Next Step, Exploring Outside (Part 3)
Still following the castle, we continued around towards the back. We arrived at the alcove diagonally behind the dining room, where we saw more maids working really hard. There was also a guy working here, probably as a dishwasher. I saw him carrying what looked like a kitchen knife, which seemed rather sharp. Carrying it carefully, he headed towards the kitchen. Well, he was probably taking it to the Chef…. being rich, my home certainly had a lot going on.
I checked such with Alica-san, whose “Correct” nodded in confirmation.
“All of the meals are cooked here, even the ones for staff, so it gets very busy here. We all have to help out each other.”
“There are so many people here. We finished lunch a while ago.”
“There is also tonight’s dinner to consider, which they will be working on at this point as well.”
Oh, well yeah. Still, this method seemed so time consuming. It would be much more efficient if things were prepared in advance. Washing the vegetables, removing the head, bones, and scales from a fish. Buying meat pre-portioned to some extent as well, I guess, instead of eating the whole thing at one time. Speaking of such, I think I would like to see if there is a ranch here, to look at the animals. Actually, I would also like to have a chance to talk with the chef, it’s just impossible at meal time.
“We should make sure to not interrupt their work here.”
“True, I see what you mean.”
“Alright, then let’s quietly be off.”
Quietly setting her index finger to her lips, Alica-san gestured forsilence. Keeping along side Alica-san, I hurried after her so that we weren’t noticed.
We hid behind a small brick building, to keep away from the kitchen. Close beside it, acting as its neighbor, was another slightly smaller building with a chimney. Because the trees growing here were a distance away, they didn’t get in the way of the chimney, and there was another path leading up to its entrance, instead of simply grass. It was as if someone lived here.
“Alica-san, what is this?”
“This would be the Chimney Smokehouse. It is a warehouse for us to stash smoked foods, to help preserve foods such as dried or salted meat, teas, and spices.”
Ah, so then it was detached from the regular food pantry. Looking it over, the smokehouse appeared impressively big to me. Looking like it could feed a hundred people easily, the smokehouse felt like something you would see in a television commercial, that you know you couldn’t afford.
“So this preserves dried meat. What sort of spices is it for, like pepper?”
“Correct. In the old days such spices were just kept in asecure sealed storage, but nowadays it’s just easier to use such a warehouse instead.”
Storing spices in a secured storage, that seemed a bit excessive. No, actually I had memories of this from history classes. I learned at school that at one point, spices were so expensive because they were difficult to import. I wonder if that is true here.
“Just wondering, was spices always so treasured because they had to be imported from elsewhere?”
“That’s correct. Because of all the excessive costs of transportation they required.”
So it was true. Then the costs went down, because spices became easier to properly transport.
“If you’ve been getting them cheaply now, are they now being made nearby?”
“Yes. We have a variety of farms in the area that cultivate spices. InShiya’s domain, there is a lot of spice production.”
“I see. It seems even the farmers are working hard here.”
If the spices are being produced so close, certainly it becomes cheaper to purchase. I think the farmers would work hard to also tend to other crops, since its always good to sell stocks in variety. Considering storage, beside the regular warehouse, this smokehouse.. I still had a few questions about that.
“So, how does the smokehouse work?”
“Smoke is produced in the middle area. The Duke can use the smoke of alcohols to produce smoked bacon or smoked cheeses.”
Smoked foods… I remember trying to smoke some foods with the director, we enclosed it in a small shelter made from cardboard boxes. To think that they would have something so grand as smoked bacon and such made here.. both smoked bacon and cheese in fact. I’ve never actually had sake before, I wasn’t sure what I would think of the taste.
“I’ve never had sake before, is there any chance I might be able to try a bit?”
“You would want a sample? Yeah, I think it would be alright. Saryuu-sama himself is quite fond of the cheese after a long day of studying. I’ll try asking later.”
“Yes, please ask for me.”
