84-Episode 73 Food of the Nobles

Early morning.
At a time when even Nephrite was probably still asleep, I slipped out of bed and went down to the kitchen. There was someone I had to see.

'Hey, Yashiro-san. Good morning. You're early today.

In the kitchen was Ginette, who was up early as usual. I wondered if she was getting a good night's sleep.
And in front of Ginette, there is a bird.

'Wow, I thought Yashiro was definitely a sleepyhead. I've changed my mind.

It's a nepheline with a Showa-era flavor.
...... You can't beat a chicken, can you, waking up early.

I'm sure you'll agree. Today's eggs are this big.
'Isn't it great?

Ginette and Nepheli show me a basket full of freshly harvested eggs.
The eggs and the meat from the slaughtered chickens are delivered to the Sunken Pavilion through the Garbage Collection Guild, not through the Peddler's Guild. This is based on the first contract, and we are given priority in receiving the necessary amount of eggs.
We have discussed this with Assunto, and he has been flexible.
Momat and Delia also send food to the garbage collection guild. Otherwise, they wouldn't be able to donate.
Naturally, we also buy food from Assunto.
In order not to make a profit or loss for each other, we have discussed many times and found a compromise, and settled on the present form.
However, in case of crop failure due to climatic changes or disasters, we will take flexible measures.

And the guy I want to meet is this Assunto.

'Has Assunto arrived yet?
'No, not yet. I thought he'd be here by now. ......'
'I'm sorry, sir.
'Oh, speak of the devil, sir.

Ginette smiled and walked out into the courtyard.
She had been exchanging food in the front yard, but since the pantry was in the courtyard, she had built a kitchen door so that she could do so in the courtyard. ...... Umaro.
So, basically, we communicate with vendors in the courtyard and kitchen.

'Oh, that's unusual. Nice to meet you, Mr. Yashiro.'

A pig face looks at me with a friendly smile.
This guy has gotten a lot rounder since the incident. It's not just his ...... body, but his personality as well.
You can find a lot of people who are looking for the best way to get the most out of their life.
I've learned that if I imitate Mr. Yashiro, my business will go well,' he said. ...... I'm not giving advice to others.

'Assunto, do you have any sugar?
'Yes, we do. There's some fine brown sugar in there. ......'
'Oh, no. It's fine white sugar. Or granulated sugar.'
'............ Jo,u............ white sugar... ...'

The blood drained from Assunto's face.
'............ Could it be that I'm being wound up?If I have to pay off Yashiro-san for a luxury item like fine white sugar, ............ I'll go bankrupt.'
'You're a bad listener, you are!

Who said anything about taking money?

'If you have it, I want you to sell it. But first, I want to ask you about the market.
'The market? Is that so? The market?

He must have been very relieved. He sounded a little like a broken tape recorder.

'If it's white sugar, it's 80Rb for 10 grams.
'You've got to be kidding me!
'That's still the maximum discounted price!

Assunto's fright is real. I'm sure there's no lie in his words.
What the hell is that? ...... That's not the price of seasoning.
If you use about 100 grams to make a cake,...... a whole cake will cost 800Rb, and if you add cream, fruit, taxes and profits,...... If you add in the taxes and profits, you're looking at roughly 3000Rb. ...... It's not like you're eating dinner on a luxury cruiser. ......

'It's too expensive ......'
'It is said to be the food of the aristocracy.

Wiping the sweat from his forehead, Assunto replied.
'Food of the aristocracy, yes. ......

'Well, Mr. Yashiro. If you are looking for sweetness, don't you have enough brown sugar and honey?
'Well, there's no shortage of them. ......'

I can't make the cake I want, then. ......

I'm not sure if you've heard of it, but I'm sure you've heard of it.
I'm sure you'll agree that it's a great idea.

I've heard that the tax is determined by the amount of wheat used, so I'm planning to make rare cheese cake or Mont Blanc my mainstay at some point. We will also use rice flour to reduce the amount of wheat used.
But first I have to make a strawberry shortcake!

Because strawberry shortcake is the best cake of all cakes!

