Phlebotomy and Foundation
A month after the pharmacy’s establishment.
The Diversis Mundi Pharmacy still had no crowd.
However, they had yet to receive any harassment from the Apothecary Guild.
No matter how anyone viewed the shop, it looked like a store that catered only to the aristocracy, was what Ellen said.
Diversis Mundi Pharmacy had been established for the common people, but despite that, clientele such as wealthy merchants and lower-class nobles were the only ones who sparsely visited the shop. With that said, some high-class aristocrats viewed the apothecary shop as third-rate, deemed it not suitable owing to their family status, and therefore not able to reasonably meet their demands.
Nevertheless, they often came by to purchase cosmetics and hand cream. Though in case of a serious illness, the aristocrats would still seek the service of a First or Second Class Apothecary to make house calls, and thus had no need to buy medicines.
Besides that, they would also arrive all dressed up to the utmost. They wore the same clothes they would wear when arriving at a ball. There were also some nobles who wore medals. Although the shopkeeper was just a child, he was still the second son of an Archduke. In addition, the Charter Mark in front of the store, made the shop quite overbearing.
The store didn’t look like something anyone could visit while wearing just their every-day clothing. Must it be written on the signboard? Was what Falma was wondering about.
Though before that, he was troubled on how to attract commoner customers.
Meanwhile, during their daily lunch break hour. On the third floor of the store, in the staff break room, the staff members were taking a break and eating lunch. By the way, in order to have Cedric, who has a bad knee, be able to get to the break room on the third floor, they installed a manual elevator counterweight (balance weight) the day they decided to hire Cedric, and so, Cedric could now comfortably access the third floor.
While eating lunch, their topic was none other than: How to get commoners to visit the shop. It was the so-called luncheon meeting.
“It’s not like customers will suddenly come flooding in.”
Ellen handed Lotte a piece of bread while drinking her freshly squeezed juice.
“Well, since we have the time, it’s fine if the patients start coming in little by little. People who are in real need of treatment, or those who need medicine.”
Despite Falma’s high expectations, no such patients came to visit.
“Because I thought something like this might happen, I did some thinking!”
It seemed like Lotte had been giving out questionnaires regarding Diversis Mundi Pharmacy over the last couple of days. Since Lotte was the only commoner amongst the staff members, it was easier for her to talk to the people on the streets.
“I will now announce the results! I’ve asked 100 citizens residing in Imperial Capital of San Fleuve! And have received multiple answers.”
“You really did well, Lotte, you’ve been a big help. Nevertheless, I’m scared to hear the results.”
Falma started clapping. At the same time, he started preparing his heart.
“Well then, please go ahead and announce it. Lottelita sure is talented!”
Ellen waved her hand in encouragement.
“Those who thinks the Imperial Charter emblem is scary – 48 people.”
Slip, the three people pretended to fall down.
“Those who don’t know how to speak formally to a noble Apothecary, and so they stay clear of the shop in order to not conduct a sacrilegious crime – a scary number of 46 people.”
Ah, so it was like that, the three people were convinced.
“Those who don’t have any noble-like clothes to wear, and feel conscious if they come to the shop – 25 people.”
There’s no need to be conscious, was what Ellen retorted.
“Those who are afraid of the Knight Gatekeepers – 19 people.”
It’s not like the gatekeepers weren’t smiling, was what Falma wanted to say in the gatekeepers’ defense.
“Those who do not trust the medicine issued by the Apothecary because he’s just a child – 18 people.”
It’s because of me! Falma fell on top of the table.
“Because of the signboard ‘price is negotiable,’ those who are scared of the high price of the medicine and consultation – 12 people.”
“Those who cannot read the signboard and are scared to enter – 10 people.”
“Lastly… those who said it’s because the manager is a child – 8 people. That’s it.”
It’s because of me again! Falma moaned. Falma, who had a strong mentality, somehow managed to reply.
“Thank you, I understand. It is as expected.”
“Okay, okay,” Ellen said while waving, and fixed her glasses.
“Somehow, we’ve stumbled on the most fundamental part.”
“When they say it’s because the manager is a child, there’s no room left for retorts.”
Ouch, ouch, ouch, Falma pressed his forehead.
“Commoners visit stores specifically catered to commoners, and they don’t want to get involved with nobles. I’ve already told you this many times.”
