The Sleepless Night of the Maid - chapter 21
Instead of Eva answering, it was Count Holland who spoke with a wry face. He grimaced, not liking Ruth’s unexpected behavior.
For Eva, his reaction was hard to decipher and slightly distasteful. It was not like she was a dangerous person to be associated with, but it painted her as though she was someone who was bad and should be avoided. If Ruth was indeed the Crown Prince and Count Holland worried that he’ll get involved with her again, then he had no need to fret.
“Lord Holland will go in first.”
Eva hadn’t replied yet, but Ruth spoke with a calm tone while pushing Count Holland’s back. His lips tilted up, forming a smile that held stronger power than a hundred words. A regal bearing, something that couldn’t be acquired, a natural born gift. Clearly, it pressured Eva to stay, as it did for Count Holland to leave the scene.
Count Holland, who had been holding his stare, eventually eased as if he had given up. He sighed, “Well then, I hope you two have a good time.” He looked between Eva and Ruth. His feeling seemed to change, perhaps because he lost the staring contest. He still held the same exasperation for both of them, however, a deep resignation swirled inside his eyes as he regarded Ruth, and when his gaze shifted to Eva, he looked to her with a mix of curiosity and sympathy.
Count Holland, after having shown various facial expressions, shrugged and turned his back to walk away.
“Now, shall we go?”
After Count Holland disappeared from sight, Ruth walked with his hands folded behind his back. Every move of his flowed so naturally that Eva couldn’t help following him.
The farther away from the residence, the deeper the darkness. In contrast, the moonlight became brighter. The sound of bugs cutting through autumn night and the sound of the breeze sweeping through the dry grass sounded charming.
Ruth strode at an adequate distance. He then adjusted himself to match Eva’s pace so that they walked side by side. The two remained silent for a while, the atmosphere feeling both awkward and comfortable. Ruth broke the silence as he opened his mouth first.
“May I ask you something?”
“Yes. Go ahead.”
“How come you ended up in the Baronet’s house?”
Being careful, he paused in the middle of his sentence and rephrased what he said. “…You don’t seem to be treated very well.”
“Ah… It just happened like that…”
Eva blushed, her words trailed off in the end. She couldn’t say that all her close relatives hated her because of her father’s debt, that her mother was an outlander, that she had nowhere to go because she lost contact with her mother’s family. She had no choice but to be an orphan. The only option she had was a distant relative, Baronet Biti. She was too embarrassed to talk about that shabby situation.
“Please let me know if you need my help.” Instead of asking any further, he came out with unexpected words.
Her shoulders stiffened as she responded. Did his offer give the impression that he knew she needed help? That meant Ruth was aware of her situation. Well, it was no wonder, given she was standing in the corner and was treated like thin air, dressed in old clothes and socks with holes.
“Thank you for the offer, but I am good.”
Eva politely refused, smiling bitterly. She didn’t appreciate his consideration. It was unpleasant when an ugly situation became a disgrace and tugged sympathy from the others. More particularly, the fact that she was discovered by this man shattered her heart.
“I’m sorry if I offended you.”
“Don’t be. I know you’re a good person. You’re just being considerate of me.”
Aside from her feelings, Ruth seemed like a nice person. She was grateful for him meticulously taking care of her after saving her from drowning. He was thoughtful of her needs by not making it obvious or condescending. The suggestion he proposed just now would have been a pity that came out from his disposition.
“A good person…”
Ruth stared at the pitch-black darkness in the distance, silently repeating Eva’s words. His steady footstep slowed down and stopped. Ruth turned and trained his eyes on Eva.
“I’m not as good a person as you think.” As if he confessed in a monotonous voice.
“What do you mean…?”
“Because I have a lot of room for doubts, I don’t trust people. I tend to not be nice to anyone. I’m quite ruthless when it comes to someone who hurt or betrayed me. That’s why…” His gaze was low, his chin was lifted. A gleam of compassion and warning swirled within his eyes, glistening in the darkness. “I can help you in other ways, if it’s not financial help you need.”
“For example, if someone bothers you, I can take care of it.”
His dim eyes ran downward to fixate on Eva’s wrist. His expression and demeanor were calm as the water, but his gaze felt like a knife, stabbing her wrist.