Suzuki’s little contraption couldn’t make that much ice yet; what there was had gone to keeping some of the more perishable meat and greens fresh, and cool drinks for the elderly and very young in the summer heat. Right now Hozumi was probably hovering over the steamsmith’s shoulder to get her own chilled water. Good for her.
“So!” A brunette townswoman Ikoma had seen go bargaining with Kajika raised her ladle, purple cord tying back the sleeves of her short brown robe. “Are your young apprentices ready for seconds?”
The orphans grinned at apprentices. Ikoma tried not to quail in terror at the thought. If anyone ever figured out a way to bargain Kabane dead, Kajika would clear the whole of Hi-no-moto in a month. A year, tops.
“Are you sure, Aguri?” From across the way, Ayame looked up hopefully. “Rationing-”
“Won’t do a bit of good with this, my lady.” Aguri patted one handle of the pot. “I know steamsmiths live on black tea and jerky, and bushi love fish as much as cats. But this is innards, and they don’t keep. Better for everyone to eat all they can stuff down.”
The kids didn’t need any more of an invitation, bouncing off the bunk to get their bowls filled again. Kibito wasn’t too far behind, steadying little Ikko when the toddler did his best to hold his mug up straight.
Ikoma breathed out a sigh of relief, watching some of the shadows ease around people’s eyes. Though Kajika wasn’t the only one squinting at the reddish, lemony-smelling tea Aguri offered along with it. “No, you need to drink that,” Ikoma put in, when Kajika hesitated. “I was talking to Suzuki about traveling on a Hayajiro. He says it’s like being on a ship; you can come down with scurvy if you’re not careful. So… he can’t get limes, but this works just as well.”
“What’s scurvy?” One of the kids wondered.
“You get sick and lose all your teeth,” Aguri said with evil relish. “And you don’t even get to say Hozumi beat you up. Eww.”