Chapter 78 – Information Gathering
Using a chisel, Eiji opened holes, one after another, in a long metal plank.
The interval between holes was fixed.
The size of the holes continued to change gradually from a big circle into a small one.
The plank was, by itself, thick and unusually solid.
Because of the large amount of carbon inside the plank, its hardness was exceedingly high.
This means that lots of effort is needed to open the holes.
After the holes are opened with the chisel, it’s necessary to adjust them little by little with a file. However, if too much power is applied onto a solid metal, which can’t be easily scraped off, it will be more difficult to make small adjustments. In the end, patient, slow operation with the file is the best method.
Once he took the plank into his hands and confirmed the size of the holes with a scrutinizing eye, Pietro followed Eiji’s example as he stared at the plank similarly.
And then, Pietro tilted his head.
Perhaps, he couldn’t understand what Eiji was doing.
– Master, what are you making this time?
– I’m crafting wire.
– Is there any relation between wire and this plank?
– A big one. How about you try it later?
– I’ll do it!
– Master, is it fine for me to make it as well?
– Let me do it too.
The disciples probably overheard Eiji’s and Pietro’s talk.
Katharina and Dante also drew near.
What about your job? – Eiji wanted to ask, but nevertheless, it was a good thing that they were craving for skills.
In the end, he only stared lightly at them.
Since explaining them at once is less time consuming, Eiji thought it was fine.
And if it’s a simple work, then all the more reason.
Dante and Katharina put a wry smile on their faces while getting impatient. Perhaps, it meant that they won’t repeat their mistake a second time and will focus on their tasks from now on.
– Shall I first show you how it’s done? After all, this job isn’t something that requires unique skills.
– Is that so?
– Then, it’s alright for me as well, right?
– Yeah, but it’s probably easier to use less power at the start.
– Then, I guess it’s my turn now.
– It isn’t something that can’t be done by anyone, so I’m going to show you quickly.
Saying so, Eiji installed the metal plank onto the pillar in front of the shaft that stretched out from the water wheel.
Once the plank was tightly fixed with screws, Eiji pulled on it so as to confirm it was solidly attached, however, it didn’t move an inch.
– Won’t it move if I use my power?
– How about you try it and see?
– Alright, that’s enough. it will become troublesome if you get serious and destroy it, so you better stop.
– ….Damn, guess it can’t be helped. I’m wasting my time on this. I’ll tell you, but, I wasn’t using my full power, ok? *sigh*……
– Really, Dante-kun is acting like a funny person, isn’t he?
With his full power, he would probably pull it off.
Holding his breath, Dante’s face had flushed red. Despite that, the fixed plank wouldn’t move.
There was nothing wrong about his strength.
With this much strength, he should probably be fine with most jobs.
Dante and Katharina were exchanging words with each other, but, Eiji continued his task while ignoring them.
Being on good terms is a good thing.
Continue to get along like that, guys. – Is what Eiji thought, but he didn’t utter those words.
The next thing he brought was a steel material.
So as to make a wire thin enough to pass it through the holes, the metal would be flattened using water-powered hammer.
– First, use this. Pass this steel material through a hole in the plank. You see, only its head needs to be barely passed through due to its size. And then, grab it with pliers. Once you do so—pull it with all your strength!
Eiji braced his legs and concentrated his strength into both of his arms.
Gigi! – a sound was produced as he felt a strong resistance in his hands.
The steel was dragged out through the hole while being stretched.
By forcibly passing it through the hole, the steel became thinner and balanced in its thickness.
– Speaking of which, once there’s a little more than just the tip, use the machine. You tie this up to the shaft’s protrusion in the water wheel and rotate it using the water wheel.
Guon guon – the water wheel generated sounds.
As the shaft revolved, its powerful force continued to pass the steel through the metal plank and coil it in succession.
In the past, it would be passed through iron holes, whereas, in the present times, there were methods called the drawing process and wire drawing.
The process would be repeated several, several tens of times, til the steel achieves the desirable wire diameter.
There was also a technique called surface finishing, which developed together with the introduction of automation; nevertheless, the basic principle of making wire would remain the same.
Before it was possible to make use of the water wheel’s power, blacksmiths would do the whole work relying solely on human strength. Therefore, Eiji could do nothing but admire those people’s strenuous effort.
Just how much perseverance does one need to perform this work without any tool for it.
The wire continued to coil and become thinner on the shaft, than at the beginning. As soon as Eiji confirmed it was done, he halted the wheel.
After he retrieved the wire, he inserted its head once again through the plank.
The hole this time was next to the previous one, and was slightly narrower.
– With that, well, it feels more or less like this.
– Master, I have a question.
– What is it, Pietro?
– What do we use such a thin string for?
– Hm? I wonder if it would be good for a bra.
– Ah, Tanya-san’s……
– Right, right. You understood it well, didn’t you? H-Hey, what’s the matter. Why are you giving me that ‘again?’ face?
– No way, Master. There’s no reason for me to make such a face…. right?
– Because you’re getting the wrong idea, I’ll correct what I said. A wire can obviously be used not only for that. It has a wide range of usage, such as making light baskets, becoming a building material or a hanger. And most importantly, for making nets! With this you can grill more delicious fishes!
