Black Cat Chapter 158: Direct Appeal

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 After a moment of silence, Viscount Lagart began to speak with a bittersweet smile.



“I understand what Nyango is trying to say. Since you are an involved party, it’s only natural that you would want to do something about those things. However, this issue has been stagnating for a long time and cannot be resolved easily.” (Frederick)



 Viscount Lagart sipped from his teacup and moistened his throat before continuing.



“First of all, the gap between Ibouro and the surrounding villages will not narrow unless new industries and specialties emerge. For example, does Atsuka, Nyango’s hometown, have anything that would attract many people?” (Frederick)


“That’s not… the case.” (Nyango)



 To be honest, Atsuka is a small village in the middle of nowhere, not a scenic place, and has no specialties that other towns and villages can be proud of.


 To put it another way, it is surrounded by mountains, so trees are abundant, but their use is limited.



 The trees are not stretched straight like in Japanese mountains but are curved and unpruned.


 Even if they were cut down, there would not be much usable as lumber.



 The surrounding mountains have used up all the flat land that could be used as fields, and I can’t think of anything that could be used to create a new industry.



“Of course, Atsuka is also my family’s territory and I want it to prosper, but it’s not easy…” (Frederick)


“Then at least improve the treatment of the catkins…” (Nyango)



 As I lean forward to say something, my words are cut off by Viscount Lagart’s wry smile.



“As for the treatment of catkins, it’s not easy either…” (Frederick)


“I suppose it is, but can’t they at least be given an education and a place to work?” (Nyango)


“Nyango probably doesn’t know this, but we tried an initiative to protect the catkins…” (Frederick)


“It didn’t work out?” (Nyango)


“Problems unique to catkins have been holding us back.” (Frederick)



 It seems that it was not the Viscount himself, but his predecessor.


 He made a rule to have the stores and workshops in Ibouro hire catkins.



“First of all, in a business dealing with food, shedding became a problem. Rumors circulated that the products made by catkins contained hair, and they were no longer allowed to work in that field. The frequency may not have been enough to raise eyebrows, but apparently, those who weren’t protected thought they were going to lose their jobs, so they started the rumor.” (Frederick)


“I see…” (Nyango)


“Besides the food business, stores dealing in clothes and fabrics were also discouraged from hiring because of similar complaints and rumors.” (Frederick)


“How was the economy in Ibouro at that time? If the economy was good and there were plenty of jobs, there wouldn’t have been jealousy from other races, right?” (Nyango)


“Hmm, that may be true, if the economy is good and there are plenty of jobs, catkins would be hired without creating such a system, hmm?” (Frederick)


“That’s true, but… Catkins are also thought to be stupid…” (Nyango)


“I think you’re right, people are prejudiced, but I’m sure there are problems with the nature of catkins.” (Frederick)


“The laziness…?” (Nyango)



 Viscount Lagart nodded silently.


 The catkins, for better or worse, retain the temperament of a cat.



 When their stomachs are full… When they find a warm sunny spot… When they enter the shade of a tree with a cool breeze… They are overcome by an unbearable sleepiness. I can’t help but feel unbearably drowsy.


 Of course, it is not impossible to overcome it by sheer force of will, but many catkins succumb to sleepiness.



 My father and my eldest brother, who had gone out to work in the fields, would abandon their work and sleep in the grassy areas around the fields.


 I also heard that the textiles that my mother and sister make in-house are finished slower than others.



 Thanks to that, my family is poor, but I guess it’s okay because they can still live even in poverty… I think one of the catkin’s shortcomings is that they have little desire to improve.



“Also, Nyango seems to like taking baths…” (Frederick)


“Oh… from other people’s point of view, that’s a problem.” (Nyango)



 Another drawback due to the cat’s temperament is its dislike of baths.


 I was in and out of Grandma Carisa’s apothecary, so I never missed a daily bath, but my dad and brother would sometimes go two or three days without a bath to do their farm work.



 Come to think of it, when Miriam was picked up by Shure, her white fur had turned gray, but she didn’t want to take a bath.


 But, well, I don’t know why she didn’t want to take a bath.



 In a world where hair dryers do not exist, it takes a lot of time and effort to dry her fur when it gets wet.


