Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Blade is Delivered

Gerard’s doubt switched to delightedly surprised enthusiasm when the man – the wizard, as Luc referred to him – appeared with the blade. It arrived with the wizard on an open wagon pulled by a plow horse of immense dimensions. The bed of the wagon was covered with a coarsely woven sort of fabric made of fiber of the crudest sort. But it served its purpose.

“It is covered in case of rain. Such a blade should not be allowed to rust, at least until it has been first used.”

“Let us uncover the blade” said Luc.

Yes, let us uncover the thing” said Gerard.

“I will uncover it” said the wizard. And he pulled the fabric along the axis of the bed of the wagon toward the rump of the horse. That made the horse nervous and it skittered a little. It seemed a kind of anomaly seeing an animal as big as the horse skittering like a colt. But skitter it did. Luckily the weight of the wagon and its cargo were such that the skitter had no real effect on anything except the mood of the horse. The action seemed be all the statement of unrest that it required and it settled back into docile placidity.

But the effect of the pulling back of the fabric – the unveiling of the blade – had a much more pronounced effect on the brothers. Both could be heard making startled in draughts of air as they gasped in unison at the sight before them.

“It is beautiful” said Luc.

“It is very beautiful” said Gerard.

“It is my greatest work” said the wizard.

Before them, resting on a wooden structure custom made to support it was a gleaming expanse of metal. It ran the entire length of the wagon bed. It was blunt at its ends. In the metal at each of those blunt ends there were drilled three holes spaced equidistant from one another. One of its long lateral edges was smooth. The other was arrayed along its entire surface with deeply serrated teeth. The wizard had delivered a product completely ready for the task.

And seeing that product in a delivered tangible form illuminated for the first time for Luc and Gerard the true enormity of the task they had assigned to themselves.

“How do we get it there?” said Gerard.

“Indeed, how do we get it there?” echoed Luc.

“I have thought about that” said the wizard. “I am delivering to you the blade, the cradle, the wagon - and the horse if you need it – as a package. The price includes it all. If the horse is needed it will be so on loan. I will want it back when you have completed your task. And I will take my payment when you have milled and sold the lumber.”

“The only thing that I have left to you is the attachment of the handles. That is the purpose of the holes on each end. With your skill with wood you can fashion handles that fit your hands and attach them with oak pegs driven through the handles and through the holes and through the other side of the handles.”

Luc looked at Gerard and Gerard looked at the blade. He reached tentatively out to it and stoked the metal with the fingers of his left hand. Then he looked at Luc.

“Let us create the handles.”

And he took the head of the horse and led him and his attached conveyance into the stable next to the long building that housed the milling and lumber making equipment. There was one stall that was vacant since the brothers had recently sold a yearling colt that their mare had borne them the previous year.

The dwelling they inhabited near Place Maubert was not far from their lumber yard. They had placed the yard on the bank of one of the several small tributary streams that flowed into the main river. That stream provided their equipment with the power to turn the immense blades that turned the corpses of oaks into the timbers that were required in the building of Paris. The giant oak, once reduced to manageable lengths of trunk would be the biggest set of corpses ever to go through the process, but Luc and Gerard were sure that the blades were big enough and sharp enough for the task.

The truth of that belief would however only be shown once the giant had been felled. And that gigantic undertaking was yet to occur.

At least they told themselves, they now had the blade necessary for the task. And, thanks to the analytical thinking of the wizard they even had a ready means of transporting the blade to the location where it would be used. All that remained to be done was to craft and attach the handles and get the horse, blade, cradle and wagon up the inclined slope to the base of the tree. That was all that was left to do. That was all that was left unless one considered the task of uncrating the blade and getting it into position and placed as far into the already started cut from the previous year as was possible and unless one considered the endless number of forwards and backs that the two brothers would need to apply to that blade, and unless one considered the not well understood post cutting task of extricating the tree in pieces from the cliff backed chasm into which it would fall after being cut. Unless one considered those other things the task was nearly done and the timbers were nearly on their way to the builders of Paris and the payment and the horse were on their way to the wizard.

But why would one consider those other things when the pleasant task of working some seasoned oak into two beautifully crafted handles for the blade was the next task to be performed?

Gerard removed the horse’s various attachments and led him into the stall. As he poured grain into the manger the mare in her nearby stall made a friendly nickering sound. he realized that the animal would need bed and fodder. “Perhaps”, thought Gerard, “we could breed this giant animal with our mare and thus acquire our own workhorse for the many huge timbers that we are going to fell now that we have the blade.”

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