Historical setting: Sixth Century Bordeaux
I didn’t notice when August left his family’s house. When I return to the hearthside of the guesthouse he is already here crouching by the fireside, smothered in his wools, not speaking to anyone but perhaps to God. At least I know he didn’t encounter his brothers. I dish some broth for him and a dish for me and I sit on the hearthstone to ask.
“Did you have a chance to see your parents?”
August looks at me in near tears, “They are so much older now. My father knew more of me than I knew of him and my mother thought I was my twin sister returned from the dead. My sister Anna died while I was gone.”
“Your mother thought you were your sister even though you’re tonsured as a monk?”
“Yes, she thought that is how angels are shorn; so she was only more certain I was my sister returned from heaven on this night.
“My father still has his sharp mind, though he angers more easily; and my mother is still sweet and kind but she doesn’t know why. I’ve missed so much. And Kairn plans to move out. He will take a wife soon. He plans to live in a city house already built and he will pay a landlord for its use. My father fears Kairn will always be a poor man in debt to the rich. As though a monk like me isn’t always in poverty.
“What of the paying work on the basilica? Is Kairn going to continue building?”
“That is all any of us know to do. Of course he will build, and when it is done,… how many years will that be?
“The treadwheel is the same one they brought down here from the last build they were working when I was still helping at that site. So my father blames me for the scanty rigging they have here. He says if I were here it would all be fine. As it is now, he watches everyday and won’t let Shollo or Kairn go near the crane because of the danger that it might not carry the weight onto the wall as it is.”
“I think he isn’t blaming you, so much as missing you.”
“He was angry.”
I suggest, “Maybe they just need another man to walk the treadwheel. The lift will be easier and safer with more of us working.”
“More of us?”
“I didn’t mean you.” I tell August. “I meant, I already offered. I’ll meet the new crane-master in the morning.”