Chapter 54 – Living Apart
*Sigh*, the air feels hard to breath.
Good grief, why did it turn into something like this, I wonder?
Eiji tried to recall the main cause behind this turmoil.
It seemed that everything pointed to Katharina’s confusing talk.
From now on, I’ll make sure that Katharina pays more attention to her misleading words, so as to not cause any more misunderstandings.
The next time I meet her, I’ll definitely point that out – is what Eiji engraved in his heart.
Thinking carefully about that matter inside his heart, Eiji hung his head in shame while making upturned eyes.
It was just escaping from reality.
Tanya’s face, which was expressionless just a while ago, changed completely into the one with a friendly grin.
At first glance, it looked like a gentle expression, however, her eyes weren’t smiling.
Eiji didn’t have the courage to face her head on.
His usually graceful wife emitted a murderous aura without uttering a single word.
As if having one’s every single move observed, Eiji couldn’t move his body.
Time kept flowing in a complete silence.
Trying to explain things, he was unable to arrange his words competently.
Even though it was still a chilly day in the morning and evening, sweat was gushing out from his face and his hair was sticking closely to it.
Eiji’s throat felt blocked, as if something was twisted inside, not letting him articulate a single voice.
In addition to that, a feeling of discomfort, similar to that of having one’s stomach tightly gripped, accompanied him.
– How long do you plan to stay silent?
– That’s, right…. Shall I explain?
– Please convince me, okay?
Being told without any hesitation, Eiji thought ‘I’m beaten’.
Because Pietro already said that they weren’t meeting together, it was hard to convince her.
Still, one has to do what they ought to.
Besides from interacting with each other as husband and wife, a quarrel caused by a misunderstanding was probably bound to happen.
And that would be the case of today’s talk.
Eiji prepared himself.
He was innocent from the very beginning.
With the situation being bad already, if Eiji doesn’t become resolute, he will bring more unnecessary suspicion upon him.
– First, there’s something I’d like to say.
– It might be hard for you to believe, but… I wasn’t fooling around. I’ll be explaining things from now on, so please try to judge calmly.
– I’ll do it chronologically.
– You probably know about what I did during my job yesterday. I took Pietro and the rest to the mining place, and after that, I walked around the village in order to check on the weaver and the watermill. I think Tanya-san too noticed that, but you can ask several people that saw me near the watermill and the farming fields. You will understand immediately that it’s the truth.
– That’s right, but the real problem happened after that?
– I brought my pupils back when I returned once again to the mining place. After that, I had a dinner together with Tanya-san. Later, I went out alone and met with Pietro at the workshop.
– But, Pietro himself denied that.
– That’s because I told him not to disclose the skill I showed to him.
– Is the skill something that need to be kept in secret even from a wife that has no idea of it?
– I didn’t want to cause a conflict between me and the other pupils. They would probably think that Pietro is the only one favored, being told the skill. Again, I feared that there might have been a chance for them to peek.
– Did you think that I would let it slip? Indeed, you don’t trust your wife.
– It’s not like that. If it was so, I wouldn’t even be bothering with the explanation. Still, I wanted to lower the probability of disclosure, even if it was just a little. If nothing I say convinces you, it’s fine to try asking Dante and the rest. Once you realize that Katharina wasn’t slipping away, will you then believe me a bit more?
Was it because Eiji’s voice was determined?
Her reply didn’t come.
It will probably take a while for Tanya to consent with.
Eiji waited, he said what he was supposed to.
After that, how much of value will his action deserve?
– Master, Dante and Katharina have gather- ed…. O-Oh?
– Pietro… so it’s already time?
– Got it, I’ll be going soon. Tanya-san, see you later.
Did Pietro notice the unusual atmosphere? He looked confused.
Despite Eiji rising up from the chair, Tanya showed no reaction.
It seemed that her doubt still hadn’t cleared up.
Breathing out a sigh, he wanted to avoid worsening her mood.
Eiji left the house while feeling something heavy pilling up inside his chest.
– Oh, Master, what’s the matter?
– We will talk about that on the way, but for now, don’t mind it.
There was no way for him to scold Pietro.
Switching over his feelings, Eiji headed toward the gathering spot.
– Then, it was because of me that Tanya-san misunderstood-su?
– It isn’t your fault Pietro.
– I, thought that it was in order to test me….
– I got it. You’re honestly not the one to be blamed. It’s my household’s problem.
