Chapter 17 – The Trade
It has been a long time since Eiji last met with Tanya’s Grandmother, the tribal chief.
They would usually happen to see each other during the soap trade and exchange, but these were just some greetings.
From the time he learned about her true relation with Tanya, Eiji became more timid. This , perhaps, could be the reason for him feeling the distance between Bona and himself.
Still, it was far better than getting along with total strangers, who were only business-oriented.
– Oh, Eiji, so you came.
– Yes, grandmother. Do you have any business with me?
– Well, first, let’s drink some tea.
Eiji gave in and sat on the chair as the tribal chief suggested.
There was a teacup with steaming water placed on the table.
It seemed to be a herbal tea brewed using fruit similar to the common linden, or some similar tree.
Once he began to drink, Eiji could sense the delicate fragrance of flowers.
– I like to drink it using the honey from the linden tree’s flowers, you know. This tea was also made using flowers from the same tree. I have the feeling like its whole life is poured into it.
– Recently, it has become cool, so drinking this tea tastes really good.
– Is that so? That girl, she also likes this, you know. So bring her some back.
Bona handed a jar full of dried fruits and another with small dose of honey.
These were all squeezed by the tribal chief herself.
When Eiji received them gratefully, he smiled gently without realizing it as he imagined Tanya’s happy face.
– Has it been already half year since you came? Looks like you still have trouble with managing people. Do your best.
– There’s no way for me to watch them all the time, so it’s hard.
– You still have your own job to do, I see. It’s fine to ask Tanya if there’s anything you need. That girl has always been watching my back since she was a little kid, and so, she grew up like that. She knows how to deal with most problems.
– Is that so? It doesn’t seem like that to me.
– That’s because she gives them up to you, who is her husband.
Certainly, the Tanya in Eiji’s memory seemed to always respect him.
She neither has complaints, nor criticism for what he does.
What’s more, whenever she was told about a new invention, Tanya would comply with Eiji, who said “leave it to me”, and even let him test the soap on her.
Still, she would perhaps hesitate every time she was helping Eiji with his new creations.
Eiji was as well allowed to do business with peddlers without the need of having Tanya follow him around.
He was thankful to have such an understanding wife who respected him in every aspect.
– Did you fall in love with her again?
– In the first place, my love for her is infinite, so it doesn’t change.
– You’re just boasting about her.
A wry smile appeared on tribal chief’s face.
– To begin with, the first guy that died came from a distant village, and was the second son of the tribal chief there. Because I wanted him to leave an offspring, there was a need to make both of them get along. I also thought of entrusting him this village someday, so I taught Tanya lots of things.
– So it was like that.
– If I were to describe that girl, she would always listen to other villagers, and if there was something I needed, we would often talk about it.
– Does it concern things like your health?
Eiji felt startled after hearing “if there was something I needed”.
The tribal chief was around her 50s.
Her hair became white, and her back had shrunk due to many years of hard work.
It wouldn’t be strange if her life were to end in this cruel environment, where one had to deal with food insufficient and everyday manual labor.
Furthermore, the level of medicine was low.
If one were to decline in strength, there would be no cure.
Even catching a cold would result in one’s death.
However, her face didn’t look pale, and there was a pitch in her voice.
There was no need to worry about how her health would turn out.
– I’m still alive and kicking, you see. Probably, I won’t be substituted immediately, but there’s nothing better than remembering about your job and becoming an adult.
– That’s also true.
– That’s why, whenever you have time, use it wisely. Keep relentlessly forging. And also, negotiate with those damned landlords, trade with peddlers, and make contacts with other villages. There seems to be lots to do.
– Please don’t be hard on me.
– No, I’ll make you into a fine hard-working man.
Kuhahaa – in contrast to the tribal chief who laughed, Eiji could only make a wry smile.
Saying things, like making her granddaughter’s husband into a fine man that would fulfill his duty, gave Eiji, who had neither connections nor origin, lots of security.
