A Sudden Visitor — Last Part
Final Volume — [Story of the People who Live with Nature]
In the afternoon, I invited grandfather to ‘The Crimson Eagle’.
In this time of the day, men are out hunting, while women are busy preparing meals. Thus, the store doesn’t have many people.
“You made a great store.”
“Thanks to you.”
He complimented the stores exterior and interior.
The fact that I made them in the image of Sieglinde was quickly found out.
“Please, sit over here.”
When I glanced at Emmerich, who was watching the store, he came over to take orders.
While I was at it, I decided to introduce him to grandfather.
“Grandfather, this is Sieg’s former collegue, Emmerich David-san.”
Emmerich looked nervous as he made his introduction, but after hearing that grandfather is a marquess, his expression was even more strained.
It seems like grandfather recalls Emmerich’s name.
“Hohh, so you’re the kindhearted man that left his country and settled here.”
Before, I had talked about Aina and Emmerich with grandfather. He was awed at Emmerich who chose to move to another country for his love.
I called Aina from the kitchen.
Grandfather asked Aina and Emmerich to take seats, and started chatting.
Since it was time for the shift to change, I decided to bring them some tea.
I was worried that Aina would be shy. I stole a peek at them.
The couple looked nervous, but they soon started chatting happily. Phew. That’s a relief.
In the evening, many people start coming. Sieg and mother came over to help.
Grandfather bid farewell to Aina and Emmerich and returned home with Arno.
When the evening bell tolled, customers rushed in here. Soldiers or merchants come after their work is finished.
A little later, village men also visited to get drinks.
Aina’s special snacks quickly started running out. It seems like having sweet things is booming now, and people placed orders for pies and cookies just before the store closes.
We closed when the last bell (around 8) rings. After paying up, the customers returned. The baked goods for taking away were all sold out.
After closing, Sieg cleaned the chairs, tables and the floor. As for myself, I prepared for tomorrow.
I kept mincing vegetables and meat.
Today’s soup will be a soup of spring root vegetables and reindeer meat. I baked the pie using blueberry jam.
An hour later, Sieg seemed to be finished cleaning too, and was wiping off the sweat from her brows.
“Thank you for your hard work.”
“Yeah, Ritz, you too.”
“Shall we go home?”
It’s dangerous at night, I made up an adequate excuse and held Sieg’s hand.
Her hand was still warm, and it felt soothing to touch.
When I glanced at her, she looked slightly fatigued.
“Sieg, isn’t it tough helping out with the store?”
I felt sorry for making her work for my whims.
However, Sieg unexpectedly replied that she’s enjoying it.
“I felt surprised that I could serve customers. I think I have quite a diverse set of potential.”
“Moreover, it feels nice to see the villagers smiling from eating Ritz’s food.”
You’re going to make me cry, Sieglinde.
I wanted to shout, “Uwaaaaa, I love you——!” right here, but it would disturb everyone so I didn’t.
“Thank you, Sieg.”
To that, she smiled gracefully.
Never before had I been gladder that my night vision is good.
After returning, when I opened the front door, I was greeted by grandfather’s shouting.
“You are an idiot, a ridiculous idiot!”
Just what is happening? I hurried to the living room.
There, I saw my grandfather ready for battle and my father ready to run away.
“Do you realise whose mouth is saying that!”
“Father, I’ll be back soon.”
“You say that, but you’re thinking of running away!”
“That’s not true. Just, I’m just curious about the forest during night……”
“I don’t want to hear your excuse!”
Father was getting a beating with grandfather’s cane.
Arno and mother weren’t here. They’re probably upstairs, sleeping.
Panicking, I rushed in between them. The weapon, the cane was confiscated by Sieg with dextrous movements.
“Ritzhard, don’t stop me! Today for sure, I’ll punish him!”
“Please, let’s calm down.”
“Grandfather-in-law, how about some coffee?”
Sieg offered some coffee that mother must have prepared to grandfather.
We offered father a seat as well.
After calming down, when I asked what the commotion was about, I learned that father said that he wanted to go out to the forest at night. To that, grandfather suspected that he’ll be running away.
“Father, I’m not going to run away anymore.”
“I can’t trust you. Plus, Ritzhard said that the forest’s dangerous at night, yet you want to go there? I can only say that you’re mad.”
“It’ll take only a moment.”
“You’re still saying that!”
I calmed down grandfather who stood up and had his hands clenched into fists. It was too heated for a father-son fight.
However, once father is interested in something, he doesn’t listen.
Thus, there can only be one solution.
“Dad, let’s go with me.”
“Eh, Haru-kun, really?”
If we’re armed and with dogs, beasts won’t approach. I’ve got good night vision, so there shouldn’t be anything too dangerous. Though, my maternal grandfather, Rikhard, forbade people from going into the forests at night. Well, it should be alright.
