Historical setting: 589 C.E. from Metz to Trier
The bishop queries. “So let me understand. You are a mere messenger for the foreign abbot and your wife is a woman of higher stature than yourself — a literate woman of medicine.”
“That seems to be so, Father.”
“I know well how you suffer my son. May God be with you.”
It seems the abbess, Dode, listened to Ana’s request for information with her particular concern for childbirth procedures. Ana learns they have no ancient Greek or Roman books here, and they know nothing of the studies from Alexandria; though the care they give the sick follows deep ruts of Roman order. So if a woman in labor doesn’t proceed as prescribed — if she deviates from the usual order — she will find no help here. And the rule is that a baby may only be taken with surgery from a mother who has died. That practice is clear and simple. It is as Eve had done in the time of Thole’s birth. It allows for a baby to be rescued to life, but there is no thought given to saving the mother. Ana is looking for an alternative.
This afternoon we continue our journey following the river according to the map given us by the iron merchant. We reach the stopping place marked by nightfall but we are the last of the travelers to arrive. In this place the guests sleep in a loft over a stable and tonight it is shared with a band of men. So here my wife must play a silent monk tucked in under the eaves at the end of this sleeping loft. The other guests probably know she is not a tiny, silent monk, but I am her guardian sleeping next to her to be a solid wall between her and the other men who are filling this haymow with their snorts and snores.
In the morning we ride along the river to the village of Trier. This is also a bishop’s see, so the scrolled letter for this man finds its place in the largest most central building in the village.
It is a bit of a surprise to find that this is the place that houses the libraries of Austrasia so the ancient writings that we didn’t find in Metz might be stored here. We’ve decided to spend an extra day as guests of this parish in order for Ana to peruse the books.