Chapter 15 – The Peddler
The horse cart of a peddler stopped in the middle of village, right in front of the tribal chief’s house.
Due to the exceptional size of tribal chief’s house, it’s often used to welcome guests from the outside.
The horse of the peddler, which was one size bigger than the ones raised in this village, was fastened to the tree next to the house, where it was gulping down water from a bucket.
As it noticed Eiji approaching, it looked at him straightly with its pupils.
You could feel the pressure coming from inside of those big, black radiant pupils.
Since arriving at this village, Eiji had no opportunity to get in touch with a horse.
In the end, is it fine to come near it? – is what he felt with anxiety.
– If you approach it carelessly, you’re going to be kicked.
The voice which reached Eiji’s ears was coming from a big man.
He wasn’t tall; nevertheless, his body was thick with muscles.
His face was squarish and his hair was brown with a reddish tinge. In addition, they were pointy, short, and trimmed up toward the sky, just like bristles.
Despite every single part on his whole body being big, only his eyes were small and became narrower once he smiled, just like its veins.
On the front of his forearms and forehead were scars from cuts.
Because Eiji had never seen this man before, he understood that he’s the one called the peddler.
– A new face, ain’t you? Is there anything you want to buy?
– There are lots of things I’d like to discuss with you.
– Discussion? Fine. So let me know its detail.
Once the man tried to speak, his choice of words became less formal, and his accent turned gentler.
However, if he were indeed gentle, then he wouldn’t have those scars on his forehead.
There ought to be a ferocious personality suitable to that appearance of his.
Eiji thought about how to start the conversation.
Starting from bringing out the topic regarding soap would probably be a bad idea.
As for Eiji, who wanted to acquire more information what’s outside of the village, beginning the topic with soap would probably have him mesmerized.
– First, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Eiji, and I’m the blacksmith in this village.
– Thank you for your kindness. My name’s Jean, and as you can see, I’m a peddler. So it was because of you, my boy, that this village didn’t see a need to buy my hoes.
– I’m still inexperienced, and most of the things I’ve made need to be repaired.
– Don’t fret. This will improve together with your skills. I think that having someone like you in this village is very precious. That’s why you should abandon challenging that fragile iron, and instead properly use the bronze.
It seemed that the man had already noticed the replacement of bronze with iron, which was an impact that made Eiji sweat profusely. However, it looks like Jean believed him on the part of being inexperienced.
Eiji nodded deeply, as he understood that it was the kind of advice in which failure contributes to one’s growth.
– That’s right, you see, not much time has passed since I came here, so there’s still much I don’t know about my surroundings. Jean-san, how many villages have you visited so far?
– Me? I’ve stopped in every village on this island.
– Island, so it’s an island?
– Hm? Yea. I stayed for a few days in every one of them, so it took about three months to make a full circle. That is how long it would take to fully travel this island.
– How many villages did you visit in total…?
– I guess around 30?
– How big would this village be?
– I think it’s quite big. There are even small settlements with around 50 people that are somehow managing.
– And in case of big ones?
– The biggest I’ve seen belonged to a landlord, and has around 400.
As Jean’s words kept piling up, Eiji felt that the truth was far from what he expected.
He imagined at first that trading with foreign countries would be done on land, or at least this geography was in his mind.
Because there are no paved roads, it was hard to estimate how far he would reach within a single day. Eiji understood, however, that this island wasn’t unrealistically big, and that the population was low.
In this village there were around 250 people. Assuming there are more of such villages than the average number, then it would be about 200 per each. Together with the small settlements, it would be just around 6000 something people.
As his head started to get dizzy, his view became obstructed.
It made him start having troubles with breathing.
– Hey, are you alright? Your face seems to be pale.
– No, I’m fine
Having that pointed out, Eiji came back to reality.
While he was forcibly controlling his breathing, he calmed himself down.
Even though he cannot wish for any radical development, there was a low chance for his skills to become a problem.
Because the possibility of leaking it to the outside was low, it was fine to monopolize technology on this island.
Eiji switched to a more positive thinking.
If one were to accept this state and live one’s whole life like this, then dependent upon one’s thinking it would be enough of a favorable condition.
– Fernandez who lives in this village said that the people from the other side of the water come to this island, but it seems like they’re making business with some country.
– Hm…? No, there are no such people on this island. They’re probably people stranded by the water. In the first place, however far you may look out over, there’s no sign of other islands
– Is that so…? So it’s a solitary island?
