Chapter 33 – The Five Miniatures
When it comes to the beginning of the striking, one has to strike, otherwise it won’t start.
As soon as Eiji confirmed there was enough fire passing through the charcoal, he threw the prepared iron metal inside the furnace.
These were the so-called soft iron and ferrite, which were low in carbon.
– Master, what do you plan to make today?
– It has been decided what we will be making at today – sword, saw, scythe, nata, and hoe. We will make miniatures of all five of them using the soft iron.
– These won’t become useful.
– That’s right, you can’t use them.
– Isn’t it a waste?
– Perhaps it is, but it’s not like there’s no meaning in doing so.
Eiji looked at the iron-made chair left at the entrance of the workshop.
It was placed there for the clients to use. Eiji was proud of it being a high grade product, the function of which was to let the clients sit and not to let them come inside.
The iron chair, which frequently use to be folded, was furnished with leather after it was completed.
Having a look from modern times, it was a gem which possessed both look and function.
– Once they’re done, we will use them in front of the gate as decorations. Both the chair and miniatures will fulfill their role of advertising our skills.
– I see.
– No matter how good the article you make is, as long you don’t show how its done, there will be many people who won’t understand how good the products are…. What’s more, all miniatures have nothing but a deep connection with a workshop. I wonder if you could compare their relationship with an indispensable ritual.
– So the first thing you make each year when resuming the works are these?
– Yeah. At the beginning we put them in front of the gate, after that, we line them up next to it. With each year your craftsmanship will change, making the clients understand the extent of your skills. That alone makes it worth it, for it becomes the material of evaluation.
Naturally, since they were presently the only ones capable of handling iron; the miniatures won’t have any bigger role than telling how good the articles are.
The reason of Eiji making the miniatures was due to the importance of preserving and cherishing the pure customs handed down by his ancestors.
Eiji, who studied the modern knowledge more than anyone else, treasured the teaching from his ancestors, as it was the remnant left by humanity, without which, it would have been impossible for them to reach the current level of technology.
– Well, shall we make them?
– It will be my very first hammer swinging this year.
– Because you haven’t done it for a long time, I won’t acknowledge you unless your performance is good.
– Eh? I’ll do my best.
– What? It’s neither forge welding nor blade grinding. What’s more, it isn’t hard, so it won’t take long.
Eiji draws the cord, which was hanging down from the cellar.
The sounds of streaming water, creaking wood, and the cog-wheel were filling the inside of the workshop completely.
The waterwheel rotated and the cog-wheel moved, sending wind to the pair of bellows.
The charcoal, which was cut up, started to burn red.
– Just like always, carefully observe the temperature of the iron.
– Yes! I like this moment when the wind is delivered, making the fire burn faintly red.
– I too, like it. Perhaps, looking at the flames puts every blacksmith’s heart at peace, is what I think.
– Looking at the flames is the secret behind a blacksmith’s skills, isn’t it?
– There’s a secret in making good articles. Today is a good chance for that, so I’ll tell you.
– What is it? I’m hugely curious about that.
– If you are not making it, you won’t realize how it looks.
– It won’t do if I am not making?
Pietro probably wanted to polish his skills, even if it was to make him faster by a single day.
His face, which was awaiting Eiji’s next words while having the eyes radiating with glitters, completely changed into the one with doubts.
While deeply observing the change in temperature of the iron, he thought of some words.
He wondered how he could express this peculiar feeling of his, so as to convey in the best way.
– Because stretching iron is tiresome, I can tell Master that once the iron is heated, the number of carbon will fall out together with its stiffness, won’t it?
– Yes. Once the sparks scatter, it will be the proof of the carbon falling out. You did a good job.
– Ehehe, thank you-su.
– If you make it stiff by applying low temperature, no matter how much time passes, it won’t stretch and you will only have a sore back and shoulders at the end. There’s a kind of temperature that is suitable for iron. A temperature that is de-si-red by i-ron.
– A temperature desired by iron…
– Once you obtain that, you will be able to make fine things with ease. The difficulty lies in the difference of the temperature, which is based on the amount of carbon. If the iron becomes red colored like the evening, it is too low. On the other hand, if it turns yellow like a lemon, it is too high. The best is the one with the mandarin orange color. It seems to be the right moment.
The iron material was heated while faintly radiating with light that could be said to be orange colored, similar to the mandarin orange.
Thanks to the dimness of the day accompanied by falling snow inside the workshop, it was easy to watch the color of the iron.
Pietro took out the highly heated iron material with a pair of tongs and moved it onto the anvil.
Then he struck it using a small hammer.
The small hammer held by its master looked just like a conductor’s stick swung in a musical performance.
Press, pull, strike quickly and powerfully, be more delicate and prudent at this place – Eiji gave signals to his disciple to take the first move instead of using words.
The sound generated by continuously striking the iron was distracting; therefore, he didn’t depend on using words, which would slow Pietro down.
Striking the iron as if stretching it perpendicularly, Pietro swung the hammer toward its direction.
If Eiji deemed there was not enough hitting, he would give a sign to Pietro to strike.
Eiji was in charge of instructing, whereas, Pietro would swing sincerely.
