Annette was having a late dinner when Heiner came into the dining room.
It seemed that he had taken a bath right after work since his hair was wet.

Spotting Annette, Heiner gently raised his eyebrows.
He spoke in a surprised voice.

“At this hour?”

Annette responded with a light nod of her head.
She had no appetite all day, and she got hungry late.

Heiner sat down and a servant brought out some soup and a glass.
Annette silently took the food into her mouth.

For a while, only the clattering of dishes filled the space.

“Annette, I heard Ansgar Stetter had visited the official residence.”


Annette’s hand holding the fork stopped for a moment.
She raised her head and looked at Heiner, who had an unusual expression.

The same dish as Annette’s was served before Heiner.
It was a Muscovy duck stuffed with a mixed garnish of mushrooms, eggs, and bread.

Heiner dismissed all the servants in the dining room with a hand gesture.

“What did you talk about?”

“Didn’t you hear everything anyway?”

“Still, it’s not the same as hearing it from the mouths of the parties involved, is it?”

“…he asked me to go to France with him after the divorce.
That’s all.”

“Are you going to marry him?”

A dry smile hung on Heiner’s lips.

 “Was that why you wanted to divorce, so that you could marry him?”

“It was the first time I’ve seen Ansgar in four years.”

“I don’t know.
You might have kept in touch with him behind my back.
Like secretly digging into my past.”

Even if they had exchanged contact, why would that be a matter that should be censored by Heiner? The question rose to the top of her throat, but Annette did not speak up.

“You won’t be holding his hand.”

A decisive voice deafened her.

“You will never leave here.”

A dark, tenacious stare landed on Annette’s face.
Annette stared at the asparagus she had just cut and thought.

If Ansgar was right about her being the restoration force of the monarchy, of course Heiner would not want to give her to them.
This was not an emotional issue.

Perhaps this was also why he would not allow divorce.
It was easier to restrain her if they were legally bound………….

‘But then why do Heiner’s aides disagree with him about divorce?’

She couldn’t come up with a suitable answer.
She was by no means a clever person, Annette thought.
In fact, there was nothing she could do about it, even after she tried to reason it out.

She stopped thinking any further.
The strength drained from her hands.
The fork made a clanking sound as it hit the dish.
Heiner’s  gaze moved to her thin hands.


Early in the morning, Annette changed into her going-out clothes.
In her bag was some money, headache medicine, and a handkerchief.

Finally, she finished her preparations by draping the black veil from her hat over her face.

“I’m going to church.
I don’t need an attendant.”

“But madam.”

“I’m going to pray.
I don’t want to be disturbed.”

“If you wish to go out alone, you must first get permission from the commander.”

There was no way Heiner would allow it.
She even questioned why she had to ask his permission in the first place, but the attendant was stubborn.
In the end, she gave up and let the attendant accompany her.

Annette drove to a nearby church.
Once a religious person, she had long since stopped attending church.
She was in contrast to Heiner, who, despite being a religious person, steadily attended services.

The church was empty at noon on a weekday.
Annette put some money in the offering box and sat in the front row.
A cross hung over the platform.

Annette prayed as she gazed up at the crucifix in a daze.
She did not close her eyes.
She did not put her hands together.
She just spoke from her heart.

‘Forgive me for my sins.
Forgive me for all the sins I have committed.
Please forgive me for my remaining sins.
Please save me.’

But there was no response back.
For all the people who claimed to have received God’s answers, Annette had never experienced one.

She clenched her fists in despair.

‘Why won’t you forgive me? Why did you throw me out into the muck? Why do you make me suffer so much? Why me….?’

Annette, who had been expressing her resentment, suddenly stopped praying.
It was pointless, she thought.

She picked up her bag and stood up.
She handed a letter to the attendant waiting at the entrance.

“If you go to the back gate, you will find an old man.
Please give this to him.
He is physically handicapped, so he may be a little late.”

“May I examine the contents?”

“Do whatever you want.”

The attendant, who opened and read the letter, decided that there was nothing unusual about it, and put it back in the envelope.

Annette hurried out of the church as soon as the attendant left.
On the road, she grabbed a hansom cab and took a ride.

(*Hansom cab, a rented carriage with two wheels and two seats) 

“Go to the train station.”

As the carriage departed Annette looked behind her.
She did not see anyone following her.

There had never been an old man waiting at the back gate.
She just needed an excuse to get the attendant away.
The carriage increased the speed.  Annette leaned back and closed her eyes.
Her heart beat wildly, rattling its cage.

A few days ago, she saw the ocean in Glenford in a dream.
She wanted to see it in person.


There was quite a bit of time left before the train departed.
The soon departing train had already sold out seats.
Annette sat in the waiting room and watched the people passing by.