“Ritzhard, you spoil your father too much!”
“It’ll be the first and last time I’m doing this for father, so please forgive me.”
When I stood up and bowed, grandfather clicked his tongue.
He clammed up and did not say anything in response.
I gave Sieg a look asking her to take care of grandfather, and left with father.
I took a lantern, we headed to the night forest.
The forest at night was dark and felt strange. The green that can be seen in the warm light of day cannot be found anywhere.
It felt like a different world.
Father walked carefully, checking the chirps of insects and the soft early summer breeze.
In the note he held, he was jotting things down. I wondered if he could see properly in the dark.
As I thought, he wanted to come here for research purposes.
In the middle, the atmosphere changed drastically.
I had chills all over my body, so I looked around me.
A little way off, I noticed something absurd, so I crouched down on the spot.
I hugged the dogs tightly so that they won’t bolt out.
“Haru-kun’s what’s wrong?”
“There’s a brown bear.”
If we stay still here, it will leave.
From the sudden encounter, my heart pounded loudly.
“What was it doing?”
“It was scratching its back against a birch tree.”
He swiftly took out his note. Why would he need information on what a bear does when its back itches……
“Hey, Haru-kun, what do brown bears eat?”
“Hehh, so that’s why it’s so big.”
There’s a large bear in the forest, but father was really carefree. He really has a good personality.
“Haru-kun, shall we return when the bear disappears?”
“That would be the best.”
……Good. Had we proceed in the forest, the result would have been that I would have to carry father home.
I thought that we would continue in silence, but in a rare moment, father spoke to me.
“——Haru-kun, you’re amazing.”
“You’re being a proper father.”
“Eh, why so suddenly? I’m just doing it normal. …..Dad, what’s up?”
“I just thought that.”
I wonder if the fantastical night forest makes people sentimental?
It was rare to see father show this much interest for someone else.
“Haru-kun, aren’t you scared?”
“That you’ll make someone unhappy from your words or actions.”
Father told me a story.
Of when he just started living in the village, providing people with various information.
“What if the disease doesn’t get cured, what if farming fails, what if the herb is toxic. I was scared of many things.”
Father wasn’t a professional. He merely provided information he read from books.
He told me that it was unbearably frightening, to not know what the results will be.
Also, he did not know how to make his family happy.
“It was not written on any of the books in the house……”
“So that’s why you left the village.”
“I’m also, scared.”
I also have fear that someone might become unhappy from anything I try.
However, most of those things just end up being undue worries.
“Dad, I think the point is, that it all depends on the feelings.”
“There’s something like that?”
Happiness does not try to run away nor hide.
“For example, the weather being nice, flowers blooming in the garden, the breakfast soup being tasty……”
“So, appreciating normal things as happy things, is it.”
Thinking that I would make someone unhappy is a fruitless thing to do, and fear makes one depressed. It takes away space in the heart to feel happiness.
“Haru-kun, you’re amazing after all.”
“I told you I’m normal.”
“Indeed, you’re Richelle’s son.”
“I’m also your son.”
Father might have felt many things after getting abandoned by mother, maybe even having changes in his heart.
I felt that it was nice to bare his feelings like this.
When we stopped talking, I slowly stood up.
The bear was no longer at the birch tree.
“——Let’s go back.”
The father and son walked side-by-side.
When I looked up at the sky, the starry scene was spread out across the sky.
The next day, father and grandfather left for the capital of this country.
Of course, he took the baby lynx (ilves) he picked up in front of the fort.
In front of the door, with mother, Sieg and Arno, we saw them off.
Grandfather told us to stay healthy, and told us that he will be writing soon. He also thanked us for taking care of my father.
“You fool of a son, you also thank Ritzhard.”
First, he apologised to Sieg for being a burden, and held out a dagger that he apparently received from a chieftain of a tribe during his travels.
“Such a precious thing,”
“Please protect the family.”
“……If it’s that, then yes. Thank you very much.”
Why did he give a dagger to Sieg to protect the family. I doubted my father’s sense.
After that, he looked at mother.
“Please take care of our family.”
Mother was bowing in silence. It was the first time seeing her like that.
“Arno-kun, you too, thank you.”
He softly stroked Arno’s head and blessed him to grow up healthy.
It seems like he has something for as well. I didn’t know what I should say, so ended up stiffening.
Father did an unexpected thing.
He spread his arms wide and hugged his thirty-year-old son.
Then, he whispered one phrase into my ears.
There were many things, so I didn’t know what he was apologising for.
Regardless, I said, “It’s alright,” and forgave him.
Like so, the tempestuous father and son left.
I saw that back off with a different feeling from before.