The rhythm was light and nice.
The sound produced by the iron was sometimes high and sometimes low, as if playing a single musical composition.
Once the iron cooled down, the work would stop, and then the wind would be delivered inside the furnace.
Only during that moment he could take a breath. The smithing would repeat that way.
– The hammer works the same way. You’re still not able to make fine things when striking it with your arm. Feeling the hammer becoming an extension of your arm, understanding the sensation of iron directly, and then, not controlling your hand but your hammer with ease…. These are essential points if you want to grasp the feeling.
– For that to happen, what should I do?
– You should practice by making lots of them and think about iron like a common thing.
– So it’s mainly giving my best, isn’t it?
– Well, that’s regrettable, but it’s a little bit different.
– That is…
– The color has changed. Ok, let’s resume our work.
Having his words interrupted, Pietro once again put the iron material on the anvil.
Managing the temperature of the iron is most essential.
More than talking, more than anything, the only thing he could do was to strike the iron with its desirable temperature.
Saying that, smithing is an occupying work.
The work doesn’t goes accordingly to one’s own convenience, but rather that of the iron.
The iron was stretched. Despite it being loose, it took the shape of a sword.
In the end it was a miniature, so its completion took unusually less time in comparison with making a full-sized one.
Again storing the iron inside the furnace.
Pietro spoke once more as if waiting for that moment to finish.
– Besides doing one’s best, what else should I do?
– You should properly consider the meaning behind each and every hammer swing. Have you ever thought about why you ought to swing it the way you were instructed?
– Haven’t you felt the recoil coming back to your hammer whenever the temperature slightly cools down?
– Not yet.
– Well, guess that would be obvious. I too, was like that.
A long time ago, Eiji also received his teaching in the same manner.
Had he been able to grasp that with his own thinking from the very beginning, he would have been called a genius.
– It’s fine if you try to feel that the next time. The change in the sound generated by the iron, the change of the recoil, and the hardness that appears at the time of sharpening, all of them have meaning. Everything will change depending on how aware you are of these factors, as well as how you deal with them.
– Understood. I’ll make it.
A person that doesn’t get angry from being pointed out their own imperfectness will grow into an adult.
I wonder, how I was back then? – while thinking about that, Eiji smiled wryly.
Back in his university days, there used to be lots of teachings that weren’t useful when applied in a workshop.
It’s reckless to produce goods while ignoring the procedure of quenching indicated by a steel manufacturer.
Being forced to apply his knowledge in practice was not an easy task; nevertheless, his master’s words were absolute.
That’s because, his master would make bett-er th-ings tha-n him-self.
Whenever he felt vexed, he could only give up.
Once he became able to make things, which were satisfactory by themselves, his father would let him make on his own.
Eiji was able to link the phenomena in front of his eyes with his own studied knowledge.
At first it didn’t go smoothly, as he had to figure out how theory and practice bite each other.
—— You won’t know unless you try?
He wondered how much he was proud of these words.
– So you’re done, aren’t you? Good job there, you probably are tired.
– No, I’m fine.
– It’s ok not to force yourself. It was probably your first time swinging a big hammer from beginning till end, right?
As soon as Pietro raised his tired arm and wiped the sweat running down his forehead, the crow of a chicken was heard outside.
It was the sign for noon.
The rooster would crow three times a day – in the morning, noon, and evening, becoming at the same time this village’s clock.
Was it fighting for territory? Perhaps it was one of those fights for appealing. Once the rooster crowed the other ones began to crow one after another.
– Just the right timing. Let’s take lunch and rest since it’s noon.
Because Eiji told Tanya that he plans to set out for the workshop today, she should be bringing him a lunchbox or ingredients for making food here.
Just when he wiped his sweat and cleaned the charcoal dirt from his body, Tanya’s figure appeared at the gate. She was holding a basket in her hand.
– Eiji-san, I brought you lunch.
– Thank you as always. What’s today menu?
– It’s the thing called pizza, which Eiji-san told me.
– Oh, isn’t it great? There’s enough for Tanya too, so let’s eat together.
– So we are eating together, right?
– You seem to be happy, aren’t you?
– That’s because, it has been a quite long since the last time we ate together, hasn’t it?
– As soon as we entered winter season, it has been completely different.
Tanya approached the scene of fire at just the right time and took out dough, cheese, salami, and chopped onion from the basket. Once she did so, Tanya moved quickly and put them on a frying pan.
Eiji operated the pair of bellows, making the charcoal fire burn strongly.
Using the furnace to make some grilled fishes was as side benefit of being a modern blacksmith.
The meal baked using charcoal was more delicious than using gas, which could hardly be compared.
And then, so as to keep the atmosphere inside the workplace from getting dry, the fireplace would be suspended at night. Therefore, they could always drink heated tea.
As Eiji was preparing the tea, Tanya was staring at the frying pan while waiting for the pizza to be done.
Finally, a nice and mixed smell of the baked dough, cheese and salami rose in the air.
– Ah… that’s a nice smell, isn’t it?
– Pietro, you cannot. This is mine and Tanya’s lunch.