– Yea, more or less like that. And my job is to tie the distance between villages.
Jean tapped his arm. The smile on his whole face, which revealed his teeth, seemed to show that he held pride in his job.
Certainly, if there are no trading routes on the water, then the role of a peddler is exceptionally big.
– Anyway, I learned what I wanted to know. Thank you.
– I don’t mind. Then, did you decide on what you want to buy?
– Yeah, that’s right. Do you have cooking oil and some pieces of cloth?
– I’ve got macadamia oil. As for cloths, I have high quality one with tightly knit eye-hole pattern. I am ready to exchange them for something else.
– Can I take a look at the cloth?
– Yea, just a moment.
After Jean went inside the house of tribal chief, he came back and brought the cloth.
You could tell that it was carefully produced even without saying.
Nevertheless, there was a small stain, probably, due to flushing it with water
Eiji took out the soap which was inside the jar.
– What’s that?
– It’s called soap.
– It’s white and feels slimy. What do you use it for?
– You use it to remove the stain. This cloth is a little bit dirty.
– Well, I had it washed before, but looks like it got stained with dust while on my way here. It can’t be helped.
– Can I borrow one?
– Yeah, I don’t mind.
– How about you soak it in the water, then smear and rub it with the soap…?
– H-Hey! The way the dirt comes off, isn’t it completely different?! W-what’s that?!
– It’s called soap.
– I know its name, but I want to know how you made it! Is this the only one you have?!
While surprised, Jean draw closer to Eiji.
The piece of cloth, which he held in one hand, was pretty clean. In the other hand, the stain, which had fallen off, rested. It was mixed together with the oil content.
– I can’t tell you the process of making it. As for the amount, I’ve more than 10 pieces of turtle shells, but still, I can make it only during a specific time.
– Does it contain a material which has something to do with the seasons?
-….Well, you could say so.
Regardless of him being completely surprised, once he got in touch with an unknown object, he had a sharp guess drawn within a moment from the conversation.
I can’t say unnecessary things – deemed Eiji, thinking that he ought to carefully choose his words.
– But, it’s not the only feature of that soap.
– Once you regularly wash clothes using this, it will reduce the number of lice. As for acari (taxon and mites) and fleas, it won’t help much, since there is livestock. However, if you get bit by a louse, then it’s bye bye.
– Give me as much as you can.
Jean’s gaze was grave.
One could imagine how the trade would prosper from using soap.
The peddler, who had the vision of profits in front of his eyes, while remaining calm, glared at Eiji in wish.
But Eiji didn’t intend to sell it cheap.
Besides him, only Pietro knew how to make it.
This could mean nothing but raising the value of this precious item.
– How about this much?!
– Won’t do.
– And this much?!
– Not enough, not enough.
– How about this much!?
– Do you honestly think that this much would do?
– I’m already at my limit!
– Shout once more!
– Alright! With this it should be fine! How is that, are you content?!
– Yes, this much should do.
– Honestly… you’re a hell of a skillful negotiator ain’t you?
Jean was gasping with breath, whereas Eiji had a face of chuckling to himself.
Quite a lot of items from the horse cart’s freight were exchanged.
In addition to cotton cloths and knitting wool, there were precious metals, such as gems, gold, and silver. Other than that, Eiji got oil, salt, and dried meat.
With this, it will be exceptionally easy to endure the winter, and even have much in stock remaining.
Even if he were to pass some to the village, it would still be a lot.
However, this could prove to be a far better profit for Jean, and will probably pay off.
Eiji was quite curious to what extent could soap yield profits.
– Ah, by the way…
– What? I won’t give you any more than this.
– That’s not what I mean. If I can have you collect waste oil from other villages, and bring them here, I’m sure you’ll be happy.
– Heh?…Fine, I got it. I’ll promise you that.
As their negotiation talk ended, they exchanged a handshake.
With that, it would mark the beginning of a great turmoil beyond anyone’s expectation.
Translation and reference notes:
: Yes, I checked it twice and it was Fernandez (not Fernando). I assume Eiji wanted to use a fake person as an argument.
: I used before the word sea, but it seems I wasn’t right with my decision. Apparently, the word “umi can be used to describe seas, oceans – so generally, any big land that contain water. Therefore, I’ve decided to put this instead of sea. You will see why, as you continue to read.