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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 91: Hastings 73
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The next time Lauren went into town, she brought her Bible with her. It was only after she had begun her walk through the wood that she realized what a magical tome it would seem. Printing here was in its infancy, without the moveable type that would lead to the mass production of books; the leatherette cover and super thin pages also were from a technology more advanced than any this world would know for many years. The language, too, would seem strange, a version of written English which was from some time in the future. But she had no better reading material, and was intent on teaching Bethany to read, so this would have to suffice. Besides, if she intended to teach Bethany the use of supernatural power, it made sense to start by laying the foundation of a solid belief in God and the understanding of at least some of what that meant.
Bethany's father was a bit reluctant. He at least dimly saw the value to his daughter in learning to read, but he was very uncertain about the teacher. If Lauren was who she seemed to be, there was something unnatural about her, something, in a word, wrong. Whatever value there was in reading, he would not have his daughter taught by a witch or worse. On the other hand, if she was not who she seemed, she was a deceiver, and could not be trusted. Thus he displayed a great deal of suspicion. Lauren focused on his concerns, not on herself, assuring him that Bethany would be reading from the Bible, and offering to hold the lessons in his home so that he could oversee them. She explained that she saw in Bethany a bright child who would make him proud. He still had reservations, but agreed to allow the teaching to begin.
So it began; it was a very slow start. Bethany could count, but she had never seen or heard the alphabet, and could not identify numerals or letters. Reading lessons started with letters handwritten on Lauren's paper. A few letters combined into a few words and then a few sentences, and Lauren realized that although she was learning to speak the English of the day without her mind reading trick, writing it was still problematic. Words were written much as they sounded then, but there were sounds in that language that were not in her own, and she had to realize when they were spoken and how they were spelled in order to put them to paper. It was a difficult process for the teacher. She had learned much of being a teacher from Merlin, though, and patience with the student was one lesson she now saw in his example.
Lessons were three days each week. Lauren pressed for more, but Bethany's father thought this was excessive as it was. Lauren did stretch the lessons a bit longer each week as Bethany advanced; and she found excuses to spend time with her pupil, and to drill her on what she was learning while she was engaged in chores.
Meanwhile, Lauren tried to discover what she could about the activities of the vampires. Wandborough was on the edge of werewolf territory, and the vampires generally avoided direct confrontation with the wolves. She was not convinced that there was nothing happening. The local priest ducked even her least incisive questions, not even willing to say if there had been any activity suggestive of grave robbers. Perhaps it was because her reputation preceded her–the priest knew she was identified with an ancient vampire hunter, and might well have wished to downplay any suggestion of vampires to avoid the inference that he believed this. Still, she suspected there was something happening here; something more than just Bethany's education had brought her back to this place.
The only way to confirm it seemed to be to search.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #113: Character Movements. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: