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‘My name is Suzuya.’
I lived in the southern part of the peninsula, Sirena. The geology of this place wasn’t suitable for the production of barley, but there was a lot of lake water. Since the grass grew well, the people cleared out the land, and tamed livestock such as sheep, goat, cattle and others. There were people who hunted in forest, and lived with semi-pasture and hunting.
The Lord of this land was the famed Hou Household, and the people of Sirena lived a peaceful life under them, who were generous in their rulings. Currently, I was a bit estranged, but I was certainly live the same life.
I lived the same life as a down-to-earth girl until I was twenty years old.
‘Let me introduce a bit.’
A farming family’s day began with cooking. My mother and I got up earlier than my father and my brother. It was a routine to prepare breakfast and bento for the men. After the meal, we sent the men out to hunt. When the cleanup was over, we went out to follow the men.
First, we hunted the animals and release the livestock to the pasture land. Then, we went to the hayfield, and collect the hays to become the fodder. It was a place where I could enjoy the beauty of nature.
Unlike the pasture land, the hayfield was in contact with the swamp. The growth of the grass was good, but if we released the livestock here, they would mostly drown in water. For that reason, we made fences to prevent livestock to go there, and turned the place to the hayfield for them. We would cut the overgrown grass here, stooped and crunched it in order to make bundle. Then, it would be easy to carry. It was a very hard work.
The grass cut here wouldn’t be used to feed the livestock immediately. While the grass were growing, we released the livestock into the pasture land, and let them feed on the naturally growing grass. The pasture land was for that purpose, and the grass harvested in the hayfield, would become the hay which would be the winter food for the livestock. Even if the hay was collected over a summer, the amount gathered wouldn’t be enough for all livestock if the winter was long. Because of that, the number was usually adjusted before the winter by slaughtering the livestock.
We mowed in the morning. Then, finished our lunch. In the afternoon, we went into the shallow part of the forest to collect fruits and medicinal herbs.
When the short autumn became long winter, the plants and animals in the mountains hibernated like they were dead. Hence, I spent my days doing such works like embroidery, making clothes, and spinning yarns. I was doing so until the spring came. Then, the mowing began again.
It was a boring but satisfying life.
At that time, the ladies in the house were only my grandmother, my mother and myself. If I wasn’t there, the female help wouldn’t be enough. Since it wasn’t possible to maintain the livestock, I couldn’t married into the husband’s family because there wasn’t enough women.
If my brother got married, the number of people in the family would increase or decrease due to his wife entered our family or my brother entered her family. Therefore, my marriage was supposed to be after that. As the number of people would either increase or decrease, my marriage would be adjusted accordingly.
When my brother was 25 years old and I was 20 years old, a marriage proposal came at the right time, and my brother got a bride. There was an additional lovely daughter in our family, so I decided to enter the husband’s family.
After the feast of my brother’s marriage was over, I was accompanied by my grandmother, who was the head of the household, and visited various places to look that looked for a daughter-in-law.
In a little further south, there was a large-scale farming village. There were many love marriages in the village, but there was no such a village in Sirena, which was a land near the mountain. In the forest, the house where family lived were scattered. When the settlement became burger, the hunting ground in the forest would occur at the same time, and inconvenience and quarrel occurred.
So, my grandmother asked my brother to send letter of marriage to various places.
The house that wanted me to enter their family would send a letter to my family. They could tell my brother their intention right on the spot or they could do it privately. Then, I was accompanied by grandmother, and went around many houses.
In the tradition of the Sirena region, the two sides shouldn’t talk about the specific of the marriage at the place when people made their first debut. If not, it would be an inelegant act. It was said to be polite for a household that wanted a bride or groom to display an attitude with hospitality rather than saying it in words.
For example, ‘We would be happy if a bride comes into our family. It has been decided]. That kind of conversation wouldn’t happen. Then, it would be something like to appeal as a husband candidate by treating with delicious alcohol, prepared a feast with the meat of the best part which packed with fragrant herbs that took time to gather, and said something like ‘This guy works three times more than common people, he’s honest and kind’.
Since I also prepared the welcoming as a side to receive when my brother got married, I had been bothered if I did something shameful and unforgiving when I would be the one who was accepted into one’s family. In any case, it was my first to meet so many other people in such a short time, and it was also the first time to ate such a meal frequently.
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At that time when the stay at the other side ended favorably, I met him while walking on my home in a good mood.
My grandmother and I were walking on a road so narrow to the point that two people couldn’t go pass each other, a Galloping Bird came from the end of the road.
A Galloping Bird was a huge bird that could be ride like a horse but was incapable of flying. It was a creature that ran fast, but it was more prone to exhaustion than a horse. Hence, it wasn’t used much for farming and carrying loads. If people weren’t in a hurry in most cases, the horses were more suitable.
