MELNOR’S TOWER

By Matt Wellheuser All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Chapter 21: SUCESSFUL TRADE

Parry returned home determined to find a way to make barrels. He saw that there was a need and found that after many trips that he not only enjoyed talking with John, but he also enjoyed working with wood. John effectively apprenticed him in both trading as well as woodworking. Once home, he began talking to various iron workers to find one to make the rings that he needed for his barrels. Parry got lucky. Blackie had been working with the metals that Armad was using in his construction projects.

“Parry, I’ve been making these rings for you and I’m interested to find out if your project is going to work.”

“I’ve got Patch bringing a stack of them to us in a little while.” About that time, the young man came in dragging a small cart that allowed him to carry several armloads of staves without holding them in his arms. Patch brought the first armload into the barn where Parry had the rings set up on a couple of bales of hay. As he brought the last of them in, he slipped.

“Ouch!”

Armad stepped forward to catch him and the cart rolled into the wall as Patch hit the wall. He grabbed at the patch that covered his left eye and complained, “I can’t see with this thing over my eye!”

“Does it hurt?” Asked Parry.

“No. But it does mess with my ability to judge distances.”

Parry looked at him. “I’ve never seen you without the patch but you don’t always wear it on the same eye. Why?”

The young man stood and pulled the patch from his eye and rubbed it. After rubbing his eye he turned to face Parry.

Looking directly at Patch with both eyes bared, he saw the one blue right eye staring straight at him and the brown left one looking off to the left. As he stood there, the right eye drifted off to the right and he had the unsettling privilege of watching the left eye drift over and pierce him with a very forceful glare. Somehow, Cappy felt motivated to apologize. The young man was simply overpowering in his presence. Patch said to him, “Please, would you pick those up for me?”

Parry blinked and tried to turn from Patch. As he did, he could do nothing other than what he had been asked to do. He picked up each and every one of the staves until he began dropping them.

“Stop!” Patch commanded. “Set them down.”

Shaking his head, Parry set the staves down and asked him, “Please put the patch back on your left eye. How do you make your eye drift like that?”

Cappy went over and placed his arm over Patch’s shoulder. He explained, “He used to have a hard time making friends because he scared everybody. He says that he can’t consciously do it. As it is, as long as they are afraid of him, he can keep the rowdy boys in line for me. He actually has the ability to command obedience, but only with the one eye. Ever since I asked him to use the eye patch, he has been far better able to control those around him when he needs to and with his left eye covered, he doesn’t scare everybody. He can also make friends.”

Parry nodded. “The patch makes life easier on him, doesn’t it?”

Cappy nodded an affirmative. “He is much more useful and no longer a liability.” Blackie chose this moment to ask, “I thought that you were going to show me how to construct one of your barrels.”

Parry nodded and grabbed a handful of staves about as long as his arm. They were slightly curved, narrower on the ends than in the middle and beveled on the long edges. At the top and bottom, there were notches. Just as he had been shown on his trading trip by John Staunton; he placed a round, flat board and a ring on the surface of the hay bales and began to stand several of the shaped staves around the board making the sides of the barrel. When he judged that he had enough of them, he raised the ring and arranged the staves so that they were tighter against each other.

The staves were all of the same length and their beveled edges fit very closely and as he added an extra stave and raised the ring, the staves came very tightly together. Adding a second ring on the top took a bit of juggling and he had to select from the pile of rings, one that was just a tad bit larger than the rest in order for it to fit snugly, then he tapped it down with a hammer. The bevels caused a tight fit that allowed the ring to hold them in place with no more adjustments but it took a bit of care to lift the whole mess up and flip it over so he could tighten the first band with a hammer.

Now, as a unit, it was fairly stable. He took a rope and wound it around the top of the barrel about a hand span down. Twisting the ends of the rope together, the staves began to close together. Just as they came together, he flipped the barrel over onto the disc that he had laid onto the top of the hay. He used a slight rise in the hay to help hold the top just within the closure of the barrel so that it fit within the notches of the staves. As they came together locking in the lid, he tightened the rope a bit more and slipped another smaller ring over the barrel top to hold it into place. He tapped it tight and repeated the same actions on the other side.

Blackie looked at him and asked, “Now that the barrel is closed, how will you get anything into it?”

Parry smiled as he tossed the barrel to him. “It is closed but not sealed tight. If I knock the top ring off, I can use the barrel to store almost anything. This one is tight enough to hold liquids.”

The other three looked on as Patch voiced the same thought that came into their minds. “That doesn’t look so hard. I bet I could do it.”

Parry agreed with a nod of his head. “You probably could.” Reaching out and grabbing another bundle of staves, he passed them to Patch. Likewise, he passed a couple of rings and end pieces. “You think you can do it, go ahead. I prepare things ahead to make it look easier, but if you can do this here, then you could do it anywhere. I’ll even help you.”

Blackie and Cappy made their way out of the barn to return to their duties while the two younger men continued to work on the second barrel. It took the rest of the evening for Patch to admit to failure. It just didn’t seem to be in his nature to be able to assemble the barrels and that was fine with Parry.

Now that he had a successful barrel making operation, it was his next task to fill them with something that would make the combination more valuable.

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