Chapter 16 - A Trip To The Village
“I guess you never thought this was the way to share my bed. Well, it doesn’t matter. You’ll find out as time goes by. You’ll see with your own eyes what kind of person I am.” He spoke in an intimidating tone as if she tried to fall on purpose. She wondered whether he knew the fact that he was menacing enough even without threatening her, but she wasn’t as scared now as she was yesterday. Because she learned that being scared wouldn’t get her anywhere and since she had already experienced his gruff nature, she didn’t think he would be more frightening than that.
Nevertheless, when his hands went beneath her collar, her body shrank by itself. She wanted to crawl and hide in a rat hole if she could. If only she could cover the sun in the sky. His actions seemed to be intended to undermine her pride. As if to deliberately vex her. His boldness knew no limits, seeing as he wasn’t at all conscious of peoples’ eyes.
‘This guy really doesn’t care what other people think and just moves his own way. That must mean he’s got just as much confidence.’
His audacious touch seemed to say as much. However, she never imagined he would feel her up on the street without any hesitation. The idea that he was a man who had nothing to fear, not even the king himself, flashed through her mind. But Edna was not the type of person who could ignore other people’s gazes like Eli, so she held his hand still with a trembling heart, saying, “I will see your true self even if I don’t want to, but don’t humiliate me in front of everyone. It wouldn’t do you any good to treat me this way either.”
“Do other people’s eyes bother you that much? I guess even half aristocrats have shame. You must be lucky. The world wouldn’t have been easy enough for an illegitimate child to know shame.”
“If you don’t have shame that means you’re not a human being. I wasn’t born an illegitimate child because I wanted to.”
Eli was prickled inwardly at her quiet taunting. On the other hand, he wanted to provoke her more. He had spent the past month in utter boredom without having a conversation with anyone. But Edna, who appeared under the name of Anna, stirred his curiosity and was a novelty in his boring daily life.
“Honestly though, illegitimate children don’t even count as humans, do they? Judging from today, you seemed to have lived by picking up the food from the ground in Viscount William’s castle. It would have been better to be born a commoner like me. Commoners at least have freedom.” Eli whispered in her ear.
Edna shuddered reflexively and immediately spat out, “I’m sure you said that servants were human, too, yesterday. Then why can’t I be considered as such an illegitimate child? Or do you just want to push me in that direction on purpose? Illegitimate children are not human? I was indeed starved, but that does not make me any less human.”
“You really don’t lose out with words, huh? I think I know why there are traces of violence on your body. I mean, why would anyone hit a woman for no reason? Don’t you think so? You’ll have to watch your mouth if you don’t want to make me feel that urge.”
Eli, despite being sarcastic, slipped his hand off her chest and wrapped it around her waist again, contrary to his words. Edna was puzzled by his consideration for her. She didn’t think he would really comply with her demands. Eli murmured meanly at Edna, who breathed a sigh of relief. “Don’t think this is the end of it.”
Then Edna’s face burned red. Her body shivered on its own when she remembered the memory of the terrible pain she had gone through only yesterday. Eli glanced down at her state and sped up the ride.
At a glance, the village looked stricken by famine. This was the first time Eli had seen the reality of the village. Those who drove pigs lifelessly in tattered clothes were better off actually. A needling pain passed through his chest when he saw an almost naked child squatting in front of a house eating mud.
This scene right here was the undeniable reality. Only the powerless people die in the events of war. Eli, who was witnessing firsthand the miserable reality he had never been privy to because he had not settled down before, squinted his eyes. It was the same with Edna. She was not the one responsible for this, but the guilt of having been one of its contributors tore away at her. Eli regretted the fact the situation would not have been so dire had he paid a little more attention.
With a sweeping heavy sense of responsibility, he knitted his eyebrows, got off his horse, and then spoke, “I don’t think there’s a place to get you new clothes from.”
“That’s quite alright. I don’t need any new clothes.” Edna hurried to answer him and jumped off the horse. His hand, which he belatedly extended to assist her, was awkwardly hanging in the air. He drew his hand back, suspiciously eying Edna, who got off the horse with an agile grace, but she was so heartbroken by the horrors left by the war that she never noticed his questioning gaze.
As soon as Eli and Edna entered the village, people swarmed around them one by one, in an attempt to gain something. Edna shed tears when she saw people staring at them with blank eyes without knowing who the two were. She felt like she was seeing the miserable and lethargic self she had been for the past two years.
※ IP licensed to WordExcerpt. The rights of this work belong to the copyright holders. No portion of this work may be reproduced, transmitted, copied, duplicated, or modified in any form without written permission from the copyright holders.