It has been said that I do entirely too much thinking. My more introspective entries in this journal are testament to that. Even as a child, both Mother and Father would chide me for spending too much time with my head buried in a book. Each, in their own way, did their best to encourage other activities. Mother, aside from the time she spent taking me walking in the woods, tried to teach me about growing herbs and doing things with them and Father taught me the basics of the construction business, in the hope that I would perhaps follow him into the family business. Had I done so, I would have been more involved in the business side of things, but Father felt that, if I was going to be telling craftsmen what to do, I should at least have some clue how it was done. For that very reason, I spent some part of my weekends and school holidays down at the yard, in the workshop, being taught the basics of woodworking by old Ray Craddock. Ray was a time-served master carpenter and joiner who had been with Father pretty much since the beginning. He taught me how to use the various woodworking tools; the basics of sawing, drilling, chiselling, and smoothing; how to make joints etc. Incidentally, he also taught me how to smoke a pipe, but I never told Father that. Then there was good old Dai Williams, who despaired of ever getting me to lay a course of bricks in a straight line. Out of respect for another master craftsman, I shall gloss over the attempts to teach me the basics of plumbing. The failure being entirely down to my ineptitude, rather than the quality of the teaching.
In truth, much as I enjoyed the company of my father’s colleagues and the skills I gained, I regarded learning such skills as a familial duty rather than anything else. That said; in later life, I tried to keep my hand in occasionally, and now, those few times recently that I have had to employ those skills, I have really enjoyed it.
Thus, I found myself ensconced in one of the many outhouses in the castle grounds, in the company of the castle’s building staff. Despite Cristof’s pessimism, the bribe of a bottle of whisky and a couple of jugs of beer quickly gained me the use of a workbench and a few basic tools. I had already scrounged up a few pieces of timber, and a visit to the stables provided me with some spare leather and sacking. I was all set, aside from nails and pins, but even those I managed to extract from the smith with a slightly exaggerated tale of Jada’s woes.
Cutting and smoothing the main upright part of the crutches went easily enough, as did cutting the arm-rests and jointing them to the main parts. I was estimating on lengths, but erred on the longer side, reasoning I could easily trim them down once I got Jada to try them on. The handles proved more tricky, and I wasted a couple of feet of timber before I got them carved to my satisfaction, and a series on mounting holes drilled so that I could adjust the position later. I reserved a couple of split pins for keeping them in place once the correct position was chosen. The sacking made a bit of padding for the arm-rests, held in place by the leather, which also gave me the grips for the handles. The smith supplied me with some wide-headed hob-nails that will do very well for the walking tips, once we have adjusted for length.
And there they were; a pair of crude, compared to the ones Jada had lost, but perfectly serviceable crutches. Ray might have possibly been almost proud of me.
There remains, of course, the problem of delivery. Aoibheann may or may not have calmed down by the time I next see her. My big fear is that her prejudice against my kind will cause her to keep the children away from me. Now that, I could not, and would not abide. I can only hope that Mitternacht, and perhaps Isabella will support me should that be the case.
None of said worthies were around when I went across to the tavern, so I left them behind the bar with a note for Mitternacht. I can only hope that Aoibheann’s desire to look after the children will outweigh her current dislike for me. If not, then I do not know what I will do. For once, I find myself turning to Father’s wisdom, who very much took the attitude, if you can’t do something about a problem today; then you will have to do something about it when you can, and there is no sense in worrying about it in between. Wise words, if only I could convince myself to believe them.