81-Episode 70 Flowers and Sweetness

'Um, Yashiro-san. Do you have a minute?

One afternoon, the peak of the day had passed, the increasing number of customers had been dealt with safely, and a calm time had finally arrived. It was tea time, just one hour before the final bell. It was at this time that Ginette approached me. ......

'Actually, I have a favor to ask you.
'What is it?'

I was hollowing out a fruit into a star shape using a mold I had asked Norma to make for me.
The rabbit apples turned out to be a disaster, but the star and flower shapes seemed to be well received by these guys, so I decided to incorporate them into the menu.
By the way, I'm making mitsumame now.
It seems that white sugar is too expensive to be sold in the restaurant. However, we can get brown sugar somehow. That's why I'm making mitsumame.
The other day, when I visited Homer, a rice farmer, I found some glutinous rice, so I ground it into powder and made shiratama.
I also made agar-agar. The nets of the Sea Fishing Guild, which are being renovated by Loretta's brothers, have been catching seaweed among other seaweeds.
This is like being told to make honey beans. It was a revelation.

'Oh, it's pretty. It's a star.
'Do you want some?
'Well, let's go to ............ and see.

The 42nd district is absolutely lacking in sweetness.
That's why there are no customers at the height of tea time.
It's a pity that we don't have the custom of having a snack at three o'clock. ......

'Oh!That's right.

Ginette swallowed what was in her mouth in a panic and caught her breath.
When she turns to me, she straightens her back and speaks to me with a squishy smile.

'I'd like to go pick some flowers, can you watch the store for me?
'Flowers ............ Oh, the bathroom. You don't have to tell me every single thing like that, just go .......'
'Oh, no, no, no, no!

Picking flowers is a secret word for a toilet, right?

'You know, actually, after this ......'

Just as Jeannette was about to say this, the door to the cafeteria opened.
......, but no one came in.
Only a fresh breeze flowed into the room through the open door.

............What?It's kind of scary. ......

'Oh, I see you're here already.
'You're here?
'I forgot to tell you this morning,......, Millie. Please come in.'

As Ginette called out to the door, a small head peeked out from the side of the door.
It was a cute little girl with little antennae on her head.

It's a great way to make sure you're getting the most out of your vacation. ............ What's this?

Ginette let out a wry smile.
It's like a girl's version of Umaro.
I wonder why. It's so much more charming and adorable when it's a girl. ...... On the other hand, Umaro is ...... not that guy. He's a bit of a jerk. He should be excommunicated from the association. ............ That's a good thing, isn't it?

It's a good thing. It's okay.
'............ Hmmm...'

'Your voice is too small!

Then, a minimalist girl named Millie walked into the dining room with a timid movement that perfectly fit the word 'timid'.
The way she walked slowly, she looked like a karakuri doll. She approached us with a jerky, clattering, and awkward behavior.
She wears unadorned clothes and has short, fluffy cat hair. Its round, slightly drooping eyes remind me of an upright red panda.

'Are you a red panda mankind?
'No.' 'No. Millie-san is a member of the Nanahoshi-Tentou human race.
'...... Isn't that too much subdivision?'
'What do you mean?'

No, well... I don't care if it's common knowledge in this town that it's so finely divided,......, but it could be more broadly classified as the ladybug people, or even the insect people.
If there are ladybugs, does that mean there are also ladybugs, ladybugs, and ladybugs?
Can you tell them apart?

You can't tell them apart. I'm sure you'll be surprised. I'm not sure if it's a good idea, but it's a good idea. I'm not sure if you've heard of this, but I'm sure you've.
...... I'm so scared of you.

But it is really small.

It's smaller than Magda. About 120 cm.
But I can't see anything that looks like a ladybird. The only thing I can see is a pair of antennae on its head.

'Does it have wings or something?
'Huh, ......................... It's ............, not .......'

It's a whisper, just like the buzzing of a mosquito.
Is this a thing?

'So, Yashiro-san. I should have told you earlier, but it took me a while. ......'

Jeannette bows her head. But she has a happy look on her face.

