Chapter 31: Encounter with the Delinquent Grand Duke
Uminekatei is a bar located on a street off the main street. Given the moderately spacious interior and location, it is likely that the restaurant targets locals rather than outsiders.
“Excuse me. Are there any seats available?”
“Oh, welcome! Uh, oh. Please take a seat over there! …… Yes, I’m on my way!”
Lute, who entered the store with such an impression, was greeted by the voice of a girl who appeared to be a waitress, and the bustle of the restaurant, which almost drowned out her voice.
“It’s pretty crowded here.”
Although the restaurant gave the impression of being a relatively secluded place, contrary to expectations, the bar was a success. Rather, the bar was full when Lute took a seat at an empty table.
I thought for a moment that the store was surprisingly well known, but it probably wasn’t because it felt rushed overall. As far as I could see, there were three waiters. The older female waiter was moving briskly, as if she were a veteran, but the girl who guided Lute was somewhat unsteady, and the last waiter, a boy of about 10 years old, looked as if he was about to roll his eyes from fatigue.
Apparently, the store seems to be thriving beyond its capacity. The owner of the restaurant at the market said that people were coming from the surrounding area to see Lute, so this bar must have been affected by that.
In that sense, it can be said that it contributed to sales, but it would be more correct to describe it as ‘a cause of congestion’ from Lute’s point of view. It was a real feeling of subtle seating discomfort.
“Hey, I’ve got a question for you.”
“Huh? Ah, what is it?”
“Is there ale and some snacks to go with it? I just moved to town, actually. I’m hoping for something with local cuisine, like limu soup.”
Is that why? While asking for a recommendation, Lute thought that he could broaden the topic of conversation. He thought that this would give the boy a chance to catch his breath, and he was concerned about him.
“In that case, there is something good. It’s not a local dish, but it’s something we started serving recently. It’s called fried sweet potato. It’s very popular as a snack with sake.”
“….Fried sweet potatoes?”
However, the words returned by the boy caught my interest regardless of his concern.
“Fried, huh? I don’t hear that very often.”
“Ah, it’s certainly not a common cooking method. When I introduced it to my father, he said he didn’t know about it.”
“……could it be that you’re the one who came up with the idea for the item? From the way you’re talking, you don’t sound like a kid from the inn.”
“Ah… Well, yes. I came out of my hometown with my sister over there. My father and owner of this store were acquaintances, so that’s how it happened.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to meddle in other people’s affairs. I just got curious and asked something I shouldn’t have.”
Lute immediately apologized to the boy’s reaction. Judging from the murky mouth, it probably wasn’t a topic he wanted to talk about. At the very least, it was not something he should be asking his first guest of the day.
“No, no, it’s fine. And if a kid like me teaches, it’s natural to be curious about it. But my dream is to become an inventor, so I just like to listen and think about things.”
“… Huh? In other words, fried potatoes are your first invention.”
“Well, what do you think? It’s just not widespread around here, but it might already exist somewhere.”
“If it’s not popular in the area and you didn’t steal someone else’s idea, it’s already a great invention. I think you can be proud of it.”
“Heheh. Thank you.”
The boy laughs shyly at Lute’s words. Maybe he doesn’t have a lot of experience with words like this.
“Then, for the time being, give me ale and those fried potatoes.”
“I’ll give you this one afterwards. As an apology for asking such a bad question.”
With his order, Lute tossed a coin to the boy. It was a tip, so to speak. It was an apology for asking such a strange question and a thank you for sharing an interesting story with him.
“Oh, no, and an imperial silver coin? I’m sorry, sir!”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s just a little bit of money.”
“No, it’s quite a lot of money!?”
The boy panicked and raised his voice to Lute, who answered as if nothing had happened. The reason was that the chip he was given was a silver coin made in the Froysel Empire, a highly credible coin in the international community because of its high silver content. It was not as rare as the imperial gold coins, but it was still an exceptional tip for a child. The boy’s reaction was quite natural.
“It’s good, so keep it. You’ve been working all your life, even though you’re a little guy, haven’t you? It wouldn’t hurt if your hard work paid off once in a while.”
“Oh, thank you! My name is Rick! If you don’t mind, please come again! I’ll ask my dad to give you some extra service! Of course I’ll ask him this time!”
“Oh, I’m looking forward to it. You’d better get going. You’ve been pampered too much. Is that your sister? She’s glaring at you.”
“Oh crap! Excuse me, excuse me!”
After bowing once to Lute, the boy, whose name was Rick, walked away from the table at a quick pace. His steps were light. Perhaps he was able to catch his breath thanks to the chat, or perhaps his fatigue had been wiped away by the unexpected extra income.
“…But an inventor.”
Wondering what to do, Lute muttered quietly while looking at the busy shop.
Rick’s small body moves around, and his older sister sometimes glares at him with half-open eyes, as if she wants to blame him for slacking off. The sister and brother seem to be getting along well.
“I’ve made a strange connection.”
It was a spur-of-the-moment outing, but the result was one favorite restaurant and one connection with an interesting boy.
“Here’s some fried potatoes and ale. I’m sorry, it seems my brother was indebted to you. In return, I’ve put a little extra sweet potato on the side.”
“Oh, thanks a lot.”
With a wry smile, Rick’s sister brought a mug filled with ale and stick-shaped sweet potatoes that were shining golden.
He lightly replies to Rick’s sister, telling her not to worry about it, and Lute promptly puts a piece of hot potato in his mouth.
“──Oh, it’s delicious.”
It has just the right amount of salt and a crunchy texture. No wonder it goes well with sake.
After slowly enjoying the potatoes, he secretly sipped magically chilled ale.
“… it’s delicious”
A cup that started at the rim and arrived. The people, the food. He met too many in a short time.
In Lute, it was too much to be immersed in sentimentality.
“Ah!? What do you mean, say it again!!”
The angry voice that came from somewhere was more than enough to get on Lute’s nerves.