First, you have to be happy with the way it looks.
And the word "cake" must make you happy.
To achieve this, strawberry shortcake is a must.

And for that, I need the white sugar.

'In this case, I'm going to ...... barge into a sugar cane farmer's house and ...... show my skills as a garbage collector's guild.
'Oh, I don't think that's possible.

Assunto stops me before I can take action.

'That's nobleman's food. It is grown in the farmland controlled by the nobility and distributed by the nobility through the peddlers guild. There's no room for others to interfere.
'Is that so?'
'Yes. Even if they manage to get their hands on some sugar cane, only the sugar makers can refine it. And they can't make a living without getting wholesale sugar cane from the nobles. ...... We have no choice but to share the sugar with the nobles as they please.

They monopolize the sweet juice and sip it. ...... Only sugar.

'I've never eaten sugar before, either.

Neffery bent his beak into a crook. ............ You're handy, dude.

'Do you have a ginette?I've had them.
'A few times when my grandfather was around. ...... Not recently at all.'
'That's right. It's too expensive. ......'
'If that's the case, it's probably unavoidable. ...... But... If that's the case, then why is brown sugar in circulation?
'It's because it's refined in large quantities in the process of training sugar workers.

Assunto replies to Ginette's question.
In the process of training craftsmen to refine fine white sugar, they must be refining large quantities of brown sugar.
Brown sugar is not cheap, but it is distributed stably. The price is not unreasonable.

It is like 'top-notch brown sugar made by top-notch people, but top-notch white sugar made by top-notch people. Second-rate products are not distributed at all.

It seems to be made by sugar craftsmen who are more than apprentices and less than masters.

'Well, the sugar workers have their hands full trying to make a living, so it's hard to say if they'll cooperate.

According to Assunto, the sugar workers are divided into a number of groups, each with its own factory and its own way of refining sugar.
Each factory is allowed to decide its own selling price, and depending on the amount of sugar it produces, it sells the sugar to the peddlers' guild at a profitable price. The factories are also allowed to sell their products in stores.
So, what's the problem? ......

'The sugar cane is not coming in. The aristocracy gives only a very small amount of sugar cane to the factories in order to raise the price.

This limits the amount of sugar in circulation and raises the price. As the price rises, the price of sugar cane also rises, and the aristocracy can earn a profit. It also makes it possible for the nobility to monopolize sugar, keeping it out of the hands of the common people.
The reason it is called the food of the aristocracy is that the aristocracy manipulates the price and makes it food for the aristocracy to enjoy.

'If some factory lowers the price for the common people, ...... that factory will not be able to receive sugar cane from the next factory. The aristocrats want to monopolize sugar even to such an extent. Not only in terms of profit, but also in terms of consumption.
'Why do you have to do that ......?
'Maybe they think the sugar cane will run out. It takes a lot of farmland to grow sugar cane. Therefore, if the land is devastated by any kind of impact, it will be difficult to revive the next sugarcane field .......'
'Are they permanently reluctant to distribute the crop because of a possible crop failure?
'Yes, sir. Sugar is a seductive condiment that captivates people.

There are idiots.
There are idiots running around.

'Go to the peddlers' guild and confiscate the sugar cane.
'Oh, don't you know?The head of the peddler's guild is a nobleman, remember?
'What's that?The Peddler's Guild doesn't work for the common people, you declare?
'I'm not saying that the entire guild is like that. We, the lowly, put profits first. Oh, and trust is our number one priority.

You're lying.
You've got the look of a cheater.

'But it's unlikely that the peddlers' guild will pressure the nobles.
'You don't put pressure on the lords, do you?
'That's true. How many nobles do you think are unable to become lords?If the lord loses the trust of the people and is expelled from the lord's seat, the other nobles will have a chance.
'So the lord keeps getting pushed around by the other nobles?
'It's the fate of those in power.

So this city has a church, a royal family, a lord next in line, and the rest of the nobles are aiming for that position while gobbling up the blood tax of the common people.
d*mn, all of them are bad.

'But, this district is very livable, isn't it? There's also the fact that the people in the city are all nice. ...... What's the word? ......'

