Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 58
Claude was in a rather good mood today. He felt calm and relaxed just like how he would feel after eating ice cream.
During the past five days, the animals they sold Pjard earned each of them one thale and three riyases. That was almost the monthly salary of a peasant. Eriksson himself already forgot about his completed ship and only cared to head to the forest and hills to set up snare traps all over the place.
As Borkal put it, they were practically picking money off the ground. All they had to do was to drop some vine snares in some shrubs and come back the next day to collect their prey. There was no need to shoot their guns at all and they could even save on the gunpowder and bullet cost.
However, Pjard bought a little too many turkeys and hares and wouldn't be needing anything else. Claude and the rest were also sick of hunting as they spend at least two hours daily to find a good place to set up theri snares. The animals in that area were also growing sparser and would run out eventually.
For some reason, Morssen started grumbling about the matter of Claude's mother buying him new high-heeled boots which he could only use for ten days.
No longer able to hold it in, Claude took four riyases out and slammed it on the desk. "Alright, these shoes were bought by me. It's got nothing to do with Mother. I don't want to hear you lecture her about this matter anymore."
Morssen had never imagined that he would be talked down like that by his son. He was so shocked that he couldn't find the words to respond. His expression shifted in a cycle from rage to astonishment, looking both angered and awkward at the same time.
After that, Claude got his back and whistled his way to school in a cheery mood.
After his wrestling period in the afternoon, Claude kept his things and prepared to leave school.
Borkal pulled him and said, "Where are you going? The horsemanship class is ending this week. We only have three days of classes left. Since we paid so much for them, we might as well ride the horses more while we still have the chance."
"I'll do it tomorrow," Claude said, "I'm going to head to the south of town later."
"What for?" Borkal wondered, "Didn't Pjard say that he wouldn't be buying any more animals?"
"I'm just going to check it out. Didn't we lay some 20 groups of snares there yesterday? We might get some prey today. Even if Pjard doesn't want to buy them, we can still bring them back to eat them ourselves. Also, I was thinking of removing the other snares that didn't catch anything. It's one thing if some lucky fellow got the turkeys and hares that were caught, but it's another thing if they find out how to make the snares. Should that happen, we won't be able to make good cash out of this in the future."
Claude was quite thorough in his considerations to remove the remaining traps. That way, the animals could also proliferate quicker before they would be ripe for harvesting the next year. His friends were quite impressed with his foresight and care.
The method to make the snares was far too simple and normally, others wouldn't notice its presence if no prey was caught in hit. However, if something did end up getting caught and someone else ended up finding it, then would the secret of the snares be made public?
Losing the prey was no big deal, but the snares were easy to figure out when trying to remove the prey from it. The hypothetical person who learned how to make them might just use them without discretion, causing the other hunters in town to find out about that method as well. Should that ever happen, there would definitely be no prey left for them to catch.
"Do you want me to come along?" asked Welikro.
Claude shook his head. "No need. I'm going to take a walk as well and it's fine even if we don't get any catch. I'm going there mainly to deal with the rest of the snares we set up there and it won't take long. Just head to the jetty after you finish the horsemanship class. We haven't helped Uncle Pegg out for five days already, so I'll head to the jetty after I collect the snares and split the haul if we get any."
Claude returned home first and slung his gun over his shoulder and got his bag before trying to hail a carriage to the south of town. The moment he stepped out of the house, he saw his mother return with a basket in hand with Bloweyk jumping behind her actively.
Ack, here comes trouble. Bloweyk was glad to see his brother and clamored to go hunt hares with him. Claude only managed to quiet him down after agreeing to some unfair conditions.
Just as Claude was about to make his getaway, his mother called him to stop. She stroked Claude's messy hair and said, "It's about time you went for a haircut. It's so long and messy, yet you don't bother to tend to it one bit. Do you want to keep a ponytail like your brother?"
The thought of Arbeit thinking that the ponytail he wore made him look cool almost caused Claude to vomit. Arbeit was already slender in build and had fair skin. The ponytail only made him look more like a woman from the back. If he walked in the streets in the middle of the night, there was no saying whether some desperate drunk would jump him to cop a feel or two. It would surely be a huge deal if he really did end up assaulted after being mistaken for a woman.
After complaining about how ugly Arbeit's ponytail look, Claude hurriedly shook his head. "I don't want long hair at all. I won't be able to clean it no matter how much time I spend on it. I'm going to have my hair cut in a few days when it gets warmer. It'll look much better after that."
"Yeah, short hair is good too. It makes you look more energetic," his mother agreed, "Oh, Claude, take this."
Looking at the thale his mother handed him, Claude didn't know how to react. What's the deal with giving me one thale all of a sudden? It's not like I lack any money.
"Don't blame your father. The reason he was venting in the morning isn't because of your shoes. It's because there are some troublesome things he has to deal with as of late. He's just using our family as an outlet for his pent-up frustration. We are more than happy with spending money on our children as parents, so what's the harm in a little waste?
