We were sold while we were asleep.
Nope, that didn’t happen! Yay!
I was surprised by how things progressed quickly and leapt up, and surprisingly still found myself on the bed.
It was a habit of mine to be suspicious of people.
The pharmacist, who was sitting in a chair in front of the table, raised her head at the same time I got up.
“How do you feel?”
She asked as she opened the window behind her to let in the morning sunlight.
I wonder if she had just woken up.
We used her bed last night, so did she sleep on the chair?
Woah, I’m really sorry.
Rille-nee was still sleeping next to me and was breathing softly.
The medical powder seemed to have helped a lot, and although I still felt a bit tired, I was fine.
“I’m feeling much better.”
“You’re looking much better too.”
She kneeled beside the bed and checked my pulse to make sure my fever had gone down.
She didn’t seem as scary as last night now that I was seeing her again up close under the morning light. She looked handsome and her eyes were a bit too sharp, which made her seem dignified.
“Hmm, thank you very much.”
I sat upright on the bed, bowed deeply once, and then quickly raised my head.
“I was serious last night. I’ll work better than medicine. What should I do? I’ll do anything.”
I made sure that last night’s discussion wasn’t forgotten while expressing my gratitude.
She hesitated a little. You didn’t take me seriously, did you? But I’ve already gotten your word for it.
“I’m Aime. My sister is Ridill. Please tell me your name, Employer.”
I emphasized ‘Employer’. I acted as if everything was set in stone.
“… It’s Giselle.”
Her name sounded feminine.
I used my best smile on her while secretly thinking it was cute.
“It’s nice to meet you, Giselle! I’m relieved, we would have died on the roadside if you had thrown us out. I’ve also recovered.”
Alright, I won.
She must have a righteous personality being an ex-soldier, and she probably doesn’t take human life lightly since she’s a pharmacist. She wouldn’t let kids she had saved die.
“… Just to let you know, I’m really poor, okay? I can’t afford to pay you a good salary and I can’t afford to give you good food either. I also only have this small room to sleep in.”
Giselle reminded me negatively, but people should be satisfied without desiring more wealth. We can sleep soundly on the floor, and I won’t ask for a high salary since she’s helping us out and letting us stay here.
Rille-nee woke up too while we were talking.
She rubbed her eyes, looked at me, and then at Giselle. Then she looked around the room and asked a lot of questions about our current situation.
“Huh, oh, you’re a woman?”
First, she was surprised by this fact.
Giselle seemed used to this and acted normal instead of getting angry.
After that, when Rille-nee heard about the job that had very good conditions, large tears started dripping down her eyes.
“Th-th-thank you very much!”
She was very moved since we finally found jobs after being driven away for so long. It was the first time in our lives that a stranger had shown us kindness, so that also made her more emotional.
Rille-nee repeatedly thanked Giselle while crying and I rubbed her back. She seemed to be feeling much better.
I glanced at Giselle and saw that she looked like a fawn who had been cornered at the edge of a cliff and had given up.
With that being said!
I finally got us a job somewhat forcefully!
Whether or not we will be hired for a long time will depend on how well we can produce results within the one-month deadline.
We were eager to start working on the day we got the job, but Giselle pushed us back on the bed.
“Rest today. You can work after you’ve recovered.”
Then, she made us soup with pieces of bread floating in it for breakfast. It was like porridge.
There was only one chair at the table, so Rille-nee and I ate in bed. The bowl that was used for the medicine yesterday was being used again.
The soup was blank and tasteless. It wasn’t very tasty, but it was nice to be able to fill my stomach with something warm.
I had the luxury of lounging around all day as a sick person.
Giselle opened the store and checked up on us from time to time. She cooked us lunch and dinner, so we were full even though we didn’t do anything.
“… Is it alright for her to treat us this well?”
Rille-nee was puzzled the whole time even as we were having dinner. I was feeling strange too.
We really haven’t been treated well…
The next morning.
“We can work now!”
Rille-nee’s fever had completely gone down and we were feeling much better, so we rushed to Giselle.
“I can do all the chores!”
“I can greet the guests! I can even attract them in!”
We were selling ourselves so hard that Giselle pulled away slightly, not because she wanted us to leave her alone, but our enthusiasm made her a little uncomfortable.
“It’s good that you’re motivated, but we need to do something about your clothes first.”
“I can’t have apothecary clerks who are filthy.”
It was obvious why Giselle said that.
Rille-nee and I were wearing dresses that were worn out from living on the streets. This may be fine for shoe-shining or selling bouquets, but it wasn’t good for an apothecary which dealt with things that people ate.
So, Giselle took us to a second-hand clothing store in town to get some new clothes.
There were a lot of second-hand clothing stores for commoners downtown, and kid’s clothes that get outgrown can be purchased at a reasonable price.
We chose simple designs since embroidery would make it more expensive, but the flared skirt made it cuter. Giselle gave us the initial investment.
After I washed up, Rille-nee cut my hair, which had grown to my shoulders, to my nape.
The next day, on the third day after moving in, we finally started working.
Giselle, who had already been forced to spend a lot of money, seemed to have completely changed her attitude. “I’ll work you hard,” she declared and began training at the same time as when the store was open for business.
