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Chapter 5: Inside the Heart

“Eva-sama, I’ll leave the tea here for you.”

“Annie, thank you.”

The library of the venerable Stahl family, which has a long history even within the country, is well stocked. The collection of ancient documents handed down through generations is said to surpass even that of the royal family.

Eva’s parents were also avid scholars, so the collection grew over time.

Her study-averse cousins and aunt might not even be aware of the existence of the library within the mansion.

Thanks to this, the library was Eva’s favorite place to spend quiet moments.

“Annie, is it your break time? If you’d like, let’s have tea together.”

“Yes, I’ll gladly accept your offer.”

“What were you reading, Eva-sama?”

“This is a romance novel from the Dacian Empire.”

It was probably a book brought by her mother. Although she might be scolded if her uncles found out, books from the Dacian Empire were quite well represented in the collection.

The brawny uncles rarely visited the library. The presence of Dacian Empire books was a secret known only to a few long-serving servants, Annie and Eva.

“It’s unusual. You usually only read books on plants and gardening.”

“I’ve never read one like this before… a romance novel.”

“Hehe. Why not give it a try? How does it feel to read it?”

“Not just romance novels, but I find books from more open-minded countries more interesting than the closed-minded ones in this country. The novels here are always male-centric.”

“Don’t you want to experience a romantic story like in novels?”

“I wouldn’t understand even if I read it. I know that romance involves excitement and suspense, but…”

“Sigh, Miss Eva. It’s better to experience it than just read about it, I’m sure.”


I asked Annie in return, even though she was sighing and sounding disappointed.

“Oh, Annie, do you already know about excitement and suspense? Who’s your crush? Tell me.”

Annie blushed instantly, making her look adorable, and Eva couldn’t help but laugh.

In this country, where a male-centric mindset prevails, women are considered good if they can read and write. Especially for a young lady from a remote estate far from the capital, this is even more true. Of course, even for commoners, the opportunities for women to learn are limited.

Curious Annie, whenever she has free time, eagerly absorbs knowledge by reading the library’s collection along with Eva.

“What have you been reading lately, Annie?”

“As you know, romance novels, of course, but I’ve also been reading arithmetic books that you recommended, Miss Eva.”

“Well, you’re doing well.”

“I don’t know why you recommended studying arithmetic, Miss Eva? Knowing numbers is important in life. But sometimes I end up falling asleep while reading.”

Blushing and smiling shyly, Annie muttered, “Why aren’t women allowed to learn in this country?”

“Yeah, it feels restrictive to me too.”

There is a school in the capital where only noble sons are allowed to attend, or so Eva has heard. Eva learned from her mother, who attended a school in the Dacian Empire, and has already completed the process of manners and education for noble sons attending such schools.

Now, the answers to what she wants to know or learn can only be found in the library’s collection.

Nevertheless, when it comes to “romance,” Eva understands that even reading books may not provide a complete understanding.

After parting ways with Annie and leaving the library, Eva, as usual, went to check on the rose garden. The gardener, Roger, happened to be working.

“Roger, you were here!”

“Did you come to check on the roses, miss?”

“Yes, that’s right. My beloved mentor taught me to ‘observe well and listen to the voices of the flowers.'”

“He’s a good mentor.”

The two, smiling at each other, looked around the rose garden together.

“The roses you’ve nurtured, Miss, are thriving. The roses around here will soon bloom into splendid flowers.”

“I’m delighted. Thanks to Roger for teaching me various things. I wonder if I can become someone with a green thumb like my mother.”

“Yes, Miss Eva already possesses that talent. You’re skilled at growing plants.”

Being praised by her mentor, Roger, loosened the tension in Eva’s heart, which had been on edge since the talk of marriage. The flowers in front of her were blurred.

“Hey, Roger. It seems like there’s an infestation over there in the bushes. Should I use some medicine? Can you take a look?”

Eva changed her gaze as if to distract herself, and Roger spoke kindly.

“Miss, have you expressed your true feelings about your marriage?”

“My feelings? I’ve told Roger and Nick the same thing. I’ve told Annie too.”

“No, that’s not what I mean. Your true, innermost feelings”

“My true feelings?”

“What you told us might be partly true, but it’s mostly words to convince yourself. People, when they endure too much, accumulate sediment in their hearts. That sediment becomes like mud, weakening the person’s heart. Take a moment to look into your own heart. Listen to its voice. It’s like roses and plants.”


“Yeah, lately, maybe because my hearing is getting worse, the voice of my soliloquy has become loud. can’t beat age. With this, even if Miss Eva says something, I might not hear it well.”


Roger is telling a kind lie. Knowing that Roger is the only adult she can rely on, Eva probably expressed her true feelings in this manner.

“Well, I don’t want to get married. Even if the rumors may not be entirely true, marrying someone rumored to be strongly sadistic is scary. I wanted to leave this place, but I’m scared it might get worse. I want to see my father and mother. It’s lonely by myself. If I get married, I feel like I’ll be even more alone and scared.”

Eva burst into tears, raising her voice like a child, and Roger gently stroked her back.

“I’ll always be by your side, Miss. If it’s tough, run away. Depend on me. Though I’m an old man, I’m ready to go anywhere with you.”

“…Even if it’s the Dacian Empire?”

As Eva asked while sniffling, Roger smiled and nodded.

“Yes, even in the Dacian Empire, anywhere.”

Eva, whose tears had subsided, asked quietly.

“Why do you say such things?”

“I’ve been treated very well by Lord Klaus and Lady Elizabeth. When I worked on creating this garden with Lady Elizabeth, I received such wonderful moments that I wondered if there could be such joy. They allowed me to study. In this country, it’s frowned upon for nobles to interact with those of lower status, but they treated me as an individual without any concern. They gave this humble gardener a place to shine.”

“What my father and mother did, I haven’t done anything for you, Roger. I’ve been taking advantage of you as my mentor.”

“No, I’ll continue taking care of the garden that Lady Elizabeth and I built together, alongside you, Miss. And I’ll pass on the skills and knowledge I’ve cultivated to the next generation and to you, Miss. It’s an honor for a craftsman. Miss, you’ve also given me a place to belong.”

“Roger… thank you for saying that. Thanks to you, I’ve been able to live here even after my parents passed away. I’m grateful for teaching me a lot about flowers. Thank you.”

Eva looked at Roger, who was gently stroking her back as if she were a child.

“Roger, I love you. I feel so much better. Thank you.”

With eyes still carrying remnants of tears, if she smiled warmly, Roger, with a slightly embarrassed expression, returned the smile.





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