Historical setting: 589 C.E. Châlons
The stable master directs us to an inn with a private sleeping room for a man and woman together. I don’t think either of us will sleep until we settle this hurt between us. We talk in the dark, long into the night.
We decided we will spend the coin and stay at this inn another night before we look for this priest so I can deliver to him the message addressed to the “Bishop of Châlons.” Today, all we will do is search for a knowledgeable shepherd.
It turns out the stable master here knows exactly the person Ana is seeking. This is the one he calls on for wisdom with horse woes, and this fellow happens to be a shepherd. So this morning we find this wise man at the shearing shed in the countryside we had passed through yesterday when we were seeing all the sheep. He hears Ana’s need and they talk for several hours. He marks with charcoal on a freshly shorn sheep showing the location of the internal parts so that she can see the place on the sheep for a surgeon’s blade that could save both the lamb and the ewe. Ana studies it carefully and uses the charcoal to mark a flat stone with her own notes.
As we mount our horses to go back to the city this elder shepherd takes me aside to tell me he understands her fear. “A young bride often fears for her life in birthing her first child.”
He must think Ana is with child and asking this for herself. He has a firm warning to me that sheep are nothing at all like human beings. I would argue that she is a physician planning to help another woman. But really, we only have to thank him for his guidance whatever was Ana’s reason for learning this.
This afternoon we find this church in Châlons. Everywhere it is bustling with activity. Monks are meeting with the builders working from a vast foundation of an ancient basilica still used as a church. Father Felix is with a messenger for the King and he isn’t available just now so we make a plan to return in the morning.
Two nights now, we’ve paid a royal price for a private room in an inn. The public stable we found has no traveler’s loft, and the monastery isn’t built yet.