Chapter 15: Coexistence
Volume 1 — The Temporary Snow Country Life of the Northern Nobleman and the Raptor Wife
Because the polar nights were approaching, sunlight duration was getting shorter too. During those times, I spent time by selling processed meat and fur to merchants or by making more preserved food.
I usually make preserved foods in bottles.
I processed the food at the worktable outside at the back of the house. This is a place to spiritedly process wild animals, and it can be used freely because it’s not a Ruruporon’s sanctuary.
Today’s course is a bottle of ptarmigan liver spread. It’s a seasonal dish.
I carefully cleaned the blood and fat off many livers, and then marinated them in milk to get rid of the smell.
The morning after that, I boiled the livers down with vegetables and soy sauce, and added spices, alcohol and powdered bird bones to season it. I then boiled the paste until all the moisture evaporated away, and then added butter. Finally, I put it in a clean leather sack and battered it with all my might.
Good with bread or biscuits, the ptarmigan liver spread was completed.
I then put in in a bottle, and deaerated and sterilised the bottle to enable storage for long periods.
Under the cold, after finishing up the making of the liver spread, Sieg came back from helping Miruporon in the forest to see what I was doing.
“What were you doing?”
“Preserving ptarmigans. Are you fine with livers?”
I heard that many women did not like it, but Sieg said that she enjoyed it. So I scooped up a bit of the liver spread I just made onto the back of my wife’s hand.
Sieg then brought it to her mouth and tasted it.
Then she said one word.
“Mm-hm. You cook well.”
Thanks to the unexpected praise, my cheeks loosened. Since only I ate it, it was exciting hear someone else’s opinion.
Next up is curing duck meat in fat.
First, the meat is thoroughly seasoned with salt and sugar. Then, after setting some spices, it is left to sit for a day.
Then it is boiled in oil at a low temperature and put in a bottle. Afterwards, the fat from ducks is used to fill up the bottle.
It uses a lot of fat, but the meat has an unexpected clean taste. It also goes well with sour or salty berry sauces, that it is a delicacy in the daily life during polar nights.
The food are stored in the underground cellar. Seeing the bottles lined up, I thought to myself how good they looked for self-satisfaction. Since I put more effort in compared to last year, I relaxed at the thought that the polar nights this year will also pass without any problems.
But this was not all we had to prepare for the polar nights.
During our rest in the evening, I told Sieg of tomorrow’s schedule.
“I’d like to you to help Miruporon again tomorrow.”
“As for me, tomorrow……”
Because I did not really want to do it, I ended up sighing shortly before I continued.
“No, tomorrow, I’ll be going around the village to check if everyone is prepared for the polar nights.”
Even if I don’t check on the villagers, most households are perfectly prepared. However, there are rare cases where the men of the house get injured or come down with a sickness before the preparations. Since our people do not like to rely on others, even if that happens not many know of it.
I hear of the news of the village from travelling merchants, but even they do not know everything that goes on in the village, so for this I have to go.
If there is a troubled household, we are to aid them financially as well as share food. We also go around to other houses to plead them to share some food. This was decided by my grandfather when he was the lord.
It’s not hard to bow down, but the work’s still hard.
It’s a depressing event that happens every year.
When I explained it to Sieg, she made an unexpected proposal.
“Can I tag along for that?”
“Eh!? ……No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“The villagers are unfriendly even towards me who is from this village, so if a foreigner visits they might get unnecessarily adverse.”
As to why I am disliked, I think it’s because I have foreign blood mixed in.
Also, there are a few more things.
My father was an adventurer travelling around the world.
He met different peoples around the world, and had a mysterious courage, with the spirit of an adventurer.
He grew up in foreign lands and had poor marksmanship that never improved. In the end, he went on a trip around the world with mother. He was a troublesome man, always having a boyish heart.
Well, though it was thanks to his background that I could get connections to foreign high society.
Although I put on a troubled expression, she still was tilting her head in question.
I tried telling her how terrible the elderly people were, but Sieg still wanted to follow me on the patrol.
I also want to boast Sieglinde. However, what awaits are not blessings but curses from old, xenophobic villagers.
“I want to remember at least one more face from the village.”
“Even if you say that.”
If she asks with such an earnest expression, I can’t possibly refuse.
“Alright. But you have stay behind me.”
What’s with this superior and subordinate like conversation.
I want more sweet talk!
After we discussed about tomorrow’s schedule, we started talking about boars.
……This isn’t it. This isn’t what I want. I want something more couple-like.
“What should I do if a boar charges at me?”
“For that, you should jump to the side moments just a little before it might hit you. Boars can’t instantly turn.”
I was pondering how I should turn this into a sweet mood, but because Sieg started talking about butchering I gave up on it.
“Recently, male boar meat seems to smell a bit stronger, is there a reason for that?”
“Ah, they might be in heat.”
“Is that so?”
“We should stop hunting boars for now.”
I questioned myself many times as to how it came to this.
The next day.
To patrol the village, I left early. Sieg followed closely behind.
Should I go to a house that dislikes me first? Or instead getting demoralised from the beginning, should I go to a relatively friendly house?
I mulled over what to do, but I ended up going to the first house I saw.
The first time.
“Ah, right~. Preparations for the polar nights”
They closed the door immediately. This means that they have no problems and that I should go.
I turned around and shrugged, to which Sieg silently patted my back.
The second time.
“Aahh, we don’t have even a tiny bit of problem, so go already!”
Again, they shut the door coldly. The same happened the third time and the fourth time.
There are about seventy houses in all. Since it’s too much to do in one day, I ended it for the day.
There were some people who hurled abuses at Sieg. This was the reason why I did not want to bring her along, but she still said that she’ll follow me tomorrow.
“Please, won’t you stay home tomorrow?”
Though I pleaded her not to, she did not respond.
I was eing serious, but Sieg just crossed her arms, and not a single muscle on her faced twitched.
I thought of acting cute to convince her, but just by imagining myself doing that I got disgusted so I didn’t do that. I’m almost thirty now, about to become an oji-san. I have to be more mindful of how I act or speak.
“Okay, Sieg. I can’t win against you.”
That night, we did not play together as usual and parted early.
It wasn’t as though I was angry at Sieg, but I was exhausted from hearing insults all day.
When I dived into my bed, my consciousness soon drifted into sleep.
The next morning.
Because I woke up early, I went to the living room, but Sieg who always woke up earlier was not there.
As I was thinking that it was rare occurrence, I saw the exchange diary lying on the table.
Yet again, I expected it to have ‘nothing out of the ordinary’ again, but when I opened to the latest page it was filled with sentences.
Sieg was surprised by the attitude of the villagers we visited yesterday, but she was not uncomfortable.
However, she wrote that it felt something indescribable when she saw me, the lord, being chastised and getting depressed.
Still, she was relieved to see that I came back to life when she talked to me. So she wrote in polite words that she would like to accompany me again the day after.
—— I am still inexperienced to help out with the village, but I at least want to support you from behind the scenes.
From that, I was moved to tears.
While I was reading the diary over and over again, Sieg woke up.
Her eyes looked tired. She might have been up late to write this. From that thought, my heart calmed down and warmed up.
“Sieg, thank you.”
When I showed her my gratitude while holding up the diary, my curt wife just returned a short reply.
That morning, I wanted to hug her.