Everyone was moving busily, wondering what they were doing to keep themselves so busy.
Annette tilted her head as she stared at the boy grunting with a bag of luggage the size of his body.

Where were they going and what they were doing?

What goals were they working so diligently to achieve?

It was truly a renewed feeling, even though it was natural that all people had their own lives.
It was also amazing that everyone was finding their way without getting lost.

The world turned rapidly, except for Annette.
She was alone, standing still against the passage of time.

After quite some time another train arrived at the station.
Annette stood in front of the train with a ticket in hand, feeling lost.

‘D200, G-12………’

It was the first time for her to find her seat by herself because it had been a very long time since she had taken the train and she had always been guided by the crew to a special seat.

Eventually, Annette asked an attendant for help.

“Excuse me, could you please check my ticket? Where do I board…”

“Just a moment, please.
Oh, it’s the next car.
There’s a seating chart posted above, please check it and take a seat.”

After boarding the train, Annette was fortunate enough to find a seat right away.
The seats, with four people facing each other, were small and uncomfortable.

The passengers on the train carried newspapers like shields.
Annette pressed down on her hat.
She was afraid that the newspaper might contain news about her.

It took about seven hours to get to Glenford.
Annette looked out the window and, unable to bear the boredom, bought a magazine from the train salesman.
But even that was quickly covered because her head hurt from reading it.

“Hey, lady.”

An old man in the front seat suddenly called out to her.


“Have you finished reading that?”

“Oh …… not really, but I’m going to stop reading it now.
Would you like to read it by any chance?”

“I would appreciate it.”

The old man nodded his head and accepted the magazine.
Annette observed him discreetly.
The shabbily dressed old man looked thin and poor.

After watching him for a while, Annette bought a sandwich and orange juice from the sales clerk.
The sandwich, wrapped in wrapping paper, was divided into two equal portions.

She lifted the veil lightly over her head and took a bite of the sandwich.
The crusty bread was flaky in her mouth.
It was the worst sandwich she had ever eaten.

The old man who was reading the magazine raised his eyes and glanced at her.
Annette covered the sandwich with its wrapping paper.

Immediately the old man put down the magazine.
Annette, who was fidgeting with her hands, asked in a gentle voice.

“Do you, by any chance, want to eat this?”

“Didn’t the lady buy it to eat?”

“I was going to, but I don’t feel well.”

The old man hesitated a moment, then accepted the sandwich, murmuring, “Thank you.” Annette hastened to add.

“Oh, I ate one, so take the other one…”

“It’s no problem.”

The old man unexpectedly took a big bite of the sandwich that Annette had taken a mouthful of.
The old man, who had been munching and chewing, spoke up.

“Where are you going, young lady?”

Annette replied happily.
“I am going to Glenford.”

“A vacation?”

“Ummm— I want to see the ocean.”

The sea in Glenford was famous for its beauty.
Annette had been there long ago for a vacation.

“Alone? Why aren’t you with your lover?”

“I’m married.”

“Oh, your husband.
Is your husband away?”

“My husband and I don’t get along.
There’s even talk of divorce.”

“Do you have children?”

“No, I don’t.”

“What if you don’t have kids? Young people these days get divorced a lot.
I don’t think it’s a big deal anymore.”


When I was younger, it was shameful when women got divorced, but times have changed a lot.
Life has become a bit better for women, there are no lords, and life is as hard as ever, but…..”

Annette’s lips twitched.
It was difficult for her to answer casually.
The old man also disliked the aristocrats? It would be rather strange if he did not.

After Annette had remained silent for a long time, the old man, who had swallowed a bite, asked.

“Why don’t you and your husband get along?”

“…… just ………… My husband and all of his people don’t like me.
I don’t want to live with my husband any longer either.”

“You don’t have any affection for living together?”

Maybe for that person…even if I die, it won’t matter to him.”

 “I know that feeling too.
The fact that someone hates you is much harder to bear than you think.”

The old man spoke in a serious tone, putting down the sandwich he was eating.

“But you can’t be loved by everyone.
That’s not possible.
So just live with those who love you.”

His voice sounded somewhat forlorn.
Annette was in a daze and gave a small nod.
Her mouth was bitter.
If all the people who loved her were dead, what was she going to do?

She didn’t want everyone to love her.
She just didn’t want to be hated.
If all she had left was hate, what was she to do?

The thought slowly faded away.
The train shook.
Outside the window, golden wheat fields spread out, filling the vastness.

The old man opened the crumpled wrapper and took out the rest of the sandwich.
Looking at his wrinkled fingers, Annette handed him the glass of orange juice.


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