I've mentioned that poets rarely show
the initial state of their poems, thus giving
the impression that poems spring forth
in final form. This week provides an example
of how the process really works!
While writing this week's installment,
I realized that nearly a full day and a half
had passed since Dietrich showed up at the church
with his injuries... and I had completely forgotten
that Dietrich's servant Pieter would be worried sick!
When I make my final version of the story,
I'll have to add a section where Benedict
sends word to Pieter and possibly
some of Pieter's activity. In the meantime,
don't be shocked that Pieter suddenly appears this week.
He has brought some clothes for Dietrich --
who, you'll remember, was naked when Benedict found him --
and has been helping the Father care for his master.
The heavy door creaked open and Pieter
Peered out. “Father,” he said, “Master Dietrich
Has awakened. What shall I do?”
Benedict nodded and said, “Thank you,
Pieter. I’ll be there in a moment.”
Cardinal Jarvik sniffed and said, “Master
Dietrich? What goes on here, Benedict?”
“One of my flock taken ill, Cardinal.
Beaten, actually. I’m nursing him
Back to health. Would you care to help?”
“Indeed not!” Jarvik cringed and drew back.
“Do I look like a manservant?”
“Indeed not!” Benedict echoed.
“Our Lord said He came to serve, but I
Would never mistake you for Him, sir.”
Then to Miss Devin he said, “Would you
Care to aid me, my dear? Dietrich improves
With each hour that passes, but I’m sure
The smile of an angel would do him good.”
Miss Devin blushed and said, “I would
Be glad to help tend your friend. Cardinal,
You may go ahead and find our lodgings
If you wish. I shall join you shortly.”
The Cardinal sniffed. “And how will you
Find your way without a carriage?”
Benedict bowed. “With the Cardinal’s permission,
I’ll escort the young lady when she leaves.
I have need of provisions and had planned
To go later today while Pieter was here.
I shall make sure no harm comes to her.”
The Cardinal harrumphed and fidgeted
Before finally nodding his assent.
He climbed back in his carriage and
The coachman closed the door, mounted his perch,
And smiled at Miss Devin before
Urging the horses toward the town square.
Father Benedict watched them drive away.
“A most unpleasant reflection on the faith,
That one,” he mused out loud. He turned to see
Miss Devin’s poor attempt to appear shocked.
His hearty laugh eased her embarrassment.
“Unpleasant indeed,” she said with a sigh.
“Then why are you with him? Have you no choice?”
“There are few opportunities for a woman
In the church – aside from taking vows, that is.”
Again she sighed and bowed her head.
“And you prefer a less… sequestered life?”
She hesitated. “I… to be blunt, yes.
I came to the church because of my parents.
I was not given a choice in the matter.
Joining the Cardinal on his missions
Allows me to see the wider world.”
Benedict stepped forward as a few tears
Trickled down her cheeks. He touched her shoulder
And, when she glanced up, he smiled and winked.
“There is no shame in that, my dear. Presumptuous
As I am, I know I can speak for my Lord
When I say He looks at the heart,
Not the outward appearance… nor one’s
Station in life. Holy orders can make
A prison as surely as iron bars.”
He swept his arm dramatically
Toward Vaxen Abbey. “Think of this place
As pasture where the flock of God
May run freely, Miss Devin. While in Vaxen,
Feel free to come by and ‘graze’ as often
As you desire. You’ll find no iron bars here.”
She smiled gratefully and rubbed the tears
From her cheeks. “Thank you, Father. I think I shall.”
“Excellent,” Benedict said. “And now,
Shall we tend to my friend Dietrich?”