'I'm thinking of going flower picking with Millie-san.
'You're taking me out?
'No, I'm not!

Because of Jeannette's sudden loud voice, Millie's shoulders shook and she jumped up lightly.
Don't tease her, you poor thing.

You know what? I've been a close friend of Millie's from the Flower Arrangement Guild for some time now, and she's very important to me.

How can you be so close to someone who is so shy?
I'm not sure if you've heard of it, but I'm sure you've heard of it. It's not that they don't like you, but ...... it's a bit hurtful.

You'll be able to find a lot of people who are interested in this sort of thing.
'Oh, ........................'.
'Yes, what is it?'

Millie pulls Jeannette's hem a little bit, and Jeannette puts her ear close to Millie.
Ginette nodded her head in agreement as she was told something.

'It seems that they grow flowers in their facilities, but they also manage the entire forest to grow flowers. The forest we're going to is managed by the Flower Arrangement Guild.''
'I see. So they manage the flowers in their natural state.
'Ah, ...................'
'Huh?............ Yes. Yes. ....... Looks like it.'

What a pain in the ass, talking to this guy. You always have to go through Ginette to get a response.

'So, may I ask for the ...... store?
'Oh, go ahead. You won't get any customers until the evening anyway.'
'Thank you, sir.

Ginette was smiling, happy to be going out.
Picking flowers while chatting with other women. It's fine. Go ahead.

I'm not quite Jeannette's level, but I can cook. I invented a lot of the dishes in the first place. It won't be a problem.

'Well, I'm off.
'Ah, ............'

When Jeannette bowed, Milly followed suit and bowed her head.
It looks like a comfortable size to sleep with.

Millie followed Jeannette to the exit. There was nothing attached to her back, nothing that was truly typical of the Euphorbiaceae.
It seems a bit plain.
...... Oh, that's right.

I'm not sure what to say.
I'm not sure what to say.

When I called her name, she jumped up and let out a strange cry. ...... You don't have to be so surprised. ............

...... Will you stop looking at me like I'm a s*xual predator who's after little girls?

'Don't take care of Jeannette. Watch her and make sure she doesn't wander off.

If they were going to the forest managed by the Flower Arrangement Guild, Millie would probably know more about the forest than I did.
Ginette seems to be solid, but there are things that are missing,......, or rather, there are things that are missing. There is no part of her that is not missing.
If you don't keep an eye on her, you never know where she might go.

'Mmm, that's terrible, Mr. Yashiro. That makes me look like a child. ......'

I'm sure it's similar.
Jeannette puffed out her cheeks in disapproval.

'............Miri,big sister......'

It seems that she was happy to be relied on.
Well, if you're that size and that shy, you'll probably be treated like a child wherever you go.
Young children are happy to be treated like big sisters. I guess that's where that smile comes from.

..................... and ......... .,......, let me ......!

Her cheeks turn red and she struggles to keep her voice down.
She smiles at me like that.

I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I'm not the only one who's had it.

It must be quite rare.
Ginette's eyes widen.
How shy are you, usually......

'Well, I'm off.
'Oh,............, I'm off.'

After looking back again at the door and bowing, Ginette and Milly left the cafeteria.
The door closed, leaving me alone in the dining room.
Magda and Loretta have gone to support the stall.
There are no customers.

Even though I'm still experimenting, I'm beginning to feel that there's no point in staying here and making honey beans that no one will eat.
So I decide to make something that just occurred to me.
I take out the thin and light steel plate I got from Norma's place and start to process it. I use a hammer and an iron rod with a rounded tip like a pencil - a punch - to bend the steel plate.
The tip of the punch is placed on the steel plate and struck with the hammer. Originally, the punch was used to mark the area to be drilled, but if you are careful not to apply too much force, you can make an uneven surface on a flat iron plate like this. This is a technique used to make tinplate signs.

I repeat the humble work with the sound of metal clanging.

'Well, that's about it.

In front of me, there is an iron plate that looks like a ladybug the size of the palm of my hand.
It looks like a large badge with a little more bulk. It is also about that light.
Then I colored it to make a vivid ladybird.
Now that I'm satisfied with the result, I move on to the finishing touches.

