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“Hey, what happened? What’s with your face?” (Cuffe)
Cuffe, who was in the CEO’s office, looked at my face with a suspicious expression.
“Somebody pinched my cheeks.” (Yuri)
“Was it that troublesome guy?” (Cuffe)
The troublesome guy Cuffe’s talking about is probably Dolla, whom we had talked about before.
“No, when I told a dirty joke to Her Highness, she got unreasonably angry.” (Yuri)
“Her Highness? Was it Her Highness Carol?” (Cuffe)
Cuffe’s eyebrows leapt upwards as he stared at me.
‘This is probably because Carol is close to a heavenly existence for commoners.’
“Well, yes. So now I’m here, because I probably shouldn’t be in the dormitory tonight.” (Yuri)
I managed to escape when Carol went to the bathroom.
“Her Highness Carol, was it? I’d like to meet her once.” (Cuffe)
‘Actually, you’ve already met her.’
I stopped myself from revealing the truth. At the time, Carol had worn a wig and used a pseudonym to conceal her identity.
“I can understand. After all, blonde hair is quite rare.” (Yuri)
‘It’s a pity that you weren’t able to see Carol’s blonde hair.’
“I’ve seen blonde hair before, you know.” (Cuffe)
‘What did you say?’
“You’ve been to a place of worship?” (Yuri)
‘In this country, blonde hair is as rare as the Tsuchinoko outside of worship sites and the royal castle.’
“No, it was Carol’s younger sister. I saw her from afar when I went shopping at the royal castle district.” (Cuffe)
‘The royal castle district has shops on the two bridges leading to the royal castle. They’re primarily shops for people who live in the high-end residential area nearby. In fact, the clothing boutiques there even display the royal emblem. As for the produce and such sold there, it’s a bit of a rip-off, as they’re basically the same thing as what’s sold in the grocers in the ordinary marketplace. You just have to wash the ordinary produce a little longer.
‘Carol never buys from or eats at those places. Is it because Carol didn’t care to familiarize herself with the shops, or Carya just likes those shops?’
“She’s somewhat similar to her sister. Though the older sister has a somewhat inflexible character, while she in comparison is livelier.” (Yuri)
“Is that so?” (Cuffe)
Cuffe seemed curious even though he had actually met her before.
“Talking to that older sister gives me a headache. Anyway, I came here to invite you somewhere.” (Yuri)
“Ah, is that so? Alright.” (Cuffe)
“By the way, is Beaure here?” (Yuri)
“She’s in the other room.” (Cuffe)
“Alright, let’s bring her along.” (Yuri)
“Sure. In that case, let’s go to a nicer restaurant. She’s been doing well, too. So it’d be good to do this once in a while.” (Cuffe)
It was rare for Cuffe to praise people.
‘I see, so she’s really doing well, huh?’
“Let’s do that, then. I’ll leave the choice of restaurant to you.” (Yuri)
“Alright, I’ll make the reservation.” (Cuffe)
‘It was a restaurant that needed a reservation?’
As Cuffe left the CEO’s office, he picked one of the company’s apprentices and sent him to make the reservation.
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As I was sitting in the restaurant…
“This place is quite nice.” (Yuri)
I deservedly praised them.
“Yes! I’ve never been to such a good restaurant. Thank you very much, Yuri-sama.” (Beaure)
Beaure stood up and bowed to me.
“No need for that. Cuffe was the one who planned this.” (Yuri)
“Then, thank you very much, Cuffe-san.” (Beaure)
Cuffe merely waved his hand in acknowledgement.
Inside this small restaurant, the atmosphere was somewhere between that of a high-end izakaya and a traditional Japanese restaurant.
It wasn’t so formal as to require noble etiquette, but still, it was a restaurant primarily patronized by the rich.
“You’re doing your best in accounting, aren’t you, Beaure?” (Yuri)
“How is she, Cuffe?” (Yuri)
“She has talent.” (Cuffe)
Cuffe replied thoughtfully.
‘I’m not too familiar with her current skills in accounting.
Considering Beaure’s character and abilities, she could come up with many novel reasons for tax avoidance. However, she’s not inclined towards that direction.’
“A good accountant requires the right personality, too. She patiently persists in doing that boring work alone. Most people can’t endure it.” (Cuffe)
‘Speaking of accounting, I had thought that the job should be given to a trustworthy person from the beginning. However, Cuffe had evaluated the job requirements from a different perspective. I can see what he means. If I think about it, it’s a job that requires both detailed analysis and also repetitive work. So people who aren’t used to it might easily fatigue while doing it.’