“I wonder if it would be better if we established a price for the examination and specific medicine, and hang it outside the shop.”
Cedric proposed. Falma started to regret writing ‘price is negotiable.’ The status of the patient and their property, they thought about changing the price of the medicine depending on their degree of poverty, but it seems to have made everyone cautious because the price is negotiable.
“We need to make it so that there are some regulars visiting the shop.”
Was what Ellen said.
Although the shop was in a situation where it’s being shunned, there’s a commoner old man, Jean, with strong mentality who comes every day. Jean approached the counter in a lofty manner.
“I’d like to get those Sailor Candies (Bonbon). I’d like 3 today.”
Old man Jean comes here every day to buy candy, drinks water from the water dispenser, and goes back by walking.
“Yes, 3 candies it is. Thank you very much.”
Falma responded kindly. Since he comes every day, Falma thought about what would happen if he suddenly thought it was troublesome, but despite that, he continues to dutifully come every day. No matter if it’s 1 candy, or 2 candies, he would still come and buy it. When mentioning regular customers, he’s the regular of all regulars.
Falma took out 3 candies from the candy jar, and handed it to him. In the pharmacy, they have prepared a variety of candies. Candies such as cough candy, cold prevention candy, candies for sailors (scurvy disease prevention candy), and salt candy (heatstroke prevention). Because these candies have the same pricing as candies found in other stores, children of wealthy merchants often come by with coins clasped in their hands to purchase these candies.
“Well then, since I’ve purchased the goods, I’ll help myself to some water!”
He said triumphantly. Although he always came to buy “Sailor Candy,” but rather than the candy, his main purpose is to drink water, and everyone of the staff members is aware of it.
“Ohoho, this is it, this is it! This taste really good.”
Old man Jean took a paper cup and approached the water dispenser in triumph. As for the sanitary cup, Lotte had folded them for the customers. Falma had taught her how to fold the origami cups.
“Please drink a lot of it. Since it’s quite humid outside, please rehydrate.”
Without even the slightest scowl, Falma encouraged him to drink more. If one buys some goods, water is free. If one doesn’t buy any goods, the price of water is a small coin. Old man Jean continued gulping down water, and he will always drink 5 cups without fail.
“Since you’ve bought Sailor Candy, does that mean you’ll be going out to sea?”
Now that he thought about it, old man Jean looked very tanned. Falma wondered if the old man is man of the sea.
“No, I don’t go out to sea anymore. However, I used to go out often back then. See you later then.”
Old man Jean waved his hand violently, and started to totter back.
It doesn’t matter if he’s a sailor. Since an intake of Vitamin C is always a good thing anyway.
Old man Jean would always have multiple men waiting for him in the alley. One of the men was holding a bag with an S.I.O. logo on it.
I wonder, are they his walking companions?
Falma, who came to see him off, couldn’t help but wonder.
Soon after old man Jean left, an upper nobility husband and wife came to visit the store. The woman had a white powdered tall rococo hairstyle, while the man, also with quite a tall hairstyle, had a feather hat perched on top of his hair. The both of them wore masks.
It’s too suspicious!
Although they were clearly suspicious, the gatekeeper Knights pretended not to notice and let them through. And when the two people entered the store,
“Dear Mother, please take care in not knocking the products off their shelves with your hair.”
Falma unintentionally noted.
“Eh, oh my. How did you know it was me?”
“If you wanted to come in secret, you shouldn’t have raised your voice so early in the morning.”
The parents were made to sit down on the pharmacy’s brand new sofa in the reception corner, and Cedric served them tea. And because wearing masks were uncomfortable, both parents took them off. It was masks that similarly resembled Venetian masks. Father or Mother, which one of them actually came up with the plan to cover their faces, did they think they wouldn’t be found out; these were the questions Falma wanted to ask.
“N-no matter what, I wanted to see how it’s like here. Furthermore, you’re still a child.”
In contrast of his Mother’s increasing concerns, his Father remained seated in a calm and collected manner.
“Shopkeeper, I wonder if it’s fine to have a look around the shop.”
“Please feel free to do so.”
He examined the pharmacy from corner to corner, and after checking out the compounding room, he turned to the table without a word. When Bruno suddenly stormed into the shop, after greeting him, Ellen stood stock-still in attention on the spot. Usually, Ellen would often talk to Falma, but when she’s in front of Bruno, she seems to be nervous. Lotte also refrained from uttering a single word.
After drinking a mouthful of tea, Bruno nodded. Well then, time for his evaluation. And Falma unconsciously stepped forward.
“It’s a good store. Although it’s very innovative, but when one slowly thinks about it, it makes logical sense.”
For the time being, Falma felt relieved and met his Father’s gaze.
“Although there are a lot of things I still don’t know about, since Mr. Cedric is here, I think I’ll be fine.”
“What about the customer flow? Do commoners come to shop?”
His Father struck Falma’s weak point, and he jerked as though he was stabbed.
“Although there are some people who come to the shop, none are in need. Such as merchants and aristocrats.”
“I-is that so.”
When the shop the son was managing isn’t doing so well, it’s parental love to worry. Even with that said, Falma’s business sense and sense of money was better than Bruno’s.
“Commoner, commoner, commoner~ It’s not good thinking about only them.”
Mother said brightly, dispelling the heavy atmosphere.
“Anyway, why not just sell cosmetics to aristocracy for now? As long as they are popular amongst the nobility, commoners will also use them. Put more emphasis on cosmetics.”
There was some truth to this. Whatever is trendy amongst the aristocrats, merchants would want them.
“What are some of the cosmetics that are high in demand?”
Ellen has beautiful skin, so she doesn’t need any makeup, let alone Lotte who needs makeup even less, while Falma and Cedric are both male, so in conclusion, none of them knew much about cosmetic trends.
“Cosmetics such as those that adjust one’s skin texture, in that sense, the whiter it is the better; those kinds would be good.”
His Mother was a thoroughly well-informed lady. There were some who were not satisfied with just face powder, and in search of a skin as white as snow, some women resorted to bloodletting (Phlebotomy : venipuncture) repeatedly.
“With white skin, it looks like the skin that of a baby, and if you can make it so that the face powder is long-lasting without any smell, it’ll sell like hotcakes.”
What his Mother had said was something like a comment from a women’s magazine. How boisterous, however, when his Father heard what was spoken, he said,
“Falma. If you’re going to make face powder, don’t use any white powder.”
His Father gave him an advice with a serious face. The face powder in this world, when Falma looked at the recipe, he knew that it contained white lead and mercury which are toxins to the skin even in a different world. However, his Father shouldn’t know it is harmful.
“Why is that?”
“According to what I know, women who uses face powder excessively ends up dying a premature death. Because of that, as someone on the path of medicine, shouldn’t sell those. The white thing is bad.”
I see, so Father indeed knows about it.
The knowledge Bruno has of the medicines in this world were right on target. That was what Falma had felt vaguely. Bruno does not just immerse himself with reading books; he also diligently observes the cases he is presented with. And sometimes, he is even willing to doubt what he read in books.
“Really, it’s because of what you have said. It’s probably just your imagination! Even I want to use white face powder.”
And so, his Mother has been forbidden to use too much white face powder by Bruno. Although it is for the purpose of preserving his Mother’s health, she doesn’t know about it.
“Yes, I have yet to sell any face powder.”
What Falma has been selling were just basic cosmetics such as moisturizer, lotion, and hand cream.
“Nn, it’s for the best.”
At that time, a scream broke out, creating a clamor amongst the citizens on the streets.
“Go call for an Apothecary, hurry!!”
“B-but, the other Apothecaries available around this place…! Are for commoners!!”
Someone, who had looked at the signboard, seemed to have remembered that there was a pharmacy for nobles. A man, who was dressed up looking like an attendant, plunged into the store.
“I’m sorry for troubling you, Sir Apothecary, can I entrust you with the examination of the young lady?!”
“Examination? I understand.”
It had finally happened, and Falma rose from his seat. Bruno, however, didn’t make a move.
“Dear Father, Dear Mother, I’ll be going now. Ellen, please remain here. I’m counting on you to take care of the store!”
After saying farewell to his parents and asking Ellen to look after the store, he ran out of the store and proceeded to the place crowded with people.
“That child, even though we haven’t finished talking to him.”
While his Mother was lamenting, Cedric spoke up.
“Madam, I would like to recommend this new liquid cosmetic Falma-sama has developed while you wait.”
“Oh, it has a nice fragrance.”
Cedric, who knew how to capture the mother’s interest, was also able to lift her mood.
“I’m going outside for some fresh air.”
Bruno silently stood up from his seat, and casually stepped out of the shop.
“That person, I wonder if he’s going to where Falma is.”
“It might be as you say.”
Falma’s mother and Cedric both nodded.
“That person, he said he had something he wanted to say to Falma…”
Supported by a lady’s maid, the young lady who was leaning against the carriage looked terribly pale.
“Ah, how could this have happened. Young lady, please do put yourself together.”
Falma was being guided by the attendant through the large crowd, and they moved towards the voice in the buried within.
“Sir Apothecary is passing through, please make way! This way please, Sir Apothecary.”
“You… you’re an Apothecary?”
The lady thought that medicine has finally arrived, however, because it was a child who came, she had a quizzical expression on her face. When Falma saw her, he estimated she was a noble’s child who is in her late teens. She seemed to be a daughter of a Marquis.
“I’m a Royal Court Apothecary.”
Falma showed her the badge on his collar. Because it was essential to Falma’s work, he placed the crown looking badge of the Royal Court Apothecary on the collar of his white coat. He decided to show off his identity, because if he didn’t, he would probably be underestimated because he was still a child, and then medical examination would be refused.
“Please excuse me, I’ll be entering the carriage. The complexion of your face isn’t looking too well.”
With just one glance, Falma immediately noticed that she was anemic. However, he couldn’t afford not to look see if there were any other ailments. And so, with his left hand on his eye, Falma activated his divine skill Diagnostic Eye to look into the details of the human body. There were no bone fractures, and neither were there any glowing parts.
“There’s no broken bone. It doesn’t seem like there’s any dislocation either.”
However, despite it being hidden by the long sleeves of her dress, his ability allowed him to see myriad lights on her arm.
There was an incision wound. It looks like a wound from phlebotomy.
Self-injury, is it. No, this doesn’t look like she did this to herself, as I thought.
” Iron-deficiency anemia”
The color of the light changed. He finally understood that the topic of the conversation he just had with his Mother has turned into reality.
This is not any ordinary anemia.
“It looks like you’ve had phlebotomy done. You’re suffering from anemia.”
“What, such a thing. But it was done by a doctor?”
An energetic woman, who was looking down, suddenly looked up in surprise. It was as though she was asking what the problem was. In this world, it was standard practice to phlebotomize the patients until they faint. And the repeated incision on the blood vessels, could also cause infection on the wound.
“You are currently not suffering from any particular illness. Although you’re not sick, why did you go through phlebotomy?”
Subsequently, she spoke to Falma for about 30 minutes. While on the side of the road, she began telling her life story. While Falma was listening to her life story in all seriousness, he saw Bruno standing from afar. It seems that she did it with the intention of keeping up with the trend of the aristocrat’s pursuit of beauty and whiter skin. When one looked at it closely, one can see that her face and hands are covered with white face powder. This was exactly what his Father pointed out; it was too much white face powder.
In addition to that, because she doesn’t originally have very white skin, she ardently went through phlebotomy.
Phlebotomy was also a popular practice on Earth during Middle Ages. During that era, when someone was sick, they considered phlebotomy as an effective cure, and they drained the old blood. In modern times, there were very limited situations where phlebotomy is still used.
This girl should not be doing this.
Falma guided them to the pharmacy. His parents had already gone home. He asked the girl to rest while he prescribed her with iron, and also recommended antibiotics for the wound infection. The girl let out a small sigh and said,
“Thank you, I hope I get better this way… How much is the fee?”
Before Falma had a chance to respond, the attendant handed him a large sum of gold coins, surprising him. Aristocrats seemed to like keeping up appearances.
“And so, please do not do any more bloodletting. Also, you should not put on the face powder.”
Falma was worried. As long as she kept up with her pursuit of beauty, if she continued doing the same thing, the situation would just repeat.
“It’s impossible to stop. Because you see, women, even though it’s just a little, they want to be beautiful.”
Falma decided to take her wishes into consideration.
“I will prepare a cosmetic set especially for your skin.”
In one week time, please visit the pharmacy.
That was what Falma had promised her, and on that day, he shut himself on the 4th floor of the Diversis Mundi Pharmacy, where his laboratory was located.
He decided to make a harmless foundation that could be used to lighten the skin tone.