Chapter 148: Shopping for the winter (123.1)
We were to meet at the Gilberta Company at the third bell of the day to shop for winter clothes, but Benno asked Lutz and I to come early to discuss winter preparations.
“What about Turi? Won't she be very bored while we're talking?”
“She can go and talk to Corinna about sewing.”
Turi's blue eyes lit up at Benno's words. When Benno rang the bell, a maid appeared and started upstairs with Turi.
“Anyway, I've already ordered two pigs this morning, and I've asked two people at the butcher's to help you. Without the help of experts, you inexperienced people are just going to mess up, right?”
“Really?! You've solved so many things in less than a day! Mr. Benno, you're so efficient! It's amazing!”
I clapped my hands and marveled. Benno gave me a smirk and puffed out his chest and said, “Praise me more.” I then had to order a lot of tools from him, so I lavished him with compliments.
“You are great! I admire you! If you can give me a discount, you will become more handsome in my eyes!”
“You fool, this is not possible!”
“Maine, you are too tactless.”
I was just trying to save some money. They could say no if they wanted, but why were they so shocked? Hum.
“As for the smokehouse, you can rent one any time during the next ten days. For preservation reasons, everyone wants to wait until late in the winter to process meat. So when do you want to start?”
Pork was a reserve food during the winter, so few people started processing it so early. Most of my neighbours started just before it snowed. Now only half of the bas.e.m.e.nt was cold enough, so I thought the storage was a bigger problem than the shelf life. The pork might be eaten in the middle of the winter.
“Let's start in three days. That's when father and Turi will rest.”
“Ok. I ordered the tools when we decided to work together, and most of them have been delivered. I can borrow them if you don't have enough, but don't forget to bring your own.”
“Thank you, Mr. Benno. Besides, these are the winter supplies for the orphanage, in addition to wood and food.”
Benno frowned as he looked at my list on the board.
“… that's a lot.”
“Since this is my first official winter preparation for the orphanage, I'm short of everything, and there are a lot of people…”
“But the orphans have survived before. There's no need to make special preparations, is there?”
I smiled guiltily at Lutz's words. In fact, this year I was just going to start with wood and food, and then gradually filled the other orphans' needs.
“But there's no way my family would agree that I'm not prepared to live at the temple. It's a totally unexpected expense.”
“You're right. After all, you faint a lot. It's normal for your family to worry about not being there for you.”
“If you want to live at the temple for a long time, you do have a lot less stuff in your room.”
Since I usually had lunch at the temple, I had no problem with cutlery, but I was noticeably short on toiletry and bedding, such as towels and sheets, and I only had quilts and no blankets. If I brought my stuff with me, the style would not match what the temple had, and my family was already short of supplies, so I had to buy new ones.
What's more, there was no carpet for autumn and winter in the room. I was told that the carpet left by the previous owner had become moldy and could not be used.
“Maine, I can lend you some money.”
“No! I won't borrow money from a friend. It may ruin the friendship.”
When the third bell rang, Fran appeared with the rest of the attendants. Everyone was wearing a gray coat for the outing. Because of the simplicity of the coat, if they could have worn a scarf or gloves to add a bit of personalisation, it wouldn't have looked out of place on the street, but now they were dressed in the same way and it was quite striking.
“Looks like we can't wait to buy clothes.”
“Right? Suddenly it seems to me that the coat is more important than the clothes under it. If they put on the coat, they can still wear the robe under it.”
No sooner had I said that than Benno shouted at me, “Hey, that's no good! You've got to buy them the whole outfit!”
“I'm just saying.”
“You must be serious about eighty percent of what you say.”
He had guessed right, so I turned from my face in embarra.s.sment and walked out of the Company, while Lutz ran upstairs to call Turi.
“Everyone can buy an outfit. Go find something you like.”
“At your command!”
Turi and Delia chattered happily as they wandered around the Children's Section. Lutz and Gil, who were about the same height, also compete when it came to choosing clothes. Rosina, who was already about the size of an adult, chose her clothes quietly and alone in the Women's Section.
“… Master Maine, is it really all right?”
Fran asked me in a nervous whisper, and I calculated the amount of money I had left. I gave him a rea.s.suring nod to show that there was no problem in buying clothes here. Taking this opportunity, I looked at the basket in his hand.
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“Money is not an issue, and if it's not enough, I'll sell some picture books. Go and help yourself to an outfit, Fran. When the weather gets cold, you'll need more clothes in your room.”
“Then why not print more? You can print many of the same picture books as long as you have pigment, right?”
“Ah… if you want to print picture books, you have to print them all at once.”
I hung my head in regret as I remembered my blunder. Benno raised his eyebrows, not seeming to understand me.
“When the pigment dried, the paper templates got out of shape and couldn't be used again. The templates were exquisitely engraved, and they weren't made of metal or wood, so the pigment on them could not be washed off, which made them disposable…”
A lot of paper was needed to make picture books, so my initial idea was to make 30 copies to see the response. What I didn't expect was that the templates we had invested so much in were disposable, and I cried at the time because I thought it was too wasteful.
“In the future, I will prepare a lot of paper in advance and then print all the picture books in one breath.”
“If you don't have enough paper, you can order it from my workshop.”
“… no, it's too expensive. I'll make it at the Maine Workshop and buy it from Lutz.”
I puffed out my cheeks unhappily, and Benno gave me a wry smile. Just then we heard the loud voices of Lutz and Gil, who seemed to be having a quarrel over the same coat. “I've already told you! It's mine!” Benno's cheek twitched.
“… Maine, go and reconcile them.”
I trotted in the direction of the brawl and saw Lutz and Gil arguing about the same coat. They were about the same height, so it was not like I couldn't understand them at all.
“You're making too much noise. Be quiet. It's very rude of you to disturb others.”
As soon as they saw me, they rushed at me, clutching the same coat.
“Maine, who do you think will fit this coat better, Gil or me? It must be me!”
“No! It would look better on me, Master Maine!”
They both bore down on me with fearful faces. I looked at the aqublue coat in their hands, sighed deliberately and shook my head.
“It doesn't fit either of you.”
They probably didn't expect me to give such an answer, so they both stared at me with round eyes.
It was not the style that didn't fit! It was that their pale hair color combined with an aqublue coat would only make it visually colder. It was fine for summer, but definitely not for winter.
“Lutz, didn't Mr. Benno say before? There are warm colours and cool colours. Which do you think is the colour of this coat? And what colour is better to wear in the cold winter?”
Lutz reacted quickly and let go, but Gil still held the aqublue coat and c.o.c.ked his head in confusion.
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