85-Episode 74 Raccoon at the Sugar Factory

We're at a sugar factory in the 40th district. But ......

'It's a very big factory.

I'm a little surprised to see Jeannette standing next to me.
So far, Ginette has been cooking at the sunny pavilion every day. Rain or shine, morning or night, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although she took a break during the ...... renovation.
So, Jeannette could not go out anywhere.
And now she's coming with me to the 40th district.

'It's so exciting to be able to show you the inside of this place.

Her big eyes sparkled like an elementary school student on a social studies field trip.
Do not shout and do not run in the facility. And don't touch anything in the facility.
--I remember being told all of that. Factory tour.
I went to see a factory that made candy. I remember getting a candy ball on the way home.

'Haaaa......, I've actually been so excited since last night, I haven't been able to sleep at all.'

I know.
I could hear you walking around even at the time when you would normally be asleep.
But I'm sure you went to bed before I did, because I made sure it was quiet.

'I'm sorry. I'm afraid I've been a bit selfish.
'No, it's fine once in a while. In fact, if you don't change the system so that you can take a break from the cafeteria like this, the Sunken Pavilion won't last long.

If we leave it to Jeannette all the time, it will go bankrupt someday.
All it takes is for Ginette to get sick, and the restaurant won't be able to open.
That's why we need to start getting used to it little by little.
So, we need to get used to it gradually, so that someone other than Ginette can run the store.
And so that Jeannette can accept the situation.

You seem to be worrying about the sunny side up all day. Well, that can't be helped.

'...... Will you be all right, Magda and the others......'


'We're fine. I've limited the dishes I'm going to make, and I've already prepared them. They'll be fine for at least one day.'
'Yes, of course. I trust you all.

Magda was to be the leader today, supported by Loretta and Delia.
I told Delia that I would treat her to a sweet treat later.
The fruit honey bean is now ready. I was making ...... Anmitsu, and that's what I ended up doing. ......Anko is unexpectedly difficult. It's a bit like ...... losing out on the taste of the Imagawa-yaki you ate the other day. ...... You can't serve something half-baked like that. Is it the azuki?I'm not sure if it's the red beans or the chemistry with the red beans?The brown sugar didn't taste as good as I expected.
If you have access to white sugar, you can even make bean jam. ......

'I hope you can find some white sugar .......'
'Well, I'm not holding my breath.

'Well, I don't expect that we will be able to get sugar any time soon after I visited the factory today.
I just wanted to get a chance to do something.
Just a small chance to break through the current stalemate.

'Hey. Are you the people Mr. Assunto was talking about?

As I was looking up at the factory, a voice called out to me from behind.
I turned around and saw a thin, light-skinned man standing there.
His eyes were black. ...... A raccoon? It's kind of a strange look. ...... Is it a feminine man in the beast race?
The other thing that bothers me is that this brother has a long, thin plant stem in his mouth.
In the old manga, the gang leader had a mysterious leaf in his mouth. ...... Is this like that?

'Oh, this?It's sugar cane. It's much sweeter when you sit on it like this.

It gives the impression of being frivolous and flirtatious, like some kind of host. ...... I feel something fishy. What's with this guy?

You are Percy Laird?
'Hmm, yes.'

Laughing, Percy held out his hand to me.
We shook hands lightly, and Percy raised his eyebrows for a moment.

'Are you a craftsman?
'No. I'm an employee of the cafeteria.
'Do you peel potatoes or something?
'I'm in charge of business strategy.
'Wow, you've got thick skin for a .......'

He's looking at the details.
He may have asked for a handshake to find out. Is ...... that too much to think about?

'Are you ...... Mr. Percy a raccoon human race?'
'Hmm. That's right. Also, can you please stop calling me Mr. Percy?I don't know what's wrong with my throat. It makes me go 'Yee!

A man without clothes.
Free in a way.
Rude in a way.
Either way, he seems to be a man who holds himself firmly and unwaveringly.

