No time was lost attaching one end of the rope to the slab and the other to the car. While Chris watched the slab for signs of movement, Alan stood in the road to warn me of any traffic that might be coming as I careered out of the courtyard. All that happened was that Chris was sprayed with half a hundredweight of granite chippings from the spinning wheels: the slab remained immovable.
We cleaned up Chris's scratches and stood looking despondently at the slab.
"It does look," said Alan, "as though there is a slightly wider gap between the slab frame and the cradle just there, near that corner."
A closer inspection revealed him to be right: the crack was very slightly larger. The bolster chisel could not fit in the crack, but a few blows with a club hammer soon had it wedged. We freed it, and tried again slightly to the left. Gradually, the gap widened, but there was no way we could exert sufficient leverage to lift the slab from its bed. We could ease it up a fraction of an inch, but as soon as the chisel was removed, the slab sank back down. What we needed was a jemmy.
Back at the garden centre, we tried to explain to the horrified assistant just what we wanted.
"A piece of iron like that," indicating the thickness of a thumb, "and like that," spreading hands apart to indicate the length. Much to our surprise, he understood us and we were soon the proud possessors of our first piece of housebreaking equipment.
With two of us exerting pressure on the jemmy and the other straining on the chisel to prevent the slab falling back, we eventually lifted the slab in the light of the fading sun. We laid it carefully across the hole to prevent anyone falling into it in the dark and went for a shower and a meal. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof - and that smell was evil!