Ch 83 -- Lambert-san's Wife
Fer, Sui and I were having a relaxing breakfast in the courtyard of the inn when the landlady brought a boy aged about 13 or so to us.
"You have a visitor from Lambert Company." she said. I recognised the face of the boy when I looked closely, it was the lad I had seen assisting Lambert-san with his wagon on the way to Carerina.
"You see, the owner is waiting at the store ..." the boy seemed distracted by something. What's up? You're drooling, kid. I wondered if he was remembering the meal he had enjoyed while returning to town as he watched us eat. Okay then, growing kids have healthy appetites so your sempai here will treat you to breakfast.
"It's maybe a bit much for breakfast, but since you're young I think it'll be good for you." I said as I quickly grilled some Orc General meat pickled in miso, made a dish of Orc General miso-yaki-don, and passed it to him. The boy looked between my face and the miso-yaki-don, back and forth.
"Someone as young as you are will never get enough of something like this." I reassured him.
"Oh, it's that good, is it?" He was still unsure.
"I made it for you." I pushed the bowl at him.
"Oh, thank you!" The boy began gulping down Orc General Miso-yaki-don.
"Oh, it is tasty ..." he said, eating it with a happy face. Once he finished the bowl I gave him some roasted green hot tea. I warned him to blow on it before drinking since it was something he hadn't encountered before.
"The food was very delicious and this tea is also delicious. Thank you so much." the boy bowed to me in thanks. Yeah yeah, he's a pretty polite kid. Having to work for a living when you're his age, this other world is a tough place to grow up in. Work hard, kid and don't give up.
"Oh, the store owner is waiting for you..." the boy suddenly remembered why he had been sent to meet us.
Of course, Lambert-san wants me to call on him. I accompanied the boy to Lambert-san's store along with Fer and Sui.
* * * * *
Lambert-san hurried out to greet me as soon as I entered his store.
"Mukouda-san, you finally came, I'm saved..." he blurted, a relieved expression on his face. A woman suddenly appeared from behind Lambert-san. She was about 30 years old, a determined-looking beauty with long olive-brown hair put up in a complex style.
"Dear, you promised to introduce me," she said, elbowing him in the ribs.
"Oh, ah... Mukouda-san, this is my wife..." he stuttered. Pushing past Lambert-san, his wife took over.
"I am Lambert's wife, Mary. I am very pleased to make your acquaintance." she said, curtseying in her long skirt in a very refined manner.
"I owe much to Lambert-san so I am similarly pleased to meet you too." I replied, rather flustered as Mary-san slowly approached me, silently staring into my eyes.
"What is it?" My heart pounded as such a beautiful wife came close to me.
"You see, these items are..." She held out a basket containing the soap and rinse-in shampoo I had given to Lambert-san yesterday to try out. It turned out that Mary-san had noticed a nice smell from Lambert-san after he had a bath last night. Lambert-san had tried to conceal his use of the soap and shampoo because he was planning to surprise her with them on their wedding anniversary, but Mary-san would not be deterred from discovering the truth. Truly a determined lady.
"The fragrance of the soap the master of the household used while bathing was astounding." she explained. "There are no issues with hair loss in our family line so I said that I was fine with trying the hair treatments. I hadn't really bothered with taking care of my hair before now, but when I saw how clean and glossy my lord and master's hair was after his bath I couldn't wait to try it. As you can see my hair is smooth and glossy too." She looked down shyly but I wondered, given her forcefulness and assertiveness before whether it was only an act. Her "lord and master" was clearly under her thumb... "I don't believe there is a woman anywhere who wouldn't wish for such hair too."
So it seemed I had guessed correctly, women liked such scented things but as a result of Mary-san's sensitive nose Lambert-san's plans were uncovered.
"I was really surprised when I tried the soap my husband had used." Mary continued excitedly. It seems the cheap soaps I bought at the Net Super were like high-class soaps in this world, they foam up well and leave a smooth feeling in the skin and the scent is superior too. The shampoos do a better job of cleaning and treating hair than just soap and water, the usual way to wash hair in this world.
Mary then held out a small jar, the one with the hair masks. "But this product is the truly amazing one." She stroked her long hair tenderly.
