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The emergency meeting of the male pilgrims produced a group of ten leaders assigned with the task of finding out what the search was really about. Their feet, in heightened disarray, peddled through the well-illuminated walk ways towards the Administration block. Midway to the block, they were intercepted by Moliere and Nichols who were coming out from the block. For seconds, they stared at each other, waiting for who would speak first. Kellebrew sauntered closer and joined them, confused on what the face off was all about.
“What is going here?” Habersham’s voice created a path amidst the House Leaders. He stepped forward, facing the men with much shock. “My brothers, what is the problem?”
“We demand an explanation to why our rooms were ransacked like that of thieves.” One of the men stepped forward, his grey hairs announcing his age. “We came here to witness our sons profess their love for Christ and not arraigned like we have stolen something.”
“I am deeply sorry about that, brothers,” Habersham said. “What happened here tonight is nothing but a normal security check. It happens every time we have such big event. And it’s done to protect us all from any planned danger. There is nothing to be worried about and nobody is accusing anybody of anything. Please, let us go back and prepare for the night prayers.”
“You stand on the holy ground and tell a lie without flinching.” Another of the men stepped out. His eyes were red with anger and his lips shivered with fury. “We are not kids, we are all adults here and to deny that there has been a robbery in the church at the Presbytery would amount to lie and lying is a sin, especially when told in a holy ground.”
Habersham glanced at Moliere and then turned to the man. “I would not purposely tell you a lie, brothers. Neither would I tell you something I know nothing about. And may I ask how you got hold of this information?”
“It does not matter.” The older one said. “What matters is to feed us in on what is really happening. Has the relic been stolen? Would the dedication and the profession not hold tomorrow? We need to know. We need to know what tomorrow holds for us.”
Habersham sighed and scratched her head. Moliere’s rumour has come out, and because he was not certain of the authenticity of the information, he decided not to discuss it any further. “Whatever you think you know, whatever information you might have gotten from anyone, I urge you to overlook it as nothing of sort has happened.”
The older man glanced at Moliere and she lowered her head.
“A wise man does not dwell on the words of rumours and gossip. We should be wise.” Nichols stepped forward with a smile. “So if we can go back to the church now for the night prayers, God will bless us all.” His smile widened.
“We shall go for prayers, for that is why we are here. But if by first light tomorrow we do not get official information from the Priory, telling us what is really going on, the Bishop would hear of our endangered lives here.” The older man said and walked out. The rest sneered at the four leaders before joining him.
Moliere glanced at the leaders and snapped towards the church.
“Wait!” Habersham halted her.
She stopped; her gaze towards the church.
“What did you do?” He walked towards her.
“I did nothing.”
“How did they hear of your relic story?”
“Words travel fast I guess.”
“And you allowed yourself to be the track on which the words travel, Moli.” Kellebrew stomped towards her. “How could you even do that? Do you know the level of panic you have created in them?”
“They deserve to know the truth.” Moliere wriggled at her spot. “Ignorance is the greatest of panic. If you know the dangers you are into, you will know how to remedy it.”
“It wasn’t in your place to tell them even if what you think you know is the truth. What if they carry out their threat?” Nichols said
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I need to pray.” She started towards the church, looking behind her to see if anyone was coming.
Habersham sighed. The rumour has come two times in a few minutes, and like it is said, in every rumour, there is an atom of truth. If that atom of truth involved the relic being stolen, then they are in big trouble. And the Bishop heard it first from the pilgrims instead of the Priory, the Priory would be doomed. “You all go ahead. I will go to the Presbytery and talk with Father Hysom. Whatever has happened, he would be able to tell me.” He turned and moved towards the gate.
With a troubled mind, Nichols and Kellebrew strolled into the church, ready for the night prayers.
Patrick lay on the bed in his cell, his eyes shut. On his chest was the book Raymond gave him. His breathing in a gradual pace increased and after a while decreased. He wriggled, and the book slipped off and fell on the floor. He glimpsed at the book and inhaled deeply. He adjusted his position and shut his eyes again. After a while, the door flung open. He jerked up. “Holy Mary, Brother Samuel!” His hand clasped his chest. “The tradition everywhere says knock and wait for a response, not barge in. And this Priory also abides by that rule.”
“We have to do something.” Samuel locked the door and stepped in. “We have to do something else this coming rain will drench us all.”
Patrick wore his slippers and hurried towards the door.
Samuel sneered at him. “Where are you going to?”
“The Habit I intend to wear tomorrow is outside. If it gets wet, I am done.”
“Be serious, Brother.” Samuel hissed. “I didn’t mean that literarily.”
Patrick peeked through the window, sighed and turned. “So how do you mean it? I hope this is not about Brother Raymond?”
“Of course it is about Brother Raymond.” Samuel sat on the bed. “He is making a big mistake and only you can call him to order.”
“Wait, you still think this way even after the letter found in Hysom’s cell?”
“I think someone planted it. Common, you know Father Hysom, he is a good man.”
“I don’t know any good man. Only God knows. We, humans, work with what we see and every evidence points towards Hysom. Innocent people don’t run away, they stay and defend the truth. But where is Hysom? Where is he?” He paused, stared at Samuel with sternness on his face. “If I see him, I won’t hesitate to call the security on him.”
“Why are you like this?” Samuel stood up. “Something terrible is happening. Don’t you care that you might not be able to profess tomorrow?”
He scoffed and took a comfortable posture on his bed. “God knows that I do, which is why I would hand Hysom over to the security and save the Relic.”
“He is innocent, don’t you get it. This is all a tactics to distract the Priory while the real burglar makes away with the Relic.”
“And that real burglar you think is Brother Raymond?”
“Not sure. But that’s what I need your help to prove.”
“Okay, fine. What do you want me to do?”
Samuel sighed and sat beside him. “I have asked Raymond if he is sure of what he saw.”
Patrick gasped and moved sideways. “You did what?”
“I wanted to know. Anyway, he insisted that all he said was the truth. But I don’t believe him. The look in his eyes showed he was hiding something.”
“You still haven’t told me where you want me to come in.”
“I want to search his cell.”
“What!” He jumped up. “That is a crime in the Priory. I am not doing again.”
“Not when it is done for a good purpose, Brother.” Samuel walked to him. “I will do the searching, you just need to stay outside and watch out for me.”
“That doesn’t detach me from the sin. I am not doing this. I would rather we all not profess tomorrow than I not joining others because of your silly thoughts.”
“So you won’t help me?”
“No! I will not sin against God and human at the same time.”
Samuel sighed. He stared at him for some time, scoffed and walked out.
Patrick gazed at his disappearing back till he was out of sight. He marched to the door and locked it. He leaned at the door and shut his eyes. His breathing accelerated like someone who just overcame a huge temptation. He sighed, made the sign of the cross and walked back to his bed. He lay down, rolling from one side to the other. After some seconds, he stood up, picked his Breviary from the table and walked out.
…..the story continues….
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