Chapter 37: A Disappointing Girl and a Disappointing Young Man.
Volume 1 — The Temporary Snow Country Life of the Northern Nobleman and the Raptor Wife
Surprisingly, Emmerich came earlier than expected.
The season can still be called spring. There is still freshness in the green shade of nature.
I went out to the village entrance to receive our guest.
Meeting again after few months, the young man, still looking refreshing, quietly and shyly greeted me. Inhibited as always.
“Will you take it slowly this time?”
“No, I’m returning tomorrow evening.”
“Eh, that short!?”
“In this period, we’re busy with the joint military exercises.”
I heard that he was spending hectic days in his country. Apparently, the shellfish and the flower that he gave to Aina are from the exercise facility.
Also, Emmerich decided that he will live here.
“When I said I’m retiring from the army, I was coerced into helping with work.”
“What a pity, that……”
His holiday this time was hard-earned, at the cost of not getting a single holiday in summer. In winter, he’s busy undergoing the various processes for retirement, so the next time he’s coming will be in spring next year.
“Right then, let’s go meet up with Aina.”
Emmerich nodded with a jubilant expression on his face.
While we were talking, I spotted a familiar back.
Emmerich’s beloved happened to be there ahead of us.
Called out to, Aina turned around. Upon seeing me, she looked annoyed, but when she saw Emmerich, she looked restless.
“Emmerich came over to see you, Aina.”
Aina looked surprised and stared at Emmerich. When her eyes met his, she turned away out of embarrassment.
Emmerich was just smiling delightedly. To that young man, I nudged him.
She didn’t imagine that the quiet man would speak out. Aina gaped at him.
Meanwhile, since nothing was said after “Aina-chan,” her tension seemed to have got loose, and she said something unexpected.
“——Don’t get so friendly with me!!”
The person who used abusive language, Aina looked the most surprised, for some mysterious reason.
The girl, maybe unable to stand it anymore, ran away in silence.
I was worried about Emmerich, but he had — a serene expression.
What a relief. He didn’t mind her words.
First, I told Emmerich to stay home quietly. I decided to go get Aina by myself.
The girl I was looking for was shopping at the caravan that had set up stall in the village square.
When I talked to her from behind, she flinched a bit and dropped some things from her leather bag.
I picked up the vegetables that rolled out and put them back in the back.
She was still frozen from when I called her, so I talked to her again.
“Emmerich’s not here.”
“What!? You should’ve said that earlier!”
Aina looked around with great vigour. It seems that she didn’t imagine that Emmerich wouldn’t be here.
“Do you have some time.”
“Don’t say that.”
I picked up her bag and headed towards her house.
“Hey, give it back!”
“I’ll escort you home, princess.”
“Who are you calling princess!”
At this hour, the scary grandfather isn’t there too. Her grandmother is ailing, so she won’t come out either. Thinking that, I decided to carry Aina’s load until she got home.
“There’s a lot. Celebrating something today?”
In the other bag, there was a chicken. It was clucking with great vigour.
“No. Grandma and mum’s not feeling too well, so grandpa told me to make some soup with blood.”
Behind Aina’s house, there was an empty pot, another pot of water on the stove and a knife prepared. It seemed that not much time passed, since the water wasn’t even starting to boil yet.
“The chicken, want me to process it?”
She didn’t respond, but I proceeded anyway.
After knocking the chicken unconscious, I tied its legs with a string. Then I slit the area around its arteries and drained its blood. The pot filled up with the chicken’s blood.
“Aina, we’re having a luncheon in our house tomorrow, won’t you come?”
“Though I say luncheon, there’s only Sieg, me, Emmerich and Aina, the four of us.”
Aina’s expression darkened.
So it’s no good even with Sieg. I dropped my shoulders.
“I’m busy, so I can’t go.”
Aina’s grandmother and mother are sick.
She might be doing all the housework alone.
The water started boiling, so I retrieved the pot and waited for the chicken’s blood to drain. Once the blood stopped dripping, I put the chicken in the water and boiled it for a few dozen seconds. After that, I put it in cold water and then plucked the feathers. For the delicate parts, I removed the feathers by searing them off with a hot metal rod.
