Historical setting: Pyrenees Mountains, 6th Century C.E.
For a few days into this journey now, we’ve been following a slender twig of a creek taking us on a flattened plain northward ever inching toward Gaul. The still of winter has a clarity allowed to go unnoticed by those who wish to curl in fleeces and wools and cluster by ember as we do each night on our way. Well, Nic and I stay near the fire at night. August still chooses to stay in his cart with the watchful mother in stone set onto the oxcart still crated in wood with handles for lifting and moving.
In the morning, the last coil of smoke of the dying embers wends its way skyward, tickling the fat belly of rolling grey clouds, an impending winter’s rainstorm. Our tarp and fleeces are barely strapped onto the horses when the storm lets loose a deluge. It is the long cleansing and soaking rain Nic mentioned in his hopes for companions with better fragrance.
But in the torrents we find we are on the wrong side of the creek, and the swift flowing turbulence seems to worsen by the moment. So we choose to cross over while we can. The horses prance in two giant leaps, getting only our feet into the froth, but the ox and the cart are not so nimble. The ox is nearly mired in mud and the cart and the statue are caught in the turbulence pulling at the ox’s yoke. Quickly, August releases the yoke pins freeing the ox from the load, and leaving the three of us with all our strength to roll the cart onto the dry bank. Nic, then turns his attention to the panicked and bellowing ox sinking into the mud as August is swept away in this instant into the deepening flow midstream.
An air pocket has made his huge wool a fast floating bubble, but surely it will soak through and pull the little monk as quickly underwater as he is now floating downstream. I mount Umber and follow the floating father downstream until the heavy wool sinks away. And now, spinning on the current is a slender pale being apparently wrapped up with ribbons wound around his chest.