First Lesson

She knocked hesitantly on the mahogany door. While waiting for a reply she tugged at her hair and smoothed her skirts, trying to make herself more presentable.

“Come in.”

She pushed at the door, and stood up straighter. The doctor was sitting at his desk, working diligently behind piles of papers and documents. The whole room was such a sight. Royal blue velvet curtains decorating the ceiling-high windows, a table with slender, curvy, carved legs sat in the middle of the room, bordered by expensive chairs upholstered with blue silk. Tapestries lined the wall, depicting ancient Greek myths. A fire cackled merrily in the fireplace, and a cat lazed on the hearth, basking in the warmth. Doctor Grifton stood out in the middle of all this splendour, with flaming red hair and a rosy complexion. Remembering the courtesy due to a man of such high rank, she sank into a low curtsey, her dark locks nearly touching the rich carpet on the floor.

“Please stand up. I do not deserve such a greeting.”

Doctor Grifton bowed to her, a polite nod of the head. He gestured to a chair opposite his, and she sat down tentatively. Her stomach was full of butterflies, and she shifted uncomfortably, smoothing her skirts in an attempt to mask her anxiety. A silence fell upon the room.

“So… Today we shall start on Pythagoras.”

“Yes, Doctor.”

“Please, do call me Jonathan. Doctor sounds too formal for use in a place such as this. And it would be much easier this way for us to get to know each other.”

“Yes Doct… I mean Jonathan.” Catalina replied, glad that the silence was broken. “But may I say you do sound very formal yourself.”

“Do I? Well, I guess I can’t help it. I’m sorry if it caused you any discomfort.”

“No, no, it’s fine.” She replied, and then noticed the vase of blue lilies on the Doctor’s desk, “Oooh! I love these flowers. They’re my favourite actually. Although a touch of baby’s breath would enhance the colours…”

“They’re my favourite too, that’s why they’re here. I’m glad you liked them.”

She was looking at him the whole time, as if judging him. He gave her a questioning look, and she lowered her gaze, somewhat embarrassed.

“What is it?”

She hesitated, and then said in a small voice, “It’s just… I would like to get to know the real you.”

“So you shall. Now, let’s start on learning about Pythagoras and his theorem…”

They sat there for many hours, working away at maths, Latin, Greek and philosophy. Catalina left just before supper was served, and the Doctor sat in his chair, reliving the day. He’d never met such a bold young woman, one with such talent and cleverness. There was something extraordinary about her, but he couldn’t say what. Then the servant came in with his supper, and Catalina was momentarily forgotten as he finished dining and started on his work.

The End

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