I took out a teardrop-shaped steel plate with a strong warp.
The first thing I made when I got a scrap piece of iron from Norma's mold shop was this "patching clip".
This is the thing that little girls use to fasten their hair. It's a popular accessory that can be attached with a single touch.

Attach this to the Eclipsed Ladybird and you have the ............ Eclipsed Ladybird Hair Clip.

Well, there's no need to show off how many people you are, but since Millie didn't look too much like a Nanahoshitentou, I felt like making one.
More importantly, I'm sure I'll be getting to know the Flower Arrangers Guild better in the future.
Ginette wants to make a flower bed, ............ and I have a vase that I made, ...... and I'm sure they'll be more than happy to help us out in the future if we give them this kind of attention. It's an investment. It's an investment.

While I was satisfied with my good work, Estella came to the sunny pavilion.
As soon as she opened the door, she asked, 'Where's Ginette?Where's Jeannette? She looked around the restaurant.

'I'm sorry to hear that. I'm all alone now. If you want to eat Ginette's home cooking, come back later in the evening.

However, it seems that Estella's business was not about the food, and she looks a little troubled.

'I need you to submit some documents to ....... Well, I can just give them to you later.

I looked at Estella, she was holding a rolled up piece of paper.
It looked like a rather expensive piece of paper. Is it a contract of some kind?

'This month is Ginette's birth month. I need you to update your age.'
'Every year, the residents have to submit the documents in the month of their birth.
'Do I have to update it myself every time?That's a hassle.'
'You have to write your age on many of the documents for stores and jobs. The landlord has to certify that the age is correct.

I wish it was automatically renewed like in Japan.
I didn't even want to renew my driver's license.
Do the residents of this city have to go through such tedious procedures every year?

.................. Hmm?

'Is Jeannette's birthday this month?
'Yes, it is. I think it's around the end of next week?
'You should have told me that first!

Oh, shit.
I didn't prepare anything.
I shouldn't have been making hair clips for ladybugs.
I have to prepare a present for Jeannette. ......

'...... What are you in such a hurry for?
'Well, because I haven't made any preparations.
'What preparations do you mean?Documents can only be accepted in your own handwriting.
'It's not about papers, it's about birthday preparations. Presents, parties...'

Well, there's no cake in the 42nd district.
What should I do?Can you make it with brown sugar?

'............ What does a party have to do with birthdays?

Estella gives a sullen look of 'I don't understand'.
'............ What, no?Like a birthday party.

'In my country, we all celebrate the day the person was born. ......?'
'Why?Everyone who is alive, of course, has a day of birth, right?Why do we need to celebrate it in a special way?'

That's a serious tone.
This guy really doesn't get it.

There is no custom of celebrating birthdays in this town.

'Don't you eat cake or something?
'A cake?You'll go bankrupt if you eat something that expensive just for your birthday.
'Is it that expensive?
'It's expensive. First of all, sugar is a luxury item.'

Well, that's true. You can get brown sugar a little cheaper, but it's still expensive.
It's a city lacking in sweetness.

'If we don't celebrate birthdays, what else are we going to celebrate?
'I celebrate marriages and births. We also celebrate employment and the first year of employment. In many industries, wages increase in the first year.

In other words, people celebrate when their lives improve, such as when they start a family or get a wage.
It may be reasonable to say so.
But it's also a bit tasteless.

............ This guy smells like money.

'Yashiro ...... has eyes like a bad man.
'Take a good look and remember. These are the eyes of a money-grubber.'
'Can't you think of anything but ...... money at all?
'Are you asking me to die?
'...... Are you going to die if you don't think about money, are you?

If there is no reason to live, one is as good as dead, isn't he?

'Money, money, money, ...... you're a dullard, aren't you?

This is a great way to make sure that you are getting the most out of your investment.
You can find a lot more than just a few of these in the market.

'It's .................. so cute!

Estella covers the table with her head and stares at the hair clip. Her eyes are glittering.