As soon as he explained the circumstances, Pietro dropped his shoulders.
There was nothing wrong with Pietro’s attitude.
Still, that he gave a reason for the misunderstanding remained as a fact.
Eiji will probably have to regain his honor by figuring out how to explain the situation.
In front of him, Pietro raised his head energetically.
Unlike before, he had a gallant expression displaying a resolution.
The watermill rotated while producing the sound.
And then, the whetstone revolved.
Eiji alone was sharpening the tip of a kiridashi and a hatchet that he had been making the past few days, whereas, Pietro and the rest were continuing their mining work today as well.
Assigning everyone to their respective job is much more efficient.
Recently, Eiji has added some improvements to the watermill.
It was made so that a portion of the water rolled up by the watermill would be carried by the bamboo pipe and poured on the whetstone.
With that, there would be no need to pour the water separately during his work.
Except for the single part in the whetstone, the whetstone has to be moistened regularly with water.
A whetstone which becomes dry as a result of rubbing will generate a frictional heat that can damage the blade.
Also, this may create melt particles that can clog the gap in the whetstone, making it impossible perform sharpening.
Eiji hit the surface of the kiridashi’s blade that had become sloped.
The first thing to do was to perform a sharpening called aratogi by applying a whetstone with a coarse texture in order to improve the cutting path.
It was also a procedure known as haganedashi.
Depending on the grinding angle, the sharpness will greatly vary.
It was a task executed by Eiji countless numbers of times.
Without having time to think, his hands continued to shape the blade to the correct angle by themselves.
The water, which moistened the whetstone’s surface, scattered in splashes.
Eiji carefully formed the blade from tip to toe.
After that, he reversed the blade to the other side.
In case the blade is formed obliquely on one side, a cross-section called ‘makuri’ that sticks out diagonally appears.
Eiji was going to grind the makuri downwardly from the reverse side.
As soon as the shape and the blade are created, the process of aratogi will conclude.
He grinded the 5 remaining kiridashis that were pre-made one after another with the same pattern.
The next step will be nakatogi.
Unlike before, this procedure will be conducted in a place where the revolving whetstone with a fine texture is located. The procedure is about neatly adjusting the coarse surface of the steel.
The fact that it will be performed won’t change, however, before proceeding to that, it’s necessary to wash the kiridashi clean.
In case the particles from arato attaches to the blade, the sharpening process will be incomplete, and the whetstone’s texture itself will break easily.
Once again, Eiji continued his work in silence.
The blade of the kiridashi with a dim light running through it gradually assumed a glamorous surface while shining radiantly.
Looking at the surface while holding it up to the light, one could tell the clear difference at a glance.
A neatly polished blade won’t rust easily.
When crafting edged tools, it’s important to plan the use of iron, and know how to conduct quenching and tempering well.
However, sharpening was similarly, highly crucial.
Even if one is to be handed a fine edged tool, these steps are meaningless as long that person can’t maintain the tool.
The reason why Eiji emitted his voice was due to the tip of the blade slightly hitting the whetstone.
The sharp tip of the kiridashi caused some damage to the whetstone.
That sort of mistake was rather uncommon for Eiji.
Or at least, this was the first time it had happened since the start of his smithing career.
– I wonder what’s wrong with me….
Shaking with his neck, he breathed out a sigh.
Eiji was aware that in comparison with his usual self this time he was clearly lacking focus.
Something like this will be no good. I have to be back on track, even if it’s just a little.
I wonder if Tanya-san has been doing anything.
Did she inquire for the truth?
Soon after the work is done, I’ll understand it immediately.
Eiji hit his cheeks hardly so as to switch over his thoughts, and went back to work.
– I’m back
Returning back to his home, Eiji would usually await a warm reception.
Even if they have a quarrel, today it should be the same as always.
However, there was no welcome.
– ….I’m back. Is she absent?
The sunlight entered inside once he opened the louver door.
As expected, there was no reply.
In exchange, the breathing sound of the cattle and the ‘puhi puhi’ cry of the Button rubbing against Eiji’s feet were heard.
It was the first time for Eiji to be alone in the house.
Tanya would usually be awaiting his return with a face that was one time smiling, and another time, worried.
Despite sensing the cattle’s breathing and Button’s body temperature, the atmosphere felt empty.
Entering inside, he realized there were various things placed on the table.
Due to the shadow, it was hard to perceive what was there, but once Eiji drew closer, he immediately understood.
