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Jarod nodded unsurely, not sure if the strange man was agreeing or not to him and dropped his eyes back to the ground. He didn't like it here one bit, he wanted to go home again. Jarod would do anything just to be allowed home, for his parents to be there and for his life to be carefree and loving once more.
"Well then, let's get you to the library and see what you can do." Sydney said, looking at him thinking he was far too young for this position. He had assumed the boy would be 10 or 11. No child at this age could possibly be expected to do what would be required in this position as his apprentice, it was ludicrous. He was clearly terrified and if he was going to get any work out of him that meant a lot of hand holding no doubt. He just hoped it wouldn’t distract him too much from his studies.
Jarod's head shot up at the sound of the library, maybe this dark place did have some books after all. It would make his life in this new land a little less dark and scary if he could have some books to read, things to learn. Despite his numerous attempts at running away from the monks, Jarod had loved his time reading their books, writing and learning, even if he disagreed with a lot of what they taught him.
"You like the library?" Sydney asked, seeing his reaction, not sure he could trust the precious books and paper to one so young. It had taken him years to build this collection and he knew that the church both envied his library and disapproved of much of it at the same time. Sydney was a forward thinker, refusing to be held back by the chains of superstition and he was lucky to have found a patron who saw things the same way, although that, of course, came at a heavy price. Many times he had to compromise so that he could pursue his goals and so many of his duties here wasted his time. Perhaps if this boy could be taught then he could take over many of the more mundane tasks.
Jarod dropped his eyes again, trying to mind his manners as the monks had taught him. "Yes sir, very much.” He tried to say without too much enthusiasm, not wanting the strange man to know how much Jarod cherished his books, so they wouldn't be used as a punishment. The main way he was punished by the monks, was by taking away his books. They would make him still work, copying boring documentation, the books just sitting there taunting Jarod, unable to get to them and read them. He didn’t want this man to do the same thing.
"I see," Sydney said softly. Seeing already that the boy was shrewd. "Come along now, I will see about better quarters for you, this is far too far away from the library and offices,” He said in disapproval.
Nodding slightly, Jarod followed after the man, his eyes looking around, memorising how to get back to his quarters, taking in every small detail. The idea of a room better than the one he had been placed in was very appealing. He had slept in similar quarters with the monks since they did not believe in luxuries like real beds. This building was like nothing he had ever been in before. It frightened and amazed the child at the same time.
Sydney led him at a fast pace to the library, what he thought of as his inner sanctum. All his precious documents and scrolls were in here, as well as the accounts of the Duke's holdings and vast wealth. It was in the centre of the castle and protected by a number of heavy locked doors. Only a select few were trusted to be in here and never without Sydney's supervision. Many of the Duke's secret dealings were recorded here and there was also a long history of all the things he hung over people's head to ensure he got what he wanted. His classroom was close by and he used that to teach young Lord Lyle, and sometimes his wayward sister.
Drinking in everything Jarod saw, he stopped at the threshold of the library's doorway. His eyes opened wide, his mouth dropped in awe and amazement at what he saw. The young boy had never in his life seen so many books and scrolls. Even the monks didn't have this many, as there were only a number of documents, books and scrolls about their beloved God.
Sydney smiled at his reaction and hoped the child understood how precious they were. It was a lesson that Sydney would ensure he learnt every single day. "Come in boy, come in and look." Sydney beckoned him. He was pleased by the boy's reaction, not so many were as eager and impressed by the notion of so much book learning. "This is my library and while you are in here, you follow my rules, understood?” He asked firmly but gently.
Jarod nodded quickly, he understood rules, knew how to follow them and for the most part he did a very good job at it. Even without those rules, Jarod would never dream of ruining a single book or document. He cherished them, their words, their knowledge and would die before destroying even a single page. "Yes sir." Jarod whispered, knowing he needed to drop his eyes and bow his head to his superior, but he couldn't move, couldn't walk in. His eyes fixated on all the books.
"Then what is the problem?" Sydney asked him, seeing he hadn't moved.
Jarod tore his eyes away from the books with a great deal of difficulty and dropped them to the ground, bowing his head and stepped into the room. "I'm sorry sir,” He whispered, scared now he was going to be punished for his disobedience.
"Sorry for what boy?" Sydney asked him softly, pleased that he was exhibiting that much self discipline when it was clearly difficult for him. This was a strange and unique boy indeed. "And if you keep those eyes on the floor you are going to bump into things and I can't have that."
"Not moving in when directed to sir." Jarod whispered, bringing his up for a moment before dropping them once more, becoming more and more nervous now. He was trying so very hard to do the right thing, to be well behaved and respectful as he had been taught.
Sydney sighed heavily and knew that this was going to be difficult because he was too young, and no doubt the task would be too difficult for the small boy. "How about we start with something simple? The monks say you can write copies of anything, is this true?” He was keen to assess his abilities and wanted to waste no more time.
Jarod nodded, relaxing slightly now they were onto something familiar to him, something he loved to do. "Yes sir, anything.” As scared and nervous as he was, work always helped him to settle down and relax. It was something familiar, something he enjoyed for the most part.
Sydney saw that it had the desired effect and knew that he would be able to use that to his advantage. Give the boy something to focus on, keep him busy and grounded and he hopefully wouldn’t have too much trouble with him. "Good, now this can be your desk here and these will be your materials, which I assume you know how to look after?” He asked with raised eyebrows. He would not tolerate any slovenly habits.
"Yes sir, I do.” He looked at the small table with the feather quill, ink and scroll paper ready for his use. He wondered if he could take these back to his room so he could draw by himself, something the child missed terribly and something the monks had banned him from doing.
"Good boy," Sydney praised with a nod. "If you have any questions just ask. Questions are never punished in this room, understand?"
"Yes sir," Jarod nodded quickly, always having lots of questions and most times being reprimanded for them since they did not serve their God and was of no relevance. He wondered what he would be copying today.
"Then you can get started. We do not allow any food or drink in here to protect the paper, but there will be a meal break later. You will not go hungry as long as you work for me boy." Sydney reassured him, seeing that he was still very afraid.
"Sir?" Jarod asked in a timid voice, looking at the desk in front of him. "What will I be copying?” He knew he shouldn’t be asking, the monks time and time again said it was no relevancy to his work. When Jarod knew what he was copying though, he could prepare himself a little for it, imagining the type of script that would be used for what document.
"A writ regarding an agreement about a disputed piece of land. Why would you wish to know?” He asked, wondering what difference it made. Perhaps the boy could only do Holy books and he was afraid he would not be able to do this.
"I like to read.” He whispered, ducking his head, guessing he would be in trouble now. He waited as he handed the scroll over and started to read it, understanding it before he slowly began to copy it.
Sydney hovered over his shoulder, taken aback by his penmanship and speed. He almost doubted his own eyes as he watched, completely transfixed. He had seen nothing like it at all, it was as if it was an exact duplicate of the original document, even down to the peculiarities of the handwriting. It was impossible the child could have seen this style of handwriting before since it was his own.
It didn't take the child long to finish the scroll with the written agreement on it and dusted sand over it to dry the damp ink, before handing it to the man once it had dried. Jarod waited anxiously for the verdict on how well he had done or how badly he had done.
Sydney took it and looked over it with a critical eye, completely taken aback by how perfect it was, not a single mistake. He noticed that one of the words had been corrected, the original had had a spelling mistake. He put it down and pointed to the word that Jarod had changed. "Why did you not copy this one properly?” He asked, curious as to the boy's reaction.
"I'm sorry sir.” He ducked his head, he shouldn't have assumed to fix it on a legal document. Jarod had been told by the monks over and over again to just copy the pages, word for word. Nothing more and nothing less. He looked up at the older man with his big brown eyes, pleading for forgiveness. "It was incorrect." Jarod whispered.
"Yes it was," Sydney agreed, not sure if he should be angry or pleased at his initiative. It would appear he really did know his letters then. He seemed to have no confidence in his abilities, scared he would be reprimanded, yet he had done the correction anyway, probably unaware he was even doing it. This was becoming more and more interesting indeed.
"Would you like me to change it back?" Jarod asked, trying to please the man, terrified he had done the wrong thing now.
"No,” He shook his head after a moment. "You did the right thing. Tell me Jarod, did you understand all of this document, you knew all the words?” He asked sceptically, trying to convince himself it was just a freakish coincidence he could correct that word. Surely no boy of his tender years could know how to read so fluently. Yet here was the very evidence in his hand.
Jarod nodded slowly and quietly explained the document in his own words, substituting some of the bigger ones he could not pronounce yet, his mouth unable to form the words correctly, with words he could say that meant the same thing. He didn’t just understand what he had copied, he had it memorised in his mind.
Sydney was astounded as he listened, watching the young boy. It was beyond belief and he could see now why the monks were eager to get rid of him, superstitious fools that they were. This was not a natural talent and they couldn't look past their ancient scriptures to see the value of what they had. "Very good Jarod,” He finally said, snapping out of the reverie he was in. There was potential in this child, perhaps like none he had ever seen before and he was determined to unlock all of it. It would appear that his memory was unusually sharp as well, he had recounted the document precisely, yet had only read it once.
