r>I had seen the man’s picture in the local newspaper in Shadehill.

 

He was the second Earl of Norton.

 

My memory is fuzzy, but I remember the first master being a gentle person.
So it must be the second.

 

Clive Norton.
Once she realized his identity, Claire could see why she felt like she was being interrogated.

 

No wonder, he was the High Constable of Shadehill.

 

Since he was the owner of jewels, which are exclusive to nobles, he must be noble.
Claire was overcome with resentment, and wondered why he was speaking in a plain manner when he was a nobleman.

 

Claire involuntarily took a step back quietly, hugging tightly what was in her arms.
The desire to run away was mounting inside her.

 

“Ed, get the woman’s personal information.
This could be stolen.”

 

“Theft? All right.”

 

Clive, who said that ignorance wasn’t a sin, decided Claire was a suspect.
She told him she’d picked it up, but he thought it was stolen.

 

The man called Ed pulled a notebook and pen from his jacket.

 

Clive didn’t care what mood Claire was in; he checked the time nonchalantly.

 

“I’ll be off to a meeting.”

 

Clive’s gaze flicked briefly over Claire.

 

Claire, who was left behind, was only released after Ed wrote down her personal information, including her name, age, home address, and where she works.

 

She pleaded that she didn’t steal.
Ed said he didn’t think she was a thief.

 

She might get a reference check, but no big deal.

 

No big deal, he said in a nonchalant tone, but she didn’t believe him.

 

***


 

When Claire returned home, she was shaken and exhausted.
Isabelle, who’d arrived before Claire, turned on the gas light.

 

“Claire, what’s wrong with your face? Did something happen?”

 

Claire pulled out a chair at the kitchen table and sat down.
Isabelle came over, looking concerned, and stroked her cheek.
The touch was soothing.

 

“Just a glass of water.”

 

Claire looked stunned, and Isabel quickly poured her a glass of cool water.
Claire gulped it down without pause.

 

“Sister.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

Claire stood up from where she’d been leaning back in her chair.

 

“I bought meat.
Let’s eat meat first.”

 

Revitalized by the glass of water, Claire began to chop the meat.

 

“Aren’t you going to tell me what happened?”

 

“I will, but first I’m going to eat some meat and get some strength.”

 

Isabelle laughed, as if it couldn’t be helped.
She watched Claire’s back as she stood up, turned on the stove, and pulled out the pan.

 

Such a spunky little sister.

 

Isabelle peeled and sautéed the carrots and potatoes.
She added them to Claire’s roast beef and it was a lovely dinner.

 

They finished dinner, catching up on their lives as if nothing had happened.

 

“Sis, can I sleep with you tonight?”

 

“For free?”

 

“You had a nice meal earlier.”

 

“It was delicious.”

 

Isabelle smiled.

 

After washing up and changing into their pajamas, they lay side by side in Isabelle’s bed.
The bed was small, so they were forced to lie close together.

 

Isabelle stroked Claire’s wavy hair over her shoulder.

 

“What happened to the necklace?”

 

It was a question she’d been meaning to ask since earlier.
Obviously, the necklace she’d left in the morning was gone by the time she returned.

 

Perhaps the reason she came back distraught was because of the necklace.

 

“The owner took it.”

 

“Owner?”

 

Isabelle looked at Claire, wondering what she was talking about, but Claire was staring blankly at the ceiling.

 

“It wasn’t colored glass, it was a jewel.”


 

“That was a gem?”

 

“He said it wasn’t a sin to be ignorant, and not knowing the difference.”

 

“Who said that?”

 

“Master Clive said that.”

 

“Clive? Who is that?”

 

The name had never been a topic of conversation between Claire and Isabel, so Isabel didn’t immediately recognize who it was.

 

“The Count of Norton’s second son.
High Constable of Shadehill.
Master Clive Norton.”

 

“The necklace belongs to him?”

 

Isabelle looked up, a little surprised.

 

“No.
Oh my God, it was a keepsake from his grandmother Caitlyn Norton, who passed away the year before last.”

 

“What?”

 

Isabelle sat up in surprise at the name of Caitlyn Norton.

 

Claire was still staring blankly at the ceiling.
Her complexion was visibly pale.

 

“Why was her taste so simple that you make people mistake it for colored glass?”

 

“…But, since you gave it back, maybe it’s okay?”

 

“No, I don’t think so.
He thought it might’ve been theft.
I might be accused of being a thief and be taken away by the police.”

 

“Did he send you home?”

 

“He wrote down my name, age, address, and even the fact that I work at Lemon House.
I might be dragged along on the way to work tomorrow.”

 

Her face looked as if she’d already been imprisoned.

 

“Do you know what they do to jewelry thieves? Do you think I can walk back on my own legs? No, I mean, do you think I can come back alive?”

 

“Claire.”

 

Isabelle tried to cut her off, but Claire continued to mumble.

 

“No.
Maybe this is the last night I get to spend with my sister?”

 

Unable to let Claire’s increasingly imaginative mind wander, Isabel pinched her arm.
Very hard.

 

“Ouch! It hurts, sis!”

 

Claire wondered what was wrong with the normally upbeat girl.

 

“Because you’re talking nonsense.
Now shut up, and get some sleep.”

 

“I can’t sleep because I’m worried.”

 

“You’ll sleep, staying awake won’t solve anything.”

 

At Isabelle’s sobering words, Claire shut up and closed her eyes.

 

Yes, she thought.
Maybe after a night’s sleep, all of this will be forgotten.
She fell asleep with that hope.

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