– Such a nice smell is killing me…
Once his stomach growled prominently, Pietro felt down with the appearance of being dejected.
Haa – his depressed look was that of a dog that hung down its ears and tail, which was amiable.
Saying that, Eiji didn’t particularly have any malicious intention.
– Well, Pietro, you too, will probably have your lunch so…. Oh, speaking of rumors—
– Pietro made a girlfriend, right?
– That girl is just my childhood friend and not my girlfrie—
Good day – a loud voice of greeting was heard.
Suddenly, the appearance of a cute girl was seen from the gate.
Right after seeing that figure, Pietro’s back shuddered for a moment.
– Pietro-kun, I brought you your lunchbox.
– Oh. Thank you.
– It would be nice to eat together.
– Look, Sara-chan, come sit in this chair.
As Tanya pat the chair next to Pietro, Sara nodded deeply and sat in it.
Sara and Pietro had the relationship of being half arranged in a marriage by their parents. In other words, Sara’s father was the farmer, Bernard.
In case their compatibility was bad or they found another likable partner, their marriage would be cancelled; nevertheless, there seemed to be no need to worry about that.
Despite Pietro making a discouraged face, if you were to watch closer, you could understand that he was embarrassed, rather than dissatisfied.
As soon as the lunchbox was opened, the inside was arranged with a hard baguette, dried grapes and juglans. The reason why there was no eggs and meat was perhaps due to their today’s menu.
It was Eiji’s first winter here; nevertheless, in comparison with the transition between spring and autumn, winter was evidently much harsher.
The frequency of hunting fell with the snow pilling up, and the number of proteins circulating in the village clearly reduced.
large amounts of winter pre-made cheese, yogurts, and preserved foods, like dried meat, ham, and bacon, as well as the collected harvest, reduced day by day from the storehouse.
Eiji waited anxiously for the completion of the barn shed, which was highly anticipated for the growth in livestock.
– Eiji-san, it’s done. Please say a~hn.
– Doing that in front of children is somehow embarrassing.
– Erm, Tanya-san?
– A-A~hn, (sfx for holding something hot in mouth)
– How is the taste?
Tanya raised her eyes with anxiety while looking around restlessly.
– It’s delicious.
– Ah, thank goodness…!
Inside his mouth, the cheese melted gooily.
The thick taste was of the mildness, which couldn’t be compared with the one sold commercially. What’s more, it was much more prominent.
The grilled onion gave a sharp stimulus with the sweetness. On top of that, there was the smooth olive added, which made the pizza quite delicious.
This was thanks to Tanya adding some of her imagination and creativity each day since being told of various recipes.
Indeed, Eiji got a nice wife.
Feeling both happiness and embarrassment, Eiji took a piece of pizza and fed Tanya in the same manner with ‘A~hn’
Her mouth opened slightly as she gently held the tip of the pizza in her mouth.
– Isn’t it delicious?
-…It’s so embarrassing I cannot tell the taste.
– Well, then shall we do it once more?
– It’s embarrassing.
– That’s fine. Because we have done it once, doing it one or two times won’t change anything.
– E-Eiji-san, you are enjoying this too much!
– Is that so? I probably am. Even I can’t quite understand it myself.
Tanya had the area around her eyes narrowed due to embarrassment. Eiji wanted to see that expression while encouraging her to eat the pizza.
She shook her head as if disagreeing; nevertheless, Eiji wouldn’t allow that.
He couldn’t resist seeing that embarrassed face of hers while making her finish the pizza.
Sniff sniff – Tanya expressed her sorrow with a fake cry. Seeing that, Eiji calmed down while drinking his tea.
I’m satisfied… – he thought.
Her appearance of a munching squirrel was incredibly cute.
Next to them, Pietro, who was about to eat his meal, and Sara, who was holding back her hand, were sitting.
– Hey, Sara.
– What, Pietro-kun?
– They might be newly-weds, but are adults supposed to flirt like that next to children?
– Are you jealous? We too shall do it. Alright, say A~hn!
– That’s not what I meant! I was thinking why the master that I respect this much could be this spoiled.
– I think that’s because he has done enough of a good job, so he’s relaxing?
– I wonder about that…
– Thinking that way makes one happier?
– Ugh… just what should I believe…
– Rather than that, won’t you eat? Alright, A~hn.
Sara didn’t care about the agony of a disciple being at loss about his respect for master.
Hearing the words, which pierced through the peculiar nature of his childhood, Pietro became even more worried.
Taking this opportunity, Sara repeated the same manner 10 times using her upturned eyes, which aimed with an accuracy that was nowhere to be seen. Pietro could only accept it whether or not he wanted.
The way how Sara provided him with the meal looked as though a parent bird was feeding its chick.
The sweet atmosphere that seemed to cause nausea in other people, spread through the workshop, which stank with iron.
―― After that, the miniatures were safely completed and displayed at the gate.
They were later said to hold strange property, which irritated unmarried people to the extent that they couldn’t be thought of as inorganic items.
Translator and reference notes:
: Yes, he said sword.
: I think the reason why the author divided that sentence into syllables was to emphasize Eiji’s annoyance at that fact.