“Medicine and poison are the same. Don’t touch them if you don’t have complete knowledge of them.”
Giselle taught us what pharmacists should know.
Naturally, but the same was true for anything that was excessively taken. Even water has a lethal amount, so we needed to be even more careful when it came to medicine.
During her free time, Giselle would teach us about the ingredients and benefits of the medicines on the shelf, let us touch and smell the medicines, and helped us remember their characteristics so we don’t get them confused.
This store only sold herbal medicine. In Japan, it was called traditional medicine and was the same as Chinese herbal medicine. Therefore, the ingredients were mostly dried plants and mushrooms.
Yes, this was my field of expertise as a graduate of the department of agriculture.
Of course, I wasn’t a pharmacist, so I don’t know much about pharmaceuticals, but when it came to extracting active ingredients from natural resources, I was in my element.
Needless to say, my intellectual curiosity as an ex-researcher was greatly stimulated by all the things I had never seen before.
Not only did she tell us what kind of medicine it was and what it did, she also told us in detail about the environment in which the ingredients were harvested and how they were extracted, processed and blended.
I was so excited that I forgot to use formal language and made Giselle flinch.
But even I can’t remember everything that was being told to me.
“I’m sorry. Can I borrow this?”
I raised my hand in the middle of the explanation and asked for a piece of paper and pen, which were placed on the counter.
I dipped the wooden pen with a brush-like tip into the ink pot after Giselle had dubiously given me permission to use it, and wrote down what I heard on the thin, stiff piece of paper that looked like straw paper with rough fibres.
Then, Rille-nee, who was peeking at me from the side, shouted in surprise.
“You can write?”
Oh, by the way, I was writing in Japanese.
I don’t know the letters here yet.
“I thought of this myself. I’ll teach you later.”
“Wow, amazing. Teach me, teach me!”
She was impressed when I said that calmly, Rille-nee was really cute and honest.
But Giselle, who was peeking at the paper, gave me a funny look.
“So, you understand it?”
“… Give it to me.”
Giselle quickly wrote on a new piece of paper and pointed out one by one that this was the medicine that she had just explained.
“You should at least be able to read the names of the medicines.”
I replied cheerfully.
Now I can finally learn to read a little.
I studied the letters and medical terminology while helping Giselle with her work. The first day of training went very smoothly.
We closed the store before dark and prepared dinner.
I used a ladle to transfer water from the water jug to the pot on the stove, and Rille-nee threw in the beans, sheep bones and vegetables into the pot. When the beans swelled and were fully cooked, we seasoned it with salt, and it was done.
The chores were taken care of. Cooking, laundry, cleaning, you name it, we can do it. We’re skilled with chores.
We placed the soup in front of Giselle, who was doing the bookkeeping at the table, served ourselves and took our seats facing the store owner.
The bowls, spoons, and chairs for the meal were all newly purchased yesterday.
We put our mouths around the rim of the bowls and sipped the brothy amber-coloured soup, and it gently flowed down our bodies.
Giselle also drank the soup and muttered her thoughts.
Today’s dish was also well received.
“Rille-nee seasoned it.”
“Hmm. Rille is a good cook.”
I called her Rille-nee, so Giselle also started calling her by her nickname.
The person who was directly complimented was smiling beside me.
“I just sprinkled in some salt.”
“Really? It’s better than what I make. I wonder what’s the difference.”
Giselle asked for another serving while wondering what the difference was.
Hmm, we’ve seized her stomach. Everything was going well.
We took advantage of this and ate more until the pot was empty.
After we finished eating, I pulled the desk to the edge and laid out a cloth next to the bed to make a sleeping spot for Rille-nee and I.
It was impossible to put another bed in the living area since it was only as big as four and a half tatami mats6.9cm^2. But this was enough.
I changed into my old dress that I had used as a nightgown and we were ready for bed, but Giselle was still not sleeping and was working on the bookkeeping and inventory.
We couldn’t help her with that, so we decided to lie down on the futon and review the day’s work while looking at my notes.
“How do you read this?”
“Salve. Do you know how to use it?”
Rille-nee had a hard time remembering all this because there were too many things to remember in terms of content and letters.
I can easily absorb all this information because I had a good foundation, was used to studying and had an interest in it, but Rille-nee was not so lucky.
Smoke often blew from her head when Giselle was explaining the medicine during the day, so I thought it was necessary to review what we had learnt, so I held a study session at night.
“――― Hey, it’s time to sleep.”
I don’t know how much time passed but with Giselle’s words as the signal, the study session came to an end.
Rille-nee had reached her limits.
“I’m turning it off.”
I put away my notes and crawled under the thin summer futon with Rille-nee.
Darkness immediately filled the room when Giselle blew the candle, and I felt her step over us and get into bed.
We said good night to each other, and the day was over.
The smell of various medicines mixed in the air was nothing special when you got used to it. The pleasant feeling of fatigue lulled me to a peaceful sleep.
It was alright to let it take over.
It was fine if it suddenly rained, and no one would attack me from the darkness since I had a roof over my head and walls around me.
No matter how shabby or small, a house was important. The sense of security was different.
In addition, my stomach was full, and my back and head didn’t hurt because of the thickly laid cloth.
I was happy to have something that was normal to have.