Historical setting: 584 C.E. The house of Eve, pagan healer
Anatase is telling me how she learned to read. “The old monk promised me he, himself would give me a reading lesson whenever he could come up here. And he was even better at reading than he was at writing. His letters are shaky.”
My opinion, “Maybe that was just his old age. When I knew him he was very good with the inks.”
“So then when he came he brought these pages for reading practice and also a tray of wax and a tool.” I see she has her reading and writing here in a basket with her flute and the book of remedies.
Her story continues. “He told me wax is how they teach monastery boys to write. It takes lots of practice and wax doesn’t use up inks and edges of parchment. With this I can copy a letter over and over again until it is perfect, then press the practice away and learn another letter. The old monk used to write something on the wax then I would read it back, and he would smile and shout that I was the smartest little girl he ever taught to read. First thing he told me the secret of the letters with sounds and added new words for me to practice using the words I knew so I could figure out more of the teacher’s book. Now I’ve learned to read everyone one of the remedies. I can just say them when she needs them.
“The old monk said before I was here he used to come more often because he could ride horses, but when the horses got too old they went to pasture. He said then the abbot wouldn’t give an old monk a new horse. So all the days that I was here he could only come when he could ride along with someone who had a donkey cart or until Master Ezra was going to Poitiers anyway. Sometimes the Old Monk stayed here for days.”
“Didn’t he have work to do at the monastery?”
“He said his shaking hands made him unable to copy the scriptures anymore so he wasn’t good for anything but prayers and songs and he didn’t need the inks to pray and sing so he could keep the hours anywhere, even in heaven. He said he would die one of these days, but I didn’t know what he meant. Now I know.”
“I know. I miss him too. So how did your teacher find her way before you came?”