Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Sport or Fitness (02/15/07)
TITLE: Moving the Menhirs
By Thomas Kappel
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“Why are we doing this? Why are moving this rock? Where is it going?”
Friar Uther Acton snorted in disgust, weary of all the questions and weary of the hard work.
“But why are we taking it apart? It’s so beautiful, peaceful, and quiet here?”
“Lend your young shoulder to pushing this sled and I may have the breath to answer all your questions,” Uther said, grunting and pushing hard on the wooden back brace of the sled.
The boy moved beside the bigger man and pushed; his body and face straining with the effort. He stopped when the Abbot called the count.
“Did it move a lot?” the boy asked, “with my help?”
“Some,” the monk answered, wiping the sweat off his brow with a rag and looping it over the belt in his robe.
Everyone stopped to take a breath. The boy stepped back to see how much the sled had moved the great stone.
The sled was huge with three sets of runners underneath, a large platform of pine planks nailed together with large iron nails made by the village Smith, and had a high back with great thick wooden poles for the three teams of men to rotate and push against the sled, with the help of the boy of course. On the sled was a big blue-black flat slab of stone completely filling the platform and hanging slightly over the edge.
The boy finished his inspection and walked back over to Friar Acton.
“Not much it moved with all that hard work and pushing,” he said.
“It’s good for you,” the monk responded. “The exercise will keep you fit and strong. You’ll grow up a giant of a man with great huge muscles, you’ll see. Now get ready to push again.”
The Abbot started the count again. At the right number, the men grunted and pushed. The sled slid a few feet over the grass and stopped. Uther moved to the back of the line and the boy followed him. Another monk took his place at the sled.
“Why are we moving these stones? Why are we taking it apart? It looks so beautiful like a castle with no walls.”
Sighing loudly, Uther sat down on the grass and wiped his brow with the old rag.
“It is a very old place, countless years old, and a place of worship for the old gods. We have a new God, as you know; a God called Jesus Christ and brought to us by our Roman friends and soldiers. We have no need for this ancient place for the old ones and we can use pieces from here to help the people and villages around us.”
The boy nodded. You could see him thinking of many new questions, but he only asked two.
“Where are we moving this stone to?” was the first question.
Friar Acton stood to his feet and pointed off into the distance. “A short way across this open field and around that hill is a new village. The people there need to build a bridge across a river to build homes on the other side. This large menhirs will help make a fine bridge. They asked us to help them.”
The boy nodded. “I know the place.” he said.
“We’ll probably move only this one stone,” Uther said, moving up next in the line to push the sled again. “It’s much harder than we thought it would be.” He looked down at the boy anticipating the next barrage of questions. “We have no idea how the old ones moved them all there in the circle and even placed them on top of each other. We know it started back far into ancient times. Great trees first, then giant menhirs raised in a circle, a place for them to worship.”
The boy looked back at the circle of stones and back at Uther. “The temple, their place to worship, it has a name?”
The monk moved wearily up to the sled, placed his shoulder, and listened for the Abbot count. “It’s called Stone Henge, boy, and that is my last question to answer. Now get in here and help me push!”
Together the man and boy pushed and sweat and moved the sled slowly across the field to the waiting village.
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