Chapter 45: My Hidden Feelings, to You.
Volume 1 — The Temporary Snow Country Life of the Northern Nobleman and the Raptor Wife
The season was not fall, and the prohibition on hunting was lifted.
First, we hunted birds. In this season, the migratory birds, especially ducks, are tasty.
For the birds living near water, I scattered grains by the lakeside to feed them.
The birds living in water are not hunted using guns but by traps. There are those who use guns, but those are only people who are good sharpshooters.
The trap we were using waa a web made out of tough ropes tied on a square frame. That is set by the waterside, and a string is attached to the trap on a branch. Once birds are lured in by the feed, I let the string go and catch the birds.
At the place where the feed is, a hole deep enough for the birds is dug so that it won’t be able to escape on the trap is activated.
A short distance away from the lakeside, I waited with Sieg.
I was keeping watch for about an hour, but no birds came yet.
Since the feed mixed with sand that I scattered over the place was already gone, there probably are other birds in the area.
As to why we mix sand in the feed, it’s because it helps the bird’s digestion.
We are hunting migratory birds this time, and they are relatively thin in this season. So we have to feed them to help their digestion and fatten them up.
The birds caught in traps tasty really snipe. Since it’s caught without struggling, it does not smell bad and we can even enjoy the strong taste of blood.
The sky was clear today. The weather was nice, but our prey did not appear.
Well, still, it was nice to just be leaning against each other with Sieg. When I stared at her profile, she was waiting for the birds to come with a serious face.
The wild birds don’t approach if they can hear people. So I leaned in closer and whispered quietly.
“……What is it?”
She said in a voice quiet for only me to hear. It was like having a secret conversation, so it was interesting.
“When we get back home……”
“What should we play?
Sieg dropped her knife on the floor.
“Huh, Sieg, what’s——!”
While I was talking to my wife, the birds came!!
About twenty. After checking that they were all focused on the feed, I let go of the string holding the trap up.
The trap fell down and the birds were caught in the trap.
I collected the immobilised birds in leather bags. It’s because the merchants buy them off at a high price if they’re alive.
There are eighteen in total. The rest escaped.
“Well, this is it.”
At the same place, I scattered more feed and left.
The caught prey are hauled back on a wheeled sleigh.
On the way back, we were walking back while looking at the autumn foliage. Because I was walking while looking up, I went to the wrong direction.
When I was about to apologise that I took a wrong turn, I found something lovely there.
At an animal trail, I found flat peaches, a flat shaped fruit. I did know that there are these trees in the forest, but it was the first time I saw the ripe fruits.
I quickly climbed up the tree with a leather bag and received the blessings of nature.
The fruit itself is small, and is has a peculiar shape as though it was pressed down from the top. Once I got up, I was surrounded by the sweet scent from the fruit.
The peach was without a single scratch. I took one off.
Just in case, I peeled it a bit and tasted for poison…… Mm, surprisingly sweet. There wasn’t a numbing feeling at the tip of my tongue, and I remembered the taste too. It was a flat peach without a doubt.
It was a nice peach, so I tossed one down to Sieg who was staring up.
Sieg nibbled into the peach without peeling it.
“How is it?”
It seemed that they sold these peaches in her homeland. Apparently, they don’t peel the skin.
“Let’s take some for Teoporon and his family too.”
I dropped down a bag full with enough peaches for us too. Then she tossed up an empty bag. I became greedy and felt that maybe a merchant might buy these, so I ended up harvesting three bagfuls of peaches.
After selling the birds and the fruits to the visiting merchants in the village, we returned home.
Among the birds we caught today, I brought back home only one mallard.
Also called ‘green neck (colvert)’, the duck is preserved for three days in the icehouse. Then, the bugs on the feathers die out and its pores contract, so it becomes easier to pluck its feathers.
Three days later.
I brought out the mallard out and wiped the whole thing with a wet cloth. This is to make sure that it won’ be slippery.
Then I grabbed it by the next and plucked out the feathers. I have to pluck out the little feathers at the groin as well. If there are any feathers left the meat does not smell good.
The strong tail feathers took a lot of strength to pluck. My fingers hurt a bit.
The remaining short feathers were seared off. One that’s done, I washed it in water and cut off the burnt bits.
While cooling the body, I cut off the head and wings. It’s throat is filled with grains and sand, so I cut open its neck to find the throat.
With careful movements, I gutted out the intestines and put in a clean cloth inside.
Then, the legs are tied and the duck is hung up to mature. Large ducks take about five days. Small ones don’t need any maturing.
“……Well, this is how ducks are cooked.”
Since processing birds were similar, I didn’t think that I needed to tell Sieg, but because she strongly wished for it I taught her how.
“I wonder if I should leave the bird hunting this year to Sieg.”
Truth be told, I disliked hunting for birds. I told her that it might be better for us to act separately this time, so that I can go off to hunt medium-sized animals.
“On second thought, it’s still quite dangerous. Let’s go together.”
A letter from grandfather arrived. It was an invitation to the annual ball. Of course there was one for Sieg too.
Also, something arrived from Sieg’s family.
There was a deep blue dress in the box. On top of that, there were gems and decorations matching Sieg’s hair. There were also decorations for the head, shoes, and ornaments.
“So I am to wear this to the ball.”
Sieg softly closed the box without taking the dress out.
“You’re not going to try the dress on?”
“……No, not really.”
Sieg said as she looked ahead, thinking of the future. Before she came here, she was looked at pitifully by her family when she put on a dress.
“What should I say…… but, I did like the colt dress you wore before.”
“That’s a personal opinion.”
Sieg placed the gift box on the table and sat down on the chair by the window.
Then, with a deeply moved look, she murmured, “It’s almost a year now.”
Indeed. It was almost a year since I met Sieg.
It passed by so quickly.
I think this ball will be a good opportunity for Sieg to return home.
“Are you glad to return home?”
“Well, yes. It’s good filial piety to show my parents my healthy appearance.”
Once she returns home, she might never come back here.
She said that she will spend her life in these remote lands, but people’s emotions are fickle things.
To thank her for everything so far, I sat down in front of her and looked up at her face.
I opened my mouth, but no words came out.
Because it was like I was saying farewell.
I shook my head and encouraged myself.
“——Thank you for coming here, Sieglinde. This year is not over yet, but I really had fun.”
When I said that, Sieg too changed her expression.
It was a divinely beautiful smile.
“I’m sorry that I forced on an inconvenient lifestyle on you.”
“No, there’s nothing like. I will continue to count on you in the future, my husband.”
From Sieg’s sudden words, I finally got the courage to tell her my feelings that I kept hidden.
——I love you.
I’ll be gone for a bit. Enjoy the cliff.