Jarod couldn't help the little smile that tugged on his lips at the praise, something he rarely got these days with the monks. He remembered his father praising him when he learnt how to help with the farm and the small smile faded, being replaced with sadness. There was nothing on this earth Jarod missed more than his parents and the farm.
Sydney watched the emotions run across his face and wondered what brought the sadness on and supposed he must have had a hard life and was likely lonely. He would cure the boy of that by filling his days with learning. "Do you think you could take dictation?" Sydney said, wanting to further assess the extent of his skills. The boy had not failed either of his first two tests and that took him by surprise. He was eager to find out how much the boy could do, how much he could learn and had already surpassed his expectations.
Jarod had not done it before, but was willing to try. The child liked to learn anything new, it excited him and helped with the boredom. "I can try sir."
"Very well then." Sydney said and handed him a fresh piece of parchment. "You understand that nothing we discuss in here leaves this room? These are private matters.” He said seriously, watching him closely. He would keep his contact with others to a minimum so the boy could focus on his studies and learning. And for now, Sydney was unsure he wanted anyone else to know just how talented he might prove to be.
Jarod nodded once more, it was the same with the monks. Some things he wrote for them were very private and he was sworn to secrecy. "I understand sir.” He said softy and dipped the feathered quill in the ink and readied himself.
Sydney started to dictate slowly a letter that was to be sent to an Earl in the east, regarding an agreement about some shipping arrangements from France. It wasn’t too complex, but challenging enough to test the boy's skills and accuracy.
Jarod listened carefully and writing down word for word, including all punctuation and correct grammar. After the man who had finished, Jarod dried the ink off and handed the document to him, hoping he had done it right. He just wanted to get his hands on those books and have a sleep. Jarod was so tired after the long journey the monks had taken him on to leave him in this strange place.
Sydney took it and read through it carefully. "Amazing,” He declared finally, looking at him. "Just amazing." It was clear that the child didn’t think of his talents as exceptional, and that was all for the better. Humility was a preferable quality in a man Sydney thought to himself with a smile.
Jarod was hoping, now that he had done some of the man's work, to be allowed to read some of the books. His eyes were drawn to the shelf upon shelf of books and scrolls, it was hard to concentrate with all that knowledge surrounding him. "Thank you sir."
"You like the books?" Sydney asked, seeing him glancing at them, seeing how his eyes seemed to be drawn to them. For Sydney, opening a book was like a gateway into a new world, a better world, where anything was possible.
"Yes sir, I'm sorry sir." Jarod whispered, not wanting to get in trouble, but his eyes kept going back to those books. They were irresistible to him, like gold was to the king. Jarod could lose himself in the books, he could dream of a different life, of a better future. All he needed was a book and he could forget about his miserable life. The only books he was allowed to read at the monastery were bibles, and after reading them once or twice, they had bored Jarod. The boy had dreamt of a world where there were books about anything and everything, more books than even he could count. Jarod had never imagined it could be true though
"You want to look at them?" Sydney asked, seeing his keen interest.
"May I?" Jarod whispered in surprise, already on his feet and standing in front one of the many rows of books. His finger tip brushed along them, barely touching them, scared that his dirty hands would stain the precious books. Jarod loved books, worshiped them, to him, books were his God. If he ruined even a single page, it would devastate the young boy.
Sydney was tempted to say no, just to see how he would react, but decided not to. "Go ahead, but treat them with care.” He would be curious to see which one the boy picked, if he chose by random selection or by interest. There was mystery about this boy and it excited Sydney's mind to think about unravelling that mystery.
Walking up and down the rows upon rows of books, Jarod's eyes feel upon a medical book and tried to clean his hands as much as possible on his new clothes before ever so carefully pulling it out. Sitting on the floor where he stood, Jarod opened it to begin to read through it, instantly amazed and hocked on the book from the first page. The monks didn't believe in medicine, they believed that God would save all those who deserved to be saved. It left Jarod completely baffled though, they would rather let one of their own die, believing it was the will of God instead of seeking help for him.
Sydney was surprised by his choice and moved over to watch him. "I am not sure the monks would approve." Sydney said, just to see how the boy would react to that, whether they had beaten the curiosity out of him or not.
