#42.4, Weds., March 8, 2023

Historical setting: 602 C.E. Cottage in the Vosges

         I’m watching ten-year-old Simon trying to teach his little four-year-old-brother Haberd to stack stones into a cairn.  Haberd teases him by collecting misshapen, nearly unstackable stones, then he makes the tower tumble.  Simon chooses another flat rock and little Haberd finds a big round pebble and sets it on top. Simon puts another flat one on top of that and Haberd knocks it all over with his next weighty orb of stone. Haberd laughs his silly teasing laugh as Simon worries Haberd will never learn a thing.

         Simon understands lessons gone array entirely too well. He is one who is overwhelmed with making sense of letters on the wax tablets.  It is his empathy and his patience that make him a good teacher but maybe not a witty intellect. And his cleaver little brother basks in the empathy and tries the patience of Simon.

         The two youngest of our children are two-year-old Brandell, another little boy child, and now, at Ana’s breast is dark-haired baby girl named for the beautiful night when she was born just five months ago, Laylah.  I’ve added a wide sleeping loft to our cottage now.  

         Though all of these babies were baptized at the little church I still visit Luxeuil often.  Ana still finds her spiritual welcome more amid the earthy fragrances of the altars of the secular church so it is there where our family worships. 

         Our neighbor boy, Charlie, at sixteen years old is a hunter now. But when they were small children Greg and Gabe and Charlie and Charlie’s younger brother would wander the woods with their pretend bows and come back with wondrous tales of adventures of royal hunts. Greg is enamored with horses and royalty. When he learned that the mother of our mule was a horse that his own mother once rode he pressed Ana for stories of the days when she would ride through the hills of Gaul, windswept as a legend.

         “Momma, have you ever met a real King or a Prince?”

         Ana answered, “I’ve read the books from King Chilperic’s own library. So it is a good thing to learn to read even if our ‘books’ are only on papyrus scraps.”

         These boys never have success at diverting Ana’s attention from their lessons.

         “So,” she asks them, “what books do you suppose a King would keep in his library?”

(Continues tomorrow)

Published by J.K. Marlin

Retired church playwright learning new art forms-- fiction writing, in historical context and now blogging these stories. The Lazarus Pages have a recurring character -- best friend of Jesus -- repeatedly waking to life in various periods of church history and spirituality.

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