This was a still warm meal.
She probably made it in preparation for Eiji’s arrival.
The dish was covered in an umbrella manner with a hemp cloth in order not to let it become dusty and sooty.
And then, he noticed something placed in the shade of the plate.
It was the ring presented by Eiji.
The ring, which had its surface decorated with opal, reflected the light just like a rainbow.
Even though the deep black and charming finger ring was supposed to be worn daily, its outer surface had not a single speck of rust.
Eiji, who had seen numerous iron-made items till now, knew very well how much it was treasured.
Considering the daily sweat, water soaking, and filth, it was impossible to keep a ring neat and clean without any grooming.
Certainly, Tanya must have been wiping it with a cloth every day and smearing it with oil.
The ring was held dear.
With the ring being a bit larger than her finger, Tanya denied that her finger was big as if becoming somewhat sullen.
Besides that, she would gladly insert the ring numerous times and check on it while extending her hand.
And yet, the ring was placed here.
Eiji went outside.
The surroundings were at the stage of becoming dark.
If Tanya leaves home, then there are not many places she can head toward.
The village wasn’t that broad.
Assuming she has decided to live under someone else’s roof, it will be unbelievably close as long as it’s in Siena. Perhaps Tanya has returned back to her grandma’s house.
Puhi! – Making a cry, Button pushed Eiji’s leg.
– Ah, I’m going!
Eiji wanted to meet her as fast as possible.
Because the evening sun would disappear behind the mountains, a normal day in Siena was far shorter than in other places.
The moment Eiji arrived at Bona’s house, the surrounding was already dark.
Once he knocked, the door opened
Bona stood there with a stern face.
– Oh, Eiji? Just what’s your business today?
– Did Tanya-san come here?
– Umu, she arrived here in the afternoon.
– Is that so? Can I meet with her for a moment?
– I guess that would be difficult. That girl is sleeping right now after clinging to me in tears.
Being curtly refused, Eiji had no answer for that.
The tribal chief added more toward Eiji, who couldn’t talk back.
– Well then, what’s the matter? That girl says that you were fooling around, but is that true?
– As if. That’s a misunderstanding.
– Umu, I thought so. Well, if I’m to say as the tribal chief, I won’t complain about whether or not you laid your hand on Katharina. Rather than that, it makes me want to praise you if you did so.
Assuming Eiji assaulted Katharina, Siena would acquire a valuable worker.
The technology would be prevented from being leaked, and they could mix their blood with another person from the outside of the village. There were a range of good things.
The problem was whether the wives in a polygamous relationship would get along with each other; however, it was probably something Bona had no knowledge of.
Still, despite her uttering these words of approval herself, it looked like she would by no means accept that.
– I’m afraid, as that girl’s grandmother, I won’t be able to tolerate that. Well, I guess this is the whim of being one’s relative. If you haven’t done that, you better clear up the misunderstanding.
Bona made a faraway look.
Her eyes seemed to be reminiscing a distant memory.
– After that girl’s parents died from illness, she would always raise her head and stare at the ceiling. Despite her eye corners being filled with tears, she would never try to shed them. I thought that she was a strong girl. Later, when we thought that she would finally marry into a family, she lost her husband on her first night. That time too, she didn’t cry, and since then, she would continue to live alone in silence. To think that the same strong-hearted girl would be crying now.
Now you understand? – Bona asked.
That much meant that she opened her heart toward Eiji.
– I’ll tell that girl to return back and have a calm discussion, but for today, go back. I won’t be inquiring much into detail, so let’s do our best in reconciliating both of you. It’s fine for you to return now.
Eiji didn’t say anything.
Then he lowered his head.
– Please treat me well.
– Don’t worry. I don’t think your relationship will break up over such a thing.
Bona’s eyes were very gentle.
The misunderstanding continued.
The next day, Mike called out Eiji.
His face was filled with anger like a raging fire.
Again – Eiji thought.
He was already quite fed up with this.
Eiji, who went outside just as he was told to do, noticed a person’s silhouette drawing closer.
Just who could it be?
The silhouette wouldn’t grow bigger.
Ah, is that Pietro?
– Hey, Eiji. I think I have already told you many times that if you make Tanya cry I won’t ignore that.
– I already said it’s a misunderstanding.
– Shut up! I don’t care if it’s a misunderstanding or not. The fact that you made her cry still remains!
– Please wait!
