Kathryn Eberle Wildgen - The Medieval Manuscript
Kathryn Eberle Wildgen - Welcome to my website!
Malachi and Winifred share a passion for all things medieval. When Winifred makes the startling discovery of a medieval manuscript hidden in the walls of Roman ruins in Autun, France, she hastens to decipher it and sends portions of the incredible story to Malachi as attachments to e-mails. Here are some sample texts from her find:
The Feast of the holy Augustine, 1134            
The journey to Autun was arduous. The heat, even at dusk, was intense. I long already for the coolness of the stones of Saint Hillary's. My mother cried a little when I left although my departure means one fewer at a crowded table. My father was not there, but I know he would have liked to give me still more instruction in carving stone, following me all the way to the route to Burgundy, filling my head with details and warnings. He would especially tell me to observe carefully the one called Gislebertus, Master of the Work and reputed sorcerer. They say his miraculous carvings may be the result of witchcraft but no one has yet been able to prove it or catch him engaged in the black arts. At the very least I will be able to take back some new techniques or new ideas to Poitiers. Notre-Dame-la-Grande will surely need my services when I return. Then Clémence and I will be able to marry. While passing through Argenton, I saw a hanged man. He had been executed three days previously andwas in an advanced state of rot. Everyone else was turning away in disgust, but I walked boldly up to the corpse and observed him carefully, as my father had recommended to me. "If you wish to sculpt," he said, "pay closest attention to the work of the Divine Sculptor that is God. Imitate His creations as perfect models." The stench nearly discouraged me, but I knew someday I might be required to portray Avarice or even Judas. The man's hands were tied behind his back and his sins were exposed on a plaque hung round his neck. He had debauched a child. His neck was cleanly broken, as the hangman had been expert at his work. His mouth was agape though no sound could have been uttered by one dying such a death. People scolded me from afar for taking such interest in another's misfortune. But they did not know the purpose of my observation, that someday my work will be the cause of much praise and glorification of God.

How I wish I had the magic power Thomas imagined in me! Then would I restore us all to this point in his story. How many lives would have been spared ruin had I not journeyed to Cluny in such company. But first things first. There will be plenty of time to regret the pain that I, in my ignorance, inflicted on Abbot Pierre and his monks. I feel that I nourished a viper and loosed it in their holy midst. How I came to have Thomas' diary in my possession will be explained in due course. I beg you to accept my commentary on portions of it as my heartfelt confession. Thomas' father should have warned him to look after his soul as much as after his skill, for he was prodigiously skilled. His notion that I did not notice him or respect his work is grotesque. I did notice. I just did not praise him with sufficient ardor.  'Neath all that venom and bravado was a sick heart that all the love of which man or woman is capable would not cure. Poor Gérard's fate was the result of such unnecessary envy. But this is supposed to be my confession. Forgive me, Father, I forget myself and what I am about. I sometimes wonder if I was envious of Thomas, if I resented one so young farther along than I was at his tender age. I should have seen the signs. When I was sculpting Judas… Enough! I will take things in order. Thomas claims to find my carved demons oppressive, but he was nearly bewitched by them. He observed me as a hungry hawk watches a fat mouse while I was at work on their ugly faces. I thought that was all he needed in the way of instruction. I suppose the first item I must formally confess is a failure to encourage my young apprentice. But he seemed so sure of himself, so lacking in self-doubt and having no need of my guidance. In fact, he seemed more concerned with Gérard's progress than with his own. I was at all times aware of Thomas' tender solicitude for his young friend, his brother as he called him, and I was aware that Gérard was doing rather more than he should have, but I thought it good for both men: one was learning by doing and the other was learning by teaching, the best way.Perhaps what I should concern myself with at this point in my story is what Thomas learned about me and what he inferred from that information. The truth is so much more prosaic than the fantasies he imagines, but it is also more beautiful. You will be the only one aside from the principals—and me—to know of this affair. Casilda wanted it that way. The story is hers, truly, hers and Mallory's. 

       It is very cold tonight in Autun as Christmas approaches. How odd it is that when I write it is as if I were sculpting. The house is very still and the night, dark. I feel alone in the world. No one will ever see this manuscript. It is for me. I am alone, writing for myself—unless, of course, I need to make public the information I have acquired about Gislebertus. When I am at work, I am creating an image for someone else according to someone else’s instructions, yet the image is also mine and is of me in a way I cannot fathom. But Gislebertus does not see me in my image, just what he has ordered me to depict. I alone see myself in my images just as I alone see what I have written on these pages. All art is for the artist. If others look, they are intruders blundering onto the scene, utterly uncomprehending, gawking with amazement at what they in fact do not perceive. No one will see this text save me because I am the only one who could understand it. My text and I know each other. It comforts me. I will write my life as long as I live
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