Neffery scratches his head, searching for words.

I'm not sure if he's having trouble coming up with words or if he's just wandering back and forth to the right and left.
...... I hope you didn't walk three steps and forget what you were thinking.

'The ability to focus on work is a unique feature of this ward. Many wards suffer from heavy taxation, or have conscription and other obligations imposed on their citizens.
'Yes, yes!That's it, that's it. We can only do our own work, so we can use our time effectively, and the taxes are very low in this district, aren't they?
'Unbeatable, I'd say. Well, but ......'.

Assunto looks at me meaningfully, and then breaks off.
I know what you mean.
District 42 is the bottom of the barrel. The other wards look at us differently just because of that.
People from other wards say, "Of course it's cheap. That's not a place for people to live.
Those who don't think so are people from the 42nd district and some people from the 40th district. The only people who don't think so are people from District Forty-two and some people from District Forty.

'So the lords here are doing quite well.
'I think so, too. I don't really think about taxes much, but that itself is thanks to the hard work of the lord.

The fact that you don't care about it means you're not suffering from it.
It's hard to recognize that being normal is a blessing in disguise.
...... Not long ago, these people were struggling to survive. They were not in a very normal state.
That's why you can see how grateful they are for the "normalcy" of today.
I think that's especially true for people like Nefari, who are very sensitive.

'The Lord of the Forty-second District is a unique person. He thinks of his people first and foremost, and tries to make his domain wealthy even at the cost of his own life. Ah, the lord of the forty districts is also quite a wonderful person. ...... However, he will not be able to compete with the lord of the forty-two districts.
'Is that a compliment or a mockery?Are you making fun of me?
'It's a compliment that you're stupid. In fact, it's foolish. To save others from starvation with your own money.'
'What?You know, .......''

Ginette's expression twisted at Assunto's words.
She opens her mouth in a slightly puzzled manner.

'Is it foolish to do something for others?I think it's a wonderful idea. ......'

Ginette, a devout Alvistan, could not understand what Assunto was saying.
But you know, that church you believe in is also profiting from its monopoly on staple foods.

'To take it to the extreme, if everyone is on the verge of starvation and there is only one loaf of bread, who do you think the lord should give that bread to?
'That would be ...... divided evenly among all of you, or .......'
'That way, everyone's lifespan will be extended a bit, and then they'll all be wiped out.'

I once said something similar to Yap Lock, a corn farmer: ......

'First, the leader must survive. Otherwise, the forty-two districts will perish. If there is a lord, at least the Forty-two districts will survive. Even if we cannot save those who are starving now, we can take action to prevent those who will starve later. If you look at history in the long run, those who can take such actions are the right ones.

It's not a good idea to let your immediate emotions get the better of you and wipe out .......

So, the lord of the forty-two districts is stupid and foolish as a lord.
'It's .............'
'But as a human being, he's the best.

I'm going to say what Jeannette probably wanted to say, and what she probably wanted to hear from me.
There are times when I want to think that way, not as a theory, but as a belief.

'A lord who tries to protect his people even at the cost of himself. It's not a half-hearted effort. He may lose his life or be kicked out by other nobles. Even so, I think it's cool for a lord to run around trying to make his people rich.
'Yes, yes!I think so too!
'That's why Assunto is saying that. 'That's why Assunto says 'stupid' is a compliment.'
'...... I see. So that's what he meant.

But that way of doing things seems to be protecting the people, but in fact it's putting them in danger.
If Estella's family is kicked out of the position of lord, and a new lord comes to rule the 42nd district, and he suddenly says 'increase taxes tenfold', the people of this district will all go bankrupt at once.
We must not forget that there is such a danger.
In order to prevent that from happening, it is necessary for the people to protect their lord.

Well, I'm going to help you as much as I can.

'But I don't want the lord to be overwhelmed, either.
'If the lord is going to be reckless, I'll take action.

It's not my place to let the 42nd district fall into chaos.

'I'll protect him.

And then...


--There was a loud noise in the cafeteria.

'What, what, what, what was that noise?

