To take preventative measures against scurvy, I introduced “sauerkraut.”
It was fermented cabbage, frequently used as garnish in cuisine in Germany.
The way to make it was simple.
Transfer all of the juices into a container that has been disinfected with hot water, and place a weight on top. That was all.
“All that’s left is to place it in a cool area where the sun can’t reach for about a week so that it may ferment.”
Wiping my hands with a towel, I looked at Master Julius.
He held his chin with his hand and frequently glanced at the jar the incomplete product had gone into.
“It’s surprisingly simple.”
When I offered to make a sample, he immediately voiced his approval.
His expression said, However challenging, I’ll give it to you.
I felt a little sorry for him when all I needed was cabbage and salt.
“Was it disappointing?” I smiled wryly. As if compelled by mine, the same smile appeared on his lips.
“To tell the truth, just a little.”
Maybe I should have asked for caraway seeds or bay leaves as well.
But it was important I made it extremely simple this time.
It was so that anyone can make it anywhere.
“However, if we can make it with so few ingredients and time, producing it in batch is quite feasible.”
“What comes next is figuring out how to distribute it…”
At his words, I hesitated.
I wasn’t worried about how to spread it. I knew how I was going to do it, which is why I had Sir Leonhard and Miss Bianca adjourn. However, at this moment, I found myself lacking enough courage to put my shameless request into words.
My hands were tightly grasped, my lips pursed.
“What is it?”
Very humbly, I said, “I… have a request.”
His eyes opened wide, but narrowed quickly, carrying an edge of seriousness.
Wordlessly, he urged me on.
“Can you handle this as one of your products?”
He looked like he’d swallowed something wrong.
“Well, it would be a very convenient for me, but are you sure? Depending on how it is handled, it’s a product that can yield a fortune.”
“No matter how much value it has, I don’t have the means to make it known. For example, no matter how many times I teach others to make it, the most I can do is
There was a saying that said: there’s no such thing as a free meal. Many people would be suspicious if they were offered something for free. Even if the recipe was passed out, people would have their guards. What’s the catch? they’d think. It’d be a practice in futility.
To get the job done right, go to the one who specialized in it. Even if I had to humble myself and ask for help, as an amateur, turning to one who knew the business inside out was more sure-fire.
“If the man to do the job was you, Master Julius, with your wide connections and many customers who place their trust in you, then I can safely entrust the matter to you.”
“You honor me with your words.”
He smiled at me kindly, and my heart started throbbing painfully. It was painful to say the next part… but I needed to get it out.
“It’s selfish, but I have two conditions I’d like to stipulate…”
“Conditions?” he asked.
My statement left him with some surprise, but it didn’t change the mood.
“The first condition is, I want you to set the price low. I’m won’t be so stupid to ask you that set it so low you’re making a loss. Of course, you must cover the cost of the materials, labor production, transportation and other sundry expenses. It would be wonderful if you managed to turn a profit, but…”
“You want me to minimize it as much as possible.”
“Yes,” I said in a small voice, sounding unlike myself.
I was aware of how unfair my suggestion was. This product, if sold well, could become a goldmine. I put it in front of him, and now I was telling him not capitalize on it. I can only imagine the fights he’d have with his business partners.
“And your other condition?” he asked as tranquilly as ever, no hint of a raise in his voice.
Was he angry or not? Even with my different life experiences, it seemed I couldn’t read him. Still not sure whether or not I was lighting the fuse to his anger, I tossed the other bomb at him.
“I want the recipe printed on paper and attached to the product, so that anyone can make it.”
The shock must be on a whole different level. His eyes opened wide.
Master Julius might be able to accept the first condition if he was realistic about the the small profit and quick return. Demand would be high, and on top of that, he’d have monopoly. Depending on his abilities, it was possible for him to still turn a high profit. However, the second condition would overturn the everything.
I was literally asking him to let go his monopoly and throw away the worth of his commodity.
Afraid of his reaction, my gaze dropped lower and lower, but I immediately straightened myself, ashamed.
“So it’s like that?” Master Julius said. It was directed at himself more than me.
