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3. If you want to put it in, you have to stand it up
Elise was in a particularly good mood today.
It was thanks to the sunny weather and unexpected gifts brought by Brie. It was as if the violent storm last night had never happened.
“Benji. Look at this.”
Elise spoke in an excited voice, showing Benji a full basket with a delicious scent wafting out.
“Doesn’t it look tasty?”
The large basket, where Elise could fit in, was filled with various foods, desserts, and even alcohol.
It’s been a long time since she had eaten only bread that looked like lumps of sawdust threatening to kill her via choking, but now her mouth was watering with the precious treasure that fell from the sky.
‘It didn’t fall from the sky but…….’
It was due to Elise’s stepmother having a luxurious party last night. According to Brie’s short explanation, she had hired a lot of famous chefs last night to hold an unusually big party, but half of the invitees did not attend.
Considering her stepmother’s origins and rumors, it was a natural result. The bad weather also played a part.
Perhaps she was the only one who didn’t expect it, but when the ambitious party ended poorly, her stepmother trembled with fury. The employees shared all the leftovers, saying they didn’t want to see it wasted, and then the meritorious Emma and Brie brought Elise a share as well.
When Brie left, saying that she had to go back quickly because she had been asked to eat together with someone, the food enough for the three generals became Elise’s.
“Benji. Let’s go outside and eat.”
It was a special day. The stepmother, who had been bothering her, had been dealt a humiliating blow, and her body felt refreshed thanks to her asceticism ending last night.
She especially liked the fact that she no longer had to avoid Benji. Therefore, on a good day like this, she had to go outside and bask in the warm sunshine and enjoy life.
“Take this and follow me!”
With a wide blanket in her arms to use instead of a mat, Elise left the annex. She was excited to eat her fill after a long time, with Benji following slowly as he held the large basket in one hand.
* * *
“It’s cool here,”
Elise said proudly as she sat on the blanket spread out on the open meadow in full bloom. It had been a place she hadn’t been to since she was a child. But she felt proud to revisit the perfect spot imbued with a sense of relief that she would never encounter anyone else here.
No one else knew or would have been able to imagine that there was such a beautiful meadow behind the coniferous trees surrounding the mansion like a barrier. It was the place where Elise had accidentally discovered while chasing her childhood dog.
“You can eat anything here, so eat as much as you want,”
declared Elise as she sipped from a bottle of wine. The problem wasn’t opening the cork, but that she had not brought a cup.
But it wasn’t just a cup. There was nothing because she had bolted out without thinking. Elise picked up food with her hands without hesitation, laying back on the blanket and looked at the clear sky. If someone saw her, she would have been scolded for her lack of etiquette, but fortunately, Benji was the only one here to bear witness.
“Oh, I’m full.”
She had vowed to eat a lot, but Elise could only finish two slices of ham. Because the ham dish was salty, she had sipped on wine instead of water, so she was drunk more than usual.
“It’s really, really good.”
‘This is heaven.’
As she lay languidly taking in the sun, she couldn’t help but burst into laughter.
‘I used to be like this often, but when was that?’
Before the death of Elise’s puppy. No, it was too big to be called a puppy. It was big enough for Elise to ride around on. Anyway, the precious dog, who introduced this secret space to Elise, would sneak out of the mansion and enjoy this time and space often before he died.
‘That’s right. The dog’s name was Benji.’
In fact, Benji next to Elise now was named after the dog. Benji, who had been by her side since she walked, was Elise’s only friend. When he was happy, he hugged him and kissed him around, and when he was sad, he hugged him tightly and stroked his fluffy fur.
Benji’s body temperature was more precious than any other consolation. They slept together every night and played together as soon as they opened their eyes. And one day, he died suddenly. She was old enough to understand death, Elise could not accept it.
Count Grande, who was famous for being a fool for his daughter, tried to sooth Elise and gifted her maids her age, as friends, but to no avail. Elise constantly wept, trying to find Benji.
Until one day the Count brought a child who looked just like Benji.
‘At first, I thought Benji was back alive.….’
At that time, Elise thought God really granted her wish. Thanks to this, Count Grande had to donate to the temple countless times at her urging.
‘Oh, it’s a shame. How much was that?’
Recalling the time Elise had given countless gold and silver treasures to the temple, she shook her head.
‘I should’ve kept some! Even if I save some money, I’m only doing good things for others!’
“Benji. Give me some cake.”
The greasy feeling had to be defeated with sweetness.
As she was still lying down on her back, opening her mouth like a baby bird, Benji put a finger full of cream into Elise’s mouth. It was unavoidable because there was no fork.
As she sucked on his big fingers supplied with a sweet taste, she remembered last night.