Dom awoke with the dawn light in the room above the smithy, hardly believing his good luck in getting hold of such a fine apartment – even if the previous occupant died of plague. One man’s Misfortune is another’s new blacksmith career. And after a most pleasurable evening in the Maiden’s Head he could use a good couple days work to recoup his expenses and clear his mind from too much drink.
He sent Will the apprentice off to the bakery to get some bread for the morning pottage. He’d negotiated a fair exchange for the embers from the fire in his furnace with the comely young baker so she can start her ovens every morning. The smith’s duty to keep the fires lit in the village was not to be taken lightly. He’s a mind to fix her creaking floorboards – perhaps as a surprise for her when she’s away.
The shock of the icy cold water he poured over his head from the jug by the sink snapped clear his mind to sharply focus on Will. The lad seems a bit touched. The cat’s got his tongue for never a word has passed his lips. Perhaps he’s mute; that’d be well enough – better than a gossip or blabbermouth. Although he does hear well enough. Too well – he often startles like a rabbit at the sound of the hammers on the anvil.
And he’s persistent – I’ll give him that. Set him a task and he’ll be at it all day. But he acts dull-witted. If you show him often enough he can copy the work, though he’s never looked me in the eye. ‘No smith need cast down his eyes for any man’, his father would say – for all the good that did him.
Still, the poor lad’s got no family and he’s just young; he has but a few wisps of a beard and he’s not done growing. Dom’s decision is made just as he hears Will’s footfalls coming up the stairs: the boy will have to stop hauling that childish pull-cart everywhere with him. From today on, the lad will need to carry the farrier anvil to the stables to build up his strength.
After breaking fast, they’ll set to work on the furnace to start the glassmaking for the priest’s window. With the left-over stock of pig-iron, he has plenty enough to make the door hinges for the Countess’ armoury. And a few extra sets of horseshoes to give that wench of a girl Baylee – and for continued good luck.