'Um... I'm Ginette, the manager of the Sunlit Pavilion.'

Ginette holds out her hand.

'Oh, no. I don't want to shake your hand. My hands are really dirty right now.
'What? You don't look like you'd mind getting your hands dirty, do you?
'I don't want to!You're as clean as if you were born and raised in a sterile room!
'Hahahaha, it doesn't suit your face'.

...... This guy. He's rude to a fault.

'Actually, I just picked up some radishes in the field.
'Do you have a vegetable garden?
'Yes, I do. I can't make a decent living with just a sugar factory.


'Isn't the sugar factory for the nobles?
'That's only for a handful of factories at the top.'

He showed his white teeth and let out a bitter laugh.
He waved his hand, ...... and sure enough, there was dirt on it. Both hands were covered with dirt.
When I looked at my own hands, they were black with ...... dirt. ............ Good evening.

There were three radishes on the colander. All of them were skinny, and not very good at all.
With such thin radishes, "radish's foot" would be a compliment. White and thin.
However, the radish is covered with soil, so the white is only on the leaf side.

'Hey, bro. Did you have a visitor?...... ah'

A girl comes out of the factory.
She looks very simple, with triangular ears on her head.
Maybe it's because of the simple clothes she's wearing,......, but she looks like a country girl who went to the city and got cheated by a bad host and had her life ruined.
So. She's thin, flirtatious, and halfway good-looking. ...... She's the type of girl who would be swindled by a guy like Percy, for example.

'Young lady. This man is dangerous. You should stay away from him.'
'Um, ...... that's my brother, ......?'
'What the hell? Are you still mad at me for putting mud on your hands?'

No. I'm just trying to straighten out a naive girl so she doesn't throw away her life paying tribute to a pimp.

Excuse me. You two are brother and sister, aren't you?
'Yeah. She's my sister, even though she's quite a bit older. She's pretty cute, right?

...... 'Mabu'.

'Yes. I think she's very ugly.'

Can you understand me?

Mabu-itchi is a word meaning 'cute' that was used by the Yankees in the 80s.
'Forced translation magic', that's playful magic.

'Molly. I want you to go home and wash these radishes.'
'Yeah, but ......'.
'Just do it.'

Percy glanced at me.
'What's ...... that?It was a wary look.

'Because you're pretty. I just don't want other guys to see you like this.'
'You're a sissy-con!
'Yeah, right?Is that bad?'

Not bad, but ............

'Is it all radishes tonight?'
'No way. I'll eat one and save two for later.'
'How did you do that?
'How? ...... It's normal. You wash them and put them in a cool, dark place.
'Oh, you do that?
'What's the matter with you?Don't you know anything about that?

I give Jeannette a look.
Jeannette looked troubled for a moment, but I made her shake her head and swallow the words she was about to say.

'Come on, you don't care about radishes, do you?Just look at the factory. I don't have as much time as I'd like.'
'That's right. By the way, can I have one of those thin ones?

I pointed to the thin cane that Percy kept sucking on.

'That's impossible. You can't give away sugar cane to outsiders.
'I see. Too bad.
'Well, just give up.

Percy claps me on the shoulder with a muddy hand.
Stop it. You'll get your clothes dirty.

'Oh, Yashiro-san. My clothes are .......'
'Oh, I'm sorry!

Percy seemed surprised by Jeannette's words, as if she hadn't meant to offend him.
He scratched his head and explained with a smile.

'Oh, Mr. Percy!You've ...... got mud in your hair!
'What?Oh, no!Oh, shit!

...... Is this guy stupid?

........................ is he trying to make us think... ......... No, it's not.
It's because you're doing something you're not used to doing.

'Hey, bro, give me your head.
'No, thanks. I'll do it myself.'
'You can't because your hands are covered in mud.'
'Oh, ......, I see. I'm sorry.'
'Hey, bro. You promised not to say anything about it.'

A poor tenement's promise of father and son.

'Yashiro-san... I'll remove the soil.

