Alex was still reeling from Kassie’s last biting remarks. Her derision. She called him a clown. The background music in his head changed to “No, Pagliaccio Non Son” (No, I Am Not A Clown) from Leon Cavallo’s tragic opera, “I Pagliacci”. He felt the anguish and fury expressed in that aria. The anger that rose up in his soul filled him with venom. How could she so cruelly trample his heart?
He silently cursed the faiths that put him in this situation. Here he was thrust into a hopeless situation, made to fall in desperate love with such a divine creature, and yet she may as well have been on a totally different world as far as she was concerned. Alex also realized that there was no way really that he would ever change her mind, and if that’s what her feelings were, well, that’s the roll of the dice!
“Wow! What’s that face?” inquired Farmer Sal as he approached Alex from the garden area.
“It’s Kassie. I told her how I felt about her, and she nailed the coffin shut.”
“Ohhh… I suspected as much. I’ve been seeing that look in your eye and the way you watch her. But, I should have warned you about her. She has a boyfriend back home. She always talked about him. She is keeping faithful to him.”
“But Farmer Sal, The Venerable has told us that none of us are getting out of here alive.”
“Yes, he did say that. But, did it ever occur to you that maybe that’s not the whole truth, and that’s what he wants you to believe?”
“To what end? We obviously got here thru very mysterious ways. Do you think he is somehow responsible?”
“Maybe not responsible per se, but possibly an interested party. I don’t know. Since he says he is ‘the most ancient” of all the outlanders, how do we know that he is not actually one of THEM?”
“Hmmm… I see what you are saying. Maybe. I guess we’ll have to be open to that possibility.”
“In the meanwhile, Alex, I’d like your help with a couple of projects I have in mind. These people water their crops by the bucketful from the streams. That’s very inefficient and time consuming. Pouring water on the ground, makes it subject to quick evaporation. Other than a complex irrigation system, a series of Ollas, like the one I salvaged from my car when I first got here would work very wellj. You bury those in the ground near the plants, fill them with water, and the water will seep out below ground directly to the roots. Very little if any would be lost to evaporation. It would mean less watering trips for everyone.”
“Sounds like a great idea. How do we make those?”
“That’s where I need your help. We have to build a kiln. Then we have to collect some clay. We then also have to make some pottery wheels. make the ollas, and then bake them in the kiln. All of that will take work, manpower, and organization.”
“Sounds like a plan to me. We can get The Venerable’s help to present it to the outworlders. And it will give me something to do to take my mind off Kassie, as if that’s really going to happen. But, since we do have to be here, and unless we do find a way out of here, let’s be as productive as possible and make the most of our situation.”