Historical setting: 588 C.E. Crossing the Loire
The ferry crossing with Thole and his horse ends in a disasterous upset with Thole and his horse and a ferryman all sliding into the river. The horse swims to shore as Daniel takes it’s rein and guides it onto the bank not far from the landing. The ferryman clings to the ferryboat, now righted and flat on the river again, and Thole is nowhere to be seen. Caught in a current I catch sight of him, and even though the river runs shallower near the shoreline he is floundering and calling for help.
The water is stunning — near ice — taking my breath away in the first shock of it. The swim is an easy reach to Thole, but holding onto him flailing and fighting is the challenge. I find it is shallow enough that I can get a footing, though the challenge is sharing that calm with Thole, and allowing him to find a firm stance on the rocks beneath the river. It seems impossible.
Dear God, stay close. I can’t let this fellow go from my grip now. He is the very soul Eve delivered to life at his own mother’s death so many years ago. How would I ever tell Jesse I couldn’t keep hold of him.
The ferryman throws us a line and in a moment Thole discovers he is safe though chocking and blubbering on the piece of river he swallowed. We make our way to the slimy bank. The shivers are wrenching and wringing. I left my cloak dry on the shore, and the ferryman stationed on the south side of the river provides a blanket for Thole. The horses and men waiting to follow behind us on the ferry are in panic now, and one horse has decided to make a swim for it with his man clinging to his withers. Seeing the success in that, another follows, and the last of them, until we are all across, so now most everyone is deep in these shivers. Thole had the fire start with him, so we can’t even make a flame.
The Count is unchilled and firmly in command, raging over the cost of all of this when we could have all just swum it. The ferrymen are trying to make peace with him by providing the warmth of their fire and extra cloaks.
(Continues Tuesday, November 16)