Jarod looked up at him with pleading brown eyes, dying to read it. It was just cruel to let him choose a book then tell him he wasn’t allowed to read it. The whole concept of medicine just made his mind tick, intrigued to find out more and more. Sighing silently, Jarod closed the book and put it back on the shelf. Jarod had been told by the girl, the lady, that the monks had gone home and left him here. Maybe it was only temporarily and they didn't want Jarod stained with anything that did not revolve around God.
"You believe the monks are right?" Sydney asked in surprise, seeing his obvious desire to look at the book. It was a testament though to the boy's self discipline that he had put it back without a fight or argument.
"They get upset, get mad when I ask things, read things that do not relate to God.” And Jarod had a few marks on his tender skin to prove it.
"And what do you think about that?" Sydney asked him gently, taking the book he had chosen and holding it, almost teasing him with it.
Jarod's eyes followed the book as the man pulled it back off the shelf, before forcing himself to drop them to the ground. "I do not believe what they do sir. Not all of it anyway." Jarod whispered. Even when he had been with his parents, they had attended the local village church, prayed and worshiped, and there had been a lot Jarod had not liked, had not agreed with. But as his father said, he was too young to understand the true workings of the world and God so he could not pass judgement until he did.
"And you wish to learn things beyond their teachings?" Sydney asked, already knowing the answer to that question, he could see it in his eyes. The boy looked at those books the same way a man looked at a beautiful woman.
Nodding ever so slightly, Jarod looked up at the man for a moment. "I want to learn everything, not just what they believe to be right." There was so much in the world, and Jarod wanted to learn it all, not just about God and his divine powers.
"And if those things contradict what we have been told is true?" Sydney pushed a little further. They were heading into dangerous ground now and if it were known what went on in here he would likely be burnt at the stake.
"Just because someone says it is true, doesn't mean it is." Jarod told him defiantly, before looking around and standing to his feet to whisper, “Like the earth was not created in 6 days. How could a place so big be made in such a little time?” He thought, it took years to build just a castle, let alone the entire world.
"That is very dangerous talk Jarod," Sydney whispered, although excited by this turn of events. It was impossible of course that he could be having this discussion with a five year old, but there it was. There was also danger now. The world wasn’t ready for this kind of thinking, as Sydney knew only too well, having escaped to England many years ago to escape that kind of persecution.
"I'm sorry," Jarod whispered and dropped back to the ground again, all hopes of getting that book back to read gone now that he had spoken his mind. If he had said that around the monks, he would have been in serious trouble, big enough trouble for even maybe a whipping, but Jarod thought this man might have been different, might have believed him and allowed him to speak about the things that kept questions running through his mind.
Sydney moved over to the table, and beckoned him over. "Don't be sorry for what you think Jarod. Come.” He patted the bench beside him. "You must learn to be careful though, saying things like that outside this room could be dangerous, do you understand?"
Jarod stood up and moved over to sit on the bench next to the man, knowing he was right. "Yes sir.” He whispered in misery. At least his father use to humour him and listen and argue back. These people all just told him off for it, punished him. His mind was always in a whirl with all these unanswered questions he couldn't even ask, let alone get answers.
"If I let you read this book, you are only to discuss these things with me, can you promise me that?" Sydney asked, not wanting him to be labelled as a blasphemer and taken away. Gossip was the favourite pastime in the castle and word always spread quickly. Most knew enough to leave him alone and half suspected he was some kind of wizard or magician and he didn’t do very much to discourage that talk. The more he was left alone the more he preferred it.
Jarod looked up quickly with hope in his eyes for the first time in a long while. "I can ask things? In here? Not get in trouble AND read the book?” He whispered incredulously, not quite believing it. That was just to good to be true, the monks would scold him for asking things, his father had had no books to read, so he had never had both things at once before.
"That's right Jarod. In here you can ask anything you want, and read any books you want, as long as it doesn't interfere with your work." Sydney told him with a smile, seeing how it changed his whole demeanour. Sydney could see that in this tiny and damaged child he had found a kindred spirit.
Nodding furiously, Jarod's eyes dropped to the book Sydney held. "Anything?” He asked, having about a thousand questions he needed answers for.
"Anything Jarod, anything at all." Sydney promised him. "In here only though, understand?"
"Yes sir.” He agreed easily. "Why do women not have the same rights as men, can not do the same things as men? If God created heaven and earth, where is heaven and where did he find the space to put this world? Who created god? And who created the person who created God? Does God have parents? Why are there so many ill people? Why cant we help them all? Why is there so many wars? Why cant people get along? Why do people believe in god?” Jarod rambled a few of his questions in one breath, his eyes still glued to the book.
