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George sat patiently waiting for Epinetus to get to the part of the story where George’s relative would be mentioned. He had driven quite a distance from Berkshire to Preston Manor to gather information. George needed to know more about Guilliame de Besse, also known as John Bessac.


However, Epinetus had one more “mud hole” story to tell.


“Another mud hole was encountered later that same day. Grandfather and my father Horace rocked and levered the wagon without luck. On the final try one of the wheels fell off the wagon. The wagon lurched forward and out of the muddy abyss but severe mechanical damage had already been done. Grandfather inspected the wheel to determine what the cause of the failure was. He found it rather quickly.”


Wagon Wheel


Epinetus was proud to describe his knowledge of wagon wheels. George patiently listened.


“In those days, when wagon wheels were manufactured they were equipped with a steel ring on the inside diameter. Another steel ring had been forced on the oaken axle. These two rings acted as bearings and kept the wheels from wearing out prematurely. Now however, one of these bearings lay deep in the mud hole. At Grandfathers urging the whole family, except for Uncle Henry, thrust their arms into the mud hole in search of the lost bearing.”


“After a lengthy period Grandfather called the search off and sat dejectedly beside the broken wheel. Grandmother Abashaby told me that it was one of the very few times that Grandfather seemed to be beaten. Before long he arose and walked into the woods where he could barely be seen. Kneeling in the shaded canopy of oak trees he prayed. There, in deep reverence, he knelt for a long period. The family knew that he was talking to the Light Within Man, not asking for any more help than he could muster from within himself.”


Man in woods


Epinetus smiled proudly as he continued his story of the broken wheel.


“As he Walked back to the wagon the entire family saw a renewed appearance in Grandfather. He silently paced back and forth beside of the bearing-less wheel. Suddenly he stopped and unbuckled his leather belt. Taking a sharp knife from its scabbard he cut about ten inches off the end of the belt. Rolling the leather into a spiral he placed it inside the wheel. He removed it, trimmed it and replaced it several times. Finally he was satisfied with a perfectly fitting leather bearing. He then took his knife and removed some of the copper tacks that held a canvas pail around its wooden frame. Grandfather used these tacks to hold the new leather bearing in place. Both the wheel and Uncle Henry’s hand were watched with equal care until the family reached their destination. Grandfather prayed for the wheel and the hand.”

© wtomosky