“I thought it looked very easy, or should I say, simple? Whenever you prepared anything for my sister-in-law’s fancy, you were always absorbed in what you made and devoted much time and care to it. If you had been cooking according to personal taste this time as well, wouldn’t you have added a small touch to make it taste even better? But you didn’t do that, and there was a reason for it. You made the most basic version so that anyone can make it in their own home.”
Am I right? He smiled a little proudly.
Hesitantly, I nodded. In my previous life, I really did add all of the spices I mentioned before to my sauerkraut.
“You’re truly diligent. You don’t just absorb the information; you put them to use and make them even better.”
“It’s nothing like that… Rather, Master Julius?”
“You’re not refusing?”
“Whatever for? I’m no saint, and neither am I so old I have no interest in the gem placed before me.”
“But if the method is well-known, then its market value will reduce to nothing.”
“Not at all. There are many ways to go about it,” he said without hesitation and I froze, composure forgotten as my mouth hung open.
“Well, it’s possible if and only if you’re willing to collaborate.”
“Of course! I’ll give you all my support!”
You’re so reliable, he laughed. I could say the same for him.
Only two thoughts went through my mind the entire time: whether I had troubled or made him angry. I was disappointed in myself, deeply ashamed of how my thoughts had turned so negative when a brilliant man of such great generosity was going out of his way to assist me.
“To change the subject, may I ask something that’s been on my mind?”
“What is it?”
His head was tilted to the side, and I was mimicking him.
“Why did you teach me how to make sauerkraut before you gave me your conditions? It was the trump card you should’ve held on to until the very end if there was a condition you wanted to force on me no matter what. Let me guess. Demonstrating it first would be a show of your sincerity if you asked it of a friend, but the room would clear in an instant. That’s why you showed it to a merchant, me.”
“You’re… not wrong.”
That really hit where it hurts. A bit beyond my control, my eyes watered a little. Depressed, I didn’t want to say anything, but it was useless trying to evade him. Inarticulately, I said, “Master Julius, I had no one else to turn to if had you refused.”
“Yes. By that point, I would have let you do as you please.”
“What?” He was dumbfounded.
My face felt like it was bursting into flames.
“I thought I’d present my conditions even though I knew you would have something to say. If the product was under your care, nothing could possibly go wrong and it would reach farther than I could ever imagine. However, if you had refused, I thought I’d merely behave as a friend might, presenting a dish to you.”
Roughly speaking, I was leaving it up to him.
If I left it all to him from the very beginning, there will definitely be positive results. I knew that, but there was a part of me that resisted simply handing over the recipe over without trying to think of something myself.
There was a big difference between the act of trusting someone and pushing all responsibility on to them.
That’s why I tentatively added some conditions, but the fact that he could brush them off meant that there were problems with those conditions, loopholes not apparent to an amateur in trade like myself.
If it’s like, then I should leave the rest to him, I thought.
I was only acting as a friend, so there would be no transfer of money or rights. Even if Master Julius reproduced it as merchandise, I could have no complaints…
“I’m sorry for being so cunning,” I said feebly, but he didn’t respond to my apology. Feeling something was off, I raised my head and met his wide-opened green eyes.
“You keep surprising me.”
Huh? What did he mean by that?
“It’s good that you’re showing an eye for detail at such a young age; you know when to give something up. Moreover, you’re not arrogant because of all that knowledge, and you don’t seem to understand your own importance at all,” he continued as if he had heard my thoughts.
I didn’t know if he was praising me or criticizing me.
I may be big-headed, but at least I can see my full body.
My contrary nature reared its head as I reinterpreted everything he said.
“Once again, I am filled with the highest regard. You are truly the most tremendous lady.” Master Julius abandoned the casual manner of speech he had been using. He faced me with a straight back as he readily agreed. “I accept your suggestion. I will do my best to live up to your expectations.”
My entire body went limp with relief, and Master Julius seemed to be smiling as he looked at me. A thought flickered across his face.
“In line with this, I have two requests.”
He looked like a mischievous child as he held up two fingers.