Sydney chuckled a little and smiled, ruffling his hair. "That is a lot of questions and some deep philosophical issues. There will be time for all of it Jarod, but many of those questions nobody knows the answer to.” He let out a long sigh. "Read the book for now and I will organise somewhere for you to sleep and something for the evening meal too. I also want you to have a bath, it is very important to keep your hands clean."
Jarod nodded in agreement as Sydney handed over the book and eagerly took it, sliding off the bench back to the ground. Laying down, he opened it and began to read. He didn't understand all of it, he could read the words, though there were quite a few he did not understand the meaning too. Still, Jarod loved the book and the whole world just seemed to disappear as he read it. As Jarod read and more and more words he found didn't make sense to him, the boy got up and took his ink pot and quill as well as the paper and lay back down. Starting from the start again, Jarod read it once more and started to make a list of every word he did not understand, he would ask about them later. That was another thing that made Jarod love books. There were always plenty of words he did not know, which gave the boy a chance to research and find out, learn.
"What are you doing?" Sydney asked him, puzzled by his behaviour. He had his own work to do but he was too fascinated by this remarkable child to tear himself away. Everything about him seemed fascinating and Sydney knew that he had never come across anybody like this before, he was completely unique.
"Creating a book." Jarod mumbled as he continued to read the pages, absorbing every piece of information into his mind, memorising it, and writing down neatly the words that were unfamiliar to him as he went.
"A book for what?" Sydney frowned. He had been here a few hours and now he was writing his own book? If he hadn’t seen it with his own eyes he never would have believed it.
"Words, ones I do not understand.” He thought about it for a minute than wrote dictio... up the top. "A dictio, word book.” He would need help later as he found out the meanings and pronunciation of the words. Jarod knew once he knew the word, he wouldn’t need to look at his new dictio book to find them out again, but that wasn’t the point.
It was no surprise the child knew Latin, having spent so much time with the monks, but that idea struck him as very profound. "What are you going to do with this book of words?" Sydney asked him, reading the words he had already written.
Pausing, Jarod titled his head in thought for a long moment as he contemplated that. "Copy it, so others can use it. For words they do not know as well."
"If you don't know these words Jarod, how do you propose to find out what they mean?” He asked, watching his logic unfold like a blossoming flower. Quite surprised by the level of initiative he was showing, what was very extraordinary is how little he was threatened by his lack of knowing. Most people would not have so freely admitted that they didn’t understand.
"Ask you of course sir." Jarod said, as if it should have been obvious. He was the elder here, not only did Jarod need to respect the man himself, but respect the amount of knowledge he possessed. He was a teacher, a scholar, so Jarod was certain he would know the answers. "And if you do not know, send a letter to the man who did write this book and ask him."
"And what if that man has been dead for over 20 years?" Sydney asked, clearly amused and impressed by his answer.
"Then find a similar book with the same words whose author is not deceased and ask him. But surely sir, you know these words?" Jarod asked, believing he did. "If you did not know so many words from a single book, you would not have taken possession of it."
"You are right of course," Sydney laughed out loud now, a smile on his face. "You are remarkable Jarod, just remarkable."
That brought a brad grin from Jarod, the first in a long time as he received praise and heard the laugh from the man. "Thank you sir. So you do know them?"
"Yes I do, most of them, some of them I might need to look up, you didn't pick an easy one to start with.” He smiled at him, seeing the future lay out before him clearly now. Serving the Duke was now only an ends to a means, his first priority would be this strange and wonderful boy.
"If I picked out the easy words, I would not need to know what they mean sir. The point of the 'dictio' is to list words people do not normally know the meaning to." Jarod explained to him very patiently, as if it should have been obvious.
"And a very excellent idea too. I believe the Emperor Augustus had the same opinion as you my young scholar."
Jarod smiled shyly and turned back to his book to continue reading. He would list all the words he didn't know and get their meanings from Sydney. Jarod would do his research and find their origins and what they came under, everything, so his book could be perfect.
"Good boy, I am going to go now, organise a few things, can I trust you in here Jarod?” He asked, believing that the boy would not damage anything. Unwilling to let the boy wander about, Sydney thought he could be trusted with his books in here. He hoped he wasn’t blinded by his own excitement now, although he suspected he was right about this boy. They were indeed kindred spirits and the boy had as much reverence for the books as he did.
"Yes sir.” He said absently, to focused on the book and his writing to really be paying any attention to the man and anything he said.
Sydney turned and left, his mind racing about all the possibilities of this child. For now though, he needed to attend to mundane matters about where he was to be kept, his living accommodations and just how much jurisdiction he would have over the boy.