Bertine went back inside and approached the madam of the restaurant.

"I saw two children outside waiting for their mother. I think leaving them there will be too dangerous, so if it's not too much, I'd like to have them wait at my home. I'm pretty sure we live nearby."

"Oh. Give me a moment. Isabel! Your children are here!"

The woman called Isabel looked around twenty-two or three. She immediately ran out of the door, and Bertine followed after her.

"It's unsafe to have them wait here. If you don't mind, I'll take care of them until you're done with work. My house is in your neighborhood."

"Mom, this is the candy auntie! Her house used to be Grandpa Enrique's store!"

"Ah! That house? Thank you for giving those candies to the children. David, I told you not to come to the store, didn't I?"

The boy called David turned silent. His three-year-old sister already looked like she would fall asleep anytime soon.

"I'm sure you're worried about leaving the children with me since we just met today, but I feel like it's too dangerous to leave them unsupervised."

"Your place is the three streets ahead, right? The one with a store on the first floor. Can I ask you a favor, then? I'm not done with work yet. I apologize for the trouble..."

"No worries. I'll bring them with me then."

The young mother bowed her head several times before going back into the store.

The five of them ended up going home together, and the little sister fell asleep as soon as Evans picked her up.

"David, is your father coming home late?"

"No. Dad died in the war."

"So it's like that..."

This war ended in victory for the Southern Allies, but not even the victor was unscathed. It's heartbreaking to think how many children on both sides had lost their fathers. That the young mother would be raising her children for the next ten years. And she probably would have to do it alone.

"I went to the war too. It was a terrible experience. But since we won the war, we took back a lot of land from the empire. The fathers of these children fought and died for it."

After saying that, Evans closed his mouth tight and continued walking.

Bertine felt his helplessness melt into the night air, touching the depths of her heart. And so she walked in silence too.

"We're here. David, you must be hungry, right?"

"Hmm. I'm hungry, but I'll eat with Mom."

"Then let's wait for your mother upstairs."


Bertine guided them to the living room in the second room, put the little sister to sleep on the furnished bench, and had David sit there as well. She handed David a small slice of bread with a little jam spread and fruit juice with less sugar to make sure he wouldn't be too full for dinner.

"Evans, good work today. Your room is at the back of the second floor. It's loaded with luggage, but please bear with it."

"Miss, I'm forever indebted to you..."

"Come on, no need to exaggerate that much!"

Bertine flashed a wry smile and sent Evans to the room.

After that, the mother hurried to pick her children up. The young mother brought them some sausages from that store as a way to show gratitude. Perhaps she bought it out of her wages.

Once the mother and children returned home after thanking them again and again, Bertine found herself staring at the sausages wrapped in greasy paper.

"What's wrong, My Lady?"

"Hmm? I'm just thinking. She's young, yet she has experienced a lot more than I did. She married someone she love and have two children. And she works hard to raise her children after her husband died in the war. Then she dutifully bought us sausages as a token of gratitude. She's a strong, beautiful person. I have to learn from her."

But My Lady, you have a beautiful heart too, Dorothee thought. She saw all of Bertine's hardships that neither the Marquess nor her eldest son, Herald, knew. Lately, Dorothee began to believe that Bertine might have been better off staying in this country when she remembered 'that person'.


Evans worked hard from the next day; painting the walls, waxing the floors, weeding the garden, and trimming the garden trees.

"How about I lend you the travel expenses so you can go home?" Bertine once offered.

"I promised my father that I wouldn't go home until I make a name for myself," Evans denied, fully intending to stay here. As he diligently did the chores in this house, he was also going somewhere during the day. "I want to learn architecture properly in this town."

Believing Evans' physique to be capable enough as a bodyguard, Bertine allowed him to live with them.

Meanwhile, she devoted herself to embroidering handkerchiefs and cloth bags, handcrafting earrings, and stocking up her wares.

Since then, the young siblings, David and Camilla, would come to visit Bertine in the evening and at night whenever they were lonely. Their mother always brought a small amount of food from the store the next day, telling her she was thankful. Even if Bertine refused, she would bring them without fail. Bertine couldn't help but feel sorry for the trouble, knowing how much the young mother must've needed the money. And she thought, 'I want to help her.'


One day, a sudden visitor knocked on the store door.

Dorothee opened the door and spoke briefly to them before turning around.

