The Forbidden Scroll

Cyril’s charioteer drove him to the monastery of Nitria, unannounced. The archbishop spent no time on niceties. Feverish perspiration stood in beads on his face. ‘Bring me the keys to the library,’ he demanded.

 ‘Can I fetch you anything else, my Lord?’

 ‘Just the keys!’ dismissing the Keeper of Books. He could feel the agitation of an imminent seizure and wanted to be hidden when it struck.

 He locked the door behind him and threw the keys between the shelves. Better not to know where they are and break out to escape rather than risk a repetition of that earlier fiasco in the house of pleasure! He took a candlestick to find the hidden box containing the scroll of the Songs of Solomon. It was declared forbidden for general use; however Cyril was relentless in his determination to unmask the Philosopher. By the Dog of Egypt, he would expose her! He found the box and took out the scroll. He rolled it open. He scanned it for the word ‘Sophia’ but was caught up by the beauty of the lyrics…

Thy navel is like a round goblet, which wanteth not liquor; thy belly is like an heap of wheat set about with lilies.

Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins. Thy neck is as a tower of ivory;

Thine eyes like the fishpools in Hesbon, by the gate of Bath-rabbim;

Thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus.

Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple;

the King is held in the galleries.

Vivid images of a magical night many years ago flashed through his mind and his body reacted violently with mighty waves. He panted with ecstasy and lay with a roaring drumming in his ears. Then came an instant release…The scroll tore and was crushed in his convulsive grip. He lost consciousness and rolled over, lying with legs spread on the tiled floor as the spasms subsided.

In the aftermath of the seizure he frantically began to search for the key. He furiously brushed bundles of scrolls from the shelves and pushed over the scribe’s table and stool. He growled like a beast and hammered on the door, while cursing violently.