Chapter 66: “Dependence!”
At least the catastrophe under me was over in a few days, but that’s not the root of the problem. The menstrual products of this world are very inconvenient.
The first is what’s called a tampon. You stuff it directly into the vagina and let it soak in. I can’t do that. Because I’m scared… I can’t do that because I’m afraid of sticking things in there.
The next one is what’s called a sanitary napkin, but it’s also inconvenient. Simply put, you wrap a belt around your waist and put a rolled-up piece of cloth between your legs to hold it in place. In other words, a loincloth. It’s a terrible nuisance, and it bothers me when I wear it. Moreover, you can’t change it easily, so you have to leave it on all day long.
The only other way is to soak it in petticoat, or hold it in so it doesn’t drip down the toilet, or the potty… The only other way is to soak it in your petticoat, or hold it in so that it doesn’t drip and let it out all at once in the toilet, or potty.
I’m not sure if there’s an easier way for me to get into women. Is there any way to make it easier for me, a beginner of women…
So I came up with the idea of a napkin evolution. A napkin would still be tolerable. But the current loincloth type is inconvenient and uncomfortable in many ways, and not very good. So I’d like to develop a napkin that even I can tolerate.
The first step is underwear. Without underwear that can hold a sanitary napkin in place, a sanitary napkin-type underwear is not possible. At first, it would have to be the same as hanging it on a belt, but I’d like to develop it into a modern underwear with an elastic fastening, if I can get my hands on one.
In the neighboring countries, including the Kingdom of Prois, wool is the main woolen fabric. Cotton and silk are also available, but they are very rare, expensive, and hard to find.
All right! Let’s start growing cotton. Once we have cotton, we can make underwear. I don’t want to wear wool underwear, but cotton underwear would be just like modern Japanese underwear. You might have to hang them from your belt or something, but they’d be better than the rounded cloth loincloths we have now.
But cotton can only be grown in warm areas. And you need a lot of water. The Dielbe river is abundant in water, so growing cotton in the eastern part of the country near the Dielbe river would be possible, but there is no way to deal with the temperature. Europe relies on cotton imports not only because of the cost, but also because the environment is not suitable for growing cotton.
If it’s too cold for growing, then plastic greenhouses! But we don’t have vinyl… Then we’ll have to build a glass-walled greenhouse, though it’s expensive and not safe. Of course, glass is expensive, so the cost would be terrible.
But I don’t care! I’ll make a sanitary napkin that I’ll be happy with! If I don’t… If I don’t, there’ll be a catastrophe down there like I peed my pants again…
First, we’ll make a prototype of the product. We’ll ask the Crook firm to provide us with cotton fabrics to make underwear and napkins. Then we’ll grow our own cotton for a stable supply and lower prices.
We need a greenhouse to grow cotton, so we can build a glass factory to make clear, single-piece glass.
For now, I’m going to make a greenhouse out of glass that I can get my hands on, and I’m going to coat it with a natural resin and make it into laminated glass. We can make cellulose from cotton as well as some kind of resin. I’ll have to start researching that…
He also researched glass manufacturing and how to refine the resin and cellulose from cotton, and when the greenhouse was completed, he started growing cotton. Cotton seeds could have been used to make cooking oil. The waste from the milling could also be used as fodder for ruminants. It would have been toxic to non-ruminant monogastric animals, but it can be used to feed cows and other animals. And with the recent increase in the number of cows on farms, it’s a good thing.
I could make a bra out of cotton. Let’s just get the fabric from Kreuk and then we’ll design the underwear.
I got to Mikoto later than usual today. He was knocked unconscious for a while after his father knocked him out during morning training. By the time I came to, a lot of time had passed and I couldn’t leave the paperwork unfinished, so I was running late. Finally I see Mikoto in his usual place.
“Frodo! Floto, you’re late! You’re late… I thought you’d never come.
There’s something obviously wrong with Mikoto. She’s not angry or yelling. She’s shouting, but it’s not anger… it’s as if she’s clinging to me and crying. No, is he actually crying? Just because I’m running a little late today?
Mikoto? What’s wrong?
“What’s wrong? I thought you said Floto wasn’t coming any more… Ugh…”
I ask while patting Mikoto on the back as she clutches at me and sobs, but the answer doesn’t change. Of course there will be trouble. There will be days when I can’t come and there will be days when Mikoto can’t come.
But… But… if you think about it… There were days when I said I couldn’t come because of something I had to do, but when Mikoto didn’t show up? Every day he comes here before me and leaves after me. And there’s never been a day when he hasn’t told me he can’t come.
“Oh! That’s right! I brought the rice bran that Frodo told me about. He told me how to make it and how to keep it.
“What? Yeah, I’m…”
And suddenly, you’re not so worried… Mikoto…?
“And you know what? Yesterday, my maid…”
We sit side by side like we always do and talk. But what is it? I feel intensely uncomfortable… How long has this been going on? How long has it been like this?
Oh, Frodo! Are you listening to me?”
Mikoto is holding me in her arms, looking up at me a little with her head on my shoulder and her cheeks puffed out in a sweet little smile. He’s so cute. But this is…
“I am! I do, don’t I? I love you so much, Frodo. Hey… What about Frodo? Does he like me?”
