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    Translated by lipzoldyck


     

    Have we arrived already? As the carriage door opened, Elber pointed to the door.

     

    “Ladies first.”

     

    “…”

     

    I’m a lady, he said?

     

    For a moment, the awkwardness gave me goosebumps.

     

    Ugh, what should I do if as soon as I step out of this door, there’s a red carpet and the servants on either side bow to me? I think it would be very burdensome!

     

    However, reality always outweighs imagination. The one waiting for me outside the carriage wasㅡ

     

    “Come out, Lady.”

     

    In front of the carriage, I almost rolled over when I saw the man who held out his hand. Duke Schlager was waiting to escort me!

     

    “D-Duke…”

     

    “Why? Do you want to live forever in the carriage?”

     

    “No.”

     

    The Duke’s hand, clad in brown leather gloves, was right in front of me. As I saw it, I placed my trembling hand on his.

     

    My hand looked really small on the dark gloves. Where did my hands that were good at factory and kitchen work go?

     

    …But, why is he holding it so long?

     

    “Duke?”

     

    “…Ah, yeah.”

     

    The Duke looked up at my hand and raised his head.

     

    “Welcome to the Duchy of Schlager. Please, I want you to be the right person for this house.”

     

    With those words, the Duke let go of my hand. This guy is really rude, though?

     

    While I was huffing to myself, a woman about 20 years old approached me.

     

    “Hello. My name is Linda, a maid of the Duke of Schlager. I’ll show you your room.”

     

    “Wait, Linda.”

     

    Elber intervened.

     

    “I brought Sol. I’ll show her around.”

     

    However, Elber’s attempt failed in less than a second. The Duke’s low voice rang out.

     

    “Is that your job?”

     

    “…Father.”

     

    “I’ll ask again. Elber, is it your job to just guide someone around the house?”

     

    “No.”

     

    After a quick reply, Elber took a deep breath and said.

     

    “But as an older brother, I believe it will be my duty to wash away my sister’s anxiety.”

     

    It’s not just words. Elber stood in front of me as if he tried to protect me. He’d be… a kid, obviously. His back obscured my view lightly.

     

    Without realizing it, I held onto Elber’s back. The only thing that protected me from the Duke’s sharp gaze was his back.

     

    Beyond that, I don’t know what kind of expression the Duke made in the first place. But what soon came to be heard was snoring.

     

    “Ha… The youngest son is pretending to be an adult just because a kid is brought.”

     

    “Since I’m the only one who’s close to Sol in this house.”

     

    Since when did we get so close?

     

    But Elber, who didn’t back down even before Father’s cold eyes, was a little, no, quite reliable. To the point where I was nodding my head.

     

    “…Your little sister seems to agree with you.”

     

    “That’s an obvious thing!”

     

    “I’ll ask you one more thing and let you go. Where are the places you’re going to show your sister?”

     

    “First of all maze garden, then greenhouse, attic, armory, dungeon…”

     

    I just heard a very terrible word. My brows were stuck together. The Duke’s expression wouldn’t have been much different from mine.

     

    “Dungeon?”

     

    “Ah, I wasn’t going to tell her… No, Sol is in the same family now, so I thought it would be okay!”

     

    “That’s it. Linda, you guide her.”

     

    Elber’s eyebrows drooped. Oh my, he must have been really disappointed.

     

    I think I know that feeling. When I was in elementary school, it was really fun to greet friends who came to my house to play.

     

    …A friend was startled in front of the orphanage and said, “Are you an orphan? Is there really such a thing?” It was an unforgettable wound.

     

    Damn it, it’s been over 10 years but I still remember it.

     

    Anyway, I quietly followed Linda. The dining room is on the 1st floor, the Duke’s room and study on the 2nd floor, and the master’s room and classroom on the 3rd floor.”

     

    Linda said cheerfully.

     

    “There is no dungeon in the Duke’s house. If someone brings up that story, please ignore it. If you see the stairs going down, never turn around!”

     

    Is this a Neapolitan ghost story?!

     

    I just nodded and chased after Linda in this labyrinthine house.

     

    And finally my room arrived…

     

    Wow, give me a warning before I open the door. It’s so cool…!

     

    The room was like a well-organized hotel—of course, I’ve never been to a hotel—but it was wonderful. Everything looked pretty, spacious, and expensive!

     

    I tried not to show my surprise, but maybe the figure of me liking it was clearly visible. Linda smiled warmly.

     

    “I’ll pick you up later. Then we’ll go to dinner together.”

     

    “I understand. Thank you!”

     

    “You’ll take a bath before dinner, so don’t be too shy!”

     

    Was she trying to prepare my mind? Linda left the room with a slightly burdensome remark.

     

    Uh, bath?

     

    Belatedly, I remembered that right now I was a tangled little girl who couldn’t even properly wash herself.

     

    A large full-length mirror in the room reflected my naked self.

     

    Common black hair, slightly pale brown eyes. I have big eyes, but it’s just a ‘dullness’ created by age and long hunger, and it seems far from cute.

     

    6 years, how to survive for that long and beyond?

     

    It’s hard for me to be loved like the main characters in romance-fantasy fairy tales. So, I have to find another way. I can’t be sacrificed as a bait for the Duke’s political play.

     

    Now, let’s think.

     

    How can I prove my worth to that grumpy rascal?

     

    ***

     

    After the little black-haired girl chased after Linda, the youngest son turned to his father with a rebellious gaze before heading into the room.

     

    The Duke fell into a dark silence in an instant. It sure is the first top priority that the mansion’s master, Latigre Olt Schlager demands in his castle.

     

    To be silent. Don’t fall into a state of unpredictability.

     

    Everything is under his command.

     

    As it was natural, Latigre entered the office with an expressionless look that seemed to have forgotten even the feeling of satisfaction.

     

    Latigre Olt Schlager.

     

    The Duke of Schlager and the Count of Flogel in the border region. He was a man who was able to wield the power of the Silver Dragon at the age of less than 20.

     

    Even though his wife died, and his eldest son rebelled against him and ran away from home. No one will ever call Latigre a ‘failure’. If someone does, their jaw will be shattered and they will be licking the gutter trash for the rest of their life.

     

    But it is impossible to believe that the peace in his territory will last forever.

     

    Latigre remembered the new resource he had brought, a girl named Sol. The first thing that came to mind was the small back of the head that he saw when she was walking.

     

    ‘…What is she thinking with that small head?’

     

    Come to think of it, it wasn’t the only thing that could be called ‘small’.

     

    Her hand touching his glove when he called her lady in front of the carriage door earlier was also too small.

     

    ‘Maybe smaller than a hound’s paw.’

     

    He hardly ever interacted with his sons, so he had forgotten that children’s hands are that small.

     

    A hand that seems to melt like the first snow if you hold it for too long.

     

    …Thanks to that, he couldn’t even escort her properly and let go of her hand roughly.

     

    How were her feet again? Isn’t it small enough to be placed on the palm of his hand? How the hell does she walk without falling over with those tiny feet?

     

    He regretted it a little bit later.

     

    ‘Did I bring something too small… ’

     

    The first thing to consider when forming a group is ranking. Family is no exception to that principle.

     

    Therefore, Latigre wanted a child younger than his youngest son, yet comprehensible. He thought a 10-year-old would be just right.

     

    ‘But, is a 10-year-old originally that small?’

     

    Latigre recalled the childhood of his sons. But there was no income. His sons just grew bigger every time I looked around—

     

    ‘…I’ve never touched my sons.’

     

    Far from hugging them or holding hands, he didn’t remember ever patting them on the shoulder. All he did was hold his wife’s torch for a while while she was breastfeeding their sons.

     

    Small, weak creatures that touched his arms. He was afraid that they would crumble, so I couldn’t hold it properly for even a second, and returned it to her wife.

     

    ‘Should I be glad she’s not as small as a newborn baby?’

     

    Well, other than that it wasn’t bad. She seems to get along well with his youngest son.

     

    ‘She also seems to be well quick-witted properly.’

     

    That child didn’t seem to want to be adopted by the Duke. When asked if she knew something to do, something like, “I’m good at burping” wasn’t an answer that was usually let out quick.

     

    He also liked the fact that she had black hair. It’s good to have something that resembles her brothers.

     

    ‘Will she do well in society?’

     

    Latigre imagined Sol’s future for a moment before shaking his head.

     

    At the most, it’s three or four years from now. Now in his head, he can only picture her putting on a dress and sweeping the hallway with the hem of her long skirt.

     

    …When Latigre laughed involuntarily in his imagination. Someone knocked on the door.

     

    “Father, can I come in?”

     

    It was the voice of his 15-year-old second son, Benén.

     

    “Come in.”

     

    Soon a boy entered the office.

     

    Black hair and blue eyes. Those are the colors of Schlager’s boys. However, is it because of his long limbs that have just entered puberty, or is it because of his particularly sharp eyes? He has a completely different atmosphere from his brother.

     

    Benén smiled broadly in front of his father.

     

    “You worked hard on your business trip, Father.”

     

    “Yeah. There isn’t anything wrong with the house, is there?”

     

    “Of course, as Father trusted and entrusted me, I managed not to let even a single mouse come in, but…”

     

    “But?”

     

    “…I wasn’t ready for a little guest at all.”

     

    As it was said, Sol’s adoption wasn’t planned. Of course, Benén believed that his father wouldn’t add a family member without a reason.

     

    “What did you bring that child for? Listening to the servants who met me earlier, she didn’t seem very cute.”

     

    “…She’s not cute?”

     

    “That’s what I heard. It’s the evaluation of rational servants.”

     

    “She’s small, though. Really small.”

     

    “‘Small’ and ‘cute’ aren’t synonymous.”

     

    “…”

     

    Latigre knew he had no ability to judge ‘cuteness’ in himself. It would be better to leave it to his clever second son.

     

    “Then this evening, you can see for yourself and judge what kind of child she is. And let me know.”

     


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