Chapter 12 – The Dream
The moment Eiji saw the scene before his eyes; he understood that it was a dream.
That was a japanese-style room.
In the rokujouma, one could see wadansu, CRT type of TV and video cassettes lined up on the wall.
In the middle of the room, there was a kotatsu, however, without a futon.
And most of all, inside of the kotatsu, someone who gave off the feeeling of being very dear to him sat. That was his father, Eichi.
His arms, which were full of burn scars due to his everyday work forging, peeked out from his cuffs. Because of his continuous works nearby, his back was completely bent.
His eyes brimming with strong determination and his thick eyebrows were his features.
– Eiji… you came back? Sit.
As his father gave him this short command, Eiji sat in front of him.
For Eiji could sense the seriousness in his father’s word, he did so without hesitation.
Once his father made sure Eiji sat, he stared at him fixedly.
Uff – his father grasped his breath.
Eiji wasn’t good at dealing at with that big and strong-willed man whose look made him falter.
On the other hand, Eichi’s words were calm as usual.
However, if Eiji were to consider his father words, they had an impact.
– I received a call from your homeroom teacher. “Even though he gets excellence marks, it’s a shame that he doesn’t want to go to university” – is what he said. Your answer was, because you wanted to succeed my business, or so it seemed.
– Give it up.
Usually a parent would rejoice, hearing that their child want to inherit their business. Instead, Eiji could hear these words.
– Nowadays, smithing is no longer popular. Presently, even in this vicinity, the only smithing businesses to still be operating are the one from Yamada and ours. You don’t have to feel responsible just because you’re my oldest son.
– That’s not true. I…want to do things which I like.
– Wasn’t it you who said that true value comes not from the ready-made goods, but the ones which you deliver to every person? That this is the reason why the blacksmith workshop has a higher regards than factories? I’ll succeed you, because, I love smithing.
The reason why Eiji uttered these words spontaneously was due to him watching his father’s back for many years, which made him understand how important for him this job was.
For Eiji, it wasn’t strange to hear many workshops not being succeeded.
Presently, the number of businesses disappearing one by one, leave a little more than 100 smithing venues throughout Japan.
He wanted to change the current state of the smithing industry. As he believed it had the charm which was worth doing so.
Once Eiji said what he wanted to state, his chest was throbbing. The only thing remaining is to await the answer. His throat was sore and stinging.
Eichi had the expression of seeing a mysterious being.
As long as he can remember, he used to listen to his fathers’ reasonable advice.
But for Eiji to blatantly oppose his father like this, it was probably the first time.
After Eichi was silent for a while, the next moment a smile appeared on his face.
– Haven’t you become able to decide on your own? But, go to university.
– Listen. Now, besides steel, there are a range of different alloys. The stained glass would be a perfect example. I’m not telling you to choose some random faculty. Was it metal engineering? If you to learn this subject of study, it will be useful for your future prospects, unlike me who only graduated middle school. When you have long session breaks, you can come to me any time. I’ll make sure to teach you until you have enough.
Once he understood his father words, Eiji’s face was brimming with a smile without him knowing it. He couldn’t oppose that. Eiji was happy, more than anything.
– I’m saying that I’ll teach you, but I’ll not go easy on you. That’s why I won’t let you go. Got it?
– That’s fine. Just tell me the things I want to know. I’ll do my best.
– I’m going to slap that big-mouth of yours. …Right. Let’s celebrate this with sake. You’re going to join me.
– I’m still a minor.
Once father took out a bottle of sake, he quickly poured some into a cup.
Eiji’s field of vision began to fade away.
He could understand his consciousness was slowly returning.
That was a really dear part of his memory.
Even now, he can’t go back to that.
He was leading a life with no anxiety for future, unaware of anything that could happen to him.
Tears began to flow from Eiji’s cheeks.
Gon gon – a relentless sound could be heard echoing.
It was the sound of the water mill which shakes one’s body to the core.