'Did you make this, Yashiro?
'Yeah. I thought I'd give it to someone.
'I want you to give it to me!How much do you want?How much do I have to pay you to give it to me?
'Money, money, money. You're a greedy bastard, aren't you, ......?

I can't do that. I'm afraid not.

'No, no, no. ...... I don't know who you are, but ......... you can't keep a pretty thing like this all to yourself. ...'

I've never heard of a culture where people share hair clips. Even if you're close to your sisters, don't you have your own hair clip?

'Do you want it so badly?
'Yes, I do!Well, it doesn't have to be a ladybug, but ......'
'For example, what kind of shape do you want?'
'Let's see, ............ a shiitake mushroom.'
'Yeah, ...... what's your hobby?
'Yes, it's good!They're delicious and have a pretty shape, don't they, shiitake?

I wonder if ...... shiitake mushrooms are ............
Estella, is it possible that you have bad taste?

'Well, I can make you a shiitake hair clip. ......'
'Are you sure?
'How about one that looks like a small shiitake mushroom nestled next to a large shiitake mushroom?
'Hoooooo!That's so cute, I can just imagine it!It's like 'you're the big shiitake, I'm the little one'?
'No,......, a couple that can be compared to shiitake mushrooms is very subtle,......, but if it's fine with you, then it's fine.
'This is ............ too much fun!

Well, you can make a few of these, so you can at least make them.

'I want to eat a cake.
'............ buy me a drink?'
'........................Cake, huh... ...'

Just now, he said it was a luxury item.
I suppose it's not a food that I'm willing to treat myself to.

But I want to know the level of cakes in this world.
It will greatly change my behavior in the future.

'.................. Imagawa-yaki means ......?
'It's a cake. It's a cake on your birthday.'

'So, why a cake for a birthday?
'It's a custom in my country. Anyway, I'd like to try some cake in this city.
'.................. but... ......'

He's very reluctant.
If that's the case, why don't I make you a hair clip made of eringi mushroom or bunashimeji mushroom in addition to shiitake mushroom?Would that convince you?

'Please go eat with me, please.
It's a good idea....... together?'
'Yeah. It's better to go out to eat than to have someone buy it for you.

...... I'd like to keep this a secret from Jeannette, just in case.
If she decides not to buy a cake, she might be more or less shocked. I don't want her to feel that disappointed on her birthday.

'......, the two of us?
'Yes, I guess so. If it's expensive, it's probably better.
'...... When do you want to go?
'How about tomorrow?Can you make it?'
'I'm fine!I'm fine! I'm fine!I've got work to do, but I'm going to throw it all away!'
'No, ...... do the work. We're working on the sewage project in District Forty and the city gate project in District Forty-two. ......'
'Yes!It's really hard work!So I think it's okay to reward myself!

I don't know what it is, but Estella is suddenly on fire.
...... You never know where it might ignite.

'Well, tomorrow!Let's go eat cake!We'll have to go out to the 40th district, are you okay with that?
'Do we have to go that far? ............ It can't be helped. Then let's meet at the central square.

Estella nodded with an angelic smile.
I'm sure he wants to eat cake, too.

'By the way, ......'.

Estella clasps her hands behind her back and begins to squirm.
She glances at me with a prying, upward glance.

'Which do you prefer ......, a skirt or pants, Yashiro?'
'You mean, do you wear skirts or not?'
'No!I mean pants, not skirts.
'Oh, that's ...... confusing.'
'You're the only one who thinks so there, .......'
'I don't think it matters either way. ............ Well, maybe a skirt. I'll tell you what.'
'All right!'

I'm not sure if it's a good idea, but it's a good idea.
Then turn around before the door.

'See you tomorrow. We'll meet at the central square at the time of the morning bell!
'That's too early!
'Don't be late!

Estella said the last word forcefully and left.

I mean, ...... is meeting at eight in the morning?
Well, if you're going to the 40th district, you have to leave around that time.
It can't be helped. Research is a very important factor.

And so, my new plan began to move slowly and without anyone knowing.