And so, when it was hurriedly decided that he would visit the Sumeragi, on that same night, Harold explained fairly well about the policy they would follow from then on to Norman and the others, and made the preparations required for a long term stay.
After that, he left the Stokes mansion a few days later, and a week from then, he arrived at the Sumeragi territory where the cherry-blossoms were in full bloom.
The cherry-blossoms Harold knew of couldn’t be in the state of full bloom for a whole month, but it seemed as though that wasn’t the case in this world. It must be that “Cherry-blossoms” and “Cherry-blossoms” were just similar but not the same.1
While thinking about that, Harold was sitting in seiza2 on the cushion laid on the room of tatami mats, and was gazing at the pink flowers swaying in the wind.
It had been about 30 minutes. While putting into practice the method which he had learned in his previous world of sitting in seiza so as not to let his legs become numb, Harold was waiting for Tasuku to finish his official tasks, while sipping on some green tea3 once in a while.
「Harold-kun, how about another cup of tea?」
「………..Make it a bit more stronger this time. The aroma is thin and above all, it’s tepid」
With the desk in between, sitting diagonally opposite from Harold, Tasuku’s wife, Koyomi, as though she was a maid, waited until Harold’s teacup was empty and extended her hand towards an iron kettle being heated up in a small hearth of about 40 cm2 beside the table.
Contrary to how completely grateful he was inside, Harold’s mouth which didn’t know any fear, gave an order. Well, it was true that although the tea was good, it was lukewarm and on top of that in contrast to the sweetness of the traditional snacks4 to go with the tea, the diluted tea felt a bit unsatisfactory.
Nevertheless, there was no need to spit out such words.
「Ara, then this time, I’ll make the tea a bit more stronger and hotter」
It seemed as though polite speech was activated not in front of his elders but only in front of his parents. But even towards Harold’s haughty attitude, Koyomi’s gentle smile didn’t break down, and with experienced movements, she poured hot water from the iron kettle into a small teapot and steeped the tea.
Though this digressed, Harold didn’t know that for good quality, that is, to steep high grade green tea5, it would be the best to use somewhat hot water with a temperature of 70 degrees.
Inside the room, where the aroma of tea leaves was wafting around, Harold was sipping on green tea while gazing at the cherry-blossoms. The only sounds that entered his ears were the whispers of grass being swayed by the wind and the ‘kakon’ sound made by the bamboo of the bamboo fountain hitting the rock in a periodic manner.
It was a refined moment as though Japan’s aesthetic sense of quiet simplicity and subdued refinement6 was crammed into it.
(Aah, I’m being healed………..)
For Harold who was a Japanese person inside, this was a reception of the highest grade. It was also large that, to Harold who had always been working either his mind or body since the moment he had come to this world, this was the first time a healing tranquility had appeared.
Moved by this moment which could also be called as a time of supreme bliss- It wouldn’t be bad to just live in the Sumeragi house- with this tempting thought, he raised his neck.
Koyomi was gazing at Harold, who had closed his eyes and was breathing slowly, with a smile, but also with some interest. The thing which pulled her interest was the conduct with which Harold had entered the room.
As far as Koyomi knew, the only place in this country which knew about the culture of seiza was the Sumeragi territory.
From his previous visit, she had understood that Harold was acquainted with the culture of the Sumeragi to some extent.
But removing shoes and changing into inner-footwear at the entrance, sitting in seiza for a long period, eating food using chopsticks- Even if one knew beforehand about all these customs and cultural practices unique to the Sumeragi, it was a different matter of whether or not they would be able to actually conduct themselves like that.
Normally, even if one knew about it, there would be some point where they would hesitate, but Harold, without any difficulty, that too as though it were habitual, did these things naturally. As expected, that he would have his own preferred taste and even temperature of green tea, was outside her expectations.
It wasn’t that he knew about the Sumeragi’s culture. He had experienced it.
It was hard to think that he had experienced it in the Stokes mansion. The head, Hayden, was almost completely ignorant about these things.
If there was a person who was from the Sumeragi near Harold, she didn’t know what it meant for only Harold to be taught manners and not Hayden.
Anyway, he was boy who had many inexplicable points about him.
Maybe due to that, Koyomi unconsciously started observing Harold’s actions.
As a result, the room was completely silent. Well, since neither of them found it painful, there was no need to worry. They spent another 10 minutes peacefully like this, and then, the tapping sounds of someone walking in the hallway started getting closer.
「Sorry for making you wait. Work was prolonged, you see」
From the other side of the sliding door which was left open, Tasuku showed himself. Maybe due to feeling sorry for making Harold wait, there was an awkward smile on his face.
「Like always, it seems as though you don’t know what to do」
「Even though it appears like that, it has become considerably better. It’s thanks to the resistance drug created by Harold-kun. I’m truly grateful. Thank you」
No sooner had Tasuku sat on the cushion than he lowered his head. Koyomi also followed him.
Harold was taken aback at the abrupt event.
「Raise your head. It’s unsightly. I didn’t do it to be thanked by you bastards」
「I can’t afford to do that. I don’t know what you were thinking for making a move, but still, it’s an unshakeable truth that the situation changed for the better thanks to you」
That’s why, there is no way that I can’t not show my gratitude as the head of the Sumeragi house- so as to not make that known to Harold, Tasuku stared into Harold’s eyes with a bright expression.
