Chapter 15: Growing Mulberry
Hakeem and I went to the market today to get mulberry seedlings.
We are now on our way back.
“This is my first time on a camel, but I didn’t expect it to be so bumpy.”
“Hakeem will grow accustomed to it.”
When we lived in the desert, my family had three camels for transportation.
We have a horse-drawn carriage now that we live in the capital, but I’ve never used it because “Alesia is still afraid of handling a horse by herself.”
I arrived today with two camels and purchased eight large seedlings.
There are two male trees and six female trees.
I had no idea there were male and female mulberry trees.
I wanted to grow mulberry trees because I wanted to eat the fruit, but when I heard Hakeem say, “mulberry trees require a lot of water,” I had the idea to sell mulberry fruit.
The Royal Capital is a business opportunity.
If you live in the Royal Capital, you should make money whenever possible, and if something bad happens, you should take the money and flee as quickly as possible.
I’m not sure how much longer I can live with my parents.
In the worst-case scenario, I may have to flee alone in order to keep them safe.
I should have as much money as I can get my hands on.
I haven’t told my parents yet.
“You really wanted to eat mulberries?”
“That’s one thing, but since we have plenty of water, I decided to grow mulberry trees and sell the fruit—mulberries must sell for a high price in this country if they are difficult to grow without plenty of water, right?”
But how do you know how long the rain will last? Doesn’t it sometimes stop raining all of a sudden?”
“If that’s the case, then I’ll simply give up.”
It will rain as long as I’m there.
“I was surprised to learn that a single mulberry tree costs five small silver coins, and I was even more surprised to learn that you purchased eight of them.”
“Everything has an initial cost.”
Hakeem looked puzzled.
“Did I say something funny?”
I mean, you use grown-up language.”
“Uh… I’ve been going to the library lately and picking up some new words, so I wanted to try it out.”
For a while, we walked alongside the camels, but Hakeem seemed to want to say something.
“You see, I have a favor to ask of you.”
“What is it?”
“I’d like to learn to read and write—can I watch Ethan while he learns to write?”
“You certainly can! Let’s study together instead of just watching.
Although you can learn to write on your own, it is faster if you learn with someone else.”
Hakeem’s face brightened.
“Thank you very much! I can teach my sister to write if I learn to write.
She sleeps at home all the time, so when she learns to read, I’d like to buy her a book.”
What a good young boy! That brings tears to my eyes.
I’m grateful to have met such a pure and lovely young man.
I’m curious if any of the noblemen or royalty I’ve met in my previous life were such pure young men… None.
There are none.
And my former fiancee… No… Let us not dwell on it.
“All right, when we get home, we’ll plant some seedlings, harvest some vegetables, feed the chickens, and then study the alphabet!”
“Alesia didn’t have to work so hard or I’d lose my job.”
“Don’t worry—the work on the farm never ends!”
This country is extremely hot all year.
I’ve heard that seasons change in some countries, but in this country it’s always summer.
Crops can be harvested twice or three times a year.
Plants grow and thrive when vegetable scraps, chicken manure, camel dung, and horse manure are added to fields after they have been planted, as my father taught me.
“It’s nice to work, isn’t it?”
That’s how I’ve felt since working on the farm.
I had to wait for customers when I was a water vendor.
Farming is enjoyable because you see the fruits of your labor.”
We returned to the farm and immediately planted the seedlings.
I took a tub of rainwater and poured it on the seed’s roots, hoping it would grow large.
To be safe, we planted it at the end of the nekta tree, where it would be hidden when we entered the farm.
Nobody visits the farm anyway, but just in case.
The mulberry tree grew quickly.
It grew branches and large leaves, and insects found their way inside.
“Hey, Oto-san, the mulberry tree has some whitish caterpillars.”
“They’re moth larvae, I see.
Mulberry trees must be tasty.”
Oto-san uses his fingers to pick up caterpillars and wrap them in a sweat cloth.
“W-What are you doing?”
“Give them to the chickens to eat—they’ll love it.
The eggs will be delicious as well.”
They not only get worms but also caterpillars.”
The mulberry tree is under my supervision.
So I would catch caterpillars with my homemade wooden tongs every day and feed them to the chickens.
The chickens quickly learned that I was putting the caterpillars in a box and began running up to me in a frenzy when I approached the coop with the box.
It’s frightening how powerful they are when they charge in!”
“After all the trouble I went through to catch them, you should eat them for your own good.”
Well, there’s no way they can understand that, and the chickens swallow them whole.
Caterpillars appear on the mulberry tree whether or not we take them.
It was as if the mulberry trees were giving birth to them.
That’s why, when they couldn’t be completely removed, some of them turned into cocoons.
“Huh? This is…”
I saw something similar in a previous life when I visited a silk workshop in another country.
The cocoons appear to have been boiled and spun into raw silk, which was then used to weave silk cloth.
The cocoons I discovered in our mulberry tree were nearly identical.
If we increase the number of cocoons, I wonder if we can make silk thread from them.
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