Historical Setting, 562 C.E. Gaul
While Ezra and Colleta are away I find that the icy waters have poured through several splits in the thatch. Clearly Ezra is no expert in making a roof. Probably both cottages will need some work to be ready for more winter to come. I find he keeps a stout ladder and sturdy iron fork for tucking the wangles of straw into the splits. So I have several day’s work ahead of me.
For a short time I have helpers. Celeste and Daniel can fetch straw and hand it up in proper bundles but they are quickly weary of this project and ready to do whatever chores Eve has for them this morning as long as they can be inside near the warm hearth. This is really no task for anyone’s frosty fingers even wrapped in wools so I’m also only working in short stints.
Inside the cottage Eve sits on the bench at the board with Margey asleep in her arms, and Daniel and Celeste are rapt in the story Eve is reading to them from a tiny book. When I left her as a child I was only beginning to teach her letters and words. And how is it that she even owns a book of stories in this language of Gaul? The stories are animated with Eve’s telling and the children are enthralled, but when she notices me in the doorway she stops and hides the book.
“What is this book you are hiding from me?” I supposed it would be something of trolls and creatures as she was telling — a pagan story, no doubt. She dutifully, ruefully, painfully hands the book to this apparently demanding judge of a papa of hers.
It is a roughly copied book, an ancient herbal, mostly in Latin. It is a book of medical remedies — bits of ancient science and some recipes and incantations all added in by the hand of an unpracticed scribe.[Sidenote]
[Sidenote] “An herbal (Latin liber herbalis) is a book used by apothecaries and physicians, listing the names of plants, their descriptions, and their medical virtues.” Storl, Wolf D. “The Untold History of Healing: Plant Lore and Medical Magic from the Stone Age to Present” Berkely: North Atlantic Books, 2017.
“Papa, I’m so sorry. Ezra is so good at reading but he has no book. And I have a book, but I don’t remember your reading lessons.”
“How have you a book?”