Unable to bear it, Harold moved his line of sight.
「Fuh, worthless. To have no choice but to lower your head to a child like me, be ashamed at your own incompetence」
「I have no words to return. Well, as far as I’m concerned, I’m happy to have met a youth like you whose future will be full of expectations」
「Is that so. Then wag your tail and cooperate with me」
「……….That is the reason you requested to speak to me? Aren’t you being a bit too hasty by abruptly jumping straight to the main point without any introduction?」
「I have no intention to engage in gauging each other’s hand. Read this first」
Carefully produced by Norman and Jake, it was the latest version of the document which consolidated the effects and application of LP farming that were proven at the present point of time. He placed it on the desk.
Urged by Harold’s gaze which asked him to “read”, Tasuku took it in his hands.
And as he kept turning the pages, the seriousness in Tasuku’s face continued to increase. That reaction was as Harold had expected.
Or rather, if it wasn’t like that, he would be troubled. First of all, it was necessary that Tasuku understood the extraordinary worth of LP farming.
That was the premise upon which the negotiations this time would be held.
Tasuku, who was reading the document thoroughly as though he was eating it, after reading the last page, sighed lightly and closed the document.
「How to say it……….The contents are crazy」
「Right? But it’s the truth」
「So, it’s within your expectations that I would be doubtful?」
「Doubtful? How about frankly telling me “I don’t believe it “?」
Daring. That one word was more than enough to describe Harold who was snickering with the corners of his mouth raised.
Looking at it from another way, it meant that he had that much confidence. If, for example, this were a bluff, then he was quite an actor.
However, he had past results. With regards to the miasma which broke out in the forests inside the Sumeragi territory, he had offered the method to produce the resistance drug free of charge.
Due to that, the hope to reconstruct the management of the Sumeragi territory became visible when they had been cornered.
「……….To just assert and finish it like that is your dreadfulness. Because, even with the content being this preposterous, you make me think of wanting to listen to your talk」
「Even if it’s the truth or lies, the listening part is free」
「Certainly. But just by showing this document to me, it’s a huge harvest for me though」
「If you want such a thing, I’ll give it to you. After all, it’s just a copy」
Looking at Harold just cutting and throwing it away as though it didn’t matter at all, although it was inside, Tasuku was shaken for the first time.
In this document which informed about an original crop cultivation method called LP farming, the details as well as the volume of information was huge and had been consolidated in a very good manner. The process itself was easy and the risks were low. It would be easy to implement it.
If he discontinued the negotiation here with -「As expected, I don’t believe it」, he could obtain the possibility of earning profits without any losses to the Sumeragi.
Even though it was like that, Harold had given him the initiative to lead the negotiations. This meant that Harold thought of LP farming itself as nothing more than an opening act for the real issue.
(Since I realized this possibility, I can no longer pull back, huh)
To be exact, the risk would increase if he pulled back. Having the Sumeragi test whether LP farming had any defect might be the situation he was aiming for.
Or, even if there were no tangible damage, he might negotiate with some other place and there was the danger that they might suffer at a later date.
To prevent that, as expected, he had to listen to the main topic Harold would talk about here and try to read his true motives as much as possible.
If even this thought process was induced, then it isn’t to the extent of him being just formidable- lamented Tasuku.
From the report delivered from Juno, Tasuku was informed that Harold wasn’t someone’s puppet, and the possibility of him acting due to his own will was high. After confronting him like this and exchanging words, he was convinced that it was the truth.
It was impossible to manipulate a person to such an advanced degree by influencing their thoughts or brainwashing them.
「Then, let me take up your offer」
「Do that. Or rather, if it isn’t like that the negotiation can’t continue」
「Fumu, what does that mean?」
「Assuming that everything written in that document is true, what do you think?」
To Harold’s question, Tasuku answered a beat later.
「It’s a ground-breaking invention. After implementing it and increasing the harvest, if no particular problems occur, to start with, a production system can be prepared in this territory. And after a certain degree of predominance is secured, I would let it spread around the whole country」
「You won’t monopolize it?」
「If a limited amount of people monopolize resources, it would trigger disputes in the future. Because I think that even I haven’t become dumb enough to fall so low as to be surrounded by enemies due to jumping at the profits in the near future」
「……….Fine then, you pass」
From Harold who was familiar with Tasuku’s personality, it was the ideal answer. Holding down the impulse of wanting to retort 「Who the hell do you think you are」 to himself, he continued the negotiations.
「Even I roughly share your opinion. It is fine to profit from LP farming, but being seen as an enemy from the surrounding masses is irritating. And so, I came to make a proposal」
「By all means, I’d like to hear it」
As both their lines of sight intersected, instantly the atmosphere of the room became strained.
And once again, Harold pasted that fearless, bird of prey like smile on his face.
「I’ll have you become the joint developer of LP farming」
1. 1st cherry-blossom(sakura) is in kanji(桜) and the 2nd one is in katakana(サクラ).
2. seiza is the traditional way of sitting in japan- kneeling with the tops of the feet flat on the floor and sitting on the soles. Can I use seizaing from now on?
3. ryokucha- The most common tea in Japan is ryokucha.
4. wagashi- Traditional Japanese confections served with tea.
5. gyokuro- Literally “jade dew” is a type of shaded green tea(ryokucha) in Japan.
6.wabisabi- represents Japanese aesthetics and a Japanese world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.