Flow Down Like Silver: Hypatia of Alexandria

Free Flow Down Like Silver: Hypatia of Alexandria by Ki Longfellow

Book: Flow Down Like Silver: Hypatia of Alexandria by Ki Longfellow Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ki Longfellow
Tags: Historical fiction
    It is as if I have kissed him.   His large eyes gleam.   His small nose quivers.   “Write?   Of course!   I will write you immediately.”   He is gone on the instant.
    Kept so long, I must walk alone by a series of corridors leading away from the Caesarium and out into the stables behind.   Minkah has gone on to ensure I am not troubled in the courtyard as I mount my chariot.
    Ahead, just before the exit into sunlight, lies the deepest shadows, and from them steps a man in grey.   Though I would push by him, I cannot.   This one puts his hands on me.   Is he an agent of the church and would he, as Minkah hints, wish me harm?   His face, hidden by his grey cowl, is unreadable.   The voice, when it comes, is also unreadable.   “Will you be teaching more of this—”
    I know his kind.   I finish his question.   “Blasphemy?”
    But this one surprises me.   “Philosophy?”
    I have slipped out of his grip, would continue on my way.   “I am a teacher.   Knowing nothing for sure and thus open to anything, I teach what pleases me.”
    He has taken hold of me again, this time by the arm.   “Is this true?   You would listen to any thought?”
    “Indeed.   So long as it was well expressed.”
    “Then hear me,” he says, shaking the cowl from his head, “I pass through this city on my way to Hippo.   But I stopped for the renowned Hypatia.   So young!   Yet she spoke with words that shone like coins.”   I should thank him; instead once again I shake loose.   He follows me.   “I devoured the six sacred books of Mani.   I believed what he taught.   That there is no omnipotent good power.   That all is a battle between good and evil and we are the battleground.   Like you, I was a very pagan in my—”
    Here, I stop not only myself, but him.   “Call me no names.   As a mathematician, an astronomer, a philosopher, nothing battles within but me with myself.”
    He smiles.   For the first time I see his face.   He is a man reaching his middle years, one with a certain way about him.   There is power here.   And intelligence.   “And to think some now imagine astronomer the same as sorceress…gentle Hypatia—”
    “Sir, mistake me not.   Gentle describes my sister.   It might even describe my father.   But it does not describe me.”
    He smiles again.   “In Hippo, though I go to become a priest for Christ, I dream only of the day when gentle will describe me.”
    “A given name would be more comforting.”
    “Forgive me!   My name is Augustine and I have known women and loved them, but I have never known such a one as you.   Barely grown and yet a great mathematician and an influential philosopher and a convincing orator!   By you, I know God has once more spoken my name.   See me, Hypatia.   I, who once reveled in life, am now a man alone: my blessed mother, my beloved son, my lovers, my friends, all gone.   That I could persuade you to join me in Hippo!   There I could prove Socrates wrong.   The height of wisdom is not that one knows nothing, but that one knows what the Savior would have you know.   I beg for time to speak with you.”
    I stop for only a moment for Augustine deserves a moment.   He reeks of need and of repression.   He longs for what he forbids himself.   And yet, he is sincere and intelligent.   His proposal, if such it is, does not tempt me.   As for his longing, virginal I am and virginal I mean to remain—or at least until I know my own longings—but that which lies back of his eyes repels and upsets me.   He seeks assurance.   He believes he believes, but his belief is not absolute.   He asks for certainty.   What is certain?
    He holds out his hand.   A soft hand, one that has known no toil.   In it, he holds a small codex.   “I ask that you become my mystical sister, my soror mystica .   No more than a loving companionship.   I would never touch you.”
    Augustine, on his way to Hippo, is owed at least

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