Chapter 13 – Beef Tallow Soap and the Lonely Night
Well then, shall we make some soap?
Despite thinking so, Eiji didn’t have any particular memory of making soap.
The only memory he had of substances was once during his science practice in his school years, when he had an article about the purified substance consisting of glycerin and caustic soda.
He only had the faint knowledge about soap that making it requires mixing animal fat and ash together.
Despite that, once he makes the soap using his own hands, it will be enough for him to imagine.
Because simply using the ash as it is was wrong, he assumed that, just like the caustic soda, he had to separate the components in a liquid state.
Then, while thinking of a way to deal with it, the method of dissolving it inside water and filtering it popped up inside his head.
However, making a good filter, which has narrow eye holes, isn’t an easy task.
Using a cotton cloth was as well out of question, as the cloth will hold most of the substance.
When talking about filtration, the thing which comes up to one’s mind would be a water filter.
Wait, didn’t I once pile up stones and pebbles to make a filter?
As Eiji looked around in search of item which could help him, the voice of Tanya using the winnower was heard.
– Are you looking for something?
– Not really, I was just thinking about trying to make a filter.
– filter…? What’s that?
– Hm, it’s something similar to a screen (sieve), but more narrow.
– Shouldn’t you try using straw instead?
– Aah, that’s right. If I put some stones on it… Thank you. Later, I’d like to have this bucket.
– Do you plan to make something again?
– Yea. Well, please look forward to what I’m going to make.
– I will. Ah, wait a bit.
– Please do your best.
Eiji was kissed on his cheek.
In addition, a gentle kiss was shared on both of his cheeks, and lips. Eiji smiled bashfully.
Just a moment ago, he hadn’t thought he would be this happy.
Eiji sensed more motivation, saying “give it your best.”
In the end he put the stones and pebbles in the straw, and made a hole in the bucket, in which he places the straw.
Above that he arranges the big pebbles, and on top of them the smaller ones, making the eye holes smaller and smaller.
He covers it with ash, and flushes it with water. However, even if it were much narrower, the component he wanted would only seem to be getting extracted. On top of that, the holes were rough, allowing the foreign matter to seep through in great amounts.
– It’s quite hard, isn’t it…?
After rearranging the pebbles about four times, a light-brown liquid was successfully extracted.
As the liquid was dripping, Eiji used a bottle to store it.
Because he didn’t know how much animal fat he is going to get, he considered that it would be best to store a lot of liquid.
From time to time he adds some ashes and water.
Unlike before, Eiji felt as if his heart was trembling and floating with excitement, thinking about his first work.
– Hey, I have the fat you requested.
– Thank you. …Stinks! It stinks unbelievably!
– Well, I guess for someone who isn’t used to this kind of smell, that would be the natural reaction?
– Is this the smell coming from cattle?
– Yea. This one was from a female cow which was too old to produce milk anymore.
What Mike was holding in his hand was a turtle shell
 full of animal fat. Anyway, it was quite heavy.
It was heavy to the extent that one would have to hold it tightly. Its weight was around 30 kilos. From what Eiji saw, the cattle in the vicinity are quite light. That much probably wouldn’t satisfy one’s appetite.
Compared to the corpulent cattle from Eiji’s memory, this one wasn’t even half as heavy as that.
Still, to be able to get this much fat…
Once he opened the lid, the dreadful smell of an animal, together with its blood, could be sensed.
It doesn’t seem to be half bad, but it doesn’t look like I can use it – he thought.
It was full of white fat.
Was it because of the time taken to gather it? The fact that it became sordid was a pain. Eiji had to separate the pure form of the fat from the rest.
Even after taking the turtle shell outside, the smell of the animal wouldn’t come off him.
Once it becomes successful, there’s more reason for him to hand some soap to Mike – thought Eiji.
– What do you intend to make, using that?
– Soap? What kind of thing is that?
– It’s used to clean from dirt, I think.
– Ah, I see. You mean the ash which appeared after roasting that meat. I’ve got some clothes which became dirty, so you can use them.
– I plan to make it more effective.
– That’s fine. I’m looking forward to it.
– Well, for me, it’s the first time making it, so I don’t know how it will turn out.
– If it’s animal fat, you can have as much as you want… you can try to make it many as times as you want.
– While we are speaking of amount, how much exactly you have…?
– Ten turtle shells of this size should be more than enough. Use them quickly.
– Ha, hahaha.
It turned into quite a difficult situation.
As Eiji was worrying about how long the work will take, Mike thanked him and left the place. Eiji quickly began working.
Eiji filled a pot half full with water, and set it on the fire.
Once it reached the right temperature, he added the fat.
As the temperature kept rising, the smell became more intensive.
-It was the right decision to do this outside.
While muttering these words without thinking ahead, he stirred the pot.
Small fragments of meat and tendon, together with some other parts of the insides, which couldn’t be taken out completely, floated on the surface. At the same time, foreign matter began to sink.
The hot water became muddy in the blink of an eye, as oil started to float on the surface.
After removing the floating debris, the only thing remaining would be to wait until it cools off.
Once the oil on surface cooled off, it became a white mass.
Eiji moved it to a new turtle shell.
If you were to compare it with the one before, the color of substance turned much whiter, and the smell improved.
As he threw away the remaining hot water, he poured in some more fresh water while repeating the same action twice.
Compared to the amount of fat before, there was much less remaining in the in turtle shell this time. Was it around 25 kilos? There seemed to be a sufficient amount of them accumulating.
Because the smell was too strong, Tanya came out to observe the situation from the outside. She won’t come any closer than the gate.
– The smell this time is terrible.
– Pardon me. Just a little while and I think it will fade away.
While knowing that the creation of a new product this time is, unlike before, unusual, Eiji had a troubled face. However, he kept on continuing.
