Chapter 10: THE WALKING BRIDGE
“Gentlemen, we are going to build three bridges. First we have to build a rope bridge so that we can carry materials back and forth. This will work well as a messenger bridge as well, hence the rope that we carry. Next, we need wood to begin a bigger bridge that will carry walkers, hand drawn carts and horses. We will begin this bridge with wood, but it will not all be wood. There are other ways to reinforce concrete and many ways to build a bridge. By the time we finish the rope-bridge, we should also have enough materials to start the bigger bridge. Lastly, we will build the third bridge with stone.”
The men all stopped in place when they heard that and shook their heads. It was almost comical. To build a stone bridge over this distance would be pure magic.
The next week was spent by Armad and a few select workers, stringing ropes, pulling materials into easy reach and surveying the grounds for piers and the best location for the bridges. By the end of the week, he told the men to head down to town and to take a few days to themselves. Pay was drawn, passed out. Armad asked that they be back five days hence.
Melnor asked Armad, “Why do you give them time off? All they are going to do is drink, spend and sleep.”
Looking Melnor in the eye, he replied, “There are several reasons, some short term and others long term. I know from experience that if you work your men to the bone, that more mistakes are made and it takes more time to accomplish anything. Giving them enough time helps me hold their loyalty. They are not children and some of them have families that need to be with them. Lastly; the long term effects.”
“I thought those were pretty long term effects. You lose a week of time and they lose a week of pay.”
Smiling, the erstwhile engineer explained, “There are a lot of new businesses in town that depend on the men spending their wages so that they too can put food on the table.”
“The work they need to do is not going away and the weather is good for a while and drought will be soon upon us. We have the rope leader bridge for some things and that will do for now. Messengers will begin passing out of the area and trade in small things will begin. The people in town will know this and other ports will know it soon as well. The town traders will be better set for trading with a little extra money in their pockets from the men.”
“I have had them clear a path in the woods for the wood we will need and I need more time to get more iron for more reinforcement. I may not need as much as before, but I will need some. The extra business will help everybody including the small businesses I have helped.”
“Huh? You have other work than the docks?’
“There are other ships that I share responsibilities and profit with. I will soon build my own ship and I think I know what type of things I want to trade. As to the bridge, I am waiting for information and materials anyway, so they might as well get rested. I have been told reliably that a dry season is coming. That would be the ideal time to lay the foundation of the bridge. Once laid, we can take our time through the winter.”
Cappy gave him a curious look.
“At least some of them will be rested, mostly my managers. The rest of them are young and will be ready enough to work soon enough. A day or two out there in their huts and they will be sober as well.” Armad leaned back on his rock and smiled, I have need for more time as well. I need many more men and good treatment brings good faith and more men with time. We have no reason to hurry. I don’t pay them when they don’t work and I am paying well enough that the extra time won’t hurt. The metal workers and stone workers are still producing money for me. More show up every time a ship comes in.”
“I still am not quite sure how you do that.”
“The news of good work here has spread far and wide. We train superior metal, stone and wood workers. We give them jobs and when the work is done here, they will take their training, my training actually, and spread it everywhere that ships and horses travel.”