"I'm sure you've spent quite a bit of money lately as well, right? Your father bought you a gun and even asked you to buy your own gunpowder and ammunition, and yet you still used your own money to buy more hares to bring home. I know that the hares you got weren't hunted by you since they didn't have any gunshot wounds on them. Claude, you're still young, so don't stay mad at your father. The reason he wants you to go hunt some hares is for you to accomplish something. You don't have to buy hares back home just to prove a point to your father."
Claude didn't know whether to laugh or cry. His mother actually believed that he bought the hares he brought back every day. Then again, it was only to be expected, given that the hares were not hurt in the slightest. Nobody would believe he hunted those hares with his gun.
That was why his mother gave him a thale. When he slammed the four riyases on the table this morning and left without a word, his mother had mistaken it for Claude showing off even though he didn't have much money.
"No, mother, I really do have money," Claude said as he put the thale back in his mother's hand, "I really do. Those hares were really hunted by me using a trap I designed. That's why they weren't wounded at all. You can ask Boa, Eyke and Wero about it. They caught quite a lot of hares and turkeys with me over the past few days and we sold most of them to Pjard. You can also ask Pjard about it. We earned more than a thale in total, so that's why I gave Father the money this morning.
"Also, I don't blame Father. I know that he's doing it for my good and am aware that he wasn't ranting because of the shoes. However, I believe that no matter how bad things are going on his side, he shouldn't bring his negativity back into the family. It's only normal for things to go bad from time to time, and he shouldn't vent his frustrations on his family members just because of that. The house is the safe bay for all of us to dock. It is the haven of our souls where we should be able to enjoy peaceful respite.
"That's why it was inappropriate for Father to disrupt our peace because of his frustration. He's the leader of the family. What's the point for the family to exist if even he can't bring us happiness and bliss? Didn't you see how Little Blowk and Anna were so frightened this morning that they didn't dare to speak at all? That's why I slammed the money on the table angrily. I don't want him to use the excuse of some stupid shoes to keep us all on edge. It's tiring to live like that!
"Alright, Mother, keep the money. I really have enough for myself, so don't worry about me. I'm grown up now and I know not to bring trouble back to the family. Just get Anna some new clothes or something if you're free. Her school uniform is a hand-down from me altered to fit her size and it's already yellowing with age. She's a girl, so we can't have wear that old hand me down forever, right? Alright, I have to go now. See you later."
Right at that instant, he managed to spot the coachman who drove him to the south of town two days ago. The coachman was on its way back to the farms south of town from a delivery and Claude got on the carriage and had the coachman send him to the southern outskirts.
His mother looked at the silver coin in her palms as Claude got up the carriage. She turned back and opened the kitchen door, only to see Morssen standing behind it emotionlessly.
"Did you hear what your son said?" Madam Ferd chided, "Are you still going to lecture him tonight?"
Morssen smiled bitterly as he fumbled for his pipe. As he tried to light it, he shook his head. "Not anymore. He's making more sense than me and I don't know who's doing the lecturing now. I'll go ask Pjard later about whether our son really sold him lots of hares and turkeys. I really made a huge loss eating at the old tavern just now. Pjard sold one roasted turkey for three riyases and five sunars. I wonder how much our son sold one to him for..."
Meanwhile, Claude wasn't aware of Morssen's eavesdropping and was instead boasting to the coachman, Regan.
Regan was a peasant and worked at Poplar Ridge Farmstead. Apart from the usual farming work, he was also responsible with transporting the harvest to the merchants in town so that they would arrive fresh. He made multiple such trips each day and Claude had taken his carriage back to town for the past few days, paying only a hare as the price.
"Why are you alone today?" wondered Regan.
"The others are busy, and we won't be coming in the future either. We already used our secret concoction up. I'm just going to check on whether there are any fainted animals who consumed our concoction left. If there are, I'll make sure to give you one."
Regan took note of the large number of hares and turkeys Claude and the others caught in the past few days. How are they able to catch these animals without wounding them? Curious, Regan asked how it was achieved.
Claude claimed that he read about a certain secret formula in a book on medicine and tried it out during his hunts. He said that he immersed wheat and beans into that secret mixture before drying them and scattering them in the grass. When the prey ate the bait, they would faint from the numbness and would be unable to move for the next twelve hours. That was the reason he explained the large number of prey away.
Back then, Borkal went along with his act convincingly. He praised the formula for being so wondrous that the animals that consumed the food immersed in it could recover to full health. However, as the ingredients for those things were too expensive, they were only able to make a little bit of the concoction after spending three thales. Whether they would be able to break even by selling their catch was still an unknown.
Knowing Eriksson and Borkal for being the sons of two famous rich men in town, Regan easily believed Claude's lie. He only sighed and thought that if he had three thales, he would safe it up for taking a wife instead of wasting it on some mysterious and expensive concoction just for the sake of catching hares and turkeys.