The next morning, Thomas hitched his horse to a small wagon filled with empty water skins and took his mother with him to the village well to fill the skins. Despite the looming threats, they laughed and enjoyed talking with each other. David stayed at the woodshop and worked on one of the chairs that Thomas had difficulty with.
While David was alone in the woodshop, Helki rode up and entered. Surprised to find David, rather than Thomas, he offered a cordial greeting. David, feeling apprehensive at seeing Helki, casually responded and stated that he had not seen him for a while. Helki commented that he had been busy building up his community and had not much time to travel home to see his parents. After some small talk about their home village, Helki asked about Thomas. David informed him that he was getting water and should be back within the hour. Helki asked David to tell Thomas that he would be back later in the day. David advised Helki that they would be travelling back to their home the following day and asked if there was anything that he would like to send to his parents. Helki smiled and said that he would think about it and that he would at least write a letter; then he left.
Within the hour, Thomas and Mary returned to the woodshop. David helped Thomas unload the water skins, then showed him what he accomplished. Thomas was clearly impressed at his father’s work and where he added necessary detail. David demonstrated what he did and Thomas immediately followed the instructions on another chair he had been working on. The result was immediate and he was very pleased. Thomas decisively declared to David that he could come and visit anytime he wanted to.
Mary then asked David to bring her canvas, paints, and brushes because she wanted to paint in the woodshop to be near her husband and son. David went to the wagon and brought Mary’s painting items into the woodshop. He helped Mary set up the canvas and organize her materials then went back to watch and help Thomas.
As Thomas showed David the bow he was making for Marcus, David mentioned that Helki stopped by and would come by later in the day. At the mention of Helki, Thomas shuttered, wondering when this whole ordeal would be over. David also informed him that he volunteered to take something back to Helki’s parents. Thomas expressed that he wished that he would not have done that; he did not believe that Helki did not deserve any kindness from them. He reminded his father that he had told Helki never to come to his woodshop again and that he was upset that his commands had been completely disregarded. David reminded him that Helki is still his parents’ son and they continue to love him and have hope for him; this was for his parents, not for Helki. Thomas reluctantly conceded but felt a concern that this left a door open for Helki to continue to come to his woodshop.
Later that morning, Melchior, the member of the king’s army who had ordered a bow a few days previous, rode up to the woodshop. Pipi and Riporty eagerly welcomed him. Thomas, seeing who it was walked over to greet him. He introduced Melchior to his parents without mentioning that he was part of the king’s army. He explained that because of his parents’ unexpected visit he had not been able to start on his bow or dog. Melchior informed him that he had not expected that his order would be complete but wanted to add an additional carving.
As Melchior described his concept for the new carving, he mentioned that he heard about the latest direct threat from Helki. Thomas, with a concerned look on his face, reported the conversation and asked what he should do. Melchior advised him to continue his life as he normally would and assured him that there were many king’s soldiers passing through the cities and villages. Some would be in uniform and some would be dressed as travelers. With a large smile, he informed Thomas to expect his business to increase as many would stop by to place orders and check on him. Melchior suggested that he consider hiring someone to help him with his business and even suggested to think about hiring an apprentice, namely, Maren’s younger brother Pat. Thomas remembered Pat; he looked very much like Micco, however, he was taller and stockier. Melchior explained, with David listening, that Pat was an excellent carpenter and was planning to marry soon and would like to work with someone who could teach him superior woodworking skills. Thomas was very enthusiastic about the idea; he had seen Pat’s work while at their home and was quite impressed. It also occurred to Thomas that Pat’s intimidating size could prove to be very beneficial.
David interjected into the conversation expressing his desire to meet the family. Melchior laughed and stated that though intimidating in appearance due to their size and strength, they were actually very kind, humble, and god-fearing people. Thomas made a mental note of that last comment.
As they were talking, Marcus and Pat entered the woodshop. Melchior acted as if he did not know them in the event that they were being watch. Thomas made the introductions, including his mother. Both David and Mary were impressed with the size of Marcus and Pat and especially the kindness that they showed.
Thomas informed Marcus and Pat that Melchior was traveling through the village and had ordered a bow and a dog carving and was checking to see if he had a chance to begin his work. With a twinkle in his eye, he informed them that he was getting behind with his work and wondered if they knew anyone who might be able to help him. Pat, grinning like someone who just received the greatest of gifts, enthusiastically asked Thomas if he might be considered. Thomas, smiling, admitted that he hoped that Pat would respond and asked that he bring some of his work to show him; Pat readily agreed and said that he would do so later that day.
Marcus asked to see his bow which Thomas proudly showed him. Marcus expressed open admiration for the workmanship and how the bow looked better than he expected. Thomas told him that it should be finished later that day and he could pick it up right before the sunset or the next day. Melchior explained to Marcus that it was his bow which influenced his decision to order a bow for himself.
As all prepared to leave, Melchior thanked Thomas for visiting with him and then mounted his horse and rode off. Pat informed Thomas that he would be back in a couple hours with samples of his work. Marcus walked to where Mary was painting and openly admired her work. He discretely told her not to fear, they were watching Thomas. This brought a measure of comfort to her heart.
(To be continued…)