She had been introduced to Jule by Trench as “Professor Hirsch, an authority on ancient Greece.” And, after the customary exchange of polite greetings, Trench had added: “Professor Hirsch is presently writing a book about Pythagoras. She will be your resource person on him and his school.”
Her full name was Laura Eva Hirsch. She was born in the former German Democratic Republic, where she studied Greek history and mythology before escaping to the United States as a political refugee with the help of a diplomat friend. In 1983, she received her PhD in classical studies from the University of Illinois. She stayed on at her alma mater as a teacher, moving quickly through the ranks until she became a full professor in 1989. Now in her late forties, she was a tall, slender woman with an intelligent if not attractive face, her dark brown hair and black eyes accentuating the whiteness of her skin.
It was Saturday morning. Jule and the professor were alone in a large room with tall windows overlooking the park at the back of the house. A blanket of fresh snow extended into the distance, interrupted only at the far end by a dark wall of pine trees. High above the trees, a few small clouds floated against the pale blue sky like cotton islands in a vast, calm sea. Jule had had dinner and breakfast served in his room by a silent and unsmiling old lady, so this was his first contact with someone other than Trench or Leonard Richter.
The professor spoke first. “I’ll be assisting you with anything you wish to know about Pythagoras and his disciples,” she said to Jule,