translated by myonnie
The man thankfully understood Cecilio's signal not to expose him and kept his mouth shut. Relieved, Cecilio turned his attention back to Bertine. "I'd like to buy some of them."
"Oh! Thank you very much."
Bertine had the others return to their seats before discussing with Cecilio.
"Which items would you like?"
"Right. Can you help me pick out ten accessories? It doesn't matter which ones."
"Ten, is it? Thank you very much!"
"Also, you're taking commissions for embroidery, right? I'd like to make an order as well."
"Thank you. What kind of pattern would you like?"
"Up to you. I want it on a handkerchief. Anything is fine as long as it's not too showy."
Cecilio's purchase turned out to be worth quite a sum. Bertine thanked him politely as she wrapped up the accessories and handed them over.
"The women who made these will be delighted. The handkerchief will be finished in five days. Shall I deliver them to you?"
"No, I'll come and pick it up. In five days, right?"
"Yes. Then I will be waiting."
Seen off by the happy Bertine, Cecilio, leaving the store with mixed feelings, let out a sigh.
"I'm doomed. Seeing her putting so much effort to make root in this country makes it hard to tell her to go home."
Cecilio muttered, and he headed back for his residence. He recalled her words as he rode on his horse.
"I had to spend several days without proper food and water. Remembering those times makes it hard to fear anything else." Meaning, the treatment she received at his residence was worse than being almost beaten by a man. Hearing that made his heart ache.
She wouldn't know when she could finally return at that time. She had to put up with the harsh treatment in the enemy's camp which seemed to have no end for quite a long time - the longer it was, the more painful it became. Those thoughts made him feel bad.
"The handkerchief is five days later, isn't it?"
Cecilio decided to reveal his identity by then and apologize sincerely for the treatment she had suffered in his residence.
On the other hand, Bertine was quite busy.
Once she announced that she would accept money or goods in exchange for the imperial language tutoring, almost everyone began to pay with food. Meat, vegetables, and beans were handed to her every day. Sometimes, she would also receive live chickens and chicks.
Since the temperature in the south was a little higher than in her home country, leaving the ingredients would make them rot. And so Bertine continued to cook with Dorothee, even though she wasn't used to it. They changed the seasonings daily, but it was mostly soup with lots of ingredients.
"I can't stand leaving food to rot."
Though it was a secret they kept for themselves, the money from selling a few of the jewelry Bertine received from her family could feed them for quite a long time. That's why Bertine decided that the tuition fee didn't have to be money. Though, she also didn't expect it to bring another set of trouble as a result.
"But we now have people coming to eat here. All is good."
Elderly people with too much free time on their hands and children whose parents work outside would come and eat the soup. The main purpose was definitely the soup, but they told her that it was fun to gather and chat with familiar folks from the neighborhood.
At lunchtime, no one could possibly tell whether the place was 'embroidery and accessories store' or 'free dining room'.
(That's fine. No need to care about how I look.)
Bertine would never forget the despair she felt at His Excellency's mansion when she thought she didn't belong anywhere.
But now she found a place here. She had made up her mind that she would protect her own place.
"Since my engagement with Andrew is called off, perhaps I'm destined to never marry and live peacefully on my own. This whole situation makes me think that even more so."
"My Lady, you're not responsible for Lord Andrew."
"I know. It's all in the past anyway. Right, I should start with my embroidery now."
She thought of the black-haired customer who came to visit today, imagining the pattern that fit his impression.
He had beautiful blue eyes - just like sapphires.
"Black hair and sapphire eyes, huh."
Bertine opened the design book she brought from her parents' house. She remembered that her supposed husband, Cecilio, had black hair and blue eyes.
"Hey, Dorothee. Do you know how many people in this country have black hair and blue eyes?"
"I wonder? But the owner of the restaurant has black hair and blue eyes. The retired man living three doors down the street also has black hair and blue eyes. I think it's not uncommon."
"Right, that makes sense."
Bertine replied and turned her attention back to the design book.
Five days after the appointment. The very same man with black hair and blue eyes came to the store again. This time, it was near closing time.
Other than Bertine was one middle-aged man taking the imperial language tutoring. Seeing a customer coming in, they decided to end the lesson there and the student left.
"Welcome." Bertine greeted, remembering that she hadn't asked for his name. "You're here for your order, right? Um..."
"My name is Cecilio."
Cecilio filled in, staring at Bertine with his sapphire-colored eyes.
"Sir Cecilio. Here's the handkerchief you ordered. Please have a look at the pattern."
Bertine's thought was that they had the same name. It wasn't an unusual name, and she didn't think the country's representative would come here alone. In the first place, she already refused His Excellency a visit or an apology.
The man unfolded the handkerchief, his eyes widening at the national flag of the country; a bald eagle and a lion standing back to back, with a sword where their backs meet.
"This is the design of the national flag, right?"
"Yes, mostly. But I have your black hair and sapphire eyes here."
Bertine explained, pointing at the handkerchief.
"I see it now. The lion's mane is black, and the eagle has blue eyes."
"Yes. I chose this pattern to represent your dignified and strong aura, Sir. Do you like it?"
"Yeah. I really like it."
"That's great. The price of the handkerchief and the embroidery will be one large silver coin."
"No way, you can't make a profit at that price. Since this is five days' work, I'll give you a few more..."
The door opened before Cecilio could finish.
"Miss Bell, I'm home! Man, I'm so hungry. Oh, sorry. I didn't know we had a customer."
Without looking at the customer's face, Evans lowered his head and hurriedly went upstairs.
Bertine explained to the surprised Cecilio. "He's my housemate. He s staying here in exchange for becoming my bodyguard."
"A-Ah, is that so?"
Then Evans came down the stairs again and called out without showing his face, "Miss Bell! I'll borrow the bathroom!" He went through the corridor at the back of the store not to disturb them, and soon they heard the sound of the door slamming shut. Followed by a hum along with the sound of splashing water. It was a song called, 'My Hometown Sarang River'.
"I'm sorry for the noise. He's really like a child..."
"Hmm. Don't you think people won't think of an unmarried woman and a young man living in the same house as housemates?"
The alarm inside Bertine's head began to ring at Cecilio's tone which oozed a hint of coldness.
"I was really worried that you're having a hard time after coming to your enemy country, but seems like there's no need for that."
"What do you mean?"
"Is it because you have a lover here that you haven't returned to your home country? Lady Juan. That's fine with me. It's your life. But I thought you were doing your best to live here because you couldn't go back because of your father's position. Turns out my heartache was for nothing."
Bertine stared at the man's wry smile, and finally realized that he was His Excellency Cecilio himself. At that moment, Bertine's aura completely changed.
Straightening her back and raising her chin, Bertine glared at Cecilio with a sharp gaze.
"Evans is my housemate, and I take him in after preparing myself to be misunderstood like that. Right, and you are Your Excellency Cecilio. The one who told me to go home quickly after I had broken off my own engagement to marry him at the behest of my country. I see now. It makes sense why your servants behaved that way."
"No, about that..."
Oh no. I came here to apologize, yet what did I say that? I shouldn't phrase it that way. Cecilio panicked. He was about to apologize, but Bertine got ahead of him and asked.
"I was ordered to marry Your Excellency when I was about to be married in two weeks. I gave up everything and came to this country. I didn't tell Sir Ignacio since it's my private matter and has nothing to do with Your Excellency. I called off my engagement, went to the enemy country to marry, and was immediately sent home. Imagine what that would mean to me, and how my life would be after that. I'm not here because I found a lover. Your Excellency, please tell me. How much money will I have to pay to be able to stay in this country?"
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