Just before Mike was about to lose his temper, Pietro stopped them by raising his voice loudly.
Tackling Mike’s waist area, Pietro restrained his movements with his whole body.
Mike waved his body and wriggled while trying to shake off Pietro; nevertheless, he wouldn’t let Mike go.
– Pietro, you’re not involved in this. Only those who have the right are allowed to cut into.
– I’m Master’s no. 1 disciple. Speaking of which, Mike-san too, is not involved!
– I’ve been looking after Tanya-chan as her guardian! Oh well, now that you understood, leave me at once!
Mike broke away.
Pietro stood between them and assumed a vigilant posture.
– I think I’ve already told Mike-san, but Master didn’t fool around. It’s one big misunderstanding.
– How do you know that? Don’t you know that people can quickly fall in love with someone else? How can you be sure of that?
– I do. I’ve been working under Master’s guidance all the time; therefore, I know how much he values Tanya-san. I know how he would fuss over their baby’s name, and how much he would worry about Tanya-san getting injured or burdened while being pregnant.
At Pietro, who was speaking openly, Mike faltered a little bit.
Still, Eiji thought inside his heart.
He thought about how happy he was to be believed and protected despite receiving distrust from the surroundings.
Nevertheless, he felt mentally hurt for not noticing how his wife would speak fondly of him.
Eiji thought about wanting to put a stop to these attacks.
– But, you won’t change the fact that this guy is distrusted?
– Falsely accusing others is much worse.
– Ugu. Still, there’s no proof of his innocence?
– As for that, Katharina has already given her testimony.
– W-What the… is that so? Then, does it mean Tanya-chan has been guessing wrong all this time?
Mike dropped his shoulders and breathed out a sigh.
– Seems like I’ve jumped to the wrong conclusion. My bad.
– Well, we didn’t suffer any damage thanks to Pietro, so I don’t mind. Still, we might be not that lucky next time. Please take action after you have confirmed the situation.
– Yeah…. But, Eiji, can I ask you something? Before, you gave the ring to Tanya, right?
– What about it?
– I thought about that time, you know, like ‘I see, indeed, he’s a good guy’. Unlike you, I gave Jane a boar when I proposed to her, but it disappeared once we processed it. However, if it’s a ring, it can retain its shape. Whenever Tanya inserted the ring and held it dear, the other men would understand at glance that it was because of you. As for me, I don’t see the worth of giving a ring. At that time I realized that it would be better if Eiji might consider crafting one more ring for himself.
– It’s…. I feared I would get burned were I to do my work with the ring on.
– It’s not like you have to wear it during your work, right? Provided you wear a ring in front of Tanya, that girl will await for you with more faith, won’t she? That’s why I’ve decided to tell you. You know, it pisses me off when somebody makes her sad.
Mike released the strength in his arms.
Hearing his words, Eiji received the impact.
That alone took out the strength from his body.
Indeed, it might appear so.
Eiji didn’t have the slightest intention of spoiling their relationship. He wanted to stay close and love her dearly.
Nevertheless, if Eiji was to describe her, she had a rather jealous personality. Even when he talked to her about having a child, she showed a bit of emotional instability.
Perhaps, it could have been due to the trauma caused by numerous misfortunes she had gone through.
Certainly, Eiji needs to blame himself for making her doubt.
Had he told her at least that he was meeting with Pietro, this uproar probably wouldn’t have happened.
He thought about the plan for reconciliation.
Luckily, there was Pietro who gathered the evidence.
Bona too, said she was willing to help.
It doesn’t look like it will be hard to resolve the misunderstanding.
But before meeting her, he will probably once more make the ring.
This time, for both Tanya and himself—-
When making a ring with iron, the most important thing would be to prevent it from rusting.
Fortunately, the iron he was applying was strong against rust.
That is also to say, apart from the iron being the magnetite with little impurity, the ring will be crafted using nothing but charcoal and live trees.
In modern iron manufacturing, coal and petroleum would be the alternatives, but on the other hand, in order to lower the cost of production, sulfur components would be contained in it as well.
Among numerous elements, sulfur is the one that is considered to possess the best quality of weakening iron.
Even in Japan, a fine iron, like Tamahagane, is refined solely by the use of charcoal. However, in the present time, the number produced is lowering with each passing year.
A highly pure iron is capable of maintaining its shape for many thousands of years.