Ginette walks up behind me and removes the dirt with a gentle hand.

'I'm sorry, Mr. Ginette. I'm sorry I'm in such a state. ......'
'What?What's wrong?What do you want me to say?'

I guess they won't pick me up even if I'm reckless. Well, there's no such thing as a historical drama in this world.

'It cost you a lot of money just to ask for sugar cane.

I said jokingly, and Ginette let out a giggle.

'That's true. It's a good example of how not to be greedy.
'You're that interested in sugar cane, aren't you?

I smile at Percy, who has joined our conversation.
...... A little, provocative, smile.

'I'm just curious to see how sweet ...... a cane that hasn't even grown enough is.'
'What about ............?'

Percy's expression clouded.
A hint of hostility turns towards us.

'Sugar cane accumulates sugar in the stalks as it is exposed to sunlight. In other words, the bigger it grows, the sweeter it becomes. I was a little curious to see how sweet such a thin cane would be before it grew up. ...... Too bad.'

The smirk that had been on Percy's face disappeared.
It looks like you've hit a sore spot.

Or did he just reaffirm that I'm not the only one?

Just like you did with the first handshake.
Do you want to reexamine your options?

'My brother ...... that guy ......'
'Molly. You should go home.'

'But ......'.
'It's okay.'
'My brother's an idiot and I'm worried about him.'
'You're a little harsh, aren't you?

The expression on his brother and sister's face was casual and ...... quickly returned to a stern expression.

'Just go home.'
'...... Yeah. Don't do anything rash.'
'I know.'

Molly pulls away from Percy and walks away with the radish with the soil.
She stroked her face once with a dirt-covered hand, and Percy tried to sound cheerful.

'Well, I'm embarrassed to show you.

You're early.
You've already constructed an excuse. He's used to spouting ...... lies.
He's just on the edge of being able to lie ...... without getting caught by the Judgment of the Spirits.

You're right, he's not too naive. But it has a familiar taste to me. It's a habit for me to suck on it. And it's not sweet at all, you know?

Percy tells me as he flicks the thin stem in his mouth with his finger.
He must have decided that I was the one to talk him into it.

'We've been poor since we were kids. Even this was very sweet to me at the time. You know what it's like, don't you?You know what it's like to be a man without money.

I told you in advance that I was a resident of the 42nd district.
That's why I said 'you know what it's like.

So it's not a lie. Please understand. I didn't mean to offend you.'
'Um, Yashiro-san, ......'

Percy apologizes, and Jeannette looks at me anxiously.
I know. I don't mean to make things worse.

''No, I'm just really curious. I was wondering if there's a special kind of sugar cane in the forties that's sweet enough before it grows. But I guess it doesn't work that way.
'Haha!There's no such thing as dreamy sugar cane.
'I see. Too bad.

We exchanged light smiles, and the atmosphere softened for a moment.

After that, we were led to the sugar factory, but there was no one inside .............
The sugar production lines were lined up, but there were no employees there, and it was quiet.

'I'm sorry. I really wanted to show you how we work, but the cane hasn't come in yet. The factory is closed today.

In a large workshop the size of a gymnasium, there was a long, narrow desk, a large kamado, a huge pot, and a lot of other equipment that I couldn't understand.
At the moment, all of them are in a standby state.

'How long has the sugar cane not been coming in?
'It's been about three months now. ...... Something must have upset the nobleman.'

Percy said with a fed up look.
Three months? ............ The temperature in the room seems high for that. You can feel the faint warmth of the room, as if it had just recently ...... been used to build a large fire here until yesterday.
And the tools are too clean.
The factory is closed, but they clean it frequently?Just the siblings in this huge factory?Or is the factory shut down, but the employees come to work to clean?
That's impossible.

One conclusion.
The factory was operating. Yesterday ...... at least three days hadn't passed since it was shut down.
That's what Percy's trying to hide.

'Even with such a big factory, what they do is simple.

Percy explains as we walk through the factory.