Since whenever he started involving other people in his projects, he would always carry them out till the end.
The work continued from the morning till noon, which was now.
Tanya, who managed to calm down, called him for the lunch, once she finished the preparation.
The main menu for the lunch was a cow steak.
Was it because the cow was old, or perhaps, due to the cow not sunbathing enough? Anyway, the meat was a little bit hard; however, once Eiji took a bite of it, the fat began to spread slowly but steadily inside his mouth.
It was tasty, just like the deer meat he had the other day. Recently, meals became more luxurious.
Perhaps, it was a kind of luxury before the winter.
As Eiji used the knife and fork, he continued to cut the meat.
Until he became able to make use of iron, despite having knife, they used bare hands, instead of forks, which brought back the memories.
Back then, when Eiji used a pair of chopsticks, Tanya looked at him with curiosity on her face. She couldn’t learn how to use them; however, if it was a fork, she could learn it relatively easy. Once learned about the effectiveness of it, there was no longer the need to dirty one’s hand, and the custom of using it spread throughout the village.
After Eiji satisfied his stomach, he went back to making the soap.
– I wonder how it should be made…
First, he tried to make it using small amount.
As he dissolved some fat inside the pot, he put some ash mixture together with water, and then set it on fire.
So as to keep the components fused, he kept stirring the pot, and waited until the water amount reduced.
As it became thicker and more concentrated, so did the viscosity, little by little, slowly turning into a gel.
– Well, it doesn’t seem to turn into a lump, so I wonder how it will go.
He scooped it with a ladle and put it onto the dirty cloth.
However, it didn’t seem to foam, and the impurity became more prominent than the water, and didn’t seem to decrease.
– I wonder if I’ve put too little of ash mixture
A second trial.
This time Eiji took the previous mistakes into consideration, and added more ash mixture.
– This time too! …failed again?
He sighed with a puff.
It doesn’t seem to be going in a better direction than the first.
After Eiji cleaned the pot, he tried once more, from the beginning.
– How about this…?
As he added a small amount of water, foam, which felt slimy, started to generate, and the impurity began to decrease.
– Oh, just for a moment, it succeeded. Then the last thing remaining is to match the best proportion of ash mixture and fat, and see how stable it will be.
After trying to apply the same patter five times, Eiji manage to find most suitable ratio.
It looks like the best ratio for bubbles to start foaming was 1 to 0.75 (fat to ash mixture), and it didn’t seem to be harmful for the skin.
Once he grasped the necessary amount, he would be able to mass produce it.
As he measured the components using a ladle, he put them in the same proportion.
Once the big pot started to produce a gel-form soap, Eiji used another jar to store it.
– It’s done!
The day was nearing its end quickly, as one would notice.
Eiji sweated as he spent a long time staying in front of the fire; nevertheless, in comparison with his daily work, he could at least feel the wind’s breeze, which was much more comfortable for his stamina.
– Is it over?
– Yes, with this thing, soap, we will be able to clean off the dirt.
– Eiji-san, being able to make everything, you’re really impressive. Somehow, I’ve got the feeling that an exceptional person became my husband.
– No, it’s not like that…
– But, the senbagoki which I use, the winnower, the knife and fork, all of them were made by you, weren’t they?
– It’s just that I happened to know of them.
– I think that there’s a difference between having knowledge of something and being able to exercise it. You should be proud of yourself.
– I’m not the kind of person to feel proud.
Hearing Tanya’s kind words, Eiji sensed a warm feeling inside his heart.
Even if he denies it verbally, he couldn’t help but to feel happy.
Even more so, because it was a challenge he isn’t normally used to doing.
Being moved by his beloved wife’s kind words, Eiji hugged Tanya.
Was it because she combed her hair? It seemed to be charming and silky.
The last thing to do would be to add some lavender and chamomile, to give the soap more fragrance, and then present it to Tanya.
As he was contemplating about future, he became filled with happiness.
Once they both finish their meals, he intended to make sure of their love tonight.
Despite that their life was still unstable, Eiji thought about wanting to have a child.
While being gently hugged, Tanya slipped out from the embrace.
From her expression, a feeling of regret and trouble could be sensed.
– Forgive me Eiji-san, but, this night, please sleep alone.
Why did it turn to this kind of reaction?
Eiji couldn’t comprehend that.
Judging from Tanya’s previous words, he wouldn’t expect any sort of denial.
She kept silent for a while, so you’d consider that as consenting.
Tanya opened her mouth timidly.
– It’s because Eiji-san is…incredibly…
– ….Incredibly stinking of animal fat…
As she looked like regretful, Tanya turned around and went back inside the house.
Ah, so it was because of that…
I was due to his nose getting used to the smell, but he soon realized that it was the same feeling when he met Mike.
Surely, if one’s body were to stink like that, sleeping on the same mattress would be out of question.
Although he understood that, Eiji couldn’t fully agree.
There was rarely a day in which his body would remain fit till night, after the labor.
Not to mention that his very first days included field works, together with his muscle pains and having to sleep being not saturated with food.
Eiji followed Tanya’s silhouette with eyes of a small puppy being abandoned.
– Why did it turn out like this…?
He hung his head with disappointment.
The following day.
– Pietro, good work. Today, I’d like to have you make something else, besides sharpening.
– What? Please tell me everything!
– Oh, thanks. In that case, it will be quick, but I’ll tell you the making method.
— I want him to make the soap, in my place.
Since then, it was said that Eiji took the initiative, and didn’t have to make the soap.
Translator and reference notes:
: This word consisted of a single character, meaning “turtle”. When I tried to browse some more info regarding any possible container made from a turtle, there was none. After asking some translators, they suggested me to use “turtle shell”, which I see reasonable as well.