< — Duchess Vivian — > (3)
“Gong. You see, my adjutant and I made a bet.”
‘Here we go again.’ Hugo thought. Once in a while, Kwiz went on about nonsense.
“It was a bet as to whether or not Gong carries a handkerchief.”
Hugo listened silently with an attitude that was close to disregard but Kwiz was unyielding.
“Knights do not usually carry their handkerchiefs around. But, I mean, Gong is in a grey area. So, I picked that Gong does not carry it around while my adjutant picked that Gong does carry it around.”
“What is being bet?”
“If I lose, I will no longer use a phrase that I often use.”
Kwiz had a nasty tongue. It was a fact that all his close aides knew. Because Kwiz was ascending the throne and becoming the lord of the country, the adjutant wanted him to fix his manner of speaking so he wouldn’t lose face. Until now, no matter what his adjutant said, Kwiz ignored it but as the frequency of nagging increased, it became quite annoying. Then Kwiz got a good idea.
[Make a bet with me. We’ll bet one word at a time.]
Rule 1: The content of the bet will be done according to what comes to the mind at that particular moment. Kwiz and the adjutant could take turns in suggesting the content of the bet.
Rule 2: If the adjutant won, Kwiz could not use the inappropriate expression that was being bet afterwards.
Rule 3: In the event of Rule 2 violation, the bet would be deemed as a loss.
Rule 4: If Kwiz won, he could recover an expression that he had been banned from using.
After making a very useless and specific set of rules, Kwiz began the betting game. It was an endless path of repetitions but with the thought that at least something was being done, the adjutant accepted it.
So far, they had made one bet and Kwiz had lost. As a result, Kwiz was blocked from using the expression, ‘fuck’.
The Duke of Taran’s handkerchief was the second bet. For this bet, the expression ‘dead old man’ that Kwiz used to refer to the late King was chosen. If Kwiz lost his time, he would have to solemnly refer to the dead old man as the ‘late king’.
“So Gong. Tell me. Do you carry a handkerchief around?” (Kwiz)
Hugo alternated glances between Kwiz who had a twinkling gaze like he was facing the problem of a lifetime, and the adjutant whose expression was full of pleas.
Was such a relaxed atmosphere really okay? Hugo was feeling doubtful. For a very short moment, he wondered if he had made a good choice in holding hands with the king.
Kwiz was shocked and the adjutant silently cheered. With one word, Hugo dropped one in heaven and the other in hell but his expression was indifferent.
“No way! There’s no way Gong carries around that kind of thing!”
If the bet had been a little while back, the winner of the bet would have been Kwiz. Hugo didn’t used to carry around a handkerchief. If the need for one ever came up, he could just order someone to clean it up. But it had been quite a while since hebegan to carry a handkerchief.
“I won’t lie for such things.” (Hugo)
“How can this be.”
Kwiz lamented in regret. His scheme of recovering the lost expression ‘fuck’ by winning this bet was fruitless, rather now, he had to refer to that damned old man as the ‘late king’.
“Alright then, show me. Right now.” (Kwiz)
Hugo furrowed his brows slightly but eventually, he gave a small sigh and withdrew his handkerchief from his bosom then he placed it onto the table.
Kwiz’s eyes widened when he saw the snow-white handkerchief and he picked it up. Its rough texture was cotton and it had a flower embroidered at the corner. Noblemen usually carried dark silk handkerchiefs.
“…Gong. Your taste is quite unique?”
Cotton handkerchiefs were normally used by children. But Hugo did not shrink in the slightest. On the contrary, he look dignified.
“A handkerchief is for wiping dirt. There is nothing as good at performing its intended function like a cotton handkerchief.”
‘Is he teaching me the function of a handkerchief?’ Kwiz wondered as he mulled over Hugo’s words and intention. Kwiz figured out the subtle meaning behind the cotton handkerchief and looked at the handkerchief with new eyes. Moreover, since the Duke appeared so dignified, the handkerchief did not seem that bad the more one looked at it.
The handkerchief was nice to the touch, its white color was spotless and the flower at the corner had its own charm. The embroidered flowers was not sewn elaborately so Kwiz had a hunch. From what he could tell, it didn’t seem like the work of an expert but an embroidery of the Duchess. The thought that it was made by his younger sister whose face he hadn’t yet seen made him want to have it.
“Hmm. After listening to Gong, it does seem that way. Then, give me this.”
Hugo could not snatch it away from the King who had put it in his pocket.
Wasn’t it just a handkerchief ?
Of course, to Hugo, it was not just a handkerchief. He didn’t carry it around to use but as a kind of charm.
One day, his wife cut out pieces of white cotton and began to make handkerchiefs herself. She would either make time or use her spare time to embroider the corner of the handkerchief. Like that, when she made a bunch, she would sent it to Damian every few months.
A white cotton handkerchief with a flower embroidered at the corner.
Anyone could tell it was an item for a child. But Hugo wanted to have it.
Because it was embarrassing to suddenly say that he wanted to have cotton handkerchief with an embroidered flower, he helped himself to some. It would have been better if he declared it confidently. But because he had done it in an impulse of a moment, he was unable say anything even more. The few handkerchiefs that Hugo took were stored deep in his office drawer.
After some time, she changed the embroidery to Damian’s name, stating that flowers were not suitable for boys. No matter how much Hugo liked her handmade articles, he did not want to carry around a handkerchief that had the boy’s name.
The handkerchiefs with flower embroidery were limited first edition items that could not be obtained presently. Only a few existed but one was just snatched away.
Hugo’s mood instantly plummeted. Today, of all days, he certainly did not want to see the shameless face of the king.