Yatta! It probably has been smoking in sake for a while, so I should eat it carefully. It might be a simple pleasure eating such poor smelling foods, but until around this time yesterday, that’s how my life was, poor. Having suddenly became so rich, it’s not something that I could adjust to this quickly.
Suddenly, Alica-san gave a quick clap of insight.
“Oh right, Seiren-sama. In the back here, there is a well that pumps the water for work. Do you want to have a look?”
“A well? Oh, I want to see!”
A well, huh? I haven’t actually ever seen a classic well before myself. It was just too much of a bother to rely on before. Heading back around to behind the other food warehouse as I was asked, we found a rounded stone-enclosed well that only went up to my knees, the lid closed. Trying to forget horror movies that this reminded me of, calming myself with thoughts that such wasn’t real. There was a pump attached with the lid, looking similar to the one I saw before in the bath. I’m guessing this was so buckets and pails could be brought here, to then have water pumped into it. However, that sounded rather tiring.
“You said this water was for work, so I’m guessing it isn’t drinking water.”
“There is a little private well further up the hill that provides drinking water. This water is only used for cleaning, such as water for laundry or the bathroom.”
“So there is another private well..”
Actually, that wasn’t all that surprising. Drinking water in the country was harder to purify enough for use, unlike bath or toilet water. But, then again, how did they even manage to filter the water from either stone well at all?
“Is there a big difference in the water quality?”
“I’m not certain, but I believe that hill simply has less that could taint the water, being so high up.”
“Oh, that makes sense.”
This well was a lot closer to home, the drinking well was a little harder to access. Then again, this well would be used a lot more often because keeping everything clean took much more water. I did still want a closer look a the drinking well. Being farther up the hill, it would be a lot further into nature up there. I still wanted to see more things, even if it will be harder.
As a sudden scent drifted along the breeze, I was curious to discover more about it. The fragrance seemed to hint at some kind of flower, leaving me wondering, what kind was it? Checking for the source of the familiar scent, I found some tiny white flowers blooming. I wasn’t certain, but it was certainly possible, these flowers maybe were used in the toilet as an air freshener. … though curiously, I couldn’t recall seeing these flowers hanging anywhere in the toilet. Alica-san kept quiet a distance as she called ahead to me.
“In that direction is the toilet waste. We set it up carefully so that the smell would be contained here.”
“Oh, so it would extend from just ahead, going further beyond here.”
Centering my sights with the flowers, I failed to quickly interpret what was going on this way. The area beyond would be full of water, and was it then the kind of waters left down here to be disposed of? Eww.. I did not want to think of it further. … ah, but this makes sense, the flowers were planted here to keep the strong smells at bay.
“These flowers, they have such a strong scent. Are they here to ward off odors?”
“Correct. They are very popular with farmers that have to work with composts, they work very well to deal with such foul storage cellars.”
It seems my assumptions for what the flowers were for were correct. An outdoor air freshener for toilet waste, unbelievable. Yeah… It would be best to not think too much about it. Really, such things would also be normal in this world. Following Alica-san’s instructions for moving around the waste site, she quickly explained one other interesting facts for me to learn from.
“See that…? Above the disposal hole is a fence cover, to stop stray animals from falling inside. Other than the fence cover, there is also a wooden barricade.”
“…. It’s probably a very good decision to have it so carefully protected like that.”
“… Yes, I agree.”
The disposal hole, containing such waste product,… falling into it,… simply would not be a good thing. Not at all.
Making our way completely around, we returned back to the castle from behind, near father’s room this time. On this side, there was no sign of a pantry or such, instead was more cobblestone paths, along with a cottage further in the distance. The cottage, perhaps it was the home of the private teacher. We were intercepted as we approached it.
“Oh, if it isn’t Seiren-sama.”
“Oh, the old hermit!”
There I found the one who had returned me to this world as a woman, mahōtsukai-no-jīsan.