Historical setting: 564 C.E. The Gaul Side of the Pyrenees
So the decision is made. We make camp between yonder and nowhere for whatever time Brother Joel needs.
Severing a foot is an agonizing cure but Brother Joel has accepted it as boldly as could anyone. And it’s clear Nic has a skill with the blade that it is tempered with empathy. Thank you God. He is, as he told us, one who has the soul of a monk and only the appearance of a soldier.
August asks me about the worksite at Bordeaux and I realize he sent me to that place in particular because it matters to him. He asked who was the worker I talked to.
“I have no idea. I was simply asking for information about a surgeon.”
“What did the worker look like? Was he dark or fair?”
Now I look at August’s face and I see the face of that same worker and I understand.
“August, he did look to me that he could be your brother.”
“Yes, I thought that might be. My family is working there. He probably tipped up a brow to scowl at your interruption.”
August’s own tipped brow is grin-worthy. “It was your brother. Are you hoping to see your family soon?”
“Not at all. I think it would only be my father who would wait for me, and by now he must imagine I’ve completely left my old life, as I suppose I have. My brothers and my sister Anna probably fill my place in my mother’s thoughts. I imagine she is still sitting there amid all the dust of a worksite, grinding the grain for the meal, pretending she has a home in some odd and temporary thatched hovel. We were always living our lives butted up against a construction project and she was always dealing with any kind of shelter they built for sleeping always pretending she had a home.
“Do you miss them?”
“No, anyway, they won’t recognize me now. Last I saw them we were rebuilding a burnt out sanctuary. Since I’m not endowed with great muscular prowess I used my wit to position the crane and ropes for lifting the stones with less heft. My father required my brothers to learn from me. But they didn’t receive my instruction graciously. They saw me as a threat to their only gift — brut strength.”
It’s easy for me to see the brothers’ point of view as I also sometimes notice August has a rub of righteousness.
(Continues next Tuesday)