"When I heard that Mudouka-san told my lord and master that this item 'makes any type of hair look beautiful just like magic', I just had to use it immediately. After all the soap and shampoo were so wonderful how could I resist? When I actually used it..." She stroked her long hair repeatedly.
"Before, my hair had been dry and stiff and a great problem for me but now it is smooth and shiny and soooo soft..."
Mary-san was dreamily stroking her hair over and over again ...Mary-san, do you love your hair that much now?
"I was also surprised at this," Lambert-san explained, looking at his entranced wife with tender eyes. "Mary's hair has become impossibly smooth and glossy and it smells so wonderful too. She is even more beautiful than I could wish for."
Mary-san punched Lambert-san's arm lightly, saying "My darling..." and his cheeks reddened.
............ Normies, go figure.
"So then, actually..." Lambert-san seemed distracted by his affectionate wife cuddling up to him. I guessed I had a sale. So how much soap and shampoo and hair treatments will you buy for your wife then?
"Mukouda-san, will you please let me sell these items in my store?"
Huh...? Did Lambert-san just ask to sell these things in his own store? I blinked, had I misheard him? Lambert-san owns a leather goods shop, it's not somewhere that you'd expect to sell soaps and shampoos and the like.
"I understand your surprise Mukouda-san, I wasn't sure myself whether it was a good idea but..." Lambert-san looked over at his wife.
"You are still worried about that?" Mary-san interjected. "You don't understand. These items will be very popular and you're a merchant, aren't you? Are you going to let another shop get all the profits from their sale?"
She poked him in the arm again, all business now. "If you sell these items in the store all the aristocratic ladies as well as my friends and ordinary women and girls will come to buy them here." She stroked her hair again. "No woman who sees my hair could resist buying such items."
"But, we sell leather goods..." Lambert-san muttered.
"Yes dear, the store specialises in leather goods but you can allocate a small area to showcase Mukouda-san's goods. You don't have to have all of the stock on display at one time after all." Mary-san explained.
"Yes, that's true..." Lambert-san said, obviously thinking hard about it.
"If you don't want to sell them yourself, dear I will deal with those customers personally." Mary-san went on, pressing her attack.
"No, no, that's not it, ummm." Lambert-san sighed and then gave up, overwhelmed. "Very well, we'll do it your way. Mary, I entrust the selling of Mukouda-san's goods in our store to you."
Mary muttered "Heh heh heh, just watch me." as a greedy expression crossed her face. M-, Mary-san?
Lambert-san coughed. "Mukouda-san, will you please wholesale these goods to me?" Thank you Mary-san, I didn't want to sell these items to people directly. I don't have a shop and I didn't want to do any complicated customer service.
"Of course I will." I bowed to Mary-san. "I would appreciate it very much if you would sell my goods in your husband's shop."
"Thank you very much! It is very kind of you to agree!" Mary said happily. I couldn't refuse, could I, in the face of a woman's obsessive desire for beauty. To say no was, well, unthinkable.
"Well then, let's discuss the details in the back room." Mary-san said commandingly and Lambert-san and myself followed her there like obedient servants.
[A short digression on plumbing in this world]
"Lambert-san, how do you drain the bath after use?" I was puzzled about how this world dealt with such things.
"The drainage is dealt with by a tank under the bathroom, buried in the ground." Lambert-san explained. "There is a magic tool inside the tank to purify the water held there. After the water is clean it is released through a drain pipe out into the river."
"Oh, so they have things like drain tanks and drains in this different world too..." Mukouda-san thought to himself.
"It's advisable to hire a user of earth magic to deal with such things when installing a bath in your home." Lambert-san went on.
"Oh, earth magic. Isn't it expensive if it's for that sort of complicated work, tanks and drains and such?"
"Yes of course. I hired an earth magic user to install the tank and its purifying magic tool. The final total including the bath itself was more than 500 gold coins..."
"500 gold coins, really?" I was amazed.
"Yes, it was a lot to spend but I have worked hard to provide such things for Mary, the love of my life."
"Ah, of course." I murmured. It probably will not be so expensive for me because I have Sui who has water magic and purifying water should be a snap for her especially since she's a Slime. Hooray for Sui-tan!