Despite knowing that, he still had hard times dealing with this person.
The tribal chief of Siena was indeed an eccentric person, possessing both gentleness and strictness.
A quite chilly wind blew.
Above one’s head, the blue sky and cumulonimbus clouds expanded.
Small clouds, which seemed to be countless, reminded of the fall.
The sun was pouring from the clouds’ gaps, soothing the fall cold.
Together with the sound of rattling, Eiji could feel the slight shaking under his bottom.
The shaking was due to the wheels of the carriage bumping on the small stones and hollows, which were created in the road.
Quite a long time before, Eiji attached springs to the wheelbarrow.
The wheelbarrow, which was entrusted to and made by Fernando, proved to be highly flexible in use. However, because it was shaking, Eiji thought of making springs, which also were later attached to the carriage specially made for trading purposes.
Cutting iron wire, then bending it so that it achieves the proper angle. This labor required lots of skills, and therefore, it wasn’t easy to maintain the right elasticity.
Nevertheless, this difficulty was one of a craftsman’s charms.
Later they could be turned into wheel’s shaft and bearings
Because of that, the friction and the resistance of wheels were greatly reduced.
The carriage was now heading toward Tal village from Siena.
– The weather is good isn’t it, Eiji-san?
– True. Tanya-san don’t you feel chilly?
– It’s fine. I can feel warmth coming from Eiji-san.
In front of the load, both of them placed together their shoulders with a big blanket on top, covering them. Certainly, Eiji could feel the warmth wrapping around him from their bodies. And not only his body, but also his heart could sense it coming from the person he loved.
– Ack! Going out together with newlyweds, this feeling is the worst…
Fernando, who was in the carriage seat, was driving the cart while using some abusive language.
Once Eiji told the tribal chief that he had never been outside of the village, he was entrusted with the job of doing trade business.
Because Eiji didn’t know how the interchange would normally work, Fernando, who was quite an eloquent negotiator, was assigned as the representative.
It also seemed that Fernando often used to be in charge of negotiations.
– Oh dear, please give us a break. We haven’t even had a chance to go outside together.
– That’s right.
– Yeah, yeah. Please pay attention so that the load doesn’t break.
However many suspensions they attach, there was no way of completely nullifying the shake.
Again, there was a deep forest between both villages, which seemed to go on forever, and the path’s width was narrow.
As there were other trade and peddler carriages regularly passing through, the big stones were removed; nevertheless, there were lots of bumps still remaining.
The load included fur and fur-made goods. In addition to that, sheep wool and cheese were packed. Since there are small hills in Siena, apart from farming, raising livestock was as well possible. Besides that, it had herbs naturally growing in the mountain, such as mint and lemon grass, well known to Eiji. Then, there were small quantities of iron-made goods, such as metal nails, needles, scissors, kitchen knives, and pots.
-What will we get in exchange for these?
– In this time of year, the most essential thing would be salt.
– So it’s salt? It would seem that there are no places with rock salt in the village. Are we buying it just for cooking?
– It’s not just for cooking. During this time, we need great amount of salt to make preserved foods, such as dried meat, ham, sausages, and salt picked fish.
– Oh, so there were actually preserved foods?
– That’s right. Even in the winter we can somehow manage to catch fishes, but in case of hunting, it would more difficult.
– Mike-san is quite skillful in shooting migratory birds, still…
For Eiji, it was the first winter.
He couldn’t imagine how difficult it must be, but judging from their manner of talking, it seemed to be quite harsh – is what he predicted.
– If there’s anything you need, just say it.
Just what kind of village will it be, and will there be any difference?
It was said to be specializing in producing earthenware, but salt used for exchange was probably the good coming from other villages’ influx.
Eiji wondered if there was anything that could become useful for the village, as well as, whether or not there was something which he could give to Tanya as a present.
Furthermore, is their life different? And what kind of feeling would it give, in comparison with Siena?
Seeing a different village that was in front of him, for the first time made his heart beat faster.