'You grind the cane and collect the juice, heat it to make crystals, remove impurities, heat it again, filter it, crystallize it, and ...... repeat that process several times, and that's what you get sugar.

The manufacturing process is surprisingly simple.
However, it requires a lot of skill and cannot be imitated by amateurs.
It can only be done with such facilities.

Therefore, there is no problem in teaching it to others.
There is no way to steal the technology.

'Well, that's about it, but do you have any questions?
'I can't ask any more questions if I can't see the work.
'That's right. Bad timing.
'That's true. I'll come back later. Ginette.
'Yes, sir.
'Shall we?

'Yes, sir.

Deciding that there was no point in staying here, I decided to take Jeannette with me and leave the factory.

'I'm sorry I couldn't show you something better.
'No, it was a good show.

Percy looked somewhat relieved.
We shook hands one last time and left the sugar factory.

After leaving the factory, ...... we quickly hid ourselves.

'That ...... Mr. Yashiro,' he said.
'Too many strange things have happened, haven't they?
'Yes, sir.'

Hide in the shadows of the alley, where you can see the sugar factory.
There's something secret about that factory.
And Percy was trying so hard to hide it.

There were just too many lies.

'First, the radishes.'
'Yes. If you're going to preserve radishes, they'll last longer if you keep the soil intact. Besides, the leaves absorb water from the radish, so it is common sense to cut them off before storing them.
'Besides, you said to store them in a bed.

Long, thin root vegetables such as radishes and carrots should be stored upright.
Could it be that I just didn't have the knowledge?
How could two poor, needy siblings not know how to preserve their food?

'And, crucially, their hands are covered in mud.

Percy's hands were stained with dirt.

'But isn't that because you've been pulling out radishes?'
'Jeannette. What do you do when you pull out radishes?'
'How ...... do you say, ......?'

Ginette also grows radishes in her vegetable garden.
Recalling the time when she pulled out the radish, she answered my question with a gesture.

'Hold the root of the radish by the base of the leaf, rotate it to the left, and pull it out at once, along with the soil.

Radishes grow their roots while 'rotating' as if following the sun. In other words, like a drill or a screw, it is twisting clockwise as it sticks into the soil. ...... Of course, they are not as twisted as they appear to the naked eye.
Therefore, if you hold the base of the leaf and rotate the radish in a counterclockwise direction, as if you were pressing down on the soil, it will easily come loose.

'With a spoon.
'That's right. It's relatively easy to pull out by doing so.
'So, at what point does the hand that was holding the base of the leaf get dirty?'
'Oh, ......!

Percy's hands were 'too dirty' with soil.

'Didn't you brush the dirt from the radish?
'You did, but you didn't brush the dirt off the radish. You didn't brush it off.'
'Yes, I did. ...... Then I dug up the dirt with my hands. ......'
'A guy who's been poor since he was a kid and has a vegetable garden doesn't know how to pull out a radish?
'...... That's weird.'
'Besides, he wasn't used to getting mud on his hands.

The reason he was randomly touching my head and soiling my clothes was because he didn't normally do things that would get mud on his hands. The reason why he was touching my head and soiling my clothes was because he didn't usually do anything that would get mud on his hands. He didn't have it in his head what not to do or what not to do when he got mud on his hands.

'That alone is enough evidence for me to believe that he did it on purpose to get mud on his hands.
'I see. ......'

In other words, Percy has never worked in the fields before.
He probably leaves it to his sister.
And yet, he acted as if he had pulled it out himself.
It was probably a manipulation to make us think that there was no money in this sugar factory.

Why did they do it? ...... There is only one answer.

There is only one answer. They have a way to make a profit that they don't want anyone to know about.

The inside of the factory looked like something that had been in operation and had to be shut down suddenly.
These guys are making sugar.
But for some reason, they don't want us to know about it.

If we can figure it out, maybe we can get our hands on some sugar.
We might be able to find the trigger we thought we'd never find.

That's what I was thinking as I looked at the sugar factory.