“In this regard, Beaure has the right idea. She can diligently stare at the numbers for hours.” (Cuffe)
‘Is that a compliment? Well, I suppose it is.’
“I see…” (Yuri)
“Aah, thank you very much!” (Beaure)
Beaure rose again and bowed to Cuffe this time.
“Well, then, this is for you, Beaure.” (Yuri)
I put a package on the desk.
“Eh? Ummm… I don’t understand.” (Beaure)
‘It seems that she can’t accept it without knowing the contents. Does she think that it’s money? Or branded goods?’
“The contents aren’t that expensive. Just open it.” (Yuri)
Beaure carefully opened the package.
“T-this is…” (Beaure)
On the table gleamed diamond-shaped beads set in a finely varnished wooden frame. It was a Japanese-style abacus. Each row had five beads, with one bead separated by the frame from the other four.
“Give it a try. If you like it, you can have it.” (Yuri)
“It’s alright for me to have it?” (Beaure)
“Yes, of course.” (Yuri)
‘The modern abacus doesn’t have a separator that creates upper and lower sections. It has ten beads per row, each ellipsoidal in shape. There are also abacuses with just four and nine beads, but they’re difficult to use. If I want Beaure to learn in earnest, I should let her use the most efficient tools.’
Before she could say ‘Thank you’, I leaned over and held down Beaure’s shoulder as she was getting up.
“No need to bow. Just repay me by continuing to work hard.” (Yuri)
“Aah… y-yes! I’ll work hard!” (Beaure)
‘It’s too troublesome to stand up and bow down every time.’
“So, how are our earnings?” (Yuri)
I sat down again.
“Since we haven’t been able to get any loans, our financial situation is a bit desperate. We can’t do anything right now.” (Cuffe)
‘Buying a ship for Harold was an extremely big investment, so it’s natural to be low on funds afterwards. However, this could be a problem. For example, what if I can’t afford to pay the employees?’
“Do we have enough building materials for the carpenters?” (Yuri)
‘Without building materials, the carpenters wouldn’t be able to do their job, and if that happens, our progress would stop.’
“I had already set funds aside for that before considering the cost of the ship. I can’t bet everything on that guy.” (Cuffe)
“As expected…” (Yuri)
‘Let’s think about this carefully.’
“Beaure, do you remember the exact numbers?” (Cuffe)
“Y-yes. As emergency savings, we have 35000 Ruga left. For this month’s expenses, 10000 Ruga will be used to pay salaries and 25000 Ruga will be expensed for building materials. As you can see, we’ll be fine until the end of next month.” (Beaure)
‘It’s pretty close. At this level, I might have to reach into my personal savings. If I think too much about it, it’s quite frightening.’
‘Even so, it’s a business that can earn 800000 Ruga in a year. We have an imperfect production system, too. Once the goods are distributed and sold, I should be able to cover this month’s costs. Piña’s new work will also be a factor. Her first work seemed to have been well-received, so even if the next one is a little botched, it should still sell well.’
‘There’s no doubt that the business will be profitable, so the lack of reserve funds shouldn’t be too discouraging. Also, in the past, even if I had funds in reserve, I couldn’t’ve used them to invest in capital because of the Witch households. But there’s nothing preventing me from doing that now.’
‘But, still, I have concerns.’
“Have the guards been doing a better job?” (Yuri)
‘If the goods can’t be transported securely, getting good actual revenue would be difficult regardless of the company’s potential for earnings. The Hou territory is secure, so there are rarely bandit attacks in that area. However, the journey between the edge of the territory and the royal capital is more dangerous. Lakramanus might seize this opening to attack.’
‘To increase security, I ordered the guards to rotate between the main and secondary residences. As a result, although it’s embarrassing, I have to ask for Rook’s help.’
“There’s no problem. The main residence in Karakumo is safer. I also met Satsuki.” (Cuffe)
‘Satsuki, huh? Speaking of her, we haven’t met since the talk of relocating the factory. Nevertheless, Satsuki met Cuffe.’
“Did you talk?” (Yuri)
“Yes. A little bit. She asked about you.” (Cuffe)
“About me? What did you talk about?” (Yuri)
“Mainly, we talked about how you scouted me and your management of the company is going.” (Cuffe)
‘Well, the two of them only have one common acquaintance, me. So, if they were to talk, it would probably be about me.’
