Historical setting: 584 C.E. The house of Eve
Anatase is telling me how she came to be a student of Eve’s. “When I was four I saw a road marker with an arrow and letters, ‘OOS’ to be a word. Since the arrow was pointing to the river I thought the letters named the river near where I lived. Then when I saw those same letters at the top of an ordinance posted by the stile at the river crossing gate I said that name aloud as though I was reading. My mother thought I was magic.
I’m not sure she thought that was a good thing, but she was telling others I had a gift. I figured out more of reading because I thought my mother liked it. But our village meant to be Christian so the idea of a girl baby reading just by magic was a bad omen. The Christian’s priest told my mother only boys in monasteries are supposed to be reading and the monks are supposed to keep careful watch over that so it doesn’t take them astray. My mother feared I was in danger of Christian curses and kills and she wanted to save me so she gave me to the pagans.
“I ended up here where I was supposed to read for my teacher. But my teacher’s book of remedies has so many strange words. I needed some clues, like an arrow or picture to explain it. The parts about the herbs were easier to figure out because there were drawings. But what she needed to know most were the parts I couldn’t read. I feared she wouldn’t be able to heal people if I couldn’t read everything. I asked Master Daniel, he’s a reader, and his father is too, but they say I’m here to learn from my teacher not to take up time of the men who had work to do. And I couldn’t think of any way to figure it out myself.
“Then came along the old monk who lived in a monastery. I begged him to take me back there just for a day, so I could see what they were teaching the boys about reading. I thought I could easily find the clue. He said everyone at Ligugé is older and they have no reading classes, but other monasteries train young boys. He told me monasteries are changing and you would need to know about all those changes too when you awoke and he was already making these pages for me to read to you.”
(Continues Tuesday, May 25)