The Japanese fasteners and Katanas discovered in shrines and Buddhist temples have preserved their beautiful design til nowadays, but on the other hand, it doesn’t seem like the presently made iron will be able to last more than a thousand years.
Eiji decided to choose the finest part of the iron among the ones which he refined.
Using a chisel to divide the lump of iron into a small quantity for a ring purpose, heating it many times and folding back, then once again, repeating the procedure by turning it into a lump and folding it back.
While heating and striking the lump, the impurities continued to fall out rapidly.
And then, the lump of iron turned small with an unexpected speed.
Once it was done, only 2 ring sized pieces were left from the lump of iron that was previously as big as a fist.
Bending the lump of iron, first, Eiji was going to shape it into the ring.
After passing an iron pole through the ring-shaped lump, he struck it while forming its figure.
The pole became thick to the extent of reaching the ring’s base, making it possible for Eiji to adjust the thickness on his own.
As soon as the size adjusting was finished, the work concluded.
Unlike edged tools, this item didn’t require quenching
– Well then, let’s do the finishing touch.
Following Eiji’s murmur, he engraved letters on the back of the ring.
– Eiji-san, I’m sorry.
– Please, forgive me already.
– Yes. I’ll reflect on my actions.
Soon after Eiji finished the work and returned back, Tanya was waiting.
There was no reason for her not to believe Bona, still, Tanya was probably concerned to the extent of being disappointed in herself for spoiling the mood as she apologized while feeling ashamed.
Bowing down deeply, she didn’t try to raise her head by any means.
It seemed that Tanya, who was persuaded within the day, gathered the information after she, herself, had calmed down.
What’s more, Katharina gave the evidence proving that she hadn’t been going anywhere that day.
– I was scolded by grandmother and told that I should have more faith in my husband. To think that I’d behave like that once I acknowledged myself as inferior compared to another person. I, will definitely not lose.
– No, I didn’t do that, you see. I mean things like fooling around.
– Understood. I thought that perhaps Eiji would consider doing that because you had no partner at night after I had become pregnant.
Funmu – At Tanya who was bracing herself, Eiji gave a reminder which had no misunderstanding in.
Still, they were able to make peace with each other.
Eiji didn’t want to put Tanya under more pressure since her tummy had grown bigger.
He took out the rings.
One which he gave before and was decorated with opal, and another one that was a newly crafted pair of rings.
– These, are the rings of reconciliation.
– Eh, but you already made one bef—-
– This time I made one more to match.
– Eiji-san too?
– Yes, please insert it. I made a simple one without gems, but…
Tanya looked attentively at the ring and placed it on her finger.
– Now it matches perfectly.
– That’s because it’s the second time I made one.
– These, letters that are engraved on the back, what do they mean?
– That’s a secret.
– Ehhhh? Please tell me!
– A secret.
Tanya couldn’t read the written letters.
Nevertheless, Eiji thought it would be fine that way.
That’s because were he to read them, he would be feeling very embarrassed.
“Forever Love”, is what was engraved there.
– Well then, let’s do an evaluation meeting.
– I too am partially at fault for creating the opportunity to be suspected. Had I told you before that the skill is top secret without making any excuse, we could have avoided this conflict.
– No, it isn’t your fault, Eiji-san. I should be the one to be blamed for jumping to a wrong conclusion.
– That’s not true. Both Tanya and I were wrong in our own way. But, please have more faith in me as I won’t betray you.
Tears flew quietly from Tanya’s cheeks.
After that, they were back on good terms, making their conflict look like a lie.
With Tanya walking around the village with the ring, the other women became jealous.
Eiji reminded Katharina to pay more attention; nevertheless, it didn’t look like she realized what was going on.
It will be difficult for her to improve.
There were also times when Eiji would hold his head, but everything seemed to be progressing favorably.
However, two months later, a new problem was to occur.
Where Dante would hit a villager.
Translator and reference notes:
: Also known as hasuji. For more detail: http://www.thesamuraiworkshop.com/university/content/8/64/en/what-is-hasuji-from-a-backyard-cutters-viewpoint.html
: Think I should’ve mentioned this before, but there are generally 3 types of whetstones: arato, nakato, shiageto. Aratogi means “sharpening with arato whetstone”, and the same goes for nakatogi.
: It’s certain that Eiji is forging a single ring, but for some reason, the author wrote 2 parts/pieces of ring. Still, can’t figure out what he wanted to say.
: Written in English.