“Aina, then, how about a tea party?”
“Emmerich gave us some delicious coffee and confectionaries. Why don’t we have that with the four of us?”
“If it’s coffee, it’s not a tea party.”
“Then, a banquet?”
No, a banquet’s different.
I pointed out my own mistake in my head.
“Just a bit’s fine.”
Maybe it was because I persisted well. Aina eventually agreed to come.
The next day.
The tea party that we arranged for the young foreign man the village girl was, well, unfortunately, a failure.
It was good sitting Emmerich and Aina across from each other, but their eyes never met, nor did they say anything.
Like so, with his only conversation ending with Aina’s one-sided declaration of “Don’t get so friendly with me,” Emmerich went home.
It was a teary parting from me feeling sorry for him.
The day after that, Aina came over in the morning.
“Huh, what is it?”
Aina had a basket in her hand. Though it was covered with a cloth, I could see some biscuits inside.
“Could they be for Emmerich?”
After hesitating for a while, she nodded.
——Uwa, what should I do?
I forgot to tell Aina that he was staying only for a night.
With a half-smile, I received the basket.
After she confirmed that I took it, Aina turned around to return, so I grabbed her arm and dragged her inside.
“Hey, Ritz, what are you doing!”
“Let go! I’m busy, I don’t have time to see that person!!”
“No, Aina, sorry! Emmerich’s already gone!”
“He returned home yesterday evening.”
“I’m not lying. Sorry I didn’t tell you.”
I took her to the living room and sat her at the chair next to the window.
“……Emmerich is busy, so he could only stay for a night.”
“I didn’t know. It wasn’t written on the letter.”
I didn’t know what I should say. Time passed without us saying anything.
Since it was awkward, I brought up a topic.
“Ah, right, he said that he’ll be moving here.”
“I didn’t hear that.”
At her growling voice, I almost let out a yelp.
Rather, Emmerich. Why do you never tell Aina important things.
I felt annoyed at the foreign soldier.
Seeing Aina’s face, this time I really did let out a short yelp, “Hii!”
She had an enraged face like no other.
“Aina, Emmerich didn’t mean any ill, he’s just being considerate……”
“It’s not that. I’m angry at myself.”
Aina said with a trembling voice.
She wanted to thank him for the pressed flower bookmark, and wanted to ask where the castle in the postcard was. She wanted to show him the shellfish bracelet she made, and had many other things she wanted to talk about.
The two were getting to know each other through letters.
However, it’s different to actually to talk in person and communicate through words.
When they actually meet each other, they become shy that they don’t know what to do.
“Aina, Emmerich will come again.”
“But I said something so harsh, I need to apologise.”
“Don’t worry. Emmerich doesn’t mind.”
“He’s coming back in spring.”
Because the day of their reunion was so far away, Aina started crying.
“Uwa, Aina, wait!”
At that moment when tears started trickling down her cheeks, the door opened.
The person who came in was Sieglinde who just returned from her morning stroll.
Seeing her, Aina ran into Sieg’s chest.
While embracing Aina, she asked with her eyes what was up.
I immediately shook my head and denied any accusation.
Sieg continued to pat Aina’s back, waiting for her to calm down.
I too furtively approached them.
Aina was crying like a child.
I knew her well from when she was young. She’s probably the most violent kid in the village.
As she grew up, she became pessimistic about the future. However, as she exchanged letters with a young man, she found love and a way to save herself.
In her tough daily life, those letters may have been her only joy.
Aina was crying because she was regretting that she couldn’t act as she wanted.
I felt sorry for her, felt pity for her. Various feelings welled up. It’s pathetic, but I too became teary-eyed.
When I looked at Sieg, she gently embraced with her free hand.
Sieglinde, what a benign woman.
Embraced by Sieg, Aina and I slowly calmed down.
The problem of Emmerich and Aina looked to be far from getting solved.
The biggest problem was not Aina being unable to act true to her own feelings. It was her grandfather and grandmother who did not like foreigners.
Next chapter is from the point of view of the new captain assigned to the fortress.