“Well, if you’re able to get along with her, that’s good. Please take care of the backup guards at the inn.” (Yuri)
“I know. I’m treating them with the best alcohol. If there’s nothing else, it’s not a big deal.” (Cuffe)
‘Fortunately, since the backup guards are affiliated to the royal capital’s main army, their capabilities are quite high. However, I don’t know how well they understand the activities of the company. Since Cuffe and others are commoners, those people could potentially neglect their duties due to not placing much importance on the escort of commoners. It would be even worse if they were irritated during escort operations. There’s no guaranteed way to prevent that.’
‘However, although it might be a bit improper, such a risk can be minimized if we provide them with light entertainment.’
“For now, there doesn’t seem to be any problems.” (Yuri)
‘Good, good. Everything’s smooth sailing.’
“Actually, there is a problem.” (Cuffe)
“What’s the problem??” (Yuri)
“The cargo is too expensive to transport on land.” (Cuffe)
“Paper isn’t too bulky, so it’s relatively cheap to transport. But still, transportation will cost a lot of money, which would raise the selling price.” (Cuffe)
‘Transportation costs are much lower when traveling by sea compared by land. Even worse, in this country, instead of using trucks on well-maintained roads, people use horses through all sorts of paths. That’s quite inefficient.’
‘Despite the risk of encountering pirates, transportation by sea is still the best. However, there’s another problem.’
‘The royal capital’s port is, of course, under the jurisdiction of the Witch households. In regards to Harold’s departure this morning, there wasn’t any issue because there wasn’t any cargo. If the ship were to be loaded with profitable cargo, it would conversely be very problematic.’
‘It’d be a huge problem if we bring in paper. If we don’t pay the Witch households, the dockworkers might do things like spray salt water on the paper or let it be stolen by thieves, who would redistribute it as toilet paper or shoe wipes.’
“About that… let’s worry about it only after Harold comes back.” (Yuri)
‘It’s not a problem that needs to be solved now. For the time being, it’s fine to transport the goods by land.’
“Rather, there’s a bigger problem.” (Cuffe)
“Aah, you mean whether Harold can be trusted, right?” (Yuri)
“Aren’t you too optimistic? That guy is a proud and independent person. I don’t think he’ll be a subordinate so easily.” (Cuffe)
‘That’s right. I had also considered this. Cuffe is nervous because he doesn’t know about Eisa-sensei.’
“There won’t be any problems with Harold. If he betrays us, he’ll never be able to meet the woman he fell in love with again. That’s how things are.” (Yuri)
“Why? Did you take her hostage?” (Cuffe)
Cuffe made a strange expression. He probably didn’t expect me to take any countermeasures like this.
“No, I didn’t take anyone hostage. I had Harold make a vow in front of that woman. She’s somebody who’ll never forgive a man who breaks such a vow. I could imagine Harold betraying me, but I can’t imagine him breaking the vow to her at all.” (Yuri)
‘It was a miscalculation that Eisa-sensei entrusted her life into the vow, but even without that, if Harold swore an oath before Eisa-sensei, there’s no possibility of betrayal. If the vow is broken, she would be excommunicated, and Harold would never hear from her again. From my understanding of Harold, he would do anything to avoid that.’
“So you used the woman he fell in love with? Not bad.” (Cuffe)
“I didn’t want to if I could avoid it.” (Yuri)
‘It would be best if I could trust him unconditionally. However, if I could, many people turn out to be inexplicably stupid at crucial times. This is especially true when working in businesses that deal with such large sums of money.’
“Humans are creatures who often forget past kindnesses eventually. If we’re going to cooperate in the long term, it’s better to do something like that.” (Cuffe)
‘As expected, Cuffe says some deep words sometimes.’
“Thank you for waiting.” (??)
‘Oops, the food has arrived.’
“Uwahh… it looks delicious.” (Beaure)
Beaure fixed her glittering eyes on the food.
The appetizing colors and faint aroma drifting off of the platter almost had me swallowing my saliva. The food was some sort of seafood gratin. It looked like an authentic culinary masterpiece.
“Let’s make a toast.” (Cuffe)
Cuffe declared. However, Cuffe was the only one who actually had alcohol in his cup.
“To Harold’s departure!” (Yuri)
“Yes, cheers!” (Beaure)
The three of us clinked our cups together.
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