The eggs seemed to be delicious but the meat wasn’t so tasty. Even if the farmers were rich, they wouldn’t have Galloping Birds. The merchants also wouldn’t want it because it wasn’t suitable for carrying goods. Naturally, it would be a ride exclusively for upper classes or knights.
That didn’t mean it was particularly a high class vehicle. and there was no punishment if people owned it. If people or merchants liked the bird, they were going to ride it, but since people were afraid to be looked down if they bought the bird, not many people owned it.
Since there was such a circumstances, we were surprised hurried out of the road to give way, and went into the grassy place. The Galloping Bird came here with a good rhythm. It naturally slowed down when it noticed us. Then, it slowed down even more to the walking speed level. After that, it stopped exactly in front of my eyes.
The male rider was wearing a durable cotton cloth. At first glance, I couldn’t guess his status. But the cloth wasn’t as crude as the one made by a daughter like me during spare time from doing agriculture job. His piece of cloth was seemed to have been woven by a craftsman, and it looked good.
Whether the man was skillful at riding, the Galloping Bird was stopped well and it didn’t become disgruntled. It just extended its neck and pecked the grass nearby. After the male ride saw my grandmother at a glance, he looked at me.
My eyes and his met. Were we looking at each other for a minute? I wondered why this person looked at me like this. It made me really wondered.
Suddenly, my grandmother opened her mouth.
“Excuse me, are you the son of the Hou Household?” (Grandmother)
I was taken aback and looked at my grandmother.
“Yes, I am.” (Man)
The man answered politely. He took his eyes off me and looked at my grandmother.
Speaking of the man of the Hou Household, they had been the Lord of this land for hundreds of years. They were those who departed to the front line by riding the Galloping Birds with spears when the war came. However, this person was kind and polite, and he didn’t seem like a warrior.
“This girl her and I are from a farming family in the neighborhood. We are going returning from the town nearby in search of marriage candidates.” (Grandmother)
“I see.” (Man)
The man looked at me again after saying that.
What my grandmother said was no more than self introduction, but since it might sound rude, she looked puzzled.
After that, the man looked at me again for a few tens of seconds.
“I’m sorry for holding you back. Are you trying to go home before the night comes?” (Man)
That was what he said.
“Yes, we would like to return as soon as possible.” (Grandmother)
“Well, take care. Then, please excuse me…” (Man)
That man let his Galloping Bird walked slowly in order not to let us covered by dusts. After getting a bit away, that man increased its speed and ran off.
It was a week after that there was an offer to be married came to our house.
We received a warm welcome by the Hou Household in their grand mansion that I had never seen before. I was excited. The man who I met on a road was the second son of the Hou Household. He was born in a warrior family, but he had no war talent. So he was doing the work of breeding and training birds. My grandmother gave a quick reply that we accepted the marriage talk, and I also didn’t say no.
Then, I got married and entered Hou Household. Anyhow, I didn’t enter the main house. My husband lived alone in a small home located in a different place from the main house. Since it was decided to live here, the size of the house I lived didn’t change much.
Five years had passed since I got married. I continued to live a happy life and I received my first child with him.
That child was so quiet since she was born. The midwife, who saw my child didn’t produce the first cry, and she thought it was a stillbirth. Even when she looked at my child sucking milk vigorously after the third day, he was too quiet and didn’t act too much. So, the midwife suspected that it was a disabled child.
However, I wasn’t too concerned. This child was certainly didn’t cry much, but when he was hungry and wanted to change the diaper, he would call me loudly. Moreover, when I hugged him after finishing the housework, he seemed to be happy as if he felt very relieved.
When I left him alone to do the housework, he made a lonely face in the baby bed. Was he feeling lonely? If he was a normal baby, he should cry and called the parent, but that child must have noticed it that he shouldn’t do so. When that happened, I hugged him and talk to him. Then, he put up a warm and gentle look. I thought that this child was a gentle child who easily succumbed to loneliness.
The one who named this child was the head of the Hou Household. He was the head of the chivalric order of the Hou family, Gouk Hou-sama. He was the matchmaker during the marriage ceremony. He lent clothes to my family who had nothing but crude clothes. He was a great benefactor.
When Yuri learned how to move his body like standing up and walking as if he was hurried on something, he was actually asking where the toilet was. Plus, he graduated from diapers quite early. By the time he was three years old, he was able to read difficult books, that only my husband could read, at home. When my husband was there, Yuri asked him to read it. Occasionally, the husband went to the imperial capital on business purpose. So, he borrowed books from there, and began to read it out loud. The story that my husband read was something fresh and interesting even when I listened to it.
When we celebrated Yuri’s third birthday, my husband took him to workplace as promised beforehand.
When they came back, I didn’t understand well, but my husband happily told me that Yuri had a talent. It seemed that Yuri was also excited more than usual and enjoyed the experience of today.
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