To recall the first meeting with Lancelot, we have to go back 10 years from now.

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I just turned fourteen at the time.

In the early summer of that year, the rainy season was pouring in late spring.

Anita had accompanied her father to the most grandiose banquet of her life.

“Anita, there are a lot of scary and dangerous people here.
You must be careful today.”

“Yes.”

It was the first time in her life that she visited such a wonderful mansion and a splendid venue.

The mansions that she and her father had visited so far were much more modest than theirs, or even though the mansions were large, they looked quite old.

But, isn’t this place like the prince’s castle in a fairy tale book?

Anita couldn’t contain her curiosity and asked her father, “Is this the king’s palace?”

“The Royal Palace? No, this is the Edenbair mansion.
We are now invited to the birthday banquet of the Duke of Edenbair.”

“It’s the first time I’ve seen a mansion more beautiful than ours.”

The father quietly rebuked Anita, “Anita, you shouldn’t say things like that.
You should always be humble.
Especially in front of the people here.”

“Why?”

“Because the nobles here don’t like wealthy people without titles like us.”

My father always says the right things.
It was difficult advice, but it was clear that it meant to be careful.

 

*

 

The banquet was noisy and boring.

After a long time, the adults still seemed to have a lot to say.
Anita, who had been around her father the whole time, was eventually headed to a large room where the children her age were.

It was when Anita was about to enter the room looking up at the colorful ceiling.

“Stop!”

Suddenly, a strict voice stopped her.

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“My mother told me not to get along with you.
So go away.
You’re dirty.”

Anita blinked her eyes.

Then she hurriedly looked down at her dress.
Far from being dirty, it was clean without a single wrinkle.

What does it mean to not get along?

She took a breath and asked calmly, “Um, maybe I did something wrong? If I made a mistake, I apologize.
I didn’t mean to.”

Anita answered politely, but the girl burst out laughing.

“Look at her.
She’s apologizing to me!”

Hahahaha.
The children surrounding Anita began to laugh out loud.

It was an obvious mockery.

“Are you a fool? If you apologize, do you think your status will change?”

“My mother said that I shouldn’t go along with someone who sells dignity to money.”

“Right, that’s right.
My grandmother said her father was a sewer rat with a gold necklace!”
[T/N: Sewer rat with a gold necklace means: a contemptible person who only has money]

Anita’s heart began to pound.

‘Sewer rat……? My father was a sewer rat……’

She didn’t commit a crime, but her shoulders shrank.
She wanted to run away from the evil stare that pierced her face.

My father is not a sewer rat.
He’s a cool, smart, and wonderful adult……

The girl took another step forward and pushed Anita’s shoulder with an excited expression on her face.

“Your father is a mongrel without dignity, honor, and fundamentals.
It is clear that the daughter of a mongrel is also a mongrel, so it’s right to keep a distance from someone like you so as not to be tainted.
Do you understand now?”

Ah, she understood too late.

The fact that there is an invisible line drawn between the girl and Anita.

A bright red line separates those of noble blood from those who are not.

But, Anita could not admit the line.

Especially if it is a line drawn to ridicule her father.

“My……”

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I can’t admit it.
My father is not someone who can be treated like that.
With her trembling hands clenched into fists, she courageously denied it.

“My father is not a mongrel,” she said.

Now, you will know that the word ‘mongrel’ is a misnomer, right?

“……pfft ha ha ha.”

The girl laughed out loud.

I was out of breath with embarrassment.
What? Did I say something wrong? Was my voice too low?

Anita’s face turned bright red.

“My……my father is not a mongrel.”

The children began to imitate her.

“My father is not a mongrel.”

“You have to make a more silly face to imitate her.”

“The mongrel also apologized with a stuttering voice.”

All Anita could do was lower her head to hide her face that was as red as an apple.

I’m embarrassed.

I want to run away to a place where there is no one else.

But her legs were frozen.
Even though her heart was beating like it was going to explode, her legs couldn’t move.

I am not a stutterer.

It’s just, it’s just……

‘It’s just because I was embarrassed, I was embarrassed.’

Tears welled up.

“Look at her! She is crying!”

Ha ha ha ha ha.

The girl, who was laughing excitedly, gently pushed Anita’s forehead with her two fingers.
She smiled brightly and innocently and warned Anita.

“If you understand, get out of here quickly.
If you pretend to know us from now on, you will die.
Well, if you are bored, you can play with the maids of the same level as you.”

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Several children who were surrounding her passed by, tapping her head and arms.

After rushing into the room, she was the only one standing in the aisle.

‘……Ah!’

As the last boy pushed Anita, her body fell helplessly to the floor.

creak

The door in front of Anita slowly closed.
There was a clear smirk on the pure white face seen through the gap.

“Farewell, mongrel.”

tuk

The door was closed.

The joyous laughter of the children drifted away.

Anita was left alone in the cool hallway with only silence.
Her shoved shoulders and her knees slammed to the floor tingled.

What hurt more than that was that she was terrified in front of the children who ridiculed her father and failed to refute properly.

“Sob……”

It felt like the hot desert sand was pouring out of her chest and throat.

But she cannot sit for long because footsteps from the nearby stairs were heard.

She got up on fire and ran.

Anita kept running and running, and moved as far away from the room as she could.

Running in the spacious mansion, she was out of breath.

Thank God.
If I come this far, I won’t be caught by my father.

However, when my father’s face came to mind, my nose became runny again.

‘No, if I cry……my father can hear it……’

Biting her lip, she pushed the nearest door.
Unlike the other rooms which were warm, it was a cold room.

So she felt even sadder.

The tears that had welled up her eyes flowed down her cheeks.

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“Sob.”

Anita squatted, leaning against the door, and buried her face in her lap.

“Waaah.”

I want to go home.

“Waah waah waah……”

As she recalled her warm house, the tears that had pooled at the tip of her eyelashes began to fall.

“Sniff.”

I really want to go home.

I miss my nanny, Mary, Berry, and……

“Noisy.”

At that time, Anita’s crying stopped.

Anita jumped up from her seat and looked around.

‘Someone just said noisy……’

Who? Are you a ghost?

Immediately after the goosebumps appeared on her forearm, the voice was heard again.

“Don’t cry in the library.
It’s disturbing.”

Library?

I looked around blankly.

I didn’t notice because I was crying, but the room I entered was not an ordinary room, but a spacious library.

There were many books neatly arranged on each bookshelf that were placed everywhere.
The books lined up along the ladder to just below the ceiling looked clean, with no dust.

Anita rolled her eyes wide open in admiration.

‘It is very spacious.’

I faced the source of the voice and asked with a regretful expression, “Th-Then, where can I cry?”

Then came a cold voice.

“Why should I care?”

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