Historical setting: 589 C.E. Châlons to Luxeuil
Now, deep in the well, I can see the dot of sky above me and I am assured there is an earth above. Even the sky continues to be. It isn’t as cold here as I’d anticipated. Though I find my looped and knotted rope wasn’t long enough to reach all the way down so I have a few feet of a drop at the end and I know I will be depending on others to draw me back up.
And so, I begin the work of dumping out the new rocks in the pail, digging the mud out and filling the pail back again with mud for the hoist up. I give the pail rope a tug and it’s drawn up and emptied, then it comes down again filled with more rocks for me to lay to support the wall where the earthen clay is washed out.
Beneath my feet is slushy now. I wedge the rocks back in place that had washed out near the dry clay at the bottom. I see now how the washout stifled the water source by filling in the depth, blocking the flow with mucky clay. The water is still here beneath this mud.
This routine goes on and on. I’ve lost sense of time. Mostly I notice it’s harder to breath and every rock seems heavier than the last. Now water is seeping in faster beneath my feet, pouring between the cracks in the lowest part of the wall I’ve laid. And, in fact, water is coming in all around. I tip the pail to fill it with water now, and tug the rope. It is drawn up filled. Still they send it back filled with rocks. I find I am a good distance down from my safety rope. So I climb out of the water onto the pail, and tug the rope to be drawn up. I shout for help and someone looks over the edge above. I signal I’m ready to be drawn up as though I’m simply a bucket of clay, which probably I am. I don’t trust the four I call barbarians to pull me up. My distrust is frothing to rage surging as strength. Is this pail rope well anchored now? I don’t know. I find that standing on the pail I can reach the end of my safety line, so I can climb out myself.