Chapter 29: A Sudden Visit
Volume 1 — The Temporary Snow Country Life of the Northern Nobleman and the Raptor Wife
Today, we strolled the forest —— or so I said but we had things to do.
Now that spring has come to the forest, the snow melted and new leaves sprouted, that everything was covered in bright green.
On such a day, we were out to pick herbs for fragrance and medicine.
The wild grasses are used as spices for cooking or for making products for daily life.
While explaining to Sieg the kinds of herbs to Sieg, we walked through the quiet forest.
When it became around lunchtime, the leather bags was full of many kinds of herbs.
“We should go back soon.”
“Yeah~. Ah, wait.”
I set a fish trap in the river yesterday. Since I wanted to retrieve that, we headed to the river.
The trap is made by weaving together soft-boiled ivy. It’s structured so that it’s impossible to escape after coming in, and crumbs are placed inside as lure, a very simple thing.
By pulling on the string attached to the stake, I retrieved the trap.
“Ah, there’s quite a bit.”
“A big catch.”
In the basket-shaped trap, there were about twenty of these small fish called muikku flopping about. After draining the water, I put in the bag.
After returning home, we took out some of the herbs to dry them in the sun. I put them on wire mesh and then put on a mesh lid to hold them down.
For the rest, we will be processing them with different methods such as heating, grinding and boiling, so we left the rest for later.
I brought the muikku fish over to Ruruporon to ask her to lunch. Of course, since it’s impossible to eat it all with just the two of us, I told her it’s fine to take the rest back home.
Since we were picking grasses for half the day, our fingertips were dyed red. The colour fades in about three days, but since we are picking herbs everyday, the colour fades just before summer.
“Bit too much, eh?”
“Well, I’m fine with it.”
“Alright. However, we also have to pick berries in summer.”
Berries dye our fingertips in very colourful shades, so our fingertips will ultimately turn into an indescribable shade of colour.
Red cranberries and yellow raspberries.
There are many berries around this area, and a lot are collected to make sauce, jam and juice.
That berry picking was a part of women’s work.
‘Find a wife that can pick berries well,’ they say, showing berry picking is an important work in this area. The midsummer gift supports the table for a whole year.
However, there are also ladies who dislike berry picking. Since sometimes women are called ‘useless’ if they can’t get a satisfactory amount.
Every year, I’ve been going out to pick berries alone.
In summer, while focusing on work, there is a chance to encounter wild beasts, so we need to be cautious.
Berries are also food for wild animals.
As we talked about things like that, it was time for lunch.
Today’s menu is deep fried muikku fish with tartar sauce, boiled potaoes, and a herb-flavoured soup made with reindeer meat and spring turnips.
The muikku fish were gutted properly, and the bitter head was chopped off too. The crispy batter and the light fish went well with the deep sauce that had vegetables in it.
The reindeer meat in the soup was boiled for a long time that taking a bite spread the taste all around inside my mouth. The spring turnips weren’t tough too, and had a subtle sweet flavour.
Today’s meal was great too. I thanked Ruruporon when she came over to retrieve the dishes.
As we were discussing if we should go to the fields to weed, Miruporon came over and pointed at the front door.
“My, a guest?”
Since there aren’t many visitors other than merchants and delivery men, I headed for the front door while thinking it was rare.
When I opened the door, there was a familiar face.
The guest was Aina.
Since she was looking nervous, I wondered if she had something to talk about with Sieg, but she awkwardly gestured behind her as if to say ‘guest’.
There was someone completely unexpected standing behind Aina.
The guest was not Aina but my paternal grandfather.
Was it around the beginning of the polar nights when I told him that I married?
I received a reply telling me to come and introduce Sieg, but I recently gave an evasive answer, saying that it was time for the reindeers to give birth, or that we were busy picking herbs. Though there’s also that our marriage is on a tentative contract.
Having an impressive white beard, grandfather glared at me grumpily.
I could somehow imagine what he wants to say.
Then he said the line I had in my mind.
“——Really, since you didn’t accept my request, I came over personally!”
“U-uwaahh, I’m happy.”
“What are you being happy about! Really, after making a frail old man go on a tough trip!”
Grandfather turned 77 this year.
His back is straight, and his complexion is fine. Since he was far from being frail as he said, I felt relieved.
Curious at the commotion at the front door, Sieg came over.
“Ah, grandfather, she is my wife, Sieglinde-san.”
I also introduced my grandfather to her, who looked surprised.
Sieg soon introduced herself and curtsied at a beautiful angle. Grandfather continued to stand there imposingly.
Since here was not a good place, I guided him inside.
He brought two servants along. I saw Miruporon on the way, so I gestured for her to prepare guest rooms. She pounded her chest in confirmation, but I’m not sure if I conveyed that well enough.
The last time I met grandfather was on the night after ball.
The reason why I was able to participate in that ball where I met Sieg was thanks to grandfather’s connections.
My grandfather’s name is Adalbert von Lüneburg. He is a marquess in a foreign country.
From a while ago, grandfather kept asking Sieg questions.
“So, you’re from Thüringen?”
“House Wattin is a martial family, were you also a soldier?”
“Yes. I was in the army for eighteen years from when I was thirteen.”
“Ho. Why did you quit and come here?”
“My superior told me to go marry.”
“Is that so.”
Grandfather took a sip of the mulled wine Ruruporn brought, but emptied the glass saying that it was not tasty. When I checked if there weren’t other drinks, there was a drink that hurt the insides at intervals, but I decided that I shouldn’t bring that out now and placed it deeper inside.
Instead, there was the wine Sieg brought from home so I decided to open that instead.
“Oi, don’t pour the contents straight into the glass!”
When I poured the wine straight into the glass, I drew grandfather’s ire for some reason.
When I asked why, it seemed that in old wine bottles there were some crystallised substances floating around. Unless that’s removed, the wine does not taste good.
When I thanked grandfather that I learned something, I was scolded that it was common sense. I was also criticised that it was the servant’s job to pour drinks.
From then on, he showered Sieg with questions, lectured his shameless grandson, got furious at the fact that father went missing, and was astonished at the fact that mother was dragged into that. There were a wide variety of topics.
He also drank. He drank anyways. When I told him that excessive drinking is bad for his health, he honestly acknowledged it so it was easy to stop him too.
Soon, it became dinnertime and Ruruporon’s specially made meals were served.
The meals were served on porcelain dishes with silverwares reserved for guests.
Since Ruruporon diligently polished the silverware, they all shined brightly.
After saying a grace before the meal, he asked if reindeer meat was okay.
To him, Sieg softly told him.
“It’s delicious. Very much so.”
Grandfather stared at Sieg as she ate.
Reindeer meat is rare for foreigners, so this kind of reaction is not rare.
I was about to tell him that he should start eating, but he spoke up first.
“……At first, I thought you brought a big wife, but no, she’s a great woman.”
He leaned in and whispered so that Sieg won’t hear. Then he started staring at Sieg again.
I was at a loss for words, so I too ended up staring at Sieg.
……Yup, she’s a great woman.
Even as grandfather and I sent cheeky gazes, Sieg coolly continued eat, pretending to not have noticed them.
The meal, in a tense atmosphere, somehow ended.
Grandfather said that the strange alcohol was the worst, but also said that the reindeer was not bad.
I don’t know if this is relevant to this chapter, but here’s a picture of their meal (from the book’s back cover) from the illustrator: