|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library|
Today’s breakfast is pancakes. By the way, yesterday’s lunch was pancakes too. Well, dinner wasn’t pancakes, but we essentially eat pancakes once a day.
Are pancakes simply the favorite food of our esteemed lady of the house, Ms. Christy, or do people in this country eat pancakes every day? I suspect it’s the latter. It’s a basic mix of ground flour combined with milk and eggs, though sometimes we incorporate buckwheat flour into the mixture. So, the food culture of this world isn’t precisely primitive.
Anyway, I spread butter over my pancake and drizzle some honey on it, dividing it into eight equal portions before I eat. However, something about this meal feels incomplete — not just its serving size. I always moderate my intake and stop before I’m full. This sense of incompleteness nags at me like a fishbone in my throat, and I attempt to wash it down with post-meal tea.
True to Ms. Christy’s character, who values frugality, even though we are aristocrats, we usually opt for the more affordable herbal tea instead of the pricier black tea.
“Hm? What’s the matter, Jill? Did you find something off about today’s breakfast?”
After observing my expression, Ms. Christy questioned me from across the table, sipping the same tea as mine.
“No, it was delicious. However, I’ve been pondering the idea of opening a cafe. My recipe utilizes a lot of butter, sugar, and honey. While we can manage butter, sweeteners are relatively costly.”
“Well, they aren’t as pricey as spices, but they aren’t cheap either.”
“I’m concerned this would be reflected in the product’s price… making it out of reach for the general public.”
“There’s no alternative. Confections are intended for aristocrats in the first place. Moreover, we aim to offer a product unavailable elsewhere.”
It appears Ms. Christy envisioned a shop catering to the upper middle class and wealthier customers from the outset. I had imagined a cafe where couples and friends could casually visit, but it seems the cost ratio obstructs that vision.
“…what do people generally use as sweeteners?”
Hoping to adjust my plan by using a cheaper alternative, I turned to Beatrice, the head housekeeper. She’s a graceful elderly woman with graying hair, standing by the wall. Incidentally, the head housekeeper role essentially serves as an overseer to all female servants, making her the second in command, only after Royce the steward.
“High-end sweeteners typically include sugar from the south, honey, and fruits. In more rural and farming areas, they often use sweet plants like sweet beets and licoresse. However, their flavors are distinct and can’t quite replace sugar or honey.”
She seemed to discern my intention. The prospect of using alternatives was dismissed with her response. I’m unfamiliar with these sweet beets and licoresse plants since I haven’t encountered them yet, but they might be this world’s equivalent of sugar beets and licorice.
I grumbled, but seeing me, Ms. Christy’s lips curled into a smile.
“How interesting. We can advertise our product better with that many different kinds of sweeteners. This has the potential to open a brand-new market. Jill, if you have something you want to try, go and take your shot!”
Take what shot? Stop giving me that thousand-suns-worth smile. I’m not some kind of protagonist in a gourmet manga who can solve everything with superhuman cooking skills!
“Well, putting the jokes aside,” Ms. Christy then switched back to her straight face, as if her eyes weren’t dead serious before… “Looking at the statistics, it seems that the tax payment rate of the northern pioneer village is quite low. The rates of the other villages vary across the board, but they are still above a reasonable level. Meanwhile, the northern pioneer village has been petitioning for tax exemptions and subsidies.”
“That’s odd. I don’t recall there being a cold summer or drought last year to hinder their productivity.”
Ms. Christy looked as confused as I was, her arms folded around her.
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“Well, the northern village’s main business is forestry. According to their account, the price of lumber and charcoal has dropped so significantly that they haven’t been able to bring in as much income as expected.”
“Is that really so?”
“I’m no expert in forestry, so don’t ask me. From what I gathered, though, the retail prices for lumber and charcoal shouldn’t have changed much.”
Hm, hm. It’s hard for me to draw a conclusion. I am as uninformed about forestry as she is, so I can’t discern who is being truthful. Seeing my brow furrowed in thought, Ms. Christy suddenly relaxed her shoulders.
“We’ll consider their petition for now, but we can’t just accept it without substantial reasons. I must act cautiously; otherwise, these village chiefs will perceive me as a cash cow for the taking. Thus, until further notice, this petition will be postponed. So, Jill, I’m sorry to burden you with this, but—” here it comes— “Would you be so kind as to deliver a letter of reply to the northern pioneer village on my behalf?”
Yeah, I saw this coming from a mile away. My shoulders sagged… I had no choice but to comply.
“Well, Curtiss the butler will accompany you, so you can leave the administrative work to him. Your role is to instruct Curtiss if anything unusual occurs and report back to me.”
Curtiss is one of the butlers at the main residence. He’s a dark-haired man, slightly over 30, who primarily assists Ms. Christy in her official duties.
She intends for me to subtly indicate that their petition is flawed — and, personally, she’d want a detailed account of the situation on-site. She’s showing commitment by sending a family member, but she might also aim to mitigate any potential hostility by dispatching a child (me). Essentially, she’s having me run a child’s errand.
However, if the situation were truly dire, then Ms. Christy would go there herself. So, it’s likely not as severe as the skeleton matter.
“I understand. I will respectfully undertake the task of delivering your letter to the northern pioneer village.”
“I’m counting on you. Honestly, there’s not much to do there besides enjoy the fall foliage. It’s not a tourist spot this time of year.”
Ms. Christy nodded appreciatively as she placed her cup back on its saucer.