1158. Otis may have considered the Boy to be dumb, obtuse and unaware of his surroundings but that was not really a fair assessment. As you know, his father was a blacksmith, so was his grandfather. There was not a time he could remember that did not contain the roar of the hearth and the bellows, and the ring of the hammer on the steel. Therefore he had a certain inbred awareness of all things pertaining to the family profession.
1159. 1000 years ago the blacksmith profession was not just any profession. He was a man who could put certain things to rights, certain things that the life of any community were entirely dependent on. The blacksmith in the dark ages, was like a doctor in modern war. An emergency arises and all make way for the Doctor, regardless or where and for whom the crisis strikes. So too, 'Is there a blacksmith in the house' was a medieval cry for help of the desperate traveler.
1160. This Boy, only thirteen, already had all of the inbred habits and mannerisms of the accomplished mechanic. Seeing the cart in the distance he instantly noticed the damaged rear right wooden wheel, which was flopping slightly from side to side, unlike the undamaged wheels.
1161. At fifty yards away he could see that it was one of those very old wooden wheels of a type long out of use, a wheel devoid of any steel reinforcement either at the rim or the hub. It was a wheel used now only by desperate people out on the road with dilapidated equipment; the type of traveler that can not afford to stop for needed repairs, and for whom any breakdown was disastrous.