Historical setting: 589 C.E. Châlons to Luxeuil
I’ve seen merchant caravans purposed with selling and armies driven by power of a hope for victory. I’ve been on pilgrimages, and I’ve been in a band of refugees — Jews leaving Jerusalem for Ephesus — but I’ve never known an entourage to travel with no known purpose but to obey some abandoning leaders and a distant king. Maybe we can have better clarity for this journey once we are fed and warmed by a fire.
As we search firewood I ask one worker what supplies they have with them in the cart and the wagon.
“The wagon is for the building; the handcart is covered over with a tarp because it has the message scroll from the king to Columbanus. The king also sends a copy of the Psalms and some of that other stuff monks use with inks.”
Another straightens himself after a struggled contortion to bend for a burnable stick. “But we could use that cart stuff for kindling now that the king’s men have left.”
I fear his suggestion was serious.
“We have enough kindling right here without burning any pages of writing.” I offer, “But have you any barley or beans for food? Have you a cooking pot? Did you bring fleeces or mats for sleeping and food for the mules?”
“We brought a biscuit for the walk, and the four brother monks from the abbey brought stuff for a stay-over at the Roman ruin where they haven’t even a roof we hear; but none of us thought it would be an overnight journey just getting there.”
While the men gather around their fire I walk back to Ana and Colleen to explain the predicament. They’ve been waiting for me with a pot of porridge ready. We have plenty so I can take the pot and the bowls back to the men who have nothing.
“Tomorrow we will need to stock up on supplies for all of you, because it’s a long journey to Annegray, and you were told correctly, much of it has no roof. I don’t know if the build at Luxovium will start with ready accommodations, but we should be prepared for winter if it also has no roof.
“Did the king send a purse with you to pay for this journey?”
The fellow who suggested burning the Psalms explains, “Our leader who left with the King’s guard had the purse. We were supposed to be paid when our work was done at Luxeuil.”