Historical setting: 584 C.E. The house of Eve,
Anatase is reading from Nic’s pages about his first encounter with my family.
“The old monk wrote, ‘Your daughter-in-law is gracious but she seems cautious of strangers, especially this one wearing a monk’s robe and tonsured. She assures me that whatever else I have heard of Ezra’s family she and her children are devout and orthodox. So when faced with me, appearing to be holy man at her door she stiffens for proper clarity allowing no cloud of uncertainty whatsoever, in order to assure me she knows the creed by heart, every word of it; and she said she even knows the beg ottens and cons’…”
I assist, “begotten and consubstantial”
“Whatever.” Anatase continues reading, “’Colleta assures me, no matter what I may have been told by Ezra’s papa this family is Christian. And you know, Laz, my friend, she may not have any knowledge at all of the substance of God but she does know you very well, and she truly wants me to be sure to know she is not at all a heretic like you.’
“You are reading all these words well, Anatase, keep going, I’ll bet it will get more interesting for you.”
“Yes this is the part about the children. He writes, ‘Colleta tells me the last time you were here, little Margey was still a suckling babe, and Daniel was only a knee-high and Celeste, was just learning laundry chores. I first came up here three years later than when you were last here and Margey was a toddler, fast on her feet in those days and little Daniel was visiting your daughter Eve for reading lessons every day. Ezra thinks Daniel needs to know how to read to deal with land grabbers and tax collectors who use a farmer’s ignorance to steal away their land in these times.’
Anatase interrupts her own reading. “It’s hard to think of Celeste and Daniel as children. And does he mean to say my teacher could read back then? And who is Margey?”
“Maybe Nic will tell us if you read on.”
But now I find I myself fearing these same unknowns. In these pages before us there may be sadness. Maybe these pages shouldn’t be read by this child’s voice.
So I asked Anatase how she came to be living here.
“Well,” She begins her own story, “When I was four…”