Night in the Scriptorium

Posted: December 3, 2013 by writingsprint in Drama
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

candleBrother Benedict drew the last words on the page. It was a treatise on anatomy, adapted from an older, Greek text. This page discussed the effects of cold on the extremities and the warning signs of frostbite.

“Amen,” he said softly. He rubbed his hands. He blew on his hands to warm them up. His robes felt coarse and not warm enough, a slight curl of cold twisting its way up from the bottom as a draft floated through the room. Other monks hunched over or squeezed their legs together to stay warm. The bishop had decreed that this monastery would hold the central library for this county, since it was close to his own castle. They had many books to copy before it was ready. With the harvest nearly here, there would be long days outside, with aching backs, and long nights inside, with aching fingers.

Father Richard, the abbot, walked down the aisle. He leaned on a cane as crooked as his legs. His mind was a sharp and straight as the path to righteousness. Without request, Benedict knew to give him his page for review. Richard held it almost up to his nose. He scanned every line. Benedict thought his breath would help the ink dry faster. The abbot finally said, “Well done, brother. Once the ink is dry, give it to brother Theodore to apply the artwork.”

“Yes, father.”

“You corrected the grammar and some of the flourishes of the previous author.”

“Our Lord asks us to be humble.”

“Quite correct. But when you do so, be mindful that your own mastery of language does not make you arrogant yourself.”

“Yes, father. Of course.”

Father Richard gave him back the page. Benedict bowed. The abbot slowly continued up the aisle. Benedict slowly put the page down on the side of his table. The candle flickered near it. Benedict watched to see if any wax splattered the page. None did.

One of the monastery’s cats jumped up onto his table. Green eyes regarded him. This was Magda, one of the library’s best mousers. If she wanted attention, she wouldn’t let you work until she was satisfied. The fraying of Benedict’s robe near the bottom was proof of that. “Novi quod pulchra sis mulier,” he said, petting the cat. It purred. He pet her again, then put her down on the floor. Magda seemed satisfied. She darted off into one of the dark corners of the scriptorium, probably chasing another of her prey.

  1. A.D. Everard says:

    I enjoyed this very much. I liked the detail, particularly the chill of the room. So real.


    • writingsprint says:

      Thank you! I’ve been doing zombies and action and stuff lately, so I wanted to focus on something quiet.


      • A.D. Everard says:

        I loved it! Are you continuing on with that story? Or does the mere question put pressure on? Didn’t mean to do that. 😀 You have got it very accurate, though, in those times, those monks worked in the cold as candles were expensive and there were few window panes to keep out the weather. I particularly liked the ragged hem of his robe (thanks to the cat), which also points out the level of poverty those monks lived in.

        There were just so many really nice details, little things that portrayed so much. Seriously, I’m still sitting there with that Brother!

        Cheers! 🙂


      • writingsprint says:

        I wasn’t planning to, but I may since you like it :). I need to come up with a problem for Brother Benedict if I do. Thanks for the input on the candles. Generally all I have time for with the blog posts is some quick Googling. I did find out that the traditional image of a scriptorium was actually a rare thing, but I still liked the image enough to write a scene :).


      • A.D. Everard says:

        Continue only if your are inspired to for your own or your character’s reasons – don’t do it for me. Regardless, you’ve shown me another aspect of your work, which I really like. So, thank you. 😀


      • writingsprint says:

        You’re quite welcome :). Because of “The Name of the Rose” and “The Pillars of the Earth” I’ve got an interest in it. I just need to come up with a plot for him. Or I could always take this character and drop him into a different story…


      • A.D. Everard says:

        I can see that happening. I don’t think he’ll go away. 😀


  2. paddlin_bill says:

    I thought of “In the Name of the Rose,” too when I read this. Very nicely done.


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