Dear Anonymous Sponsor - Chapter 10
‘Judith, how about spending the summer at the Curtis’ mansion in Waltz?’
After returning to her room, Judith pondered over the secretary’s suggestion for a long while.
Waltz, the capital of Baja, the heart of the Northwestern Hemisphere, the first in the North Continent, and one of the five largest cities in the world.
Represented by the overwhelming skyscrapers, neon lights, all along waterfronts, it was a city that never slept, Waltz has always been labeled the city of splendid dreams and expensive freedom.
“But since you’re a college student of this age, it would be a good chance to experience the atmosphere of a big city at least once. You could visit the Great Hall, along with landmarks representing the Commonwealth, including the Foyson Library called the Forest of Knowledge, Tolthread Tower, West Broadway, and High-End Street, which is known as the epicenter of fashion. There is the picturesque East Sea with its horizon extending to the east, and the West Sea stretching towards the west. Also, there is nothing like the vast natural treasure, Waltz State Grand Park, which is the home to a variety of wildliife. If you stay at the Curtis mansion, it will give you the opportunity to glimpse into the lifestyle of the noble class.”
As a secretary working for a prestigious family, he was very good at negotiations.
After a long-winded moment of storytelling that blew the listeners out of their minds, he added in a low voice that could not be heard by Rachel and other children eavesdropping outside the door.
“My master has fully considered Miss Judith’s concerns. I know it could be a bit of a burden for Miss Judith, a Kilgeny native, to travel as post-war negotiations are still going on, but you have nothing to worry about. From the moment Miss Judith steps into Waltz, a number of guards personally hired by Mr. Curtis will be by your side to handle any dangerous situations. You don’t have to worry about your identity being revealed as well.”
Mr. Larson seemed to have memorized the answers to any expected questions Judith had.
‘Do I need to have that level of persuasion skills to become a secretary?’
“This is a reply from your sponsor, Miss Judith.”
He handed her a large, flat box wrapped by luxurious blue satin. Then, he politely departed after stating he would meet her in front of Waltz Central Station once she sent a letter containing her arrival date and time in advance.
Her opponent had arrived fully equipped and seem unwilling to accept to her rejection. All that remained was permission from Rachel, who was already very satisfied with the donations delivered by William Larson, and sorting through it with her sparkling-eyed orphanage mates.
However, Judith was still dumbfounded.
She quickly predicted an imminent riot and attempted to escape to her room.
“Are you going to go, Jude? You have to go! Your sponsor turned out to be a Curtis, damn it. That’s so cool!”
“Get out of my way, Millie!”
Leaving behind Milian’s annoying shouts, Judith went into her room and slammed the door shut.
Her heart was racing.
‘Let’s think about this calmly.’
Judith stumbled across her room, carrying the box she received from Mr. Larson, and collapsed on her bed.
‘Mr. Larson said this gift is my sponsor’s reply. Maybe this time he fulfilled my wish and replied with a letter?’
But from the looks of it, she didn’t think it was a letter.
Judith unwrapped the package with trembling hands as she opened the box. What was inside it was something totally unexpected.
It was a silver pistol with elaborate tulips and leaves embossed along its barrel. The trigger guard was nicely curved like a vine, and the handle was padded with stiff leather to prevent grip slippage.
At first glance, it was so colorful that she thought it was a decorative model, but when she checked the cylinder to confirm, she discovered that five of the six chambers were loaded with real bullets.
“Why all of a sudden… .” Judith muttered as she recalled the embarrassing memory of when she asked him for a pistol a long time ago.
Her sponsor probably didn’t send it at the time because it was an inappropriate gift for an underage girl.
“Are you telling me to be prepared for danger?”
Judith felt around the inside of the box to check if there was anything else. When her fingers brushed across something beneath the soft satin, she wondered how something could of ended up beneath the fabric lining the giftbox. She slowly peeled back the satin from the box, revealing the corner of a small card.
Judith immediately thought it was a manual for the gun, and flipped it open without giving it a second thought. What she found startled her so much that she almost dropped her pistol.
Inside the card was a handwritten note nearly half the size of her palm with a single line.
[I’m looking forward to spending the summer with Miss Judith Krauser.]
For a brief moment, Judith stared at the note with shocked expression on her face, then she suddenly jumped out of bed. She quickly went to her desk, opening the safe located beneath, and carefully rummaged through all the small, expensive items she had received from her sponsor until she found a thin envelope.
Swiftly opening the letter, she glanced over the neat handwriting that she had read a thousand times before.
[Dear Miss Wortherford,]
]I would like to introduce you to the child I am sponsoring…]
As if printed, the strokes were straight, the spacing was accurate, and the letters were slightly thicker. Judith’s heart began to beat erratically when she realized the handwriting on the card and letter were exactly the same.
The spelling of her name, which she hadn’t seen in five years, was both familiar and unfamiliar. Her first name was still pronounced and spelled the same, but her surname, ‘Krauser’ was completely different, and could not be pronounciated with a Kilgeny accent.
‘Why is he using my real name now?’
Judith recalled the second letter she had written to her sponsor and her request to be addressed by her new name.
[If one day, I get the chance to meet you, please address me by my original name then. You’re the only one who knows me as ‘Judith Krauser’.]
Judith pressed her face against the small card and sighed softly as her cheeks grew hot.
“How can I not go if you do something like this?”
Her heart began to beat pleasantly. At that moment, her fears and insecurities about visiting the big city, the many dangers that could be awaiting her, and the risk of her identity being revealed, faded away.
Despite her hesitation, Judith had made her decision.
“I will go to Waltz.”
The image of the city, which she had only seen in black and white photos featured in newspaper articles and magazines, flashed through her mind. Judith couldn’t stop herself from smiling as she hugged her blanket tightly.
“I’m going to Waltz…!”
There was something she wanted to tell him; a secret she could never reveal, despite her multiple attempts to do so.
‘I like you.”
* * * * * * *
The gentle spring wind swept through the trees, rustling the leaves, and carrying the scent of the blooming flowers in the breeze. Judith swept some stray hair behind her ears as she stood in the shade to escape the bright sunlight. The temperature was gradually growing warmer each day, a sign that the season when the sun’s rays were the most intense has arrived.
On the day of Judith’s departure, The Wotherford Orphanage was bustling with activity since the early morning.
Two luggage suitcases had already been loaded into the trunk of a car. Judith was carrying a simple handbag as she walked toward the car, while Millian followed behind with a large travel bag.
Of course, she secretly took out some unnecessary junk when Millian wasn’t watching, such as scented candles and matches, which were given to her to help relax her body and mind.
“Are you really going to travel alone, Jude?”
“Of course. How old do you think I am?”
“Don’t wander around recklessly. When you arrive, if it’s possible, please wait for the car to pick you up. The air quality in the city isn’t good, so don’t walk around for too long…”
Millian loaded the travel bag into the car as he nagged her. He was the first one to approve of her trip to Waltz, and was excited more than anyone else, but when it was time for him to send her off, he seemed to more worried than before.
“Make sure you contact me if anything happens. I’ll come running right away.”
“It will be fine. Don’t worry yourself too much, Millie.”
Before Millian’s ridiculous worries reached their peak, Judith hugged her friend tightly, and quickly got inside the waiting car.
To get to Waltz from Kinsley, Judith would travel by car for 15-hours, and then 10 more hours by train. Gregory was going to accompany her to Tyson, which is where her train departed.
When Rachel approached the car window, Judith rolled down the window and leaned out to kissed her cheek.
“I’ll return soon, Director.”
“Take care and behave yourself. Tell your sponsor that I will not forget the grace he has provided us.”
Rachel touched Judith’s hair tenderly and finally stepped back. As the car moved away, the children of the Wotherford Orphanage waved excitedly while jumping up and down.
“Have a safe trip, Jude!”
“I’ll bring back gifts!” Judith shouted while waving her hand vigorously through the window. She didn’t stop until the Wotherford Orphanage and the surrounding green poplar trees gradually disappeared into the distance.
On the first day of summer vacation, Judith left Kinsley for the first time since she fled to The Federal State of Baja.
Part I: Waltz, the Strange and Dangerous City.
Roderick Curtis, CEO of General Curtis.
At the age of 24, he took over the management rights of General Curtis, a firearms manufacturer, from his father, Harry Curtis.
The following year, he acquired Newway Kraft, a military aircraft manufacturer, that was suffering from deficits due to the war, and earnestly entered the defense industry with huge capital gains.
An outstanding businessman, who not only amassed enormous wealth by contributing remarkable developments in military supplies and the aviation industry in a span of five years, but also provided numerous political benefits to the federal government.
Roderick Curtis, a talented individual, has quickly made a name for himself with his brilliant mind and incredible business skills at 29 years of age.
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On a train bound for Waltz, Judith flipped through several newspapers and magazines for the latest articles on the Curtis Family. The most notable information she found about her sponsor came from an article, which stated he would be briefly visiting the Curtis’ factory eastern location, and then taking a break for the summer to relax at his Waltz estate.
There was also an article that speculated that Roderick was planing to return to Waltz so he could meet with investors and discuss the development of a private airline for next year.
Judith stared at the photo featured on the front page of a newspaper for some time. Beneath the skeletal structure of a huge military aircraft, the profile of a man chatting with an engineer was photographed.
It was difficult to gauge the exact color of his hair because it was a black-and-white photo. However, based on the lightness, it was either blonde or light brown.