifted at the sight.
Suddenly, however, Cheese removed herself from Esther’s feet and showed vigilance.
Esther turned her head, confused about what was going on, when she caught sight of Darwin standing by the door. The frame dropped from her hand in shock.
As she hurriedly picked up the frame that fell on the floor, Darwin blankly stared at Esther.
He had come to lock the door from last night.
However, the moment Darwin witnessed Esther standing in front of Irene’s portrait, his mouth wouldn’t move.
He could see Irene in Esther. Now that he could compare, they were more similar than he had initially thought.
“That door was open… I’m sorry I came in carelessly.”
Esther bowed her head deeply, scared at the thought that Darwin was angry.
“It’s alright. I left the door open.”
Darwin approached Esther and patted her shoulder. He received the frame from her.
“To the left is my deceased wife, Irene, and to the right is Catherine, who was Irene’s sister.”
Darwin’s voice sank. Perhaps he appeared this gloomy since they were inside Irene’s room.
“Esther, do you have any childhood memories?”
“No, I don’t.”
Esther answered half-heartedly, curious as to why he asked such a question out of the blue.
“Don’t you have any memories of your mother who gave birth to you?”
“No. I only remember living in the slums.”
Strangely, she possessed no memory of parental love before entering the slum. Naturally, it was more than obvious to her to think that she was abandoned by her biological mother.
Darwin was now doubtful that Esther might truly be of Catherine’s blood.
He wasn’t clear on anything yet, but the necklace alone was more than enough evidence.
Besides, the Catherine he knew was never the type to abandon her daughter.
‘She is probably dead.’
Darwin was unbearably angry at himself for not being able to protect Catherine, even after having lost Irene.
If Catherine had spoken honestly to him and Irene, or if she simply remained by her side, they would have been together until the very end.
Perhaps Irene wouldn’t have had to leave the world early either.
Esther stood restless as she noticed Darwin’s emotional stance.
While hesitating, she bravely grasped Darwin’s hand.
“Um. I’m by your side…”
It was the first time Esther held Darwin’s hand first.
Darwin’s heart swelled as he gazed at the small child’s hand. He knelt to embrace her.
Esther flusteredly shrinked at the sudden hug.
“Father, are you okay?”
His tone, however, was brimming with sadness. This unfamiliar Darwin seemed more like a bare version of himself, a version of him with no covers concealing his true emotions.
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‘Look what he’s saying.’
Esther spread out her small arms and wrapped them around Darwin’s back, hoping to comfort her father.
Darwin flinched before freezing at the clumsily warm touch felt from Esther’s embrace.