Neffery stretches his neck and looks around.
...... Ah, the chickens we had in elementary school used to move like this. ............

This is not the time to be nostalgic.

'From the cafeteria, right?
'Oh. Let's go check it out.

We all looked at each other and headed for the cafeteria together.
There was ......

'...... There it is: ............'

There was Estella, tumbling over the tables around her.

'What are you doing, man?

Estella jumps over the toppled table and retreats to the corner of the dining room.
Stop it, stop it!The table will fall over again!

'Yah!No, no, no, no, no!I've been trying to have breakfast with you guys for a while now,......, and I thought I'd help out with the donations,......, so I got my work done yesterday and came here first thing in the morning, It's a great way to make sure you're getting the most out of your money. I had no intention of eavesdropping, you know!

You chewed a lot for someone who didn't, you bastard.

'...... you, how long have you been listening?

My cheeks heat up slightly.

'Eh ............ and ............ 'The lords here are the best human beings. From .......'

You heard me, ............!

'And that ............ 'He's the one I've been ............ ...... and also .................."... ... aaaaah!I can't say more than that!

Holding her face, Estella runs out of the cafeteria at full speed.
I guess that's what it means to run like a rabbit.
The reddish ears seemed to be trailing a red light, such was her speed.

'...... What the hell was that?

I couldn't even say, 'I don't know'.
d*mn ...... Estella. ............ The timing was too bad.
It's not like she can say it because she's not listening. ...... Don't ask her that!

I'm not sure what to do.

'Hey, Yashiro?Isn't your face a little red?
'No, I'm not!
'No, but... Give me your forehead.

Then Nephrite puts his forehead on mine.
The bird's face is so close!I'm a little scared!

'Ouch!I'm sorry, I'm so .................. embarrassed!

Holding her face, Nephrite ran out of the cafeteria at full speed.
This is what it means to run like a rabbit.
It was such a speed that it seemed as if the red turban was trailing a tail of red light.

...... is rather unimportant.
I don't care.

'Well, well, well. I'm jealous of how lively your surroundings are, Yashiro-san.
'Shut up, Assunto. I'll make you cry.'
'Mmmm ...... scary scary. By the way, if you're so inclined, would you like to go see a sugar cane farm?There's a large farm in District 16.

District 16 is as far away as the diagonal from District 42.
Even if I went all the way to see it, it would be a waste of time if the aristocrats are not managing it well.

'I'd rather see the nearest sugar maker.
'If that's the case, there's a sugar factory in District 40. Would you like me to write a letter of introduction?
'Oh, yes, please.
'Then, ............ would you be willing to pay me when the sugar is cheaper?
'...... careless'.
'I'm a merchant.

I got a letter of introduction, but he wanted to talk to the other side first, so I won't visit the sugar factory until tomorrow.
I want to see it. Isn't there any way to make a breakthrough? ...... If there's nothing else, let's go to the sugar cane fields. ...... It might be hard to make a day trip to the 16th district.

Without much progress, the day ended without incident.

And that night, ...... that guy came again.

'Good evening, it's me.
'Natalia ......, isn't it becoming something of a routine for you to come here in the middle of the night?
'I have something I really need to ask you.
'What is it this time?

In the middle of the night, the head maid stands in the garden of the Sunlit Pavilion.
I don't know if she's a workaholic or a bored person.

'Actually, the lady said, "Let's tear down this house and build a sugar cane field for the sake of the people!Don't worry!No matter what hardships we face, I'm sure there's someone somewhere who can protect us!Aha! He began to talk about incomprehensible nonsense such as ......'.

'Hey there. You're losing respect for me.'

I don't care if you're a disappointment or a flat-chested girl, you're a lady. Don't forget that.

'So, before I could even think about what the cause might be, your face popped into my head, and I came to ask for an explanation.
'It's too much trouble to explain, so why don't you tie Estella up and lock her up in a warehouse for a few days. I'm sure she'll grow out of it.

...... or rather, Estella. You've been listening to me for a while now.
It's ...... getting a little difficult to see each other.

Let's go by ourselves for a while. I'll do that. I thought.