 You have to shake your body to drain off the water and wipe yourself again and again with a hand towel, but it takes a long time until you are completely dry.



 Moreover, when it rains continuously and the humidity is high, the damp feeling stays with you forever.


 If the fur stays dry, it smells like freshly dried laundry, and if they don’t take a bath, the fur smells like an animal.



“I heard that in the food, clothing, and fabric-related industries that I mentioned earlier, the uncleanliness of catkins was also a problem.” (Frederick)


“So, if they fix their laziness and dislike of taking baths, their chances of getting a job will increase?” (Nyango)


“It’s better than now. It doesn’t mean that your handicaps such as your physique and lack of magical power will disappear.” (Frederick)


“That’s true…” (Nyango)



 My brother, too, has been bathing every day since he came to Chariot’s base, and he’s a diligent worker.


 I fed him a goblin heart so he could use magic like a normal person, but that still didn’t solve the problem of his size.



“Catkins are poor. Because they are poor, their lifestyle smell, and they lose the opportunity to get more work. Unless the vicious cycle is broken somewhere, discrimination against catkins and disparities in living standards will not disappear, but it is also essential to change the consciousness of catkins themselves.” (Frederick)


“I see…” (Nyango)



 I want to do something about discrimination against catkins, but whether all catkins think the same way as I do, I feel that many of them are satisfied with the status quo.


 Those who live in the slums of Ibouro probably want to get out of their current lives, but I don’t feel such a sense of urgency from my father and mother.



 Life is poor, but it’s not enough to starve to death, and there was definitely an air of, “It’s fine…” in the air.


 Maybe the families of catkins in other villages are similar to my own family.



 Still, the lives of those in the slums seem miserable, even from the outside looking in.


 My brother doesn’t want to talk about it in detail, so I don’t have a complete picture of what’s really going on.



“Um… Can’t we at least do something about the people living in the slums?” (Nyango)


“The slums… hmm…” (Fredereick)



 After I spoke up, I recalled that that is a deep-rooted problem.


 The people who caused last year’s school occupations were undoubtedly those who ran the slums.



 During that commotion, I used pulverization magic circle to my fullest, but I don’t know how much of an impact it had.


 The people who control the slums are said to be connected behind the scenes with those in charge of the entertainment district, and this must be a headache for Viscount Lagart as well.



“I am not saying that the slums are a necessary evil, but we cannot afford to help everyone who lives in them. But the situation in recent years has been alarming.” (Frederick)


“So can’t we at least create a system whereby the poor don’t have to fall into the slums?” (Nyango)


“A system where you don’t have to fall to the slums…?” (Frederick)


“Yes, in fact, my brother lived in the slums for a while. A catkin named Miriam, who recently joined our base, was also on the verge of falling into the slums because she couldn’t find work.” (Nyango)



 When I told him that both my brother and Miriam were now living in Chariot’s base and working as apprentices, Viscount Lagart listened with interest.



“I see… A place to live, training that can be directly used for work, and people who can teach…” (Frederick)


“Doesn’t the Merchant and Craftsman Guild have such a system?” (Nyango)


“We offer inexpensive lodging to those who have just come from the surrounding villages. As for work, there are also apprenticeships available, so that’s where they generally learn.” (Frederick)



 Apparently, the subsidy system is not entirely absent, but it does not reach the catkins or they do not take advantage of the opportunities.


 Looking back, it seems that both my brother and Miriam thought they could get by if they went to Ibouro.



 Perhaps many of the catkins who have come out of the surrounding villages in the past have lost touch with each other, sinking into the slums.


 But the reality that they would fall into the slums would not be conveyed to the surrounding villages, and they would come out to Ibouro without a sense of crisis.



“I am sorry, Nyango. These problems should be solved by me, the lord, and not by the people. When I return from Royal Capital, I will send a notice to the village. I will also inform the Merchant and Craftsman Guild so that they will have a better protection system for those who come to Ibouro.” (Frederick)


“Thank you. For doing what you can.” (Nyango)



 As a mere adventurer, there are limits to what I can do, but if Viscount Lagart, the lord, is willing to cooperate, the situation may improve a little.




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