Historical setting: 6th Century C.E. Somewhere in the Pyrenees
In these days of waiting for the oxcart and driver, Nic and I decide to take a morning ride to give the horses a stretch and explore the various paths going out from this place possibly to find our direction on toward the north.
The river we were following cuts deep into a valley with sandstone cliffs which is apparently the quarry being used to source the stone for the carvings. Now, around a bend we come upon another thing, the monk with the oxcart waiting here these same days that we have been waiting at the thatched houses. Of course! This is the meeting place he knew of when making his transactions with Antton. Surely this would be the meeting place.
“Good Morning Brother August! We’ve been waiting for you in the wrong place! Come along, follow us to the houses.”
The messenger was right. He doesn’t speak. He’s a little fellow, in too-large a hooded monk’s robe made of rough wool. The hood is pulled over his head and covers his face completely. The very long robe is drawn up with a sash at the waist so that his very small and pale bare feet are nearly completely exposed. Since he is a stoneworker it is something of a wonder how such a tiny creature would manage large pieces of stone. But now we see the cart is constructed with winch and ropes along with an extra layer of flooring that can be let down and bolted to the cart as a ramp.
He easily slips the single yoke over one side of the ox’s head, then the other, then drops the pin in place to hitch the cart. Nic is offering to help, dismounting and leaving me to hold the rein of The Rose. He did tell me once he was more comfortable with oxen than horses.
Nic offers. August holds the hood of his robe at the chin to get a peak out at Nic, then shakes his head, rejecting the help, gesturing the scar on Nic’s cheek.
“No, no” Nic answers, “I am really accustomed to oxen. My scar is from a knife fight, not from an ox horn. Really I can be helpful.”
But he is shooed back to his horse with a kind of grandfatherly back of the hand gesture as one would use to send children off to play.
(Continues Tuesday, January 5, 2021)