Recently, Eiji had the feeling that his disciple’s respect for him had weakened.
Even though Pietro’s eyes glittered the first time Eiji told him about making a bra.
In order to win back his respect, I’ve got to show him my good side from now on. – Eiji thought.
If a bra is no good, then how about shorts…?
No, I get the feeling that would just worsen the situation.
Actually, the application of the wire doesn’t end with just making a bra or daily necessities.
Eiji planned to use it for making single-layer kimonos and barbed wire, however, there was no way for him to tell them that.
He wanted his disciples to continue producing raw materials while having them believe that they’re intended for something.
Thinking back on his behavior, was his way of teaching possibly too self-serving?
I’m making myself be hated, I guess. – Eiji thought.
It would be better to keep that unpleasant feeling to himself.
If they at least manage to create useful things for other people by learning this skill, then it’s okay, but…..
At the time Eiji was watching them attentively, his disciples began their practice while striving to be the first to finish.
Despite there only being a slight strength requirement for this type of job, as one would expect, Dante’s strength seemed to be the most suitable for it.
Eiji suddenly thought.
Speaking of which, whose presence did he sense before?
If they had been his disciples, then it would’ve been fine for them to say a word and enter confidently. There was no need to sneak and peek.
Since there is a distance separating Eiji’s work spot from the door and louver windows, nobody should be able to see exactly what he was making.
The fact that he didn’t know whose presence was it left an unpleasant feeling inside his heart.
As soon as Eiji finished his job and got on his way back home/and started going home, a voice was heard calling him to halt.
Once he checked its direction, it was Mike.
He was together with his beloved dogs. Unlike humans, dogs can grow big quickly.
Was it because of Mike feeding the dogs properly? – The two hunting dogs each had a large build, which one could describe as unbelievable.
– Eiji. We will soon begin to cut down on livestock for winter preparations once again, but can we work together on the tallow like last time?
– How much is there going to be?
– This year, just as you told us, we have turnips and clovers. That’s why, it seems we only need to make a third of what we made the previous year.
– Will there be enough food for winter?
Because there wasn’t enough fodder to supply food for the animals during winter, til now, they couldn’t help but to decrease the number of livestock, and make them into food.
However, the four-crop rotation continued to show its result.
If the livestock can survive winter, that fact itself will produce less effort, and it will be possible to make animal breeding more prosperous, again.
If one is to consider that in a long-term perspective, the number of livestock will certainly increase a lot; nevertheless, the first 2-3 years will perhaps contrarily result in a food shortage.
Were the amount of food to be insufficient due to them sparing the livestock, it would be the same as putting the cart before the horse.
At Eiji, who expressed this concern in his question, Mike denied it by waving his hand from side to side.
– Yeah, about that, we have lots of dried cod, so you don’t have to worry. If it’s necessary, we will cut down on how many sheep there are, so as to balance the accounts.
– I see. Well then, it might be troublesome for you, but can I have you finish the separating salt as well?
– Got it, leave the grinding to me.
Sheep are originally one of the easiest livestock to be raised.
If one was to look into the history records, sheep were animals that became successfully domesticated after dogs.
Mike moved with his hand in a way that indicated chopping with a knife.
Nodding decisively, Eiji put his hand on his chest while making a sigh of relief.
– This year, we have lots of olive oil, so we will monopolize it by ourself. We shall save the beef tallow soap, which is easily applicable for industrial purposes, for Nazioni and trading.
– I entrusted the production to my wifey.
– Jane-san’s cooperating with us, so she will certainly deliver high grade products to us, I guess. As always, you’re one devoted husband, ain’t you?
– Shut up.
Eiji felt pleasant at Mike, who turned bashful.
Constantly thinking about his wife while saying this or that, Eiji thought that Mike was a good person.
The main component of the soap was olive oil, however, depending on what kind of oil is added as a substitute, the qualities of the soap will change.
The famous Aleppo soap and Marseille soap use olive oil as their base component.
Starting with the supervision of the disciples, Eiji threw a range of jobs at Pietro. For that reason, there was a risk of him overworking.
Pietro had the personality of a diligent worker, but nevertheless, he was still a boy whose body, too, wasn’t completely forged.
Most likely, Eiji have to come up with a counterplan of entrusting the soap making to someone else.
For the time being, he decided to make the soap by himself using the olive oil.
Were he to entrust all his disciples with its production during the daytime, they would probably not have the spare time to even fuel a burning furnace.
Perhaps it would be fine for him to craft items in the morning and evening time, and work hard on the soap production at noon.
At Eiji, who was thinking about the next plan, a voice from the distance called out.
It was a hoarse voice of a man.
Looking with a distant view, Eiji couldn’t clearly tell who it was, but nonetheless, the man seemed to be riding on a horse carriage.
It was a voice which he could recognize from before.
As the source of the voice drew nearer, it became clear who it was.
That was Jean, the peddler.
Eiji felt it had been long since he cashed in on the soap.
So it has been a year since that time?
– Eiji-kun, I brought you things you requested.
Jean stopped the carriage while smiling with a grin.
Translator and reference notes:
: Obviously Marseille soap is not. It’s made from vegetables. Author’s ignorance.