The sound of a pair of bellows blowing wind, the sound of the hot burning furnace, and then the sound of striking metal, all of these sounds were harmoniously reverberating in the blacksmith’s workshop.
– Master, this is quite a large number, isn’t it? Do you intend to repair all of this?
– Yeah. It was beyond my expectations, but the hoe and the plough are still no good. Because of that, your work became more difficult, but please treat me well, Pietro.
– I’ll do my best. However, it’s still too early for me to do the finishing touches, isn’t it?
– If you do the middle part, it should be fine. I understand that I’m rushing you but…
Inside the workshop, there were lots of hoe tips lined up.
These covered most of the things which Eji made, since the start of his job here.
The reason why they’re being repaired is because most of them had the tooth part broken, due to land reclamation.
Perhaps, there was still too much carbon remaining than what he expected -is what he thought.
If there’s too much of carbon in the steel, it will be hard and sharp, however, easy to break.
Or was it due to the large amount of stones? – he thought.
All the new hoe’s tips which he prepared were to be used as replacements.
After that, Eiji considered extending the edge of the blade; nevertheless, this would take quite a lot of time.
Carefully heating the chipped blade’s edge one by one, he cuts them using shears, and attach a new steel-made one. As for the one that were cut, he melts them again, so as to reuse.
And once the day was about to end, an unexpected guest visited.
That was Mike the hunter.
He was holding a leather scabbard with a somewhat large butcher’s knife.
-That’s rare for you to visit me. Do you have any request?
– Yea. It’ll soon be autumn. So if we don’t make our cows and boar livestock into a smoked product, it will be bad. I’d like to entrust you with this knife.
As he said, Mike handed Eiji the butcher’s knife.
– It cuts well through skin and fat, so it’s a good knife. I know what you’re capable of, therefore, I’d like to have you make me another, but with a smaller size.
– But, why do you want to use it for smoking?
Mike became unusually silent after hearing this simple question coming from Eiji. For someone like him, it was bound to happen, since he had never endured the winter in this village. The atmosphere turn silent due to this common question, but Eiji couldn’t understand that.
Because there are no developed techniques of preservation in this era, it would be better keep the stock alive – he honestly thought.
– That’s right you… Don’t cha know that during the winter, there’s no grass or weeds growing? Therefore, you won’t be able to supply the livestock with enough food. Even if it’s just a little, it’s better to kill them and take their meat, rather than letting them die from starvation.
-Oh… I see. Because this is the first time that I’m introducing the crop rotation system here, it would be natural. Sorry, it didn’t cross my mind.
– Seriously, won’t you brace yourself? Just how absentminded can you be?
Ahaha- Eiji laughed, while trying to cover up his gaffe, and scratched his head.
Because life here was different from what he would normally expect, lots of discrepancy could be noticed in various aspects of life.
– So, by when do you want me to make it?
– I think that by the next week would be good. There are going to be six other hunters helping me with preserving livestock. So just make as many as possible.
– Understood. I still have to make the hoes, so I don’t know how many I will be able to forge. …Speaking of which, you extract the fat when you do the smoking, right?
– Oh, you’re quite knowledgeable ain’t you? There’s usually some remaining, but we do take out the fat.
– In that case, If you don’t need, would you mind sharing it with me?
– Well, there is not much of a use for it, and we can’t preserve the fat, so you can have as much you like. What do you intend to use them for?
– For soap. Because my work involves producing a large amount of ash, I was thinking of any other use for it, asides from the field work.
For Mike who wasn’t familiar with soap, Eiji explained it to be simply something used to clean off dirt.
Unlike smithing, this was a real, first challenge for him.
Eiji didn’t know how far it will work; however, he knew this challenge was worth doing.
Translator and reference notes:
: Six tatami-mat room (I think some of you have heard, like for instance, from this anime: Invaders of the Rokujyōma!?)
: Japanese chest drawers. picture: http://webjapanese.com/archive/albums/userpics/10001/wadansu.jpg
: Japanese Table frame. During cold days it’s usually used together with kotatsu (blanket). Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kotatsu