“Ugh… What does that mean?
The actual “I’m not a fan of the way you do things,” he said, “but I’m not a fan of the way you do things.
“What do you mean, what do I mean? If Frodo wants to do that with the girls, he can, or if he just wants to be with them, that’s fine. I’m just happy to be with you.”
I’m not sure what to do, but I’m not sure what to do…
If that’s what Mikoto wants, then why don’t you just go ahead and make love to her as much as I want? I’ve always wanted to do that, but I’ve never been able to. What’s the point in hesitating when there’s a pretty girl in front of me who’ll accept it?
Mikoto’s cheeks are flushed red and she’s smiling faintly, and her face is gradually getting closer and closer…
“What? Floto! What are you doing? Oh, no! Did Frodo’s beautiful face just turn red?
I slapped myself on the cheek. Pretty hard…
It hurts like hell. But the pain clears my head from the fog. I’m an idiot. This isn’t what I want… When did I make Mikoto like this? It’s all my fault…
Mikoto… Listen to me.
The first time I saw him, I thought he was a good man, but then I realized that he was a good man, and that he was a good man.
“It’s neither love nor romance. Mikoto is just dependent on me. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before. I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”
Mikoto tilts her head, not understanding what I’m saying. Mikoto probably doesn’t have any friends her own age in her hometown. I’ve never heard her talk about any other kids her age besides me.
And the house servants and maids who sometimes appear in the story barely pay any attention to Mikoto. It is strange when Mikoto talks about them. It is that Mikoto is not included in the story. His stories are told only from the point of view of a person who has been watching them from afar. Mikoto is not one of the people involved.
Is he doing this on his own or is everyone around him avoiding him? I don’t know, but the only thing I do know is that the only person Mikoto can talk to in this way is me, Furoto. That’s why he depends on you.
The way you were so lenient with me when I first met you, the way you cried when Frodo was a little late, the way you suddenly found yourself in a good mood… all the signs were there. Why didn’t I see it?
Mikoto’s mental state is clearly unstable. And he relies on Floto to stabilize his instability.
I can’t do this. We can’t go on like this… This isn’t good for Mikoto…
I don’t think it’s right for a 13-year-old kid like me to come here every day and stay here all by himself even if there’s a village or a town nearby. I could’ve just said he happened to be here on the first day. But to come here like this every day is unusual.
“Mikoto… I’m not sure if you’re going to be able to do this, but I’m sure you’ll be able to do it.
“What? That’s fine! Anyway, this morning at my house…”
Mikoto! Answer me properly…”
There’s no way… I don’t want that! I don’t need that! All I need is Frodo! The others! I don’t need them! Why don’t you understand! All I want is Ffleet!
… So much for… So much for…
I’ve done some terrible things to Mikoto… I was just happy to be here with a pretty girl. But it wasn’t like that for Mikoto.
Perhaps he was alone in his hometown, or perhaps he was bullied or intentionally ostracized by those around him, judging from his current reactions.
The servants and maids probably don’t pay much attention to Mikoto. They just did their jobs and took care of her. That’s why no one taught Mikoto how to cook when they wanted to exchange lunches.
It’s not like he didn’t know how to grow rice and soybeans… or how to make and maintain soy sauce, miso, and rice bran. It’s not that Mikoto was sloppy. He had no one to listen to him properly.
And seeing me here every day must be making Mikoto more and more isolated. She’ll be so absorbed in playing with me that she’ll drift further and further away from other people and become even more out of place in her hometown. If I keep on playing with Mikoto here, she’ll be in terrible trouble in the future.
What do we do? What do I do? How can I make it up to Mikoto for what I’ve done?
You’re gonna take him in and take care of him for the rest of his life? That’s absurd… Making him dependent on you and keeping him around all the time is a terrible thing. And if you do that, he’ll become so dependent on you that he won’t be able to interact with the people around him. It would only make his condition worse… and he’d be in more and more trouble.
“… Mikoto, let’s not see each other again.
“–! What are you talking about? Floto?
A frightened look. You look at me like I’m an abandoned puppy, like I’m a child who’s been abandoned by his parents.
“Mikoto is dependent on me now. If he becomes dependent on me any longer, he won’t be able to live a normal life. So…”
“Why? What’s wrong with that! It’s all right! You’ll always be with Frodo! I don’t want any trouble! All I care about is Floto! Hey! Why don’t you understand? You can do whatever you like with me. You can do whatever you want with me, just let me stay here with you!”
Oh… So this is it. You’ve gone too far. I don’t think this is gonna go away anytime soon. At least not that I can think of.
Mikoto! Five… No, three is fine. Make three friends your own age besides me. Play with other children your own age. I won’t see Mikoto again until I have three friends! Okay? !”
“Ah! Wait! Wait, Floto! Floto! ～～～～!
You shake off Mikoto’s hand and turn on your heel to run through the forest. The blurring in front of your eyes makes it hard to see. I can’t see clearly, but it’s the same path I’ve been taking every day. I couldn’t stop running even though I couldn’t see… and I couldn’t stop crying at the sound of Mikoto’s voice in the distance.
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