"Miss, you have a customer."

Hearing that, Bertine hurried towards the door and found a serious-looking man in his forties standing in the doorway.

"Who are you?"

"My name is Jose. I'm looking for the Marquess' daughter Bertine de Juan of Saint-Leuhan Kingdom under the direction of His Excellency Cecilio."

Dorothee watched them from afar, and Bertine wouldn't let Jose enter their house and had him leave with only a few conversations. After closing the door, Bertine grimaced for a moment, but she quickly regained her calm and continued with her embroidery.

"It's okay, Dorothee. Don't worry about anything. I just told him that he shouldn't pay us any mind."

Dorothee could only agree with her master and made no further inquiries.


A little while ago, at Marquess de Juan of Saint-Leuhan's residence.

The servants, who were sent back thanks to Bertine's consideration, finally returned to the Marquess' house. They all talked about the treatment they suffered at His Excellency's residence, and that Bertine had left the place because she couldn't stand it. They also told the Marquess that Bertine said that she would live with Dorothee.

In the letter handed to the Marquess, it was written, "His Excellency wants the reparation fee, not me. And I will not return to Saint-Leuhan Kingdom."

"How could the Allies do such a terrible thing? How is that girl living now, in the enemy country where she doesn't know anyone? Enough, bring her back. I don't care if we're going against His Majesty. If the country doesn't have enough money to pay the reparation fee, then my family, Marquess de Juan, will pay for them over the years. Call Diego now."

Diego, the head of the Marquess' private army, quickly responded to the summon. The man was forty years old this year, and he was also trembling in fury when he heard the story.

"Diego, bring Bertine back. And tell Cecilio Bonifacio that our family will pay for the shortfall of the reparation fee, no matter how long it takes."

"I understand, My Lord. No matter what happens, I will bring the Lady back."

Diego immediately packed his bags and was about to leave the Marquess' house at night, but he was stopped in the garden.

"Wait, Diego."


It was Marchioness Rose; the second wife of Bertine's father.

"My husband was distraught just now, and he was telling you nonsense. I don't think he can make the right decisions in this situation. We will incur His Majesty's wrath if we bring Bertine back. If this house falls, there will be more than a hundred people on the street, including our servants and their families. You will be among them, won't you?"


"Don't worry. I will ask my sister to persuade His Majesty. The matter of the reparation fee should be settled nicely after a proper discussion. That's why, can you disappear for a couple of months?"

"That would be disobeying My Lord's orders!"

A small smile flashed on Marchioness Rose's white face as she took Diego's hand and placed two large gold coins on it.

"Your daughter will be married next year, right? Once you're dismissed from this house, you won't be able to give your daughter a lavish wedding preparation. Besides, how about the expenses needed once you have grandchildren? It's really going to be fine. Bertine will return once things calm down. Leave it to me. You should spend two months relaxing in the empire. Now, leave. And head to the empire. Go to my parent's house when you're back. Don't go straight back here."

Diego had his face down, his expression grimacing in pain. Once Madam Rose saw him leave the solarium, she returned to the mansion too with a faint smile pasted on her dreamy white face.

Madam Rose was the youngest sister of Her Royal Highness the Queen.

She never found any moment in her life when she could breathe freely. She grew up compared to her superior sister for as long as she could remember, and at the age of sixteen, she was married to an Earl twenty years older than her.

When the Earl passed away from illness and she thought she would finally be able to find freedom, she received an order from her father to marry. "Remove your name from the list of brides and become the prime minister's second wife." She suspected that His Majesty's instruction was under her sister's idea.

Her elder sister wouldn't hesitate to use her own sibling, and His Majesty must've thought it would be a good move to control the prime minister from within.

The sister had become the Queen. with the status and power to live freely, yet when would she be able to find her own place? The reality made her knees weak. Her new husband, the prime minister, treated her with respect, yet he was a man who doted on his daughter and still loved his late wife.

Once again, Rose despaired that she had no place to stay there.

And ten years had passed since she married the family. Endure, endure. Yet even though the daughter whom she could never get along with was finally gone, her husband said that he would take his daughter back even if it means throwing away the family's fortune. She would never let that happen.

"I'm sorry, Bertine."

The lady returned to her room with a troubled smile on her beautiful face

Tap the screen to use advanced tools Tip: You can use left and right keyboard keys to browse between chapters.

You'll Also Like